National / International News

Tikrit: Iraq's city of palaces

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-13 09:04
Profile of the Iraqi city of Tikrit, known as the birthplace of two famous leaders: the medieval Kurdish Muslim commander Saladin Al-Ayyubi, and more recently, the former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.

First 'successful' penis transplant

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-13 09:03
The world's first successful penis transplant has been reported by a surgical team in South Africa.

Ireland want to win, not entertain

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-13 08:53
Wales forwards coach Robin McBryde says fans should expect a tight game as his side and Ireland try to "wear each other down".

The upside of losing one's memory

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-13 08:53
The unexpected advantages of losing your memory

It's pi day ... with a twist

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-03-13 08:51

This is either incredibly geeky, incredibly cool or more likely a combination of the two.

Saturday is, as you've no doubt heard, "Pi Day." March 14th, 3/14, 3 ... 1 ... 4. Pi: 3.14

It is also 2015, which makes it 3/14/15. 3.1415 is Pi to the fourth decimal.

Here comes the cool part (and if you've read this far, thank you).

Saturday at 9:26 am, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is going to announce its admissions decisions. That's 3/14/15, 9:26.

Pi to the 7th decimal?3.1415926.

Pretty cool. 

Despite headwinds, tobacco industry is still thriving

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-03-13 08:45

When you’re in the tobacco business, controversy is all part of the game. And it’s been rough sledding for the industry this week.

First came the Institute of Medicine report pushing to increase the tobacco purchase age from 18 to 21. Today, a group of public health experts writing in the British medical journal "The Lancet" called for a tobacco-free world by 2040.

At this point, you could quickly stack up the public health arguments like matchsticks to condemn the $100 billion U.S. tobacco industry.

Every year, 500,000 Americans die as a result of smoking. Nine million are sick from their smoking. And then, Stanford professor Tom Glynn says the CDC estimates we’re spending $300 billion a year dealing with the fallout from smoking.

“When someone goes into a store and buys a pack of cigarettes, it costs the American taxpayer about $10 every time in lost wages, lost productivity and healthcare,” he says.

And market data shows fewer people are smoking – just 18% of adults. And those who do smoke are smoking less. That said, University of Michigan economist Ken Warner says profits are strong, companies have cut costs, and they have expanded into things like e-cigarettes.

“We need to be aware that the industry has been thriving throughout this tough period, and they’re thriving now,” he says.

But Warner says there may be a chink in the industry’s armor, he says he’s seeing manufacturers do something he hasn’t seen before: They’re raising prices.

“With an addictive product, you want to pick a price that is not only going to keep your smokers smoking, but in particular is going to encourage kids to smoke. So if I’m right about this, they are probably taking the view that the cigarette market is not going to be a terribly strong one a few decades down the line here,” he says.

Capitol Securities Management analyst Steve Marascia says he’s not ready to bet against big tobacco. 

“It’s a smart cat with nine lives, and it’s a product people still which people want,” he says.

Teach For America is getting fewer applicants

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-03-13 08:43

Recruiting teachers to work in low-income communities is not as easy as it used to be. 

Teach For America reports that it has received 44,100 applications this year for its program of training professionals and college graduates, and placing them in two-year teaching commitments at schools. The education non-profit says that less than 15 percent of those applicants will be chosen for its highly-selective program. 

Those numbers sound impressive until you consider Teach For America's recent past. The group's applicant pool ballooned tenfold in the last 15 years to a peak of 57,266 applicants in 2013. It has since declined 23 percent. 

The organization attributes its recruiting challenges to an improving job market, and more competition for college graduates and professionals. 

"We are looking for the same kinds of young leaders... that many of the top corporations and best places to work are looking for," says Massie Ritsch, a spokesperson for Teach For America. 

But the headwinds Teach For America is facing are not from an improving economy alone.

Sara Mead, a consultant with Bellweather Education Partners who helped author an internal study for Teach For America, says while the economy is by far the top reason, Teach For America also is battling negative perceptions. 

Some of the non-profit group's alumni have advocated for things like standardized testing and other educational reforms that Mead describes as "polarizing."

"Some of the critics of those changes have really focused on Teach For America in a negative way," Mead says. 

There are anecdotal reports that some professors have dissuaded their students from applying to Teach For America and that some recruiters have faced negative responses on campuses, says Mead. 

"We are definitely having to answer harder questions and more questions," says Ritsch. 

But those questions aren't about Teach For America alone. They are also about the teaching profession, as a whole. 

"Millenials tend to have a pretty poor perception of the teaching profession," says Tamara Hiler with the education think tank Third Way, who conducted a survey of college undergraduates. "They want to be entering careers that are going to be seen as sort of opening doors for them and a lot of times they see teaching as actually closing doors." 

Los Angeles is definitely ready for some football

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-03-13 08:43

That's how much the city of Chicago shelled out for expenses related to police misconduct from 2004-2014. About a fourth of that is tied up in attorney's fees, both for the plaintiffs and the police, who have been historically unwilling to settle.


The year the gender wage gap would close in Florida if it continues to narrow at the current rate, according to an analysis from the Institute for Women's Policy Research reported by the Washington Post. Florida would be the first state to close the gap. The last? Wyoming in 2159.


The last time Los Angeles hosted its own pro-football home game, the Atlantic's CityLab reported. LA is the largest city without a professional football franchise by a significant margin, and no less than 15 teams have been rumored or out-and-out threatened to move there since then.


"Mad Men" wraps up its seven-season run this spring, with the last batch up episodes starting in April. The Hollywood Reporter has an exhaustive oral history of the show, which propelled AMC from a minor movie channel into a prestige drama juggernaut. It's a great weekend long read.


The number of flavors available for the powdered alcohol product "palcohol." The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approved the freeze-dried product on Thursday, which comes in vodka, rum, cosmopolitan, margarita and lemon drop flavors.

10 things we didn't know last week

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-13 08:41
What do mares look for in a stallion, and more nuggets.

'Extra spice' because of defeats

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-13 08:39
England's match against Scotland will have "extra spice" because of their defeats a fortnight ago, says coach Andy Farrell.

Weekend edition: The best of the week's reads

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-13 08:38
A collection of some of the best reads from the BBC News website this week.

Week in pictures: 7-13 March 2015

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-13 08:38
Some of the best news photos from the past week

Go Figure: The week in numbers

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-13 08:38
The week in numbers with our Go Figure images.

Dallas police rule out hate crime

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-13 08:28
Dallas police arrest a suspect in the fatal shooting of an Iraqi migrant, but have rule out the possibility of a hate crime.

Arrests over SA journalist mugging

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-13 08:24
Two men have been arrested after a South African TV journalist was mugged in front of his camera as he was about to go on air.

Tata Steel workers in strike ballot

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-13 08:22
Unions representing Tata Steel workers prepare to ballot members over industrial action after the firm announced a plan to close their pension scheme.

Credit Agencies Agree To Wait Before Adding Medical Debt To Ratings

NPR News - Fri, 2015-03-13 08:22

Insurers sometimes wrangle with patients and for months before paying a bill. A new six-month waiting period will give consumers time to resolve disputes and avoid having their credit ratings dinged.

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Director resigns over Mohammed tweet

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-13 08:08
A Rangers director has resigned amid controversy over a tweet which showed a sexually explicit cartoon of the prophet Mohammed.

'Lazy loner' Bale under fire in Spain

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-13 08:02
Why is Real Madrid's record signing under attack from the Spanish media?

Egypt reveals administrative capital

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-13 07:56
A new website reveals Egypt's plans to build a new administrative and business capital, on the outskirts of Cairo, which will house up to five million residents.