National / International News

'Northern lights' observed on Mars

BBC - Wed, 2015-03-18 13:16
A Nasa spacecraft orbiting the Red Planet detects a mysterious aurora that reaches deep into the Martian atmosphere.

Man admits kitchen murder of wife

BBC - Wed, 2015-03-18 13:13
A man pleads guilty to murdering his wife and leaving her to die on the kitchen floor of their home while he went to work.

CCTV footage shown in Claudia case

BBC - Wed, 2015-03-18 13:00
Previously unreleased CCTV footage is screened in York as part of the investigation into the disappearance of Claudia Lawrence.

Starbucks Campaign Already Inspiring Awkward Conversations About Race

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-18 12:52

Vlogger and deejay Jay Smooth was on MSNBC Tuesday night to talk about Starbucks' "Race Together" campaign, which has already birthed a very public, cringe-worthy conversation about race.

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VIDEO: Valentin Gruener with Sirga the lion

BBC - Wed, 2015-03-18 12:40
Valentin Gruener with Sirga the lion

Pain From The Grain: Corn Belt Towns Languish As Prices Drop

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-18 12:25

Some farmers won't break even this planting season, and may have to tap into their savings. Many Corn Belt towns depend largely on these farmers and businesses linked to farming.

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Britain Unveils A New 1-Pound Coin

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-18 12:24

The coin has 12 sides and a fresh design. It also has new technology that the Royal Mint says will make it the most counterfeit-proof coin in the world.

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How Much Can Women Trust That Breast Cancer Biopsy?

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-18 12:11

Pathologists are great at spotting cancer, but less so at identifying atypical cells or DCIS, a study finds. That could lead to women getting too much treatment — or not enough.

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Protesters, Police Clash At Opening Of European Central Bank Headquarters

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-18 12:10

Protesters set fire to burning tires and threw stones at police, who responded with water cannons during a ceremony to inaugurate the $1 billion-plus building in Frankfurt, Germany.

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Murray through to quarter-finals

BBC - Wed, 2015-03-18 12:07
Britain's Andy Murray beats unseeded Frenchman Adrian Mannarino 6-3 6-3 to reach the Indian Wells quarter-finals.

VIDEO: Police explode 20,000lb of fireworks

BBC - Wed, 2015-03-18 12:06
Police in Midland, Texas recently disposed of approximately 20,000lb (9071kg) worth of illegal fireworks in a controlled explosion.

Janet Yellen isn't ready to raise interest rates

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-03-18 12:03

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and Fed policy makers wrapped up a two-day meeting in Washington D.C. today. Investors were hoping Yellen would provide a few clues about when the Fed might raise interest rates.

Marketplace’s Nancy Marshall-Genzer, who attended Yellen's press briefing following the meeting, reports that the Fed is willing to move, but cautiously.  

"If the Fed waits too long you could have undesirable things like deflation kick in that are a lot harder to correct once they’ve started," Genzer says. "On the other hand, you don’t want to do things too quickly because that could throw us back into a recession."   

So, for now, interest rates will stay the same. But what’s the magic unemployment number that might get Yellen to consider an uptick in interest rates?

"…Unemployment needs to be even lower, between 5 percent and 5.2 percent," Genzer says. 

Yellen didn’t completely rule out an interest-rate hike in April, “but she’s really trying not to spook the markets. She refuses to be pinned down on timing,” Genzer says.  

As expected, #Fed drops its pledge to be patient in raising interest rates, but makes it clear it's in no hurry.

— Nancy Marshall (@MarshallGenzer) March 18, 2015

Weak Euro undermines Chanel's China strategy

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-03-18 12:00

If you’re thinking about planning a vacation to Europe, now would be a good time. The American dollar is worth more now against the Euro than at any point over the past decade.

While the exchange rate may be welcome news for some tourists, the same may not be said for luxury European brands like Chanel or Gucci. Chanel handbags are so much cheaper in Paris than in China that Chinese tourists are flooding Paris shops for luxury bargains. Chanel want them to buy its handbags in China, expanding its market there.

So Chanel will increase prices in Europe and cut them in Asia.

“I think the Chinese consumer will benefit from this, because they will get lower prices and they won't have to go shop in New York, London or Paris in order to get the benefit of those relatively lower prices,” says Milton Pedraza of the Luxury Institute.

But high-end brands in particular need to think long and hard about changing prices from country to country.

"One of the keys to running a luxury business is that the customers understand that the prices don't move all that often, and that you're not waiting for products to go on sale,” says Stifel analyst David Schick.

Schick says long-term profitability for companies like Chanel or Louis Vuitton won’t hinge on exchange rates, but rather on how they are able to compete in a market that is increasingly crowed with competitors — many of whom are perfectly willing to sell you a handbag online, instead of through a shop on the Champs-Élysées.

This Spanish Pig-Slaughtering Tradition Is Rooted In Sustainability

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-18 12:00

In Spanish villages, townspeople gather at dawn to collectively slaughter a pig, then prepare every last bit as food, even the ears. The ancient ritual, called matanza, is now drawing foodie tourists.

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Teens Say They Change Clothes And Do Homework While Driving

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-18 11:46

So they do seem to get that texting is dangerous. But putting on makeup and contact lenses at 65 mph? No problem. Researchers in Oregon are trying to train teenagers on the risks of multitasking.

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France Considers A Ban On Overly Skinny Models

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-18 11:35

Proposed legislation in France would criminalize the use of underweight models and ban online sites that glorify anorexia and other eating disorders.

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Kraft recalls 6.5 million boxes of macaroni and cheese

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-03-18 11:19

Kraft Foods says it is recalling more than 6.5 million boxes of its iconic original-flavor "Macaroni and Cheese Dinner." The company says numerous consumers reported finding metal pieces in the packages. The affected boxes have a "Best When Used By" date of Sept. 18 through Oct. 11, 2015, and the manufacturing code “C2” printed below the date.

A company spokesperson told Marketplace via email it is, “too early to speculate about the cost of this action.” Large recalls can run up costs in the tens of millions of dollars for a company — including lost revenue, inventory and production, as well as damage to brand reputation. Some of that cost may be covered by insurance.

The system for food-safety product recalls in the U.S. has changed in the past several years, following passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in 2011. When a food company — like Kraft — receives complaints from consumers or reports of food-borne illness, or it discovers contamination at a production facility in its supply chain, it notifies the FDA and consumers, and voluntarily recalls the product. If a food-safety problem is identified by the FDA and the company does not comply with a request for a voluntary recall, FSMA allows the FDA to order a recall.


Mac 'n cheese noodles make great art supplies, but just make sure to check your recalled Kraft boxes for metal first.

Raghu Manavalan/Marketplace 

Colin O’Neil, director of government affairs at the Center for Food Safety, a consumer-advocacy group, says there is still more work to be done to ensure that mass-produced food sold in America is safe.

“The recent announcement (by Kraft) is a reminder of just how fragile our food-safety system is here in the U.S.,” he says. “Increasingly, responses to food-safety concerns are more motivated by PR and marketplace interests, than by public health concerns.”

But industry analyst Jim Hertel at food consultancy Willard Bishop in Chicago believes Americans are generally satisfied with the largely-voluntary system of food-safety monitoring and enforcement. His company does consulting work for Kraft and other food manufacturers.

“There is a level of confidence that the U.S. inspection regimen basically has gotten it right,” he says.

Hertel says most consumers understand that contaminated food does make its way into grocery-store and restaurant food occasionally. But he believes these incidents sow more fear in consumers when they are caused by a microbe or dangerous chemical, rather than (as with Kraft's Macaroni and Cheese) a chip of metal, possibly left by a flaw in the manufacturing process.

“The things that consumers can’t see are sometimes more terrifying than the things they can see,” Hertel says. “When it’s a biological or bacterial agent, I think there’s a lot more fear, uncertainty and doubt that creeps into the consumer’s mind.”

Oxford head leaving for New York

BBC - Wed, 2015-03-18 11:17
Oxford's vice chancellor Andrew Hamilton is leaving to take over as president of New York University.

US Fed hints at interest rate rise

BBC - Wed, 2015-03-18 10:49
The US Federal Reserve signals a future rise in interest rates, but says it will wait until the labour market improves, sending stocks higher.

VIDEO: No unique Celtic human gene

BBC - Wed, 2015-03-18 10:48
The largest genetic survey of Britain has shown that there were clear differences in DNA but no unique Celtic gene.