National / International News

Fixing the TSA will take time, expert says

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-06-16 02:00

On Tuesday, the Transportation Security Administration is under the microscope again on Capitol Hill. A House subcommittee is expected to take a closer look at how the TSA vets airport workers after an investigation found that 73 workers with ties to terrorism passed background checks.

Earlier this month, the TSA’s acting director was reassigned following reports that in undercover checks, airport screeners failed to detect mock explosives and weapons 95 percent of the time.

Critics of the administration are calling for a cultural shift at the agency. But that doesn’t happen overnight, says Michael Useem, who teaches leadership and corporate restructuring at the Wharton School.

“Typically, if it’s a big organization — this is one of America’s biggest, obviously — it can take six months to a couple years,” he says.

Click the media player above to hear more.

Rail station parking fines net £24k

BBC - Tue, 2015-06-16 02:00
A train firm fines 700 drivers a total of more than £24,000 for overstaying a two-minute waiting time at Nottingham railway station.

Lucy Jones on why scientists need to craft stories

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-06-16 02:00

Persuading the public to pony up for infrastructure can stump the best politicians. It can also frustrate the engineers and scientists warning about the dangers of ignoring crumbling roads, bridges and water systems.

Lucy Jones, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, knows the feeling. But when she and 300 other academics, businesspeople and government officials published a 2008 study called “The Shakeout Scenario,” she discovered that “stories matter.”

“Scientists don’t believe we should do stories,” Jones told colleagues in a recent speech. “The reality is that is how people communicate, and when we reject the stories, we are rejecting a lot of the ways that we can connect to other people.”

“The Shakeout Scenario” still inspires yearly earthquake drills. The authors used scientific and economic data to create a plausible story about Los Angeles after a hypothetical 7.8 quake on the San Andreas Fault. It starts 10 minutes before the quake and ends six months later. Buildings collapse, others burn. Water and power fail. Businesses shutter. Jones said the scenario was helpful in persuading civic leaders to make seismic resiliency a priority.

“The Shakeout was an attempt to bridge the gap between scientific analysis and the human need for stories,” the seismologist says.

U.S. Geological Survey/film by Theo Alexopoulos

Jones notes that historically, San Francisco has been particularly active on earthquake issues. “Part of it is because they have a civic memory of catastrophe,” she says, referring to the 1906 earthquake that nearly burned the city to the ground.

In contrast, Los Angeles' “earthquake story” is the Northridge quake in 1994, which was smaller. Jones says that story “is of resilience and recovery and 'look how great we did.' So it’s harder to believe you have to make the difficult investments.”

Jones says city leaders want to make those investments. Late last year, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a plan to tackle the city’s earthquake vulnerabilities. Now it’s a matter of funding the recommended changes.

Jones, meanwhile, has her own “earthquake story.” It takes place in 1957 in Ventura, California. She says it’s her very first memory. “I’m home with my mom and siblings, and I remember my mother getting us into the hallway and crouching over and protecting us and my Siamese cat screaming.”

A screaming Siamese cat. Now the scientist has our attention.

Pope calls climate change a moral issue

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-06-16 02:00

Pope Francis is taking on climate change in a leaked draft of a papal letter, known as an encyclical, to be published on Thursday, in which he couches climate change as a moral issue and one of wealth inequality.

The pope says wealthier countries have to help developing ones in dealing with the problem.

"Once the encyclical letter comes out, then priests all around the world are going to work it into their sermon," says Andrew Hoffman, professor of sustainable enterprise at the University of Michigan.

"Right now, the primary messengers on climate change are democratic politicians, environmentalists and scientists. And we need more messengers from different domains," Hoffman says. "The pope coming forward can make a moral argument where others can't."

The letter's timing is important. About 200 countries plan to meet at the end of the year to sign a new climate change agreement. The pope wants to influence that process.

In his letter, the pope appears to be against carbon credits — a financial instrument that puts a price on air pollution. In his letter, the pope argues carbon credits could "give rise to a new form of speculation."

'Police probe troubled health board'

BBC - Tue, 2015-06-16 01:58
The head of the Welsh NHS says there is a police investigation about aspects of Betsi Cadwaladr health board's spending plans.

Elections on Facebook, whether you 'like' it or not

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-06-16 01:56
1,000 workers

That's the number of Mexican agricultural workers who are being held at the border because of a computer glitch. The error has prevented the government from issuing the immigrant visas that would allow them to come into the U.S. for the summer harvest. As the Wall Street Journal reports, it is estimated that California agriculture is losing up to $500,000 to $1 million a day because of the holdup.


That's how many cars travel per day on the Pulaski Skyway, a 3.5-mile stretch of elevated "superhighway" that connects the Newark airport to the Holland Tunnel. It's a particularly important and difficult-to-fix piece of the highway system, and it's the case study that kicks off our new series on infrastructure.


That's how many TSA workers who passed the vetting process had ties to terrorist organizations, as revealed in a recent investigation. On Tuesday, a House subcommittee will review the process by which airport workers are screened before getting hired. But re-organizing hiring practices may not be as simple as, say, when a company rewrites its rule book. Critics are calling for a larger culture shift within the organization, and that kind of change can take much longer to enact.

190 million

That's how many users Facebook has in the U.S., with virtually unlimited ways to divide them based on demographic information, "likes," browsing history and more. It's an absurdly powerful platform, National Review notes, and it's one 2016 presidential candidates are already leveraging for donors. The killer feature for this election cycle is video, which is far more ubiquitous, targeted and cheap than it was in 2012.

71.5 percent

That's the portion of revenue rights holders will get from Apple Music, Re/Code reported. That's not out of bounds with similar on-demand streaming services, like Spotify. 

$524.1 million

That's what "Jurassic World" made in its record-smashing opening weekend, and about a fifth of that came from the growing but restricted Chinese market. The folks at Vulture talked to an expert in insurance involving "rare and unusual risks," and it turns out there's some precedent for the kind of coverage a real-life Jurassic World would have to get.

Expert help for super-hospital A&E

BBC - Tue, 2015-06-16 01:55
Government trouble-shooters are sent to Scotland's newest hospital to help improve accident and emergency (A&E) waiting times.

Insurance Still Doesn't Cover Childbirth For Some Young Women

NPR News - Tue, 2015-06-16 01:48

Insurance coverage for maternity care is deemed essential under the Affordable Care Act. But adult children on a parent's plan still may be on the hook for the cost of childbirth. And it's not cheap.

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Woman held over street fight death

BBC - Tue, 2015-06-16 01:47
A woman is arrested in connection with the death of a man who died from stab wounds following a fight.

Greek shares fall for third day

BBC - Tue, 2015-06-16 01:40
Greek shares fall for a third day after fears that it could leave the euro intensify and the French president warns there is "little time" to reach a deal on economic reforms.

Blazer used in Fifa probe since 2011

BBC - Tue, 2015-06-16 01:21
Former Fifa executive committee member Chuck Blazer has co-operated with investigations into Fifa since 2011, it has emerged.

UK inflation rate turns positive

BBC - Tue, 2015-06-16 01:20
UK inflation rate, measured by Consumer Prices Index, rose to 0.1% in May, after dip to -0.1% in April, figures show.

Teen blackmailed by Nigerian gang

BBC - Tue, 2015-06-16 01:17
The parents of a County Tyrone teenager who took his own life say a Nigerian gang was blackmailing him over intimate photographs.

VIDEO: Iraqi comedian satirises extremism

BBC - Tue, 2015-06-16 01:16
A news anchor from Iraq, Ahmed Albasheer, describes how he switched to a comedy career to tackle corruption and extremism.

Anti-EU MEPs form far-right bloc

BBC - Tue, 2015-06-16 01:10
French National Front leader Marine Le Pen announces she has formed a political group of far-right parties in the European Parliament.

VIDEO: Chile and Mexico's six-goal thriller

BBC - Tue, 2015-06-16 01:10
Chile and Mexico share six goals in an exciting 3-3 draw in Group A of the Copa America.

Pope's Missive On Environment, Poverty Could Affect Habits Of Millions

NPR News - Tue, 2015-06-16 01:07

On Thursday, the Vatican releases Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment and poverty. He has said he believes global warming is a moral, and man-made, issue — angering climate change skeptics.

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5 Things You Should Know About Donald Trump

NPR News - Tue, 2015-06-16 01:03

"The Donald" has high national name recognition and has made forays into politics before. He was once one of several contenders for the nomination of the Reform Party and won a primary.

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Death of injured man 'unexplained'

BBC - Tue, 2015-06-16 00:52
The death of a man who was found badly injured in a street in north Glasgow is being treated as unexplained.

Poet Fenton wins Pen Pinter Prize

BBC - Tue, 2015-06-16 00:41
British poet and journalist James Fenton wins the Pen Pinter Prize, which celebrates champions of free speech.