National / International News

Girls who game could turn into girls who code

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-06-03 06:28

It has been well established that there is a large and problematic gender gap in the tech industry. Last week's unprecedented report from Google on the company's diversity was just one of the latest headlines. A lot of people tend to think that, like many things, the problem starts in our education system -- Girls don't get the encouragement they need to get into tech areas like coding.

It's an issue that Nitasha Tiku*, co-editor of tech news site ValleyWag, has been thinking a lot about. In an op-ed piece for the New York Times this week, Tiku posits that the easiest way to get girls into coding might be to look at what already interests them: gaming.

Games like Minecraft, which has a "creative" mode where gamers can use Java to build their own worlds, are introducing players to coding without them realizing that they are developing a skill. It's these kinds of covert methods of getting a diverse group of people interested in programming that Tiku thinks will ultimately be more effective. 

Certainly groups like Girls Who Code and Black Girls Code are doing their part as well. Tiku says these programs are important for thinking about how to get more girls interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields:

"These after school programs...their goal is to be incorporated into the classroom. They think of themselves as a sandbox where you can sort of experiment with different languages."

*CORRECTION: In an earlier version of this article, ValleyWag co-editor Nitasha Tiku was misidentified. The text has been corrected.

Nigeria U-turn on schoolgirl rallies

BBC - Tue, 2014-06-03 06:19
Nigerian police say rallies to demand the release of schoolgirls seized by Islamist militants will be allowed, after earlier banning them.

2/27/07, 416, 546 and the day the market broke

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-06-03 06:18

Stephen Millbrook jumped up from his desk, dashed across the trading floor and looked out the window. The Empire State Building was still there.

On the streets, people were walking calmly through midtown Manhattan, dressed in thick coats and covered with scarves to fend off the near freezing February air. No one looked panicked. There were no signs of another attack.

The evidence for an attack was confined to Millbrook's trading screens. In a matter of minutes, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had dropped 200 points. That was on top of a 346 point decline that the market had already registered. A 546 point drop meant something had gone seriously wrong. We're talking 9/11 wrong. On the first day of trading following the 2001 attacks, the Dow dropped 684 points.

Shares of Goldman Sachs had cratered. Goldman Sachs! Millbrook dialed a friend's number at Goldman just to see if Goldman was still there. The guy on the other end of the phone — Thank God there was a guy on the other end of the phone! — asked him if everything was alright in midtown. Goldman traders located at the southern tip of Manhattan were wondering if someone had attacked Times Square.

Later Millbrook would learn that the sudden drop was due to a "glitch." Something had gone wrong with the computer systems of the New York Stock Exchange, triggering a flash crash. This was on February 27, 2007, however, and no one had invented the term "flash crash" yet.

Traders on the floor of the NYSE would wind up having to keep their books open past the official closing bell as the exchange struggled to put things in order. None of the traders had ever been called upon to keep trading open after the bell. One trader told me over drinks that night that this marked "the death of the God of the closing bell."

In the end the Dow closed for a decline of 416.02 points. That was the still the biggest point drop in the market since it had reopened after the September 11, 2001 attacks. It was the seventh ever biggest one-day decline.

Earlier in the day, trying to limit the declines following a 200 point drop, the NYSE had imposed trading curbs. The effect, however, was to give traders more time to worry.

The talking heads on television blamed the crash on Chinese economic data and comments about a possible recession from Alan Greenspan. Most ignored something that was arguably far more important — the announcement by Freddie Mac that it would stop buying subprime loans.

The housing boom had ended two years earlier. Freddie's subprime exit indicated that the mortgage bust was upon us. Within a few months, subprime lender New Century and a pair of Bear Stearns hedge funds focused on investing in subprime would go down. Over the summer, highly unusual market movements would trigger massive losses by quant hedge funds over the course of weeks that became known as "the quant bloodbath." The housing bust was quickly transforming into a financial crisis.

The numbers 416 and 546 were indicators that something was seriously wrong. Millbrook (obviously not his real name) was right to panic. But few of us understood this on that cold day in February.

Beckham 'thinking' about playing again

BBC - Tue, 2014-06-03 06:12
David Beckham hints he may resume his playing career with the Major League Soccer team he is trying to launch in Miami.

In pictures: Clegg & Cable pub visit

BBC - Tue, 2014-06-03 06:07
Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and Vince Cable, who denies plotting to unseat him, stage a show of unity with a pub visit.

Small businesses create new jobs for autistic adults

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-06-03 06:06

It is high school graduation season across the country and most young adults are preparing for life in college or in the workforce.  Landing a job in this economy continues to be hard for millions of people. But what if you have autism?  

The good news is there are communities popping up across the country that have come up with several small business models that ease young people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) into the adult world of work and self-sufficiency. 

Lori Ireland and several of her friends in Chapel Hill, North Carolina have children with autism.  They have become very familiar with a term known in autism circles as “The Cliff.”

“As they aged, we saw the handwriting on the wall, so to speak,” said Ireland.  “The level of services really fall off.”   

“The Cliff” becomes especially visible when a young person with autism reaches his or her early 20s and is no longer able to attend high school. 

Laura Klinger is a leading autism researcher at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.  She is also Director of the Treatment and Education of Autistic and Communication related handicapped Children (TEACCH).  

“After graduation, about 35 percent of people with autism sit home and do nothing: not college, not employment, not vocational training,” said Klinger.

That’s why the Ireland Family and friends decided to find jobs for their autistic children, even if they had to create the jobs themselves.

 “We measure ourselves a little differently,” said Gregg Ireland*.  “For us, if we give someone a meaningful hour of employment, that’s our goal.”

So the business model they came up with is EV, which stands for Extraordinary Ventures.  EV is responsible for several small businesses, including a successful laundry service. 

At 22-years old, Patrick Eden has worked for EV Laundry for more than a year.  Eden is very particular about how he sorts, washes and folds the clothes they collect.  He was recently promoted to assistant manager.

 “I like the people and I like giving quality work,” said Eden.

And a growing number of small businesses are employing workers with autism.  Thomas D’Eri and his family opened Rising Tide Car Wash in Parkland, Florida to provide meaningful work for his autistic brother.

 “When car washes are run really well, they are very structured, lots of really well-defined processes,” said D’Eri.  “And those are situations that people with autism really excel in.”

Experts studying autism hope the jobs keep coming, especially considering that about 50,000 children on the autism spectrum turn 18 every year in the U.S.

 

*CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misidentified Gregg Ireland. The text has been corrected.

North Yemen clashes 'leave 120 dead'

BBC - Tue, 2014-06-03 05:55
At least 120 people were killed in the latest flare-up in the conflict between government forces and Zaidi Shia rebels in northern Yemen, reports say.

PODCAST: Chicken wars over sausage; EPA creating green-jobs

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-06-03 05:54

More on the current landscape of the food market, including the war between Pilgrim's Pride and Tyson Foods to purchase Hillshire Brands. Also, a look at just how many green-energy jobs might be created by new EPA regulations on carbon emissions. Plus, there's a concerted effort going on in the UK to train young people to make clothes in the hopes of increasing home-grown products.

Jury retires in city shooting case

BBC - Tue, 2014-06-03 05:32
A jury retires to consider its verdict in the case of four men accused of an attempted "revenge killing".

US unveils $1bn Europe security plan

BBC - Tue, 2014-06-03 05:24
President Barack Obama announces plans for a $1bn fund to increase US military deployments to Europe, during a visit to Poland.

Manager 'inspected' pit before flood

BBC - Tue, 2014-06-03 05:13
The manager of a mine where four workers drowned says he was in "no doubt" he inspected the right area of the pit of the day before it flooded.

Administration Defends Bowe Bergdahl's Release Amid Criticism

NPR News - Tue, 2014-06-03 05:05

President Obama said that regardless of the circumstances of the Army sergeant's capture by the Afghan Taliban, "we still get an American soldier back if he's held in captivity."

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Despite Law, Rape Victims Sometimes Pay For Medical Services

NPR News - Tue, 2014-06-03 05:02

Federal law seeks to keep sexual assault victims from paying for forensic exams, but in some states they may have to cover tests and treatment for pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections.

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'Godfather of ecstasy' dies aged 88

BBC - Tue, 2014-06-03 04:51
The chemist who reinvented ecstasy as a party drug has died at the age of 88 from liver cancer.

VIDEO: Universities 'need to raise their game'

BBC - Tue, 2014-06-03 04:45
David Willetts says universities "need to raise their game and improve the quality of the teaching experience".

President Obama to increase military presence in Europe

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-06-03 04:42

President Obama asked Congress today to approve up to $1 billion to boost the U.S. military presence in Europe, where unease over Russia’s intervention in Ukraine has altered the security dynamic.

The president announced the effort after meeting with the Polish president at the start of a European tour, which should include Obama’s first bilateral meeting with the president-elect of Ukraine.

President Obama says he wants to preposition more equipment in Europe, expand training exercises with allies, and increase the number of U.S. military personnel rotating through Europe. He also wants to “step up” partnerships with non-NATO countries like Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia.

All this comes amidst Russia and Ukraine trying to find a way to settle Kiev’s multi-billion dollar gas bill.

President Obama looks to increase presence in Europe

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-06-03 04:42

President Obama asked Congress today to approve up to $1 billion to boost the U.S. military presence in Europe, where unease over Russia’s intervention in Ukraine has altered the security dynamic.

The president announced the effort after meeting with the Polish president at the start of a European tour, which should include Obama’s first bilateral meeting with the president-elect of Ukraine.

President Obama says he wants to preposition more equipment in Europe, expand training exercises with allies, and increase the number of U.S. military personnel rotating through Europe. He also wants to “step up” partnerships with non-NATO countries like Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia.

All this comes amidst Russia and Ukraine trying to find a way to settle Kiev’s multi-billion dollar gas bill.

Australia deny World Cup wrongdoing

BBC - Tue, 2014-06-03 04:42
Australia's unsuccessful bid team dismiss allegations their pursuit of the 2022 World Cup involved illegal payments.

VIDEO: The man who says he can 'destroy' evolution

BBC - Tue, 2014-06-03 04:34
The man who says he can destroy the case for evolution

I vow...to hide my assets in Bitcoin

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-06-03 04:33

Here at Marketplace, we've talked a lot about the various uses of bitcoin. From buying beef jerky in bulk online, to getting a check up at the doctor's, the cryptocurrency is getting closer and closer to becoming part of every day life. Certainly, though, it has seen its share of controversy, and the fact that it has largely been used for the sale of illicit material via online black markets is a blight on its reputation. But now there's an entirely new possibility for bitcoin users who want to use the digital currency for evil: hiding assets from a spouse.

A recent report looks at the possibility that the unique qualities of bitcoin might allow, in this case, a husband to hide finances while dividing assets in divorce proceedings. It could be especially problematic in the UK, where judges tend to recognize spouses as being more equal, while making less of a distinction between the merits of who is the breadwinner versus who is the homemaker. Considering the fact that bitcoin is hard to associate with a distinct owner, and that a spouse could discreetly and quickly move their currency into a friend's digital wallet, divorce proceedings could be made entirely more difficult to get right. 

So before walking down the aisle, maybe think about a bitcoin addendum to your prenup. 

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