National / International News

Life without European luxuries goes on

BBC - Wed, 2015-06-24 15:04
Russian officials are striking a defiant tone over the renewal of EU sanctions, but for business and workers its another matter.

VIDEO: South Africa cabs clean up their act

BBC - Wed, 2015-06-24 15:03
South African mini-bus taxi drivers are trying to change the negative image of being rude, aggressive and scruffy.

VIDEO: Taking giraffes for a scientific walk

BBC - Wed, 2015-06-24 15:02
How zoo giraffes are helping veterinary scientists to find out if very long, spindly legs are a help or a hindrance for walking.

Flintoff & Vaughan on 2005 Ashes win

BBC - Wed, 2015-06-24 15:00
'Just smash it Kevin.' Five 2005 Ashes stories from England heroes Michael Vaughan, Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison.

Bernie Sanders Walks A Fine Line On Gun Control

NPR News - Wed, 2015-06-24 14:48

"I think that urban America has got to respect what rural America is about, where 99 percent of the people in my state who hunt are law-abiding people," the 2016 hopeful told NPR's David Greene.

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Queen stresses need for Europe unity

BBC - Wed, 2015-06-24 14:25
The Queen speaks of the need for unity in Europe, and the danger of division, in a speech to German and UK leaders at a state banquet in Berlin.

Obama Administration Acts To Ease Family Detentions

NPR News - Wed, 2015-06-24 14:22

Families detained after illegal border crossings will be allowed to post bond, but that doesn't please either side of the immigration debate.

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Texas Abortion Curbs Go Into Effect Soon, Unless Supreme Court Acts

NPR News - Wed, 2015-06-24 14:09

A controversial 2013 law, which will likely leave just nine clinics open in the state, is set to go into effect July 1. Abortion rights supporters have asked the Supreme Court to intervene.

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VIDEO: China's farmers-turned-millionaires

BBC - Wed, 2015-06-24 14:00
How one family went from a farming life to becoming self-made millionaires.

VIDEO: Which countries pay ransoms? 60 secs

BBC - Wed, 2015-06-24 13:52
Which countries pay ransoms for hostages? - In 60 seconds

Dynamic Duos: How To Get More Nutrition By Pairing Foods

NPR News - Wed, 2015-06-24 13:51

Adding eggs to salads helps us absorb the beneficial pigments like beta carotene in the raw vegetables, a new study finds. Here are other foods that, when eaten together, pack a more nutritious punch.

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Colombia military 'knew of killings'

BBC - Wed, 2015-06-24 13:38
Human Rights Watch says it has seen evidence suggesting that Colombia's top ranking military officers knew of the extrajudicial killings of civilians.

Cancer teen weds days before death

BBC - Wed, 2015-06-24 13:25
A terminally ill teenager marries his school sweetheart three days before dying from leukaemia.

Rebel flag backlash grows in US

BBC - Wed, 2015-06-24 13:08
Anger at the presence of Confederate symbols on state buildings is growing, with Alabama removing the flag and other southern states taking action.

Greece's tax collectors face public hostility

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-06-24 13:05

The deal that is now under discussion between Greece and its creditors would involve the country paying a lot more tax.

That’s bad news for Maria Papadopoulou. She’s a tax official and would be required to collect more revenue — no easy task when you consider what she and her colleagues already face from the reluctant taxpayers of Athens.

“Physical threats, swearing, spitting and sometimes they even try to grab you. We have that on a daily basis." she says. “They threaten you, your mother, your family. This is their way of expressing their anger and their depression.”

Papadopoulou describes her job in Greece’s tax collection agency as “underpaid and difficult.” So why do it?

“Two reasons,” she says. “For the medical insurance and a steady paycheck.”

Hari Theoharis

Stephen Beard

Antagonism towards the tax collectors in Greece is aimed at the humblest officials — and the highest. Hari Theoharis became the Greek equivalent of the head of the Internal Revenue Service in 2013 with a mission to crack down on evasion, and soon his office was getting some menacing phone calls saying: “You know, it would only cost 5,000 euros to have his legs broken.”

Today, he plays down the threat. 

“The police always assessed it as not an organized thing. Nobody will come round and break my legs. Hopefully,” he says.

Nevertheless, only 17 months into a five-year term, Theoharis quit the agency after intense political pressure to lay off investigating well-connected individuals and to lighten the crackdown ahead of an election. 

Aristides Hatzis

Stephen Beard

“Those things increased more and more, and instead of doing my job, I would have to deal with pressure of that kind on a daily basis.” he says. “I was relieved to get out.” His departure from the tax office led to a new career in politics and he now represents the centrist To Potami party in the Greek parliament.  

 The fate of Theoharis was no surprise to Aristides Hatzis, a professor of law and economics at the University of Athens. 

Cronyism and corruption have further undermined the willingness of millions of ordinary Greeks to pay their taxes.  “The problem with Theoharis was that he was very good at his job, so his behavior annoyed a lot of people — especially economically and politically powerful people,” Hatzis says.  

“I understand their reluctance," says tax collector Papadopoulou. But I don’t condone it.”  

Under pressure from its creditors, Greece raised an extra $1 billion in revenue last year, but it’s estimated that more than $50 billion is owed in unpaid back taxes. The tax collectors will have their work cut out for them. 

Netflix sale nets investor $993 million

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-06-24 13:01

There's a reason people pay so much attention to Carl Icahn — the corporate raider/activist investor, depending on how you want to characterize him. It's because he knows what he's doing.

On Wednesday morning, Icahn tweeted out that he'd closed his position in Netflix, that is, sold off the last of his stock.

Sold last of our $NFLX today. Believe $AAPL currently represents same opportunity we stated NFLX offered several years ago.

— Carl Icahn (@Carl_C_Icahn) June 24, 2015
He bought 10 percent of the company three years ago at $58 a share; it topped $700 a pop this morning.

Icahn walked away with $993 million from Wednesday's sale, but is estimated to have earned about $2 billion total over the past three years from his investment in Netflix

Not all food company mergers are equal

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-06-24 12:57

A federal judge has put the brakes on Sysco's planned acquisition of US Foods, which the Federal Trade Commission challenged for anti-trust reasons. Analysts don't expect that regulators will get as worked up over a merger between the European grocery chains Ahold and Delhaize, which both generate a big chunk of their sales in the U.S. 

If Sysco and US Foods teamed up, critics feared that restaurants, hotels and hospitals would have a harder time price shopping for supplies. The combined firm would dominate more than half of the food distribution market, according to Brian Buhr, a professor of applied economics at the University of Minnesota. Buhr says Sysco and US Foods are already dominant market players, operating far more distribution centers than their competitors, but it’s a very different picture with grocery chains. 

“There are more of them and they are equally sized,” he says. 

Ahold operates the Stop & Shop and Giant chains in the U.S., along with the online grocer Peapod. Delhaize runs Food Lion and Hannaford. Mike Paglia, director of retail insights with Kantar Retail, says the Ahold/Delhaize tie-up will likely boost profitability through cost-cutting. But he doubts the combined firm will have any greater success differentiating itself in a competitive marketplace. 

“One of the defining characteristics of the food landscape in the U.S. is this enormous level of fragmentation,” he says. “Ahold and Delhaize and their banners don’t do anything remarkable to stand out.”

US indicts Colombia gang members

BBC - Wed, 2015-06-24 12:56
United States courts in New York and Miami bring charges against 17 members of one of Colombia's top criminal organisations, Clan Usuga.

Senate Passes Fast-Track Trade Legislation 60-38

NPR News - Wed, 2015-06-24 12:50

The vote is a victory for President Obama, giving him final approval of legislation that enhances his power to negotiate trade deals.

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England U21 1-3 Italy U21

BBC - Wed, 2015-06-24 12:44
England Under-21s' European Championship comes to an end in the group stages as they lose 3-1 against Italy.