National / International News

Gaza Family Mourns The Loss Of A Son, Brother — And Hamas Militant

NPR News - Mon, 2014-08-04 13:03

The brother and mother of a Hamas fighter who was killed in a tunnel recall his path into militancy. They're pleased he died for what they consider a good cause.

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World War One centenary commemorated

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-04 12:48
Commemorative events are held across Scotland to mark the centenary of the outbreak of World War One.

Can I ask you to blue sky that synergy?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-08-04 12:45

"Last week in my email to you I synthesized our strategic direction as a productivity and platform company. Having a clear focus is the start of the journey, not the end. The more difficult steps are creating the organization and culture to bring our ambitions to life..."

This is an excerpt from a memo Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella put out last month, announcing major lay-offs at the company. Entitled "Starting to Evolve Our Organization and Culture", it got a lot of attention for its extreme use of business jargon.

But, as it turns out, using business jargon has some big advantages.

A new study from the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business found people who use business jargon are assumed to have a higher position within a company, and are seen as better leaders.

"What we found is that there’s something about abstraction that communicates that ‘I’m a big picture person,’" explains author  Cheryl Wakslak, Assistant Professor of Management and Organization at USC. "That’s what we expect powerful people to be like."

In fact, says Wakslak, people who don’t use management-speak and, instead, lay their ideas out in a concrete, detailed way, are perceived as less effective leaders. Wakslak says we see this in the reaction voters sometimes have to politicians who get too granular with their ideas. "You want to know that a leader’s on top of everything, that your politician knows these details. But when politicians start to talk in that way, they get labeled as wonky and they just don’t seem as effective."

"I remember when I first went to work a long time ago at a Xerox Research Center and I got a memo on the first day that said: 'Cascade this to your people and see what the pushback is,'" says Geoffrey Nunberg, a linguist at the University of California Berkeley's School of Information. "I thought, you know, I’m not in Kansas anymore." Nunberg says business-speak really got going in the 1970s. "That was the moment when people started talking about corporate culture. That was when managers began to feel that workers could be motivated not just by their salaries and job security, but by a kind of language."

Language that made people feel like going to the office every day was important and epic, says Nunberg. "You gave people a special language to speak that suggested that the work experience was somehow different and grander than the experience of ordinary life. You had champions in the workplace. You make mission statements and you have a vision."

The rise of business-speak also came about just as executive salaries began rapidly outpacing line-worker pay. Jargon was a way for managers to differentiate themselves from people who were earning far less than they were. They began using it as a power play.

"Sitting in on board meetings and other things, you were at a disadvantage if you didn’t understand what they were saying," says entrepreneur and investor Ron Sturgeon. Sturgeon started out working on cars after high school and eventually built a huge auto salvage business, which he sold to Ford. Sturgeon hadn’t been to business school, and when he first started sitting in on big, corporate meetings, he was struck by the use of jargon. "If you’re in the meeting and you don’t know what the term is, then you’re definitely at a disadvantage," says Sturgeon. "And so the person would obviously have more power than you or seem more intellectual than you."

Sturgeon became fascinated with the jargon and wrote and published a dictionary of business jargon terms.

But jargon isn't always about power. Nunberg says business buzz-words are also ways for us to communicate larger issues happening around work and the place of work in our lives.

For example, now that flex-time has us working from our home-office, we sometimes have to unplug to achieve work-life balance. And women in the workplace are being encouraged to lean in and shatter the glass ceiling.

"Jargon arises very often in order to deal with new phenomena," says Nunberg. "We are working differently now, we have different relationships to our workplace and our co-workers and we need new language to describe that."

It’s even started creeping into popular culture. Weird Al Yankovic’s new album, Mandatory Fun, has a song called Mission Statement, that’s written entirely in business jargon.

In other words: At the end of the day, there are a lot of moving parts in today’s workplace. And in order to authentically describe the transformational change we’re seeing in our relationship with our jobs, we need terms that facilitate new levels of communication so that we can more effectively circle back to these big picture issues, and touch base with how to best thrive and create effective synergies in workplace 2.0. 

We've been asking around about your most beloved/most despised examples of business jargon. And, well, if we were ever going to make good use of a wordcloud...

All of you. Excellent deliverables.

Justice Department Finds Excessive Use Of Force At New York Prison

NPR News - Mon, 2014-08-04 12:34

Adolescent inmates are subject to "extremely high rates of violence" at Rikers Island, according to a civil rights investigation. For male teens, the prison is "broken," a U.S. attorney said.

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Equation 'can predict happiness'

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-04 12:26
Scientists find an equation which predicts momentary happiness, when participants performed better than expected during a task.

Reagan aide James Brady dies at 73

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-04 12:22
James Brady, the former White House press secretary shot in the head in a 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan, has died at 73.

Jim Brady, Press Secretary Turned Gun Control Activist, Dies At 73

NPR News - Mon, 2014-08-04 12:18

Jim Brady, the White House press secretary who was shot in the head by a gunman trying to assassinate President Reagan, has died at age 73. NPR's Brian Naylor reports on a man whose later life was dedicated to changing gun laws.

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Africa Summit To Tackle Food Stability And Climate Change

NPR News - Mon, 2014-08-04 12:18

An unprecedented gathering of African leaders opened in Washington, D.C. The U.S.-Africa Leader's Summit is covering topics including food security, climate change, regional stability and expanded business opportunities between the U.S. and Africa.

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In Tech Marketing Jobs, Women's Successes Are Rarely Recognized

NPR News - Mon, 2014-08-04 12:18

It's no secret that men dominate the top positions in Silicon Valley. But there are areas of the tech industry with lots of women: marketing and PR. Their contributions are often key, but overlooked.

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Islamic State Bolsters Its Control Over Northwestern Iraq

NPR News - Mon, 2014-08-04 12:18

The militant group known as the Islamic State has reportedly captured Iraq's largest dam, just another instance in its successful offensive in northwestern Iraq. Melissa Block talks with reporter Jane Arraf about the group's gains.

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Toledo Escapes The Looming Bloom, Turns Its Taps Back On

NPR News - Mon, 2014-08-04 12:18

A weekend-long ban on drinking tap water in Toledo, Ohio, was lifted early Monday. Some 400,000 residents in the region had been told not to drink the water.

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Foreigners Flee As Violence Worsens In Libya

NPR News - Mon, 2014-08-04 12:18

Conditions in Libya have gone from bad to worse in recent months, with its main airport now a battleground and foreigners pulling out of the country.

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Federal Judge Strikes Down Alabama Abortion Law

NPR News - Mon, 2014-08-04 12:18

A federal judge has ruled an Alabama abortion law unconstitutional. The measure required doctors to have admitting privileges in nearby hospitals. The ruling comes amid legal fights over just how far states can go to regulate abortion.

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What You Need To Know About Sierra Leone And Ebola

NPR News - Mon, 2014-08-04 12:18

Sierra Leone is one of three West African nations hardest hit by the Ebola epidemic. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton is there and has the latest.

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Africa: The Richest Region For Young Workers And Consumers

NPR News - Mon, 2014-08-04 12:14

Sub-Saharan Africa is the youngest region in the world. American corporations are seeking ways to do business on a continent that is home to 200 million people between the ages of 15 and 24.

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In pictures: India's e-waste village

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-04 12:13
Leading hub for dismantling electronic waste in India

VIDEO: Entrepreneur makes £150,000 toll road

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-04 12:11
A businessman from Bath built his own toll road through his fields to avoid the delays caused by work to repair a road near his home.

Where The Wild Things Play

NPR News - Mon, 2014-08-04 12:10

What makes a great adventure playground? Among other things, lots of freedom, stuff to build ... and a zip line.

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Leaders 'had no time for tributes'

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-04 11:57
Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg were not given time to write messages on wreaths to commemorate WW1, their parties say.

Oxytocin Isn't Lacking In Children With Autism, Researchers Say

NPR News - Mon, 2014-08-04 11:41

Since the hormone oxytocin makes people more social, it's easy to imagine it might cause the social deficits of autism. But a study found children with autism no more likely to be short of oxytocin.

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