National / International News

Rep. Van Hollen: Obama's Focused On Helping Middle Class

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-21 12:46

Robert Siegel talks to Democratic Congressman Chris Van Hollen of Maryland about President Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday.

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At Davos, U.S. Economic Recovery Widely Lauded

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-21 12:40

Audie Cornish talks with Kenneth Rogoff, professor of economics at Harvard University, and former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund.

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Celtic 4-0 Motherwell

BBC - Wed, 2015-01-21 12:38
Celtic ease back to the top of the Premiership in style as Motherwell were torn to pieces at Parkhead.

Scholar: U.S. Drone Use Has Contributed To Yemen's Instability

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-21 12:35

The spectre of civil war and chaos hangs over Yemen's capitol. Robert Siegel talks with Brookings Institute scholar Ibrahim Sharqieh about the dynamics in this poor and troubled nation.

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Virginia Searches For A New State Song

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-21 12:25

Robert Siegel speaks with Professor James "Bud" Robertson about his campaign to help his home state of Virginia find its missing state song.

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Middle Class Economics Dominate Obama's State Of The Union

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-21 12:25

President Obama wants to expand an existing tax credit for child care and create a new one for families with two working spouses. He also wants to make two years of community college free and expand access to retirement savings programs.

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Police, Counter-Demonstrators Dampen Anti-Islam March In Leipzig

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-21 12:25

Thousands of opponents of Muslim immigration to Germany staged a mass rally in the German city of Leipzig on Wednesday night, but the turnout was lower than expected thanks to counter-demonstrations and a massive police presence.

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Sen. Jeff Flake: Republicans Can Work With President On Trade

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-21 12:25

Robert Siegel talks to Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona for his reaction to the State of the Union.

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Obama Draws Battle Lines In State Of The Union Address

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-21 12:25

In his State of the Union address, President Obama said he still believed in a United America — one that wasn't divided into red and blue camps. But the reaction to his speech, from both camps, was anything but united.

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Voters Said Yes, But D.C. And Congress Continue To Spar Over Pot

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-21 12:25

In November, District of Columbia residents voted to legalize marijuana. Still, the measure's status remains in flux while the city fights against Congress for autonomy on the issue.

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Historic Diplomatic Talks Begin In Cuba

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-21 12:25

The most high-level U.S. delegation to visit Cuba in 35 years is in Havana for two days of talks. The meetings follow the historic thaw in relations announced simultaneously last month by President Obama and President Raul Castro. The focus of the talks will be migration and the nuts and bolts of restoring diplomatic ties.

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Tired Of Paying For Checked Baggage? You're Actually Getting A Good Deal

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-21 12:25

Everyone hates to pay extra for checked baggage on an airline. But you probably aren't paying enough — in fact, your baggage is bumping far more lucrative cargo.

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Standard & Poor's Settles In SEC Ratings Fraud Case

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-21 12:25

Standard & Poor's has agreed to pay fines of nearly $80 million to settle charges that it changed the way it was rating securities in a bid to win business, but didn't bother to tell investors. The firm also agreed to a one year ban on rating certain kinds of securities. A separate Justice Department investigation is still underway.

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Going For The Gold Sends Mercury Down The River

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-21 12:25

Illegal mining in the headwaters of the Amazon is endangering people and fish hundreds of miles downstream.

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PC death suspect held in Germany

BBC - Wed, 2015-01-21 12:10
A man wanted in connection with the death of police officer following a night out in Liverpool city centre is arrested in Germany.

Ruthless smuggling trade's new business: 'Ghost ships'

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-01-21 12:03

The wars in Syria and Iraq have triggered an unprecedented wave of refugees eagerly seeking – and prepared to pay for – a new life in Europe.

The United Nations reckons that last year 170,000 migrants, who are fleeing war, persecution or simply seeking a better standard of living, have arrived in Italy. Many have paid people traffickers to smuggle them in, making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean in small fishing boats and even rubber dinghies. More than 3,000 lives have been lost. 

But now the traffickers have developed another business model to cater to this burgeoning new trade: It’s been called “the Ghost Ship” route, and here’s how it works: You buy a battered old cargo ship, pack it with hundreds of migrants, sail it across the Mediterranean, aim the vessel at the coast of a European Union country, and then abandon the ship and hope that the migrants reach safety. 

The Ezadeen, a 50-year-old former livestock carrier, is one of these so-called “ghost”  ships. The Italian Coast Guard intercepted it at sea last month, on its way from Turkey to Italy, and found 359 migrants on board, most of them Syrians, but no actual ship crew.

“It was incredibly dangerous,” says Ewa Moncure of Frontex, a European Union border agency. “There were no lifeboats or life vests." The crew apparently abandoned the ship at full-speed at night in the Mediterranean, a danger to those on board and to others who are at sea, Moncure says.

Three of these ghost ships carrying a total of more than 1,000 migrants have arrived in European waters in recent weeks, an escalation by traffickers that does not entirely surprise experts on this grisly trade. Andrea Di Nicola, a criminologist at the University of Trento and co-author of “Confessions of a People Smuggler,” says traffickers are always quick to exploit a new business opportunity. “These are businessmen, opportunistic, criminal businessmen.” he says. "And this is a travel agency, the most ruthless travel agency on the planet. There’s a huge profit involved.”

Let’s look at the costs. “Ships at the end of their working life are worth little more than the scrap value they will yield if they are sailed to the breaking yards of Bangladesh or India.” says David Osler of Lloyd's List, a maritime newspaper. Italian police claim that one of the ghost ships, the Ezadeen, cost the smugglers only $110,000.

Now, consider what the smugglers are charging for the trip: up to $6,000 per passenger.

“We estimated that one of the ships should have grossed revenues of $3 million," says Joel Millman of the International Organization of Migration. "So if you do the math, you can see there are millions to be made.”

It looks like all of the passengers that have arrived on ghost ships so far are likely to be offered asylum. So far, none have perished at sea. The smugglers’ new business model is paying off, for the smugglers and their customers.

But the scale of the operation is putting many more people at risk. With another four ghost ships reportedly ready to sail, more migrant lives are likely to be lost in the Mediterranean this winter.

New papers in Andrew sex claims case

BBC - Wed, 2015-01-21 11:55
The US woman who has accused Prince Andrew of sexual misconduct has repeated the claims in fresh court documents.

Soccer Players End Lawsuit Over Artificial Turf At Women's World Cup

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-21 11:52

The suit accused the organizers of discrimination, saying elite men's teams would never be forced to play on an artificial surface instead of natural grass. The plaintiffs included Abby Wambach.

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Cigarette package law brought forward

BBC - Wed, 2015-01-21 11:41
The government is to legislate to introduce standardised cigarette packaging before May's general election, ministers say.

VIDEO: HMS Victory 'rotting from the inside'

BBC - Wed, 2015-01-21 11:26
HMS Victory, Lord Nelson's flag ship at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, is in urgent need of repair due to extensive water damage.