National / International News

The Energy Behind Repealing Obamacare May Be Ebbing

NPR News - Mon, 2014-05-05 11:15

Republicans may not be as focused on Affordable Care Act repeal as before, but that doesn't mean the law has turned the corner in terms of public support.

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Sports agent Leigh Steinberg on pro football's rise

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-05-05 11:09

As the NFL draft begins later this week, a lot of attention will be on the players. But there's another figure to keep in mind throughout the process: the sports agent.

Leigh Steinberg, the author of the new book "The Agent," knows the process all too well. He got his start back in 1975 while working as a dorm counselor at UC Berkeley. One of his freshman residents, Steve Bartkowski, was his first client. He says negotiating contracts then was much different than it is now.

"Bart asked me to represent him, and there was a World Football League competing with the NFL then," Steinberg said, "so we had leverage, and we were able to get the largest rookie contract in NFL history."

Since then, Steinberg has secured over $2 billion for over 100 clients, and has represented the number one draft pick in the NFL draft eight times.

Steinberg has seen many of the changes in pro football throughout his 40-year career, thanks in part, he says, to the growth of television.

"There were weeks last year where three out of the five Nielsen-rated shows were nighttime NFL football," he said.

That's to say nothing of how the concussion discussion has changed over the last couple of decades. Steinberg said he held seminars so his players could hear what doctors had to say.

"I had a crisis [of] conscience in the '80s. We'd go to the doctors, and they couldn't tell us how many was too many," he said. "What makes this different than any other injury is it affects rationality, consciousness, memory, and what it means to be a human being."

But if you ask the players, he says, they would do it all over again.

FAA Head: Safety, Privacy Concerns Abound In Regulating Drones

NPR News - Mon, 2014-05-05 11:01

The Federal Aviation Administration is under pressure to come up with rules for the commercial use of drones. The central issue: How can they fly safely in the same airspace as other aircraft?

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One dead in Oklahoma wildfire

BBC - Mon, 2014-05-05 10:50
A man is dead in the US state of Oklahoma after a blaze set by firefighters to clear brush spread out of control, officials say.

VIDEO: Pistorius 'broken' after shooting

BBC - Mon, 2014-05-05 10:48
South African athlete Oscar Pistorius "was broken" after shooting his girlfriend, his neighbour says, as the murder trial resumes after a break.

Language purge targets Russian arts

BBC - Mon, 2014-05-05 10:21
Russian President Vladimir Putin signs a law banning all swearing in films, television broadcasts, theatres and the media.

Why the unpaid internship may be on its way out

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-05-05 10:17

Just how crucial is a summer internship these days? When I stopped by Columbia University in New York recently, almost every student I talked to either had one lined up—or was working on it.

“It’s almost as required as the core classes here,” says freshman Keenan Piper. “If you’re not taking internships over the summer, you’re just getting behind.”

Piper, a pre-med student from Seattle, plans to do a research internship back home at the University of Washington—most likely unpaid. Junior Ethan Ling has scored a coveted paid gig in Hong Kong, after working for free last summer—full time—at a venture capital firm.

“I just had to do it just to beef up my resume,” Ling says. “I think in the job market you just have to do what you have to do to get a job at the end of the day.”

Even for brand-new graduates, employers place a premium on work experience. In a survey by Marketplace and the Chronicle of Higher Education, the number one thing employers wanted to see on a recent grad's resume wasn’t a high GPA or an elite alma mater. It was an internship.

Yet almost half the internships done by last year’s graduating class during college were unpaid, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). And not everyone can afford to work for free.

“I tend to sort of breeze over the ones that don’t pay, because I don’t think it’s really fair," says freshman Brittney Wade, who’s looking for a summer position in public relations. “Yes, we’re doing it for an experience, and that is valuable to us, but I don’t think there should be free labor enforced when it comes to internships.”

A lot of people are starting to agree. Last spring a federal judge threw water on the long tradition of the unpaid internship. He ruled that Fox Searchlight Pictures had broken the law by failing to pay interns who did the work of paid employees. The ruling forced employers everywhere to rethink their policies.

“Any time you post an ad for an unpaid internship, you’re writing ‘Poor people need not apply’ in big letters at the top,” says Mikey Franklin, founder of the Fair Pay Campaign to end unpaid internships.

If the fairness argument hasn’t been persuasive, the threat of lawsuits has been. Magazine publisher Condé Nast just settled a suit brought by some of its former unpaid interns. Rather than start paying, the company shut down its internship program altogether. Many other companies—from Viacom to the New York Times to the nonprofit Lean In—have opted to pay at least minimum wage.

“We’re seeing a gradual move towards paid internships and away from unpaid internships,” says Franklin. “But the culture of unpaid internships is deeply ingrained.”

And here’s where I have to come clean. Though Marketplace pays all of its interns, I myself hired one last summer to work—unpaid—on my own project, a documentary film. Like many interns, she got college credit. But that practice is under fire, too. Recently Columbia announced it would no longer give its undergraduates credit for internships. Other schools have stepped up their oversight.

“All that Columbia giving this credit did was enable employers to offer unpaid internships and say that, ‘Well they get credit, so it must be legal,’” says senior Peter Sterne.

Sterne has done his share of internships, at the Columbia Journalism Review and the New York Observer. He says the fact that he could afford to work unpaid—thanks, Mom and Dad—gave him an unfair advantage. He now runs a website tracking who pays interns and how much. As more companies start paying, he says, there will probably be fewer positions to go around.

“It’s going to be more difficult to get an internship,” he says. “If they have to pay minimum wage, then it’s going to be much more selective.”

That may be happening already. NACE, the group of colleges and employers, tracks internships in an annual survey. The group’s Edwin Koch says typically he sees at least a 5 percent increase in positions every year, even when the economy’s stagnant.

This year?

“We saw no real increase in the number of internships available this year as opposed to last year, whereas there should be a substantial increase at this point,” Koch says.

That has colleges nervous. They’re under a lot of pressure to produce employable graduates who land good jobs. Several higher education groups recently filed a brief in a pair of intern lawsuits now on appeal in New York, arguing that there’s still a place for the unpaid internship.

“The internships tend to be of such value to students that the fact that they are not receiving a paycheck is somewhat secondary to the value of the experience,” says Ada Meloy, general counsel of the American Council on Education, one of the groups that weighed in.

But a paycheck goes a long way—and not just toward paying the bills. NACE found that students who did paid internships were far more likely to have at least one job offer by graduation than those who worked for free.

Where Are The Missing Nigerian Schoolgirls?

NPR News - Mon, 2014-05-05 10:03

More than 250 schoolgirls were seized by a radical Islamist group three weeks ago. The president is finally speaking publicly, but many Nigerians are outraged over what they see as a tepid response.

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Why green olives come in jars, but black ones come in cans

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-05-05 09:58

Carol Shearer of Eagle River, Alaska, says this started as an economic question in the grocery store. She needed black olives, but not a whole can.

She wondered: Why can’t you get black olives in a jar like you do the other kind?

So, as we do, we went on the hunt...

Part 1:  The Quest

Getting to the bottom of this question was not easy. We asked three people:

First up: Mort Rosenblum, author of "The Olive: Life and Lore of a Noble Fruit."

"That's a wild question," he said. "Which I don't think I can answer."

 

What, and black olives are ugly?

Nope.  Actually, they came in glass jars, too, once upon a time. But that’s getting ahead of ourselves.

Next up, we took our "wild question" to the staff of Eataly, a high-concept Italian food complex that just opened a branch in Chicago.

Dave Malzan is a manager in the Salumi-Formaggi department, which includes the olive bar, with olives from all over Italy.

Dan Weissmann/Marketplace

Malzan said I was in the wrong place.

"If you’re thinking about the olives at your grandma’s house that you may have worn on your fingers on Thanksgiving? No, those guys we do not carry."

Malzan says Eataly isn’t just about eating. Eataly is about knowing the story of what you’re eating.

Actually, there’s a great story. And finally, I found the person who knows it best: Judith Taylor, who wrote the other book on olives. She's a retired physician who now writes horticultural histories. In 2000, she published "The Olive in California: History of an Immigrant Tree".

Part 2:  The Story

The black olive—also known as the California ripe olive—was invented in Oakland, by a German widow named Freda Ehmann.

In the mid-1890s all she had was an olive grove nobody thought was worth very much.

“She must have been an amazing and remarkable woman," Taylor says. "Because instead of sitting in her daughter’s rocking chair in Oakland, she decided to get busy and pick the olives and do something with them.”

She got a recipe from the University of California for artificially ripening olives. (Green olives are pickled green— as in, not ripe.)

From a  1918 local history:

"[R]eturning to her daughter’s house in Oakland, she turned the back porch into a pickling plant, got some wine-casks, cut them in two, and went to work. Uncertain of the result, she dared not assume the expense of piping water to the vats, so that through all the process of leaching and pickling she carried the gallons of water herself. Passing restless nights, she went to work at five o’clock in the morning, and all through the day and until late in the evening she watched the slow and mysterious changes of the fruit."

Freda perfected the recipe, sold her olives locally, then went East to open up new markets. She scored her first hit in Philadelphia.

Eventually, she had a national business, requiring new orchards, and factories. She kept going back to the University of California for more tips—including packaging.

"When she first went to Philadelphia, she had them in kegs and barrels—just sort of loosely covered, you know," Taylor says. "Not sealed." 

 Then, glass jars. Because they don’t spill?

"Yes, and they’re very pretty," Taylor says.  "And gradually they developed a technique of sealing the jars effectively. And with that came trouble."

You seal the jar, and what’s inside?

"That’s a perfect cultural medium for botulism," Taylor says.

In 1919, olive-related botulism outbreaks started killing people.

In August, 14 people got sick after a dinner party at a country club near Canton, Ohio.  Seven of them died.

 A week later, epidemiologists went to work, interviewing the survivors. Pinpointing the olives as the source of those deaths involved some great detective work. Their report includes:

...the seating chart. X marks the spot where people died:

… and a thorough discussion of who ate what, to eliminate other possible causes. For instance:

 

 

 

 

 

And the final, damning conclusion:

"The occurrence of poisoning at the Sebring table can be accounted for only by the ripe olives served at this table."

Among the waiters at the club there is a custom of collecting the delicacies after the diners have finished, and the two waiters poisoned did so collect the left-over olives and ate some of them. Later, waiter C.O. carried the olives to the chef with the request that he “Try one of these damn things, they don’t taste right to me.” The chef ate two and later died."

The 1919 case didn’t involve Freda Ehmann’s olives. But a 1924 case did.

The next decade was murder for the California olive industry.

The whole industry switched to a new standard for the ripe California olive.

"It has to be heated to 240 degrees. And only a can would tolerate that, physically—you couldn’t do that with a glass jar."

Eventually, California olives came back. In cans.

 

But Ehmann had long since retired. She was heartbroken.

"She couldn’t come to terms with the fact that something she’d done had killed people," Taylor says.

Today, there are just two olive-canning companies in California.  

Why do green olives come in jars, but black olives come in cans?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-05-05 09:58

Carol Shearer of Eagle River, Alaska, says this started as an economic question in the grocery store. She needed black olives, but not a whole can.

She wondered: Why can’t you get black olives in a jar like you do the other kind?

So, as we do, we went on the hunt...

Part 1:  The Quest

Getting to the bottom of this question was not easy. We asked three people:

First up: Mort Rosenblum, author of "The Olive: Life and Lore of a Noble Fruit."

"That's a wild question," he said. "Which I don't think I can answer."

 

What, and black olives are ugly?

Nope.  Actually, they came in glass jars, too, once upon a time. But that’s getting ahead of ourselves.

Next up, we took our "wild question" to the staff of Eataly, a high-concept Italian food complex that just opened a branch in Chicago.

Dave Malzan is a manager in the Salumi-Formaggi department, which includes the olive bar, with olives from all over Italy.

Dan Weissmann/Marketplace

Malzan said I was in the wrong place.

"If you’re thinking about the olives at your grandma’s house that you may have worn on your fingers on Thanksgiving? No, those guys we do not carry."

Malzan says Eataly isn’t just about eating. Eataly is about knowing the story of what you’re eating.

Actually, there’s a great story. And finally, I found the person who knows it best: Judith Taylor, who wrote the other book on olives. She's a retired physician who now writes horticultural histories. In 2000, she published "The Olive in California: History of an Immigrant Tree".

Part 2:  The Story

The black olive—also known as the California ripe olive—was invented in Oakland, by a German widow named Freda Ehmann.

In the mid-1890s all she had was an olive grove nobody thought was worth very much.

“She must have been an amazing and remarkable woman," Taylor says. "Because instead of sitting in her daughter’s rocking chair in Oakland, she decided to get busy and pick the olives and do something with them.”

She got a recipe from the University of California for artificially ripening olives. (Green olives are pickled green— as in, not ripe.)

From a  1918 local history:

"[R]eturning to her daughter’s house in Oakland, she turned the back porch into a pickling plant, got some wine-casks, cut them in two, and went to work. Uncertain of the result, she dared not assume the expense of piping water to the vats, so that through all the process of leaching and pickling she carried the gallons of water herself. Passing restless nights, she went to work at five o’clock in the morning, and all through the day and until late in the evening she watched the slow and mysterious changes of the fruit."

Freda perfected the recipe, sold her olives locally, then went East to open up new markets. She scored her first hit in Philadelphia.

Eventually, she had a national business, requiring new orchards, and factories. She kept going back to the University of California for more tips—including packaging.

"When she first went to Philadelphia, she had them in kegs and barrels—just sort of loosely covered, you know," Taylor says. "Not sealed." 

 Then, glass jars. Because they don’t spill?

"Yes, and they’re very pretty," Taylor says.  "And gradually they developed a technique of sealing the jars effectively. And with that came trouble."

You seal the jar, and what’s inside?

"That’s a perfect cultural medium for botulism," Taylor says.

In 1919, olive-related botulism outbreaks started killing people.

In August, 14 people got sick after a dinner party at a country club near Canton, Ohio.  Seven of them died.

 A week later, epidemiologists went to work, interviewing the survivors. Pinpointing the olives as the source of those deaths involved some great detective work. Their report includes:

...the seating chart. X marks the spot where people died:

… and a thorough discussion of who ate what, to eliminate other possible causes. For instance:

 

 

 

 

 

And the final, damning conclusion:

"The occurrence of poisoning at the Sebring table can be accounted for only by the ripe olives served at this table."

Among the waiters at the club there is a custom of collecting the delicacies after the diners have finished, and the two waiters poisoned did so collect the left-over olives and ate some of them. Later, waiter C.O. carried the olives to the chef with the request that he “Try one of these damn things, they don’t taste right to me.” The chef ate two and later died."

The 1919 case didn’t involve Freda Ehmann’s olives. But a 1924 case did.

The next decade was murder for the California olive industry.

The whole industry switched to a new standard for the ripe California olive.

"It has to be heated to 240 degrees. And only a can would tolerate that, physically—you couldn’t do that with a glass jar."

Eventually, California olives came back. In cans.

 

But Ehmann had long since retired. She was heartbroken.

"She couldn’t come to terms with the fact that something she’d done had killed people," Taylor says.

Today, there are just two olive-canning companies in California.  

Boko Haram 'to sell' abducted girls

BBC - Mon, 2014-05-05 09:53
The Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram says it will "sell" the hundreds of schoolgirls it abducted three weeks ago.

Man killed in tram crash at station

BBC - Mon, 2014-05-05 09:49
A man is hit by a tram and killed at a Metrolink station in Greater Manchester, police say.

VIDEO: Best shots of the World Championship

BBC - Mon, 2014-05-05 09:48
BBC Sport looks back at the best shots of the 2014 World Snooker Championship at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre.

Man freed after 13-year-late jailing

BBC - Mon, 2014-05-05 09:40
A US man, who authorities forgot to send to prison for 13 years, has been released after spending 10 months behind bars.

Woods unsure of return after surgery

BBC - Mon, 2014-05-05 09:39
Tiger Woods says he is unsure when he will return to action because his recovery from back surgery is "a very slow process".

Cheese-rolling matures in village

BBC - Mon, 2014-05-05 09:38
About 2,000 people watch an annual cheese rolling competition, 50 years after it was introduced to drum up trade in a village which was by-passed.

Mo. Man Whose Prison Term Was Delayed By Clerical Error Is Free Again

NPR News - Mon, 2014-05-05 09:30

Cornealious "Mike" Anderson was convicted of robbery in 2000, but the state didn't order him to prison until 2013. On Monday, a judge ordered him free, saying he had shown himself to be a good man.

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World facing polio health emergency

BBC - Mon, 2014-05-05 09:23
The World Health Organization declares the recent spread of polio an international public health emergency.

'2014 could be key for women's cycling'

BBC - Mon, 2014-05-05 09:08
Two-time Olympic champion Marianne Vos believes 2014 could be a pivotal year in the progress of women's cycling.

Target CEO steps down in security breach aftermath

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-05-05 09:00

Retail giant Target just announced that its CEO Gregg Steinhafel is stepping down after more than 30 years with the company, having served 6 of those years as CEO -- It has not been a smooth tenure. The company’s 4th  quarter profits fell by nearly half after hackers stole as many as 70 million credit and debit card numbers from the company’s database.

Two months after Target was hacked, Brian Krebs, who broke the story, logged onto the company’s website to see who had been put in charge of technology. To his surprise, there wasn’t anyone listed.

“I think a lot of people were kind of surprised by that and were hoping for a little more fast action on the part of Target’s leadership,” says Krebs.

The massive security breach wasn’t the only strike against Target under Steinhafels’ leadership.

“There are some operational issues, and from a financial point of view it’s had some real problems with its foray into Canada,” says Craig Johnson, president of the retail consulting firm Customer Growth Partners.

He says Target overpaid for many of its Canadian properties, and once they opened, the stores didn’t perform as well as expected. This along with rebuilding Target’s reputation with customers will be high among the list of priorities for interim CEO John Mulligan. Along with the shift of Mulligan to the interim position, Target announced last Tuesday that former Home Depot Chief Information Officer Bob DeRodes will be the next CIO. 

 

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