National / International News

How Caffeinated Are Our Kids? Coffee Consumption Jumps

NPR News - Tue, 2014-02-11 05:14

Energy drinks tend to get a bad rap. But when it comes to caffeine intake, teenagers seem to be getting far more caffeine from coffee drinks. Overall, about three-fourths of children in the U.S. consume caffeine on a given day.

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Death linked to Neknominate 'tragic'

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-11 05:13
A family describe their heartbreak after the death of a 29-year-old Cardiff man thought to be linked to the Neknominate drinking game.

Government fined for data breach

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-11 04:59
Northern Ireland's Department of Justice is fined £185,000 for auctioning off a filing cabinet that contained personal information about a victim of a terrorist attack.

Obituary: Shirley Temple

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-11 04:58
The life and career of Shirley Temple

Prince Charles and Camilla visit BBC

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-11 04:48
The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall visit BBC radio teams in London's New Broadcasting House as part of a day to celebrate British radio.

Deadly blasts hit Pakistan cinema

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-11 04:41
At least 10 people are killed when a series of blasts hit a cinema in Peshawar, north-west Pakistan, the second such attack in a fortnight.

VIDEO: Pharrell: My Oscar photo moment

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-11 04:39
This year's Oscar nominees have gathered for the traditional family photo in Beverley Hills. Nominees Pharrell Williams and Matthew McConaughey spoke about the experience

VIDEO: Police drive at A14 wrong-way car

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-11 04:37
An 81-year-old motorist driving the wrong way along the A14 at 50mph was stopped by police who put their car in the way of her vehicle.

North Korea's homegrown operating system seems familiar

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-02-11 04:35

Have you heard of the new computer operating system Red Star? No? Well you've probably seen it. Sort of. Red Star OS is the new Home-Grown operating system in North Korea.

And like some of the other tech built in that country...it has a familiar vibe.

David Lee, a technology reporter for the BBC, says North Korean engineers have opted for a new kind of imitation.

Woman 'sexually abused by nun'

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-11 04:27
A woman tells the Historical Abuse Inquiry how she was sexually abused by a nun when she was a young child.

HTC goes low-end amid struggle to compete in smartphone market

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-02-11 04:15

Taiwanese phone maker HTC announced quarterly earnings that fell to $1.4 billion this week. That may not sound bad but in a competitive smartphone market, HTC has struggled to sit at the table with the likes of Apple and Samsung. So, the company is making some new moves. Our friend Lindsey Turrentine at CNET joined us to help us take a look at this.

Click play on the audio player above to hear more.

HTC struggles to compete in smartphone market

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-02-11 04:15

Taiwanese phone maker HTC announced quarterly earnings that fell to $1.4 billion this week. That may not sound bad but in a competitive smartphone market, HTC has struggled to sit at the table with the likes of Apple and Samsung. So, the company is making some new moves. Our friend Lindsey Turrentine at CNET joined us to help us take a look at this.

Click play on the audio player above to hear more.

China and Taiwan hold historic talks

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-11 04:12
China and Taiwan have held their first government-to-government talks since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949.

Tidal Bay tops National weights

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-11 04:00
Tidal Bay tops the weights for the Grand National at Aintree, ahead of 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Long Run.

Could workers in a Southern state join an auto union?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-02-11 03:54

Workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee will vote on whether they want union representation on Wednesday through Friday. Gov. Bill Haslam* and Sen. Jack Johnson (who is also chair of the state's Commerce and Labor Committee), both oppose the union moving in.

There are two big reasons foreign auto makers who want to build cars in the U.S. look to the Southeast: cheaper labor and generous state incentives. The United Auto Workers union has tried to organize in America's foreign auto plants in previous years, without much success.

"One of our big selling points is that we are right-to-work, and quite frankly I don't think they need that union organization for the benefit of the employees," Johnson argued.

As far as pay disputes and potential strikes? That's going to be tricky for United Auto Workers. 

"I think the UAW does not have an incentive to go in there and jam up wages super-high in such a way that it makes Volkswagen fail," says Aaron Sojourner, a labor economist at the University of Minnesota. Sojourner says if that happens, the union can kiss goodbye any hope of getting into more foreign-owned factories, especially in the South.

 

*CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified the governor of Tennessee. It's Bill Haslam. The text has been corrected.

 

Will Janet Yellen follow the Bernanke plan?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-02-11 03:53

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen appears before Congress on Tuesday before the House Financial Services Committee, her first regular visit since succeeding Ben Bernanke. 

A Fed chair’s testimony -- and responses to members of Congress -- are always scrutinized.  This time, if anything, the scrutiny will be heightened: Not only is Yellen new to the leadership role, there has been increased turmoil in global financial markets of late. Stocks have been volatile after a big selloff in recent weeks. Emerging markets are being dumped on by investors as their curriencies experience volatility; countries with weak trade balance numbers are being pressured to raise the interest rates they offer on government debt, in part to compete with higher rates anticipated for U.S. Treasuries.

This global fluctuation of interest rates is partly due to the Federal Reserve winding down its extraordinary fiscal stimulus policy known as quantitative easing. The Fed has been buying tens of billions of dollars worth of bonds each month to keep interest rates low and encourage more investment and consumption in the U.S.

After a mostly-unexpected announcement late 2013 that increased the likelihood for further tapering moves in the first half of 2014, Yellen meets Congress to discuss concerns such as: ‘Is the job market getting healthier?’, ’Is inflation a danger long-term?’, ‘Are emerging markets a threat to U.S. markets?’, and ‘Could a precipitous slowdown in U.S. or global growth change the course of tapering?’

“I believe that Janet Yellen will be as careful, as forthright, and as candid as Ben Bernanke,” predicts economist Bernard Baumohl of the Economic Outlook Group in Princeton, New Jersey. “And that, I think, is a departure from the kind of obfuscation that we saw with (Alan) Greenspan.”

Baumohl says Yellen will attempt to deflect questions that bear on what the Fed might do in specific situations -- like if a major emerging market defaulted, or if Congress failed to raise the debt ceiling, noting that market participants will listen closely for cues on asset value policy changes  (i.e., for equities and real estate). They’ll be looking for hints as to “whether she is going to be able to prevent, or carefully deflate, any kind of asset bubble that may be emerging,” he added. “She is going to be doing something that no one has done before” in the wake of the financial crisis and the extraordinary fiscal measures to refloat the economy. 

The damage (along with asset bubbles) that inflation-hawks warn is already on the horizon because of the Fed’s quantitative easing will also likely be a topic of questioning, predicts economist John Canally at LPL Financial in Boston.

“Consumers see inflation all the time—at the gas station, at the grocery store,” says Canally. "And it’s infuriating to the average consumer who says ‘Wait a minute, there’s inflation—my food bill’s higher, my gasoline bill’s higher too.' So Yellen may get asked about inflation. But the answers she gives might not be what consumers want to hear.”

Meanwhile, a significant bloc in Congress—and one that crosses party lines—is pushing legislation to limit the Fed’s wide powers over the economy and the financial sector. Karen Petrou, managing partner at Federal Financial Analytics in Washington, D.C., says those lawmakers won’t hesitate to grill Yellen on what they perceive as the Fed’s overreaching regulation and over-intervention in the economy, independent of the will of the legislative branch. That aggressive stance on the Fed’s leadership role originates with Ben Bernanke and his efforts to stabilize markets during the financial crisis, and Yellen also strongly backs the policy.  

“It’s one of the few areas where the Republicans and more liberal Democrats really agree," says Petrou. "They think the Fed is being too good to the big banks, is agreeing to too many international compacts that should be reviewed by Congress. They come together when it gets around to disliking and distrusting the Fed.”

One thing Janet Yellen doesn’t want, says Petrou, is to start a term by having Congress clip her regulatory wings. It’s an eventuality Yellen is likely to fight with both rhetoric, and an effort to fully cooperate fully with Congressional requests for information and additional appearances on the Hill in coming months.

Yellen also appears before the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday.

Fed's Janet Yellen grilled by Congress for the first time

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-02-11 03:53

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen appears before Congress on Tuesday before the House Financial Services Committee, her first regular visit since succeeding Ben Bernanke. 

A Fed chair’s testimony -- and responses to members of Congress -- are always scrutinized.  This time, if anything, the scrutiny will be heightened: Not only is Yellen new to the leadership role, there has been increased turmoil in global financial markets of late. Stocks have been volatile after a big selloff in recent weeks. Emerging markets are being dumped on by investors as their curriencies experience volatility; countries with weak trade balance numbers are being pressured to raise the interest rates they offer on government debt, in part to compete with higher rates anticipated for U.S. Treasuries.

This global fluctuation of interest rates is partly due to the Federal Reserve winding down its extraordinary fiscal stimulus policy known as quantitative easing. The Fed has been buying tens of billions of dollars worth of bonds each month to keep interest rates low and encourage more investment and consumption in the U.S.

After a mostly-unexpected announcement late 2013 that increased the likelihood for further tapering moves in the first half of 2014, Yellen meets Congress to discuss concerns such as: ‘Is the job market getting healthier?’, ’Is inflation a danger long-term?’, ‘Are emerging markets a threat to U.S. markets?’, and ‘Could a precipitous slowdown in U.S. or global growth change the course of tapering?’

“I believe that Janet Yellen will be as careful, as forthright, and as candid as Ben Bernanke,” predicts economist Bernard Baumohl of the Economic Outlook Group in Princeton, New Jersey. “And that, I think, is a departure from the kind of obfuscation that we saw with (Alan) Greenspan.”

Baumohl says Yellen will attempt to deflect questions that bear on what the Fed might do in specific situations -- like if a major emerging market defaulted, or if Congress failed to raise the debt ceiling, noting that market participants will listen closely for cues on asset value policy changes  (i.e., for equities and real estate). They’ll be looking for hints as to “whether she is going to be able to prevent, or carefully deflate, any kind of asset bubble that may be emerging,” he added. “She is going to be doing something that no one has done before” in the wake of the financial crisis and the extraordinary fiscal measures to refloat the economy. 

The damage (along with asset bubbles) that inflation-hawks warn is already on the horizon because of the Fed’s quantitative easing will also likely be a topic of questioning, predicts economist John Canally at LPL Financial in Boston.

“Consumers see inflation all the time—at the gas station, at the grocery store,” says Canally. "And it’s infuriating to the average consumer who says ‘Wait a minute, there’s inflation—my food bill’s higher, my gasoline bill’s higher too.' So Yellen may get asked about inflation. But the answers she gives might not be what consumers want to hear.”

Meanwhile, a significant bloc in Congress—and one that crosses party lines—is pushing legislation to limit the Fed’s wide powers over the economy and the financial sector. Karen Petrou, managing partner at Federal Financial Analytics in Washington, D.C., says those lawmakers won’t hesitate to grill Yellen on what they perceive as the Fed’s overreaching regulation and over-intervention in the economy, independent of the will of the legislative branch. That aggressive stance on the Fed’s leadership role originates with Ben Bernanke and his efforts to stabilize markets during the financial crisis, and Yellen also strongly backs the policy.  

“It’s one of the few areas where the Republicans and more liberal Democrats really agree," says Petrou. "They think the Fed is being too good to the big banks, is agreeing to too many international compacts that should be reviewed by Congress. They come together when it gets around to disliking and distrusting the Fed.”

One thing Janet Yellen doesn’t want, says Petrou, is to start a term by having Congress clip her regulatory wings. It’s an eventuality Yellen is likely to fight with both rhetoric, and an effort to fully cooperate fully with Congressional requests for information and additional appearances on the Hill in coming months.

Yellen also appears before the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday.

Sea threat to force coastal retreat

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-11 03:50
Coastal communities in Wales face being abandoned as rising sea levels mean the cost of maintaining defences can no longer be justified, BBC Wales can reveal.

Firefighter dies suddenly on duty

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-11 03:50
A firefighter dies suddenly after collapsing at the scene of a fire in Lurgan, County Armagh.

Car smoking ban 'due before 2015'

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-11 03:50
A ban on smoking in cars carrying children in England will come into force before the next general election, which is due in 2015, No 10 sources say.

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