Marketplace - American Public Media

Subscribe to Marketplace - American Public Media feed
Updated: 14 min 15 sec ago

Ballerina Misty Copeland counts herself lucky

Thu, 2016-06-30 11:20

Update: Misty Copeland was promoted Tuesday, June 30 to principal dancer for the American Ballet Theater. She's the first-ever African-American woman to hold that title.

 

Age starting dance: 13

Height: 5 feet 2 inches

Bust: "Bigger than most"

At least, that's how ballerina Misty Copeland describes her numbers-defying career in dance. A soloist with the American Ballet Theater in New York, Copeland recently explained how she doesn't really fit into the traditional model for ballet, but still made it work.

“All of those numbers, they just don’t add up to create a classical dancer,” she says. "No matter what, I'm going to be who I am."

Listen to the full conversation from our live show in New York City in the audio player above.

Tesla is disrupting more than just the car business

Sat, 2016-02-06 16:01

Tesla Motors is building the world's biggest battery factory just outside of Reno, Nevada. The company is calling it the “gigafactory,” and when it’s up and running in 2016 it’s expected to make Tesla’s electric cars much more affordable. 

“In a single factory we're doubling the worldwide capacity to manufacture lithium-ion batteries,” says J.B. Straubel, Tesla's chief technology officer. 

That's significant enough. But the company also plans to develop batteries for use with solar-power generation – giving Tesla a shot at challenging public utilities as an energy source, Straubel says.

“At the price points that we're expecting to achieve with the gigafactory ... we see a market that is well in excess of the production capability of the factory,” says Straubel.

The market for batteries is an offshoot of the booming business for solar panels, particularly in states such as California, where solar is becoming commonplace.

“We sign up approximately one new customer every minute of the workday," says Will Craven, director of public affairs at California-based SolarCity.

Much of the excess energy harnessed by solar panels is returned to the power grid, Cravens says. This means homeowners and businesses may earn a credit from their power companies, but have no say over when and how that energy is used.

The partnership with SolarCity will use rooftop solar panels fitted with Tesla’s battery packs to allow customers to keep that energy in-house. That means they can use it however, and whenever, they want. The concept puts Tesla in direct competition with utility companies.

“Stationary storage, or backup storage, is really being considered the ‘Holy Grail’ of renewable electricity generation,” says Ben Kallo, an analyst with the Robert W. Baird financial services firm.

Kallo points out that the intermittent nature of renewable energy sources makes them less reliable because the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine.  But with the ability to store that energy, renewable energy sources can compete head-to-head with utility companies for customers.

“There are still many utilities out there who kind of have their head stuck in the sand and just hope that this goes away. What we're seeing is really building momentum,” Kallo says.

Forward-minded utilities might look at Tesla’s business model as an opportunity, he says.  Energy-storage technology could be used to build capacity in their existing grids, and also build new infrastructure for battery-powered cars and homes.

 

Sports channels tap fantasy games for new content

5 hours 56 min ago

The website DraftKings just secured $300 million in funding, with investors including Fox Sports, Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer. The site allows people to play and bet on daily fantasy games in several different sports. Earlier this month, FanDuel, another daily fantasy site, raised $275 million.

Fox Sports was the lead investor, and the deal includes a commitment by DraftKings to spend $250 million advertising on Fox over the next three years.

“Sports networks, they see this as all additive to their core business," says Eric Fisher,  a staff writer for the SportsBusiness Journal.  "[The] fantasy player has been proven over and over again as a more engaged consumer of the games themselves either in person or on TV.”

Players like Adrian Sharoyan in Queens, New York, who’s been playing fantasy sports for 15 years.

“When I first started playing fantasy sports, I [only watched] my favorite team, which is the Yankees," he says. "And once I started playing fantasy sports, I became instantly more interested in every game that was going on.”

Sharoyan’s been betting on DraftKings for the last two years. He likes that he can make a new roster every day.

Sports networks need consumers like him, says Jimmy Lynn, a special adviser for Georgetown University’s Sports Industry Management graduate program.

“The networks are always looking for content to bring eyeballs, and they make their money through the subscription fees and the advertising,” he says.

Lynn says the networks are also looking for new content, like TV shows focused exclusively on fantasy sports, especially because most of the major sports leagues are already locked into long-term contracts. And, since fantasy sports is one venue where it’s legal to place bets, more and more people are getting in the game.  

 

Political ads mean big bucks for television stations

6 hours 23 min ago

Steven Shepard of Politico says we can look forward to tons of television advertisements this presidential election season.

“Campaign advertising in 2016 is estimated to top about $4.4 billion," he says. "That combines the advertising run by the campaigns and the candidates themselves, and also the growth of super PACs in the post-Citizens United era. It is $500 million more than was spent in 2012, in the last presidential election." 

Even though younger generations use the internet to get most of their information, ads are still primarily focused on television.

Shepard says, "the future might be digital, but the problem is that the advertising hasn’t really caught up with that. The ways in which you can reach people, target them, television …live television is still the best way to do that.” 

Television ads are so successful that local news stations are adding more local broadcasts in order to sell more ad space.

“The entire purpose behind that is to create more advertising inventory that they can sell to political campaigns and super PACs,” Shepard says. 

This might be good news for television stations, but for those in swing states, this election season is going to be a long one.

“If you live in a swing state or one of the early nominating states … you’re going to get the barrage over the winter, and then you’re going to get it again over the summer and fall,” Shepard says.

New York to rebuild LaGuardia Airport

6 hours 29 min ago

Here's some great news and terrible news for the flying public: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he's going tear down LaGuardia Airport.

Tear it right down — and rebuild it.

They're going to break ground on the first bit early next year, and it's going to take just more than three years and $4 billion for a new Central Terminal.

Great — eventually. But can you imagine the delays?

Crude oil is plunging ... again

6 hours 30 min ago

A barrel of American crude is selling for less than $50 once again; a year ago the price was north of $90.

 

The bear market for oil production is a reaction to an unexpected glut, Marketplace's Scott Tong says. Last year, when OPEC signaled that it wouldn't cut the U.S. supply, oil producers all over the world kept pumping, he says. U.S. shale oil production keeps going, despite fracking. Saudi Arabia has record levels and Iraq oil is back "in a big way." Iranian could re-enter the market because of the potential lifting of sanctions.

 

Some analysts think the U.S. won’t see $100 barrels of oil for maybe five years, Tong says. The pessimists include drillers, who are cutting $200 billion in investments to stay afloat. Morgan Stanley likens this to the 1986 oil crash, which took the U.S. industry two decades to recover. Another camp says we’re in a new period of volatility. Before, OPEC was the price shock absorber, but it doesn't want that job any more. So perhaps we’ve entered the boom-bust-boom-bust chamber, he says.

 

All over the world, oil producers are struggling. In the oil sands area of Canada where it’s expensive to drill, unemployment has doubled and most new projects have been shelved. Venezuela is running out of petroleum revenue dollars to buy imports, which is especially problematic because most of its products are imported. Inflation there is 100 percent or more. Russia’s careening toward recession. In the Gulf of Mexico, drilling rigs have fallen by a thousand, and here in the United States, there have been tens of thousands of layoffs.

 

Oil producers are addicted to the revenue, but the picture is changing for consumers. According to the international energy agency, demand is slowing in rich countries – western Europe, Japan, the U.S. Even though emerging economies are buying more, demand will slow and eventually flatten out around 2040.

 

Click on the audio player above to hear more. 

If China sneezes, does the U.S. catch a cold?

6 hours 30 min ago

It’s not exactly comforting to see the stock market of the world’s second-largest economy take a nose dive. China saw the biggest single-day drop – 8 percent — in its stock market in eight years, following weeks of volatility and decline. 

At a time when the U.S. is starting to recover, should we worry? Not particularly, or at least not yet.

First, those feeling most of the pain from China’s stock market are the Chinese.

“China’s financial markets are mostly closed off to those outside the country,” says Nadège Rolland, senior project director for the National Bureau of Asian Research.  “So of all the shares in China’s stock market, foreigners own less than 2 percent — by some estimates it’s 1.5 percent.”

One of the many reasons for this is so that the Chinese government can maintain control over its market and do things like threaten to arrest people who sell off shares. Just today, China’s equivalent of the Securities and Exchange Commission has reportedly put started a hotline for reporting “people who are ‘maliciously selling,’” says Patrick Chovanec, chief strategist at Silvercrest Asset Management. “I don’t know what malicious selling is actually, but you can be reported for it.”

The stronger links between the U.S. and China are through trade, not financial markets. Even on that front, however, the effects of China’s economic slowdown on the U.S. are “real, but limited,” says Nicholas Lardy, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. China accounts for “about 7 percent of our exports, and exports are not a really huge chunk of our overall economy, so only about a percentage of our production is getting sold in China.”

“Although people imagine China is a growth driver for the global economy, China has been running chronic trade surpluses, so it really derives growth from other countries,” Chovanec says. “That’s neither good nor bad, that’s just the reality.”

U.S. companies operating in China are experiencing the slowdown differently. Lardy says those like Caterpillar or United Technologies — which are heavily tied to China’s now-waning construction boom — are suffering. Companies that are selling directly to Chinese consumers – YUM brands’ KFC and Pizza Hut, for example – are doing exceedingly well.  iPhone sales have surged and Apple expects China to be its largest market in the world within a few years.

“China is attempting to move from an investment-driven to a consumer-driven economy,” says Robert Whitelaw, professor of entrepreneurial finance at NYU’s Stern School of Business. “And it’s not easy to do, because it has been investment-driven for so long.”

But if that’s what rises out of the rubble of China’s growing pains, it may be to the benefit of the U.S., Chovanec says. 

“There’s a tendency for people to look at growth as a uniformly positive thing; any growth is good, and any slowdown is bad for global economy,” he says. “But that’s not really the case. A lot of the growth over the past five or six years in China was bad growth — credit-fueled overinvestment, a buildout of overcapacity that pushed down prices around world and made it tough for other economies to grow.”   

The end of that process, Chovanec says, will ultimately be a relief for other sectors of global economy. “Ultimately, if the Chinese support consumption, this will ultimately turn China into a driver of growth.  A lot of people think China is a driver of growth now; it has the potential to be as it undergoes this economic adjustment.”

Science Inc. gives startups their big break

6 hours 50 min ago

Since serving as CEO of the website Myspace, Mike Jones has spent his time as an angel investor. He says, “When I looked at my track record as an angel, I felt that there was this huge discrepancy between the number of investments and the number of successes I had had.”

So naturally, he raised $10 million and started the company Science Inc., which helps startups from the ground up.

We’ll work with you on strategy, product — if you need developers, we’ll provide technology. If you need designers, we’ll provide great design resources. And then when you’re ready, we’ll go bring you up to Silicon Valley. We’ll help you get funded, we’ll join your board and we’ll be with you for the entire length of your company.

What separates Science Inc. from similar companies is its location in L.A., on Silicon Beach: 

My primary network is here in L.A. For me, that means that I have great access to talent. I can find great people to come work at these businesses, and we also have strong ties to Silicon Valley, so when we have a break out company, we can pair them with the best investors in Silicon Valley. 

Though Science Inc. is located in L.A., the reliance on Silicon Valley is strong: 

The weight that Silicon Valley carries in technology, it’s second to none. There’s Silicon Valley and there’s everywhere else. And we might be in the top of the ‘everywhere else’ category, but we’re not even close to the infrastructure that Silicon Valley provides for the technology businesses.

Jones says it’s not about competing with Silicon Valley, but rather making Los Angeles a welcoming place for startups. He thinks that “we need bigger and bigger companies that will create more wealth in Los Angeles, that will provide more returns back to those investors and then create a larger ecosystem of early stage investment.”

 

What's Silicon Beach?

7 hours 13 min ago

We've heard of Silicon Valley and its New York counterpart, Silicon Alley, but there's a growing group of startups based out of Venice — a.k.a. Silicon Beach. We traveled down there to talk with a few CEOs about the Los Angeles–area tech scene, and we'll be airing those conversations through the rest of the summer. Here's a preview. 

Ex-writer tries to take the polish off an NYT series

9 hours 50 min ago

A New York Times series that unveiled harsh working conditions in New York City nail salons is eliciting criticism from a former Times writer about the report’s methodology.

Times reporter Sarah Maslin Nir spoke to more than 150 nail salon workers and owners, and described the grim conditions to Marketplace back in May when the piece was published. Richard Bernstein, in an article for the New York Review of Books, says that Nir drew a “Dickensian portrait” of the industry, one that doesn’t jibe with his experience as part owner of two Manhattan day spas.

In the critique, Bernstein asks, “Is it true?” You’ve figured out his answer to that. Here is a summary of some of Bernstein’s criticisms:

According to Bernstein, the New York Times failed to provide sufficient proof about an ad from Chinese-language papers Sing Tao Daily and World Journal that advertised jobs at a rate of $10 a day.

  • In an independent investigation by Bernstein and his wife, the two combed through World Journal issues dating back to March and failed to find the ads the article described. The lowest salary Bernstein says they saw in an ad was $70 a day — prior to the series’ publication. Others salaries ranged from $110 to $130.
  • Bernstein draws from personal anecdotes to refute the low-salary claims found in the article, saying that they would be unable to find employees unwilling to work for the wages cited in Nir’s series.  
  • Nir was selective in her presentation of nail salon ads, failing to account for the numerous ads that he and his wife came across that listed higher prices than presented in the article, according to Bernstein. Bernstein also questions why potential nail salon workers would neglect the ads for higher-paying jobs in favor of ones that offer lower wages.
  • Though Nir mentions the infrequency of nail salon inspections by the government, Bernstein says he finds fault with this claim, citing the regular, annual inspections at his own salon. He adds that according to the New York Department of State, between May of last year and this year, there were more than 5,000 “appearance enhancement” business inspections, which included nail salons.   
  • Bernstein says he thinks Nir inaccurately characterizes the working conditions of nail salons by making manicurist Jing Ren, a 20-year-old from China whom she interviews for the story, representative of the entire industry. He says that there are many nail salon workers who are not “undocumented, untrained, or unlicensed like [Ren].”
  • Though the New York Times provides a searing critique of the industry, the end of the article says Ren has found a nail salon job that pays a higher wage— a trajectory which Bernstein suggests undermines the article’s claim about the industry’s “rampant exploitation.”

The New York Times’ public editor, Margaret Sullivan, has not released an official statement on the methods used in the piece. However, Nir and several other New York Times reporters and editors have directly and indirectly addressed his claims on social media.

 

Nir calls out Bernstein on Twitter Monday, labeling him "biased": 

 

    

 

 

 

 

 

    

In #unvarnished I interviewed over 150 workers&owners whose careers encompassed minimum 700 salons. One biased man renders them voiceless?

— Sarah Nir (@SarahMaslinNir) July 27, 2015

 

 

 

 

    

His power:1) the demographic he comes from 2)his professional background 3)his access to a platform, drowns out the voices of the many&weak?

— Sarah Nir (@SarahMaslinNir) July 27, 2015 

New York Times Deputy Metro Editor Michael Luo — the editor of Nir’s series — publishes a Storify post of his tweets responding to criticism against the nail salon series and says that the Times has plans to publish a more formal response.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A tweet showing the ad for the $10-a-day nail salon salary mentioned in Nir’s first article in the series:

 

 

 

   

Re:@R_Bernstein in @nybooks challenging NYT's Unvarnished. Here's ad: $10/day 4 apprentice. http://t.co/XeOfgZRDLE pic.twitter.com/uSiRXxiC2g

— Michael Luo (@michaelluo) July 25, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other New York Times reporters have also chimed in on Twitter. Adam Ragusea, the host for Current.org's "The Pub" podcast, criticized the New York Times's presentation of the nail salon industry, using Bernstein’s argument that the $10-a-day ad may be unrepresentative of actual wages offered by nail salon owners.

 

Michael Powell — a New York Times "Sports of the Times" columnist — responded to Ragusea by suggesting that his criticism was “self-righteous,” while Patrick LaForge, the New York Times' editor for news presentation, called his criticism “off base.”

Where you live will cost you

13 hours 30 min ago

Conventional thinking might lead us to believe that people who reside in cities with higher living expenses probably also have the highest debt burdens. But residents of the City by the Bay have the least credit card burden of any major metropolitan city, according to a new study by CreditCards.com.

Using data from credit bureau Experian, CreditCards.com determined how long it would take for residents of 25 of the largest U.S. cities to pay off their current credit card debt. And the results were all over the map.

Metropolitan areas on the coasts tended to have lower credit card burden than elsewhere in the country, while areas of the South were on the opposite side of the spectrum.

Courtney Miller, an economics writer for NerdWallet, says a lot of it comes down to the culture surrounding credit card debt.

"I think there’s a ton of factors that go into it, and part of it is how much people need to rely on credit cards. So a city like San Francisco ... there [are] a lot of cash-only places in that kind of city."

San Antonio came in last place, where residents were projected to take the longest to pay off credit card debt — in fact, of the top 10 cities with the highest debt burden, seven were located in the South. Miller points to lower overall income in those areas, combined with a tendency towards higher credit card debt.

But there are a lot of moving parts to determining credit card debt. Take Alaska for example.

"They tend to have a higher credit card debt, but they actually have a pretty high credit score compared to the rest of the country ... (In Alaska), maybe you have to buy things online more, so you use a credit card more," Miller says.

Teva agrees to buy Allergan for $40 billion

16 hours 30 min ago

The world’s largest manufacturer of generic drugs, Teva, has bagged some big game.

Monday morning, the company announced that it has agreed to buy Allergan’s generic business for a little more than $40 billion.

If approved, the deal places Teva amongst the largest drug companies on the planet.

With just one purchase, the company could bring in new revenue, fend off competition from China and India, and gain even more pull in this $70 billion a year business, says Elizabeth Krutoholow, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst.

“It’s just a matter of being able to throw around your power in pricing," she says. "So you are trying to get your drugs into the pharmacy. If you have more things in your bag that you can play around with, you certainly have greater leverage there.”

Whether this deal would ratchet up prices depends on how many drugs in Teva’s bag are in direct competition with the one’s in Allegran’s bag, says Yale economist Fiona Scott Morton.

“We really care about the overlaps of these firms. If there is a lot, then there is potential for higher prices when they merge. So ... the regulator needs to go out and look at where these guys overlap,” she says.

While there are a lot of tie ups in healthcare these days, Morton says generics are a different game.

Unlike health insurance, for example, it’s easier to get into generics, making it more likely the small guys will be able to grow and keep competition more robust.

PODCAST: Biting the hand that feeds you burritos

16 hours 30 min ago

More on news that Fiat Chrysler will offer to buyback hundreds of thousands of Ram Pickup trucks. Plus, what to expect to from the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee briefing on Wednesday. And thousands  of workers in lawsuits in several states allege Chipotle’s “moral high-ground” doesn’t extend to its cooks, cashiers and managers. The cases against Chipotle are part of a national trend of workers turning to federal courts to recoup wages.

Underwater homeowners look for mortgage relief

17 hours 30 min ago

JoAnn Henderson is the kind of person who greets strangers with a big hug. I met her in the kitchen of her home in New Carrollton, Maryland.   

Henderson bought her house in 2001. She refinanced a few years later, for a higher amount. Shortly before she retired from her teaching job, she started having trouble with the steep payments.

“You would miss a couple and then you’d pay and pay and pay," she says. "And then you’d miss a couple more. Yeah — I almost lost the house.”

Henderson got a loan modification, which dropped her interest rate to 3 percent. Now, she’s even got a rainy day fund.

“A tiny one," she says, laughing. "Not a big rain. A small rain.”

But what would really help Henderson is if the amount of her loan could be reduced in what’s called a principal reduction. Henderson owes more than $450,000 on her house, which is only worth $212,000, according to Zillow. She's underwater, owing more on her home than it's worth.

“It seems like principal reduction is a logical, no-brainer conclusion,” says Mitria Wilson, vice president of government affairs at the Center for Responsible Lending

Wilson says the improving housing market has cut the number of underwater homeowners from 15 million to 4 million.

“So, the number’s gone down significantly, but here’s the rub," she says. "The people who make up that 4 million disproportionately have lower-priced homes.”

That aren’t likely to appreciate. So those homeowners will stay underwater.

Mel Watt will be making the decision on principal reduction. He’s head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They guarantee many U.S. mortgages.

Watt is caught between homeowner advocates like Wilson, and people like Tim Rood. He's chairman of the Collingwood Group of financial advisers. Rood wonders where the money for principal reduction would come from.

“This money doesn’t come out of thin air," he says. "So, it’s going to have to come from investors or from taxpayers.”

In congressional testimony, Mel Watt has said he’s looking at ways to help borrowers, without hurting Fannie and Freddie.  

   

A kinder, gentler Gawker?

17 hours 30 min ago

The digital news and gossip company Gawker Media is expected to relaunch Monday, after a backlash over its handling of a controversial blog post. Two editors resigned in protest last week, after CEO Nick Denton removed a report alleging that a married media executive had tried to hire a gay escort.

Denton has reportedly told his staff the new Gawker will be 10 to 20 percent “nicer.” Analysts say the change reflects a bigger shift underway in digital media, where snark for snark's sake has lost some of its appeal.

Click the media player above to hear more.

Colorado workers sue Chipotle, part of national trend

17 hours 30 min ago

Chipotle recently extended paid sick leave, vacation and tuition reimbursement to its hourly workers.

Still, tens of thousands of employees at Chipotle Mexican Grills around the country are not happy with the Denver-based fast casual poster child over how they are paid. Earlier this month, a court in Los Angeles approved a $2 million settlement with over 38,000 plaintiffs for allegations of unpaid overtime, rest breaks and minimum wage. These Chipotle employees and others in more lawsuits across the country have joined a national workplace trend: filing class-action lawsuits against their employer claiming unfair pay.

Brittany Swa 

Joe Mahoney/Rocky Mountain PBS I-News

Brittany Swa started working at a Chipotle in Centennial, Colorado, in 2010 as a crew-member. Swa ran the cashier, grilled meat and served customers at $14.50 an hour plus overtime at time-and-a-half. When she was promoted to apprentice manager a few months later, she expected to get more managerial training, but she said the only difference was making the daily morning bank deposit.

“It takes you like 15 minutes,” she says.

On top of that, she was now averaging 55-60 hours a week, she says, and she was now an exempt employee and couldn’t claim overtime.

“If they needed coverage, you’d be the one to cover, or someone calls in sick or they can’t come in that day, you gotta cover.”

Swa is one of the tens of thousands of plaintiffs in settled and ongoing lawsuits from California to New York suing Chipotle for unpaid wages either because they allege they were misclassified as managers or because they worked off the clock, cleaning the store and attending mandatory meetings.

“Cases of this kind are happening with increasing frequency around the country and are not unique to Chipotle,” company spokesman Chris Arnold says.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, federal lawsuits like this one have more than doubled in the past decade.

“It’s very confusing to figure out how to follow this law,” says Lorrie Ray, an attorney at Mountain States Employers Council.

The federal law was written during the Great Depression. Rules on when to pay overtime, for example, are complicated, and there’s a lot of room for error, Ray says.

“Plaintiffs’ attorneys, the employees’ attorneys, became aware that this was sort of lucrative ground for them to cover,” she says. “They started insisting that employers pay their clients for mistakes they’d made under the law.”

There’s another reason, according to Denver University law professor Nantiya Ruan, who is also helping with the apprentice overtime lawsuit against Chipotle. The modern-day workplace is different.

“We expect workers to be on call and working a tremendous amount of hours in a way that we hadn’t been in the '60s and '70s,” she says.

Chipotle has now settled lawsuits with workers in Maryland, California and Florida. In the coming months, wage lawsuits against the company in Colorado, Minnesota and Texas are pending class action certification.

Music-making and dysfunctional technology

17 hours 30 min ago

As part of a series about music technology called "Noise Makers," we're talking to musicians about their favorite noise-making device. For this week's installment we talked with experimental composer Sabisha Friedberg ahead of her performance for the Issue Project Room. 

Sabisha Friedberg's music is planned very carefully. As she puts it, "if something is very well placed and thought out a kind of magic can happen."

Magic and unexpected occurrences are the focal point of her recent double-LP entitled The Haunt Variance. About the record, Friedberg says, "much of it is about things that seem to manifest as apparitions that one doesn't intend. It's the idea of a haunted space and entities that end up coming through the mechanics in the electronic equipment like phantoms that you don't expect."

Click the media player above to hear Sabisha Friedberg talk about working with imperfect technology to make music.

She remembers how this electronic equipment, specifically tape machines and frequency generators, "were my early toys, in fact. So, I played with disused reel-to-reel tape machines and the frequency generators I've inherited from people."

In her performances, Friedberg continues to revive instruments, and even sources her equipment from a Russian mechanic in Coney Island. Through her dysfunctional equipment and rigorous planning, Friedberg creates music with a controlled chaos and haunting ambiance.

More information on Sabisha Friedberg and her recent double-LP can be found at the Issue Project Room website.

 

Price of orange juice squeezes consumers

17 hours 30 min ago

Orange growers in Florida are having a tough time of it. The “greening” disease that’s been lowering yields for years is making this year’s crop one of the smallest in decades.

That’s translating into higher prices for orange juice — averaging $6.63 per gallon.

Consumers are drinking less, but still guzzle $3.2 billion worth of juice per year, says Jonna Parker of Nielsen research.

“It’s still a really, really big industry,” she says, but there's been a steady decline in sales over the last five years.

The size of orange juice containers is shrinking as well.

“Some of the brands out there have put the orange juice into the smaller, one-serving size” says LeAnna Himrod, who heads the Peace River Valley Citrus Growers Association in Florida.

She says beverage companies are responding to busy consumers who not only want convenience, but also something that feels fresh and healthy.

Consumers like DC resident Rob Parker, who worries about the sugar in off-the-shelf orange juice.

“I used to go through probably half a gallon every few days," he says. "Now, I only get fresh-squeezed, and that’s maybe once or twice a month.”

Growers are trying to keep back the greening disease in order to lower prices, and hopefully, bring orange juice back to the breakfast table.

Colorado workers sue Chipotle following nation trend

17 hours 30 min ago

Chipotle recently extended paid sick leave, vacation and tuition reimbursement to its hourly workers.

Still, tens of thousands of employees at Chipotle Mexican Grills around the country are not happy with the Denver-based fast casual poster child over how they are paid. Earlier this month, a court in Los Angeles approved a $2 million settlement with over 38,000 plaintiffs for allegations of unpaid overtime, rest breaks and minimum wage. These Chipotle employees and others in more lawsuits across the country have joined a national workplace trend: filing class-action lawsuits against their employer claiming unfair pay.

Brittany Swa 

Joe Mahoney/Rocky Mountain PBS I-News

Britney Swa started working at a Chipotle in Centennial, Colorado in 2010 as a crew-member. Swa ran the cashier, grilled meat and served customers, at $14.50 an hour plus overtime at time-and-a-half. When she was promoted to apprentice manager a few months later she expected to get more managerial training, but she said the only difference was making the daily morning bank deposit.

“It takes you like 15 minutes,” she says.

On top of that, she was now averaging 55-60 hours a week, she says, and she was now an exempt employee and couldn’t claim overtime.

“If they needed coverage, you’d be the one to cover, or someone calls in sick or they can’t come in that day, you gotta cover.”

Swa is one of the tens of thousands of plaintiffs in settled and ongoing lawsuits from California to New York suing Chipotle for unpaid wages either because they allege they were misclassified as managers or because they worked off the clock, cleaning the store and attending mandatory meetings.

“Cases of this kind are happening with increasing frequency around the country and are not unique to Chipotle,” company spokesman Chris Arnold says.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, federal lawsuits like this one have more than doubled in the past decade.

“It’s very confusing to figure out how to follow this law,” Mountain States Employers Council attorney Lorrie Ray says.

The federal law was written during the Great Depression. Rules on when to pay overtime, for example, are complicated and there’s a lot of room for error, Ray says.

“Plaintiffs’ attorneys, the employees’ attorneys, became aware that this was sort of lucrative ground for them to cover,” she says. “They started insisting that employers pay their clients for mistakes they’d made under the law.”

There’s another reason, according to Denver University law professor Nantiya Ruan, who is also helping with the apprentice overtime lawsuit against Chipotle. The modern-day workplace is different.

“We expect workers to be on call and working a tremendous amount of hours in a way that we hadn’t been in the 60s and 70s,” she says.

Chipotle has now settled lawsuits with workers in Maryland, California and Florida. In the coming months, wage lawsuits against the company in Colorado, Minnesota and Texas are pending class action certification.

Pages