Two months ago, the Los Angeles Times documented in appalling detail the living conditions at Mexican megafarms that produce half our tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell peppers. Now, Mexican growers and distributors and Walmart have teamed up to improve the situation. But how? In other farming news, we take a look at how Harvard University became one of California's most unlikely wine producers, and what it says about the state's agriculture industry. In our weekly television roundup, a look at "Saturday Night Live's" 40-year anniversary special. Then we kick off a week of interviews with the filmmakers behind this year's Oscar-nominated documentaries with a co-director of "Salt of the Earth." And finally, a look at a competition for a one-way ticket to Mars. Great adventure, or death wish?
FROM THIS EPISODE
Living conditions at huge Mexican farms that produce about half the tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell peppers consumed in the US were recently revealed in appalling detail by the Los Angeles Times: children working in hot fields; families sleeping in rat-infested hovels, often on concrete; unreliable water; and pay as low as $8 a day. Now, Walmart and the Mexican government have struck a deal to improve life for the farmworkers. But how will they actually carry out and enforce the sweeping changes they're promising?
Photo: Alex Proimos
Harvard University has been quietly snapping up swaths of farmland along California's central coast, turning the school into one of the top -- and most unlikely -- wine producers in the region. And Harvard's not alone in picking up thousands of acres of California farmland. Investment banks, pension funds, and insurance companies have all become some of the biggest farmers in the state. Turns out farmland is a stable and lucrative investment for those with a lot of money to spend. Not even the historic drought has put a damper on the farm fever. How did this come about, and what does it mean for the future of California's farm industry?
"Saturday Night Live" celebrated 40 years on the air over the weekend with an elaborate and lengthy special. Wayne and Garth were just two of the characters brought back for the reunion, which featured cast members from every generation of the show. In true SNL fashion, the broadcast was hit-and-miss. We talk about the highlights and the lowlights in our weekly television news roundup.
Sebastião Salgado has traveled the world taking photographs of human suffering. For 40 years, he's taken brutal and beautiful black and white pictures of starvation in the African Sahel, workers in the burning oil fields of Kuwait, and the hellish conditions of gold miners in Brazil. Now, the documentor has become the documented. A new documentary, "Salt of the Earth," features Salgado describing some of his most moving photographs. We speak to one of the film's directors, kicking off a week of interviews with the filmmakers behind this year's Oscar-nominated documentaries.
Juliano Salgado, co-director of "Salt of the Earth"
A one-way ticket to Mars sounds like a suicide mission, but a lot of people are interested in getting one. Two years ago, a Dutch group called Mars One created a competition to find applicants and more than 200,000 people signed up. Now the selection process has narrowed the field to 100 candidates, 38 of whom are from the United States. Mars One says it ultimately plans to send a team of four to the red planet in 2024. And to raise the $6 billion it's projected to cost, the group plans to televise the rest of the competition.
More From Press Play with Madeleine Brand
California case: free speech v. abortion rights Crisis pregnancy centers are generally run by pro-life groups that aim to convince pregnant women not to get abortions. A California law requires that employees tell their clients that the state offers free and low-cost abortions and other family planning services. Now a group of these centers is arguing that the law violates their freedom of speech.
Does copyright law cover graffiti? Clothing company H&M did a fashion shoot in Brooklyn featuring models standing against a gray wall painted with black waving lines. The graffiti was the work of an LA-based street artist, who wanted compensation. H&M responded by filing a lawsuit against him, then dropped it a few days later.
Taylor Mac takes on U.S. history in 246 songs, two dozen costume changes Taylor Mac will perform his “24-Decade History of Popular Music” starting Thursday in LA. It’s divided into four shows on four separate nights. It’s about this history of oppression and activism in the U.S. -- from 1776 to present day.
LATEST BLOG POSTS
Facing uncertainty in the US, a Dreamer moves to Mexico Undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as kids may feel like they are in never-ending limbo. President Trump wants to phase out the deferred action for childhood arrivals… Read More
Will Orange County go from Red to Blue? On a recent evening, about two dozen friends and neighbors gathered at a house party in Irvine. They had come to meet Katie Porter, a Democrat who’s running for Congress… Read More