National / International News

VIDEO: 'X-class' solar flares caught on film

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-11 11:55
Images released by Nasa show the Sun releasing two "significant" solar flares on Tuesday.

China Signals Heavier Hand On Dissent In Hong Kong

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-11 11:43

A Beijing policy paper makes it clear that autonomy in the former British colony only goes so far, saying "many wrong views" are held by Hong Kong residents.

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Target credit card breach still hurts small businesses

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-06-11 11:23

After the Target breach, banks gave millions of customers new credit cards.  That's a big problem for businesses that rely on subscriptions and monthly memberships. Some are losing significant revenue while scrambling to update customer information.

Rocky Arbitell hates the sound of his gym's scanner rejecting a membership card.  Unfortunately, it's what greets about 30 percent of people coming to work out at his Orlando, Florida business, The Gym Downtown.  Many just haven't updated their credit card numbers on file.

In his office, Arbitell points to a computer screen.  "That is the decline list," he says.  "That's all the credit cards that were dishonored, declined and invalid since January, and it's $57,000 worth of cards."

Arbitell's income hit is double that for the past year.  He says if his business hadn't been stable before this, it might not have survived.

A solution already exists

At an eCommerce expo across town, payment experts focus on what made customers change credit cards in the first place: fraud.  They discuss preventing it – and dealing with it when it happens.  

Dan Burkhart is CEO of Recurly, a subscription processor.  He says when customers get new credit cards, they can sign up to automatically give those numbers to any businesses they use.  Banks and credit card companies just put the information in a database, and merchants check it. 

"And, for any match that occurs, this service will provide the replacement card and then transaction is processed with the new replacement card," Burkhart says.  "The end customer isn't bothered.  They don't know nor care that their card has been updated."

Here's the catch: To use the database, businesses have to pay to work with specific credit card processors.  Some big companies don't do that, let alone the corner gym.  

Competitive cooperation

Steven Casco says limiting access slows innovation for everybody.  He's CEO of, the company that set up the e-commerce expo.  His solution to the subscription problem is competitive cooperation.  

"We, in America, invented the very idea of e-commerce," says Casco. "So, I would say, do we have problems with what's going on right now? Absolutely. Are we best suited to solve it and have the rest of the world look to us as the model? You better believe it."

Beyond Credit Cards

Casco says it's even time to look beyond credit cards themselves.  He flips through the expo schedule – and points to a name of someone doing just that.  Shaunt Sarkissian is the founder and CEO of Cortex MCP, a company that offers a "mobile wallet." 

Here's how it works: people put a specific amount of money on their phones. From there, Sarkissian demonstrates on his own mobile: "When I'm ready to make a payment, I just go in. I select the one I want to use, click 'use now,' enter my pin, hit 'pay,' and I can either show that QR code.  Boop, merchant scans it, and that's it.  Or, I can activate NFC, and I just tap my phone."  

A thief can steal only that amount – not drain an entire account.  

Other ideas include Bitcoin, biometric identification, and chip and pin machines.  In the end, Casco says, merchants from the cable company to the corner gym will have to try something.  

After all, he says, "Actually getting paid is the core of that business.  So, there's no way around it, you have to become educated."

And, this subscription problem isn't over yet.  The largest banks have replaced about 21.8 million cards since the Target security breach.  That's only about half the cards affected.

Inquiry over stroke victim 999 delay

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-11 11:20
The Welsh Ambulance service launches an investigation into the delay in taking a man to a hospital a matter of yards from his home.

Iraqi insurgents 'seize new city'

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-11 11:20
Islamist militants in Iraq seize Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, north of Baghdad, after overrunning the second city, Mosul, officials say.

Please leave your Kryptonite jewelry at home

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-06-11 11:17

From the Marketplace Datebook, here's a look at what's coming up Thursday, June 12:

In Washington, the Commerce Department reports on retail sales for May.

The House Veterans' Affairs Committee discusses bureaucratic barriers to care for veterans.

The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee holds a hearing titled, "A National Priority: The Importance of Child Nutrition Programs to our Nation's Health, Economy and National Security."

The 41st President of the U.S., George H.W. Bush, will be 90.

It's a bird...It's a plane...It's the 36th annual Superman Celebration getting underway in Metropolis, Illinois.

And in Cooperstown, New York, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum celebrates its 75th anniversary.

Open set for Royal Portrush return

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-11 11:15
The Open is to return to Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951, with Royal Portrush set to host the tournament as early as 2019.

A new landscape in the House after Cantor falls

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-06-11 11:11

Eric Cantor's surprise loss to fellow Republican David Brat in the Virginia primary elections Tuesday will reshape the leadership in the House, and it will have effects that reverberate into upcoming legislative fights. Here are three takeaways:

Money is something in politics, but it isn't the only thing. Cantor raised more than $5 million, compared to about $200,000 for Brat. Consider this idea: having so little money may have helped Brat. He didn't have the money to do major televsion advertising, so he didn't get the scrutiny that comes with that.

The coming fight over the debt limit has taken on a new element. The U.S. has the borrowing authority to keep paying its bills, but only until March 2015. Cantor's loss may make some Republicans less willing to support an increase in the debt ceiling. As lobbyist Steve Ryan put it, "It unsettles the firmament. There is a ripple in The Force, as we would say. And it's just totally unpredictable now what's going to happen out of that."

It's a new environment for businesses and lobbyists. One of the things that made Cantor so effective in the House was that Tea Party Republicans trusted him, and so did Wall Street. He was accessible to lobbyists, and he was seen as a good fundraiser for his party. 

Graphic by Shea Huffman/Marketplace

Data courtesy of the Center for Responsive Politics.

Oregon School Shooter Was 15-Year-Old Student, Police Say

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-11 10:58

Authorities say Jared Michael Padgett stole an "AR-15-type" rifle that was locked up in his home, as well as a semi-automatic handgun and nine magazines of ammunition.

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Injured US swimming star 'sits up'

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-11 10:57
The six-time US Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer who severed her spinal cord in an all-terrain vehicle accident on Friday posts photos of her improvement.

Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy Gains Fans, But Remains Unproven

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-11 10:50

Pro athletes and duffers alike are trying injections of platelet-rich plasma to treat chronic injuries like tennis elbow. But despite thousands of studies, it's not clear that the treatment works.

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VIDEO: British boy trapped in Syria escapes

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-11 10:32
The mother of a British boy who had been trapped in Syria for three years has spoken exclusively to the BBC after he finally reached safety by crossing the border into Jordan.

Is Bergdahl Exchange Really Unprecedented?

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-11 10:32

The Pentagon's lawyer said the deal to swap the Army sergeant for Taliban prisoners wasn't a first, citing the release of an Army pilot in Somalia. But the man who engineered that release disagrees.

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Across Europe, Anti-Uber Protests Clog City Streets

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-11 10:27

Cabbies from London to Berlin are protesting the smartphone-based, on-demand car service Uber. They say Uber should be subject to the same rules as taxis; many fear they'll be driven out of business.

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VIDEO: No evidence after Madeleine searches

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-11 10:08
No evidence relating to missing Madeleine McCann has been identified after searches in Portugal, Scotland Yard has said.

Army cuts plan 'comes with risks'

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-11 10:06
Plans to cut the UK's regular Army and increase reservists come with "significant risks" to its operational abilities, the National Audit Office warns.

Child victim in appeal for help

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-11 10:00
A woman who was raped by a stranger when she was eight years old appeals for help to track down the rapist 20 years on from the attack which police are treating as attempted murder.

VIDEO: JK Rowling gives £1m to pro-UK group

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-11 09:58
JK Rowling donates £1m to the Better Together campaign after speaking in the past of her reservations about an independent Scotland.

Top schools are online, but don't expect a discount

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-06-11 09:58

It has been just over a year since Georgia Tech grabbed national headlines by annoucing it would offer an online Master's degree in computer science for less than $7,000.

Many prestigious universities are starting to offer graduate programs online.  The difference between Georgia Tech and many of the others is price. In many cases, learning online does not come with a discount. 

Online programs can also present challenges of a different kind to top schools. In our piece on Harvard's new online pre-MBA courses, we explore how elite schools are struggling to expand without damaging their luxury brands.


Reports: Cantor Will Step Down As Majority Leader Next Month

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-11 09:58

Multiple news outlets are reporting that Rep. Eric Cantor has decided to resign from his post as House Majority Leader, one day after a stunning GOP primary upset in his Virginia district.

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