National / International News

Inmate 'emailed own release order'

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-27 12:27
A convicted fraudster used an "ingenious" escape plot to trick prison wardens into letting him go free, a court has heard.

Women lag in well-paid blue-collar jobs

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-03-27 12:14

With the job market getting tighter, employers are starting to report shortages of skilled workers, especially in manufacturing and the construction trades—for jobs like welder, electrician, carpenter and machinist. The Manufacturing Institute, part of the National Association of Manufacturers, predicts there will be 2 million unfilled jobs at American companies by 2025 due to the so-called ‘skills gap.’  The American Welding Society estimates that the building and manufacturing industries will need 290,000 additional welders, welding instructors and the like by 2020.

Employer groups, labor unions, women’s advocacy groups and government policymakers all see women as part of a potential solution to the coming blue-collar labor shortage. But so far, progress to recruit more women to training programs and jobs in the construction trades has been slow.

“We’ve seen the desegregation of many occupations—bus driver, mail carrier, firefighter, police officer,” says Lauren Sugerman, director of the National Center for Women’s Employment Equity, a research and advocacy program of the Washington, D.C.-based group Wider Opportunities for Women. “But we have not seen the same movement of women into the construction trades.”

Sugerman says that is a significant failure because such occupational segregation leaves women out of lucrative jobs that require skill and training, but not necessarily an expensive four-year college degree. Construction jobs — often through unions — also frequently come with health coverage and a pension. She says the difference between traditionally male-dominated blue-collar jobs and traditionally female-dominated "pink-collar jobs" can lead to “between a $900,000 and $2 million gap in earnings over a lifetime.”

WOW has compared the top occupations (by participation) of men and women and found big gaps in pay (see chart). The top three occupations for women include secretary ($665 median weekly wages), registered nurse ($1,086) and cashier ($368). For men, they are truck driver ($736 median weekly wages), manager ($1,409) and first-line supervisor of retail workers ($792).

And, says Sugerman, women are poorly represented in jobs such as roofer, carpenter, electrician, ironworker. All of those jobs can pay $40/hour or more once a worker reaches journeyman status. “Women are now 2.6 percent of the construction workforce,” says Sugerman, “so there’s been very little progress.”

Making progress on that gender gap starts in a smattering of nonprofit pre-apprenticeship and skills-training programs around the country. They’re supported by unions, employers, and community colleges, and teach women basic tool-use, applied math, worksite job safety.

Holly Huntley owns environs, a small construction firm in Portland, Oregon, and regularly brings women onto the job site to train them through a pre-apprenticeship she teaches in that is run by the nonprofit group Oregon Tradeswomen. Huntley has hired two graduates from the program. Once they reach journeyman status they’ll make $26/hour.

Huntley says she’s glad to be able to offer a woman-run construction workplace.

“I know a lot of women in the trades that experience harassment on a daily basis,” she says. “I think it’s history, it’s a male-dominated culture with the catcalls and racial slurs and gender-based slurs and jokes. And I can’t have that, I have a really low tolerance for that.”

Journeyman carpenter Dan Ewing is the lone man on Huntley’s crew. “When I mention that everybody else in the company is a woman, people tend to raise their eyebrows,” says Ewing. “But it’s really nice. Men are fine, but we tend to be pretty crass. Everyone here is just more civilized.”

Where there are pre-apprenticeship programs, like in Oregon, the number of women making it to construction apprentice and journeyman is rising. Unions and employers often support the programs—to boost women’s participation and counter discrimination, and also to deal with a growing shortage of skilled workers.

That support has made a big difference for Heather Mayther. She’s 32. Last year she did a free training program with Oregon Tradeswomen, went on to another training program and is now an apprentice in the local carpenter’s union.

Mayther has three-year-old triplets and she has been earning $19.69 an hour, plus getting family health insurance. “Gender-wise, I didn’t really notice any discrimination or anything like that,” says Mayther of the construction sites she’s worked on so far. “The crew was great, they were more than willing to show me what I needed to know.”

She says she has been catcalled, and propositioned for dates. She says her supervisor has her back when she complains. “I’m not here for a husband, I’m here to work. I’m here to work my butt off, and to take home a paycheck that I can live on.”

Brook to showcase 'elite level'

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-27 12:11
IBF world welterweight champion Kell Brook vows to show he is among boxing's elite when he meets Jo Jo Dan in Sheffield.

Apple boss criticises 'anti-gay' law

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-27 12:06
Tim Cook criticises a 'religious freedom law' in the US state of Indiana, which it is argued could allow companies to discriminate against gay and lesbian customers.

American Apparel CEO Dov Charney on pushing boundaries and his biggest weakness

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-03-27 11:56

Updated March 27, 2015. This story originally aired Jan. 20, 2104.
  Clothing company American Apparel is known for making their products in the U.S. and for paying their employees more than minimum wage. It's also known for eccentric CEO Dov Charney:       On pushing boundaries  “It’s important that every generation, there are going to be certain people that push boundaries. And those are my people."   On using sex to sell clothes
“Sex is inextricably linked to fashion and apparel. And it has been and always will be. And our clothing is connected to our sexual expression so of course, advertising related to clothing, there’s going to be a sexual connection forever, whether it’s Calvin Klein, American Apparel, or brands we haven’t even contemplated."   Kai Ryssdal: Do you ever look at one of your billboards and go: Whoa, alright wait, we went too far?
Dov Charney: Absolutely.
KR: And then what do you do?
DC: We put up another one.   On the importance of Made-in-USA
“I don’t think it’s very important to the customer and I’m glad that it’s not.” He clarifies that the "made in LA" aspect of the brand “brings flavor and it should also call attention to the fact that we make the merchandise ourselves which is very important.”   On his biggest weakness
“My biggest weakness is me. I mean, lock me up already! It’s obvious! Put me in a cage, I’ll be fine. I’m my own worst enemy. But what can you do—I was born strange.”      


Inside American Apparel's factory         Charney opened his first retail store in 2004, in Los Angeles. The bulk of American Apparel manufacturing happens in an immense warehouse in the city's downtown district. Employees from all departments work together out of the bright pink building. "We have sellers,  marketers, photographers, computer programmers, IT experts, production, product design, scheduling, forecasting, retail development, everybody is connected to this building," Charney says.   The last few years have been financially difficult for the company. "Right now, we’re retrenching a little bit because it’s unclear what the future of bricks and mortar retail is," says Charney. He has plans to build up the company's presence online and to expand the business in the future.   Charney's no stranger to personal difficulties as well. He's faced several sexual harassment lawsuits from past employees, most of which have been dropped. He's also faced criticism for the sexual images American Apparel uses on billboards that promote the brand.

Yemen's Turmoil Sparks Big Swings In The Global Oil Market

NPR News - Fri, 2015-03-27 11:49

Yemen is minor producer of crude oil but controls a strategic energy waterway. More than 3.8 million barrels a day pass through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait at the southern entrance to the Red Sea.

» E-Mail This

LISTEN: A Cuban Protest Singer On The State Of U.S.-Cuba Relations

NPR News - Fri, 2015-03-27 11:42

For decades, Carlos Varela has dolled out incisive criticism of the Cuban government. On our recent visit to Havana, he sang a song he says reflects the mood of the country at this historic moment.

» E-Mail This

After A Tough Election, Israel's Netanyahu Looks To Ease Tensions

NPR News - Fri, 2015-03-27 11:42

The Israeli leader ruffled feathers during the bruising campaign. Since then, he has sought to make amends. In the latest move, Israel is handing over money it had withheld from the Palestinians.

» E-Mail This

VIDEO: What happened on Alps crash plane?

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-27 11:36
What happened on board Germanwings flight 4U 9525 before it crashed into the French Alps, killing everyone on board

App That Aims To Make Books 'Squeaky Clean' Draws Ire From Edited Writers

NPR News - Fri, 2015-03-27 11:31

Clean Reader — an app designed to find, block and replace profanity in books — has drawn considerable criticism from authors. This week, makers of the app announced they would no longer sell e-books.

» E-Mail This

University Of Oklahoma: Racist Chant Learned At National Frat Event

NPR News - Fri, 2015-03-27 11:14

President David Boren, releasing an investigation into the incident involving the Sigma Alpha Epsilon, contradicts statements by the fraternity's national office that the chant was learned locally.

» E-Mail This

Murray eases past Young in Miami

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-27 11:10
Britain's Andy Murray reaches the third round of the Miami Open with a 6-4 6-2 win over Donald Young.

'My dad wanted me to play tennis'

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-27 11:06
How England defender Sophie Bradley could easily have ended up playing at Wimbledon instead of Wembley.

Medical Bills Linger, Long After Cancer Treatment Ends

NPR News - Fri, 2015-03-27 11:04

A woman's family is stuck with medical charges for care she received after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Negotiating relief from the bills has become a part-time job for her daughter.

» E-Mail This

Did That Restaurant Pass Its Health Inspection? Now Yelp Will Tell You

NPR News - Fri, 2015-03-27 10:53

You might not see health inspection information until you're opening a restaurant's door. But if you're in New York and several other cities, you'll see it when you check out an eatery's Yelp page.

» E-Mail This

Rolls-Royce to cut 220 Scottish jobs

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-27 10:46
Rolls-Royce announces that some jobs will be lost at its plant in Inchinnan, Renfrewshire, as part of global cutbacks.

O'Sullivan pulls out of China Open

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-27 10:37
Five-time world champion Ronnie O'Sullivan withdraws from next week's China Open for unspecified health reasons.

Calls to 'boycott' Indiana after law

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-27 10:37
Activists are encouraging a boycott of Indiana after the US state enacted a "religious freedom" law which they say discriminates against gay people.

How Senate Democrats Will Choose Their Next Leader

NPR News - Fri, 2015-03-27 10:35

Closed-door leadership elections are held on a given day, but really take place over years of interaction and commerce among caucus members. Ideology and issues are not the paramount concern.

» E-Mail This

Social workers win contempt appeal

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-27 10:18
Two social workers who were found in contempt of court after stopping a mother's contact with her children have had the finding against them quashed.