National / International News

NYPD Union Leader: Apology From De Blasio Would Go A Long Way

NPR News - Tue, 2015-01-06 12:48

Patrick Lynch, the head of the big New York City Police Department union, the Patrolman's Benevolent Association, has been a outspoken critic of Mayor Bill de Blasio.

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Baseball Hall Of Fame Elects Three Pitchers, Second Baseman

NPR News - Tue, 2015-01-06 12:37

Pitchers Randy Johnson, John Smoltz and Pedro Martinez, and second baseman Craig Biggio were elected to the Hall of Fame on Tuesday. Robert Siegel talks to Tom Goldman about the selections and some of the notable ballplayers who did not get in, like Don Mattingly.

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Bess Meyerson Was An Author, TV Personality, Civil Servant

NPR News - Tue, 2015-01-06 12:37

Bess Myerson was crowned Miss America in 1945 and was the only Jewish-American woman to ever hold the title. She went on to have a long career in public affairs though it was sometimes marked by scandal. She died Dec. 14 at the age of 90.

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Freshman Representatives Start First Day In Congress

NPR News - Tue, 2015-01-06 12:37

Robert Siegel talks to Republican Congresswoman Mimi Walters of California and Democratic Congressman Ruben Gallego of Arizona about starting their first term in Congress.

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Lawyers Try To Fight Death Penalty With New PTSD Understanding

NPR News - Tue, 2015-01-06 12:37

A 66-year-old Vietnam vet is due to be executed next week for the 1998 murder of a deputy sheriff in Georgia. There's no question that he shot the officer thanks to a grisly dashcam video. But the man's lawyers say PTSD and mental illness were not taken into consideration at sentencing.

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Former Virginia Gov. McDonnell Sentenced To Two Years In Prison

NPR News - Tue, 2015-01-06 12:37

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell will spend two years in federal prison. McDonnell was sentenced on Tuesday. He and his wife were convicted of using the governor's office for favors to businessman Johnnie Williams in exchange for over $170,000 in loans and gifts.

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Keystone XL Pipeline Gets Another Chance With New Congress

NPR News - Tue, 2015-01-06 12:37

With the new Congress sworn in and the GOP in charge, votes to advance the Keystone XL Pipeline are the first order of business.

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Obama And Mexican President Talk Cuba, Immigration

NPR News - Tue, 2015-01-06 12:37

Two big issues between President Obama and his Mexican counterpart: Obama's recent controversial executive actions on immigration and Cuba.

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Anti-Muslim Rallies Grow In Germany

NPR News - Tue, 2015-01-06 12:37

A movement tinged with anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiment has been growing in the German city of Dresden since the fall. The city's weekly rally grew to some 18,000 people on Monday. Robert Siegel speaks with Melanie Amann, who covers German national politics for the newspaper Der Spiegel, about the so-called "PEGIDA" movement.

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SNP suspends report-burning members

BBC - Tue, 2015-01-06 12:24
Four SNP councillors filmed setting fire to a copy of the Smith Commission report are suspended from their party for two months.

Teacher banned over boy sex claims

BBC - Tue, 2015-01-06 12:23
A teacher accused of performing sex acts with a 14-year-old boy is banned from the profession for life.

From Paleo To Plant-Based, New Report Ranks Top Diets Of 2015

NPR News - Tue, 2015-01-06 12:19

The caveman way of eating ranked near the bottom of a list of 35 diets ranked by medical and nutrition experts. The winners? The Mediterranean-like DASH and the plant-centric Ornish eating plan.

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Free-Climbing Yosemite's El Capitan Takes A Team — And Time

NPR News - Tue, 2015-01-06 12:14

Two rock climbers are close to finishing a hugely ambitious project on El Capitan in the Yosemite Valley — free-climbing the Dawn Wall. They talked to NPR's Melissa Block from the rock face.

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VIDEO: Why are Germans protesting? - 15 secs

BBC - Tue, 2015-01-06 12:10
Politicians and celebrities denounce "anti-Islamisation" ralllies in Germany.

A food critic's power in the Internet age

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-01-06 12:08

Local restaurant reviewer Leslie Brenner has ruffled the feathers of a chef and some restaurateurs in Dallas. She's been attacked on Twitter and Facebook, and some restaurants are not cooperating for reviews.

In an era of online reviews and food bloggers, does it really matter what one critic writes in a newspaper? More than you might think.  The Internet has changed how reviews impact the business of restaurants and how professional critics do their jobs.

A great place to see that transformation is at the crossroads of tech and dining in San Francisco.

Matt Straus has a classic restaurant story. He started at a local McDonald's and worked his way into San Francisco's fine dining scene. After 23 years, he finally opened his own place, The Heirloom Café. Then a year later, it happened: the bad review.

If you’ve seen the movie "Chef," where Jon Favreau makes mincemeat out of a critic, you are familiar with the fantasy response to getting panned.

What went down in real life with Matt Straus was much less funny, and far more depressing. 

Straus thought he would be ruined. “It was though somebody had announced that we were the 'Emperor with no clothes,'” he says. “It was devastating.” 

But, instead of going out of business, Straus actually saw a bump in business when his regular customers came out to support him. “Many of them came up to me and said, 'Wow, that was a crazy review,'" Straus says.

The Heirloom Café was already regarded as a restaurant worth visiting. It had some good write-ups and positive comments from diners on sites like OpenTable. Plus, it had a four out of five-star rating on Yelp. Online reviews affect business more than a critic's opinion, Mat Schuster, who co-owns Canela Bistro Bar, a Spanish restaurant in San Francisco.

Yelp reviews are one of the most popular ways new customers discover his restaurant, Schuster says. He takes his Yelp ratings so seriously he uses them to reward his staff. The ratings determine bonuses for managers and the sous chef, and if servers are mentioned in a five-star review, Schuster says he gives them a $25 gift card.

Studies at UC Berkeley and Harvard University show that increasing the average Yelp rating by even half a star can have a big impact on business. 

But old-style critics still matter. Heather Irwin, a food writer and blogger in California wine country, says a review in a local paper can put a new restaurant on the map before online ratings accumulate. Plus, it makes a nice trophy. “Even though it might sound a little old fashion,” Irwin says, “the restaurants really like to have that plaque with the restaurant review from the newspaper posted in their lobby.” 

If a review does not go a restaurant's way, it's another story. Brenner, the dining critic at the Dallas Morning News, managed to make a chef and local restaurateurs so furious that they are trying to compromise the integrity of  her reviews by refusing to let her pay. Why? Because, Brenner says, “they're not happy with the star-rating system.” 

The newspaper has used the same star system for decades but that may soon change, Brenner says, as food critics adapt to compete with with the abundant and alluring food coverage online — the host of blogs that can feature sexy photos of artisanal cocktails, chi-chi barbecue and celebrity chefs. 

Some reviewers, like Brenner, are even giving up their sacred anonymity. Critics used to hide their identities so they could secretly review restaurants. That is harder to pull off these days with social media and smartphones. 

There is an upside having a more public persona – it gives critics an opportunity to build their own star power. 

The future of the restaurant critic

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-01-06 12:08

Local restaurant reviewer Leslie Brenner has ruffled the feathers of a chef and some restaurateurs in Dallas. She's been attacked on Twitter and Facebook, and some restaurants are not cooperating for reviews.

In an era of online reviews and food bloggers, does it really matter what one critic writes in a newspaper? More than you might think.  The Internet has changed how reviews impact the business of restaurants and how professional critics do their jobs.

A great place to see that transformation is at the crossroads of tech and dining in San Francisco.

Matt Straus has a classic restaurant story. He started at a local McDonald's and worked his way into San Francisco's fine dining scene. After 23 years, he finally opened his own place, The Heirloom Café. Then a year later, it happened: the bad review.

If you’ve seen the movie "Chef," where Jon Favreau makes mincemeat out of a critic, you are familiar with the fantasy response to getting panned.

What went down in real life with Matt Straus was much less funny, and far more depressing. 

Straus thought he would be ruined. “It was though somebody had announced that we were the 'Emperor with no clothes,'” he says. “It was devastating.” 

But, instead of going out of business, Straus actually saw a bump in business when his regular customers came out to support him. “Many of them came up to me and said, 'Wow, that was a crazy review he wrote,'" Straus says.

The Heirloom Café was already regarded as a restaurant worth visiting. It had some good write-ups and positive comments from diners on sites like OpenTable. Plus, it had a four out of five-star rating on Yelp. Online reviews affect business more than a critic's opinion, Mat Schuster, who co-owns Canela Bistro Bar, a Spanish restaurant in San Francisco.

Yelp reviews are one of the most popular ways new customers discover his restaurant, Schuster says. He takes his Yelp ratings so seriously he uses them to reward his staff. The ratings determine bonuses for managers and the sous chef, and if servers are mentioned in a five-star review, Schuster says he gives them a $25 gift card.

Studies at UC Berkeley and Harvard University show that increasing the average Yelp rating by even half a star can have a big impact on business. 

But old-style critics still matter. Heather Irwin, a food writer and blogger in California wine country, says a review in a local paper can put a new restaurant on the map before online ratings accumulate. Plus, it makes a nice trophy. “Even though it might sound a little old fashion,” Irwin says, “the restaurants really like to have that plaque with the restaurant review from the newspaper posted in their lobby.” 

If a review does not go a restaurant's way, it's another story. Brenner, the dining critic at the Dallas Morning News, managed to make a chef and local restaurateurs so furious that they are trying to compromise the integrity of  her reviews by refusing to let her pay. Why? Because, Brenner says, “they're not happy with the star-rating system.” 

The newspaper has used the same star system for decades but that may soon change, Brenner says, as food critics adapt to compete with with the abundant and alluring food coverage online — the host of blogs that can feature sexy photos of artisanal cocktails, chi-chi barbecue and celebrity chefs. 

Some reviewers, like Brenner, are even giving up their sacred anonymity. Critics used to hide their identities so they could secretly review restaurants. That is harder to pull off these days with social media and smartphones. 

Plus with a more public persona, critics have more ways to build their own star power. 

Osborne warns over low oil prices

BBC - Tue, 2015-01-06 12:06
Chancellor George Osborne says the benefit of falling oil prices should be passed on to consumers in lower pump prices and energy bills.

Johnson, Smoltz, Martinez And Biggio Voted To Baseball's Hall

NPR News - Tue, 2015-01-06 12:02

Three dominating pitchers and one resilient fan favorite are heading to Cooperstown, as Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio were named to Baseball's Hall of Fame Tuesday.

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VIDEO: Fighting fires in Australia's Blue Mountains

BBC - Tue, 2015-01-06 11:59
As deputy brigade chief and president of the South Katoomba Rural Fire Service, Susie McGregor is one of Australia's most senior female firefighters.

Trusts cancel non-emergency ops

BBC - Tue, 2015-01-06 11:42
Belfast Health Trust cancels all non-urgent elective surgery up to and including 10 January, while other trusts cancel some of theirs, due to pressures on emergency departments.

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