National / International News

Fed in easy decision to end stimulus

BBC - Wed, 2014-11-19 11:42
Despite turmoil in emerging markets, the US Federal Reserve reached an easy consensus to end its stimulus programme, latest minutes reveal.

NBC And Netflix Shelve Bill Cosby Projects As New Rape Claim Emerges

NPR News - Wed, 2014-11-19 11:07

A TV comedy Bill Cosby was developing for NBC has been canceled, after new allegations of rape against the comedian. Netflix made a similar move late Tuesday, shelving a comedy special.

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Why the New York Fed is in the hot seat

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-11-19 11:00

Out of the twelve banks in the Federal Reserve system, only New York has a permanent spot on the interest-rate-setting Federal Open Markets Committee.

Only New York oversees the critical Wall Street institutions like Goldman Sachs, and only New York is under congressional  scrutiny this week for its cozy relationship with the institutions it is supposed to regulate. 

After This American Life and ProPublica published stories using secret tapes that seemed to demonstrate regulators deferring to the institutions they regulate, Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio called for hearings, which will take place this Friday. Brown plans to hold NY Fed President William Dudley accountable, and push him to prioritize regulation as highly as interest rates.

Meanwhile, Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island has put forward legislation that would change how the next William Dudley would be selected. Reed would take the decision out of the hands of boardmembers - mainly business people - and put it in the hands of the President. MIT economist Simon Johnson says that's exactly the right approach. 

You know what's not selling like hotcakes? Hotcakes

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-11-19 11:00

In the past five years, pancake mix sales dropped 1.5 percent, according to Bloomberg.

The report said we spend on average $1.16 a year on pancake mix. If you do the math, that's about the same as buying one box of Bisquick every three years.

It turns out hotcakes aren't selling like hotcakes after all. Maybe it's time to update the idiom for modern times. 

Sadly "selling like kale" just doesn't have the same ring to it. 

How McDonald's conquered India

BBC - Wed, 2014-11-19 10:51
How McDonald's changed its menu to succeed in India

With Hand-Sewn Ships, Oman Revives A Glorious Maritime Past

NPR News - Wed, 2014-11-19 10:37

The rich maritime history dates back more than a millennium. There's a group dedicated to reviving it by making boats the old-fashioned way: with coconut palm fiber, shark liver oil and no nails.

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Just What Is In Pumpkin Spice Flavor? (Hint: Not Pumpkin)

NPR News - Wed, 2014-11-19 10:33

Pumpkin spice is the flavor of the season, but does anyone think there's real pumpkin in the "science goo" in our lattes? Turns out flavor companies have come up with a simple chemical recipe for it.

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VIDEO: Near miss in lorry and car crash

BBC - Wed, 2014-11-19 10:26
A pedestrian had a lucky escape when he was crossing the road in Zhejiang Province, according to China's state television.

Detective 'kissed junior officers'

BBC - Wed, 2014-11-19 10:24
A detective sergeant accused of sex assaults kissed, touched and stroked junior officers and "checked out" female crime victims, a jury hears.

Me, Myself And The Loo: A Woman's Future Can Rest On A Toilet

NPR News - Wed, 2014-11-19 10:22

"My Toilet," a new photo exhibit in London, documents how commodes — or the lack of a proper one — affect the health, safety and education of girls and women around the world.

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Apple to push Beats to all iPhones

BBC - Wed, 2014-11-19 10:13
Apple plans to push the Beats streaming music service to every iPhone in the new year, according to a report in the Financial Times newspaper.

VIDEO: Buffalo trucks dump mountains of snow

BBC - Wed, 2014-11-19 10:08
A massive snowstorm has wreaked havoc in the north-eastern US, as temperatures plummeted to below freezing in all 50 US states overnight.

New Cosby TV show scrapped by NBC

BBC - Wed, 2014-11-19 10:03
US TV network NBC has scrapped a proposed Bill Cosby project after accusations that he sexually assaulted women resurfaced in recent weeks.

Fifa whistleblower in safety fear

BBC - Wed, 2014-11-19 10:02
Whistleblower Phaedra Al-Majid says she has been "introduced to a culture of fear and threats," after making bribery allegations against Fifa members.

Drug windfall raises questions for foundations

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-11-19 10:00

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation announced on Wednesday that it's getting $3.3 billion in the sale of its royalty rights for a drug manufactured by Vertex Pharmaceuticals.

The foundation invested at least $100 million in the research for the drug Kalydeco, which granted the non-profit a share of the profits. The drug has proven successful in treating some cystic-fibrosis patients.

But it's also very expensive, costing a reported $300,000.

The Foundation’s big payday has raised some eyebrows about whether it's profiting from a drug that’s a financial burden for the very patients it's supposed to help.

"I don’t know whether to celebrate or not...It’s going to take a while to sink in,” says David Orenstein who treats cystic fibrosis at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. “The scale of the money that's involved here is phenomenal."

When Vertex first came out with the new drug, Orenstein took issue with the price. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation says it’s had no influence over the price of the drug, and the research it funded was essential to getting the drug developed.

"On the big picture, it’s very similar to what almost all disease foundations do,” says George Annas, a  health law and bioethics professor at Boston University. “Most of them fund research by academics, but it’s not a big leap to fund research by a biotech company on the theory that they are more likely to actually translate their research into a product.”

But so far foundations have not seen returns on their investments anywhere near the scale of billions. And Doctor Peter Bach of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center says he won’t be surprised if he sees big paydays again in the future.

“This will be an outlier until it happens again,” Bach says, “Drugs that get approved even for rare conditions can command essentially infinitely high prices.”

And if foundations benefit from those prices, he says, they could face a conflict of interest. 

Qatar's ambitions turn to Olympics

BBC - Wed, 2014-11-19 09:32
Having added athletics to its collection of world championships, Qatar wants sport's biggest prize, the 2024 Olympics.

Kabul foreigners' compound attacked

BBC - Wed, 2014-11-19 09:15
Police in Kabul shoot dead four Taliban militants during an attack on a compound housing foreign workers in Afghanistan's capital.

Pork gelatine flu spray concerns

BBC - Wed, 2014-11-19 09:14
A flu vaccination programme in Lancashire has been criticised by some Muslim groups during the latest stage in its roll-out, in Lancashire.

Bono bike accident details revealed

BBC - Wed, 2014-11-19 09:12
U2 frontman Bono broke his humerus and fractured his eye socket and left shoulder blade in his recent bicycle accident, the New York hospital that treated him reveals.

Will SNP deal Labour a fatal blow?

BBC - Wed, 2014-11-19 09:01
The Yes campaign lost the referendum, but support for the SNP is still growing in Scotland. Laura Kuenssberg looks at the potential consequences for Labour.