National / International News

Branson offers staff unlimited leave

BBC - Wed, 2014-09-24 14:49
The boss of Virgin Group, Sir Richard Branson, is offering to let his personal staff to take as much leave as they want, as long as they feel up to date on their work.

Grand Jury Won't Indict NASCAR's Stewart In Driver's Death

NPR News - Wed, 2014-09-24 14:43

The jury heard testimony from about two dozen witnesses and reviewed photos and videos in coming to its decision. The family of the driver who was killed says, "This matter is not at rest."

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To Stop Picky Eaters From Tossing The Broccoli, Give Them Choices

NPR News - Wed, 2014-09-24 14:34

When healthier school lunch standards went into effect, many worried kids would toss their mandated veggies. But researchers say letting kids pick what they put on their tray can cut down on waste.

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'Don't expect fireworks' in IS fight

BBC - Wed, 2014-09-24 14:29
Don't expect fireworks in the fight against IS, writes James Landale

VIDEO: Brighton teen 'killed in US air strikes'

BBC - Wed, 2014-09-24 14:07
As David Cameron warns the UN that young people from modern societies are being sucked into the conflict in Syria, a mother tells the BBC she believes her son - fighting in Syria - was killed by US air strikes.

'Made in Italy' may not mean what you think it does

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-09-24 13:59

If a handbag is stamped “made in Italy,” it may seem safe to assume that it is, well, entirely made in Italy. But it’s not so simple.

Patricia Jurewicz directs the Responsible Sourcing Network, an organization that advocates for more transparency in supply chains. She says, “It's extremely difficult to understand what companies are doing and how they have their products manufactured.”

In the U.S., there are some laws covering this. The “last substantial transformation” of a product must happen in the country of origin. Guillermo Jimenez of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York says that phrase can be stretched pretty far.

"If you have the handle of the handbag come from South America, and the leather panels come from India, and another part comes from another country, well none of that is a handbag yet," Jimenez says. But put all those pieces together in Italy, and presto: Italian handbag.

“That's legally allowable,” Jimenez says, “but arguably can be deceptive to the consumer.”

The only way to know for sure how a bag is made is to visit the company factories. Jimenez says U.S. customs and the Federal Trade Commission don't have the resources to keep tabs on all of them.

“With the dizzying number of handbag companies in the world,” Jimenez says, “it's hard for the FTC to stay on top of it.”

In fact, the trade commission has not brought a case against a fashion company for violating country of origin laws in over a decade.

That country of origin label is a powerful brand for Italy. As a symbol of craftsmanship and prestige, it brings in boatloads of cash to producers of luxury products. Italians considers the label a national economic resource. Many would like to protect that brand with a stricter definition.

"Made in Italy" is an initiative funded by the Italian government to provide an additional label for products completely manufactured in the country: components, design, the works.

"If you want to buy a real Italian product, it's easier if you actually have a certification that proves that," says Made in Italy representative Marco Tomassini. “It's just to be very clear what you are offering to the end user.”

This certification helps smaller Italian manufacturers stand out from global brands with sophisticated supply chains. It reassures customers that the products are made entirely in Italy.

Keanan Duffty, a designer and professor at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, wonders if customers today really care. “The younger consumer, I am not sure if they are concerned about where the goods are made,” he says. “I think they are more concerned about the label.”

Duffty says for many young people it's less about what the label actually means and more about what it signifies: status and luxury. And keep in mind, he says, “With luxury anything, you're buying a fantasy.”

Fantasy has always been a big part of fashion. If you need a refresher, just watch an “unboxing video.” They are part of a YouTube subgenre in which people post videos of themselves opening up new products so other people can watch. For handbags, big moment in these videos is when the person displays the country of origin label. Whether it is entirely true or just partly true, the “made in Italy” stamp makes owners proud.

'Made in Italy' may not mean what you think

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-09-24 13:59

If a handbag is stamped “made in Italy,” it may seem safe to assume that it is, well, entirely made in Italy. But it’s not so simple.

Patricia Jurewicz directs the Responsible Sourcing Network, an organization that advocates for more transparency in supply chains. She says, “It's extremely difficult to understand what companies are doing and how they have their products manufactured.”

In the U.S., there are some laws covering this. The “last substantial transformation” of a product must happen in the country of origin. Guillermo Jimenez of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, says that phrase can be stretched pretty far.

"If you have the handle of the handbag come from South America, and the leather panels come from India, and another part comes from another country, well none of that is a handbag yet," Jimenez says. But, put all those pieces together in Italy and presto: Italian handbag.

“That's legally allowable,” Jimenez says, “but arguably can be deceptive to the consumer.”

The only way to know for sure how a bag is made is to visit the company factories. Jimenez says U.S. customs and the Federal Trade Commission don't have the resources to keep tabs on all of them.

“With the dizzying number of handbag companies in the world,” Jimenez says, “It's hard for the FTC to stay on top of it.”

In fact, the trade commission has not brought a case against a fashion company for violating country of origin laws in over a decade.

That country of origin label is a powerful brand for Italy. As a symbol of craftsmanship and prestige, it brings in boatloads of cash to producers of luxury products. Italians considers the label a national economic resource. Many would like to protect that brand with a stricter definition.

Made In Italy is an initiative funded by the Italian government to provide an additional label for products completely manufactured in the country: components, design, the works.

"If you want to buy a real Italian product, it's easier if you actually have a certification that proves that," says Made In Italy representative Marco Tomassini. “It's just to be very clear what you are offering to the end user.”

This certification helps smaller Italian manufacturers stand out from global brands with sophisticated supply chains. It reassures customers that the products are made entirely in Italy.

Keanan Duffty, a designer and professor at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, wonders if customers today really care. “The younger consumer, I am not sure if they are concerned about where the goods are made,” he says, “I think they are more concerned about the label.”

Duffty says for many young people it's less about what the label actually means and more about what it signifies: status and luxury. And keep in mind, he says “with luxury anything, you're buying a fantasy.”

Fantasy has always been a big part of fashion. If you need a refresher, just watch an “unboxing video.” They are part of a Youtube sub-genre were people post videos of themselves opening up new products so other people can watch. A big moment in these videos for handbags is when the person displays the country of origin label. Whether it is entirely true or just partly true, the “made in Italy” stamp makes owners proud.

When the digital classroom meets the parents

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-09-24 13:52

The modern classroom is packed with digital technology that can record students’ academic performance in real time, as well as keep track of their attendance, assignments and more. All that data isn't just changing the classroom and the job of teachers. It's changing the role of parents, who are being asked to do more to keep up and keep tabs on their kids.

On a recent night at High Tech Los Angeles, a charter high school in Van Nuys, California, a group of parents got a lesson in just what that means. One of them was Nooneh Kradjain, who has two sons at the high school, and was busy scribbling notes. She said she was struck by how much things have changed since she was in school. “My parents just looked at the report card when it came home and said ‘good job, let’s go out to dinner.”

These days, being a school parent is more like a part-time job.

With so much access to information about their kids’ academic performance, parents are expected to be up on what’s happening. It’s on them now to know if their kids may be headed off track after flubbing a test or missing a homework assignment.

Mat McClenahan is a teacher at High Tech Los Angeles. He says the school needs parents as allies. “What we’re trying to do is develop learners who have the right habits to be successful in college and be successful in the workplace,” he says. “And that means to be on top of the workflow.”

McClenahan says he’s not trying to turn parents into surveillance machines, and they should resist the urge themselves. “The parents often feel like they have to be on top of everything that’s going on,” he says. “We have parents that check their child’s grades several times a day.”

Even if parents don’t go overboard, all the focus on grades and scores worries Alfie Kohn, who has written several books on parenting and education, including "The Myth of the Spoiled Child" says parents"are often asked to become the enforcer of the schools agenda.” “The more schools are encouraging parents to think about grades and tests and homework assignments, the more danger there is that meaningful learning will be eclipsed," he says.

And all that keeping up and keeping track can do a number on parents, too.

Kathy Gadany, who also attended the meeting for parents, has a freshman at High Tech Los Angeles.  “Oh, Lord,” she said. "Now, I have to keep an eye on my kids much more so over the internet instead of just nagging them for their homework.”

And, then, there are the objects of all this attention: the kids. Nooneh Kradjain, the mother whose parents used to take her out to dinner after a good report card, says her kids have asked her to trust them enough not to check their grades all the time.

She says she gets their point of view, but she also understands the lure of micro-managing a child’s education today.

“It’s a lot more competitive and there’s a lot more at stake,” she says and, trust or not, she’s not going to give up all of her digital oversight.

Kradjain is still going to log in to the school’s college-application program, to make sure her older son gets all his paperwork in on time.

Chelsea 2-1 Bolton Wanderers

BBC - Wed, 2014-09-24 13:48
Oscar scores the winner as Chelsea reach the fourth round of the Capital One Cup with victory over Bolton.

Brazil releases 'good' mosquitoes

BBC - Wed, 2014-09-24 13:38
Brazilian researchers release thousands of mosquitoes infected with a bacteria that suppresses dengue fever into the environment in Rio de Janeiro.

Amazon Studios head on taking charge in a new TV age

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-09-24 13:34


Amazon will debut its new series “Transparent” on Friday, releasing all ten episodes to Amazon Prime subscribers at the same time.

It's a dramedy created Jill Soloway of "Six Feet Under" that follows an American family after they find out their father, played by Jeffrey Tambor, is a transgender woman. Critics are calling it Amazon's breakout hit and even the best new show of the fall. 

Roy Price runs Amazon Studios, the online retailer's original content arm, and he’s quick to say that “Transparent” and their other series make Amazon Prime more desirable to users.  

Price says it’s a good time to be in the television industry. That's where the quality is right now, he says, and great shows can engage viewers more than movies can.

“This is a really exciting space. A lot of people are investing and innovating,” he says. Here are three ways Price thinks TV will change in the next 25 years:

Everything inconvenient is going to be innovated away

Navigating all your options will get way easier, for example. Scrolling through hundreds of channels just doesn't make sense anymore.

“I’m literally scrolling through — 'Oh, there's channel 572,'" he says. "I think we can do better.”

It will work on your time

With the exception of sports and other live events, Price says tuning in at an appointed time or on a show in progress is antiquated.

“It should start when you start," he says. "You should be the boss ... not the schedule.”

You'll get logical suggestions for the next show to watch

Amazon is awash with data. Amazon Studios' "pilot season" is crowd-sourced, allowing viewers to pick which shows they want to see made. From television to books to toasters, Amazon is able to suggest new stuff users might like.

But there's one caveat: “One of the riskiest paths in entertainment is to be derivative and try to do the same thing," Price says. "That is the path to failure.”

ISIS and the future of the Tomahawk missile

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-09-24 13:22

At the United Nations, President Obama referred to the extremist group ISIS as a "network of death” on Wednesday. As part of the effort to dismantle it, the U.S. deployed a trusted weapon this week, launching more than 40 Tomahawk cruise missiles at targets in Syria.

That could be good news for a weapon on the budgetary chopping block. By best estimates, the U.S. has about 4,000 Tomahawk missiles in its inventory. Or they did, until this week.

Todd Harrison, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, says Tomahawks are launched from ships or submarines, and can fly 1,000 miles to their targets.

“It has wings that fold out and a jet engine that turns on and it powers it like an airplane,” he says.

Raytheon makes the Tomahawks, which cost the military more than $1 million each.

“We had been buying them at a rate of almost 200 per year,” says Harrison, adding that the Department of Defense proposed phasing out Tomahawk purchases in its most recent budget request. The idea is to find the next-generation replacement.

“In 2016 and beyond, they had zeroed out that budget line,” says Harrison, “indicating they don’t plan to buy any more Tomahawk cruise missiles.”

Mackenzie Eaglen, a defense and military analyst at the American Enterprise Institute, says some members of Congress had already wanted to extend the Tomahawk program, including lawmakers on key committees. She says this new campaign against ISIS could convince more lawmakers that’s necessary.

“The caveat for ending the program next year, by the Navy, was always that there would be no unanticipated events that would drain current stockpiles of Tomahawks before a new missile is ready,” she says.

Forty-plus missiles hardly drains the stockpile. But Gordon Adams, an International Relations professor at American University, agrees the product line could well be extended.

That’s good news for Raytheon.

“For any contractor that is making ammunition or building a piece of equipment that’s being used in the campaign against ISIS,” he says, “the campaign against ISIS is good news about the near term future of that program.”

Not to mention for the company behind it. 

Guards posted at 84th birthday party

BBC - Wed, 2014-09-24 13:19
Security guards are drafted in to stop "too many" people attending an 84-year-old man's birthday party at a care home.

Boko Haram fighters 'surrender'

BBC - Wed, 2014-09-24 13:18
Hundreds of fighters in Nigeria-based Islamic militant group Boko Haram have surrendered after heavy losses against the army, the country's military spokesman says.

More to Europe than McIlroy in ultimate team game

BBC - Wed, 2014-09-24 13:13
Rory McIlroy is eager to promote the strength of Europe's team, a strength that could show in the Ryder Cup singles on Sunday.

More unmarried Americans, thanks to economic woes

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-09-24 13:12

The number of American's who've always been single and plan never to marry is at an all time high, according to the Pew Research Center.

On the theory that having a job is an important feature in a future spouse, here's the slice of the data that makes it a Marketplace thing: Fifty years ago there were 139 single young men with jobs for every 100 single young women.

Now, there are 91 single men with jobs for every 100 single women.

Wal-Mart: From 'low prices' to fast banking

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-09-24 13:11

Is there anything Wal-Mart doesn’t want to sell you? The country’s biggest retailer has announced it will offer low-cost checking accounts to anybody 18 and older.

Wal-Mart is partnering with Green Dot, best known for prepaid debit cards.  Wal-Mart says many of its customers are looking for an alternative to high fees at traditional banks.  

“GoBank” is a mobile checking account with no overdraft fees, no bounced check fees and no minimum balance requirement. Wal-Mart has tried to obtain a banking license but bank regulators have rejected the idea. 

Mike Moebs, CEO of the economic research firm Moebs Services, says by partnering with a bank like Green Dot, Wal-Mart can still get a slice of that business.  “Wal-Mart has already done this with check cashing and with money orders and with money transfers and they’ve done it very, very successfully,” says Moebs.

 Moebs expects Wal-Mart to get a cut of the so-called “swipe fee” every time a customer uses GoBank’s debit card. Wal-Mart declined to comment on its financial arrangement with Green Dot.

It does say it’ll be quick to sign up for an account. Daniel Eckert, Wal-Mart vice president of financial services, says customers can literally sign up with a smartphone app “in the parking lot.”  Apparently that “always low prices” thing is now also “always fast banking.” 

Manchester City 7-0 Sheffield Wednesday

BBC - Wed, 2014-09-24 13:10
Manchester City score seven second-half goals to start their League Cup defence with an easy win over Sheffield Wednesday.

Shifting Stance, Some GOP Candidates Back State Minimum Wage Hikes

NPR News - Wed, 2014-09-24 13:01

As free-market conservatives, Republicans are philosophically opposed to raising the minimum wage. But a handful in tight races are having second thoughts.

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Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Nottingham Forest

BBC - Wed, 2014-09-24 12:40
Tottenham come from behind to knock Championship leaders Nottingham Forest out of the Capital One Cup.
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