National / International News

What a riot does achieve

BBC - Tue, 2015-04-28 13:02
Ferguson and Baltimore are not the only cities that have seen protests over police violence - so why do we most pay attention when things are burning?

The Orioles will play in an empty stadium this week

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-04-28 13:00

The Baltimore Orioles' stadium, Camden Yards, has a capacity of 45,971.

That's a big number Tuesday because the team just announced all those seats are gonna be empty Wednesday. The game against the White Sox will still be played, but it'll be closed to the public.

This raises a whole bunch of questions:

What happens to all the foul balls?

Are they still gonna have the organist play? It's going to echo a lot.

And more seriously, what about all the people who work there? Are the ushers and concessions folks and the rest going to get paid?

Tyson cuts antibiotics in chickens, are hogs next?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-04-28 13:00

Tyson Foods has announced plans to dial back the use of antibiotics in raising chickens. One of the company’s biggest customers — McDonald's — announced last month plans to stop buying chicken raised with antibiotics that are also used in humans.  Higher levels of antibiotic use are linked to faster development of antibiotic-resistant "superbugs," which endanger people.

Next, Tyson says, it wants to cut back on antibiotics used on pigs and cattle.

Even advocates for reducing antibiotic use say that going antibiotic-free isn't necessary. According to Jonathan Kaplan, director of the food and agriculture program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, "it turns out we can get  the same — or nearly the same — public-health benefits from reducing the routine use of antibiotics."

Some exceptions make sense, he says, like treating animals that actually get sick, or giving low doses to piglets when they’re weaning. 

Hog farmer Ron Prestage says Kaplan's prescriptions actually describe the limits of antibiotic use on his farms, which produce more than half a billion pounds of pork a year.

"Trust me, I wouldn’t want my child or wife to have an illness that we did not have an appropriate drug to treat. Or myself either, for that matter," says Prestage, who is also president of the National Pork Producers Council.

It’s not clear whether those practices represent the pork industry broadly. The FDA reported in 2014 that sales of antibiotics to farmers, including antibiotics used in humans, have risen dramatically. 

What is clear: Reducing the use of antibiotics in cattle is a heavier lift. They’re not built to digest grain— which is what they get to eat in feedlots — so they get liver abscesses and need antibiotics.   

Steve Roach, who runs the food safety program at the Food Animal Concerns Trust, says, "We’ve created these systems based on the ready availability of antibiotics. Trying to rejigger the system and  find better diets for cattle is a challenge."

Koch Industries 'Bans the Box'

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-04-28 13:00

"Ban the Box" is a campaign to remove the check-box question "Have you ever been convicted of a crime?" from job applications. Supporters of the campaign say the question puts people who have committed a crime at a disadvantage, even though they have served their time. Discrimination against former felons reduces their ability to get jobs and rise out of poverty, the argument goes.

The Koch brothers, owners of Koch Industries, are known for their deep-pocketed support of conservative and libertarian political causes, so a recent move by the company to "ban the box" on the company's job applications surprised some observers.

But while the Koch brothers support conservative causes, they've long supported criminal justice reform.

"They've been front and center out there looking at reform issues," says Nancy La Vigne, Director of the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute. 

"Ban the box" isn't a liberal issue, says Michelle Natividad Rodriguez, senior staff attorney at the National Employment Law Project.

"Business absolutely wants to see people take care of themselves, can give back to the economy, can support their families," Rodriguez says. "That's what keeps our economy going."

“Banning the box” would help about 70 million Americans find jobs, Rodriguez says. That’s a lot of potential employees. Many employers in the public sector have started to ban the box on their application forms, she says, but only a handful of corporations have come out publicly in support of the measure. "We want to see more of this happening." 

But Roger Clegg, president of the Center for Equal Opportunity, a conservative civil rights think tank, thinks some companies have plenty of reason to find out if applicants have been convicted of crimes. In supporting "ban the box," Koch Industries may have more than reform on its mind.

"A lot of companies might think this is good publicity," Clegg says. "I think particularly, larger national companies are always eager to appear to be politically correct."

Nigerian army 'rescues nearly 300'

BBC - Tue, 2015-04-28 12:59
Nigeria's army says it has rescued 200 girls and 93 women but has not confirmed whether the schoolgirls abducted from Chibok are among them.

Obama condemns Baltimore 'criminals'

BBC - Tue, 2015-04-28 12:59
President Barack Obama says police violence against African-Americans is a "slow-rolling crisis" after riots in Baltimore he blames on "criminals".

Barcelona 6-0 Getafe

BBC - Tue, 2015-04-28 12:49
Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar pass a combined 100-goal mark as Barcelona pile the pressure on title rivals Real Madrid.

Hull City 1-0 Liverpool

BBC - Tue, 2015-04-28 12:39
Hull City take a big step towards Premier League survival with a win which severely damages Liverpool's top-four hopes.

Virtual Readings For Freddie Gray

NPR News - Tue, 2015-04-28 12:38

Here are some words from novelists, poets, and rappers that folks are sharing on social media to make sense of what's going on in Baltimore.

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Fire breaks out near Chernobyl plant

BBC - Tue, 2015-04-28 12:36
Firefighters battle blaze in woods near Ukraine's disused Chernobyl nuclear plant, the site of the worst nuclear disaster in history.

Election: When will it all be over?

BBC - Tue, 2015-04-28 12:31
Next Friday, the votes will be in and we will know who the country's MPs are. But we might not be closer to knowing who the government is.

Why Russian-American Jews Are Ballroom Dance Leaders

NPR News - Tue, 2015-04-28 12:27

As ABC's Dancing with the Stars celebrates its 10th anniversary, we explain why Russian Jewish immigrants and their descendants have stepped to the front of this country's ballroom dance scene.

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Wounded Nepalis Stream Into Kathmandu, Overwhelming Hospitals

NPR News - Tue, 2015-04-28 12:27

Tens of thousands of victims have descended on Nepal's capital from remote, hard-hit mountainside villages that have seen little assistance. Already-strained hospitals are stretched even thinner.

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Tea Tuesdays: Tea-Drinking Tips For A Longer Life

NPR News - Tue, 2015-04-28 12:12

Researchers studying the Blue Zones, five regions around the world with lots of centenarians, have come up with this rule: "Drink coffee for breakfast, tea in the afternoon, wine at 5 p.m."

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Twitter reports disappointing sales

BBC - Tue, 2015-04-28 12:01
Twitter has reported lower than expected revenue for the first three months of the year, saying that new products sold less well than forecast.

VIDEO: Inside a ransacked Baltimore shop

BBC - Tue, 2015-04-28 11:31
The owner of a local pharmacy shows the BBC the damage done to his business. Meanwhile, residents try to clean up the destruction.

NFL gives up tax-exempt status

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-04-28 11:22

The National Football League is eliminating its non-profit tax-exempt status.

If you're wondering how the NFL  can be tax-exempt if it rakes in massive profits each year, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell brought that up in his letter announcing the decision on Tuesday. 

"As you know, the effects of the tax exempt status of the league office have been mischaracterized repeatedly in recent years. The fact is that the business of the NFL has never been tax exempt. Every dollar of income generated through television rights fees, licensing agreements, sponsorships, ticket sales, and other means is earned by the 32 clubs and is taxable there."  

The league's non-profit status, 501(c)6 to be exact, applied to the League office. The expected revenue the government will receive is slightly more than $100 million over 10 years. 

"[That] isn't a lot of money to the NFL, but it's a lot of money to us," says Kavitha Davidson, sports columnist for Bloomberg View

The news sounds like it should be a PR win for the NFL, which has been criticized for many missteps during Goodell's time as commissioner. But, instead of celebrating, the news was released on a day overshadowed by other concerns.

So why the news dump now? Davidson says the numbers don't tell the whole story of what the NFL gained from being a non-profit. Team dues are paid to the League office, which can be deducted as a business expense. 

"That basically means that the NFL can take that money, and if doesn't spend it in a certain amount of time, can loan it back as part of its stadium financing program, for example," Davidson says.

It's not clear whether the League's tax exemption benefits the teams themselves.

Moreover, non-profits like the NFL are required to report executive salaries. For instance, we know that NFL commissioner Goodell made $44 million in 2013. Giving up tax-exempt status means fewer reporting requirements.

Davidson pointed to the case of Major League Baseball, which immediately gave up its tax-exempt status when salary disclosures requirements started in 2007. Those details are of particular interest as executive salaries rise rapidly and outpace players' salaries. 

One other consequence that strikes Davidson: clear information about what female executives earn. 

"As the rest of the country fights for equal pay," she says, "the NFL has actually started to actually promote women to higher level executive positions. We won't have disclosures now to show they're being paid in a comparable way to their male counterparts." 

NFL To End Its Tax-Exempt Status 'To Eliminate ... Distraction'

NPR News - Tue, 2015-04-28 11:10

The move applies only to the league office. The National Football League's 32 teams already pay taxes on their profits, salaries and merchandise sales.

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Silverstone boss queries F1 'value'

BBC - Tue, 2015-04-28 11:09
The boss of British Grand Prix venue Silverstone questions the quality of the entertainment Formula 1 provides for its fans.