National / International News

Duke of Kent 'to leave hospital'

BBC - Tue, 2015-04-07 02:32
The Duke of Kent - the Queen's cousin - is expected to leave hospital later following successful treatment for a dislocated hip, Buckingham Palace says.

VIDEO: Lost boy rescued after five-day ordeal

BBC - Tue, 2015-04-07 02:31
An 11-year-old Australian boy who went missing during a family camping trip five days ago has been found alive.

Former Olympic champion Liu retires

BBC - Tue, 2015-04-07 02:12
China's Olympic gold medal-winning 110m hurdler Liu Xiang announces his retirement from athletics.

Starbucks CEO wants us to Learn Together, too

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-04-07 02:02

Since last summer, Starbucks has been paying for college for some of its employees. Now that program is going from Tall to—what shall we say—Grande?

CEO Howard Schultz has just announced that the Starbucks education money for online degrees through Arizona State University will now kick in for the early years of college, not just the last two. It's just one of a number of projects at the company that are more about social change than coffee, tea and muffins. A few weeks ago, the company tried to foster a national discussion about issues of race that proved controversial.

Click the media player above to hear Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz talk about expanding the company's education initiative, as well as the lessons learned from the previous campaign.

 

Greece makes huge claim for Nazi era

BBC - Tue, 2015-04-07 02:00
Athens says Germany owes Greece nearly 279bn euros in war reparations for the Nazi occupation in World War Two.

A group of Atlanta educators caught cheating

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-04-07 02:00

Eleven educators in Atlanta’s public school system were convicted last week in what’s being called the largest cheating scandal in American history. The group included teachers, testing officials and school administrators in the state of Georgia.  

The cheating was discovered through an unrelated data analysis by state officials in 2009. They examined standardized tests from schools across the state and found that an overwhelming number of Atlanta’s public schools reported tests where the wrong answer was erased and replaced with the right answer.  

“What the takeaway is, as state prosecutors just proved, is there was a district wide conspiracy to  cheat on these standardized tests,” said Rose Scott, a reporter and co-host of A Closer Look on WABE, Atlanta’s NPR station.

It’s still unclear, said Scott, whether teachers influenced students to change test answers or changed the answers themselves. “It’s a combination of both according to state officials and state investigators,” she added.

The analysis was fair overall, said Scott, because the state officials had not singled out public schools in Atlanta.

“But when the data came back, it showed that there was a high number of wrong to right erasures,” she said.

The cheating has raised other questions about the Atlanta public school system - for example, 80 percent of the students in it are at or near the poverty level, said Scott.   

“A huge percentage of them need additional resources for taking this test, but those additional resources did not mean teachers changing answers just to pass them on to the next grade or teachers changing answers to meet a high standard that was set by the district to begin with,” said Scott.

 

Alcoa faces pressure to cut cost

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-04-07 02:00

Alcoa reports earnings this Wednesday. The aluminum manufacturer is hoping to boost earnings by producing less aluminum, or smelting. Increased competition, especially from China, is pressuring Alcoa to reduce costs, close smelting plants and focus on more sophisticated finished aluminum products. This part of a strategy to compete against China, which once produced 5 percent of the world’s aluminum. Now it produces 50. And it’s being exported. 

Click the media player above to hear more. 

 

 

 

Learn Together

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-04-07 02:00

Since last summer, Starbucks has been paying for college for some of its employees. Now that program is going from tall to-what shall we say-grande? CEO Howard Schultz has just announced that the Starbucks education money for online degrees through Arizona State University will now kick in for the early years of college, not just the last two years. It's just one of a number of projects at the company that are more about social change than coffee, tea and muffins. A few weeks ago, the company tried to foster a national discussion about issues of race that proved controversial.

To listen to our conversation about the Shultz's expanding education initiative, as well as the lessons learned from the previous campaign, click on the multimedia player above.

 

Public-private partnerships seeing funds cut back

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-04-07 02:00

Vice President Joe Biden is speaking at a conference hosted by the Department of Housing and Urban Development on Tuesday.

The conference will focus on programs for expanding affordable housing in the U.S.

Traditionally, HUD has partnered with private business and nonprofits to achieve this. Those groups tend to know the needs of their communities better than bureaucrats in Washington says Bruce Katz, founder of Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. That means money is spent more efficiently.  

“You want to have flexibility in the system. Housing markets tend to differ dramatically from let’s say, a Denver to a Detroit, or from a New York to a New Orleans," says Katz.

The problem, he says, is that Federal funding for things like affordable housing is being cut back as an increasing share of the budget goes toward entitlement programs like Medicaid and Social Security.

In practice, that means many public-private partnerships have been given an increasing share of responsibility with decreasing funding.

"That money has just dwindled to a place where the city just doesn't have the wherewithal to continue to fund these projects to any great extent," says Richard Baron, CEO of McCormack Baron Salazar, an affordable housing developer based in St. Louis.

Baron says these partnerships are still the best way to provide service to communities, but the government must be the primary investor.

 

A group of Atlanta educators caught cheating

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-04-07 02:00

Eleven educators in Atlanta’s public school system were convicted last week in what’s being called the largest cheating scandal in American history. The group included teachers, testing officials and school administrators in the state of Georgia.  

The cheating was discovered through an unrelated data analysis by state officials in 2009. They examined standardized tests from schools across the state and found that an overwhelming number of Atlanta’s public schools reported tests where the wrong answer was erased and replaced with the right answer.  

“What the takeaway is, as state prosecutors just proved, is there was a district wide conspiracy to  cheat on these standardized tests,” said Rose Scott, a reporter and co-host of A Closer Look on WABE, Atlanta’s NPR station.

It’s still unclear, said Scott, whether teachers influenced students to change test answers or changed the answers themselves. “It’s a combination of both according to state officials and state investigators,” she added.

The analysis was fair overall, said Scott, because the state officials had not singled out public schools in Atlanta.

“But when the data came back, it showed that there was a high number of wrong to right erasures,” she said.

The cheating has raised other questions about the Atlanta public school system - for example, 80 percent of the students in it are at or near the poverty level, said Scott.   

“A huge percentage of them need additional resources for taking this test, but those additional resources did not mean teachers changing answers just to pass them on to the next grade or teachers changing answers to meet a high standard that was set by the district to begin with,” said Scott.

 

Streit's bakes last passover matzos in Manhattan

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-04-07 02:00

After nearly a century in New York's Lower East Side, Streit’s matzo factory plans to relocate this summer. The family-run business that holds almost 40 percent of the domestic matzo market is confident it’s a good business move and will allow the business to survive for generations to come.       

“Just being part of the neighborhood is amazing, and it’s fun, and it gives a little bit of a different feel to our plant. And it’s something I’ll miss emotionally. But, business wise, it’s just not the right way to do it,” says Aaron Gross, a fifth generation family member in the business. Gross and two cousins run the day-to-day operations at Streit’s. 

Gross runs the day to say operations of Streit's along with two cousins.

Caroline Losneck

Inside the Streit’s factory, you’re almost instantly struck — in both senses of the word — by baskets of matzo flying through the air as they move from the oven to the packing floor.

“We have two ovens on multiple floors," says Gross. "We bring the flour in the basement, we blow it up to the fifth floor, it goes down to the fourth and second floor to the mixing rooms, where it goes down to the third and first floor for the ovens. And then everything meets on the second floor to get packed. And then everything goes down the elevator to the shipping room to get shipped over to our warehouse.”

Matzo dough before it enters the oven. 

Caroline Losneck

Streit’s has been been cranking out 1800 pounds of the crispy cracker per hour in its Manhattan factory for 90 years. The plant was state of the art back in the 20's and 30's. But Gross says manufacturing in an antiquated factory is like trying to "fight with one hand tied behind your back."  

“We know how to work in four tenement buildings. We know how to load on the street. We know how to do all this stuff. But, the fact that our competitors don’t have to do it, puts us at...a disadvantage,” he says. 

Sales of Streit’s unleavened bread have been anything but flat. The company earns over $20 million annually. Rabbi Mayer Kirshner is the head supervising Rabbi at Streit's. He makes sure Streit’s production meets strict kosher standards. Even though it’s an emotional decision, he knows it’s time to move on. 

“We should have been out of this factory years ago, “ he says. 

Rabbi Mayer Kirshner, supervising the matzo dough before it goes into the oven.

Caroline Losneck

In the new factory, Aaron Gross says they will  be able to make about 3000 pounds of matzo an hour, almost double what they do now. And, they stand to make some money. Seven years ago, they nearly sold the property for $25 million. 

What would Streit’s founder, Aaron Gross’s great-great-grandfather Aron Streit, say about the move? 

“I think Aron Streit would be proud of us for making this decision, and he would realize that it’s necessary," says Gross. "There’s no need for us to be here and to put us at a competitive disadvantage. He’d be the first to move, I believe. He was very smart businessman.” 

The new location has not been revealed yet, but it will likely be in New York or New Jersey. The authenticity that comes from being an anchor of the Jewish Lower East Side is something Gross hopes to keep. “The Lower East Side will always be in our DNA,” he says. 

One worry about the move? Finding good New York City water, the not-so-secret ingredient that some say makes the matzo so superb.

Matzo on cooling racks in the Streit's factory.

Caroline Losneck

VIDEO: Battle to save African-American banks

BBC - Tue, 2015-04-07 01:54
Banks owned by African-Americans which serve the black community in the US have been closing down at a rapid pace.

VIDEO: Inheriting mansion 'came with big bill'

BBC - Tue, 2015-04-07 01:54
West Horsley Place in Surrey was left to Bamber Gascoigne by his late aunt Mary Duchess of Roxburghe, but comes with a hefty repair bill

UKIP outline plan for veterans

BBC - Tue, 2015-04-07 01:49
UKIP's Nigel Farage is set to expand on his party's commitment to the armed forces, and call for a veterans' minister to be independent of the Ministry of Defence.

Stormy weather ahead for the Weather Channel

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-04-07 01:47
$4.8 billion

That's the worth of the deal in which FedEx Corporation will pay to acquire TNT Express, a Dutch shipping company. As reported by the NY Times, the move will greatly expand FedEx's presence throughout Europe.

5.6

The number of households the Weather Channel lost when Verizon dropped them from its FiOS cable service, and its bracing to lose 14 million more from Dish Network. The network's future isn't sunny, the Wall Street Journal reported, as its parent company tries to expand its digital and business-to-business arms to make up the gap in revenue.

40 percent

That's the percent of the domestic motza market held by Streit's motza factory, which has been operating out of the Lower East Side of Manhattan for nearly a century. But this summer, the business will find a new location. Aaron Gross, a fifth generation family member in the business, says it doesn't make sense to run the company with such an antiquated set-up. A new location would allow Streit's to produce double their current output, as well as bring in revenue from what is sure to be a lucrative sale of the current property.

50 percent

The discount Apple employees will get on the company's Watch when it launches next month, though the Verge notes the $10,000+ Apple Watch Edition is an exception. Still can't decide which Watch to buy? Take our quiz.

$20

The typical price to get in a kids' party in a New York night club hosted by Cirkiz. The company has built a business on organizing parties when clubs would usually be closed. They routinely sell out, and Cirkiz is looking to expand.

11 educators

In what is being called the largest cheating scandal in American history, 11 educators were convicted of erasing incorrect answers and replacing them with corrections on standardized tests. The cheating was discovered through an unrelated data analysis by state officials in 2009.

VIDEO: The floating pop-up power station

BBC - Tue, 2015-04-07 01:46
A pop up power station that can be set up in a day is being developed by a US startup.

Video shows Afghan hostage beheaded

BBC - Tue, 2015-04-07 01:38
Militants who kidnapped 31 people from a bus in Afghanistan release a video showing one of the hostages being beheaded.

#BBCdebate: Your questions

BBC - Tue, 2015-04-07 01:31
Put your questions to the party leaders during the BBC's live debate.

Islamic web of Middle East enmity

BBC - Tue, 2015-04-07 01:18
Jawad Iqbal reviews how shifting religious and geopolitical alliances are fuelling the widespread intra-Islamic turmoil in the Middle East.

British Olympic boxer Jonas retires

BBC - Tue, 2015-04-07 01:18
Natasha Jonas, the first woman to box for Great Britain at the Olympic Games, retires 16 months before Rio 2016.

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