National / International News

As Russia And The West Trade Shots Across The Bow, Kiev Looks On

NPR News - Thu, 2014-03-20 12:00

As the White House widens sanctions against Vladimir Putin's inner circle, Russia's retaliating with some of its own. Meanwhile, Ukrainians are looking on, concerned about further Russian incursion.

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Can this radar spot a missing plane?

BBC - Thu, 2014-03-20 11:52
A new advanced radar system has been tested successfully by scientists, but could it make a difference in the search for the missing plane?

Walmart's "Black Friday" of garden supplies: More than a marketing ploy

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-03-20 11:50

Yesterday was the official start of Spring and to mark the occasion, Walmart is launching a “Black Friday”-like sale for outdoor items. Black Friday, of course, kicks-off the Christmas shopping season and it’s when retailers make most of their profits. But is there really a Black-Friday-like demand for gardening and outdoor supplies in the spring? 

"The spring selling season is the most important season for homecenters when you talk about Lowes and Home Depot," said Drew Reading, a homecenter analyst at Bloomberg Industries.

"Last year, Home Depot’s seasonal business was about 30 percent of their total sales for the year," Reading said. People are buying "things like outdoor power equipment, you know lawn mowers, live plants, patio sets and bar-b-ques."

Laura Kennedy, an analyst at Kantar Retail, said consumers spent about $30 billion dollars on these items last year. She adds that Walmart’s Spring sale isn’t new, Lowes and Home Depot have had similar sales for years now. And they have a loyal base.

"I believe Home Depot said that they’re top garden customers visit four times as often as their other shoppers and so they’re really in with the serious gardeners," she said. 

Kennedy doesn’t think Walmart wants to be a heavy weight in the home improvement business. Instead, it wants to pick off customers, who come in for the Spring deals, and hopefully get them hooked on buying other stuff.

Anti-gay church founder Phelps dies

BBC - Thu, 2014-03-20 11:40
Fred Phelps Sr, the founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, which was widely known for its inflammatory anti-gay protests, has died, his family say.

Awash In Cash, Drug Cartels Rely On Big Banks To Launder Profits

NPR News - Thu, 2014-03-20 11:39

Drug lords face a recurring problem: what to do with all that cash? Time and again, they have managed to launder their fortunes through some of the world's leading banks.

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Robert Strauss, Former Party Chairman And Power Broker, Dies At 95

NPR News - Thu, 2014-03-20 11:17

Strauss, a well-connected Texas lawyer who served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, advised presidents from both parties.

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Google Says It's Beefed Up Encryption Because Of NSA Revelations

NPR News - Thu, 2014-03-20 11:08

Google says it is now encrypting data as it moves between its servers and every session of Gmail will use a secure connection. The government has said tech companies knew the NSA was collecting data.

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Businesses take advantage of lax regulations on drones

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-03-20 11:07

The Washington Nationals baseball team got into a bit of trouble with the Federal Aviation Administration a couple of weeks ago. They were using a drone to take aerial pictures of spring training -- the kind of shots that are pretty much impossible for a human to capture.

The FAA said that nobody can do anything commercial with drones until it says so. The FAA has since lost a round in court on that issue, but while it works on new regulations, there are loopholes -- and business opportunities.

Josh Ziering runs a San Francisco-based company called QuiQui, which delivers pharmaceuticals via drone 24 hours a day. Ziering said he knows he has a battle on his hands.

“I would describe myself as a trouble maker,” said Ziering. “So we’re going to cause as much trouble as possible until they’re ready to create regulation and make this industry happen.”  

We asked Ziering what he would do if the regulations mapped out by the FAA prohibit him from running his business.

“We would love for the FAA to have regulations that allowed for drones,” said Ziering. “And if it unfortunately excluded us from those regulations that would be tragic. But at the same time, the FAA is only for America. So there is literally an entire world of people that we can deliver things to.”

Budget highlights philosophical divide

BBC - Thu, 2014-03-20 10:48
James Landale on philosophical divisions highlighted by the Budget

Helicopter victims died 'instantly'

BBC - Thu, 2014-03-20 10:40
Four men, including Northern Ireland peer Lord Ballyedmond, were killed instantly when a helicopter crashed, an inquest hears.

Heads fear free school meal cash loss

BBC - Thu, 2014-03-20 10:33
Head teachers worry that schools could lose pupil premium cash

Warning over Budget pension changes

BBC - Thu, 2014-03-20 10:30
Pensions changes announced in the chancellor's Budget have clear advantages for pensioners but are based on "highly uncertain assumptions" the Institute for Fiscal Studies says.

Happy International Gary Oldman Day

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-03-20 10:30

Here's what's coming up on Friday, March 21, 2014:  

  • Actor Gary Oldman, known for roles in Sid and Nancy, The Dark Knight and Dracula, turns 56, so we should send up the bat signal and call for champagne. 
  • Jeweler Tiffany is scheduled to release its quarterly earnings.
  • The infamous Alcatraz penitentiary closed its doors in 1963. At any time, “The Rock” housed less than one percent of the total federal prison population, and more than one million tourists visit every year.

 

VIDEO: Thieves tunnel their way to cash machine

BBC - Thu, 2014-03-20 10:28
Thieves who built a 50ft (15m) tunnel to a cash machine in Salford got away with more than £80,000.

PC jailed for sex abuse of teenager

BBC - Thu, 2014-03-20 10:26
An award-winning police officer is jailed for 18 months for sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl.

Reds Pitcher Expected To Recover After Line Drive To Face

NPR News - Thu, 2014-03-20 10:23

Aroldis Chapman suffered fractures above his eye and nose, but only a mild concussion and no brain injury. The All-Star will have a plate inserted into his head and should return this season.

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AirBnB got 99 problems but going public ain't one

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-03-20 10:22

AirBnB is the enormously popular company that lets you rent out your home, apartment, or room to complete strangers.   It's not clear that it's technically always legal in every city, or even permitted by most leases.  The hotel industry is none too enthused either.  But the company is still considering going public, and may end up being valued as high as $10 billion.  In fact, such pressures are common for startups.  In the pharmaceutical industry, for example, companies will go public even before a drug is approved by the FDA.  As for any investment, there's always an amount of risk.  If the problems aren't an existential threat, it's all part of the game.  

AirBnB got 99 problems but goin' public ain't one

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-03-20 10:22

AirBnB is the enormously popular company that lets you rent out your home, apartment, or room to complete strangers.   It's not clear that it's technically always legal in every city, or even permitted by most leases.  The hotel industry is none too enthused either.  But the company is still considering going public, and may end up being valued as high as $10 billion.  In fact, such pressures are common for startups.  In the pharmaceutical industry, for example, companies will go public even before a drug is approved by the FDA.  As for any investment, there's always an amount of risk.  If the problems aren't an existential threat, it's all part of the game.  

Beatles Help! jackets fetch £115,000

BBC - Thu, 2014-03-20 10:19
Jackets worn by George Harrison and Ringo Starr in The Beatles' 1965 film Help! are sold at action for £115,000.

Drought-resistant gardens can be more than gravel

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-03-20 10:19

As the California drought continues, it’s hard to look at all the lush lawns without thinking about the water that goes into keeping them green. In Los Angeles, the city will actually pay you to rip up your grass.

But a gravel-covered yard isn’t that appealing, unless you are a toddler with a taste for rocks.

“I think that the biggest myth that should be dispelled is that native plant gardens are wild and ugly and look dead during part of the year,” said Lili Singer, with the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers and Native Plants. With drought-resistant natives, you can have lush gardens with flowers.

But it takes time for them to grow in, and it takes some work. You can’t just pop a plant in the ground and walk away.

“When you first put in a drought-tolerant garden,” Singer said, “it isn’t drought tolerant the day you put it in. These are coming from a nursery, they’re little babies."

At Theodore Payne’s nursery, garden designer Wynne Wilson looks at buckwheat, sage, and heuchera, “I’m like a chocoholic in Candyland."

Low-impact gardens can be quite sophisticated.  You have to think about the soil, the sun, the plants, the texture, the time of year they’ll bloom, and how to get them water.

“It’s extremely important how we water these new gardens,” Wilson said.

Modern irrigation systems have moved well beyond sprinklers on timers. They waste less water and they have a lot of moving parts. There are computers, ground sensors, even a 6-inch satellite dish you put on your house that communicates with weather satellites about humidity and temperature.

“We just did a 2,000 square foot front garden, completely new, with the irrigation we did all of our beautiful systems, and that was approximately $3,500,” Wilson said. 

Of course, you don’t need a satellite or a $3,500 irrigation system to have a lovely drought-resistant garden.

Just some knowledge about plants, a $10 garden hose, and the time to water each plant one at at time. 

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