National / International News

Weekendish: Petrol, crime and Frank Sidebottom

BBC - Fri, 2014-04-25 09:01
A round-up of some of the best long and short reads, as well as video, from the BBC News website this week, with your extra comments.

Bomb team finds suspect material

BBC - Fri, 2014-04-25 08:46
Bomb disposal officers remove suspect material after a search at a block of flats in the Leith area of Edinburgh.

New Manchester United Skipper Vows To Make Fans Smile Again

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-25 08:43

David Moyes lasted less than a season as manager of the English football (soccer) club. Longtime star player Ryan Giggs is filling in and says this is "the proudest moment" of his life.

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10 things we didn't know last week

BBC - Fri, 2014-04-25 08:40
Czech deer still avoid the Iron Curtain, plus other factlets

How running has changed since the four-minute mile

BBC - Fri, 2014-04-25 08:35
What the four-minute mile reveals about the class system

A piece in a jigsaw puzzle. A missing piece.

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-25 08:35

From the Marketplace Datebook, here's an extended look at what's coming up the week of April 28th:

On Monday the National Association of Realtors releases its pending home sales index for March.

Congress returns from recess.

Now that it's T-rex has arrived, the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History is shutting down its Fossil Hall for a 5-year renovation in preparation for its new centerpiece. While you're waiting to see the new Tyrannosaurus take center stage you could finally plan to see the Mona Lisa instead.

On Tuesday, the Conference Board releases its April Consumer Confidence Index.

And what's the deal with birthdays? Comedian Jerry Seinfeld turns 60.

Newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst was born on April 29, 1863. He built a media empire and a giant castle which you can tour in San Simeon, California.

On May 1st, 1941 "Citizen Kane" premiered in New York City. It was about a publishing tycoon.

Also on May 1, automakers are scheduled to release sales figures for April.

(Hey, have I got a great name for your new ride; Rosebud.)

On Friday, the Commerce Department reports on March factory orders and the Labor Department issues its jobs report for April.

And finally, I know we've been talking a lot about eggs this past week. 'Tis the season. And it continues all May long with National Egg Month. So scramble up some fun.

'Don't Touch Me,' Said Canada. 'I Won't!' Said The USA. So They Moved 20 Feet Apart

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-25 08:32

Canada and the USA agreed to create a 20-foot-wide corridor between them that runs for 5,500 continuous miles. Cartographers drew the line straight, but engineers built it crooked. Take a look.

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RBS plan for 200% bonuses blocked

BBC - Fri, 2014-04-25 08:29
Royal Bank of Scotland abandons attempts to pay bonuses twice the size of salaries after being told the move would not be approved by a Treasury body.

Cliven Bundy, #myNYPD: Public Relations Fails?

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-25 08:23

Both rancher Cliven Bundy and the New York Police Department had a rough week in the spotlight. The Barbershop guys weigh in on the risks of talking or tweeting too much.

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Maliki attacks Saudi 'interference'

BBC - Fri, 2014-04-25 08:21
Iraqi PM Nouri Maliki tells the BBC that Saudi Arabia has "clearly interfered" in Syria and in Iraq's internal affairs.

Cleveland Fans Confront Racist Traditions

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-25 08:18

Native American-themed mascots are at the center of a growing national debate, including the Cleveland Indians mascot, Chief Wahoo. Sports blogger Pete Pattakkos talks about pushing for change.

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'Blood Victory' In Medical Research Dispute

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-25 08:16

The Havasupai Native American tribe celebrated Blood Victory Day this week. That's the anniversary of their legal victory over researchers who misused members' blood samples without proper consent.

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Deal in place for Odyssey purchase

BBC - Fri, 2014-04-25 08:10
Cinema operator Omniplex says it has signed contracts with administrators KPMG for the purchase of the Odyssey Pavilion.

Online sex abusers jailed in Bahrain

BBC - Fri, 2014-04-25 08:10
Four men are jailed in Bahrain after duping young British boys into sending sexually explicit images of themselves.

Is Anti-Semitism In Ukraine A Real Threat?

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-25 08:08

Tensions remain high in Ukraine, and there are also concerns that anti-Semitism is taking root during the political crisis. Richard Brodsky of Demos discusses the issue.

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What's Next For Divided Supreme Court?

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-25 08:03

The Supreme Court handed down major decisions on some controversial cases this week. David Savage of the Los Angeles Times and Amy Howe of SCOTUSblog discuss the rulings and what's next.

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Climbers descend Everest amid row

BBC - Fri, 2014-04-25 07:57
Around half the expedition teams at Everest base camp are leaving, sherpa guides say, amid uncertainty over the climbing season after an accident killed 16 people.

Dead cats found hung from NY trees

BBC - Fri, 2014-04-25 07:54
Authorities in a suburb of New York investigate dozens of dead cats found hanging from trees in plastic bags in a small, rubbish-strewn wood.

Ex-Met officer 'assaulted boy'

BBC - Fri, 2014-04-25 07:44
A former Met Police officer is summonsed to appear in court to face a charge of indecently assaulting a boy aged 16 in 1986 who was in police custody.

Preparing middle-class workers for middle-skill jobs

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-25 07:44

Many great jobs don’t require bachelor’s degrees.

American manufacturing isn’t dead.

Some Americans will find those two statements preposterous, a perception nourished by a society that steers students toward four-year degrees from a young age, as well as vivid memories of shuttered factories and outsourced jobs.

But many Americans aren’t surprised at all by that pair of assertions. They’re the ones working in "middle-skill jobs" -- those requiring more than a high school diploma, but less than a four-year degree. High-tech manufacturing jobs are growing and pay good wages. These middle-skill jobs will support middle-class lives, but America’s education and training system isn’t doing a great job of getting people ready for them. There’s now a growing push from educators, industry and policymakers to do better.

One can see this up close at GlobalFoundries, a semiconductor manufacturing facility in Malta, New York, just north of Albany. Many people think of manufacturing as dirty work, but this is the cleanest place most people will visit in their lives, cleaner than an operating room.

Workers zip into the clean suits and layers of gloves, boots and masks required for the cleanroom environment where they make the semiconductors inside smartphones, appliances, cars and more. They have to, because in the tiny universe of a microchip, a fallen eyelash is like a truckload of toxic waste. With everyone covered up, coworkers tell each other apart by their eyes.

“I think it’s fun to see everybody else right there with you looking equally weird and different with their get-up on,” says technician Megan Boettner.

The suits may be a bit spooky, but the pay can be quite good.

“An individual with an associate’s degree, the industry standard is about $40,000-$60,000 a year starting, depending on education and skills,” says technical training manager Don Garrison. “Within 2-4 years, they can see a pretty substantial increment, even up to like 20 percent.”

He’s hiring 400 technicians this year. But there aren’t enough people with the right skills in upstate New York. Recruiting elsewhere is expensive and doesn’t always work out. If GlobalFoundries hires someone from Arizona or Texas, which have established semiconductor industries, it’s on the hook for moving expenses. And some of those hires don’t stay, for any number of reasons, including the frosty upstate weather.

“After about one or two winters… we have some people that just say, ‘Hey, this isn’t for me,’” Garrison says.

A shallow local talent pool is also a big problem for New York leaders, who spent a fortune on incentives to get GlobalFoundries to build its multi-billion dollar facility here.

“New York’s intention was to provide employment to residents,” says Michael N'dolo, vice president at the economic development firm Camoin Associates. “The direct hiring at the site itself, it has been a little bit of a disappointment.”

Turning that around requires a bigger and better educational pipeline. Student Paul Sisson is in it. We talked with him as he was grabbing a snack at a supermarket coffee shop just down the road from GlobalFoundries. Sisson used to work on the other side of that transaction, in bakeries and restaurant kitchens. He worked 12 hour days, six days a week, sometimes more. It didn’t earn him as much as he’d like.

“The most that I have ever made in an entire year was $28,000,” Sisson says.

He’s now at Hudson Valley Community College, getting an associate’s degree in semiconductors. Set in a cluster of high-tech businesses, including GlobalFoundries, its tech-focused campus is on the front lines of the effort to get more local workers into middle skill jobs.

It’s not what comes to mind when many people think of community college. It’s a new, energy efficient building, with impressive labs packed with high-tech equipment.

And the students aren’t whom many people might expect in a two-year degree program. About half already have bachelor’s degrees.

“We’ve always thought that a four-year degree is the answer to get a good paying job,” says associate dean Penny Hill. “Now, as we’re experiencing, it’s not always the right answer.”

The semiconductor degree program is growing, but not fast enough. It only turns out around a couple dozen grads a year. But nearly all will have job offers, which is what Hill and local companies stress in their campaign to entice more students.

And there’s more at stake here than just future job openings. Building a robust middle skill job pipeline is critical nationwide.

“Productivity and performance of our manufacturing sector is driven by these middle skill jobs and so they’re just very important for the performance of the economy,” says MIT management professor Paul Osterman, who studies the labor market. “If we don’t make investments in our training and education system, it’s gonna be very problematic.”

Back in Hudson Valley’s campus semiconductor lab, students get hands-on training working in a cleanroom. Paul Sisson is among the students moving shiny round semiconductor wafers among various machines, including some powerful furnaces, burning brilliant orange.

They’re basically high-tech ovens, three times hotter the ones Sisson used in his restaurant days. He gets a little kick out of the irony. Sisson’s investment in a middle-skills degree should net him a far greater paycheck than he got in the grueling chaos of the kitchen.

“I can make more than double using my mind, instead of breaking my body,” he says.

America’s high-tech manufacturers will need far more people like him. Improving the education and training pipeline and getting more people in it is the challenge industry, educators and political leaders face.

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