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BBC - Thu, 2014-12-18 03:02
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PODCAST: The Sony cancellation

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-12-18 03:00

The day after the guardians of interest rates at the Federal Reserve issued a statement that would get demerits for vagueness from any freshman English professor. And we could see more information from the U.S. government as early as today about who hacked the computers of Sony Pictures, leading to the mass release of internal company emaisl and, now, the cancellation of the release of the movie at the center of this. That movie, titlted The Interview, is a comedy about a plot against the North Korean leader. In the last 24 hours, a unnamed U.S. official has been suggesting the hack may have started in North Korea. Plus, when you think of negotiating for higher pay, the people who work hard picking apples and cherries aren't the first folks who come to mind with the clout to drive up compensation. Individual farmworkers don't control much about their work environment. But in Washington's Yakima Valley, growers and workers alike say the growing use of cell phones has shaken up the labor market.

Snapchat boss tearful at Sony hack

BBC - Thu, 2014-12-18 02:59
Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel left "devastated" as plans for his messaging app are leaked as part of the Sony Pictures hack.

Pietersen shines in Big Bash defeat

BBC - Thu, 2014-12-18 02:59
Kevin Pietersen scores 66 from 46 balls but Melbourne are beaten by Adelaide in the Australian T20 Big Bash.

Boris flight passenger admits assault

BBC - Thu, 2014-12-18 02:58
An airline passenger who was calmed down by Boris Johnson on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Heathrow admits assault and being drunk on an aircraft.

Wilders faces charges of incitement

BBC - Thu, 2014-12-18 02:51
Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders is to be tried on charges of inciting racial hatred against Moroccans in a speech, the authorities say.

Fifa hits new low after Garcia walks

BBC - Thu, 2014-12-18 02:47
The more things seem to change at a Fifa in turmoil, the more things really stay the same, writes BBC sports editor Dan Roan.

New domestic abuse law revealed

BBC - Thu, 2014-12-18 02:28
A new domestic abuse offence for coercive and controlling behaviour within relationships in England and Wales is announced by the home secretary.

Not too late to drop Cook - Hussain

BBC - Thu, 2014-12-18 02:24
There is still time for England to replace Alastair Cook as captain for the World Cup, says ex-skipper Nasser Hussain.

28-day police bail limit proposed

BBC - Thu, 2014-12-18 02:22
The time people can be put on police bail could be limited to 28 days, the Home Secretary Theresa May announces.

Radio listeners save turkey pair

BBC - Thu, 2014-12-18 02:07
Two turkeys that were the subject of a radio vote criticised by animal lovers including Queen guitarist Brian May are saved from slaughter.

Gogglebox drops family over UKIP bid

BBC - Thu, 2014-12-18 02:02
The Michael family is dropped from Gogglebox because the dad is standing as UKIP candidate.

EU court gives UK visa direction

BBC - Thu, 2014-12-18 02:00
The UK cannot block non-EU family members coming to the county from Europe without a travel permit, European judges say.

Leading indicators released for the month

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-12-18 02:00

The Conference Board will release its monthly index of leading indicators Thursday: a collection of data from different pieces of the economy, including building permits, stock prices, consumer expectations, among others, all rolled into one tidy snapshot.

Chances are, the U.S. will look pretty as a picture, especially compared to other countries, says Bernie Baumohl, with the Economic Outlook Group. Europe and Japan are sluggish; China’s growth is slowing; and Russia’s in the midst of a currency crisis.

But so far, the U.S. is shrugging off the rest of the world’s economic woes, says Guy Berger, a U.S. economist at RBS Securities. 

Click the media player to hear more.

Cellphones bring new leverage for farm workers

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-12-18 02:00

When you think of “salary negotiations,” picking fruit isn’t the first job that comes to mind. Individual farmworkers don’t control much about their work environments, but Eduardo Cruz says there’s a big range in what you can get paid to pick apples. “This year, I picked Honeycrisp for $42 a bin,” he says. “At other farms, they paid $35 a bin, or 30.”

These differences in pay depend on a host of variables that determine how easy it is to fill a 1,000 pound bin of fruit: the size of the trees, the slope of the orchard, the quality standards imposed by the grower. In Washington’s Yakima Valley, growers and workers alike say cellphones have helped spread this information faster, tightening the labor market and spurring on competition for the best "piscadores," or harvesters. 

Farmworkers have always gotten together to trade tips. Still, they often had to drive to far-flung orchards to find out who was hiring and what they were paying. Nowadays, most of these conversations take place via cellphone. “I’ve got a lot of friends, and we talk,” Cruz explains with a smile.

You ask a few questions about the job, get the foreman’s number, and if it seems promising, make the trip out to the orchard. Cellphones have reduced the “transaction costs” of looking for farmwork.

Grower Charlie de la Chapelle says that’s made the workforce more willing to move around: “And that’s a good thing, because if in fact we are short of people, and we have a good price, they call their buddies and they bring ‘em.” The flip side is that “you don’t know who’s gonna show up tomorrow.”

On Chapelle’s farm, workers picking Fujis have to sort the apples as they go, and the ground is littered with discarded fruit. This extra work means they can’t fill bins as fast, which can hurt their pay.

Orchard manager Art Thompson says he’s worried his crew might start looking elsewhere. “We’ve got a pretty steady crew,” he says, “but believe me, if I let ‘em make this wage all day, the cellphones will start being picked up.” This means employers have to be ready to adjust wages.

It’s basic economics: free-flowing information leads to a freer market. Researchers have made similar observations about cellphones across the developing world. Agricultural economist Philip Martin recalls one study of fishermen in southern India.”If you’re out in your little boat, and you’ve got a bunch of fish, you have more power to know which port to take them to, by calling the various fish brokers, and saying, ‘what are you paying?’”

 For low wage workers without much clout, cellphones have brought a bit of leverage. 

Nike earnings: Wall Street and Sneakerheads weigh in

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-12-18 02:00

Nike Inc. looks great to John Kernan, an analyst at Cowen and Company. "The brand is on fire," he says, as the company prepares to release quarterly earnings.

Things look less rosy to David Rasool Robinson, a manager at Saint Alfred, Chicago's top sneaker boutique.  He says his customers see quality-control problems creeping into some of the company's offerings. 

So, Sneakerheads: outliers, or leading edge indicators?

Click the media player above for more.

Cell phones bring new leverage for farm workers

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-12-18 02:00

When you think of “salary negotiations,” picking fruit isn’t the first job that comes to mind. Individual farmworkers don’t control much about their work environments, but Eduardo Cruz says there’s a big range in what you can get paid to pick apples. “This year, I picked Honeycrisp for $42 a bin,” he says. “At other farms, they paid $35 a bin, or thirty.”

These differences in pay depend on a host of variables that determine how easy it is to fill a 1,000 pound bin of fruit: the size of the trees, the slope of the orchard, the quality standards imposed by the grower. In Washington’s Yakima valley, growers and workers alike say cell phones have helped to spread this information faster than ever, tightening the labor market and spurring on competition for the best piscadores. 

Farmworkers have always gotten together to trade tips. Still, they often had to drive out to far-flung orchards to find out who was hiring and what they were paying. Nowadays, most of these conversations take place via cell phone. “I’ve got a lot of friends, and we talk,” Cruz explains with a smile.

You ask a few questions about the job, get the foreman’s number, and if it seems promising, make the trip out to the orchard. Cell phones have reduced the “transaction costs” of looking for farmwork.

Grower Charlie de la Chapelle says that’s made the workforce more willing to move around: “And that’s a good thing, because if in fact we are short of people and we have a good price, they call their buddies and they bring ‘em.” The flip side is that “you don’t know who’s gonna show up tomorrow.”

On Chapelle’s farm, workers picking Fujis have to sort the fruit as they go, and the ground is littered with discarded apples. This extra work means they can’t fill bins as fast, which can hurt their pay.

Orchard manager Art Thompson says he’s worried his crew might start looking elsewhere. “We’ve got a pretty steady crew,” he says, “but believe me, if I let ‘em make this wage all day, the cell phones will start being picked up.” This means employers have to be ready to adjust wages.

It’s basic economics: free-flowing information leads to a freer market. Researchers have made similar observations about cell phones across the developing world. Agricultural economist Philip Martin recalls one study of fishermen in southern India.”If you’re out in your little boat, and you’ve got a bunch of fish, you have more power to know which port to take them to, by calling the various fish brokers, and saying, ‘what are you paying?’”

 For low wage workers without much clout, cell phones have brought a bit of leverage. 

Man critical after takeaway attack

BBC - Thu, 2014-12-18 01:55
A man is left critically injured after he was attacked in a takeaway in Portrush, County Antrim.

Surviving the Peshawar school massacre

BBC - Thu, 2014-12-18 01:52
The schoolboy who was shot in the head and lived

Badger cull fails to meet target

BBC - Thu, 2014-12-18 01:45
Fewer than half the target number of badgers were killed in this year's cull in Gloucestershire, Defra announces.

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