National / International News

US to send military advisers to Iraq

BBC - Thu, 2014-06-19 12:38
President Obama says the US is sending up to 300 "military advisers" to Iraq and may take "targeted military action" against Islamist insurgents.

Blackberry shares jump on profit

BBC - Thu, 2014-06-19 12:36
Troubled smartphone maker Blackberry reports a surprise profit despite a big drop in revenues, as it looks to turn the business around.

Indians Caught In Middle Of Iraq's Worsening Crisis

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-19 12:34

India's new government faces its first major foreign policy test after the abduction of 40 Indian workers by suspected militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

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GOP Completes Leadership Shuffle, As McCarthy And Scalise Step Up

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-19 12:33

House Republicans voted on leadership positions. While Rep. Kevin McCarthy stepped up to the role of majority leader, Rep. Steve Scalise overcame a more crowded competition to replace McCarthy.

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American Apparel's Founder Is Out, Tailed By Reports Of Misconduct

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-19 12:12

The board of American Apparel has voted to removed the company's founder and CEO, Dov Charney, from his leadership positions. The decision follows allegations of sexual misconduct against Charney.

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Ukrainian Rebels Reject Cease-Fire, As Russian Troops Line Border

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-19 12:12

Pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine have rejected a cease-fire plan offered by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

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Obama Plans To Send Advisers To Iraq, Leaving Air Strikes On Table

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-19 12:12

President Obama spoke at the White House briefing room to announce next steps in Iraq. Conditions there continue to deteriorate, along with faith in the country's prime minister.

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Obama Lays Out Iraq Proposals, But What Lies Beyond?

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-19 12:12

Before the White House press corps Thursday, President Obama laid out his proposal for a U.S. military response in Iraq. He said he's prepared to send up to 300 military advisers to support Iraq's security forces, leaving open the possibility of targeted air strikes in the future. Melissa Block talks to retired Lt. Gen. Michael Barbero about Obama's plan.

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Before Votes Are Fully Counted, Fraud Claims Roil Afghan Election

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-19 12:12

Just hours after polls closed in Afghanistan's presidential election, candidate Abdullah Abdullah claimed the vote was rigged in favor of his opponent, Ashraf Ghani.

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From Supreme Court, Firm Support For Employee In Retaliation Case

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-19 12:12

The justices unanimously ruled that a public employee who testified about corruption should not have been punished for doing so. Going forward, though, some tricky questions are still undecided.

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New US House majority leader elected

BBC - Thu, 2014-06-19 12:08
US Congressman Kevin McCarthy becomes the second-ranking member of the House of Representatives in a Republican caucus leadership vote.

US Marine receives Medal of Honor

BBC - Thu, 2014-06-19 12:07
US President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Honor to a marine who rushed towards a live grenade to shield a comrade during a Taliban attack in Afghanistan.

Mine manager cleared over deaths

BBC - Thu, 2014-06-19 12:04
A former pit manager breaks down in tears as he is cleared of manslaughter after four miners drowned at the Gleision colliery.

NTSB: Truck Driver Who Hit Tracy Morgan's Limousine Was Speeding

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-19 11:57

Just before the June 7 accident, the driver of the semitrailer was traveling 20 mph over the speed limit, investigators say in a preliminary report.

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Cut Your Cake And Keep It (Fresh), Too

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-19 11:50

A British mathematician proclaimed in 1906 that there's a better way to cut a cake than dividing it into wedges. Now a video by Alex Bellos is bringing his method back to life.

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The 2014 primary season has been expensive

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-06-19 11:38

So far, the 2014 primary season has been busy and expensive. On Tuesday, there is a big election in Mississippi – a runoff between incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and his Republican challenger, Chris McDaniel. Outside groups have poured millions into the race, just as they have poured money into races across the country. There are Tea Party groups on one side, and on the other side is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber has been around since 1912, and it represents some 3 million businesses.

“This year, we have taken the most aggressive posture that we ever have,” says Rob Engstrom, the group’s national political director. He's the one responsible for ads that the Chamber puts out. “2014 will be the largest political program in the history of the Chamber of Commerce of the United States.”

In 2012, it shelled out more than $34 million, trying to defeat President Obama, and trying to help Republicans regain control of the Senate.

“After having squandered collectively five senate seats over the last two elections, we thought it was important to involve ourselves and engage ourselves using the Chamber’s brand,” says Engstrom.

The Chamber is spending more money, and it started spending it earlier – on candidates in primaries. The decision to do that came out of a meeting Engstrom convened last year, in Phoenix. According to him, it was “a constructive conversation,” and big donors were “candid” and “direct.” The upshot? “We’re ready to turn the page, and get back on offense,” says Engstrom.

So far, the Chamber has had a winning season. It backed Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Id.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in their races against Tea Party challengers.

“I can’t think of an example where they’ve really made a big investment and not had it succeed this year,” says Bob Biersack, a senior fellow at the Center for Responsive Politics.

In the run-up to 2012, conservative groups spent around $700 million. There is a lot of outside money this time around, but according to Biersack, it is being spent differently. “It’s being spent more professionally, I guess I would say.”

Engstrom says the group’s members expect that – they are executives and business owners. “You know, our members are bottom-line people.”

And in politics, as in business, they want a good R.O.I., a good return on their investments. It is up to Engstrom and his team to spend donors’ dollars wisely. An investor does due diligence. Engstrom says he meets personally with 150 candidates every cycle. He says he’s looking for people who are pro-business, who have a shot at winning.

“All these guys go home and campaign as conservatives, as fiscal conservatives,” says Russ Walker, the political director of FreedomWorks Action, a national Tea Party group. “But at the end of the day, that’s not always how they govern.”  According to Walker, FreedomWorks Action has spent more than $425,000 on the Republican primary in Mississippi.

Its donors also care about R.O.I., but Walker invests their money differently – less on ads and more on getting FreedomWorks Action’s members knocking on doors.

“They are the best communicator of that political message,” he explains. “They can carry on a conversation; whereas, if we run a 30- or 60-second spot, then really all we get is 30- or 60-seconds.”

This is a strategy many conservative groups seem to favor, at the national and the local level. Case in point: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s defeat last week.

Even if they won’t say so, these groups are fighting over nothing less than the future of the Republican Party.  

“You know, we are going to fight back, and we are going to involve ourselves in an aggressive manner with good manners and high integrity,” says Engstrom. “And then it’s going to be a barroom brawl.”

The Chamber of Commerce and Tea Party groups will try to land a few more punches this weekend, before the runoff Tuesday. Then, their focus shifts to the general election in November. After all, these are long-term investors. 

US imposes sanctions on Uganda

BBC - Thu, 2014-06-19 11:34
The White House announces visa restrictions and other measures on Uganda for anti-gay laws it says are "counter to universal human rights".

The Groundlings: comedy's proving ground

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-06-19 11:31

Before Will Farrell, Kristen Wiig and Will Forte rose to Saturday Night Live stardom, they all got their start at The Groundlings comedy club in Los Angeles.

The Groundlings was founded by Gary Austin in 1974 and has launched comedy careers for some of the biggest acts in the industry. If you think we’re exaggerating, you should check out this list of 40 years of alumni.

Lisa Schurga and Ryan Gaul both took classes at The Groundlings about a decade ago. In 2007, Schurga became an official Groundling (or "Main Company," in their words.)

"It was why I moved here from Boston... was mainly to become a Groundling," she says. "Anything else on top of that is gravy, but this is what I wanted to do." 

Gaul, on the other hand, got some solid advice from a friend before joining The Groundlings: 

"Because somebody told me a long time ago, 'If you wanna do something in entertainment, find out where the best people do it and go there and copy them... So I have -- for the last ten years -- copied people." 

Schurga and Gaul both teach classes at The Groundlings, and say that it's enough to make a living. 

When Schurga thought about a performance that stuck out, one scene she did with Jill Sachoff came to mind.

"I hadn't seen her costume or what wig she's wearing… should've known but I hadn't seen it. And so, the lights came up and we're singing and I turn and look at her... and she's given herself a full mono-brow... she had that [curly] wig on but she had it on as far back as she could so it looked like she was kind of balding with this curly wig. And she was dancing really hard and singing... and I peed on the stage."

Yeah.

And as for Gaul… well, it’s probably better if you listen to it:

Julian Assange 'fears for family'

BBC - Thu, 2014-06-19 11:22
Two years after he took refuge at the Ecuadorean embassy in London, the Wikileaks founder Julian Assange says he fears for the safety of his family.

House GOP Picks McCarthy For Majority Leader; Scalise Gets Whip

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-19 11:21

California's Kevin McCarthy replaces Rep. Eric Cantor in the No. 2 leadership post. Steve Scalise of Louisiana edged out two others for the No. 3 spot.

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