WBEZ | NPR http://www.wbez.org/tags/npr Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en What Christmas does (or doesn’t do) for the economy http://www.wbez.org/news/what-christmas-does-or-doesn%E2%80%99t-do-economy-111275 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/1128_holiday-shopping-624x415.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Is Christmas good for the economy? That&rsquo;s the conventional thinking, but some economists believe that if Christmas didn&rsquo;t exist, all of the shopping we do would actually be distributed more evenly throughout the year, and there might not be so much &ldquo;deadweight loss,&rdquo; i.e., that ugly sweater from your aunt that gets put in the back of the closet.</p><p><a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2011/12/is-christmas-bad-for-the-economy/249618/">Derek Thompson</a>&nbsp;has looked at some of the research and joins&nbsp;<a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org/" target="_blank">Here &amp; Now&rsquo;</a>s Jeremy Hobson to explain.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2014/12/19/christmas-retail-economics"><em>via Here and Now</em></a></p></p> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 14:08:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/what-christmas-does-or-doesn%E2%80%99t-do-economy-111275 With Sony hack, nation-state attacks go from quiet to overt http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/sony-hack-nation-state-attacks-go-quiet-overt-111264 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP809914660283.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>NPR has confirmed from U.S. intelligence officials that North Korea was centrally involved with the recent attacks against Sony Pictures. And the company says it is pulling its comedy film The Interview from the box office. It was supposed to debut on Christmas. These are major developments in what we may now call cyberwarfare.</p><p>The White House hasn&#39;t come out and said it yet, but intelligence officials tell us that the North Korean government was in fact involved in this hack against Sony, where everything from social security numbers to executive salaries and celebrity gossip got leaked.</p><p>Yes, it&#39;s the confirmation that many people have been waiting for. Though it&#39;s also really important to note that we don&#39;t exactly know what that means &mdash; and I&#39;ve spoken with security experts who remain skeptical.</p><p>That said, if it&#39;s true, it really is extraordinary. North Korea is one of the poorest countries on Earth. Its people don&#39;t go online &mdash; they&#39;re cut off from the Internet. But its government has allegedly launched an overt cyberattack &mdash; and even secured a decisive victory &mdash; against one of the biggest companies on Earth.</p><p>Repeat: overt.</p><p>That&#39;s a key part here &mdash; the fact that you and I and everyone else knows about it.</p><p>I want to compare this with another cyberattack &mdash; one that was carried out by nation-state actors: Stuxnet in 2010. That&#39;s when the U.S. and Israel used some very sophisticated code to dig their way into nuclear facilities in Iran and damage the actual physical centrifuges.</p><p>In that case, the hackers caused physical damage in the real world &mdash; but they did it covertly. While the news eventually broke, it&#39;s not like the U.S. was sending out press releases.</p><p>In this case, the hackers &mdash; who might be North Korean officials or backed by the regime &mdash; have been very vocal from the get. Using the name &quot;Guardians of Peace,&quot; they&#39;ve even threatened to hurt people who go to see the movie in theaters.</p><p>Theater chains that were supposed to screen The Interview decided not to, and Sony canceled the Christmas Day release.</p><p>So, effectively, the hackers grabbed a ton of attention through an online attack &mdash; one that was nowhere near as sophisticated as Stuxnet. And they leveraged all that attention, that power, to pivot &mdash; and make a physical threat that people suddenly felt was credible.</p><p>This whole chain of events has experts inside the cybersecurity industry really concerned. I talked to a few people whose job it is to ward off these kinds of attacks. And they have different takes on whether Sony, by caving, made the right decision for itself.</p><p>But across the board, they&#39;re worried that the company is sending the wrong message by handing off a huge win to a disgruntled state with very limited resources.</p><p>So the concern is that we&#39;re going to see copycats or a new trend on the horizon.</p><p>Cyberattacks happen every day. At this point, they&#39;re nothing new.</p><p>I was talking to this one security expert in Moscow, who pointed out that during the height of tensions between Russia and Ukraine, there were plenty of cyberattacks &mdash; online skirmishes with one side taking down the other side&#39;s media outlet or defacing websites.</p><p>Now this Sony episode is showing what a disproportionate impact a small, angry entity can have &mdash; and how an attack online can spill over to physical-world consequences.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2014/12/18/371581401/with-sony-hack-nation-state-attacks-go-from-quiet-to-overt" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 14:34:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/sony-hack-nation-state-attacks-go-quiet-overt-111264 Worries rise in Russia as ruble falls http://www.wbez.org/news/worries-rise-russia-ruble-falls-111254 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/1217_russia-ruble-624x415.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Inflation is going up and purchasing power is falling sharply for Russians as the country&rsquo;s currency drops in value.</p><p>The Russian government has taken strong measures this week, sharply increasing interest rates to 17 percent, and selling off a chunk of its dollar reserves to shore up the falling ruble.</p><p>None of the moves have worked, and the ruble is trading at about half its value from the beginning of the year.</p><p>NPR&rsquo;s Corey Flintoff tells Here &amp; Now&rsquo;s Robin Young that while there is no panic on the streets, and no runs on banks, for Russian who have the money, &ldquo;it makes more sense to go out and by what we used to call durable goods &mdash; refrigerators and TV sets. They idea is that you&rsquo;ll have more value out of your refrigerator because it won&rsquo;t lose value as fast as your rubles do.&rdquo;Inflation is going up and purchasing power is falling sharply for Russians as the country&rsquo;s currency drops in value.</p><p>The Russian government has taken strong measures this week, sharply increasing interest rates to 17 percent, and selling off a chunk of its dollar reserves to shore up the falling ruble.</p><p>None of the moves have worked, and the ruble is trading at about half its value from the beginning of the year.</p><p>NPR&rsquo;s Corey Flintoff tells Here &amp; Now&rsquo;s Robin Young that while there is no panic on the streets, and no runs on banks, for Russian who have the money, &ldquo;it makes more sense to go out and by what we used to call durable goods &mdash; refrigerators and TV sets. They idea is that you&rsquo;ll have more value out of your refrigerator because it won&rsquo;t lose value as fast as your rubles do.&rdquo;</p><p><em><a href="http://www.npr.org/people/2100491/corey-flintoff" target="_blank">Corey Flintoff</a>&nbsp;is a&nbsp;NPR international correspondent based in Moscow. He tweets&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/CoreyFlintoff" target="_blank">@CoreyFlintoff</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 14:17:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/worries-rise-russia-ruble-falls-111254 Tom Magliozzi, popular co-host of NPR's 'Car Talk,' dies at 77 http://www.wbez.org/news/tom-magliozzi-popular-co-host-nprs-car-talk-dies-77-111052 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/cartalk.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Tom Magliozzi, one of public radio&#39;s most popular personalities, died on Monday of complications from Alzheimer&#39;s disease. He was 77 years old.</p><p>Tom and his brother, Ray, became famous as &quot;Click and Clack the Tappet Brothers&quot; on the weekly NPR show Car Talk. They bantered, told jokes, laughed and sometimes even gave pretty good advice to listeners who called in with their car troubles.</p><p>If there was one thing that defined Tom Magliozzi, it was his laugh. It was loud, it was constant, it was infectious.</p><p>&quot;His laugh is the working definition of infectious laughter,&quot; says Doug Berman, the longtime producer of Car Talk. He remembers the first time he ever encountered Magliozzi.</p><p>&quot;Before I ever met him, I heard him, and it wasn&#39;t on the air,&quot; he recalls.</p><p>Berman was the news director of WBUR at the time.</p><p>&quot;I&#39;d just hear this laughter,&quot; he says. &quot;And then there&#39;d be more of it, and people would sort of gather around him. He was just kind of a magnet.&quot;</p><p>The Magliozzi brothers grew up in a tough neighborhood of East Cambridge, Mass., in a close-knit Italian family. Tom was 12 years older, the beloved older brother to Ray. They liked to act like they were just a couple of regular guys who happened to be mechanics, but both of them graduated from MIT.</p><p>After getting out of college, Tom Magliozzi went to work as an engineer. One day he had a kind of epiphany, he told graduates when he and Ray gave the 1999 commencement address at their alma mater.</p><p>He was on his way to work when he had a near-fatal accident with a tractor-trailer. He pulled off the road and decided to do something different with his life.</p><p>&quot;I quit my job,&quot; he said. &quot;I became a bum. I spent two years sitting in Harvard Square drinking coffee. I invented the concept of the do-it-yourself auto repair shop, and I met my lovely wife.&quot;</p><p>Well, he wasn&#39;t exactly a bum; he worked as a consultant and college professor, eventually getting a doctoral degree in marketing. And Tom and Ray Magliozzi did open that do-it-yourself repair shop in the early &#39;70s. They called it Hackers Heaven. Later they opened a more traditional car repair shop called the Good News Garage.</p><p>They got into radio by accident when someone from the local public radio station, WBUR, was putting together a panel of car mechanics for a talk show.</p><p>&quot;They called Ray, and Ray thought it was a dumb idea, so he said, &#39;I&#39;ll send my brother&#39; and Tom thought, &#39;Great, I&#39;ll get out of breaking my knuckles for a couple of hours.&#39; And he went over and he was the only one who showed up,&quot; Berman says.</p><p>When it came to cars, Berman says the brothers really did know what they were talking about. But, he says, that&#39;s not why people listen to the show.</p><p>&quot;I think it has very little to do with cars,&quot; he says. &quot;It&#39;s the guys&#39; personalities. And Tom especially &mdash; really a genius. With a great, facile mind. And he&#39;s mischievous. He likes to prod people into honesty.&quot;</p><p>It is almost impossible to talk about Tom Magliozzi without talking about Ray. Berman says the affection you heard on the radio dated back to their childhood &mdash; and it was real.</p><p>&quot;For Ray, he idolized Tom. This is the guy who introduced him to everything in life, and Tom liked having his little brother around,&quot; Berman says. &quot;He liked the guy. So when they grew up they were really, really great friends.&quot;</p><p>Tom and Ray haven&#39;t done the show live for two years; Car Talk has been airing archives of old shows. Berman says Ray would like to continue doing that, as a tribute to his brother.</p><p><em>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/2014/11/03/357428287/tom-magliozzi-popular-co-host-of-nprs-car-talk-dies-at-77" target="_blank">via NPR</a></em></p></p> Mon, 03 Nov 2014 13:43:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/tom-magliozzi-popular-co-host-nprs-car-talk-dies-77-111052 Did the Supreme Court just legalize gay marriage? http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/did-supreme-court-just-legalize-gay-marriage-110903 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/ap13498193275_wide-2c372ebaccbafc28cf6f9e841ea4af7856422407-s40-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Technically, the Supreme Court today did <em>not</em> establish a constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry. It merely declined an opportunity to rule definitely one way or the other on the question.</p><p>But in the not-too-long run, the consequences may well be the same. Because the situation the court created &mdash; or acknowledged &ndash; will almost surely continue trending in favor of same-sex couples who want to marry.</p><p>Conversely, the legal ground is eroding for states that want to stop such marriages or deny them legal recognition.</p><p>As thousands more same-sex couples marry all over the country, this legal climate change becomes a kind of <em>fait accompli</em>.</p><p>For the moment, the court&#39;s denial of review means state-enacted bans on same-sex marriage in five states were wiped off the books. The denial meant lower court rulings that spiked those bans will now stand. Let&#39;s call them The Five.</p><p>So couples in The Five could begin marrying regardless of gender as of today &mdash; and some got licenses immediately.</p><p>In six other states that had banned the practice, further legal proceedings may be needed to apply the rulings of the relevant federal Circuit Courts of Appeal. But because these six are connected to The Five through the federal circuit system (jurisdictions for the purpose of appealing federal court decisions) the same judgment will apply. Effectuating that judgment in these six states is a short step &ndash; and one that is already in motion.</p><p>Then they will be just like The Five.</p><p>That will bring the number of states where gay marriage has been legalized, either by the state itself or through these federal cases, to 30. And these states are home to the vast majority of the national population.</p><p>There are still ways for the Supreme Court to re-assert itself in this debate. But the question is, do they want to?</p><p>Many legal experts have looked over the landscape and perceived both a trend in the federal system and a signal from the nine justices who sit at its zenith.</p><p>Amy Howe, the editor of the highly regarded <a href="http://www.scotusblog.com/" target="_blank">SCOTUSBlog</a> told NPR&#39;s Nina Totenberg that the justices &quot;are very smart people&quot; and added, &quot;I don&#39;t think they&#39;re going to be able to put the genie back in the bottle.&quot;</p><p>The genie got out back in June 2013, when the court decided Windsor v. United States, throwing out the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). By smacking down this pivotal federal statute, the court threw wide the gates for other challenges to state laws barring gay marriage or otherwise treating gays differently.</p><p>Now, as those challenges come in waves, the federal courts at all levels are applying the reasoning from Windsor with great consistency.</p><p>If the high court wanted to use that as an occasion to declare a constitutional right, it could have taken one or more of the cases it denied today. But opponents of gay marriage had hoped the court would take such a case for precisely the opposite reason &ndash; to uphold the states&#39; right to ban gay marriage.</p><p>Instead, Howe observes, the justices instructed their confreres at lower levels of the pyramid to &quot;keep on doing what you&#39;re doing.&quot;</p><p>In other words, there isn&#39;t a clear majority of the nine to settle the matter with a landmark ruling one way or the other.</p><p>They could choose to re-enter the fray at some later point, perhaps when another Circuit Court of Appeals weighs in with a ruling that supports the state&#39;s right to ban gay marriage. That would at least create a conflict for the Supreme Court to resolve.</p><p>Or it could revisit the issue later, perhaps when a clear majority has formed either to prohibit gay marriage or to permit it. That might require waiting until Justice Anthony Kennedy, a swing vote on such issues, declares himself. Or it could await the next retirement of a sitting justice and the confirmation of a successor.</p><p>But as the number of legal gay marriages skyrockets, and the practice becomes both legal and common across most of the states and most of the population, a future court is less and less likely to rescind it.</p><p>Or even take such a case.</p><p><em><em>&mdash; </em></em><a href="http://www.npr.org/2014/10/06/354140391/did-the-supreme-court-just-legalize-gay-marriage" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Mon, 06 Oct 2014 17:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/did-supreme-court-just-legalize-gay-marriage-110903 What Robin Williams taught us about teaching http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/what-robin-williams-taught-us-about-teaching-110638 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Capture_14.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Amid all the remembrances today of Robin Williams and the <a href="https://storify.com/shamani/oh-captain-my-captain" target="_blank">tributes to his many famous roles</a>, among the most commonly invoked are not one, but two memorable portrayals of great teaching.</p><p>The phrase &quot;<a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=oh%20captain%20my%20captain&amp;src=typd" target="_blank">Oh Captain, my Captain</a>&quot; is echoing across Twitter, a line from 1989&#39;s Dead Poets Society. In this role, Williams turns the stuffy conformity of a 1950s boarding school inside out. As a young, handsome, floppy-haired English teacher with the highly apropos name of John Keating, Williams makes the classroom a stage, pulling out all the stops to get his students excited about the wonders of poetry, and, by extension, life.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/vq_XBP3NrBo" width="620"></iframe></p><p>He whispers in the students&#39; ears, rips pages out of the textbook and leaps onto the desk to hail the vital necessity of great literature: &quot;In my class you will learn to think for yourselves again &mdash; you will learn to savor words and language!&quot;</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="465" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/vdXhWS7lLvs" width="620"></iframe></p><p>We would all be lucky to have at least one teacher like this: a truly great lecturer whose passion for his subject is infectious. In the climactic scene, his students pay homage to a master who has changed their lives.</p><p>But this is not the only paradigm for great teaching.</p><p>In 1997&#39;s Good Will Hunting, Matt Damon is an autodidact &mdash; a primarily self-taught genius. He finds an academic mentor, an acclaimed mathematician played by Stellan Skarsgard. But his relationship with Robin Williams&#39; character is at the emotional core of the film.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/qM-gZintWDc" width="620"></iframe></p><p>Williams plays a therapist, not a teacher per se. But it&#39;s clear that he&#39;s there to teach Will Hunting what he really needs to know: how to get out of his own way, to grow past his abusive and lonely childhood and to put aside his guilt at moving beyond his rough background in South Boston. He does this by meeting Will on his turf, by opening up and by listening as much as he talks.</p><p>Back in 1993, California State University professor Alison King wrote an article for the journal <a href="http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/27558571?uid=3739976&amp;uid=2&amp;uid=4&amp;uid=3739256&amp;sid=21104049910801" target="_blank">College Teaching</a> that became hugely influential. The title: &quot;From Sage on the Stage to Guide on the Side.&quot;</p><p>&quot;In most college classrooms, the professor lectures and the students listen and take notes,&quot; she begins. She advocated updating this model with one of &quot;active learning,&quot; where understanding is constructed in the mind of the student. The teacher is there not to captivate his or her audience, but to get them talking, processing information and reformulating it in &quot;new and personally meaningful ways.&quot; This is the &quot;guide on the side&quot; model, with the student placed at the center.</p><p>In his blazing, virtuosic performances, Williams embodied the sage on the stage &mdash; a manic, wisecracking sage, sure, but one who always held the audience spellbound. As Good Will Hunting&#39;s Sean Maguire, a character who overcame his own rough upbringing and struggles with the loss of his wife, he risked vulnerability. This quieter, generous performance won him an Oscar. He was playing a guide on the side, the kind we would all hope to have in our lives.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/ed/2014/08/12/339735740/what-robin-williams-taught-us-about-teaching" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Tue, 12 Aug 2014 15:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/what-robin-williams-taught-us-about-teaching-110638 Milwaukee finds a fix for stormwater overflows: Abandoned basements http://www.wbez.org/news/milwaukee-finds-fix-stormwater-overflows-abandoned-basements-110637 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/25164521_h11462610_wide-96a506c19aab1b1bce42266f9b315642cd20cf26-s40-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Some basement flooding could become happy occurrences, if more cities walk in the watery footsteps of Milwaukee.</p><p>As part of a new citywide sustainability plan and <a href="http://www.refreshmke.com/" target="_blank">an attempt to reinvent itself as a &quot;fresh coast&quot; capital</a>, Milwaukee is upgrading its water systems, and is researching options for tackling its chronic problems with stormwater management.</p><p>The city recently released a feasibility study <a href="http://city.milwaukee.gov/ImageLibrary/Groups/In-the-News/BaseTernFEASIBILITYSTUDY3.pdf" target="_blank">that examines turning vacant basements into cisterns</a>, preventing the untreated runoff from reaching the local rivers or Lake Michigan. The idea is the brainchild of Erick Shambarger, the deputy director of the city&#39;s Office of Environmental Sustainability.</p><p>After Milwaukee experienced major storms and subsequent flooding in 2008, 2009 and <a href="http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/99893489.html" target="_blank">2010</a>, the city put together a Flooding Study Task Force, which included Shambarger.</p><p>A frequent topic of discussion was how to keep water out of people&#39;s basements. Milwaukee has a combined sewer system that collects both domestic waste and rainwater runoff, so when street flooding would overwhelm the sewer system, water and sewage would back up through the floor drains in people&#39;s basements.</p><p>While looking at a map of where the basement flooding was worst, Shambarger noticed that the location overlaps with the center of the city&#39;s foreclosure crisis. Hundreds of these foreclosed houses cannot be economically salvaged and are being razed by the city. Cue Shambarger&#39;s light bulb.</p><p>&quot;If we are going to demolish the house anyway and there&#39;s going to be a vacant lot there, why not keep the basement portion of it?&quot; he says. &quot;Let&#39;s get water into those basements, and in the process keep other basements dry. We are making good use of a hole in the ground that somebody put there for us.&quot;</p><p>Shambarger and his team called the idea a &quot;BaseTern&quot; and trademarked the name on behalf of the city. Curtis Hulterstrum, the senior water resource engineer at HNTB Corp., examined multiple options for how the basements could be converted and the way BaseTerns would manage stormwater. Essentially, the basements will be used to immediately take the pressure off the sewage system by diverting and holding street and roof water &quot;runoff&quot; until the storm is over.</p><p>Water would flow into the structure, which would be covered with turf grass, via drains on top of the basement. It could flow out of the basement into the sewer system via the standard floor drain, or by adding multiple holes in the basement floor to allow some water to sink into the ground safely, or a combination of the two routes.</p><p>Kevin Patrick, a lawyer specializing in water issues, finds it &quot;highly doubtful&quot; that stormwater could be controlled in this manner, particularly in a way that is more economical than traditional stormwater solutions. But Hulterstrum says that it all depends on how you configure the outlet pipes, adding that costs will vary depending on the complexity of the BaseTern.</p><p>Shambarger says Milwaukee will begin measuring the idea&#39;s value by building a pilot BaseTern, hopefully by next summer, the city&#39;s rainy season. If Milwaukee finds success in the BaseTerns, it would be a big step up in <a href="http://www.jsonline.com/business/efforts-to-brand-milwaukee-as-water-technology-hub-reach-milestone-b9990504z1-222814861.html" target="_blank">the city&#39;s initiative to become a water technology hub</a>.</p><p>The Fund for Lake Michigan paid for the feasibility study, and executive director Vicki Elkin says she&#39;d be open to considering funding the pilot program as well. She says she hopes to learn not only how well the idea works, but whether it can be replicated in other areas of the city.</p><p>&quot;What I&#39;m hearing from engineers is that it&#39;s really place-dependent,&quot; she says.</p><p>David Waggonner, a water expert in New Orleans, says the idea sounds like a &quot;worthy experiment.&quot; He adds, &quot;I hope that it&#39;s a scale that will be replicable.&quot; Hulterstrum and Shambarger say the city has been getting a lot of interest surrounding the project, especially from other cities in the Great Lakes region.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/2014/08/12/339633247/milwaukee-finds-a-fix-for-stormwater-overflows-abandoned-basements" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Tue, 12 Aug 2014 15:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/milwaukee-finds-fix-stormwater-overflows-abandoned-basements-110637 'Shark Week' fuels shark-meat feeding frenzy at restaurants http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/shark-week-fuels-shark-meat-feeding-frenzy-restaurants-110632 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/mako-tacos_slide-f11f760df53a04ca706a264b9f1bfffb35b87775-s40-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Discovery Channel set <a href="http://www.deadline.com/2013/08/shark-week-snaps-up-ratings-records-for-discovery-channel/" target="_blank">viewership records</a> in 2013 as millions of people tuned in to watch sharks feed, sharks attack, extinct giant sharks and researchers catch and tag sharks. Discovery&#39;s &quot;<a href="http://www.discovery.com/tv-shows/shark-week/tv-shows/tv-shows.htm" target="_blank">Shark Week</a>&quot; returned on Sunday, and this year, to the dismay of conservationists, restaurants and markets nationwide are feeding the frenzy with a slew of shark meat promotions.</p><p>Shortfin mako shark, a slow-growing fish whose numbers are declining, seems to be the species of choice. It&#39;s being featured on menus all over the country &mdash; at <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DocMagrogansOysterHouseUniversityCity" target="_blank">Doc Magrogan&#39;s Oyster House</a> in Philadelphia; <a href="http://www.sybergs.com/MENU/MAINMENU.aspx" target="_blank">Syberg&#39;s</a>, a small restaurant chain in St. Louis; <a href="http://www.sandbaraz.com/site/" target="_blank">Sandbar Mexican Grill</a>, with locations in Chandler, Ariz., and Phoenix; and <a href="http://gtoyster.com/pages/about.php" target="_blank">GT Fish and Oyster</a> in Chicago. In Louisiana, has a special on blacktip shark fillets at $4.99 a pound. Twitter is meanwhile over Shark Week specials, which often feature shark tacos and shark-themed cocktails.</p><p>Michael Clark, a sales rep with Fortune Fish And Gourmet, a seafood supplier outside Chicago, tells The Salt he has never seen such high interest in shark meat.</p><p>&quot;In 12 or 13 years, we have had virtually nobody looking for shark, but this year [for Shark Week] people are jumping all over it,&quot; says Clark, who is currently carrying Atlantic shortfin mako shark sourced from a supplier on the East Coast of Canada.</p><p>Shortfin makos are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature&#39;s &quot;<a href="http://www.iucnredlist.org/about/overview#introduction" target="_blank">red list</a>&quot; of species at risk of extinction. The Atlantic population is declining and &quot;<a href="http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/161749/0" target="_blank">vulnerable</a>,&quot; with numbers estimated to be as low as just 30 percent of the species&#39; historic levels.</p><p><a href="http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/161751/0" target="_blank">Pacific</a> shortfin makos are also slowly disappearing, according to the IUCN, though their population may be in better shape than their Atlantic cousins. The Monterey Bay Aquarium&#39;s <a href="http://mobile.seafoodwatch.org/fish/103/shark" target="_blank">Seafood Watch</a> program calls shortfin mako from California and Hawaii a &quot;good alternative&quot; to more vulnerable options, but generally recommends against consuming shark.</p><p>Conservationists working to protect sharks are disappointed in the shark-eating craze being fueled by Shark Week.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s opportunistic,&quot; says Sean Van Sommeran, founder of the <a href="http://www.pelagic.org/" target="_blank">Pelagic Shark Research Foundation</a> in Santa Cruz. &quot;[Restaurants] are using the celebrity of sharkism to sell more tacos than they normally would.&quot;</p><p>Angelo Villagomez, with the Pew Charitable Trusts&#39; Global Shark Conservation campaign, notes that the Atlantic shortfin mako&#39;s &quot;vulnerable&quot; IUCN rating is the same as that of the polar bear. &quot;But you wouldn&#39;t want to eat polar bear tacos,&quot; he says.</p><p>In fact, some restaurants have specifically chosen not to serve shark during Shark Week because of customer concerns. The Lancaster Taphouse in Saskatchewan, for example, planned to serve mako shark last August. But an outcry on social media caused managers to turn tail and yank the item off the menu, <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/morningedition/episode/2013/08/05/shark-not-on-the-menu/index.html?cmp=rss&amp;utm_source=twitterfeed&amp;utm_medium=twitter" target="_blank">according to</a> CBC News.</p><p>In spite of declining populations, the number of shortfin mako sharks landed by fishermen has actually been on the rise since 2006. That year, American commercial fishermen reported catching about 222,000 pounds of the fish, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. By 2012, that figure had grown to nearly 389,000 pounds.</p><p>Catches of most other shark species are at all-time lows, according to Villagomez. He says this is not because of decreasing demand but decreasing shark numbers. &quot;We&#39;ve hit &#39;peak shark,&#39; &quot; he jokes.</p><p>Fishermen worldwide kill between 70 and 100 million sharks every year. Most are killed for their fins, which are sliced off the animals and, eventually, dried and used to <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/pictureshow/2011/10/21/141587542/photos-show-sheer-scale-of-shark-fin-trade" target="_blank">make shark fin soup</a>. Often, the rest of the carcass is thrown overboard.</p><p>While Americans seem to hunger more for shark during Shark Week, China has a much larger year-round appetite.</p><p><a href="http://www.wildaid.org/about" target="_blank">WildAid</a>, a San Francisco group dedicated to marine protection, has been campaigning to curb the demand for shark fins in China. The efforts may be working. According to a WildAid <a href="http://wildaid.org/sites/default/files/SharkReport_spread_final_08.07.14.pdf" target="_blank">report</a> released Aug. 4, prices for shark fins are down about 50 percent in China, where fishermen are also receiving 80 percent less money for the product. And 85 percent of about 1,500 Chinese consumers surveyed online by WildAid said they&#39;d stopped eating shark fin soup in the past three years, largely out of sympathy for sharks.</p><p>WildAid&#39;s founder Peter Knights says he isn&#39;t particularly bothered that a few American restaurants are serving shark meat, given the overwhelming global demand for their fins. In fact, Knights is more concerned about Shark Week itself.</p><p>&quot;I think Shark Week does more damage to sharks than eating the occasional shark in a restaurant,&quot; Knights says. &quot;Shark Week is all about vilifying sharks. They always have about 20 shows about shark attacks and none about what&#39;s happening to shark populations.&quot;</p><p>He adds: &quot;It would be nice if people didn&#39;t start to desire shark meat as well [as their fins], but I guess if you&#39;re going to kill a shark, it&#39;s better to use 85 percent of it rather than one to five percent.&quot;</p><p>&mdash; <em><a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/08/11/339579328/shark-week-fuels-shark-meat-feeding-frenzy-at-restaurants">via NPR&#39;s The Salt blog</a></em></p></p> Mon, 11 Aug 2014 17:39:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/shark-week-fuels-shark-meat-feeding-frenzy-restaurants-110632 At 73, man finally gets diploma denied for defying segregation http://www.wbez.org/news/73-man-finally-gets-diploma-denied-defying-segregation-110630 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/alva_earley-a17bdc9d17e8995d9664441c77e10fe34ab01d8f-s40-c85.jpg" style="height: 464px; width: 620px;" title="Alva Earley shows off his diploma after receiving it from Galesburg Superintendent Bart Arthur. (Evan Temchin/Knox College)" /></div><p>There was no pomp and circumstance, no procession with classmates, but on Friday a school district in Illinois finally handed Alva Early his high school diploma &mdash; more than five decades after he attended Galesburg High School.</p><p>In 1959, Galesburg banned Earley from graduating and denied him a diploma after he and other African-Americans had a picnic in a park that was unofficially off-limits to blacks.</p><p>Earley, now a retired attorney, says he never thought the day would come, but as the Galesburg class of &#39;59 gathered for a reunion this weekend, the school superintendent called Earley forward, dressed in his college gown, to accept his diploma.</p><p>A school counselor had warned him in 1959 there could be a price to pay for challenging the city&#39;s entrenched segregation &mdash; but Earley went anyway.</p><p>&quot;We were just trying to send a message that we are people, too,&quot; Earley says. &quot;We just had lunch. For that, I didn&#39;t graduate.&quot;</p><p>Universities, including Northwestern and the University of Chicago, withdrew their acceptance letters. The president of Knox College in Galesburg later allowed Earley to enroll after learning about the park incident.</p><p>Earley went on to graduate from the University of Illinois, and earn a law degree and a doctorate of divinity. The lack of a high school diploma always haunted him, though. Growing up with an abusive father, Earley says, high school was both his home and a refuge.</p><p>&quot;The fact that I could not get a cap and gown on and march down the aisle with my classmates &mdash; it meant the world to me,&quot; he says. &quot;It hurt so bad.&quot;</p><p>He kept it a secret until a Knox College reunion last year, when he told some of those former high school classmates, including Owen Muelder.</p><p>&quot;Well, we were thunderstruck,&quot; says Muelder, a Knox College historian who runs the Underground Railroad museum on campus.</p><p>&quot;Here&#39;s this community and college founded before the Civil War, that was a leader in the anti-slavery movement,&quot; he says, &quot;and here it was that a little over 100 years later something so outrageous could have occurred in our community.&quot;</p><p>Muelder and another classmate, Lowell Peterson, turned to Galesburg school officials for help. Superintendent Bart Arthur says after a search, the district found Earley&#39;s transcript, which showed he had enough credits and was even marked with the word &quot;graduate.&quot;</p><p>&quot;He had A&#39;s and B&#39;s on his report card,&quot; Arthur says. &quot;I guess he did have a couple C&#39;s. One of them was in typewriting, and I can sure understand that.&quot;</p><p>In a sometimes-emotional speech during the ceremony, Earley thanked his former classmates.</p><p>&quot;The important thing was not that I got the diploma,&quot; he said. &quot;It was that they tried to get me a diploma. They succeeded. They cared about me.&quot;</p><p><em style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">&mdash;</em>&nbsp;<i><a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2014/08/10/339212827/at-73-man-finally-gets-diploma-denied-for-defying-segregation">via NRP&#39;s Code Switch blog</a></i></p></p> Mon, 11 Aug 2014 11:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/73-man-finally-gets-diploma-denied-defying-segregation-110630 No more reservations: Exclusive restaurants require tickets instead http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/no-more-reservations-exclusive-restaurants-require-tickets-instead-110624 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/next-kitchen_slide-f12e40b01b21d2fe3c0e2984fca1727556c7f9c5-s40-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Have you ever wanted a ticket to see your favorite band so much that you could taste it?</p><p>You set the alarm, and start calling or clicking right when the tickets go on sale. You try again and again, until, finally, you snag a ticket. And even though the process is a pain, when you succeed, you feel like part of an exclusive group.</p><p>In the future, going out to eat could become a lot like going to a sold-out rock concert. In fact, some of the hottest restaurants now sell tickets instead of taking reservations.</p><p>In Los Angeles, classically trained French chef <a href="http://www.ludolefebvre.com/about/" target="_blank">Ludovic &quot;Ludo&quot; Lefebvre</a> sells tickets for a five-course meal at his 29-seat bistro, Trois Mec, for about $100 a pop, including tax and tip. On one recent evening, the menu featured avocado citrus crab ceviche followed by veal belly with crispy artichoke and Parmesan.</p><p>Lefebvre says he likes the comparison to concert tickets. When asked about the to-die-for concert ticket when he was growing up in France in the late 1980s, Lebebvre doesn&#39;t hesitate. &quot;U2. Definitely. U2,&quot; he says. One time, he waited on the phone for what seemed like forever, but finally scored tickets to see Bono and the lads.</p><p>Now, Lefebvre is a rock star chef. Tickets to dine at Trois Mec are sold online and sell out in minutes.</p><p>The restaurant ticketing system was invented by <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/pub/nick-kokonas/45/634/2a1" target="_blank">Nick Kokonas</a> in 2011. He co-owns Chicago restaurant Next, which specializes in theme menus, such as &quot;Paris 1906,&quot; a meal based on legendary chef August Escoffier&#39;s seminal <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Escoffier-Culinaire-Complete-Translation-English/dp/0831754788/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1407179720&amp;sr=1-2&amp;keywords=le+guide+culinaire+escoffier" target="_blank">Le Guide Culinaire</a>, and &quot;el Bulli,&quot; a nod to the now-closed Spanish temple of modern cuisine by the same name.</p><p>Tickets for Next meals go for about $300 a head for several courses and beverage pairings. Currently, the restaurant&#39;s theme is &quot;Chinese: Modern.&quot;</p><p>The menus at Next change three times a year. So diners can buy season tickets, like you would for the opera. Last December, the restaurant sold around $3 million worth of season tickets in a few hours.</p><p>The number of exclusive eateries that sell tickets for meals is growing. The latest chef to join the club is <a href="http://www.starchefs.com/cook/chefs/bio/Daniel-Patterson/coi" target="_blank">Daniel Patterson</a>, who owns the San Francisco restaurant Coi.</p><p>Patterson had been frustrated by the number of reservations that were canceled at the last minute, which resulted in as much as 15 percent of his tables going empty. And that got reflected in customers&#39; bills. &quot;A big part of our price has to do with the fact that a small portion of our guests don&#39;t show up,&quot; he says.</p><p>Now that he&#39;s adopted the ticket system for his restaurant, Patterson saves money on no-shows. He passes that savings along to customers, offering a discount for diners who take early or late seatings.</p><p>The issue of no-shows plagues many small, chic restaurants. That makes tickets even more appetizing for them.</p><p>Ticket pioneer Kokonas says, &quot;We are rolling it out to about 10 to 20 restaurants over the next couple of months worldwide.&quot;</p><p>Over the next six months, expect to see tickets sold at hot spots in Austin, Texas; Boston and Philadelphia, among other cities in the U.S. Abroad, Kokonas says his ticket business model will expand to England, Europe, Australia and Hong Kong.</p><p>But some chefs are resisting the change &mdash; even in Los Angeles, no-show central.</p><p>&quot;Within the restaurateur world, LA is known as the one city where people don&#39;t have any respect for restaurants,&quot; says celebrity chef <a href="http://www.curtisstone.com/" target="_blank">Curtis Stone</a>. &quot;They don&#39;t make reservations. They just show up ... with more people than they booked for.&quot;</p><p>Stone opened his 25-seat restaurant, Maude, last January. It takes reservations the old-fashioned way: by phone. And it&#39;s always sold out.</p><p>Stone has investigated the ticket business model and found that it has some shortcomings.</p><p>&quot;Problem is,&quot; says Stone, &quot;some people out there don&#39;t feel as comfortable with computers or making reservations online.&quot;</p><p>Tickets also require consumers to pay for their set, multicourse meal in advance.</p><p>And tickets can be resold, which has lured ticket brokers into the market. For the most desirable menu at Next in Chicago, Kokonas says, there were &quot;people posting them on Craigslist and StubHub for a couple thousand dollars apiece.&quot;</p><p>Pulitzer Prize-winning food writer <a href="http://www.pulitzer.org/biography/2007-Criticism" target="_blank">Jonathan Gold</a> of the <em>Los Angeles Times</em> calls Lefebvre one of the most interesting chefs working in the U.S. And even Gold has had trouble getting tickets to Trois Mec. As payback for having to troll for tickets, he jokes, &quot;I would love to see scalpers outside Trois Mec. It would give me so much pleasure.&quot;</p><p>Call it a dessert of sweet revenge.</p><p><em>Jeff Tyler is a radio reporter and screenwriter living in Los Angeles.</em></p><p><em><em>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/08/05/337834577/no-more-reservations-exclusive-restaurants-require-tickets-instead" target="_blank">via NPR&#39;s The Salt blog on Aug. 5</a></em></em></p></p> Fri, 08 Aug 2014 14:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/no-more-reservations-exclusive-restaurants-require-tickets-instead-110624