National / International News

Oil from fracking may end U.S. ban on exporting oil

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-06-25 13:38

Ever since the oil crisis of 1973, when oil prices nearly quadrupled as a result of an OPEC embargo following the Yom Kippur War, there has been a ban on U.S. crude oil exports. But that may change.

In two rulings, yet to be confirmed, the U.S. Department of Commerce will allow two private companies to export a special type of crude oil. It's a tiny opening in what could be a big change for the oil industry.

The crude oil at issue is a specific type of lightweight crude called condensate. It’s very different from what you probably picture when you think of crude oil. Condensate is not the thick, black oil that came a “bubblin” out of the ground in the opening credits of The Beverly Hillbillies. Condensate is thinner, it can look like tap water, and it’s highly volatile.

“Condensate,” says analyst David Bellman, “is actually one of the crudes that would be the easiest to refine.” It would be the easiest to refine, if it weren’t for one problem. “The problem is that the refining industry, for the last couple decades, has been told that crude oil is going to get heavier and heavier,” says Bellman.

As a result, refineries invested in equipment designed for refining heavy crude. But since the fracking boom, 96 percent of new oil production is ultralight, not heavy crude. “It’s not a great fit for the refineries in the U.S.,” says Severin Borenstein, co-director of the energy institute at the Hass School of Business at Berkeley.

Oil producers are worried that this bottleneck could get worse, driving down the price of condensate. “So the argument they are making is, they should be allowed to export those crude products,” says Borenstein.

Industry analyst Fadel Gheit says lifting the ban would lower crude prices on the global market. But it would raise condensate prices in the U.S. That’s bad news for U.S. refineries, as evidenced by a dip in their stock prices today. “They had one of their worst days in years,” says Gheit.

There is no consensus among analysts on what lifting the ban would do to the price consumers pay for gas at the pump.

AP Calls It For Charles Rangel

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-25 13:38

The longtime New York Democratic congressman edged out challenger Adriano Espaillat in a rematch of their 2012 primary nail-biter.

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For A Spanish Princess, An Indictment On Laundering Charges

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-25 13:36

Spanish Princess Infanta Cristina has been charged with money laundering. She faces 11 years behind bars for allegedly embezzling public money through fake charities.

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Few Doctors Warn Expectant Mothers About Environmental Toxics

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-25 13:32

Chemicals and other toxic substances in the environment can cause premature birth, birth defects and developmental delays, but obstetricians say they're reluctant to discuss the threats with patients.

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Polish PM wins vote of confidence

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-25 13:03
Poland's coalition government wins a parliamentary vote of confidence sparked by a scandal over leaked tapes of senior officials.

VIDEO: Highlights from Google's I/O event

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-25 12:48
Richard Taylor details Google's new smartwatch, car and television initiatives as well as its new unified look for Android.

Was the Taj Mahal built out of guilt?

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-25 12:43
A play suggests the Taj Mahal was built out of guilt

Legal delay to Robinson probe report

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-25 12:41
A legal challenge delays the publication of an official report into allegations about the conduct of First Minister Peter Robinson and his wife.

Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down Utah's Same-Sex Marriage Ban

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-25 12:40

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that Utah's same-sex marriage ban violates the U.S. Constitution. The decision marks the first time that a federal appeals court ruled on the issue.

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Blow To Utah Gay-Marriage Ban Paves Way For Supreme Court Ruling

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-25 12:40

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals called marriage a fundamental right that shouldn't be determined at the ballot box. It marks the first time that a federal appeals court has ruled on the issue.

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VIDEO: Queen and Duke on Antiques Roadshow

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-25 12:35
The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh will appear in a special episode of the BBC's Antiques Roadshow after the team examined items from the collection at Hillsborough Castle.

Android Wear watches go on sale

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-25 12:22
Google reveals LG and Samsung are both making their first Android Wear watches available for pre-order and explains how they will work.

Deadly blast rocks Nigerian capital

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-25 12:21
A bomb attack on a busy shopping district in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, kills at least 21 people and injures 52 more.

VIDEO: Shaqiri wonder strike gives Swiss lead

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-25 12:17
Watch a great left-footed strike by Xherdan Shaqiri as he gives Switzerland the lead over Honduras in their final Group E game in Manaus.

Parsing The Numbers Of A Tuesday Packed With Primaries

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-25 12:15

Tuesday featured an extensive slew of primaries across the U.S. To learn more about the results, and what they mean for the midterm elections, Audie Cornish turns to NPR's Ron Elving for more.

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Longtime Sen. Cochran Ekes Out A Win Against Tea Party Challenger

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-25 12:15

In a result that came as a surprise to some observers, incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran won the GOP nomination in Mississippi's Senate primary. The tight election, which also featured Tea Party-backed challenger Chris McDaniel, came down to a runoff decided late Tuesday night.

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Conservative Critics Lobby For An Early End To Export-Import Bank

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-25 12:15

The U.S. Export-Import Bank now finds itself embroiled in controversy. New House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced his support for letting the bank's charter expire, and only days ago, news surfaced that four officials at the export credit agency are facing allegations of misconduct.

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Removing $765 Million Ceiling, NFL And Players Settle A Second Time

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-25 12:15

In January, a federal judge rejected a settlement reached by the National Football League and attorneys representing retired players. The $765 million settlement, which had briefly put an end to a lawsuit over players' concussions, was rejected as too low to cover all players and possible future injuries. On Wednesday, though, both parties agreed to revise the suit settlement by removing the monetary cap.

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ISIS Brings Business Acumen To Violent Jihad

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-25 12:15

ISIS issues annual reports and launched a Twitter app, and its financiers track money flows on spreadsheets. It's professionalized its operations while inflicting more casualties than al-Qaida.

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Egyptian Court Deals Out Death Sentences To Nearly 200

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-25 12:15

An Egyptian court has confirmed death sentences for 183 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, including its spiritual leader, Mohamed Badie. For more on the sentencing, and the charges of violence on which they were convicted, Melissa Block speaks with Ziad Abdel Tawab, the deputy director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies.

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