National / International News

Forget ketchup. How about foie gras mousse?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-09-02 14:07

The line outside of “Hot Doug’s” hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Chicago stretches two blocks. It’s almost 10:30 a.m. - opening time.

Jamie Madison, 30, got in line more than two hours earlier in order to be the first at the door. For her, coming to Hot Doug’s isn’t just about eating a hot dog, it’s “the whole experience,” she says.

“My friends and I like to come here at least once a summer,” Madison says, correcting my use of the term “hot dog” to describe her meal: “Hot Doug’s is 'gourmet encased meats,' not hot dogs.” 

I stand corrected. 

Nova Safo

Hog Doug’s owner Doug Sohn also takes his encased meats seriously.  But not for much longer long: Sohn plans to retire from the hot dog business and close his shop in October

Sohn attended culinary school and applied that training to his sausage and hot dog enterprise. At his restaurant, you can order an elk sausage or one with escargot mixed in. Among the most popular items is the “Foie Gras and Sauternes Duck Sausage with Truffle Aioli, Foie Gras Mousse and Fleur de Sol.” 

“To me, a really good quality Chicago hot dog should be [as] satisfying and tasty as anything you would get in a three-star restaurant,” Sohn says. 

His philosophy has made him very popular. Sohn was recently inducted into the Vienna Beef Hot Dog Hall of Fame – an honor to which Sohn responded with something to the effect of: "I didn’t know there was a hot dog hall of fame." 

“If someone had said to me when I started doing this 14 years ago: 'Oh and at some point you… will have a book…and you’ll be sitting down and chit-chatting with Anthony Bourdain for his TV show'… It’s like, 'OK, and can I have some of that crack,'” Sohn jokes. 

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Sohn’s success has sparked a whole new niche industry within what was otherwise a staid part of the Chicago culinary scene.

“There’s no such thing as a hot dog franchise in Chicago, but there might as well be, because they’re all exactly alike,” says Mike Gebert, a journalist who has been writing about food in Chicago for 10 years, and who – for just as long  – has been waiting for others to imitate Hot Doug’s. 

“Finally, I think, it's what you see happening is we’re getting these… places that are trying a little harder, that’s got more exotic things on the menu,” Gebert says. 

Other restaurants are hoping to lure in some of Sohn's loyal customers. Other Chicago-area chefs have been experimenting with a wide variety of hot dog dishes.  For the adventurous hot dog connoisseur, there are now elk meat sausages, quail egg toppings, and a popular Japanese hot dog topped with seaweed salad and pickled ginger at “Ivy’s Hamburgers, Hot dogs and Fries

“Years ago, you could open up a new restaurant… and expect people to walk in. Nowadays, it’s a whole different market…Social media directs a lot of your customer base. You have to be on top of your game. You have to serve the best. There’s no other way,” says Ivy’s owner Tony Tzoubris. 

Nova Safo

There are so many restaurants jumping into the gourmet hot dog niche that Mike Gebert even wrote up a list for dejected Hot Doug’s customers searching for a replacement. 

Tzoubris says he hopes Ivy’s is on it. 

VIDEO: Apple: Celebrity accounts hacked

BBC - Tue, 2014-09-02 13:58
The FBI are investigating allegations that the online accounts of dozens of celebrities have been hacked, allowing explicit photos to be posted on the internet.

VIDEO: BBC 'acted properly' over Cliff

BBC - Tue, 2014-09-02 13:41
A group of MPs has said that the BBC "acted properly" in their reporting of a story about a police raid on the house of singer Cliff Richard.

What a House majority leader brings to banking

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-09-02 13:34

Former House majority leader Eric Cantor will join Moelis and Co. as vice chairman and managing director. Though he lacks experience working on Wall Street, Cantor is still a prize hire for the firm, which donated to his campaigns when he was a candidate for office. 

Moelis wasn't one of Cantor's bigger donors, but "he was clearly in their sights," said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics. "He was important to them and, of course, they are now important to him."

Cantor will open the firm's Washington, D.C. office, which, says Jeff Berry, a professor of political science at Tufts University, is an indication of exactly why Cantor is so valuable. 

"He's not opening a Washington office because they see deals in northern Virginia and want to get close to them," Berry said. "He's opening a Washington office so he can open doors for the investment bank and help them with regulatory problems."

Cantor will start at a salary of $400,000 a year, and will get bonuses and stock options worth around $3 million more.

Moelis, which frequently advises on mergers and acquisitions, said in a statement that Cantor was hired to "play a leading role in client development and advise clients on strategic matters." 

Dennis Kelleher, the president and CEO of Better Markets, a nonprofit that promotes the public interest in finance, says Cantor's resume would indicate that mergers and acquisitions are probably not his area of expertise. 

"One could argue, it seems to me, that he wouldn't even be qualified to be an intern at most of the firms on Wall Street," Kelleher said. 

Angelo Mozilo really doesn't get it

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-09-02 13:34

Here's an object lesson in why we still have to do stories about the financial crisis, almost six years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers:

Bloomberg conducted an interview with Angelo Mozilo, the former chairman of the board and CEO of Countrywide Financial, the biggest of the subprime lenders, and one of the leading men linked to the greatest economic crisis since the Great Recession.

He's kept a relatively low profile since the beginning of the crisis, but, because of a civil lawsuit pending against his name, took the interview in order to express his confusion as to why he and his firm have been seen as villains.

"No, no, no, we didn't do anything wrong," he said.

What is 4chan?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-09-02 13:34

When nude photos of actress Jennifer Lawrence and other female celebrities hit the Internet, one of the first places they surfaced was a message board site called 4chan. It's a complicated place: a home for snark, nastiness — and, in recent years, political activism. The Occupy movement owes a debt to 4chan. And if you've ever shared one of these LOLcat photos, so do you.

The site was created in 2003 as a forum where people could discuss various interests, like Japanese comics, each within its own discussion board. Soon, for topics that didn't fit elsewhere, another board emerged: /b/.

"People always said, ‘If it’s too off-point, or it’s too crude, or just too much for the rest of the site, take it to /b/,'" says filmmaker Brian Knappenberger, who has made documentaries about the political activism that eventually grew out of /b/, including "We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists."  

The /b/ board remains an anything-goes environment, and is not remotely safe for viewing at work. Knappenberger calls it "extreme free speech."

"There’s a lot of awful stuff on there," he says. "I would highly recommend no one going to /b/ at all.  And, of course, once I say that, everyone will want to go to /b/."   

One thing that allows 4chan to be so anarchic is that everyone posting there is anonymous.

"There’s no real community to 4chan," says Austin Wilson, an engineer from North Carolina who says he's an occasional user. "There’s just a bunch of different people who go to this website, and they don’t really know who any of the other people are."

There are things that grew out of /b/, some of which filtered out into the rest of the world. One was LOLcats.

Another was the political group that calls itself Anonymous, which is known for shutting down corporate and government sites, often to protest privacy breaches. The group adopted the Guy Fawkes mask for public protests, which went on to influence the Occupy movement.

Gabriella Coleman, an anthropology professor at McGill University, studies 4chan and Anonymous. Her book "Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy" will be published in November. She calls 4chan "the id of the Internet," and says it is full of contradictions.

"On the one hand, there is this value placed on privacy and shielding the self," she says. "But on the other hand, 4chan is an epicenter of violating people’s privacy by exposing people’s photographs."

Where business and 4chan overlap

Even if you've never visited 4chan or its notorious and popular /b/ image board, you've likely encountered their work elsewhere online, on your television, or even on the trading floor. Here are five of 4chan's biggest businesslike accomplishments, for better or worse:

They revived a pop star's career

The bait and switch is a classic internet prank, but it was perfected when folks began deploying Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" in the place of an "amazing video!" or "'Lost' spoilers!" and so on. "Rickrolling," as it's now called, was pioneered on 4chan in 2007 and quickly hit the mainstream. Astley enjoyed a career bump — probably because the song isn't half bad — even participating in a live Rickroll by interrupting the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. When 4chan founder moot (real name: Chrisopher Poole) made the "Time" 100 in 2009, Astley did the write-up.

They locked down at least one high school

Several 4chan users have seen criminal charges after threatening bombings or shooting sprees on the site. One post threatening a massacre shut down a Washington high school before investigators tracked the source to Sweden. Hoax shooting threats have also been traced back to 4chan users in Michigan and Australia.

A Wisconsin man was sentenced to six months in prison for threatening to detonate nuclear bombs at several NFL stadiums. The man's lawyer reportedly argued for leniency, saying of 4chan: "There's this odd community of people who go on this website. He's the poster boy of what can go wrong."

They (indirectly) created a profitable blog network and TV show

LOLcat is one of the best-known internet memes and maybe the quintessential one. The phenomenon was born on 4chan through a weekly ritual called "Caturday," but it had more legs than a typical image macro, spawning a successful blog network called Cheezburger and even a short-lived Bravo reality show following their employees.

Further, LOLcat's success cemented internet culture's fascination with cats and predicated the torrent of feline-related memes that have followed.

They tanked Apple's stock

Years before Steve Jobs' real death, someone used CNN's citizen journalism platform iReport to spread a rumor that the Apple founder had been rushed to the ER with heart problems. The hoax, which reportedly originated on 4chan, was enough to spook investors and Apple stock briefly dropped by 10 percent, even more than it would dip the day after Jobs' actual death in 2011.

They put hackers "on steroids"

We could dedicate a whole list to the exploits of Anonymous, the loose collective of hackers that was born on 4chan and dubbed in one early, alarmist news report as "hackers on steroids."

These days, they're generally considered activists, though their causes — like their membership and methods — are fluid. They've taken down many, many websites and published many, many people's personal information, including addresses and social security numbers, in various protests. Some Anonymous affiliates have also stolen government data and, most recently, fingered the wrong Missouri police officer in the shooting of Michael Brown.

What would it mean if Dollar General went 'hostile'?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-09-02 13:34

There’s a bidding war in the dollar store space. The target is Family Dollar, the stores with the mostly red logos. The courters: Dollar General, with the bright yellow letters, and its green-logo competitor Dollar Tree.

Dollar General, already rejected by Family Dollar, has increased its takeover price to $9.1 billion. If this fails, word on the street is it could pursue a rare hostile takeover.

At this point, Family Dollar has turned down the highest-priced offer.

“Just like in a family, if two families are trying to negotiate over marriage, and somebody comes with a slightly higher dowry, but you think the marriage might be better — or she’s actually in love with somebody different — you might not take the highest offer,” says Michael Goldstein, finance professor at Babson College.

At issue is the rejecting company’s board of directors. When the board says no, an acquiring firm can go around it. That’s what’s known as going hostile.

“What you’re doing at that point is you’re making an offer directly to the shareholders,” says former investment banker Donna Hitscherich, now at Columbia Business School.

By now, the acquirer is hostile to the board, yet making nice with the shareholders.

“The shareholders are the owners of the company,” Hitscherich says. “It’s their capital that’s been committed. So if they determine to sell, they can do that.”

The acquirer offers shareholders a certain number of dollars per share. If enough shareholders agree to sell, the takeover goes through.

There are risks. In a hostile case, a would-be takeover company is flying half-blind.

Securities lawyer Bill Caffee says, in a friendly deal, the two firms exchange lots of information and research.

“And if you’re going hostile, obviously you’re not,” Caffee says. “You’re just kind of shootin’ into the wind. And looking at their public filings and saying, ‘We think it’s worth X dollars and here we go for it.’”  

Also, if word of a hostile takeover leaks out, hungry investors can push up the target’s stock price.

Since that’s how deals are valued, that ups the acquisition price.

VIDEO: Moment Ashya's parents released

BBC - Tue, 2014-09-02 13:19
Ashya King's parents have been freed from a Spanish jail, following their arrest on Saturday.

A Suspected Ebola Patient On The Run In Liberia

NPR News - Tue, 2014-09-02 13:19

A brief video captures the chaos of Ebola in Liberia. A suspected patient, who allegedly fled a treatment center, is pursued by health workers and wrestled into a truck.

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Double Mastectomies Don't Increase Cancer Survival Rates

NPR News - Tue, 2014-09-02 13:14

Young women diagnosed with breast cancer are increasingly choosing to have both breasts removed. A big study says that doesn't improve their survival odds any more than does less drastic treatments.

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Viewpoint: How to make Afghan army sustainable

BBC - Tue, 2014-09-02 13:11
Nato's role in making the Afghan army sustainable

Sounds From The First Day Of School

NPR News - Tue, 2014-09-02 13:11

Millions of children are heading back to school, and to mark the traditional start of the school year, we've asked reporters from member stations around the country to bring us the sounds.

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VIDEO: Ashya parents 'just want to see him'

BBC - Tue, 2014-09-02 13:09
Ashya King's parents have freed from custody in Spain after UK prosecutors withdrew a European arrest warrant.

North Korea Grants Interviews With American Detainees: To What End?

NPR News - Tue, 2014-09-02 13:09

Two U.S. news organizations, CNN and the Associated Press, were granted interviews with three men detained by North Korean authorities.

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Ashya's parents freed from prison

BBC - Tue, 2014-09-02 12:54
The parents of Ashya King are released from prison in Spain after UK prosecutors withdrew a European arrest warrant.

State Dept. Officials Work To Verify Islamic State's Beheading Video

NPR News - Tue, 2014-09-02 12:50

In a new video released by the militant group Islamic State, American journalist Steven Sotloff appears to be killed by extremists associated with the group.

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New U.S. Rules Protect Giant Bluefin Tuna

NPR News - Tue, 2014-09-02 12:43

To reduce the number of giant bluefin tuna killed by fishing fleets, the U.S. is putting out new rules about commercial fishing in the Gulf of Mexico and parts of the western Atlantic.

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Should Local Police Get The Military's Extra Armored Trucks?

NPR News - Tue, 2014-09-02 12:35

The Pentagon has been transferring mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles to local police. Built to protect U.S. forces from roadside bomb blasts at war, these huge vehicles aren't always welcome.

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VIDEO: Video shows Ukraine soldiers 'abuse'

BBC - Tue, 2014-09-02 12:12
Ukraine's defence minister has accused Russia of launching a "great war" that could claim tens of thousands of lives.