National / International News

Georgia latest state to drug-test welfare applicants

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-02 10:06
Friday, May 2, 2014 - 16:01 Davis Turner/Getty Images

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal answers questions from the media during a news conference at the Capitol building on February 11, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal earlier this week signed legislation that will require some people applying for Temporary Assistance for Need Families (TANF) benefts to submit to drug testing. Georgia is one of more than a dozen states proposing - or trying out - laws that require welfare recipients or applicants to take drug tests. 

Governor Deal's Deputy Chief of Staff Brian Robinson said in a statement to Marketplace: 

"Governor Deal has said drug abuse poses a major barrier to getting and keeping a job. He understands that many users are suffering from the disease of addition. He believes we as a state have a duty to help those who want to help themselves by providing an option for treatment. He's also led on diverting people with drug addictions out of the criminal justice system into treatment programs with strict accountability so that people are able to be taxpayers instead of being tax drainers. But if people choose to reject treatment and choose a lifestyle that renders them unemployable, taxpayers shouldn't have to subsidize that."

But in some cases, drug testing does not appear to be catching many drug users.

"In Oklahoma, 29 people out of 1,300 were denied benefits," said Elizabeth Lower-Basch, a policy coordinator at the Center for Law and Social Policy. "And then Utah. Twelve people out of 4,730." 

Advocates of the testing say the low numbers are likely due to deterrence. 

"By having the testing requirement in place, you screen out individuals who have a drug addiction who never go through the process to begin with, because they know they won't recieve benefits," said Tarren Bragdon, CEO of the Foundation for Government Accountability, a conservative think tank.

Lower-Basch isn't certain that deterrence is the best thing for needy families. 

"These are very poor families and they have children," Lower-Basch said. "You don't want to scare them off and not getting help. You want the kids to get help so they can have clothes and housing. And you want the parents getting treatment so they can get jobs and be better parents. Scaring them off is a terrible outcome."

Many welfare researchers say drug tests are sometimes necessary. However, mass testing can also cost a state money. In 2011, Florida required welfare recipients to pay for their own drug tests. More than 97% passed and the state had to reimburse them to the tune of more than $100,000.

Map of 2012 Legislative Proposals to Screen for Drug Use Among Welfare Recipients

Courtesy of National Conference of State Legislatures.

Marketplace for Friday May 2, 2014by Noel KingPodcast Title Georgia latest state to drug-test welfare applicantsStory Type News StorySyndication Flipboard BusinessSlackerSoundcloudStitcherBusiness InsiderSwellPMPApp Respond No

US and Germany 'at odds' over spying

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-02 10:06
The US and Germany remain at odds over digital spying and privacy policy, US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel say.

Ecclestone 'blackmail' challenged

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-02 10:05
German prosecutors contest claims by F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone that he was blackmailed into paying $45m to a German banker.

VIDEO: Many dead in Ukraine offensive

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-02 10:05
Several people have been killed in Ukraine during violent clashes between pro-Russian militants and government troops.

Wages are flat now, but maybe not for long

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-02 10:00
Friday, May 2, 2014 - 16:59 Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Women hold banners during a protest for higher wages for fast food workers on March 18, 2014 in New York City. T

Some very good news out of the Bureau of Labor Statistics today: There were 288 thousand jobs added in the last month, more than many people expected. Unemployment is now down to 6.3 percent. Of course down is not the same as low, but there was one piece of information that was not changed – earnings. Wage growth did not move over the month. 

Over the past 12 months by several measures wages have grown about two percent. On the other hand, inflation has run around 1-1.5 percent. Since inflation devalues wage growth, real wages have increased very little. Ideally, inflation would be near two percent, and wage growth a percent or two above that. 

Despite March-April’s flat numbers, the two percent growth over the year has marked an improvement.    

The economy may be in the process of early movement in that direction. The more jobs are created, the less workers are trapped in jobs that don’t offer raises, and the more employers will be pressed to raise wages to remain competitive.

Marketplace for Friday May 2, 2014by Sabri Ben-AchourPodcast Title Wages are flat now, but maybe not for longStory Type News StorySyndication SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond No

F1 'spy-gate' mechanic Stepney dies

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-02 09:56
Nigel Stepney, the former Ferrari mechanic at the heart of the 2007 F1 "spy-gate" scandal, dies in a road accident aged 56.

Patients 'should pay care home fees'

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-02 09:55
A review of the long-term care of chronically ill people in Scotland recommends they should not have their care home costs paid by the NHS.

Yogurt: Not just for breakfast anymore

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-02 09:41
Friday, May 2, 2014 - 09:39 Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A woman shops for yogurt at a Trader Joe's on October 18, 2013 in Pinecrest, Florida.

Greek yogurt is, to most members of the general public, solely a healthy breakfast option. But a new line of products from Chobani seems to say that breakfast isn't the only time to eat yogurt.

Greek yogurt sales have slowed in recent years by as much as six percent, which is why Chobani is experimenting with desserts and cooking ingredients that use Greek yogurt in new ways.

"Yogurt for breakfast totally makes sense, but it's become so old-school now," says Bloomberg Business reporter Venessa Wong. "It's still the exciting growth area in the yogurt market."

Wong visited the cafe in New York City that Chobani runs as a testing ground for new savory yogurt concoctions. The smoked salmon bagel she ordered, for example, was topped with a cream cheese spread made from Greek yogurt.

"I didn't know yogurt could be used as a cream cheese substitute," Wong said.

Chobani has found that its cafe's busiest hours are the lunch hours from 1-3 p.m. Its least busiest time of the day: 7:30-9:30 a.m.

Marketplace for Friday May 2, 2014Interview by Kai RyssdalPodcast Title Yogurt: Not just for breakfast anymoreSyndication SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond No

VIDEO: Head teacher faces being struck off

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-02 09:40
A former academy head teacher faces being struck off over a string of expenses abuses.

Praised for pointing a gun

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-02 09:38
Israeli soldier wins plaudits for pointing his gun at teenager

Traveling to space? There's an agent for that

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-02 09:31
Friday, May 2, 2014 - 10:21 Sanden Totten

Travel agent Jay Johnson holds a model of the ship Virgin Galactic plans to use to take tourists into space.

Jay Johnson is a travel agent to the stars ... or at least to sub-orbit.

He's what Virgin Galactic calls an ASA or "accredited space agent." That means Johnson is authorized to sell tickets to Virgin Galactic's planned space tourism experience.

The company plans to send six passengers at a time to suborbital space in its vehicle dubbed SpaceshipTwo.

Once there, tourists will float weightlessly for several minutes before returning to Earth.

"It's the ultimate icebreaker," Johnson says of his job. "I can’t walk into a room anywhere without bringing it up. It’s not just about selling the tickets; it’s just fun to talk about."

Johnson also runs Coastline Travel Advisors, a luxury travel business based in Garden Grove. He was selected, along with around 100 other travel agents, to help sell seats for Virgin Galactic.

They were educated on the basics of space travel, from flight technology to zero gravity conditions.

Over the last seven years, Johnson has sold eight tickets. It may not sound like a lot, but each seat sells for $250,000.

Future astronauts

Finding buyers hasn’t always been easy.

“In the early stages, ... we had no clue who the clients would be,” says Lynda Turley Garrett, an ASA in the Bay Area.

She’s tried marketing at science-themed events, travel expos, museums, even at luxury car dealers.

It’s not like selling other adventure vacations, she says, in part because Virgin doesn’t even have an official launch date. The company says it could start flights by the end of 2014.

Still, between the two of them, Turley Garrett and Johnson have sold to a techie from Silicon Valley, a real estate broker from Columbus, a 70-year-old South Korean retiree and a few celebrities who wish to remain anonymous.

Also in that group, is Josh Resnick, a video-game developer from Brentwood, and his 79-year-old mother, Rheta.

"Even talking about it I get excited" Josh Resnick says.

For him, the allure of being one of the first civilians in space was a big draw.

For his mother, Rheta, it was the chance to do something she dreamed of as a kid, but didn't think would be possible.

"When I was born, there was no television, ... no real washing machines. So we’ve come a long way," she says.

Challenges remain

The space tourism industry has made remarkable progress in recent years, says Dirk Gibson, a professor at the University of New Mexico and author of the ebook "Commercial Space Tourism: Impediments to Industrial Development and Strategic Communication Solutions."

"I think we are closer now than we ever have been," he says.

But, he adds, there are several hurdles ahead for Virgin Galactic and other companies looking to sell space-based travel experiences.

For instance, they have technical issues to work out, and they still need to secure Federal Aviation Administration approval for flights.

Greg Autry, an adjunct professor at USC's Marshall School of Business, says safety is also a concern. "Unproven complex technical systems are subject to failure," he notes. "As we've seen in the commercial aviation business, ... things do go wrong."

That’s partly why Virgin is taking so long to finalize a launch date. A spokesman says the company won’t send people up until it can minimize safety risks.

Still, both Autry and Gibson think this industry will continue to grow.

Ticket to ride

Another barrier for most people is the $250,ooo price tag for a Virgin Galactic flight.

Jay Johnson, though, has an opportunity to bypass that fee. The company has offered ASAs like him a free ride if they sell 10 tickets total. Johnson, with eight customers so far, is almost there.

But he says, if he hits the goal, he probably won't use the ticket himself.

"I honestly think I am going to donate it. Because I would love to go. But I’ll wait my turn until I can afford it."

In the meantime, he’ll keep working the phones, showing up at travel expos, and scouring Southern California for people with a dream of flying to space -- and a couple hundred thousand dollars to spare.

Marketplace for Friday May 2, 2014Four ways to make money in spaceby Sanden Totten Podcast Title Traveling to space? There's an agent for thatSyndication SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond No

Froome second in Tour de Romandie

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-02 09:18
Defending champion Chris Froome finishes second after a sprint finish in stage three of the Tour de Romandie in Switzerland.

When A Yoga Teacher Ticks You Off, Is It Rude to Walk Out?

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-02 09:13

The reasons we go to yoga are many, from building strength to finding calm. But a teacher's style might add to your stress level. Is it OK to abandon class? Or are there reasons to stick it out?

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Matt Smith set for Terminator reboot

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-02 09:09
Paramount Pictures announce Matt Smith is to star opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in the reboot of the terminator franchise.

Jezki beats Hurricane at Punchestown

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-02 09:03
Jezki repeats his Cheltenham triumph over Hurricane Fly as AP McCoy secures another big-race win at Punchestown.

Rock-Paper-Scissors Strategy Could Be More Than Mere Child's Play

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-02 09:03

Scientists have found that the game is less random than it appears because winners tend to replay their winning choice and losers try something else — but according to a predictable pattern.

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Charity cancer teen leaves hospital

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-02 08:50
Cancer patient Stephen Sutton, who has raised more than £3m for the Teenage Cancer Trust, is discharged from hospital.

Author Sue Townsend's funeral held

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-02 08:49
The funeral of author Sue Townsend is held in Leicester with colleagues from the literary world paying tribute to her.

Landslide In Afghanistan Reportedly Leaves Hundreds Missing

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-02 08:25

Officials say scores of people are missing and presumed dead after the slide buried a village in the mountainous northeastern province of Badakhshan.

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Sinn Fein Leader's Arrest Ignites Debate Over Academic Freedom

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-02 08:22

Gerry Adams was arrested in Northern Ireland in connection with a 1972 killing. Some of the case evidence is from a Boston College oral history project in which participants were promised anonymity.

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