National / International News

The science news highlights of 2014

BBC - Wed, 2014-12-24 16:16
Science and environment news highlights from 2014

The draw of the Christmas Day swim

BBC - Wed, 2014-12-24 16:15
The draw of the Christmas Day swim

VIDEO: Unearthing Brazil's hidden slavery past

BBC - Wed, 2014-12-24 16:14
The major construction work in Rio de Janeiro ahead of the 2016 Olympics is unearthing a wealth of material from the city's dark past as a major port in the slave trade.

Brazil's hidden slavery past unveiled

BBC - Wed, 2014-12-24 16:13
Rio's grim slavery past surfaces during development

Swiss monastery opens doors to asylum seekers

BBC - Wed, 2014-12-24 16:11
Swiss monastery opens doors to asylum seekers

Jack O'Connell's Hollywood breakthrough

BBC - Wed, 2014-12-24 16:09
Why Jack O'Connell is the talk of Hollywood

Indian Ocean tsunami: Then and now

BBC - Wed, 2014-12-24 16:07
Images of transformation 10 years on from the Indian Ocean tsunami

VIDEO: Sizing up Burton's Big Eyes

BBC - Wed, 2014-12-24 16:05
Talking Movies' Tom Brook talks to Tim Burton about his latest film Big Eyes - the story of Walter Keane, who rose to fame by passing his wife's artwork off as his own.

VIDEO: Christmas marked in Bethlehem

BBC - Wed, 2014-12-24 15:48
Christians from around the world have gathered in Bethlehem to celebrate Christmas.

Who, What, Why: The questions of 2014 answered

BBC - Wed, 2014-12-24 15:31
The questions of 2014, answered succinctly

How France has forgotten the Christmas truce soldiers

BBC - Wed, 2014-12-24 15:27
How France has forgotten the WW1 enemies who shook hands

Christmas 'not a fairytale' - Welby

BBC - Wed, 2014-12-24 15:12
Fairytale endings do not reflect the true spirit of Christmas, the Archbishop of Canterbury is expected to say in his Christmas Day sermon, which alludes to the battlefield truce of 1914.

VIDEO: Monastery home for asylum seekers

BBC - Wed, 2014-12-24 15:06
Swiss Monastery Einsiedeln Abbey has taken in around 30 asylum seekers from Eritrea.

Man charged with grandson's murder

BBC - Wed, 2014-12-24 15:00
The grandfather of a nine-year-old boy found dead in Lincoln is charged with his murder.

Pope Francis phones Iraqi refugees

BBC - Wed, 2014-12-24 14:50
Pope Francis speaks by telephone to Iraqi refugees in a camp near Irbil before celebrating Christmas Eve Mass at St Peter's.

How to close a deal on a Christmas tree

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-12-24 14:30

Ernest Parker Jr. sells trees at Frosty’s Christmas trees in Los Angeles. But selling trees is really more of a hobby for Parker, who used to work for the health department. He says his wife told him he had to find something to do after he retired.

“It’s not so much about the money for me, it’s something to do, it keeps me in shape,” Parker says.

Even after seven years working at the same stand, Parker says he looks forward to selling trees every year.

“We’re a big part of this community now, so it’s a great pleasure to work here on this lot," Parker says. 

Spain's king condemns corruption

BBC - Wed, 2014-12-24 14:25
Spain's new King Felipe VI attacks corruption in his Christmas Eve address, but does not mention his sister's forthcoming tax fraud trial.

Modern gift-wrap tradition has ties to Hallmark

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-12-24 13:53

Maybe you’ve already started wrapping your holiday presents. Or maybe you’re one of those up-past-midnight-on Christmas-Eve types.

Either way, the Christmas wrapping session is a holiday tradition. You put the kids to bed, maybe pour yourself a glass of wine and line up the tape, the scissors and the rolls of printed paper.

But where did this ritual come from?

“Have you read "Little Women?" my friend Nancy asks. “The opening chapter is about the girls deciding that they’re giving up their Christmas gifts to help a poor family, and then they decide to use their allowance money to each buy a present for their mother. Somebody gives her a handkerchief, somebody else gives her perfume, and they don’t really wrap them. They tie a rose onto it I think – or some kind of flower.”

Turns out, wrapping presents – especially in paper printed with holiday scenes – is a relatively new thing.

In the early 20th century, “there was plain paper. So there may have been solid white, solid red, green that a package could have been wrapped in,” says Sharman Roberts, the archivist and historian for Hallmark.

An accident of sorts changed things, she says. 

In 1917, J.C. and Rollie Hall – the guys who would go on to found Hallmark – had a stationary shop in downtown Kansas City. They sold out of the plain wrapping paper, so Rollie went back to the warehouse for more. Instead, he brought back sheets of fancy French paper.

“They were printed in bold colors, lots of patterns, very stylized, and we used them for envelope liners at that time,” Roberts says.

The papers flew off the shelves, and, boom: an industry was born.

By the 1920s Hallmark was printing its own wrapping paper. Today, the gift-wrap industry is worth more than $3 billion.

And for some people, the annual opportunity to wrap stacks of presents is no chore.

It is a privilege.

I made a gift-wrapping date with my friends Laura Weber Davis and Nancy Kaffer. Davis is a producer for Detroit Public Radio, and Kaffer is a columnist for the Detroit Free Press. They – we – are women who make our living writing and talking about Serious Things.

And gift wrapping is serious business.

“I come from a family of gift-wrappers,” Laura says. “My grandfather was a [World War II] engineer and carried his military precision on to wrapping.”

There are rules to wrapping.

No. 1: No gift bags.

“Everyone who’s really obsessed with wrapping presents knows gift bags are a shoddy substitute. They’re the poor man’s gift-wrap package,” Nancy says.

Another rule: No shiny tape.

“I’m also weird about not using more paper than I need to,” Laura says as she demonstrates her measuring and cutting skills, honed during three years she spent working the gift-wrap counter at a department store. Nancy and I are a little jealous.

Nancy tries her hand at a rather elaborate trick, using an X-acto knife to slice a star out of a piece of paper that will go over a contrasting paper, concealing a box of Lego Friends.

We talk about the right balance of papers under the tree, the beauty of a perfectly offset bow, and the fact that the care we put into these packages is worth the time an effort, even when our handiwork is ripped to shreds by some kid.

It’s a little bit like the Tao,” says Nancy. ”It’s the way and the goal.”

 

Mishandling Of Ebola Sample May Have Exposed CDC Technician To Virus

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-24 13:43

The worker will be monitored for symptoms. Officials are investigating the incident, in which the virus was moved from a high-security lab to a low-security lab at the CDC's headquarters in Atlanta.

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VIDEO: Space station visible in London skies

BBC - Wed, 2014-12-24 13:37
The International Space Station was visible on two occasions as it moved across the London skyline on Wednesday evening.

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