Friday, April 13, 2012

Patt Morrison for Monday, April 16, 2012


Monday, April 16, 2012

1-3 p.m.





1:06 – 1:30 OPEN


1:30 – 1:58:30
Scopes trial 2.0? – Tennessee “Monkey Bill” becomes law
A technicality of Tennessee statutes allows any bill approved by both houses of the State Legislature to pass into law even if the governor does not sign it. That means that SB 0893, better known as “The Monkey Bill,” became law last week. The bill’s controversial name matches the controversy of its contents - SB 0893 protects the rights of teachers in Tennessee’s public school classrooms who want to debate the validity of topics like the human influence on climate change and the theory of evolution. The new law also opens the door for the discussion of alternative theories like intelligent design, which critics argue is merely rebranded creationism. Teachers are not allowed to actually teach alternative theories, but the current law does allow such topics to be discussed and debated in the classroom. Proponents of the law believe it will encourage critical thinking, but the scientific community worry it provides tacit approval of creationism - which they maintain should have no place in a science curriculum. The issue has raised controversy in Tennessee before; in 1925, John Scopes, a high school teacher in Dayton, TN, was convicted of teaching evolution in a public school—an illegal practice at the time. Scopes’ conviction was later overturned, but the trial has become a bellwether moment in the ongoing confrontation between how science and religion view the origin of the universe. How should the law regulate controversial topics in public schools? How does the discussion of alternative theories promote critical thinking?





2:06 – 2:19

Will hybrid owners keep coming back for more? Study says no

Not loyal to your hybrid? With gas prices surging towards $5 a gallon, hybrid vehicles are marketed as environmentally and fiscally responsible alternatives to standard vehicles. Yet according to a new study by automobile data and marketing solutions firm Polk, two-thirds of hybrid vehicle owners in the United States are unlikely to buy another one. The study says only 35 percent of hybrid owners chose to purchase one again in 2011, despite the number of models having more than doubled since 2007. However, owners have been loyal to brands, with 60 percent of Toyota hybrid owners buying another Toyota last year, compared to 41 percent of those Prius owners buying another hybrid brand. More and more non-hybrid vehicles are getting better fuel economy, broadening the scope for solutions to the gas squeeze. If you’re a hybrid owner, do you plan to buy another one, or are you willing to forsake hybrid loyalty for a standard vehicle? Hybrid owners have also been seen as having a dash of smugness in their social status, as expressed in a sassy 2006 episode of “South Park,” where one character drives his hybrid car around town boasting about it. Are hybrids overrated, or still a great future-forward option as gas prices peak? Are hybrid owners themselves unfairly portrayed?



Jessica Caldwell, senior analyst at auto research website

Sasha Strauss, managing director and founder of branding firm Innovation Protocol, and a professor at USC's Marshall School of Business, teaching brand strategy

Brad Smith, director of loyalty management practice at auto data and marketing firm Polk, which conducted the recent study that two-thirds of hybrid vehicle owners in the United States are unlikely to purchase a hybrid again


2:30 – 2:58:30

Marketplace reporter seeks out the truth behind Foxconn’s walls

Last month, performance artist and pseudo-journalist Mike Daisey gained infamy for his account of going underground at a Chinese factory that makes components for Apple products.  His dramatic piece on ‘This American Life’ exposed supposedly inhumane conditions at Foxconn, pointed the finger of blame at Apple, and – as it turns out – was mostly fabricated. Who outed him?  Marketplace’s Shanghai reporter Rob Schmitz, who thought Daisey’s reporting smacked of at the least exaggeration, at its worst outright lies.  Schmitz then undertook his own investigation of the Foxconn factory in Shenzen.  Schmitz was given unfettered access to the factory, one of the largest in the world, which he describes as more like a city, with Internet cafes, shopping centers, fast food outlets, basketball courts, swimming pools – even a soccer stadium.  It’s not exactly Pleasantville - Foxconn’s 240,000 workers do mundane, repetitive work for eight to ten hours a day.  They work overtime without pay and suffer favoritism from their supervisors.  Many of them sleep in barren, crowded dorms.  And the nets suspended outside of each factory building are a constant reminder of a spate of worker suicides in 2010.  But as Schmitz learned from the employees he talked to, working at Foxconn can be a big improvement over life in impoverished rural China.  Young Chinese travel thousands of miles from their villages for a relatively better life building iPods at Foxconn. “China is so poor,” one told Schmitz, “it’s useless for us to judge other countries without truly understanding the realities on the ground.” Do Foxconn and Apple deserve the bad rap they’ve gotten in the media? Have working conditions really improved? Does the salary earned by Chinese factory workers justify what many would consider unbearable treatment? 



Rob Schmitz, Marketplace's China Bureau chief, formerly KPCC’s Orange County reporter


Rob Schmitz has been blogging about his visits to Foxconn for Marketplace. Read his reports at




Lauren Osen

Southern California Public Radio - 89.3 KPCC

626-583-5173 / 626-483-5278 @Patt_Morrison


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