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A kids shirt that was for sale on Zara.com. (Zara.com)

Fashion Retailer Zara Pulls Kids Shirt Resembling Concentration Camp Uniform

by Eyder Peralta
Aug 27, 2014

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The clothing retail giant Zara is apologizing and has pulled a kids' shirt from its stores after hearing complaints that it resembled the uniform worn by prisoners in Nazi concentration camps.

In a tweet, Zara said the shirt was "inspired by the sheriff's stars from the Classic Western films."

Reporting from Spain's Canary Islands correspondent Lauren Frayer tells our Newscast unit that this isn't the first time the Spanish retailer has gotten into trouble. She filed this report:

"The shirt in question is navy and white striped, with a big gold star on the chest. Zara sold it online in several countries, including Israel.


"The company called it a 'sheriff shirt' for kids. But many shoppers thought it looked conspicuously like a World War II concentration camp outfit, and complained on Twitter and Facebook.

"Zara has now tweeted an apology, and says it's pulling the shirt from its inventory.

"This on the heels of another Zara controversy. The Spanish retailer has been accused of racism for selling T-shirts with the slogan 'White is the new black.'"

The Guardian points out that back in 2007, Zara was forced to withdraw a handbag from its stores because the design featured swastikas.

One thing that is worth noting is that the six-point star, which looks just like the Jewish Star of David, is embroidered with the word "sheriff." Also, as Lauren reports, "the shirt's stripes are horizontal, unlike the ones on prison garb worn by Holocaust victims, which were usually vertical."

If fashion faux-pas interest you, see also Lululemon's "see-through pants."

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Ledisi performs on a balcony in the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana, for a Field Recordings video shoot. (NPR)

Ledisi Steals The Show

Aug 27, 2014

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Frannie Kelley

There's too much happening in New Orleans' French Quarter — especially on a holiday weekend, and especially when hundreds of thousands of people are in town for the annual Essence Music Festival. There are living statues and five-piece bands and drinks a foot and a half tall and people from all over the world ambling in the middle of the street.

But Ledisi, singing on a balcony in her hometown, stopped the whole thing dead. For a few minutes, with a song about the complications of being a woman, she held an unsuspecting, audibly appreciative crowd in the palm of her hand.

Set List

  • "Pieces Of Me"

Credits

Producers: Mito Habe-Evans, Frannie Kelley; Event Manager: Saidah Blount; Videographers: Mito Habe-Evans, Olivia Merrion, Colin Marshall; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Editor: Mito Habe-Evans; Special Thanks: Sam Malvaney, Mark and Rachel Dibner of the Argus Fund; Executive Producer: Anya Grundmann.

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International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde. (Getty Images)

French Prosecutors Put IMF's Lagarde Under Investigation

by Eyder Peralta
Aug 27, 2014

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Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, says French prosecutors have put her under formal investigation.

The New York Times reports:

"Ms. Lagarde said in a statement through her lawyer that she was being investigated for 'simple negligence,' by the Court of Justice of the Republic, the judicial body that is charged with investigating the conduct of high government officials.

"Ms. Lagarde, who has denied wrongdoing from the start, said in a statement that the decision by a judicial committee to place her under formal investigation was 'totally unfounded' and that she would be returning to work in Washington on Wednesday afternoon.

"'After three years of investigation and dozens of hours of interrogation, the committee concluded that I had not been guilty of any infraction,' the statement said, 'so it was reduced to claiming that I had been insufficiently vigilant during the arbitration.'"

The BBC explains that this dates back to a 2008 case involving businessman and Sarkosy supporter Bernard Tapie. When Tapie sold Adidas, he claimed that the partly-state-owned bank Credit Lyonnais "had defrauded him by deliberately undervaluing the company."

Lagarde, then the finance minister, referred the matter to an arbitration panel, which decided in Tapie's favor, awarding him $527 million.

The Times explains that under the French system, "a formal investigation suggests prosecutors believe they have enough of a case that they may ultimately bring criminal charges and trial."

Reuters adds:

"The inquiry has already embroiled several of Sarkozy's cabinet members and France Telecom CEO Stephane Richard, who was an aide to Lagarde when she was Sarkozy's finance minister.

"In previous rounds of questioning, Lagarde accused Richard of having used her pre-printed signature to sign off on a document facilitating the payment, local media has said. However Richard has stated that Lagarde was fully briefed on the matter.

"Investigators are trying to determine whether Tapie's political connections played a role in the government's decision to resort to arbitration that won him a huge pay-out."

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President-elect Barack Obama waves to his supporters after delivering his victory speech at his election night party Nov. 4, 2008, at Grant Park in Chicago. (AP)

Book News: Calif. Law Calls For Textbooks To Teach Significance Of Obama's Election

by Annalisa Quinn
Aug 27, 2014

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The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • California history textbooks will now be asked to cover "the significance of President Barack Obama's election," under a law signed this week by Gov. Jerry Brown. The new law requires California's Instructional Quality Commission "to consider including, and recommending for adoption by the state board, instruction on the election of President Barack Obama and the significance of the United States electing its first African American President, as appropriate." The author, Democratic Assemblyman Chris Holden, said in a statement: "We want to make sure that future generations understand that the election of our nation's first African American president was a historic step in the effort towards equality and that previous elections involved intimidation and violence that prevented millions of African Americans from voting."
  • Idra Novey has a poem, "House-Sitting With Approaching Fire," in Guernica:

"Dear friends

the ash-fall is thickening here

it's filming over the pool

I tell the cats we'll be fine

the flames will not reach us..."

"If there's no need for movement, then no need for a brain, I've learned,

a fact demonstrated by the sea squirt, a small creature that swims

freely in its youth until it settles on a rock. Then it devours its own brain."

  • Architect Zaha Hadid is suing The New York Review of Books for defamation over a book review that Hadid says implies she was unconcerned about working conditions for the laborers building her design for a 2022 World Cup stadium in Qatar, Reuters reports. Architecture critic Martin Filler, who was reviewing Rowan Moore's book Why We Build: Power and Desire in Architecture, wrote that Hadid "has unashamedly disavowed any responsibility, let alone concern, for the estimated one thousand laborers who have perished while constructing her project [Qatar's Al Wakrah stadium] so far. 'I have nothing to do with it,' Hadid has claimed. 'It's not my duty as an architect to look at it.' " Filler has acknowledged that construction on the stadium isn't scheduled to begin until 2015, and, according to Reuters, will print a retraction apologizing for the error. Hadid has not said whether she drop the lawsuit.
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President-elect Barack Obama waves to his supporters after delivering his victory speech at his election night party Nov. 4, 2008, at Grant Park in Chicago. (AP)

Science Crowns Mozzarella The King Of Pizza Cheese

by Maanvi Singh
Aug 27, 2014

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Any way you slice it, Americans are obsessed with pizza. One in eight of us are noshing it on any given day, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And the average American consumes pizza about 39 times a year, according to the NPD Group, a market research firm.

The signature of a great American-style pizza is not the toppings du jour but the cheese: hot, gooey mozzarella, with big, dark splotches of caramelization.

Pizzerias didn't happen upon that winning recipe by coincidence. Food scientists have been studying and finessing the low-moisture part-skim mozzarella we now put on most of our pizzas for decades. Pizza companies fighting for consumers' loyalty are especially invested in such work.

But a few researchers are interested in studying the chemical and physical properties of pizza simply for the sake of science. Bryony James, a professor of materials engineering at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, is one of them.

It's been known for a while that mozzarella melts and blisters better than most other cheeses. But James and some colleagues wanted to investigate further: Why do different cheeses look and taste different when they're baked? Their paper, titled "Quantification of Pizza Baking Properties of Different Cheeses, and Their Correlation with Cheese Functionality," appears in the August issue of the Journal of Food Science.

The researchers started by cooking up a bunch of pies using various cheeses, including mozzarella, cheddar, Edam and Gruyere, as James explains in a video. Then, they analyzed the pizzas using cameras and special software designed to precisely measure the amount of browning, blistering and oil content.

To further tease out the physical properties of the cheeses, the researchers measured water content and elasticity. They also developed detailed diagrams of what happens to each cheese as it bakes.

The unique browning patterns on mozzarella come from the way it bubbles, James says. Since it's made by repeatedly stretching and molding fresh curds, "mozzarella has a lot of elasticity," she explains. "If you look at it under a microscope, you see it has these channels of fat surrounded by protein."

In the oven, the water in the cheese evaporates to create of steam, which causes it to bubble. Since mozzarella is so stretchy, the bubbles can expand and become fairly big. As the bubbles grow, the oil sitting on top slides off and the exposed mozzarella starts to brown. "Finally, the bubbles pop and recede back down," James says.

Cheddar isn't very elastic, so it barely bubbles, the study found. Yet a cheddar pizza will bake to an even, golden brown.In contrast, Gruyere bubbles really well but barely browns. It's a lot more oily than mozzarella, and the fat keeps the moisture in the cheese from evaporating.

"As a home consumer, you might want play around with these things," James says. Want a pizza with the traditional blistering, but sharper flavor? Try mixing mozzarella with another cheese.

Eventually, James says, the sort of research she's doing could be used to manipulate the properties of foods, like a low-fat cheese that tastes and looks just as good as the fattier stuff. Or maybe food scientists will figure out how to make a pizza crust that stays crisp, even after a day in the fridge. "When we understand food right down to its micro-structural level," she says, "it gives us the levers we need to change the way it behaves."

We'll raise a slice to that.

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