Britain is a maritime nation that a century or two ago boasted the world's largest navy. Today, the names of shipping areas in the surrounding seas are embedded in the British national psyche — thanks to the BBC's Shipping Forecast bulletin, a cultural phenomenon beloved by seafarers and landlubbers alike.
Government-sponsored drug consumption rooms may be helping save the lives of drug users in Denmark. Addicts can use drugs safely and without being judged in the "fix rooms," which have medical staff on duty to treat overdoses.
KAI RYSSDAL: We're taking a look this week at the problems of Europe's Jobless Generation. About 14.5 million people under the age of 30 can't find work. And that's causing ripple effects all across the continent, on families, social services and government budgets. And how young people think about their own futures. Our European Correspondent Stephen Beard kicks off our series today in Greece, where more than 55 percent of young people are unemployed.
STEPHEN BEARD: In the center of Athens: An unexpected burst of joy. A group of street musicians strikes up and strikes a chord. Passing shoppers drop their bags, link arms and dance. But the joyful outburst is short-lived. The music ends. The dancing stops . And the shoppers drift away. Drifting across Syntagma Square is the sound of another less upbeat busker. The lugubrious tune far more in keeping with the national mood. This is a country where two-thirds of the young people are unemployed. People like Vassilis Korobialis.
VASSILIS KOROBIALIS: "When you don't have work, you feel like you are completely useless , you feel like you don't have meaning in your life."
BEARD: 28-year-old Vassilis has a degree in industrial design. He's been more or less unemployed for 3 years. His spirits did lift last year when he worked - unpaid - for an online magazine.
KOROBIALIS: "For me that last year it was like I was…successful."
BEARD: Like hundreds of thousands of unemployed Greeks in their late twenties or early 30s, Vassilis lives at home and is still totally dependent on his parents. The same for 28 year old Panos Paklos. Armed with a degree in Information Technology he also can't find a job…or the independence he craves.
PANOS PAKLOS: "When I was 20, 21, I thought I would by now at least have somewhere to live on my own, be able to support myself and maybe support a family. But now, it's quite the opposite."
BEARD: You can't?
PAKLOS: "No I cannot. I'm not quite fond of myself right now."
BEARD: Self loathing and listlessness . For the unemployed, these are an "occupational hazard". No sign of such pessimism at this start-up company in central Athens. This place is crackling with energy. Computer software firm INTALE was set up in the teeth of the crisis with a starting capital of $70. Sales doubled last year. It now employs 13 people. Co-founder Fanis Koutouvelis - also 28 - is not totally sympathetic to the unemployed.
FANIS KOUTOUVELIS: "You cannot just stand there crying that you don't have a job that everything is hopeless, you have to make your own job."
BEARD: Fanis claims that too many young Greeks seek the comfort and security of employment - especially in the bloated public sector. He feels Greece will only recover ….with a new breed of enterpreneurs.
KOUTOUVELIS: "I believe it's the only way out . We have to find, educate, those people who will want to create their own job and create jobs for a dozen, fifty or one hundred other people."
BEARD: It is beginning to happen. Figures are hard to come by. But start-ups have apparently more than doubled over the past two years in Greece. And there are would-be entrepreneurs waiting in the wings. At this school in eastern Athens, 17 year old Michael Taliakis and a classmate have written a very promising software package. Michael plans to start an engineering company when he graduates from university. He's undaunted by Greece's record level of youth unemployment.
MICHAEL TALIAKIS: "If you're fearful or you have the attitude: I will never find a job. Maybe you will never find a job . You need to have the attitude of a winner.
BEARD: Do you think you have the attitude of a winner?
TALIAKIS: "I don't know if I have it but I'm trying to have it."
BEARD: But when you're 17, self confidence is easy. You're still unbruised by Greece's grueling job market. Thousands and thousands of highly qualified Greeks in their 20s and 30s don't have entrepreneurial skills . And they face a stark choice: stay home frustrated and dependent or ….. emigrate. In Athens I'm Stephen Beard for Marketplace.
A woman in Miami Shores, Fla., is suing her town after it forced her to remove vegetables from the garden in her front yard, which she had tended for 17 years. She's being backed by a a national public interest law firm, but the town says it's a long-standing zoning ordinance that won't be overturned.
Universities and hospitals are training residents by having them practice on realistic replicas of actual patients' brains. The high-tech stand-ins allow the students to learn by making mistakes, something they're not able to do when real patients are involved.
This final note today, in which the NSA's program of hoovering up the meta data of the phone calls we all make gets a time out.
He ordered the government to stop collecting data on the two plaintiffs in the case -- which is the part that's getting the most attention.
All that said...
There are lengthy court proceedings ahead for the 68-page ruling.
Including a pretty good chance of a government appeal.
In a sign insurers are all in with the Affordable Care Act, the industry is expected to spend about $500 million on television ads in the coming year.
Thanks to the new healthcare law, there’s a landslide of new customers on the way. And that’s shaking up the insurance industry.
Kantar Media’s Elizabeth Wilner says these new ads are a window into the business.
“The changes that are being forced on the industry by the Affordable Care Act are going to be visible to anyone watching television,” she says.
For years, insurance companies marketed to human resources departments and insurance brokers. But now, under the Affordable Care Act, millions of consumers will be comparing one plan to another, looking at price and which doctors and hospitals are included in the coverage.
It amounts to the first time insurers have had to sell themselves -- their brand -- to you and me. Cigna is doing it with its “Go You” campaign, which Wilmer calls the “epitome” of this new brand of advertising, in which firms are shelling out plenty of money to convince consumers they are hip, friendly, warm and caring.
“The market is sort of sticky, so once you enroll a bunch of people you tend to hang onto them for a while,” says Case Western’s J.B. Silvers, who has run an insurance company. “So that first pass is really important.”
With so many customers up for grabs -- many who are totally new to the market -- fortunes are out there to be won, and not just for the big guys.
Case in point: Maine, where the smaller of two players in the state market, Maine Community Health Options, has signed up 73 percent of consumers on the exchange, according to federal figures, far more than the other provider, Anthem Blue Cross.
The United Nations has launched a $6.5 billion appeal to help victims of the conflict in Syria. It is the largest appeal for a single emergency in the UN's history. A similar appeal in June raised only about 60 percent of the money requested.
$6.5 billion is a huge sum, but a consolidated appeal is money needed, not just by the United Nations, but by UN humanitarian agencies and non-governmental organizations that don't fall under the UN's umbrella.
"It's a way of ensuring the agencies aren't duplicating each other's work or directly competing against each other for donor funding," said Abby Stoddard, a partner with Humanitarian Outcomes, an international research partnership on humanitarian policy and practice. "Then the donor governments have a large single document they can use, like a catalogue, to choose which projects they want to fund."
Stoddard said, at times, representatives of donor governments make informal accusations that agencies ask for more than they need.
"There have been some criticisms that the appeals have been inflated, that the numbers are too high, and that the agencies may be banking on the fact that donors won't fork over the full amount, so they put in their ask as high as possible to get what they need," said Stoddard.
Other criticisms of the appeals center on a lack of transparency about how UN tallies up the money it and others need.
"The budget process at the UN is notoriously opaque, and it's a little hard to figure out how they come up with the top line figures for their appeals," said John Norris, Executive Director of the Sustainable Security Program at the Center for American Progress. Norris said in the case of Syria, he has a "fair amount of sympathy for the UN," due to the continued erosion of the situation on the ground.
The UN appeal is aimed at everyone from private donors who can give a few dollars to governments and foundations who can give millions, though Stoddard says that most of the money for the appeal will come from about twenty governments worldwide.
"I sometimes say we're the best-dressed beggars," said Bettina Leuscher, chief spokesperson for the WFP in North America, "because for every operation we need to beg for money."
Google buys tech companies the way teenagers buy t-shirts, so it’s not usually news when they do. But every now and then, a purchase grabs attention. That’s the case with its recent acquisition of Boston Dynamics, which makes robots that can run and climb, equal parts creepy and cool. It’s the latest of several robotics companies Google has swallowed up, which is making people wonder what Google has planned.
Google isn’t saying exactly what it wants to do with all these robot makers, so folks on the Internet have freaked out (most in jest, some seriously) about a dark future of Google-driven humanoid murder machines with Austrian accents. Those who actually work with robots for a living say there’s no need to fear.
“Some of these depictions from science fiction are just so far off in the future because I just see how hard it is to get a robot to do anything today,” says MIT robotics professor John Leonard.
One thing Boston Dynamics has been able to get a robot to do is run, fast. Some 15 million people have seen this YouTube video of a four-legged robot galloping like a big cat, while sounding like a Weedwacker. Mobile bots like it could help Google expand its mapping to areas its weird cars can’t reach.
“It makes perfect sense because you can drop these robots, let’s say on top of the mountains and they are collecting information,” explains Virginia Tech mechanical engineering professor Shashank Priya.
There are a couple common threads in many of the robot makers Google is swallowing up. Their creations go places and see stuff. That means bots gather lots of data, the food that nourishes Google’s profits. But other possibilities may be more intriguing.
“Robotics has been around for a couple of decades and has been making a lot of promises. And often people say, ‘Ok, so where are the robots?’” says Cornell University roboticist Hod Lipson.
Google may bring more robots into the lives of consumers. Down the road, it could use robots to deliver packages, help people find items around the house, even deliver in-home medical care. And if Google makes these robots, you can count on it scarfing down all the delicious data they find along the way.
Mark Garrison: Google isn’t saying exactly what it wants to do with all these robot makers, which naturally leads the Internet to freak out about a dark future of Google-driven humanoid murder machines with Austrian accents. MIT robotics professor John Leonard says, please, calm down.
John Leonard: Some of these depictions from science fiction are just so far off in the future because I just see how hard it is to get a robot to do anything today.
Here’s something the company Google just bought has been able to get a robot to do: run, fast. 15 million people have seen this YouTube video of a four-legged robot galloping like a big cat, while sounding like a Weedwacker. Virginia Tech mechanical engineering professor Shashank Priya says mobile bots could help Google expand its mapping to areas cars can’t reach.
Shashank Priya: It makes perfect sense because you can drop these robots, let’s say on top of the mountains and they are collecting information.
There are two common threads in many of the robot makers Google is swallowing up. Their creations go places and see stuff. That means bots gather lots of data, the food that nourishes Google’s profits. But Cornell roboticist Hod Lipson says other possibilities are more intriguing.
Hod Lipson: Robotics has been around for a couple of decades and has been making a lot of promises. And often people say, ‘Ok, so where are the robots?’
Down the road, Google could use robots to deliver packages, help people find stuff around the house, even deliver in-home medical care. And if Google makes these robots, you can count on it scarfing down all the delicious data they find along the way. I'm Mark Garrison, for Marketplace.
For this week's Sandwich Monday, a holiday treat. We re-create the sandwich referenced in "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch": sauerkraut, toadstools, and (substitute) arsenic sauce.
John Cody, 67, had initially said he was working under 'nonofficial cover' for the CIA and that the charity he stole from was part of a secret operation.