National / International News

VIDEO: Passenger plane springs internal leak

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-02 15:19
A double-decker Qantas Airways flight bound for Australia sprung a leak and was forced to return to Los Angeles, airline officials have said.

Why US will conquer world football

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-02 15:13
Five reasons why US will win World Cup - some day

'It's about effort, not bare skin'

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-02 15:03
The very serious business of cosplay - and bare skin

Tackle food waste and feed the world

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-02 15:02
Tackle food waste and help feed the world

Millions at risk in South Sudan

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-02 15:01
Some four million people in South Sudan are likely to face critical food shortages next month, British aid agencies warn.

South Sudan in pictures: Threat of famine

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-02 15:00
Warnings of a widespread famine in South Sudan

VIDEO: 'A challenge to reduce wasted food'

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-02 15:00
Working mother Tara Sherbrooke explains why she finds it a "challenge" to reduce the amount of food she wastes.

VIDEO: Shia militia: 'We are thirsty to fight'

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-02 14:58
The Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has offered an amnesty to militants willing to "return to their senses" and abandon the Isis-led insurgency.

How Dark Chocolate, Not Milk Chocolate, May Help Blood Flow

NPR News - Wed, 2014-07-02 14:50

In a small study, people with peripheral artery disease who ate dark chocolate could walk farther than those who ate milk chocolate. Compounds in dark chocolate may make it easier to keep moving.

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No electricity in Indonesia, but there's Facebook

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-07-02 14:36

Indonesia has a population of 240 million people — 64 percent of whom live on less than $2 a day, and 33 percent of whom live without electricity. And yet, somehow, 64 million Indonesians - including those without electricity - are on Facebook. 

In Elizabeth Pisani's new book, "Indonesia, Etc.", she talks about the country's changing economy and culture. Pisani has lived on and off in Indonesia for about 25 years, working as a journalist and an epidemiologist. In her book, she writes about how places that she once knew are changing rapidly, growing in population and experiencing an increase in the bourgeoisie culture. 

Along with Facebook, the people of Indonesia are big on social media and high-tech gadgets such as iPhones. Pisani says that while the country is quickly evolving, it is having a hard time finding its footing in the modern world:

"Even if we had a more educated and industrious workforce, we would probably still not be able to use them effectively because of that underinvestment in infrastructure." 

That lack of investment in infrastructure also affects the country's politics. According to Pisani, there has been a massive decentralization over the last 15 years. Today, there are about 500 different governments. In the past, all dictates came from one central location — Jakarta, Indonesia's capital.

We talked with Pisani about Indonesia's future. To hear her theory on how this country manages to function, listen to the full interview in the audio player above.

Libya retakes seized oil terminals

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-02 14:35
Libya's government says it has resumed control of two eastern oil terminals, Ras Lanuf and Sidra, that were seized by rebels last year.

Should gay men and lesbians be bracketed together?

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-02 14:26
What does this set of initials actually mean?

Storm Arthur threatens 4 July plans

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-02 14:17
US government forecasters issue a hurricane warning along the east coast, as Tropical Storm Arthur threatens to soak Fourth of July celebrations.

VIDEO: Taking a body to a burial at sea

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-02 14:14
BBC Newsnight is given rare access to a burial at sea and undertaker John Lister explains how the process works.

Bank risk-taking 'unfinished piece of business': Obama

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-07-02 13:57

In a wide-ranging interview covering the economy, President Obama on Wednesday said that despite financial reforms, Wall Street continues to take big risks, and for his administration, "that is an unfinished piece of business."

Obama also said that despite the fact that the economy has seen recovery and the unemployment rate has improved since the Great Recession, many Americans still feel like they haven't shared in those gains, particularly middle-class Americans. The President said gains have been made during his administration and said middle-class issues drive much of his agenda: 

"Although the economy has been growing, wages and incomes continue to be relatively stagnant, and that's been a 20- to 30-year trend, and that involves some structural issues that we've really got to work on. But, having said all that, what is indisputable is that the economy is much better now than it was when I took office and than it was the last time we spoke, and that does make a difference. It makes a difference that we've created 9.4 million new jobs, it makes a difference that manufacturing continues to strengthen for the first since the 90s, it makes a difference that we've been able to slow the rise of healthcare costs, it makes a difference that we have seen housing recover in many communities so that people are finally getting their houses back above water. So all these things add to confidence, add some momentum to the economy, but that underlying trend for middle-class families — that they don't feel like no matter how hard they work, they're able to get ahead in the same way that their parents were able to get ahead — that's something that we continue to tackle and drives a lot of my agenda now."

The President also criticized Wall Street — large banks in particular — for practices he said are aimed at generating revenue through "trading bets" instead of through investments that grow American businesses. Obama said that the United States has made significant economic reforms since the financial crisis in 2008, but there is still more work to be done:

The problem is that for 60 years, we've seen the financial sector grow massively. Now, it's a great strength of our economies that we've got the deepest, strongest capital markets in the world, but what has also happened is that as the financial sector has grown, more and more of the revenue generated on Wall Street is based on arbitrage -- trading bets -- as opposed to investing in companies that actually make something and hire people. And so, what I've said to my economic team, is that we have to continue to see how can we rebalance the economy sensibly, so that we have a banking system that is doing what it is supposed to be doing to grow the real economy, but not a situation in which we continue to see a lot of these banks take big risks because the profit incentive and the bonus incentive is there for them. That is an unfinished piece of business, but that doesn't detract from the important stabilization functions that Dodd-Frank were designed to address.

President Obama also took aim at the Republican majority in the House of Representatives for pushing back against policies he said would help the middle class, including immigration reform. The president spoke of House Republicans' "ideological predispositions," saying that they are "captive of a small ideological band inside their caucus."

I don't think this is a permanent state of affairs; I think over time the Republican Party will move back to the center, mainly because if they don't, they'll never win the presidency again. And at a certain point people are just going to get fed up. But in the mean time, what I have to make sure I'm doing is looking for every opportunity to go ahead and help the married couple that is struggling, working hard, paying their bills, but at the end of the month still don't have any savings and still don't feel like they're getting ahead. If I can help them on childcare costs, if I can help them boost their wages a little bit, if I can help them save for their kid's college education and keep college cost down, if I can do those things, then I will at least have the satisfaction of helping some people. And in the meantime I'm going to continue to reach out to Republicans wherever and whenever they're willing.

Monaco murder 'confession' retracted

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-02 13:55
The son-in-law of Monaco heiress Helene Pastor retracts a "confession" made in custody to ordering her murder, citing misunderstandings with police.

Music streaming is the next frontier for Google

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-07-02 13:52

The last few weeks have been busy in the online music industry. First, Apple bought Beats Music. Then Amazon added a music service to its Prime subscriptions. Now, Google is buying Songza, a streaming service that recommends music based on your mood or activity.

There are categories like “going to a festival” or “twerk at werk,” which queued up Pharrell’s “Happy.”

“Everybody’s competing for that slice of consumers’ time,” says Willy Shih, a professor at Harvard Business School. “You look at a service like Pandora, where the number of hours [users are] connected to the service per month is actually surprisingly high.”

When users aren’t on their computers, they can keep listening on smart-phone apps, which Shih says is appealing to advertisers. Since Google is already good at selling ads, this could be one more offering in their portfolio. 

But users have also shown they’re willing to pay to opt out of ads – and pay over and over again, essentially renting the music instead of buying it, says Sam Hamadeh, the founder and CEO of PrivCo, a research firm that’s looked into the financials of several streaming services.

“That’s sort of the holy grail in the internet or e-commerce business,” he explains. “Once you sign up, it’s a one-time sale, and a one-time marketing effort to get you to buy it and then it pays off dividends for years, if not forever.”

However, Hamadeh cautions these services aren’t actually profitable yet.

So there’s another reason to be in this business - and it’s not really about music.

“Every service that Google can offer that keep web users or mobile phone users within the Google universe of applications and services adds value,” says Matthew Crain, a professor of media studies at Queens College CUNY.

 It also keeps consumers away from Google’s competitors – which might be enough to make the company want to “twerk at werk.”

Fighting the classroom tech war in Los Angeles

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-07-02 13:50

The Los Angeles Unified School District had plans to give every kid an iPad; a billion-dollar proposition.

But it turns out the one-size-fits-all approach may not be  the best strategy after all.

So some LA schools will be allowed to choose between Apple, Microsoft and Google-based devices.

 

Broadening the choices makes sense, said Brandon Martinez from USC’s Rossier School of Education. “It allows students and teachers to see what works best for them. And then they can give feedback, they can swap devices, and give a more informed decision when they look to purchase at a larger scale.”

LA’s move isn’t great news for Apple. But it’s not going to knock the company off its throne, as king-of-the-educational-technology-market.

“Apple is in a very, very strong position,” said Mike Fisher, who studies the education technology market for Futuresource. “They are the number one in the U.S.”

But competition is coming on fast.

“The big trend we have seen in the last year is the rise of Chromebook,” said Fisher. Chromebooks run Google-based apps and they can be relatively cheap.

In 2012, Chromebooks accounted for only 1 percent of school devices shipped. By the end of last year, they had a quarter of the market.

Microsoft is also big player in the educational tech.  It recently scored a big contract with Houston Independent School District.

And Fisher thinks Amazon may be next to jump into the education game.

What's more, he thinks they’ll all start hooking up with curriculum providers.  “You’ll see some of the big publishers in the marketplace, people like Scholastic, Pearson, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, partnering with hardware vendors.

Schools are a $13 billion global battlefield for makers of educational technology.

“It’s a green field,” said Stephen Baker, an analyst at the NPD group. “A place to sell that doesn’t have anything now,  so it’s all new volume.”   

By some estimates, only about a quarter of students and teachers in the U.S. have a classroom computing device.

As we move to a world where more kids are taking tests and learning online, schools are likely to want computers in everyone’s hands.

 

Oklahoma drought kindles spectre of 1930s 'Dust Bowl'

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-02 13:49
Oklahoma drought kindles spectre of 1930s crisis
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