Is a burrito a sandwich? The answer may sound simple to you ... but the question gets at the very heart of a tension that's existed for ages.
Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for bribery, money laundering and other corruption crimes. The counts on which he was convicted cover a span that includes much of his two terms in office.
Christopher Dickey, foreign editor for the Daily Beast, speaks to Melissa Block about the dangers facing antiquities in a museum and other archaeological sites in the Iraqi city of Mosul.
U.S.-German relations were further strained Wednesday over reports that prosecutors in Germany are investigating a German soldier accused of spying for the U.S. It's the second such case in a week.
According to survey results released by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., many American colleges are breaking the law by failing to respond to sexual assault allegations on campus.
The craft beer industry keeps getting bigger. The Brewers Association reports that in 2013, the market share of craft beer in the United States had grown to 7.8 percent. Breweries are popping up all across the country including in Los Angeles, where Golden Road Brewing has enjoyed three years of tremendous growth.
Meg Gill and Tony Yanow launched Golden Road in 2011. Their facility now includes a large brewing space, canning line, and a pub. Their beers can be found in grocery stores and restaurants in the area. Their most recent deal puts Golden Road beer in airports across the country, rolling out this summer.
The brewery has been able to find the niche within craft beer with their Los Angeles-based business, Gil says.
“This market is enormous” she says. “We’re already too big for our boots in some accounts.”
Yanow says even with all their growth in the past three years, Golden Road is still far away from achieving the size of the Boston Beer Company, the brewers of Samuel Adams. Gill says craft brewers owe a lot of their success to Boston Beer.
“I think that Jim Cook and that company is one of the most talented businesses in America and they have brought craft beer back to America,” she says.
Yanow acknowledges the number of new breweries opening will slow. “At some point, the rate of growth, of expansion into new breweries has to stop because eventually," he says. "You have more breweries than people.”
But Yanow’s not too worried about a craft beer bubble. “The real question is, can you put the toothpaste back into the tube?... People who like our beer and people who like craft beer like our beer and they’re not going to stop liking our beer.”
In 1994 Earle F. Williams was on Martha’s Vineyard when a sticker on the back of a car caught his eye. “I saw an oval decal with an MV on it,” remembers Williams.
At the time he sold sports-imprinted decals and memorabilia to colleges. His first thought when he saw the sticker was, I wonder if that thing is copyrighted. “I wanted to make sure we wouldn’t step on somebody’s toes.” Luckily for Williams, it wasn’t.
A few months later he started making his own stickers with the initials VT for Vermont. It being the Green Mountain State, he sold them in green. Since then he’s made countless versions of the white oval. This year he sold a little over a million decals, out of his house in Stowe, Vermont. That’s about half as many as he sold at the peak of his business, pre-recession.
Though Williams markets his stickers as the Original Ovals, they were actually created by the United Nations in the 1940’s, as “Distinguishing Signs Used on Vehicles in International Traffic.” They were a way to identify the country of origin on automobiles traveling through Europe.
In the U.S., they became a status symbol. EH for East Hampton, or ACK for Nantucket, secret codes that said, the driver of this car lives or vacations in America’s most elite resorts.
“I think the temptation is to be a little disdainful when you see those,” said Cornell economics professor Robert Frank. “If people were really confident of their position in life, they wouldn’t feel a need to advertise it.”
Frank says these bumper stickers in and of themselves aren’t a big deal. But they are an indicator of larger economic trends. The wealthiest Americans are building larger and more ostentatious homes. “They’re not bad people because they do that," he says. "That’s what everyone does when they get more money. But the fact they build bigger houses shifts the frame of reference for the people just below the top, they build bigger too,” And that trickles down the income ladder. Meanwhile lower and middle class wages have stagnated. So everyone ends up spending more of their income to keep up.
There is a similar competition to get into the prestigious educational institutions, not just universities, but increasingly grade schools, even preschools. “When a parent’s child gets into a prestigious institution, the first thing that happens is a decal on the back window of the car, announcing that fact to the world,” Frank says.
As for the white oval decals, David Ewing isn’t a fan. He grew up in Swampscott, Massachusetts, just outside Boston. His father was a lawyer at a Boston law firm and his roots go way back in New England. “My dad’s ancestor was one of the founders of Northampton, Massachusetts, so it was the 1600’s,” Ewing says.
He spent his summer vacations in southern Maine and Nantucket. But he says his family would never have put a sticker on their car advertising that fact. “It was against their sensibility to show off, to the world at large anyway, he says. “There was a distaste for ostentation and a distaste for -- the term when we were growing up was status symbol.”
Today Ewing lives in California and he understands the impulse to put a sticker on your car that shows where you are from. “If you are a long way from home you’re sort of waving your hand going, 'anybody else out there?'” But he says if he saw a white oval with an MV for Martha’s Vineyard or an MH for Marblehead in his neighborhood, he wouldn’t go up to the owner of that car and strike up a conversation. “I’d avoid ‘em like the plague,” he said.
The scene was predictably awkward, even painfully so. But as NPR's Ari Shapiro reported for today's Morning Edition, the visit also brought a moment of grace for many of those involved.