National / International News

Briton in court over 'fatal punch'

BBC - Tue, 2015-02-10 02:02
A British man appears in court in Spain on suspicion of killing a man who had allegedly been filming his daughter, the Foreign Office confirms.

Wallpaper makes a comeback

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-02-10 02:00

When it comes to today’s wallpaper, pastel floral borders, mallard ducks and fake wood paneling are out. Graphic patterns, vibrant colors, earthy textures – in.

“This isn’t their mother’s wallpaper. That’s not what this is. This is artwork,” says Janice Biel, who’s shopping at Wallpaper Wallpaper in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.

She’s looking for paper for her kids’ bedrooms - leathery for her son, and something sparkly for her daughter. Already, Biel’s home is nearly covered in wallpaper.

“My foyer, for the paper alone was over $10,000. People are like, 'Oh my gosh,'” she says.

Mary Peschel has run this shop for 30 years, weathering wallpaper’s ups and downs. She says people are coming in now because they’re seeing modern designs and materials on TV and in magazines, and want to freshen up their homes.

“Something graphic, linear, your basic tones, greys, the neutral tones. But then again, you have a customer that comes in and says I want a paper that’s gonna make me feel happy,” Peschel says.

The market research firm Freedonia Group says U.S. wallpaper sales shot up more than 30 percent since 2010, and will hit $480 million this year.

“To provide some perspective, that’s coming out of a couple of years that were horrible, so the market is probably still smaller than it was in the heyday,” says Sean Samet, executive director of the Wallcoverings Association in Chicago.

Samet says during the recession, no one was spending money on remodeling or construction. Now that housing is back, he says wallpaper’s getting a boost.

And here’s maybe the best news: modern wallpaper is easier to put up, and to take down, when we inevitably decide that it’s just so tacky once again.

Miami condo-buyers aren't homeowners. They're traders.

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-02-10 02:00

Miami’s building boom has featured prominently in many stories about the threat the city faces from rising seas and a changing climate. Scientists warn that parts of greater Miami — including some of its crucial water infrastructure — will be below sea level within a few decades. Meanwhile, developers are pouring many billions of dollars into many thousands of new condominiums and offices.

However, downtown Miami's condo explosion turns out to run on its own financial logic — far removed from rising seas.

Peter Zalewski runs Crane Spotters, an information service on the building boom, explains that the bulk of these condos are not residences. They are apartment-shaped financial instruments.

"In New York, you trade stocks. In Chicago we trade commodities. Miami, we trade condos," he says.

"This is what we do," he continues. "We trade down here. These are traders who are not looking to live the American dream with a family of four and a dog. They’re looking to make a hundred-grand a unit … with virtually nothing being done but making a phone call to your broker in Miami and having him unload it to somebody else’s broker, who’s representing somebody in Russia."

The basic idea is: Investors buy in before construction begins, betting that by the time the building is finished, prices will have gone up.

Many of the buyers are from outside the United States — often from Latin American countries where other available investments and home currencies make Miami real estate look like a stable place to park some cash.

Bill Hardin, a real estate professor at Florida International University, likes to tell people that real estate is Miami’s number-one export.

He anticipates the obvious question: How do you export real estate? And he has a ready explanation.

"In an economic sense, it’s not moving the product," he says. "It’s: where does the money come from that pays for those products?"

He sees the market at work every day from his office window. At the moment, his 11th-floor office overlooks the ocean. However, it also overlooks a construction site just below his window — soon to grow into an 87-story building.

"So somebody is going to have a great view in the future," he says. "But it won’t be me."

Labor's monthly jobs report and the middle class

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-02-10 02:00

The Labor Department released Tuesday its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, known in economic circles as JOLTS. 

The monthly JOLTS report gives economists a pulse check of the job market. It tells them who’s hiring, and how many people were laid off, or are quitting their jobs.

“It kind of gives you a sense of the underlying movements in the labor market to give you a better sense of what’s going on in the job market,” says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics.

Zandi says in the first part of the economic recovery, employers mainly created low and high-wage jobs. But over the past 12 to 18 months, we’ve seen more jobs in the middle of the pay scale. So now, about a third of new jobs are low-wage, a third are high-wage, and a third are right in the middle.

“A lot of government jobs are middle-paying, and of course there were a lot of layoffs there until recently," Zandi says. "Construction jobs are generally middle-paying. A lot of manufacturing jobs – not all of them, some are high-paying – but some are middle-paying.”

There are winners and losers in the JOLTS report. There have been layoffs lately in the energy sector, because of falling oil prices. But Zandi says the healthcare, retail and construction sectors are all hiring. 

 

 

 

The cost of not vaccinating

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-02-10 02:00

The best data available suggests just 55 percent of all college campuses require students to verify vaccinations or get their shots.

For years, school officials saw the costs that come with ensuring students are up-to-date with their vaccinations as too high.

But now, with more communicable disease outbreaks on the rise, it may be time for a new cost-benefit analysis.

Click the media player above to hear more.

Dr. Pepper’s stock is up. Coke and Pepsi, not so much.

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-02-10 02:00

Coke and Pepsi are reporting 2014 earnings this week. In both cases, we are likely to see two versions of the same basic story—changing tastes at home, coupled with a strong dollar and weak economy abroad, are taking some of the pop out of profits.

But luring back calorie-conscious customers is not as simple are taking out the sugar. Shareholders and investors don’t like to see companies stray too far from their core product, which in the case of Coke and Pepsi, remains regular old sugar soda.

Click the media player above to hear more.

If you're happy and you know it, write a tweet

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-02-10 02:00

Vermont is the happiest state in the country, according to a data-based meter that measures people’s happiness in real time.

Hedonometer, as it’s called, sources words from tweets, movie subtitles, e-books, and just about any sort of publicly accessible electronic text available online. Each word is scored on a nine point scale of happiness. The meter then parses around 50 million tweets each day to find out if people are using happy or sad words.

And people in Vermont were using happy words the most in the last 30 days, says Chris Danforth, who is part of the team that developed Hedonometer: “People are talking about the amazing snow and being out with their family.”

Danforth, a professor of Mathematical, Natural and Technical sciences at the University of Vermont, says this can be a useful tool for public policy.

If there was a decision to be made, he says, about funding or changes in policy, the hedonometer could track people’s reactions to it in real-time. “Rather than using some anecdotal tweet you can look at the big data perspective on how people are feeling,” he adds.  

 

The JOLTS report and the middle class

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-02-10 02:00

The Labor Department today releases its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, known in economic circles as JOLTS. 

The monthly JOLTS report gives economists a pulse check of the job market. It tells them who’s hiring, and how many people were laid off, or are quitting their jobs.

“It kind of gives you a sense of the underlying movements in the labor market to give you a better sense of what’s going on in the job market,” says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics.

Zandi says in the first part of the economic recovery, employers mainly created low and high-wage jobs. But over the past 12 to 18 months, we’ve seen more jobs in the middle of the pay scale. So now, about a third of new jobs are low-wage, a third are high-wage, and a third are right in the middle.

“A lot of government jobs are middle-paying, and of course there were a lot of layoffs there until recently," Zandi says. "Construction jobs are generally middle-paying. A lot of manufacturing jobs – not all of them, some are high-paying – but some are middle-paying.”

There are winners and losers in the JOLTS report. There have been layoffs lately in the energy sector, because of falling oil prices. But Zandi says the healthcare, retail and construction sectors are all hiring. 

 

 

 

Miami condo-buyers aren't home-owners. They're traders.

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-02-10 02:00

Miami’s building boom has featured prominently in many stories about the threat the city faces from rising seas and a changing climate. Scientists warn that parts of greater Miami— including some of its crucial water infrastructure—will be below sea level within a few decades. Meanwhile, developers are pouring many billions of dollars into many thousands of new condominiums and offices.

However, downtown Miami's condo explosion turns out to run on its own financial logic—far removed from rising seas.

Peter Zalewski runs Crane Spotters, an information service on the building boom, explains that the bulk of these condos are not residences. They are apartment-shaped financial instruments.

"In New York, you trade stocks. In Chicago we trade commodities. Miami, we trade condos," he says.

"This is what we do," he continues. "We trade down here. These are traders who are not looking to live the American dream with a family of four and a dog. They’re looking to make a hundred-grand a unit … with virtually nothing being done but making a phone call to your broker in Miami and having him unload it to somebody else’s broker, who’s representing somebody in Russia."

The basic idea is: Investors buy in before construction begins, betting that by the time the building is finished, prices will have gone up.

Many of the buyers are from outside the United States—often from Latin American countries where other available investments and home currencies make Miami real estate look like a stable place to park some cash.

Bill Hardin, a real estate professor at Florida International University, likes to tell people that real estate is Miami’s number-one export.

He anticipates the obvious question—How do you export real estate? — and he has a ready explanation.

"In an economic sense, it’s not moving the product," he says. "It’s: where does the money come from that pays for those products?"

He sees the market at work every day from his office window. At the moment, his 11th-floor office overlooks the ocean. However, it also overlooks a construction site just below his window—soon to grow into an 87-story building.

"So somebody is going to have a great view in the future," he says. "But it won’t be me."

'Don't arm Kiev' Russia warns US

BBC - Tue, 2015-02-10 01:59
A close ally of Russia's President Vladimir Putin warns the European Parliament that US arms supplies to Ukraine could trigger "all-out war".

Greece 'may go elsewhere for deal'

BBC - Tue, 2015-02-10 01:52
Greece could turn to the US, Russia or China if it fails to reach a new debt agreement with the eurozone, its defence minister says.

Ukraine volunteer push near Mariupol

BBC - Tue, 2015-02-10 01:49
Volunteer fighters say they have launched a counter-offensive against pro-Russian separatists near the port city of Mariupol in eastern Ukraine.

VIDEO: Deadly tipper truck crash investigated

BBC - Tue, 2015-02-10 01:48
Investigations are continuing into a tipper truck crash in Bath that left a child and three adults dead.

Cruise wreck captain awaits verdict

BBC - Tue, 2015-02-10 01:48
Survivors in Italy await the end of the trial of Francesco Schettino, the man at the centre of the Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster.

Cuts halve hours at £189m library

BBC - Tue, 2015-02-10 01:45
The opening hours at Birmingham's new £189m library are to be cut by nearly half to save money, the city council confirms.

Girl, 4, among Bath truck crash dead

BBC - Tue, 2015-02-10 01:44
A four-year-old girl walking with her grandmother was among the four people killed in a tipper truck crash in Bath on Monday.

Spider-Man swings into Marvel films

BBC - Tue, 2015-02-10 01:36
Web-slinging superhero Spider-Man is going to appear in Marvel's cinematic universe after Sony reaches a deal with Disney.

Rent-to-own customers 'ripped off'

BBC - Tue, 2015-02-10 01:35
Hundreds of thousands of customers who buy household goods though rent-to-own schemes are being "ripped off", a group of MPs has concluded

North should not have stayed on

BBC - Tue, 2015-02-10 01:30
Rugby's governing body says George North should have been taken off after a clash of heads in the Wales v England match.

Heinz catches up to modern tastes

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-02-10 01:30
1/3 of jobs

The Labor Department releases its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey on Tuesday, otherwise known as JOLTS. The report provides economists a look into the current state of the job market. After the recession, job creation was mostly focused on high-paying and low-paying employment. But now some economists are saying that middle-paying jobs are having a moment, with about 1/3 of new jobs in that sector.

$7.99 a month

That's how much Netflix will charge for its services in Cuba (the same as its price in the U.S.). As reported by Tech Crunch, the streaming video company announced it will offer service to Cuban customers starting Tuesday. But as Quartz points out, the move is largely symbolic, as less than 5 percent of the population has internet access, and the monthly subscription fee is nearly half the average salary in Cuba.

40%

That's the percentage increase Twitter has seen in government requests for information since its last report in July. As reported by the BBC, Twitter reports receiving 2,871 requests from around the world, and has fulfilled a little over half of them. The U.S. government was the most frequent requester; hundreds came in from Turkey as well.

$975 million

That's how much China has fined chip maker Qualcomm for violating its laws to curb monopolization, as announced Monday. As reported by the New York Times, regulators in China defended the fine on Tuesday, saying that the large amount is meant to "restore market competitiveness."

$2.69

Heinz is catching up to popular taste with the newly-released Sriracha-flavored Ketchup. The suggested retail price for the standard 14-ounce bottle is $2.69.

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