National News

CIA Is Quietly Ramping Up Aid To Syrian Rebels, Sources Say

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-23 13:05

The White House has decided to provide more covert training and weapons, including anti-tank missiles, in a bid to counter President Bashar Assad's growing strength in the civil war.

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Unbeliebable: Justin Offends Asian Fans With Shrine Visit

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-23 12:53

While visiting Tokyo, the pop star posed for photos in front of the highly controversial Yasukini Shrine, which honors Japanese war criminals.

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Education May Help Insulate The Brain Against Traumatic Injury

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-23 12:26

People recover better from serious brain injuries if they've had more formal education, researchers say. They're not sure why book learning promotes cognitive reserve.

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Slowly And Sweetly, Vietnam's Chocolate Industry Grows

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-23 12:14

French colonists planted cacao in Vietnam in the 1800s, but the crop was outpaced by coffee and cashews. Now French expats are helping the country become a respected producer of high-end chocolate.

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Amazon is paying its employees to quit

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-04-23 12:09

How much would your boss have to pay you to get you to quit your job?

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos offered the company’s full-time warehouse employees $2,000 to $5,000, depending on tenure, to quit. In a letter to shareholders, Bezos explained:

“The goal is to encourage folks to take a moment and think about what they really want. In the long run, an employee staying somewhere they don’t want to be isn’t healthy for the employee or the company.”

This deal is especially healthy for the company’s bottom line says Nancy Koehn, historian at the Harvard Business School. She says Bezos is taking a line from the Zappos playbook.

“It is as much a financial and strategic issue as it is an image or PR issue,” Koehn says.

She notes how difficult it can be to get rid of an employee that doesn’t fit in well with the company. If handled poorly, a lawsuit would be much more expensive than $5,000.

But don’t expect all employers to offer the same deal. Koehn thinks it’s unlikely to become a new trend in working America.

Big-Time Home Sales Stoke Hope For Northeast Housing Market

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-23 12:01

Realtors are seeing reasons for optimism in the housing market. As Kaomi Goetz of WSHU reports, one historic home sale suggests the high end of the market is booming again — in Connecticut, at least.

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Chile Wildfire Litters Questions In The Ash Of Burned-Out Homes

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-23 12:01

In Chile, a fire that started in the hills above Valparaiso continues to burn. The blaze has killed 15 people and destroyed 2,500 homes in the area that surrounds Valparaiso. Reporter Alexandra Hall looks at some of those affected.

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Moscow Answers Ukrainian Offensive With Warning Of Its Own

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-23 12:01

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said his country would respond if its citizens or interests came under attack in Ukraine. At the same time, the interim Ukrainian government has called for a new offensive on pro-Russia militants holed up in government buildings across eastern Ukraine. Western diplomats are scrambling to find a way to de-escalate the crisis.

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Slaughter In South Sudan Raises Fears Of Future Violence

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-23 12:01

Prompted by calls for violence on the radio, South Sudanese rebels have slaughtered hundreds of civilians. As Donatella Rovera of Amnesty International explains, details are just starting to emerge.

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Palestinian Talks Could Heal Leadership Divide And Anger Israelis

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-23 12:01

Palestinian leaders say they're close to a deal that would end the seven-year division between Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

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Obama Administration Opens Review Of Its Deportation Policy

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-23 12:01

The Obama administration is reviewing its deportation policies in an effort to conduct enforcement more humanely, according to the White House. As part of the effort, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is listening to recommendations from a range of groups.

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Obama Raises Curtain On 4-Country East Asia Trip

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-23 12:01

President Obama is visiting East Asia, stopping in Japan and three other countries. The trip aims to assure U.S. allies that they're not forgotten, even as China gets more bullish with its neighbors.

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Justice Dept. Opens Door To Freedom For Some Nonviolent Offenders

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-23 12:01

The Justice Department is considering clemency for thousands of people who are incarcerated on nonviolent drug charges and who have also served at least 10 years of their sentences.

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Blockbuster Trades Are Changing The Face Of Pharmaceuticals

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-23 12:01

Pharmaceutical companies are suddenly trading entire divisions the way sports teams swap players. Glaxo, Novartis and Ely Lily are all involved in a complicated deal announced Tuesday, and so far this year, five deals exceeding $2 billion have been announced. What's driving the deal-making?

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Rick Warren goes global, for more mega-church action

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-04-23 12:01

Rick Warren, author of the best-seller "The Purpose-Driven Life," is expanding his Saddleback Church from the Los Angeles suburbs to 12 global cities.  Last weekend, a campus in Los Angeles joined Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Manila and Berlin. Moscow, Tokyo, and Accra are among those coming soon.

Scott Thumma, an expert on mega-churches from the Hartford Seminary, isn't surprised:  He says the megachurch is a global phenomenon. Of the world's top 20 megachurches, only one is in the U.S. 

"If you just look at it in the United States, you see it as a suburban reality," he says. "It's kind of recreating a kind of small-town connectedness with people who have like values and interests," he says. Around the world, he says, that's "what we're all  longing for, in the anonnymous urban setting." 

Seoul is the world leader in mega-churches. Its Yoido Full Gospel Church boasts almost a half-million churchgoers per week. And it's not the only one.

Top 20 Megachurches, Worldwide Rank Attendance Church Name City Country 1. 480,000 Yoido Full Gospel Church Seoul Korea 2. 75,000 Deeper Christian Life Ministry Lagos Nigeria 3. 75,000 Mision Cristiana Elim Internacional (Elim Central Church) San Salvador El Salvador 4. 70,000 New Life Church Mumbai India 5. 65,000 Onnuri (All Nations) Community Church Seoul Korea 6. 60,000 Pyungkang Cheil Presbyterian Church Seoul Korea 7. 55,000 Victory Metro Manila Manila Philippines 8. 50,000 Living Faith Church (Winner's Chapel) - main campus Lagos Nigeria 9. 50,000 Apostolic Church Lagos (Ketu) Nigeria 10. 50,000 Yeshu Darbar (Royal Court of Jesus) Allahabad India 11. 50,000 Nambu Full Gospel Church Anyang Korea 12. 50,000 Bethany Church of God Surabaya Indonesia 13. 50,000 Igreja de Paz Santarém Brazil 14. 45,000 Evangelical Cathedral of Santiago (formerly Church of Jotabeche) Santiago Chile 15. 43,500 Lakewood Church Houston U.S.A. 16. 42,000 Comunidad Cristiana Agua Viva (Living Water Christian Community) Lima Peru 17. 40,000 Redeemed Christian Church of God Lagos Nigeria 18. 35,000 United Family International Church Harare Zimbabwe 19. 35,000 Kwanglim (Burning Bush) Methodist Church Seoul Korea 20. 35,000 Word of Hope Church Quezon City Philippines

Data from outside the U.S. adapted from Warren Bird's list of the World's Biggest Churches. Data on Lakewood Church from Thumma's U.S. Megachurch Database

A lot of mega-churches now have multiple locations. 

"You get to a point where it becomes a franchise model," says Thumma. "It's easier and more cost-effective to plant several campuses around town."

Like McDonald’s, the experience is the same wherever you go, including a variety of more-intimate worship settings in a single campus, with the pastor beaming in his sermon via closed-circuit.  

Warren has an advantage for someone growing a church: worldwide fame. His book has been translated into 85 languages.

"That gives brand recognition to him and his church," says Richard Flory, research director at the University of Southern California's Center for Religion and Civic Culture.

Here's a map of mega-churches in North America, based on a database Thumma has compiled

Pennsylvania Congresswoman Goes All In For Obamacare

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-23 11:27

Does Rep. Allyson Schwartz's pro-Affordable Care Act television ad signal a new thinking among Democrats running in statewide races?

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Reports Of Mass Slaughter As South Sudan Teeters On The Brink

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-23 11:17

The U.N. reports that hundreds of civilians were hunted down and killed. NPR's Gregory Warner explains the roots of the conflict in a nation that's not yet 3 years old.

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2,000 Buses Of Visitors: Rome Braces For Canonization Crowds

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-23 11:04

Millions of pilgrims are expected Sunday for the joint canonization of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII. Rome is cleaning up, and preparing everything from first aid stands to portable toilets.

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Georgia Law OKs Guns In Schools, Churches

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-23 10:50

The Safe Carry Protection Act, known to critics as the "Guns Everywhere Bill," was signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal. It is considered among the most permissive such measures in the country.

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Milwaukee locals want to bring Pabst back

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-04-23 10:43

Back in the day, Milwaukee was known as the Beer Capital of the World. But if there were ever a beer that truly represents the city, local Susie Seidelman says Pabst Blue Ribbon is it.

"Pabst is from Milwaukee, and so much of the brands authenticity, its draw, its appeal, its marketing has to do with Milwaukee," she says. "It’s right on the can, it’s all over the website, all over the promotional material. We really made this beer what it is."

Seidelman is part of a Facebook group called “Milwaukee Should Own Pabst Blue Ribbon”. It has more than 4,000 members.

Pabst might have been born in Milwaukee, but for the last four years it’s been headquartered in Los Angeles. It’s owned by investor C. Dean Metropolis. He’s the guy responsible for bringing Twinkies back.

The Pabst brand is worth a lot of money—anywhere from $500 million to $1 billion. Seidelman says coming up with that kind of cash would take a lot of people willing to part with their money.

“We would have the brewery be community owned by the city of Milwaukee, we would put the call out to hundreds of thousands if not millions of investors asking for small support in the form of purchased share.”

Local business owners like Jim Haertel are rallying around the movement. He has a special interest in Pabst.

“We have their former corporate offices. We have Captain Pabst’s old office, even his roll top desk, which we would gladly save for the president.”

Haertel says he had to fight to save many of the old industrial brick buildings at Pabst headquarters. He even opened a bar in one. He says he has space to accommodate the new Pabst if it comes back to Milwaukee.

“Pabst is certainly the first of the great Milwaukee brewers, Schlitz would share some of that fame. The two of them really duked it out over the years,” Haertel says.

But now Pabst owns Schlitzand Blatz and brands like Colt 45. And the company does all this without even brewing its own beer; it pays MillerCoors to do that. But Pabst does have one thing going for it.

“Pabst is still the largest American owned brewery," says Jim Kupferschmidt, who owns the Milwaukee Beer Museum.

He says that’s because MillerCoors and Anheuser Busch are both now owned by foreign beer makers. He says there’s a good reason beer companies are buying out competitors: “You want as much shelf space on the liquor store and in the tavern as you can possibly get.”

As for Milwaukee’s push to bring Pabst back, Susie Seidelman says she knows it’s a bit of a pipedream. But she says it’s not about the beer. In fact, she doesn’t even drink Pabst: “I’m more of a Miller High Life person myself.”

Seidelman says Pabst never should have left. She says this is about righting a wrong.

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