National / International News

Late Samuels blast foils England

BBC - Tue, 2015-04-21 14:29
England are frustrated by a counter-attacking unbeaten 94 by Marlon Samuels on a scrappy first day of the second Test.

VIDEO: Helicopter view of deadly migrant route

BBC - Tue, 2015-04-21 14:17
Richard Bilton travels by helicopter above the Mediterranean where hundreds have died, and speaks to those who have made it safely to the island of Lampedusa.

The activists are coming!

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-04-21 14:16
Every year, at about this time, many of America's public companies gather their shareholders together for their annual general meetings.

The AGM is a usually carefully choreographed affair, with the board doing its best to provide a canned, self-congratulatory narrative about the company's performance over the last 12 months, and issuing a bland-yet-optimistic forecast for the next year. 

More and more often these days, however, the kabuki performances are interrupted and disrupted by activist investors. These gadflies like to show up and throw hand grenades about the place, trying to force the board of directors to do things that most of them don't want to do: buy back shares; merge with other companies; ditch certain board members; the list goes on. If you don't know what an activist investor is, watch this short video for an explanation:

brightcove.createExperiences();

We all want things. The difference between most of us and activist investors is that they are prepared to spend lots of money and cause lots of pain until they get what they want. Last year was a particularly successful year for activist investors: they ousted the CEO of Sotheby's and  got shareholders to overthrow the entire boards of both Darden Restaurants and CommonWealth REIT, now renamed Equity Commonwealth. This year they're going after Tempur Sealy International, DuPont, MGM Resorts, Macerich and Shutterfly.

In his Dealbook column, Steven Davidoff Solomon, a professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley, says this year more sparks may fly than usual, because companies appear to be digging in their heels and pushing back. And it's not just companies. The heads of several big institutions (investors in those companies) have said publicly that they believe the current vogue for share buybacks — a favorite of shareholder activists — is bad for the economy. That may give companies heart as they announce their opposition to the activist scourge.  

At Last: Kentucky Authorities Bust Ring Behind Great Bourbon Heist

NPR News - Tue, 2015-04-21 14:15

In 2013, more than 200 bottles of pricey Pappy Van Winkle bourbon vanished from a Kentucky distillery. Tuesday authorities announced indictments in what appears to be a much bigger crime syndicate.

» E-Mail This

It was 'life and death' - Guardiola

BBC - Tue, 2015-04-21 14:12
Pep Guardiola says Bayern Munich's Champions League victory over Porto was as important as "life or death".

US DEA head Leonhart to step down

BBC - Tue, 2015-04-21 14:06
US Drug Enforcement Administration director Michele Leonhart is to step down after allegations that agents attended sex parties in Colombia funded by drug cartels.

Enraged US man shoots his computer

BBC - Tue, 2015-04-21 14:00
A man in the US city of Colorado faces police action after becoming so frustrated with his computer that he shot it eight times, police say.

Nine held in bourbon whiskey swoop

BBC - Tue, 2015-04-21 13:50
Nine people in Kentucky are charged with stealing large quantities of bourbon whiskey worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Too Often, Some Say, Volunteer Officers Just Want To Play Cop

NPR News - Tue, 2015-04-21 13:47

The fatal shooting of a suspect by a volunteer deputy in Tulsa, Okla., raises the question that some have already been asking: Why are nonprofessionals allowed to wear badges and carry guns?

» E-Mail This

In Sentencing Phase, Prosecutors Say Tsarnaev Is 'Unrepentant And Unchanged'

NPR News - Tue, 2015-04-21 13:45

A jury is now deciding whether Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should be put to death.

» E-Mail This

VIDEO: World's fastest trains - in 45 seconds

BBC - Tue, 2015-04-21 13:41
As a Japanese magnetic levitation train breaks the world speed record, the BBC reveals the world's fastest passenger trains.

VIDEO: The tribe defending Saudi-Yemeni border

BBC - Tue, 2015-04-21 13:36
As Saudi Arabia ends its bombing campaign against rebels in Yemen, the BBC's Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen gives his analysis on finding a political solution in Yemen.

TV deal leads to West Ham ticket cut

BBC - Tue, 2015-04-21 13:30
West Ham say they will reduce season ticket prices in 2016-17 because of the Premier League's record television deal.

Teaching Students To Hear The 'Music' In The Built World

NPR News - Tue, 2015-04-21 13:16

Cooper Union architecture professor Diana Agrest has influenced generations of accomplished architects. Now in her 70s, Agrest was one of the first women to teach in the largely male dominated field.

» E-Mail This

Poland to buy US Patriot missiles

BBC - Tue, 2015-04-21 13:10
Poland announces a major deal to buy Patriot surface-to-air missiles from the US, amid rising tensions with Russia over the Ukraine crisis.

Google's New Search Algorithm Stokes Fears Of 'Mobilegeddon'

NPR News - Tue, 2015-04-21 13:10

This week, Google started prioritizing mobile-friendly websites in Google searches made on a smartphone. The change could hurt businesses whose sites don't pass Google's mobile-ready test.

» E-Mail This

5 Million Chickens To Be Killed As Bird Flu Outbreak Puzzles Industry

NPR News - Tue, 2015-04-21 13:09

A flu strain deadly to chickens and turkeys is striking farms in the West and Midwest. This week, it hit an Iowa facility with millions of egg-laying hens. No one knows how it's entering houses.

» E-Mail This

Trouble on the chicken farm

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-04-21 13:00

Iowa is the top egg-producing state in the U.S. Unfortunately, the state found a flock of millions of hens infected with avian flu on Monday. The spread of this bird flu has accelerated concerns over how much the current outbreak will affect the U.S. egg and poultry industry. It’s said to be the worst case so far in a national outbreak.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the H5N2 bird flu virus was found at a farm in northwest Iowa's Osceola County. About 3.8 million hens will be euthanized there.

Although that is a very large number of birds, Ed Fryar, CEO of Ozark Mountain Poultry in Rogers, Arkansas, says it is actually a small number relative to the overall size of the flock that's in the U.S.

"The U.S will produce about nine billion brawlers this year," says Fryar. "It can be really tough on an individual farmer or an individual company, if you lose 10 or 20 or 50 million birds, but you’re still talking way less than one percent of the population."

Iowa was already among a list of states to have detected bird flu infections – killing over five million turkeys and chickens just this year.

Anti-tax measure complicates California drought effort

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-04-21 13:00

A California appeals court ruling has complicated water conservation efforts in the state. This week the 4th District Court of Appeal ruled the city of San Juan Capistrano’s tiered water rates violated Prop 218, an amendment to the state constitution. Tiered water rates discourage water waste by charging customers more as their water consumption goes up. They’re a key tool in California’s campaign to save water. At least two-thirds of water providers in the state use some form of tiered pricing.

When California voters passed Prop 218 in the mid-'90s, they had no clue it might gum up efforts to conserve water in a severe drought. The idea then was to plug what anti-tax groups saw as loopholes in Prop 13, the granddaddy of all California propositions. That one limits property taxes. Prop 218 limits certain property-related fees, from trash collection to water service.

Ellen Hanak, director of the Water Policy Center at the Public Policy Institute of California, says under Prop 218, those fees cannot exceed the cost of the service.

“Anybody who hears that will think, yeah, that sounds right," she says. "Why should they be allowed to charge us more than the cost of the service they’re delivering?” She said the law provided more transparency to government fees and costs.

The court ruled San Juan Capistrano hadn’t shown that its higher rates for big water users were directly tied to the costs of delivering the water. Tim Quinn, executive director for the Association of California Water Agencies, says higher water rates are commonly used to force conservation, “not so much to cover cost of service.”

“If that tool is off the table," Quinn says. "I don’t know what they’re going to do. It’s a very powerful tool, and it’s not clear to me that you’ll have an easy substitute."

But Tom Ash, a water rates expert and senior environmental resource planner at Inland Empire Utilities Agency, emphasized that the California court didn’t invalidate conservation pricing. It simply clarified the rules. “I’m not afraid of any of those guidelines,” Ash says. “I think they help us set up transparent, equitable and very practical rates.”

Many California water agencies have had to hire water rate consultants to help them design tiered rates that stay within Prop 218 guidelines. “It’s a complex task and so it takes a complex, sophisticated rate design to do all of that – to be fair, yet recover the cost of service,” Ash says.

Brian Gray, a professor at UC Hastings College of Law, said Prop 218’s conflict with drought efforts may lead some groups in the state to try to pass yet another proposition that would “harmonize Prop 218 with the compelling water conservation needs that we have in the current drought.” It might authorize higher tiered water rates as penalties, rather than fees.

US probe into police custody death

BBC - Tue, 2015-04-21 13:00
The US Department of Justice opens an investigation into the death of a black man who died in police custody in Baltimore.

Pages