National / International News

Russia ramps up response as ruble plummets

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-12-16 11:00

The Russian Central Bank hopes raising interest rates from 10.5 to 17 percent will give people an incentive to hold onto the ruble and not bail into say, the euro, or the dollar

“The falling  price of oil and economic sanctions are having a very dramatic impact in terms of isolating Russian entities from the international capital markets,” says Charles Movit, chief Russia economist at IHS Global Insight.  Oil accounts for two-thirds of Russia’s export revenue.  Raising interest rates is likely the first of many painful steps for the Russians.

“I think they're going to have to end up doing even more radical measures, like simply stop people from taking money out of the country as best they can,” says Kenneth Rogoff, a Harvard University economist. “The banking sector can't take this for very long. The banks can't afford to pay these kinds of interest rates when they've made a lot of loans, they can’t afford to pay this to depositors."

Pulling out of Ukraine and thereby escaping sanctions is one possible fix for Russia’s currency problem, Rogoff says. Another more likely solution would be a gradual rebounding of oil prices this coming spring.

Where is your extra gas money going?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-12-16 11:00

What you and I and all the other drivers in the country aren't spending on gas could add up to hundreds of billions of dollars in savings. The savings will act as an economic stimulus, says Geoffrey Heal , professor at Columbia University's business school. “It will. Definitely," he says. "We’re giving consumers significantly more spending power.” (function(){var qs,js,q,s,d=document,gi=d.getElementById,ce=d.createElement,gt=d.getElementsByTagName,id='typef_orm',b='https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/share.typeform.com/';if(!gi.call(d,id)){js=ce.call(d,'script');js.id=id;js.src=b+'widget.js';q=gt.call(d,'script')[0];q.parentNode.insertBefore(js,q)}})()

“They have a little bit more money, but at the same time their investment are doing a little less well," he says, "so they don’t necessarily feel that much richer.

Low gas prices could have a negative impact on the stock market. Shares of oil producing companies might go down, so would our retirement funds which puts us in the mood to save, not spend.

Scott Wren, a senior equity strategist with Wells Fargo Advisors, says we have seen low gas prices act as an economic stimulus in the past. But that was then, and this is a recovering economy.

“In the past people were more prone to increase their spending. They were more prone to borrow money as well, do things like home equity loans," she says. "And I think right now the mentality is a little different."

At least we still like a deal. 

With a Starbucks on every corner, chain pivots

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-12-16 11:00

Forget that grande skim no-foam latte. What used to be "fancy coffee" has become average. That's pushed Starbucks to open the “Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room” in Seattle, the first of about 100 premium stores the chain has in the works.

Starbucks is trying to hit the reset button and make their ubiquitous coffees feel special again, says Tom Pirko, president of the food and beverage consulting company BevMark. The company is also trying to keep up with an ever-growing number of premium small roasters and cafes.

That increased demand, as well as new interest in coffee from Asian consumers, is pushing up prices for high-end beans, says Jack Scoville, a coffee broker with Price Futures Group.

Elvis Lieban, the co-founder and coffee buyer for Bay Area roaster Artís, says the price of his high-end beans has increased 20 to 25 percent this year, but customers don’t tend to be very price sensitive. 

Gourmet coffee is on the up, prices too

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-12-16 11:00

Forget that grande skim no-foam latte. What used to be "fancy coffee" has become average. That's pushed Starbucks to open the “Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room” in Seattle, the first of about 100 premium stores the chain has in the works.

Starbucks is trying to hit the reset button and make their ubiquitous coffees feel special again, says Tom Pirko, president of the food and beverage consulting company BevMark. The company is also trying to keep up with an ever-growing number of premium small roasters and cafes.

That increased demand, as well as new interest in coffee from Asian consumers, is pushing up prices for high-end beans, says Jack Scoville, a coffee broker with Price Futures Group.

Elvis Lieban, the co-founder and coffee buyer for Bay Area roaster Artís, says the price of his high-end beans has increased 20 to 25 percent this year, but customers don’t tend to be very price sensitive. 

Suspect In Shooting Spree Near Philadelphia Has Been Found Dead

NPR News - Tue, 2014-12-16 10:57

Police have found the body of Bradley Stone, who they say went on a shooting rampage that killed his ex-wife and five of her relatives in Montgomery County, Pa., Monday.

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Body found in Pennsylvania manhunt

BBC - Tue, 2014-12-16 10:54
A body has been found in Pennsylvania woodland by police searching for a man suspected of killing six people in a shooting rampage.

VIDEO: Charity boss 'preyed on street children'

BBC - Tue, 2014-12-16 10:52
A British charity boss who preyed on vulnerable Kenyan street children has been found guilty of sexual abuse.

A Game Of Ludo Helps Liberians Catch A Break From Ebola

NPR News - Tue, 2014-12-16 10:52

The fast-paced board game — it's a lot like Parcheesi — offers a way to escape the stress of life in the Ebola zone.

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Apple defeats $1bn case over iTunes

BBC - Tue, 2014-12-16 10:44
Technology behemoth Apple has been found not guilty of engaging in anti-competitive behaviour by a jury in California.

Family of man killed in Walmart sues

BBC - Tue, 2014-12-16 10:36
The family of John Crawford, fatally shot by police while holding a BB gun inside an Ohio Walmart, have filed a wrongful death lawsuit in the incident.

Widow in right-to-die Euro challenge

BBC - Tue, 2014-12-16 10:18
The widow of right-to-die campaigner Tony Nicklinson takes his fight to the European Court of Human Rights.

Howard accepts Friedel response

BBC - Tue, 2014-12-16 10:12
Everton's Tim Howard accepts that former US team-mate Brad Friedel didn't block his 2003 move to Manchester United.

Sydney gunman was 'wanted in Iran'

BBC - Tue, 2014-12-16 10:08
Iran says it requested 14 years ago the extradition of Haron Monis, the gunman behind the Sydney siege, but Australia refused to hand him over.

Post Office faces new strike action

BBC - Tue, 2014-12-16 09:59
A group of Post Office staff plan a series of strikes over Christmas in a dispute over pay and jobs.

'Torture Report': A Closer Look At When And What President Bush Knew

NPR News - Tue, 2014-12-16 09:58

A Senate investigation says President George W. Bush was not briefed on the specifics of how the CIA interrogated terrorism suspects until four years into the program. Bush denies that.

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Grave headstone for murdered April

BBC - Tue, 2014-12-16 09:51
A headstone marking the grave of murdered schoolgirl April Jones is put in place two years after she was killed.

Storey in hour world record attempt

BBC - Tue, 2014-12-16 09:48
Great Britain's most decorated female Paralympian Dame Sarah Storey will bid to break the women's hour record in 2015.

Amid Strains, Syrian Refugees Are Facing Curfews In Lebanon

NPR News - Tue, 2014-12-16 09:47

The fragile country now hosts some 1 million Syrian refugees. Some towns have set up civilian volunteers to enforce curfews on the refugees, leading to rising tensions and some cases of abuse.

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Apple Wins $1B iPod Antitrust Lawsuit

NPR News - Tue, 2014-12-16 09:40

A California jury has found that Apple's iTunes 7.0 did not violate antitrust laws when it restricted files bought on other music services.

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Methane 'belches' detected on Mars

BBC - Tue, 2014-12-16 09:39
The US space agency's (Nasa) Curiosity rover has detected the intermittent "belching" of methane gas on Mars.

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