National / International News

UK parties 'will block money union'

BBC - Wed, 2014-02-12 14:01
The three main Westminster parties are to declare that whoever forms the next UK government will not enter a currency union with an independent Scotland.

Arsenal 0-0 Manchester United

BBC - Wed, 2014-02-12 14:00
Arsenal fail to reclaim top spot in the Premier League as they play out an uninspiring draw with Manchester United.

'No one will declare the water safe' in West Virginia

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-02-12 13:48

It’s been a little over a month since a chemical spill in West Virginia left thousands of residents in the Charleston area without water to bathe, drink, or cook with.

"No one will declare the water safe," says Don Tate, who owns and operates a chain of FasChek Supermarkets in the region. "People are still complaining about odors and discoloration of their water."

Gallon jugs of purified water go for about $0.99.

"We are selling a significant amount of water both in the jugs and in the individual half liter," he says. 

Like other residents, Tate uses the gallon jugs to do his cooking, and half liters for drinking water. Tate’s family bought a filter for their home so they can take showers, but he still uses bottled water to brush his teeth.

Tate says it’s not uncommon to see signs in restaurant windows that say "We use bottled water."  He says even the national chains have those signs in their windows.  

"We take for granted our water supply. We think well the sun’s going to come up in the East and the water’s going to be OK."

There’s no word yet about when the water supply will be back to normal.  

After January Surge, More Than 3 Million Have Enrolled In Obamacare

NPR News - Wed, 2014-02-12 13:41

Slightly more women than men are signing up for coverage. The most popular plans are the silver ones, the third-most generous type among the four main kinds offered on insurance exchanges around the country.

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The pollutants in your face wash

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-02-12 13:39

Lots of personal care products—like facial scrubs and even some toothpastes—are jammed with little plastic beads.  When they go down the drain, they end up in our lakes and rivers, by the millions.  They’re too small to be filtered out by water-treatment systems.  

New York legislators are reviewing a proposed ban following a request from non-profit group 5 Gyres Institute, which monitors plastic wastes in the oceans. A couple of years ago, their research team went hunting in the Great Lakes.

The group’s executive director, Anna Cummings, stayed home, but her husband, the head researcher, made the trip.  

"So my husband called me from Lake Erie," she says, "and he said, ‘You’ll never believe this, but in a sample from Lake Erie, we had 1,500 little particles of plastic, and it looks like they’re microbeads from facial products.’”

When he got home, he bought a 5.5 oz. tube of Clean & Clear scrub and started counting beads. Cummings watched him stay up till 2 a.m., three nights running.

"It’s an average of 300,000 in one single tube," she says.

5 Gyres asked companies to take the little beads out of products. Some, including Johnson & Johnson, agreed to phase them out in favor of natural alternatives. But there were too many companies to track down.

In response, 5 Gyres has asked states to ban the products outright. New York’s attorney general pushed for that state’s legislation, which would ban the beads by the end of 2015.  

"It's a significant problem," says Lemuel Srolovic, who heads the office's Environmental Protection Bureau. "They kind of act like tiny sponges to which toxic chemicals—that may be in low concentrations in the water—really concentrate on these beads."

If fish eat the beads, those toxins could end up in the human food chain.  

Later this week, a California legislator expects to introduce a similar bill.  That would make two big markets off-limits.

Demian Conover, who watches Johnson & Johnson for Morningstar, says if that company hadn’t already agreed to phase out the beads, state laws like this would force the issue.

"If you lose those two states, you’re starting to lose some pretty critical scale," he says. "You start to defeat the branding strategy that these companies go for."

He thinks a company like Johnson & Johnson would rejigger the product, or dump it. 5 Gyres has a list of five other states that may consider similar bills soon.

How watching the Olympics is like a sport of its own

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-02-12 13:39

The Olympics are pressure packed, aren't they?

For viewers, I mean. In today's world, knowledge is currency, and if you want to be competitive at parties and in the office, you've got to be as focused as an athlete.
 
NBC is running 1,539 hours of programming across its broadcast and digital platforms, and an unprecedented 18 nights of primetime coverage. Heaven forbid you become dehydrated -- watching other people exercise -- and crawl to the kitchen for water. You could miss the defining moment of Sochi 2014. Sure, you could watch the replay-but then you might miss another Moment, and pitch yourself into a credit-card debt-like spiral from which you could never recover.
 
There are athletes' backstories to be moved by; the names of snowboarding tricks to learn-and-forget; and scandals and Twitter feeds to follow. I signed up for so many summaries that my inbox is crammed with news of distant athletes whom I need to feign interest in, lest I seem like a philistine.
 
Do you know what happens if you slack off? I do. Over the weekend I was so busy enjoying a YouTube video of an Indian luger whizzing down a Himalyan highway to train for the Olympics--he startled a flock of sheep--that I missed him in the actual Olympics.
 
That should have taught me a lesson, but on Sunday night when Downton Abbey rolled around, I felt the pull of the Dowager Countess, and unlike the Olympians I admire, I gave up.
 
NBC, I understand your desire to recoup your $775 million investment. But one report said you might sell as many as 5,500 minutes of ad time. That's plain cruel. How about we call a truce: We'll watch the entire Olympiad-even the ads -- if you make it less of an endurance event. Let's think three-part mini-series. Because really, if we all love figure skating so much, why can we only stomach it once every four years?

Robinson backs Poots over A&E stance

BBC - Wed, 2014-02-12 13:33
Northern Ireland's first minister give his public backing to the health minister over his handling of problems at a Belfast hospital.

Anbar violence 'displaces 300,000'

BBC - Wed, 2014-02-12 13:26
Up to 300,000 people have been displaced by the fighting between Sunni militants and security forces in Iraq's western province of Anbar, the UN says.

'Everyone wants a gold medal. I've got one'

BBC - Wed, 2014-02-12 13:25
Amy Williams relives her Winter Olympics success as she tips Lizzy Yarnold to follow in her footsteps in Sochi

Comedian And Actor Sid Caesar Has Died At 91

NPR News - Wed, 2014-02-12 13:23

The multitalented Sid Caesar, who took live and complex comedy skits on the air as a pioneer in 1950s TV, has died at 91. Caesar, who established a new comedic tradition in America before he was 30, died in Los Angeles this week.

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Onionomics: Peeling away India's food economy

BBC - Wed, 2014-02-12 13:08
Peeling away the layers of India's food economy

Decisive day for Team GB in Sochi

BBC - Wed, 2014-02-12 13:00
Day six in Sochi could prove pivotal in Team GB's bid to make these Games their most successful Winter Olympics.

Sid Caesar, One Of TV's Earliest Stars, Dies At The Age Of 91

NPR News - Wed, 2014-02-12 13:00

The comic actor Sid Caesar died on Wednesday at the age of 91. He starred in the popular 1950s program, Your Show of Shows, television's first live comedy show, featuring skits and musical numbers.

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Senate Follows House Lead In Passing Debt Limit Raise

NPR News - Wed, 2014-02-12 13:00

Eager to follow their House colleagues out of Washington for a break, senators Wednesday cleared a raise to the debt ceiling for the president to sign into law. It will take the issue of limiting U.S. debt off the table until March 2015.

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Something Winter This Way Comes: The South Braces For Storms

NPR News - Wed, 2014-02-12 13:00

A debilitating winter storm is creating havoc across the Deep South on Wednesday. As much as a foot of snow is expected in Georgia and the Carolinas. Ice will also be a problem: Forecasters say that up to an inch of it will coat roads and power lines. Jim Burress of member station WABE reports from Atlanta that hundreds of thousands of people are without electricity.

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American Speedskaters Leave Ice Disappointed

NPR News - Wed, 2014-02-12 13:00

U.S. speedskating took a big hit in Sochi today, coming out of the 1,000-meter competition with no medals. The team's highest rank was eighth, earned by Shani Davis, who has dominated this race in the past.

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More Findings, More Questions About Value Of Mammograms

NPR News - Wed, 2014-02-12 13:00

A long-running study has been raising questions about the value of mammography for younger women, and recently it has produced yet more evidence to cast doubt on routine screening. The study found no evidence that screening saved lives, even after 25 years of follow-up. Rather, screening may lead instead to unnecessary treatment for many women. The findings are unlikely to settle debate over the value of mammography.

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Face Of Katrina Recovery Found Guilty Of Corruption Charges

NPR News - Wed, 2014-02-12 13:00

Wednesday in New Orleans, a federal jury convicted former Mayor Ray Nagin on 20 of 21 corruption counts. The two-term mayor was in office when Hurricane Katrina struck and was the public face of the city during the city's rebuilding. Federal prosecutors say that it was during this time he took bribes to steer rebuilding contracts to businessmen.

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Surprise Pot Hole Claims 8 Vintage Corvettes

NPR News - Wed, 2014-02-12 13:00

The National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Ky., met with a rude surprise on Wednesday morning. A sinkhole — 40 feet wide and 20 feet deep — opened beneath part of the museum, swallowing eight vintage Corvettes. To find out more, Robert Siegel speaks with Katie Frassinelli, the museum's communications manager.

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Two Decades From War, Unrest Simmers Anew In Bosnia

NPR News - Wed, 2014-02-12 13:00

In Bosnia-Herzegovina, protesters have begun to gather in several towns to demand the resignation of the regional government. Their complaints range from corruption to unemployment, but some say the roots of the unrest can be found in the flawed system established two decades ago, in the wake of sectarian civil war. Robert Siegel speaks with Reuters correspondent Matt Robinson about the changes that need to be made and the unclear path forward.

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