National / International News
This week's selection of articles and essays covers comedian Aziz Ansari's new book about love, a new demographic term, a global gaming superstar, and more.
The Greek fisherman casting a net from his small wooden boat is a postcard image of the Mediterranean. But fish stocks are so low now that many fishermen say they can't make a living anymore.
Twitter is going through a lot of changes, including switching CEOs. But, analysts say, stalled user growth and discouraging financial results call for more change than just new leadership.
We are surrounded with computer code every day. It has built the hardware and software we interact with, from our computers and mobile devices to social networks. It’s changed the way we communicate, do business and conduct our work. But most of us don’t know what code is, really. If the code works, you don’t even know it’s there — and that’s by design. Paul Ford says it shouldn’t be that way. His argument and explainer is laid out in a more than 30,000-word piece for the latest issue of Bloomberg Businessweek. Marketplace Tech Host Ben Johnson sat down with Ford to talk about why he wrote the piece and why we should care enough to read it, top to bottom.
Here are some highlights from the interview:
Do you think the average user needs to understand code?
You know, I really honestly do. And obviously, you know, part of me is going like, "Read the article." Because that's who this is written for: it's for the educated civilian who is surrounded by software.
If you want to understand why there's so much happening in that world, and why suddenly this fairly small cohort has such unbelievable cultural power, it's worth knowing about the fundamental structures.
Can code "save" us?
No. People are responsible for saving people.
Do you think code is powerful enough to answer some of the big questions and the big problems we have?
Let's just throw something out, that, you know, we wanted to distribute income in a very different way in our country. Software could help with that. Software could help with the optimization problems. It could help with issues related to cost of living and so on. And now, the thing that we just threw out, you can see has tremendous ethical issues. And so to me, I look at this stuff and this world — I just think it's so omnipresent, and so understanding of the pieces of it and writing all that down was actually kind of therapeutic. It was wonderful to just sit here and type out what I know about being a programmer so that people can understand that there's no magic here — it's just systems, and it's just people making things.
Click the audio player above to listen to the full interview.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott, speaking in a radio interview, said his government would do "whatever is reasonably necessary" to stop asylum seekers from reaching Australian shores.
Many of Clinton's supporters say the sooner she lays out her economic policy vision the better, especially as her unfavorable ratings have been growing. She'll start Saturday.
Every year whales migrate all over the world, up and down both North American coasts. They travel from Southern Asia and Australia to Antarctica, from Japan and Russia to Alaska and all across Northern Europe. With them, they bring tourists — whale watchers who spend money seasonally to catch a glimpse of a whale or two.
Ecotourism is a multi-billion-dollar industry, with whale watching contributing about half a billion dollars annually, according to University of British Columbia bio-economist Rashid Sumaila.
As whales migrate from cold to warm waters, breeding and feeding hot spots around the world experience booms and busts. Washington state, California and Mexico are among the most well-known places to see humpbacks and other whales, and they have thriving whale-watching industries. But other places, like Quebec and Ireland, are investing in their own growing ecotourism markets.
Quebec recently spent about half of a $600,000 advertising campaign just to attract whale watchers. Last year, 300,000 people visited Quebec to whale watch, up 100 percent from the year before. And whale watching tourism globally is growing too, possibly because of the appeal of seeing an endangered animal in the wild.
Sumaila says the whale-watching business depends on protecting whales and oceans. The already unpredictable industry is taking a hit because of changing migration patterns — a result of warming oceans and acidic waters. As the whales adapt to their changing environment, "there will be losers and there will be winners" in business, Sumaila says.
He hopes the growing ecotourism industry will begin to give back to conservation and preservation efforts around the world. Without the whales, there is no business.
A three-judge panel extended an order blocking the release of Albert Woodfox, a former Black Panther leader who is awaiting a retrial in the 1972 stabbing death of a prison guard.
This April, U.S. businesses filed a record 233,000 applications for just 85,000 H-1B visa slots. The H-1B skilled worker visas allow companies in the U.S. to hire skilled foreign workers, mostly from Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) backgrounds.
The visas are in high demand in part because big tech companies say there aren't enough Americans with the right skills to fill many new roles as they expand rapidly. This is the third year in a row that distribution of the visas, which are capped by Congress, will be determined by lottery because of over-application.
Tech giants like Microsoft and Google have argued to raise the limit on the number of H-1B visas, pointing to the unfilled positions at their companies. But critics of the system say the skilled foreign workers are taking jobs from U.S. developers, engineers and programmers.
Last October, Disney came under fire for laying off about 250 employees, while handing over their jobs to highly skilled technical workers brought in using temporary visas. The jobs were reassigned through an outsourcing firm based in India, and many of the Disney employees were asked to train their replacements in order to receive their severance packages.
Stanford Law professor and immigration policy expert Dan Siciliano says the H-1B visas accomplish a net good for the U.S. economy, keeping jobs and money on U.S. soil instead of abroad.
He says another reason the visas are good, at least for now, is because when it comes to STEM education and training, the U.S. has some catching up to do, and the H-1B program feeds money into training for workers in the U.S.