National / International News

House To Vote On DHS Funding — Without Immigration Curbs

NPR News - Tue, 2015-03-03 09:50

The vote would be a victory for President Obama as Republicans had wanted to strip funding for the president's executive actions on immigration from the bill.

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Boy's 1981 death to be probed by IPCC

BBC - Tue, 2015-03-03 09:37
Allegations of corruption over the Met Police handling of a child's disappearance on the day of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding prompt an investigation.

Oil wells produce even more water than oil

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-03-03 09:29

The American landscape is dotted with more than 100,000 deep injection wells that are a key part of the energy infrastructure. Without them, you probably wouldn't be able to fill up your tank. Because for every barrel of oil that comes out of the ground, salty and sometimes chemically-laced fluid comes up with it. This so-called produced water has to go somewhere. Much of it is injected back into the earth.

Justin Haigler is the head of Black Bison, a Wyoming wastewater disposal company. He was setting my expectations low as we drove to a wellhead. One of his partners, James Schaffner, agreed: “Prepare to be underwhelmed.”

We pulled up to a small, unassuming hut. But you can hear its pressurized insides whirring yards away

"1,700 psi, that’s the pressure we’re injecting at," Haigler said.

 The three-foot-tall wellhead has a big job. Nearly 2 miles below, Haigler explained, a narrow pipe shoots wastewater into a subterranean cavity.

In 2013, Colorado and Wyoming together produced around 128 million barrels of oil and a little more than 2.4 billion barrels of water. So for every barrel of oil, that was around 19 barrels of water. Some of it is naturally occurring in underground rock formations, and some is a product of the hydraulic fracking process itself. The problem is, in the oil boom of the last few years, it has all happened so quickly.

 "They get here," Haigler said, "and everybody is excited and they have enough bandwidth to do the drilling and they go for it, and then they wonder, where are we going to put the water, by the way?”

Companies like Black Bison have stepped in to fill that need. During the boom, water trucks would sometimes line up 15 deep to unload.

Things have changed with oil prices in freefall.  So now might not seem like the best time to get into the business. But T-Rex Oil believes the timing is just right.

“The first thing I wanted to show you," T-Rex geologist Marty Gottlob said as he pulled out a big map of the West. "Here’s Sioux County, our water well is located right up here.”

T-Rex has applied for an injection well permit in Sioux County, Nebraska. It's a brand new company, with no track record in the wastewater business, and is still in the process of raising money.

“Its like the stock market," Gotlob said. "Buy low, sell high.”

With oil prices down, rigs, equipment and workers become available, and cheaper. And wastewater disposal is BIG business. The Boston-based water consulting firm Bluefield Research estimates the U.S. hydraulic fracturing industry spent more than $6 billion in 2014 on water management.

Back at Black Bison’s unloading station, Haigler said, "We turn on our pumps and basically draw the fluids out of our trucks." Hundreds of barrels of wastewater rush through a hose into a series of pipes and tanks where it is filtered, pressurized and then injected.

The Black Bison guys compare the role of this process to our food supply.

“Like the farmer's tractor," Haigler said. "It might seem unimportant driving by on the highway, but its super critical. Without it, the green beans don’t get to the grocery store.”  

 In that analogy, I think green beans are oil or gasoline. So, here’s the thing: we want and need the fuel, and injection wells are the most common way to dispose of this salty water. But as their numbers continue to grow, so do concerns about their consequences.

The DHS gets funded ... for now

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-03-03 09:28

Two updates from Washington, DC:

Update one, on the sidelines of the Netanyahu speech today, the House passed a bill funding the Department of Homeland Security for the rest of the fiscal year, which means we're not gonna have more Friday night silliness this week.

Update two, the Congressional Budget Office reminded us today that the debt-limit extension expires on March 15th, which means we're gonna have a whole lot of that silliness when the Treasury exhausts what the CBO calls, its well-established toolbox of so-called extraordinary measures, come October or November.

Tinder gets serious about dating

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-03-03 09:28

I’ve really enjoyed spending time with you. And I kinda wanna take things to the next level. You know, get serious.

That’s what Tinder is saying to users with its new service Tinder Plus. Until now, Tinder has been free, and the number of potential dates you could swipe through — right to say I like you, left to pass — have been unlimited. But now, endless romantic options will only be guaranteed if you upgrade to Tinder Plus, which costs up to $19.99 a month. Prices are different for users under and over 30.

The company says the formula for setting swipe limits is based on an algorithm and that most users will never encounter a cap.

Rita McGrath, a professor of strategy at Columbia business school, says by making its service free, Tinder was able to attract the users it needed to run a dating site, but now the company is looking to monetize.

There's one problem: Some users see Tinder as a game. “Once the game starts to cost you, it starts to be more like a serious dating site and less like something you do for fun,” McGrath says.

Tinder is hoping to increase your fun by offering new features, like Passport, which lets paying users swipe through possible dates anywhere in the world.

But for some, says Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist at the Kinsey Institute, dating apps like Tinder can already feel like they offer too many choices. “And that’s the big problem in all of the dating sites, it’s called cognitive overload," she said. "When you think you’ve got dozens, if not hundreds of different alternatives and possibilities, you end up taking none."

Full disclosure, I'm single and I use Tinder. And I know that when you swipe through seemingly endless options, it can be a little too easy to make people feel disposable. Unfortunately, Stephanie Amada, a researcher of hookup culture at Michigan State University, and fellow Tinder user, says it's not likely that putting a cap on the number of swipes will make users any more thoughtful than they already are.

"I'm so sorry if that feels depressing for you," she says.

But Amada notes there is the potential for dating app schadenfreude here, there are a lot of options for apps out there and if users don't like the changes to Tinder, the app may learn what's it like to be passed over.

In the meantime, if you’re looking at a Tinder profile, maybe mine, please think before you swipe.

After a controversy in politics, money follows

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-03-03 09:28

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began his address to Congress Tuesday by bemoaning the speech's politicization. But some groups and politicians saw the speech as the ultimate political opportunity: a chance to fundraise. 

Kenya leader sets fire to tusks

BBC - Tue, 2015-03-03 09:21
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta sets fire to 15 tonnes of elephant ivory as part of the East African nation's efforts to curb poaching.

Cuts 'mean no money for key repairs'

BBC - Tue, 2015-03-03 09:16
The Department for Regional Development does not have enough money to fund basic services like traffic light repairs, its minister warns.

Praise, Criticism For Netanyahu's Speech

NPR News - Tue, 2015-03-03 09:11

The reaction to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech on Iran to a joint meeting of Congress are so far along partisan lines.

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Teenager in court over stabbing

BBC - Tue, 2015-03-03 09:08
A teenager has appeared in court charged with attacking a schoolboy with a knife.

From War To Plow: Why USDA Wants Veterans To Take Up Farming

NPR News - Tue, 2015-03-03 09:08

Sara Creech's nursing career fell apart after she returned from Iraq with PTSD. She found purpose - and a new path - on the farm. Now, the USDA is giving veterans like her more financial support.

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Stalin wiped from Soviet Gulag museum

BBC - Tue, 2015-03-03 08:58
A Soviet prison camp from the Stalin era - the only one fully preserved - no longer exists as a museum dedicated to political prisoners, its director says.

VIDEO: How much coffee is good for you?

BBC - Tue, 2015-03-03 08:45
BBC News asks whether coffee really is healthy after a study appeared to show that moderate consumption may help people avoid heart disease.

Royal Court to stage new NHS play

BBC - Tue, 2015-03-03 08:40
The debate around the future of the NHS is the subject of the Royal Court's new play Who Cares, being staged in the run up to the general election.

Minister questions benefit sanctions

BBC - Tue, 2015-03-03 08:24
Conservative minister Nick Boles says there is an "inhuman inflexibility" to the way some welfare sanctions are applied.

Quiz: What's the core of the Common Core?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-03-03 08:23

The controversial Common Core standards only cover math reading, but two-thirds of adults surveyed by Farleigh Dickinson University believe there are other topics.

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Could Clinton emails shake up 2016 race?

BBC - Tue, 2015-03-03 08:22
Hillary Clinton relied exclusively on a personal email account during her time as secretary of state. Is this the kind of "unforced error" that could puncture her air of inevitability?

Emwazi father 'in state of shock'

BBC - Tue, 2015-03-03 08:19
The father of Islamic State fighter Mohammed Emwazi is in "shock" as he helps officials build a profile of his son, the BBC is told after the first meeting with him.

'Spocking' not illegal, Canada says

BBC - Tue, 2015-03-03 08:11
The Bank of Canada announces that tribute pictures of Leonard Nimoy's Spock on bank notes is not against the law.

FAW president 'livid' over Team GB

BBC - Tue, 2015-03-03 08:10
FAW president Trefor Lloyd Hughes criticises plans to enter men's and women's Great Britain football teams in the Rio Olympics.