Today’s Links: September 24, 2012


DANA GOLDSTEIN: “The Apprentice
“Volkswagen opened its first American plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., in 2010, and executives knew from the start they wanted to launch a German-style apprenticeship program alongside it. The plant employs 3,000 people building the Passat, Motor Trend’s 2012 “car of the year.” Volkswagen saw a shortage of mid-skill machinists, workers who perform maintenance on robotic welders and other state-of-the-art manufacturing tools. The three-year apprenticeship program, Volkswagen Academy, is a partnership between VW and Chattanooga State Community College. Built to address that need for regular plant maintenance, it enrolls about 20 students per year.”

JIM NEWTON: “L.A.’s pension peril
“There are a couple of assumptions guiding much of the civic conversation about public employee pension reform: first, that organized labor would fight any reform tooth and nail; and second, that labor’s strong presence in Los Angeles would doom such measures to defeat. I’m starting to doubt both of those assumptions, having talked at length to former Mayor Richard Riordan about some of his ideas for dramatically altering city pensions.”

REBECCA GREENFIELD: “Facebook Now Knows What You’re Buying at Drug Stores
“Facebook will be using Datalogix to prepare reports for its advertisers about who, if anyone, bought more of their stuff after they ran ads on the social network. But by matching your Facebook profile with your CVS bill, this means that Facebook has the potential to know some of your most intimate details (my, that’s a lot of bunion cream you’re buying!), and the privacy concerns are enormous. ”


INTERNATIONAL – Yemeni women worse off after revolution
“In a report released Monday, Oxfam International said four out of five Yemeni women claim their lives have worsened over the past 12 months. Faced with an intensifying humanitarian crisis, which has left a quarter of women between the ages of 15 and 49 acutely malnourished, they say they’re struggling to feed their families and are unable to participate in the country’s transition.”

SMOKING – Cigarette Smokers Inhale Steep Tax Hikes 
“Slow recovery or not, here’s one type of tax many jurisdictions have no fear of raising. State and local cigarette taxes brought in $17.1 billion in 2011, and 19 states plus the District of Columbia have increased cigarette taxes in the past three years.”

FINANCIAL – Feds Order Discover to Return $200M to Cardholders
“Discover Bank will pay millions in fees to settle accusations by regulators that it pressured credit card customers to buy costly add-on services like payment protection and credit monitoring.”