National / International News

Labour plans nurses recruitment drive

BBC - Mon, 2015-04-20 13:19
Labour would launch an emergency recruitment drive to get 1,000 more nurses into training this year if they win the election, Ed Miliband will say.

Army supplies fall from helicopter

BBC - Mon, 2015-04-20 13:15
Army supplies including hot sauce and chewing gum fall from a Chinook helicopter into a Cardiff field.

Federal Panel Revisits Contested Recommendation On Mammograms

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-20 13:08

In 2009, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force said the benefits of mammograms for women under 50 were small at best. A firestorm ensued. Now the organization is back with the same message.

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Norway is the first country to kill FM radio

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-04-20 13:06

File this under: "Digital killed the radio star."

Norway says it's going to turn off its FM radio spectrum in 2017. You already know why, I'm sure.

The Ministry of Culture says going all ones and zeros will provide "access to more diverse and pluralistic radio content and enjoy better sound quality and new functionality."

Also, it'll save the government $25 million a year.

Halliburton woes cause jitters in North Dakota

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-04-20 13:01

Scott Nyberg comes from a Halliburton family. His dad works for the oilfield services provider in North Dakota’s oil patch. So does Nyberg.

And his brother did, too, until recently.  

“It's unnerving. Made you a little nervous if you were next,” Nyberg says.

Halliburton, one of the nation's biggest oilfield services providers, took a hit in the first quarter of the year. Its profits dropped $643 million, thanks in part to a massive decline in oil prices, which has slowed demand for Halliburton's drilling services. Halliburton has responded to the slowdown by cutting 9,000 workers, some in North Dakota, the nation’s second largest oil producer.

Nyberg says Halliburton’s investment in his training soothes some of his fears of a layoff. The firm is sending him from his base in Williston, North Dakota. to Texas, where he’ll spend several months completing a training program. And unlike his brother, Nyberg has a mechanical engineering degree. He hopes that will help him stick around through the company's cost-cutting.

“There's still work to be had, and those who can endure and make those cuts and not just go belly up, will make it through,” he says. “And as bad as it is, when it turns around, there will be a mad rush of people to come back.”

But for now, the oilfield slowdown is spooking some workers, like Kevin Groener. He made a stop in Williston during a job scouting trip and quickly caught wind of layoffs around town. So he won't bring his girlfriend Billy Joe out for a look. They both need work.

“It's hard when you come out to an area like this and say, ‘Oh it's all going to be great and fine,’ ” he says. “I don't think I could grab Billy Joe here and make it great and fine.”

Why health stocks are doing so well

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-04-20 13:00

It’s a great time to own health stocks. In fact, over the past five years, the sector has outperformed most other industries.

via Morningstar

What’s driving the surge? Wunderlich Securities analyst Art Hogan says it’s easy as saying "ACA."

“Whether you are running a hospital, a doctor practice, a pharmaceutical company, there is more access to your product,” he says of the Affordable Care Act. Thanks to Obamacare, more than 11 million people are newly insured, which means a raft of new customers.

“Therefore, profitability in the healthcare sector is going to go with that,” says Hogan.

The health care law is just one source of success. Biotech firms are on fire, with saying those companies are up 18 percent this year, more than doubling the total sector. Bloomberg Intelligence Healthcare analyst Asthika Goonewardene says firms are developing innovative products.

“We are going through a phase where the science is very, very good. I don’t want to say you are guaranteed clinical success, but your chance of clinical success are really high,” he says.

Goonewardene points to Gilead’s highly effective hepatitis C treatment Sovaldi, which has generated more than $10 billion in revenue. A drug that helps patients, no doubt, but at $1,000 a pill, it’s expensive. It’s an issue that dogs big biotech blockbuster drugs.

“The question that comes to mind is, 'Okay, you are having all these great drugs come out. Who is going to pay for them?'”

That’s the big risk with these hot biotech firms. As a rule, Goonewardene says pricing questions send stock prices fluttering. And as companies likely deliver more powerful drugs, these questions will only intensify.

Google will prioritize mobile-friendly sites

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-04-20 13:00

Google is making a big change to its mobile search algorithm Tuesday. It will start giving priority to websites that it classifies as mobile-friendly, ones that have been designed specifically to work on smaller smart phone screens. This could have a huge impact on businesses that don't have mobile friendly sites. They will now appear lower on search rankings. 

And it’s not just small businesses that haven't adapted. Large companies including Nintendo, Versace and Kroger all have sites that Google has classified as not being mobile-friendly. 

Google announced the changes in late February to give websites time to redesign. Its announcement warned that this change “will have a significant impact on our search results.”

Lamb with five legs born on farm

BBC - Mon, 2015-04-20 12:44
A lamb with five legs is born at a farm in mid Wales.

Meet The 'Accidental Activists' Of The Supreme Court's Same-Sex Marriage Case

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-20 12:27

The legal battle over same-sex marriage hits the Supreme Court next week. It's an extraordinarily high stakes clash, but the men and women at the center of it see themselves as incredibly ordinary.

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In Northwest, A Push To Protect Forest As Geothermal Projects Near

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-20 12:26

The Forest Service is set to open more than 80,000 acres for clean, renewable geothermal power in Washington state. But environmentalists are worried about damage to streams and old-growth forests.

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Teen 'groomed friend for terror plot'

BBC - Mon, 2015-04-20 12:05
A teenager 'ruthlessly exploited' a young man in a plot to carry out a murder similar to that of Fusilier Lee Rigby, a court has heard.

Team GB announce relay squads

BBC - Mon, 2015-04-20 12:05
Great Britain will take a team of 22 to the World Relay Championships in the Bahamas on 2 and 3 May.

Saudi Airstrikes Raise Doubts Abroad, Spark Patriotic Fervor At Home

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-20 12:05

Much of the world is skeptical about the wisdom of the bombing raids in Yemen. But Saudis are rallying around their new king, Salman, and his son, the defense minister.

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You Don't Want To Mess With An Angry Mother

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-20 11:59

Phyllis Omido's toddler had a mysterious ailment. After doctors came up with a diagnosis, she set out to shut down a Kenyan polluter. Now she's won the Goldman Environmental Prize for her work.

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Appetite For Gulf Seafood Is Back, But The Crabs And Oysters Aren't

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-20 11:32

Five years after the BP oil spill, the public has stopped asking whether seafood from the Gulf is safe to eat. But now there's a supply issue, and fishermen worry about the future of their industry.

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'Hamilton now has a different aura'

BBC - Mon, 2015-04-20 11:28
A relaxed Lewis Hamilton remains dominant but Kimi Raikkonen & McLaren have upped their games, says the BBC's David Coulthard.

VIDEO: Miliband on Ed Balls as chancellor

BBC - Mon, 2015-04-20 11:16
Labour leader Ed Miliband says Ed Balls "would make an excellent chancellor" should his party win the general election.

'Post And Courier' Of Charleston, S.C., Wins Pulitzer For Public Service

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-20 11:11

The newspaper's series examined why South Carolina is among the deadliest states for women in the U.S. Anthony Doerr won the prize for fiction for All the Light We Cannot See.

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Doctors Don't Always Ask About Pet-Related Health Risks

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-20 11:07

People can pick up germs and parasites from their pets, and some of them can be nasty. Health care providers for all species could do a better job of communicating the risks, a study finds.

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Cirque du Soleil sells to private equity groups

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-04-20 11:01

This week's mergers and acquisitions news involves a former fire breather, acrobats, contortionists and a group of high-flying private equity firms.

Cirque du Soleil, the no-animals, highly stylized performance troupes with shows around the world will be sold for $1.5 billion Canadian, a little over $1.2 billion U.S.

That's a long way from its origins. 

Founder Guy Laliberte, "was a fire-breather and a busker who played an accordion," says New York Times reporter Ian Austen, who reported on the sale Monday. "It started as a kind of hippie commune with pay-as-you-want shows."

A grant from the provincial government of Quebec helped launch the company into its much wider renown and success. Fast-forward a few decades, and there's still a lot of local pride tied up in the company's success. 

"Quebec is a pretty small place and [Laliberte] is literally one of six billionaires who live in the province, so it's hyper, hyper sensitive. Plus, they're a big employer in Quebec," Austen says. 

The company is privately held and keeps its financials close to the vest, but it insists it's profitable, despite financial hurdles that were exacerbated in 2008. 

"[Laliberte] had kind of pulled back to literally go off into space in a Soyuz capsule," Austen says. "For the first time in their history, 25 years at that point, they had shows that fizzled out."

Laliberte returned in 2012 and began implementing aggressive cost controls. Four hundred employees were laid off, and shows that weren't working out were cut. The phenomenon that started as a ragtag group of street performers had grown unchecked since its founding in 1985. It was time for financial discipline and focus. 

Rather than gut the company further, Cirque du Soleil hopes the infusion of cash and influence from private equity will pull back the curtain on the biggest market it's yet to tap: China.

"What this is ultimately about," Austen says, "is to find a successful way into the Chinese market to take advantage of the growing middle class there."

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