Business & Education

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An unusual parliamentary meeting is due to open Tuesday in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, amid speculation of sweeping changes ahead. In the first such confirmation from within the country, farmers told The Associated Press they would be given more control over their crops under new agricultural rules. Long seen as an economic basket case, North Korea now could be on the cusp of economic change.

Tech companies like Google, Facebook and Zynga are on a shopping spree. They're buying small startups with innovative products and apps. But, many times, the tech giants don't care about what the small companies were producing. They just want the engineers.

There's a new name for these deals: the "acqui-hire," and it could mean the end to your favorite app.

Automaker Fiat announced its commitment to remain in Italy after a meeting Saturday between the company's CEO and the country's president.

Fiat had threatened to shut down its operations in Italy unless it received additional state assistance. The crisis came at a time the entire country is undergoing a steep decline across all industrial sectors.

When you walk into a McDonald's in India, it doesn't feel that much different from one in the U.S. That is, until you try to order.

When McDonald's first came to India 15 years ago, it ditched the Big Macs and Quarter Pounders to try to fit in in a country where cows are sacred and most people frown on eating beef. The chain tried re-creating its American classics with lamb, but it was a flop.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Chicago teachers voted to end their strike this week, the first in 25 years, and came back to class. It brought an end to a heated confrontation between leaders of the Chicago teachers union and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who repeated this phrase time and again during the strike.

MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL: This was a strike of choice and it's a wrong choice for the children. Really, it was a choice.

Labor Unrest In S. African Mines Spreads

Sep 22, 2012

In South Africa, thousands of mineworkers have embarked on industrial action that began with a deadly pay strike by platinum workers. They've agreed a wage deal with their management, this week, but the labor unrest is spreading to other platinum and gold mines in an industry that's the engine of South Africa's economy. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton discusses the repercussions with host Scott Simon.

After saving money for years, Lola Sanchez was finally able to buy a car refitted with a ramp and space for a wheelchair in the back for her teenage son, who has cerebral palsy.

A nurse used to come each day to help with her son's care. That service was cut amid government austerity measures, though Sanchez still gets a small check every month.

"What I need is physical help, even more than financial assistance," Sanchez says, "because I can't physically lift him on my own."

And then there were three — record labels, that is. Regulators in the United States and Europe have approved the acquisition of EMI Music by Univeral Music Group. The combined label will own close to 40 percent of the world music market with a trove of acts that includes The Beatles.

Even as it has received praise for bringing innovative ideas to life, Kickstarter has been criticized for allowing creators to be a little fuzzy about their plans — and for providing little recourse to investors who become unsatisfied with the project they've supported. The site has now announced changes that it hopes will ease those troubles.

The biggest change is a new section called "Risks and Challenges," which requires potential entrepreneurs to list the obstacles they face, and how they plan to deal with them.

It's a "now familiar global ritual," as The Associated Press says: Apple fans are lining up today at stores "from Sydney to Paris to pick up the tech juggernaut's latest iPhone."

That would be the iPhone 5, which the company unveiled earlier this month.

According to a Senate investigations subcommittee, Microsoft Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and other multinational corporations took advantage of an ambiguous U.S. tax code to avoid paying billions of dollars in taxes.

Here's how Bloomberg wraps it up:

Shelton State Community College

The new chancellor of Alabama's two-year college system will receive more than $270,000 a year. Mark Heinrich has agreed to a three-year contract that will pay him $250,000 annually in salary. It will also provide a yearly housing allowance of $21,000. The State Board of Education approved the deal Thursday. Heinrich has agreed to the terms but still has to sign the contract. The board voted last week to hire Heinrich, who has been president of Shelton State Community College in Tuscaloosa. Heinrich's predecessor, Freida Hill, was paid $289,900 annually.

Every election season, political signs sprout like dandelions from lawns across America. They also pop up at more than a few businesses. For some, expressing political preferences is a calculated move to attract customers. But it can just as easily turn clients away.

Jeff Reiter, who owns the Blue Plate Lunch Counter & Soda Fountain in Portland, Ore., proudly displays a 2008 Obama campaign sign inside his restaurant and says he has "never tried to hide" his support for the president.

Tens of thousands of students are back in school this morning in Chicago.

As we told you yesterday, the Chicago Teachers Union voted to end the seven-day walkout. This morning, reports The Chicago Sun-Times, everyone was excited to get back to normal — the teachers, the students and even the mayor.

The Sun-Times reports:

manifestcollegemag.com

The U.S. Department of Education is awarding millions in grants to historically black colleges in Alabama.

The five-year grants will affect curriculum and teaching programs, campus building improvements and the purchase of scientific equipment.

BOC / Alabama State Treasury

The legal battle over Alabama's financially troubled prepaid college tuition program is headed back to the Alabama Supreme Court. A Montgomery judge ruled Monday that a law passed by the Legislature in the spring to permit reduced tuition payments is constitutional. The state Supreme Court had asked Circuit Judge Johnny Hardwick to review the law before the high court considers it. If the Supreme Court agrees with Hardwick, then the Prepaid Affordable College Tuition Plan will be able to pay reduced rates rather than full tuition.

Update at 8:03 p.m.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he wills seek a court order to end the teachers strike, and that the strike is illegal under state law.

Update at 12:57 p.m. ET. University of Texas Reopens:

The University of Texas has reopened, after a phoned bomb threat prompted the evacuation of its entire Austin campus this morning.

The U.S. population is growing. In normal times, the labor force — working or not — would be growing too. But these are not normal times, and the labor force is actually smaller than it was four years ago, meaning millions of people who should be there aren't.

The reasons people drop out of the workforce are myriad. People go back to school. Others have health issues or family priorities that keep them from looking for work. But some stop looking because they are discouraged.

Shelton State Community College

The State Board of Education has chosen the president of Shelton State Community College to be the chancellor of Alabama's two-year college system.

The board voted unanimously Thursday to select Mark Heinrich of Tuscaloosa over Blake Flanders, who is vice president of workforce development for the Kansas Board of Regents. Board members said they were swayed by the way Heinrich got Shelton State back on sound ground after corruption problems in some of Alabama's two-year colleges.

One of the primary issues at the heart of the the Chicago teachers' strike is whether student test scores should be used to evaluate teachers and determine their pay. Mayor Rahm Emanuel is pushing that approach, as are other officials around the nation.

But many teachers insist that it's inherently unfair to grade their teaching based on their students' learning.

What's At Stake For U.S. Teachers

Sep 13, 2012

The intractable issues that led to the teachers' strike in Chicago are being argued about in states and school districts across the country.

The past decade has been a time of enormous ferment in education policy, with numerous new ideas and approaches being promoted by everyone from conservative think tanks to the well-heeled Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to Obama administration officials.

UPDATE: 11:37 a.m. As expected, the New York Board of Health passed a rule banning sugary drinks like soda in sizes 16 oz. or larger at restaurants, concession stands and other eateries in an effort to combat obesity today. The ban is expected to take effect in March, but according to the Wall Street Journal, opponents are already considering a legal challenge to prevent that. It passed 8-0.

www.alsde.edu

The State Board of Education is meeting to interview the two finalists for chancellor of Alabama's two-year college system.

The board has interviews in Montgomery starting at 9 a.m. Thursday with Mark Heinrich, who is president of Shelton State Community College in Tuscaloosa, and Blake Flanders, who is vice president of workforce development for the Kansas Board of Regents.

The school board is looking for a replacement for Freida Hill, who stepped down in March under pressure from some board members.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

uanews.ua.edu / University of Alabama

An assistant professor at the University of Alabama, Suzanne Horsley, will be honored at the White House on Friday.

She's one of nine people being recognized as "Champions of Change" for the time and effort they have devoted to the American Red Cross.

I kind of think of Philz Coffee in Palo Alto, Calif., as the epicenter of Apple fanatics. It's so hip, only hand-poured specialty blends are sold here.

Every day dozens of techie types come to Philz for coffee and then lounge around on the leather sofa sipping away, often with Apple products scattered in front of them.

Yeliz Ustabas has an Apple laptop perched next to her and an iPhone balanced on her knee.

If you didn't know that a Big Mac has 550 calories, or the Southwest Chicken Salad has 290, those numbers will be hard to miss the next time you visit McDonald's.

That's because the fast-food giant announced today that it will begin posting calories on its menu boards right above customers heads in the restaurant, and at the drive-thru starting next week.

As a strike by Chicago's schoolteachers enters a third day, the president of their union says negotiators are still "miles apart" from an agreement to get 350,000 students back in the classroom, the Chicago Tribune reports.

The talks were set to resume Wednesday morning, but Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said there had been only "centimeters" of progress and that the union and city were still "kilometers apart."

There will be a lot of questions about the iPhone 5 before its release Wednesday. Less popular among them: Why do we care so much?

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

I'm Melissa Block. And we begin this hour with day two of the Chicago teachers' strike. Some 350,000 students are affected by the walkout in the nation's third-largest school district. We'll have a report on how the strike is playing out in the presidential race.

CORNISH: But, first, NPR's Sonari Glinton reports on how parents, churches and local charities are scrambling to figure out what to do with so many kids with nowhere to go.

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