National / International News

VIDEO: A look back at the life of Shirley Temple

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-11 03:29
Hollywood star Shirley Temple has died at the age of 85, her family has said.

Who, What, Why: How easy is it to do the Heimlich manoeuvre?

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-11 03:23
How easy is it to do the Heimlich manoeuvre?

Can redditors influence lawmakers?

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

Today a list of over 5,000 online companies and organizations want to help, and hurt, two separate legislation moving through capital hill. The bills deals with the NSA and Surveillance. Tumblr, Mozilla, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation are all calling their efforts "The Day We Fight Back."

The website Reddit is also involved. Erik Martin, Reddit's General Manager, describes the pieces of legislation:

"One is called the U.S.A. Freedom Act, that's a bipartisan bill that would curtail some of the NSA's surveillance activities and abuses. The other bill, sort of a competing bill, attempts to legalize and codify the bulk collection of data and phone records, and that's the FISA Improvement Act. So 'The Day We Fight Back' is really getting people to show their support for the U.S.A. Freedom Act and show their disapproval of the FISA Improvement Act."

Martin admits that Reddit is entering a new and tricky area when it decides to push for certain laws over others. But he hopes that posts on Reddit's front page, which gets 19 million views every day, will inspire more dialogue about surveillance.

And maybe some real world action, like people calling their Congressional representatives. Two years ago internet companies helped kill the so-called SOPA and PIPA acts this way. Many felt those bills went too far in protecting intellectual property. The challenge here, Martin says, is getting people to pick up the phone again for an issue as murky as surveillance.

See Martin's call to action to Reddit users here.

Using the internet to influence lawmakers

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

Today a list of over 5,000 online companies and organizations want to help, and hurt, two separate legislation moving through capital hill. The bills deals with the NSA and Surveillance. Tumblr, Mozilla, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation are all calling their efforts "The Day We Fight Back."

The website Reddit is also involved. Erik Martin, Reddit's General Manager, describes the pieces of legislation:

"One is called the U.S.A. Freedom Act, that's a bipartisan bill that would curtail some of the NSA's surveillance activities and abuses. The other bill, sort of a competing bill, attempts to legalize and codify the bulk collection of data and phone records, and that's the FISA Improvement Act. So 'The Day We Fight Back' is really getting people to show their support for the U.S.A. Freedom Act and show their disapproval of the FISA Improvement Act."

Martin admits that Reddit is entering a new and tricky area when it decides to push for certain laws over others. But he hopes that posts on Reddit's front page, which gets 19 million views every day, will inspire more dialogue about surveillance.

And maybe some real world action, like people calling their Congressional representatives. Two years ago internet companies helped kill the so-called SOPA and PIPA acts this way. Many felt those bills went too far in protecting intellectual property. The challenge here, Martin says, is getting people to pick up the phone again for an issue as murky as surveillance.

See Martin's call to action to Reddit users here.

Jackson berates confused TV host

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-11 02:56
Actor Samuel L Jackson hauls up a US TV host after being mistaken for fellow star Laurence Fishburne.

VIDEO: What to do if your business floods

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-11 02:52
Graeme Trudgill from the British Insurance Brokers Association discusses what people should do if they have been affected by flooding.

US-Italian mafia raids catch 26

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-11 02:48
Police have arrested 26 suspected mafia members in the US and Italy in a joint operation targeting a new drug trafficking route.

VIDEO: Swan project celebrates 50 years

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-11 02:47
A research project started by conservationist Sir Peter Scott, recording the unique faces of migratory swans visiting Slimbridge in Gloucestershire, is celebrating its 50th year.

Berlusconi in Italy bribery trial

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-11 02:43
Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi goes on trial for allegedly bribing a senator in 2006 to join his party.

AUDIO: Is Jane Eyre a feminist icon?

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-11 02:21
Sally Cookson and Beatrix Campbell discuss a new interpretation of Jane Eyre at the Bristol Old Vic.

Van Wolfswinkel happy Toure not banned

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-11 02:19
Norwich's Ricky van Wolfswinkel welcomes the FA's decision not to charge Manchester City's Yaya Toure with violent conduct.

Summerhayes finishes seventh in final

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-11 02:02
Britain's Katie Summerhayes finishes seventh in the women's ski slopestyle final at the Sochi Winter Olympics.

Mantel's new portrait creates first

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-11 01:59
A portrait of Booker Prize-winning novelist Hilary Mantel will become the first painting of a living writer to be displayed in the British Library.

Silicon Galley? Seeking innovation off-shore

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-02-11 01:47

Could Silicon Valley become more of an island? An island is both an outpost with its own rules that's also a bit cut off from the wider society -- a combination of characteristics which emerged during a series of conversations on whether an island of innovation would end up a richer or poorer place if left to its own devices. 

I invited Dario Mutabdjiza, CEO of a start-up called Blueseed, to explain his out-to-sea vision at a Half Moon Bay California pier that may end up launching a thousand entreprenuerial ships. If he can raise enough money, Mutabdjiza would like to put a collection of floating dorms and offices just past the limit of current US immigration law, about 12 miles out to sea. The "venture capital row" near Stanford is about 30 minutes away from this wharf.

“The most realistic possibility would be [to use] a cruise ship, a used cruised ship,” Mutabdjiza says. The cost to maintain the floating real estate might even be competitive with the Bay Area's high-priced commercial rental space.

“They're beautiful, they have rooms, they have theaters, they have restaurants.  Any cruise ship would be good enough to begin with. We wouldn't have to do much retrofitting.”

 

Sailing Through Immigration Laws 

Many entrepreneurs and-or engineers have bright ideas they'd like to develop in the United States, but it's a difficult process getting them a full-time work visa to pursue that dream, Mutabdjiza says, who sees a more flexible business multiple entry visa as an easier get: “What you cannot do on those [traditional full-time work] visas, and that's where Blueseed comes in, you cannot legally work in the United States. So the work on their startup would happen [with a business multiple entry visa] on a ship. The coding and the business development, and the networking activities would happen in Silicon Valley.”  He concedes the work visa concerns could be better solved if the U.S. Congress changed immigration laws. 

If this seems familiar--a floating solution to a policy problem--you may remember how the overseers of British broadcasting denied the public consistent rock n' roll until pirate radio stations went on the air from ships at sea. 

 

Maritime Urban Planning 

Another Northern California-based outfit even has a grander vision: Entire floating cities in an attempt to solve what's seen as a broken government that stands in the way of innovation.

“The end goal is to see a thousand floating cities each competing for citizens,” says Randolph Hencken, executive director of the Seasteading Institute, which wants to break what supporters see as a government monopoly… on government.

“It's strange to think of governance as a technology, but a technology is something we use to get things done.  Most technologies advance through innovation and competition in the marketplace,” he says. “Right now just a few big firms have that monopoly on government.  IF we can open up the blue frontier to humanity, each competing for citizens, we'll see great advances in government.”

Floating cities could be part of a liberatian-flavored utopian community -- think Hershey, Pennsylvania or the community in Texas tried by cereal tycoon C.W. Post.  When the Seasteading Institute put up a survey, more than a thousand people said they want in.

“I think that people who are called to the seasteading want to do good for the world,” Hencken says.

 

Pirate Bay (IRL)

Might a community beyond the reach of many existing laws attract pirates? “I think that while there have to be rules, there has to be safety out there,” Hencken replies. “The ocean is a harsh environment, it's not a place that will invite people to do bad things.”

The first goal would be to start small with a ship docked in the protected harbor of a friendly country, which isn't likely to be California or the U.S. any time soon. 

Financially, Mutabdjiza rejects any accusation that Blueseed’s vessels will be used as offshore tax dodge, saying a typical venture capitalist looking to invest would insist that that a start-up incorporate-and therefore pay taxes-in actual U.S. jurisdiction.

 

Tomorrow, our Silicon Island conversations continue with one of the Valley's most influential venture capitalists, Tim Draper.  He wants Silicon Valley to be its own state and is pushing a ballot initiative to make it so. 

Queen reach six million album sales

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-11 01:34
British rock band Queen make UK chart history, becoming the first act to sell six million copies of an individual album with their first Greatest Hits collection.

UK seeing 'right kind of growth'

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-11 01:24
The UK economy is starting to see the right kind of growth, says the CBI, but it warns that uncertainty ahead of the election could be a "mood killer".

Two dead after car and van crash

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-11 01:24
Two people, aged 80 and 77, die and another is seriously injured in a crash between a car and van in Aberdeenshire.

Should the post office sell personal loans?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-02-11 01:23

Imagine you've just walked into a U.S Postal Service branch office in 2016.

Mail that package -- check.

Buy stamps – check.

Apply for a loan --- uh, check?

The Service’s independent Inspector General wants post offices to provide basic financial services, both to help low-income people who are underserved by banks and to shore up its own ailing balance sheet. If you want to meet unbanked and underbanked people, go stand outside ACE Cash Express in Arlington, Virginia. Stevenn Foster just paid off a $500 payday loan, "and interest was $136,” he says, referring to the fees. That gives his short term loan an effective APR of several hundred percent.

“If that’s what they say I have to pay, I pay, I don’t have no problem with that,” Foster says. “I mean, they been good to me.

He can’t get a loan from his regular bank. In fact, most people here say they’re grateful to have somewhere to cash checks and pay bills.

But just a block away, there’s a post office.

David Williams is Inspector General of the U.S. Postal Service and if he gets his way, that post office would offer some of the same services as ACE Cash Express, for less. He says that would be a huge draw for the 68 million people who are underserved by banks.

“People that are currently in a pretty desperate situation,” he says. “They live in economic deserts today, they don’t have access to anyone other than these enterprises that charge 300% plus (for a loan).”

Post offices already provide money orders. Williams thinks they should expand to provide pre-paid debit-type cards (people could load cash or paychecks onto the card), savings products, and even simple loans.

He says collecting a fraction of the money now spent on interest and fees for payday lenders and other banking alternatives would bring in nine billion dollars a year. That’s the payoff for the Postal Service, which has lost about 25 billion dollars since 2011, due in part to a Congressional requirement that the Postal Service pre-fund retiree health benefits.

So, does additional revenue + helping the underbanked = win-win?

Lauren Saunders is managing attorney with the National Consumer Law Center. She likes the creative approach to reaching people underserved by traditional banking. But, “getting into loans, I think, is a little more of a tricky area,” she says.

The idea is that borrowers at post offices  would arrange to have loan payments automatically withheld from their paychecks. That would lower risk and interest rates.

“A lender may feel confident they’re gonna collect on your loan if they get to take part of your paycheck before you get it,” Saunders says. “But that doesn’t mean you can afford it, and that you can make it through the month, and pay for the necessities and expenses that you have, without getting yourself into a cycle of debt.”

Even with better terms, many low-income people just can’t afford more debt.

Still, the Inspector General’s postal banking idea is gaining steam with Congressional Democrats. The Postal Service itself says it’s evaluating the recommendations.

Should the U.S. Postal Service get into financial services?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-02-11 01:23

Imagine you've just walked into a U.S Postal Service branch office in 2016.

Mail that package -- check.

Buy stamps – check.

Apply for a loan --- uh, check?

The Service’s independent Inspector General wants post offices to provide basic financial services, both to help low-income people who are underserved by banks and to shore up its own ailing balance sheet. If you want to meet unbanked and underbanked people, go stand outside ACE Cash Express in Arlington, Virginia. Stevenn Foster just paid off a $500 payday loan, "and interest was $136,” he says, referring to the fees. That gives his short term loan an effective APR of several hundred percent.

“If that’s what they say I have to pay, I pay, I don’t have no problem with that,” Foster says. “I mean, they been good to me.

He can’t get a loan from his regular bank. In fact, most people here say they’re grateful to have somewhere to cash checks and pay bills.

But just a block away, there’s a post office.

David Williams is Inspector General of the U.S. Postal Service and if he gets his way, that post office would offer some of the same services as ACE Cash Express, for less. He says that would be a huge draw for the 68 million people who are underserved by banks.

“People that are currently in a pretty desperate situation,” he says. “They live in economic deserts today, they don’t have access to anyone other than these enterprises that charge 300% plus (for a loan).”

Post offices already provide money orders. Williams thinks they should expand to provide pre-paid debit-type cards (people could load cash or paychecks onto the card), savings products, and even simple loans.

He says collecting a fraction of the money now spent on interest and fees for payday lenders and other banking alternatives would bring in nine billion dollars a year. That’s the payoff for the Postal Service, which has lost about 25 billion dollars since 2011, due in part to a Congressional requirement that the Postal Service pre-fund retiree health benefits.

So, does additional revenue + helping the underbanked = win-win?

Lauren Saunders is managing attorney with the National Consumer Law Center. She likes the creative approach to reaching people underserved by traditional banking. But, “getting into loans, I think, is a little more of a tricky area,” she says.

The idea is that borrowers at post offices  would arrange to have loan payments automatically withheld from their paychecks. That would lower risk and interest rates.

“A lender may feel confident they’re gonna collect on your loan if they get to take part of your paycheck before you get it,” Saunders says. “But that doesn’t mean you can afford it, and that you can make it through the month, and pay for the necessities and expenses that you have, without getting yourself into a cycle of debt.”

Even with better terms, many low-income people just can’t afford more debt.

Still, the Inspector General’s postal banking idea is gaining steam with Congressional Democrats. The Postal Service itself says it’s evaluating the recommendations.

'Look beyond exams,' schools urged

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-11 01:00
A cross-party parliamentary group urges schools to be "more than just exam factories" and promote character and resilience.

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