The biggest player in food distribution is gobbling up a rival.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
Sysco, which supplies places, such as restaurants and hospitals, is planning to buy U.S. Foods in a deal worth more than $8 billion. If approved by regulators, this could turn Sysco into a distribution colossus.
NPR's business news begins with signs of a Chinese revival.
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MONTAGNE: The latest economic numbers out of China are adding to hope for a global economic upturn. Growth figures for November show China's factory output is up 10 percent from a year ago, and exports are up almost 13 percent. That rebound has been helped by a boost in demand for Chinese goods in the United States and the European Union in the lead-up to the holiday shopping season. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
The government requires large employers to keep records of on-the-job injuries suffered by their employees. Now, the Obama administration wants to make those records easily available on a website. It says that would lead to safer workplaces. Manufacturers and businesses are objecting, arguing the data could be misinterpreted.
Let's turn next to Egypt, where the protest movement is shifting from the street to university campuses. Student activism is now at the heart of dissent against the military-backed government. But like Egypt itself, this movement is divided. Groups of secular and Islamist protesters are working separately, closing down campuses and demanding that the police be tried for their crimes. From Cairo, NPR's Leila Fadel sent this report.
Now let's hear an extraordinary story from another part of Africa. Mali's military retook Timbuktu from Islamist militants earlier this year. But after the army secured that historic city in the desert, local people began disappearing. They were ethnic Arabs, apparently blamed for the Islamist militancy.
The army denied the killings, but an Associated Press team found the body of one ethnic Arab in the desert in a grave so shallow the clothes were visible over the sand.
Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old Pakistani activist, is among the five winners of the 2013 United Nations Human Rights Prize, an award that is only made every five years and was once won by Nelson Mandela. She receives the prize Tuesday in a ceremony at U.N. Headquarters in New York.
This addition to the swelling list of prizes held by Malala underscores the dramatic extent to which the teenager's life has changed since she was shot in the head by the Taliban in an attempt to silence her demand for all children to have access to education, especially girls.
We're also following the news today from South Africa, where tens of thousands of people - including some 100 world leaders - are at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela. It's underway now at a giant soccer stadium, and NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton is there. And, Ofeibea, what's happening?
And here in Los Angeles this morning, 18 current and former deputy sheriffs are facing federal charges. They're accused of corruption and abusing inmates being held in the largest jail system in the country.
NPR's Kirk Siegler reports.
KIRK SIEGLER, BYLINE: Federal authorities are accusing the L.A. sheriff's deputies of a pattern of excessive force and civil rights violations inside L.A. County's main downtown jails.
Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 12:16 pm
A French court has sentenced the head of a company that sold tens of thousands of defective breast implants to four years in prison for aggravated fraud. Poly Implant Prothese was once among the world's leaders in supplying implants. But its product was found to have a high rupture rate.
From Paris, NPR's Eleanor Beardsely reports:
"The Marseilles court convicted Jean-Claude Mas, the founder of the company, and three colleagues.
Standing in a steady drizzle at dawn, Lerato Maphanga took a black marker to a whitewashed wall that's serving as a condolences board outside Nelson Mandela's old home in Soweto, South Africa.
"Thank you, Tata [father], rest in peace," she wrote Tuesday. Then she signed it, "Born Free," a reference to the black South Africans born after apartheid ended in the 1994 election that made Mandela the country's first black president.
There will be a Nativity scene inside the Florida State Capitol Building. The Florida Prayer Network put up the scene, with a state permit. Chaz Stevens thinks that's an annoying mixture of church and state, so he applied for a permit for a Festivus pole, honoring the fake religion made up on the TV show "Seinfeld." The Festivus pole will be made of Pabst Blue Ribbon cans. Other displays allowed in the rotunda include a Bill of Rights Nativity banner.
Women are still not making headway when it comes to getting on corporate boards or into senior leadership roles within big companies.
New research out Tuesday examined Fortune 500 Companies and found that women hold only about 17 percent of the seats on boards of directors, and they have an even smaller share — about 15 percent — of senior executive positions.
Oil giant BP is challenging hundreds of millions of dollars in claims that were filed by businesses after the company's 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The total price tag for BP's oil spill is huge — $42.5 billion. At issue here is a fraction of that — but still a lot of money. BP says $540 million has been awarded to businesses for losses that "are either nonexistent, exaggerated or have nothing to do with the Deepwater Horizon accident."
In many ways, military veterans hold a privileged place in American society, but not all vets have access to what goes along with that privilege. In the past decade of war, more than 100,000 men and women left the military with less than honorable discharges, many due to bad conduct related to post traumatic stress disorder. Once they're kicked out of the military, they lose access to benefits like treatment for PTSD.
Originally published on Sun December 15, 2013 8:59 am
Israel, Jordan and the Palestinians have agreed to a water-sharing pact that would see the construction of a desalination plant on the Gulf of Aqaba on the Red Sea and bring "a long-awaited Red Sea-Dead Sea pipeline one step closer to completion," according to Reuters.
Time was when business-suited Santas would spend December roaming the corridors of Congress, bestowing all sorts of goodies upon their elected friends, prospective friends and staffers: baskets of food, bottles of booze, even high-priced tickets to sports events.
That last item is the kind of thing that sent uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff to prison. It also brought the House of Representatives a new set of ethics rules — stern and often complex limits on accepting gifts.
In Los Angeles today, federal prosecutors announced charges of corruption and civil rights abuses inside the nation's largest jail system. The indictments came against 18 current and former deputies of the LA Sheriff's Department. NPR's Kirk Siegler has details from outside the federal building in downtown Los Angeles.
France's Chateau of Versailles has pulled out all the stops for one of its favorite sons, gardener Andre Le Notre, who designed the palace's famous gardens. This year, to mark the 400th anniversary of Le Notre's birth, several of the garden's fountains are being restored and the chateau is hosting an exhibit on his life through February 2014.
Experts say Le Notre'swork was so groundbreaking, it continues to influence contemporary urban architecture.
The track record of commercial products designed with privacy as a top priority has been abysmal — at least until recently. The ephemeral texting app Snapchat is turning assumptions upside down about young people and their desire for digital privacy.
Fred Cate, director of applied cybersecurity research at Indiana University, is an expert on privacy in the digital age. But when it comes to the viability of tech products that promise privacy, Cate has always been skeptical.
That wreath on your front door could contain stolen goods.
The tips of fir trees used to make wreaths are collected by "tippers" and attract high prices — as well as poachers, who cut limbs and even whole trees on private land.
The Christmas greens industry is estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars. But like other cottage industries, no one's really counting. Anyone with a desire to make some money can take part — on or under the table. And that's become a problem for some woodlot owners trying to protect their trees.
Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 3:59 pm
Critics of the federal auto bailout will no longer be able to refer derisively to GM as "Government Motors" — on Monday, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced the U.S. government has sold its remaining shares in the carmaker.
"With the final sale of GM stock, this important chapter in our nation's history is now closed," Lew said, announcing the sale.
The net? Taxpayers lost $10.7 billion on the deal.
Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 4:02 pm
Federal prosecutors announced Monday the indictment of 18 current and former Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies on an array of charges stemming from a sweeping investigation into inmate abuse and corruption.
"These incidents did not take place in a vacuum — in fact, they demonstrated behavior that had become institutionalized," said U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. "The pattern of activity alleged in the obstruction of justice case shows how some members of the Sheriff's Department considered themselves to be above the law."