WBEZ | WBUR http://www.wbez.org/tags/wbur Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en U.S. Still Suspects Fraud In Nepalese Orphanages http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-10/us-still-suspects-fraud-nepalese-orphanages-86352 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//npr_story/photo/2011-May/2011-05-10/nepalorphanage_custom.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Last August, the U.S. government suspended adoptions from Nepal because it was concerned about fraud in Nepal's adoption system. The suspension left dozens of American families in limbo.</p><p>After months of investigations almost all of those American families have been granted visas for their adopted Nepali children.</p><p>But there's still concern about whether many of Nepal's orphans really are orphans.</p><p><strong>Children Sold By Traffickers</strong></p><p>The desire to be a mother was so strong for 45-year-old Dee Dee Milton that she went halfway around the world from Boston to Nepal to try and achieve it.</p><p>"I tried to adopt through the American foster system here and was not matched with a child and was told they had no idea when I would be matched and if I would ever be matched," she says.</p><p>In July, Milton was matched with a 4-year-old Nepali girl. Just after Milton landed in Nepal and took custody of her daughter Bina, the U.S. closed the program. It says too many children who are reported to be abandoned by their families may actually have been kidnapped or sold into the orphanage system.</p><p>Milton and 65 other American families were caught in the middle. Milton ended up living in Nepal and hiring lawyers and investigators to help prove Bina was legitimately abandoned. Milton had to take out a home equity line of credit to afford the delay.</p><p>"I was on an unpaid leave from my job, so I literally had no funds coming in the entire time I was gone and then came home to unemployment," she says.</p><p>Janice Jacobs, assistant secretary of state for consular affairs, says while she sympathizes with what Milton went through, Nepal's child adoption system isn't trustworthy.</p><p>"They estimate — the NGOs with a lot of on-the-ground experience — estimate that perhaps 10 percent of the children who turn up in orphanages are in fact abandoned," she says.</p><p>That means as many as 90 percent of children in Nepalese orphanages may have been sold by a child trafficker under false pretenses. UNICEF estimates there are 650,000 orphans in Nepal.</p><p>Conor Grennan says that happens all the time. He's the founder of Next Generation Nepal, an NGO that has reconnected 400 trafficked children with their families. He says some of the children have been kidnapped. Other children have been sold by their families to brokers, who claim they will educate and care for them.</p><p>"And in the worst cases I've seen, is that they are actually forging death certificates for families and putting these children up for international adoption," Grennan says.</p><p>Grennan says the child trade continues because it's lucrative. Orphanages can make $5,000 a child from an international adoption — a lot of money in a country where more than half of the population lives on less than $1.25 a day, according to UNICEF.</p><p><strong>Difficult To Prove Fraud</strong></p><p>Five months after Dee Dee Milton went to Nepal, Bina got a U.S. visa after a government investigation found no fraud. Now Bina lives a typical life of an American little girl, attending preschool, visiting her nana and tormenting her cat.</p><p>Eventually, U.S. investigators determined there was no fraud in the cases of 65 of the 66 children waiting to be adopted by American families. Only one is still pending, which leads Milton to ask: Where is the fraud?</p><p>"I mean, the law of averages and the number of cases — [and] there was absolutely no fraud found?" Milton says.</p><p>But proving fraud is very hard, says Grennan. He says the only way is to travel to mountainous villages.</p><p>"There's no roads here," Grennan says. "You have to put on a backpack and you have to walk through the mountains and you have to get to the village and you have to say this is where the child is from, are the parents still alive or are they not? To me, that is the proof," he says.</p><p>The investigation of Bina Milton and the others was done by a government agency outside Nepal. Jacobs of the State Department says you can't draw conclusions about the adoption system in Nepal from those investigations. She says Nepal will have to make sweeping changes to its child welfare system if the U.S. is to re-open adoption.</p><p>"They have to work on a system that builds in better protections for these children and they also have to find ways to look for domestic solutions," she says. Copyright 2011 WBUR. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.wbur.org">http://www.wbur.org</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1305067641?&gn=U.S.+Still+Suspects+Fraud+In+Nepalese+Orphanages&ev=event2&ch=1125&h1=Asia,World,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=136179395&c7=1125&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1125&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110510&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=329&v20=D%3Dc20&c21=2&v21=D%3Dc2&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Tue, 10 May 2011 13:37:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-10/us-still-suspects-fraud-nepalese-orphanages-86352 Like, Share, Discover: Facebook For Scientists http://www.wbez.org/story/business/2011-04-18/share-discover-facebook-scientists-85403 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//npr_story/photo/2011-April/2011-04-19/researchgate_vert.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A few years ago, while he was doing research at Harvard, Ijad Madisch could not figure out why his experiment wasn't working. His adviser didn't know what was wrong, nobody in his lab worked on the same stuff, and none of his researcher friends could help.</p><p>"I was so frustrated," Madisch said. "I said there has to be something online where I go, where people can present themselves as a scientist, and where they put their information about their research and their publications and you can search for it."</p><p>That's when Madisch got the idea for a scientist network: ResearchGate — a sort of Facebook for scientists. Instead of sharing favorite photos and videos, researchers could use the Web platform to connect with each other and share information that doesn't get published. Madisch thinks ResearchGate will make scientists more productive.</p><p>"My goal: to win the Nobel Prize," Madisch said. "And I really believe in that. If we think that ResearchGate will accelerate research in all the different fields, it will change the speed of science significantly in the future. I definitely think that ResearchGate could win the Nobel Prize for that one day."</p><p>That big idea ambition wowed investors. ResearchGate got funded by a former Facebook executive and the same venture capital firm that backed Twitter. So far, 900,000 people have signed up as members.</p><p>One of them is Caroline Moore-Kochlacs, a neuroscientist at Boston University. Her profile page shows her picture, her field of study, her adviser and publications. She can follow other researchers or click onto group pages that discuss specific topics.</p><p>Moore-Kochlacs says she uses Facebook, too, but on that site people feel like they have to be clever or have mass appeal. She likes ResearchGate because she can ask obscure questions about algorithms. She also gets up to date on recent publications.</p><p>"The scientific literature is so huge at this point, that it's really impossible to get through everything in your topic area. People really rely on hearing it from other people," Moore-Kochlacs said.</p><p>Not every ResearchGate user is seeing the network effect.</p><p>"Sometimes I get these emails that are like, 'Dear Sirs: I'm writing a dissertation on public health. Any suggestions? Please advise,' " said Kim Bertrand, an epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health. "I don't need that."</p><p>Founder Madisch says he knows his site will only prove valuable if researchers use it to help each other, not just steal each other's ideas. But he says if he can build ResearchGate into an indispensable social network for scientists, he'll be making more of a contribution than he could as a lone researcher. </p> Mon, 18 Apr 2011 15:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/business/2011-04-18/share-discover-facebook-scientists-85403 Chk Plz: Restaurants Try Texting To Speed Service http://www.wbez.org/story/all-tech-considered/chk-plz-restaurants-try-texting-speed-service <p><p>The menu at Charlie's Kitchen, a dive bar in Cambridge, Mass., might not stand out for its cutting-edge cuisine. But the eatery is at the forefront when it comes to how customers can communicate with the wait staff.</p><p>A sticker on the wall of a corner booth says it all: "Can't find your server, just text!"</p><p>Charlie's is one of the first restaurants in the country to try <a href="http://www.textmyfood.com/">TextMyFood</a>, a new service that allows customers to communicate with their server via text messaging.</p><p>Five minutes after typing, "I'm at table 3. I want a tossed salad with ranch dressing," a meal arrives at the table.</p><p><strong>Check, Please</strong></p><p>"There are pros and cons," says Kristina Henry, a server at Charlie's. "It's great for a night like Friday night when we're really busy. It's packed and you're running around [and] people text like, 'Can I have my check please?'"</p><p>Even though TextMyFood may make her job easier, Henry says she finds the service impersonal.</p><p>"As a server, I would rather want to go to the guest and talk to them face to face and ask them what they would like instead of getting it through a computer," she says.</p><p>Still, the technology doesn't replace the server.</p><p>"It's not eliminating human contact," says Bob Nilsson, the president of TextMyFood. "There's always a server at the other end. You just want to have that contact sooner. If you can't see them and can't make that contact, rather than waving your arms or getting up, just use the natural communication and let them know what you need."</p><p>Nilsson says the goal of the service is to increase the amount of money customers will spend. For example, guests are more likely to order another round of drinks if they text the request in the moment. If they can't find the server, they often pass.</p><p>But not everyone at Charlie's Kitchen finds it useful to be able to text requests to their server.</p><p>"I guess it seems kind of pointless because I can tell my waitress to her face what I want to drink," says customer Zach Brickett.</p><p><strong>Prank Texts</strong></p><p>Another customer, John McSweeney, wonders if people will abuse the system.</p><p>"It sort of occurred to me to maybe -- just as soon as we ordered our beers -- to take out my phone and be like, 'Beers/stat/now,'" he says.</p><p>Prank texting is indeed a problem.</p><p>"I've gotten, 'Glasses are sexy.' I've gotten, 'Two of us need something and three of us need your number,'" says Joshua DeCosta, another server at Charlie's Kitchen.</p><p>In response, some establishments -- where there's a lot of heavy drinking -- turn off the service after a certain hour. But other managers say they appreciate the ability to monitor guests.</p><p>If too many inappropriate texts come in from one person, it's time to cut them off.</p><p><strong>Time To Tip</strong></p><p>It's not uncommon for restaurant or bar patrons to have to wait to pay even though they have their check in front of them and their credit card out. That's because servers aren't always in sight.</p><p>Now, instead of waving, a text will do.</p><p>A few seconds after typing, "T3. My credit card is waiting," into my phone, the server comes over to take my payment and smiles.</p><p>We've barely exchanged a word. I find texting extremely alluring. I message, she arrives.</p><p>Still, when it came to the tip, I left it the old-fashioned way -- on the table. Copyright 2011 WBUR. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.wbur.org">http://www.wbur.org</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1295300229?&gn=Chk+Plz%3A+Restaurants+Try+Texting+To+Speed+Service&ev=event2&ch=97097438&h1=All+Tech+Considered,Around+the+Nation,Food,Digital+Life,Technology,Your+Money,Business,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=132493034&c7=1001&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1001&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110117&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=329&v20=D%3Dc20&c21=2&v21=D%3Dc2&c31=97097438,130593764&v31=D%3Dc31&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Mon, 17 Jan 2011 15:06:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/all-tech-considered/chk-plz-restaurants-try-texting-speed-service The Vanishing Middle Class: A Special http://www.wbez.org/tterwelp/2009/01/the-vanishing-middle-class/851 <p>The amazing producers over at WBUR in‚ Boston have cranked out another timely and relevant‚ documentary that has to with, well, most of us. You can hear <a onclick="urchinTracker('/outgoing/www.insideout.org/documentaries/middleclass?referer=http://blogs.vocalo.org/wp-admin/edit.php');urchinTracker('/outgoing/www.insideout.org/documentaries/middleclass?referer=http://blogs.vocalo.org/wp-admin/edit.php?post_status=draft');urchinTracker('/outgoing/www.insideout.org/documentaries/middleclass?referer=http://blogs.vocalo.org/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&amp;post=851&amp;message=4');urchinTracker('/outgoing/www.insideout.org/documentaries/middleclass?referer=http://blogs.vocalo.org/wp-admin/post-new.php');" href="http://www.insideout.org/documentaries/middleclass"><em>The Vanishing Middle Class: Inside Out</em></a><a onclick="urchinTracker('/outgoing/www.insideout.org/documentaries/middleclass?referer=http://blogs.vocalo.org/wp-admin/edit.php');urchinTracker('/outgoing/www.insideout.org/documentaries/middleclass?referer=http://blogs.vocalo.org/wp-admin/edit.php?post_status=draft');urchinTracker('/outgoing/www.insideout.org/documentaries/middleclass?referer=http://blogs.vocalo.org/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&amp;post=851&amp;message=4');urchinTracker('/outgoing/www.insideout.org/documentaries/middleclass?referer=http://blogs.vocalo.org/wp-admin/post-new.php');" href="http://www.insideout.org/documentaries/middleclass"> </a>on WBEZ <strong>this Sunday night at 9</strong> as part of our <a onclick="urchinTracker('/outgoing/chicagopublicradio.org/Program_SS.aspx?referer=http://blogs.vocalo.org/wp-admin/edit.php');urchinTracker('/outgoing/chicagopublicradio.org/Program_SS.aspx?referer=http://blogs.vocalo.org/wp-admin/edit.php?post_status=draft');urchinTracker('/outgoing/chicagopublicradio.org/Program_SS.aspx?referer=http://blogs.vocalo.org/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&amp;post=851&amp;message=4');urchinTracker('/outgoing/chicagopublicradio.org/Program_SS.aspx?referer=http://blogs.vocalo.org/wp-admin/post-new.php');" href="http://chicagopublicradio.org/Program_SS.aspx">Sunday Specials</a> series. As the gap between the richy-rich and the rest of us widens, it's programs like this one that jolt me out of my "wake up-commute to work-work-commute to home-sleep" mode. From the producers: <blockquote> <p class="MsoNormal">Middle class American families are in distress. Despite the enormous increase in wealth in America over the past two decades, for most Americans in the middle, wages have been flat -- or even losing ground. At the same time, the costs of basic necessities, including housing, health care, food and education have continued to rise.</p> </blockquote> <p class="MsoNormal">Quick note:‚ because of rights' issues, we can't always post full audio of specials to our site, but I can help direct you to more info or to listen again. Shoot me <a onclick="urchinTracker('/outgoing/chicagopublicradio.org/Program_SS_Contact.aspx?referer=http://blogs.vocalo.org/wp-admin/edit.php');urchinTracker('/outgoing/chicagopublicradio.org/Program_SS_Contact.aspx?referer=http://blogs.vocalo.org/wp-admin/edit.php?post_status=draft');urchinTracker('/outgoing/chicagopublicradio.org/Program_SS_Contact.aspx?referer=http://blogs.vocalo.org/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&amp;post=851&amp;message=4');urchinTracker('/outgoing/chicagopublicradio.org/Program_SS_Contact.aspx?referer=http://blogs.vocalo.org/wp-admin/post-new.php');" href="http://chicagopublicradio.org/Program_SS_Contact.aspx">an email</a> and I'll lend a hand...(and maybe you heard something that you think we should air, let me know!)</p></p> Thu, 08 Jan 2009 11:44:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/tterwelp/2009/01/the-vanishing-middle-class/851