National / International News

Campbell tries a new recipe for success

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-02-25 02:00

Campbell Soup Company reports its second-quarter earnings on Wednesday, and it's already warning it expects those numbers to be down given the strong dollar.

UPDATE: Campbell reported a second-quarter profit of $312 million. That's down from the reported $361 million from the same period a year ago. The company also said that sales decreased 2 percent, citing "the negative impact of currency translation."

The company recently announced a restructuring aimed at cutting about $200 million in annual costs over the next three years. Campbell will use that money to invest in new product lines, moving away from its iconic soup, whose sales have thinned over the past few years.

Campbell is trying to capitalize on consumers’ interest in organic and fresh foods. In 2013, it acquired Plum Organics, maker of organic baby food. Erin Lash, senior equity analyst at Morningstar, says organic baby food has a lot of growth potential.

“A lot of times parents are willing to pay up for products for their kids while pulling back spending in other areas,” she says.

Campbell also acquired Bolthouse Farms a few years ago. Its products include baby cut carrots and smoothies.

“There seems to be a slow but steady shift towards fresh consumption,” says Darren Seifer, the food and beverage industry analyst at the NPD Group.

 

Crowd-sourcing hits the bookshelf

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-02-25 02:00

Next month, Amazon’s Kindle Scout will publish its first set of books. The platform was launched in October, and was quickly dubbed a publisher’s version of crowd-sourcing - readers vote for books to be published based on excerpts.

Steve Gannon’s cop thriller, L.A. Sniper, is among the 10 titles that will be released in March. Gannon had been publishing books on Kindle for a while when he decided to try out Kindle Scout. One advantage of publishing online that he enjoys is interacting with the reviews.

“Reviews on Amazon are so immediate,” says Gannon. “I can reply too. I like that.”

He’s also had readers point out typos and parts of a storyline that don't make sense. One reader wrote about a hole in a plot line and said, “I know a lot of writers put that in there just to see if anyone is paying attention!”

Gannon’s response? “I said, 'I wish I could say that, but you caught it, and I fixed it.'”

“It’s good to get a really broad viewpoint from readers,” he says. “They keep you on your toes.”

For all the recent friction between Amazon and authors, Gannon is quite optimistic. He sees it as a great partnership for independent authors like him who need the publicity that a big company like Amazon would bring.

“They are able to lift you from the other hundred-thousand independent authors out there,” says Gannon.

 

 

Sex discrimination suit set to start in Silicon Valley

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-02-25 02:00

There’s a civil suit set to go to trial this week. Ellen Pao, a former employee at Silicon Valley venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, is suing the company, saying  she was discriminated against. The case is drawing attention to an industry where women are still struggling. 

“It’s a boys’ club,” says Susan Duffy, executive director at the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership at Babson College.

A decade ago, 10 percent of venture capital decision-makers were women, according to a study published by Babson last fall. “And now in the United States only 8.6 percent of those decision-makers are women, and globally only 6 percent, so we’re actually going in the wrong direction,” Duffy says. 

 

 

Adjunct faculty demonstrate for better conditions

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-02-25 02:00

Like many part-time college instructors, Basak Durgun doesn’t have an office. She often meets students or other faculty in the food court on campus.

“My office is my backpack,” she says.

That’s a problem, because Durgun has nowhere to meet privately with students in her Cultural Studies classes. Last semester, she says, serious issues like mental health and plagiarism came up.

“All of these intense moments I had to have right in front of the classroom in public,” she says.

On Wednesday, thousands of adjunct faculty and their students around the country are planning demonstrations to demand better working conditions. More than half of college classes are taught by temporary and part-time instructors, often for low pay and no benefits. Organizers are calling it National Adjunct Walkout Day. Given the precarious nature of the job, it’s not clear how many will actually leave their classrooms.

In Virginia, it’s illegal for public employees to walk off the job. So adjuncts at George Mason are planning a teach-in to talk with students and faculty about their working conditions. In addition to private space, they want to be paid for the time they spend prepping for classes, and a cancellation fee when classes are cut at the last minute.

On the other side of the country, Larry Cushnie and his fellow adjuncts are planning a walkout. Cushnie teaches political science at Seattle University, where he says adjuncts make up more than half of the faculty. Adjuncts there have been fighting to form a union.

Cushnie has a PhD and this year is making $48,000 teaching full-time. Next year, though, he has no idea what and where he’ll be teaching. Nationally, a typical adjunct makes about $2,700 per course.

“What life is like is kind of just scrapping quarter to quarter, year to year, to put together a schedule that will kind of meet your needs of basic income,” he says.

The administration at Seattle University declined to be interviewed. At George Mason, Provost David Woo says the university relies heavily on adjuncts not just to save money. Because it’s close to Washington, D.C., he says, George Mason can take advantage of local talent. Many instructors have other careers at, say, the State Department or Lockheed Martin, he says.

“The vast majority of our faculty are working professionals,” Woo says. “A relatively small percentage of them are actually doing adjunct teaching as their primary occupation.”

Career adjuncts make up a growing share of the faculty on campuses, though, many of which charge students $50,000 a year. According to the American Association of University Professors, more than three-quarters of instructors are not on the tenure track.  If all of them were to walk out today, activists say colleges would grind to a halt.

Campbell's Soup tries a new recipe for success

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-02-25 02:00

Campbell Soup Company reports its second-quarter earnings on Wednesday, and it's already warning it expects those numbers to be down given the strong dollar.

The company recently announced a restructuring aimed at cutting about $200 million in annual costs over the next three years. Campbell will use that money to invest in new product lines, moving away from its iconic soup, whose sales have thinned over the past few years.

Campbell is trying to capitalize on consumers’ interest in organic and fresh foods. In 2013, it acquired Plum Organics, maker of organic baby food. Erin Lash, senior equity analyst at Morningstar, says organic baby food has a lot of growth potential.

“A lot of times parents are willing to pay up for products for their kids while pulling back spending in other areas,” she says.

Campbell also acquired Bolthouse Farms a few years ago. Its products include baby cut carrots and smoothies.

“There seems to be a slow but steady shift towards fresh consumption,” says Darren Seifer, the food and beverage industry analyst at the NPD Group.

 

Firms use 1.8m zero-hours contracts

BBC - Wed, 2015-02-25 01:57
Firms in the UK used 1.8 million zero-hours contracts at the height of last summer, official statistics show.

Injured Alonso remains in hospital

BBC - Wed, 2015-02-25 01:49
Injured McLaren driver Fernando Alonso is still in hospital following an accident in pre-season testing.

The best part of waking up ... is no longer Folgers

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-02-25 01:30
125

That's how many episodes "Parks and Recreation" aired over seven years, wrapping up Tuesday night with an hour-long finale. The critically acclaimed sitcom was never a ratings giant, but it enjoyed a long run thanks to a combination of factors unique to the television business. Vulture has a good case-study.

$2,700

That's how much adjunct professors in the U.S. make on average per course taught. Thousands of adjunct faculty—often part-time, and underpaid without benefits—are planning demonstrations on Wednesday as part of National Adjunct Walkout Day. The American Association of University Professors says as many as three-quarters of professors in the U.S. are not on a tenure track.

$312 million

That's the reported second-quarter profit for Campbell Soup Company, which is down from the reported $361 million in profit from the same period a year ago. Campbell's has seen sales of traditional soups slip in recent years. It's why the company is exploring other products like organic baby food.

138,324 percent

That's how much coffee pod sales increased in the past ten years, about 30 percent annually these days. The pods, popularized by Keurig's single-cup coffeemakers, are leading a surge in low-end coffee sales both at home and in cafes, the Washington Post reports.

Washington Post $4.7 billion

Whole Foods Markets' sales last quarter, a four-year record. The upscale grocer may be pulling out of the sales slump and stock price tailspin its seen in recent years, Quartz reported, thanks in large part to lowering its prices.

85 countries

That's how many countries Gemalto, a Dutch SIM card maker, operates in. As reported by the BBC, the company says that the NSA and GCHQ likely did hack into it systems as alleged by the documents leaked by Edward Snowden. Elaborating on two specific attacks, Gemalto said fake emails were sent to a customer that appeared to come from an employee, and a hacking attempt was made to spy on messages sent between workers in their French office.

'Don't cut other areas to fund NHS'

BBC - Wed, 2015-02-25 01:15
Most people do not want to see cuts to other public services in order to protect the NHS, according to data from the British Social Attitudes survey.

Nature park search for missing girl

BBC - Wed, 2015-02-25 01:07
A nature reserve is sealed off as part of the search for a Bristol teenager following her "out-of-character" disappearance.

Girl hit by car now 'critically ill'

BBC - Wed, 2015-02-25 00:53
A teenage schoolgirl who was hit by a car in Belfast on Tuesday morning is now critically ill in hospital.

VIDEO: US house destroyed in gas blast

BBC - Wed, 2015-02-25 00:49
Two people are seriously injured in an explosion at a house in the US state of New Jersey.

Ambulance times improve after low

BBC - Wed, 2015-02-25 00:45
Ambulance response times for the most urgent calls in Wales improve slightly over the last month following worst figures on record.

Europe's 'Landsat' ready for launch

BBC - Wed, 2015-02-25 00:32
The "workhorse" satellite in Europe's new multi-billion-euro Earth observation programme is built and ready to go into orbit.

VIDEO: Backstage at the Brit Awards 2015

BBC - Wed, 2015-02-25 00:32
Natalie Jamieson goes on a backstage tour ahead of the Brits Awards 2015.

No World Cup compensation - Fifa

BBC - Wed, 2015-02-25 00:28
Fifa says it will not pay compensation to clubs and leagues unhappy about plans to play 2022 World Cup in November and December.

Trampoline park temporarily closed

BBC - Wed, 2015-02-25 00:27
A new trampoline park in Midlothian which had more than 100 incidents in three weeks is temporarily closed due to "licensing issues".

Immigration Street 'fractures' area

BBC - Wed, 2015-02-25 00:22
Residents of an area shown in a controversial TV programme about immigration say they feel "fractured" and "disappointed" and fearing a backlash.

'Torture Report' Reshapes Conversation In Guantanamo Courtroom

NPR News - Tue, 2015-02-24 23:57

Last year's release of a Senate report on CIA interrogation practices means lawyers for the accused Sept. 11 plotters can now discuss in court the treatment they say their clients endured.

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D.C. Bible Museum Will Be Immersive Experience, Organizers Say

NPR News - Tue, 2015-02-24 23:53

Just three blocks from the U.S. Capitol, construction is underway for the Museum of the Bible, which will hold about 40,000 biblical artifacts from the family of Hobby Lobby president Steve Green.

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