National / International News

VIDEO: Henning's wife receives plea for life

BBC - Tue, 2014-09-23 14:22
The wife of the British hostage Alan Henning released a statement on Tuesday pleading with the militants who are holding her husband to release him.

Black managers stat shocks Roberts

BBC - Tue, 2014-09-23 14:19
Former striker Jason Roberts says not enough is being done to employ black managers and claims the situation is getting worse.

IS 'not America's fight alone'

BBC - Tue, 2014-09-23 14:07
President Obama hails the support of Arab nations in air strikes which reportedly killed dozens of Islamic State and jihadist militants in Syria.

General Motors adds insult to injury for Detroit

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-09-23 13:54

General Motors is trying to re-establish the luxury bona fides of the Cadillac brand, by moving Cadillac's global headquarters to New York next year.

High end consumers in a global city – it makes sense. Still, one wonders what Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac – the guy who founded the City of Detroit – would think if he were still around.

NIH gives $10.1 million for gender-balanced research

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-09-23 13:53

The National Institutes of Health want to end a long-standing bias in biomedical research, towards men. It turns out when researchers do what are called pre-clinical studies, most of the time they’re using male animals and male cells. Today the NIH announced that it has awarded an extra $10 million to help bring more balance into the lab.

Researchers have long preferred male animals and cells, partly because they thought the female menstrual cycle introduced too much variability. That’s not true, says Janine Austin Clayton, director of the Office of Research on Women’s Health at the NIH. This additional funding encourages researchers to study both sexes, she says.

“We’re really looking to transform how science is done, and in order for us to do that, we have to help scientists understand the methods and the benefits of studying both sexes,” Clayton says.

By not studying both sexes, Clayton says we may be missing out on discoveries that could help both men and women. One grant will help look at why women have higher rates of Alzheimer’s disease, for example. Other studies will look at sex differences in stroke, lung disease and alcohol abuse.

But is $10 million enough to change science?

“It will hopefully spill over,” says Kathryn Sandberg, director the Center for the Study of Sex Differences in Health, Aging and Disease at Georgetown University. Researchers will present their work at meetings, and others may become interested, she says.

“I think it’s a good first step,” Sandberg says.

The money won’t just bring more female subjects into the mix. Sarah D’Orazio, an associate professor at the University of Kentucky, has a grant from the NIH to study the immune response in mice to the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. The extra $100,000 in supplemental funding will help her buy male mice. Each one costs $24, she says, plus shipping and lodging.

“They’re very well cared for here at the University of Kentucky. So I have, basically, a hotel bill that I have to pay for the mice while they’re here during our experiment,” she says.

D’Orazio says she had done small studies with both males and females in the past.

“We had an observation all along that female mice were much more susceptible to the infection, and we just didn’t really have the funding to follow up on that observation,” D’Orazio says.

If she can prove there is a difference, D’Orazio says she could get more funding to study why and develop treatments to help women.

Making the inversion game harder to play

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-09-23 13:52

The Treasury Department has announced that it's going to change tax rules to curb corporate inversions - deals that let U.S. companies move their headquarters overseas, and avoid U.S. taxes. 

The new rules would keep companies from playing one of their favorite inversion games:  hopscotch.

Here's how you play: say you’re a U.S. company with a foreign subsidiary. The subsidiary earned loads of money. But you don’t want to bring it back to the U.S., where you’d have to pay taxes on it.  So the subsidiary loans the money to a foreign parent you create through an inversion.

“They hopscotch over their U.S. parent," says Lee Sheppard, contributing editor to the journal Tax Notes. "That’s why it’s called hopscotch."

Sheppard says the new Treasury rules would make hopscotching illegal. And you can’t play skinny down anymore, either.  That’s a way to shrink a U.S. company’s share in a foreign firm created through an inversion. 

“I think these rules will be effective at stopping some of the abuses of the past," says Steven Rosenthal, a senior fellow at the Urban/Brookings Tax Policy Center. “The question, though, is,  how effective they will be at stopping potentially new abuses.”

Especially since Treasury hasn’t banned all of the inversion games. Take earnings stripping. That’s where a U.S. company takes out a big loan from the foreign parent it creates in an inversion, and gets to write off the debt payments.  

Still, Treasury is making inversions more complicated.

“A lot of transactions that might have been relatively easy are now going to have to be analyzed much more carefully,” says Ryan Dudley, a partner at the accounting firm,  Friedman LLP.

In fact, some of the big inversions announced lately may not go through now, because Treasury says the new rules are effective immediately.  So if you’ve announced a big inversion deal, but haven’t completed it, you may have to find a new game to play. 

Charges in Philadelphia 'hate crime'

BBC - Tue, 2014-09-23 13:47
Philadelphia police seek three suspects in the beating of a gay couple in the city centre.

Crime Falls As U.S. Locks Up Fewer People, Attorney General Holder Says

NPR News - Tue, 2014-09-23 13:38

For the first time in more than 40 years, both the overall crime rate and the overall incarceration rate have fallen by around 10 percent in a roughly five-year span, the attorney general says.

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VIDEO: Woolly mammoth skeleton up for auction

BBC - Tue, 2014-09-23 13:33
A rare skeleton of a woolly mammoth is set to be sold at auction in the UK in November with a guide price of £150,000 to £250,000

Student loan default rates don't tell the whole story

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-09-23 13:30

This week, the U.S. Department of Education will release data on the percentage of borrowers who have defaulted on federal student loans over the last three years. Schools with high rates of default face consequences.

There are new standards. According to Nick Hillman, an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Education, a college doesn’t want its default rate to hit 40 percent a year, or 30 percent over three years:  “They eventually could lose access to not just their student loans, but also Pell Grants and other types of federal aid, which can rack up to millions of dollars, depending on the institution.”

If a school is worried about its default rate, Hillman says, that institution will try hard to lower it. “There’s a lot of gaming that can happen, and just really weak incentives and penalties involved with current policies,” he says. Schools can push students to ask for forbearance, or defer payments.

According to Thomas Weko, a managing researcher in the American Institutes for Research’s education program, “Not that many institutions fail to meet this test.” After the government released the last data set on default rates, it penalized eight schools out of some 6,000.  Weko says a school that is worried about its default rate can hire consultants for tracking borrowers who are at risk of default, “doing sort of briefings and trainings with students.” A college that can’t lower its default rate, Weko adds, definitely has problems navigating the federal financial aid system.

“It’s like knowing where the speed camera is, and still getting it wrong,” he jokes.

According to Jacob Gross, a professor in the University of Louisville’s College of Education and Human Development, this highlights a bigger issue. “I think a real important part of this debate is whose fault is default,” he says.

Is default the student’s burden? Or the institution’s? And the federal government doesn’t always consider a would-be borrowers’ credit risk the way private lenders can.

Nationalist anger at 'parades move'

BBC - Tue, 2014-09-23 13:21
A nationalist residents' group says it is angered by reports of a government plan to set up a legal inquiry into the issue of parades.

VIDEO: DiCaprio: Climate change 'not a fiction'

BBC - Tue, 2014-09-23 13:21
The Hollywood actor, Leonardo DiCaprio, tells a UN climate change meeting in New York that climate change is not ''a fiction''.

Insurance Brokers Key To Kentucky's Obamacare Success

NPR News - Tue, 2014-09-23 13:20

Many brokers feared the new federal health law would make them obsolete. But more than 40 percent of people who signed up for insurance via Kentucky's state exchange used a broker.

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Vatican arrests ex-envoy over abuse

BBC - Tue, 2014-09-23 13:05
The Vatican places its former ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Jozef Wesolowski, under house arrest on charges of sexually abusing children.

Arsenal 1-2 Southampton

BBC - Tue, 2014-09-23 13:01
Southampton come from behind to beat Arsenal in a superb Capital One Cup third-round tie at the Emirates Stadium.

Pilot dies as two aircraft collide

BBC - Tue, 2014-09-23 13:00
A pilot dies when two single-seater light aircraft collide in mid-air over Bedfordshire, causing one to crash to the ground.

Big Sponsors May Find It Hard To Break Up With The NFL

NPR News - Tue, 2014-09-23 12:59

Companies like Anheuser-Busch pay hundreds of millions to be identified with the NFL's aura. The last thing they want is to be associated with scandal, but it might be financially tough to walk away.

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Activists occupy coal-carrying train

BBC - Tue, 2014-09-23 12:58
Greenpeace activists halt a train carrying 1,500 tonnes of coal to a power station, the campaign group says.

Leeds appoint Milanic as head coach

BBC - Tue, 2014-09-23 12:51
Leeds United appoint Slovenian Darko Milanic as their new head coach to replace the sacked Dave Hockaday,

'Black-ish' is a sitcom unafraid of big questions

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-09-23 12:43

“black-ish” is being hailed for bringing new ideas to the family sitcom landscape, but it's all very familiar for creator Kenya Barris.

“My wife is a doctor, we have five kids. We kind of came from humble beginnings and pulled ourselves up," Barris says. "[Then we] looked around at who our kids were, looked around at our friends’ kids, and kept having that same conversation over and over: We didn't really recognize the life that they were living compared to the life we were living."

That closely resembles the premise of "black-ish," which stars Anthony Anderson as a successful marketing executive who's worried his family — his four children, his wife (a doctor) and his father — have lost sight of their roots.

"Black-ish" also stars Tracee Ellis Ross and Laurence Fishburne. Larry Wilmore helped craft the first season before leaving for his own Comedy Central show.

Wilmore says he was on board as soon as he read the first page of the script. "black-ish" tackled race as a social issue, putting it at the center of the plot, not the sidebar.

"There was content on this show that I felt hadn't been on television in a long time," Wilmore says. "And the fact that he was so honest about race: It wasn’t a family that happened to be black.”

The show, which debuts Wednesday on ABC, has already drawn praise for the way it handles nuances of race, class and identity. TV critic Alan Sepinwall wrote that "black-ish" has a smart, defined point-of-view while still achieving the sitcom ideal of "mak[ing] the universal specific and the specific universal." NPR called it one of the fall's best new shows and the A.V. Club wrote that "Black-ish" refreshingly brings more perspectives and ideas to prime time, instead of just "'diversity' for diversity's sake."

For more on "black-ish," listen to Kai's conversation with Barris and Wilmore in the audio player above.

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