National / International News

Tidal Bay tops National weights

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-11 04:00
Tidal Bay tops the weights for the Grand National at Aintree, ahead of 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Long Run.

Could workers in a Southern state join an auto union?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-02-11 03:54

Workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee will vote on whether they want union representation on Wednesday through Friday. Gov. Bill Haslam* and Sen. Jack Johnson (who is also chair of the state's Commerce and Labor Committee), both oppose the union moving in.

There are two big reasons foreign auto makers who want to build cars in the U.S. look to the Southeast: cheaper labor and generous state incentives. The United Auto Workers union has tried to organize in America's foreign auto plants in previous years, without much success.

"One of our big selling points is that we are right-to-work, and quite frankly I don't think they need that union organization for the benefit of the employees," Johnson argued.

As far as pay disputes and potential strikes? That's going to be tricky for United Auto Workers. 

"I think the UAW does not have an incentive to go in there and jam up wages super-high in such a way that it makes Volkswagen fail," says Aaron Sojourner, a labor economist at the University of Minnesota. Sojourner says if that happens, the union can kiss goodbye any hope of getting into more foreign-owned factories, especially in the South.

 

*CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified the governor of Tennessee. It's Bill Haslam. The text has been corrected.

 

Will Janet Yellen follow the Bernanke plan?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-02-11 03:53

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen appears before Congress on Tuesday before the House Financial Services Committee, her first regular visit since succeeding Ben Bernanke. 

A Fed chair’s testimony -- and responses to members of Congress -- are always scrutinized.  This time, if anything, the scrutiny will be heightened: Not only is Yellen new to the leadership role, there has been increased turmoil in global financial markets of late. Stocks have been volatile after a big selloff in recent weeks. Emerging markets are being dumped on by investors as their curriencies experience volatility; countries with weak trade balance numbers are being pressured to raise the interest rates they offer on government debt, in part to compete with higher rates anticipated for U.S. Treasuries.

This global fluctuation of interest rates is partly due to the Federal Reserve winding down its extraordinary fiscal stimulus policy known as quantitative easing. The Fed has been buying tens of billions of dollars worth of bonds each month to keep interest rates low and encourage more investment and consumption in the U.S.

After a mostly-unexpected announcement late 2013 that increased the likelihood for further tapering moves in the first half of 2014, Yellen meets Congress to discuss concerns such as: ‘Is the job market getting healthier?’, ’Is inflation a danger long-term?’, ‘Are emerging markets a threat to U.S. markets?’, and ‘Could a precipitous slowdown in U.S. or global growth change the course of tapering?’

“I believe that Janet Yellen will be as careful, as forthright, and as candid as Ben Bernanke,” predicts economist Bernard Baumohl of the Economic Outlook Group in Princeton, New Jersey. “And that, I think, is a departure from the kind of obfuscation that we saw with (Alan) Greenspan.”

Baumohl says Yellen will attempt to deflect questions that bear on what the Fed might do in specific situations -- like if a major emerging market defaulted, or if Congress failed to raise the debt ceiling, noting that market participants will listen closely for cues on asset value policy changes  (i.e., for equities and real estate). They’ll be looking for hints as to “whether she is going to be able to prevent, or carefully deflate, any kind of asset bubble that may be emerging,” he added. “She is going to be doing something that no one has done before” in the wake of the financial crisis and the extraordinary fiscal measures to refloat the economy. 

The damage (along with asset bubbles) that inflation-hawks warn is already on the horizon because of the Fed’s quantitative easing will also likely be a topic of questioning, predicts economist John Canally at LPL Financial in Boston.

“Consumers see inflation all the time—at the gas station, at the grocery store,” says Canally. "And it’s infuriating to the average consumer who says ‘Wait a minute, there’s inflation—my food bill’s higher, my gasoline bill’s higher too.' So Yellen may get asked about inflation. But the answers she gives might not be what consumers want to hear.”

Meanwhile, a significant bloc in Congress—and one that crosses party lines—is pushing legislation to limit the Fed’s wide powers over the economy and the financial sector. Karen Petrou, managing partner at Federal Financial Analytics in Washington, D.C., says those lawmakers won’t hesitate to grill Yellen on what they perceive as the Fed’s overreaching regulation and over-intervention in the economy, independent of the will of the legislative branch. That aggressive stance on the Fed’s leadership role originates with Ben Bernanke and his efforts to stabilize markets during the financial crisis, and Yellen also strongly backs the policy.  

“It’s one of the few areas where the Republicans and more liberal Democrats really agree," says Petrou. "They think the Fed is being too good to the big banks, is agreeing to too many international compacts that should be reviewed by Congress. They come together when it gets around to disliking and distrusting the Fed.”

One thing Janet Yellen doesn’t want, says Petrou, is to start a term by having Congress clip her regulatory wings. It’s an eventuality Yellen is likely to fight with both rhetoric, and an effort to fully cooperate fully with Congressional requests for information and additional appearances on the Hill in coming months.

Yellen also appears before the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday.

Fed's Janet Yellen grilled by Congress for the first time

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-02-11 03:53

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen appears before Congress on Tuesday before the House Financial Services Committee, her first regular visit since succeeding Ben Bernanke. 

A Fed chair’s testimony -- and responses to members of Congress -- are always scrutinized.  This time, if anything, the scrutiny will be heightened: Not only is Yellen new to the leadership role, there has been increased turmoil in global financial markets of late. Stocks have been volatile after a big selloff in recent weeks. Emerging markets are being dumped on by investors as their curriencies experience volatility; countries with weak trade balance numbers are being pressured to raise the interest rates they offer on government debt, in part to compete with higher rates anticipated for U.S. Treasuries.

This global fluctuation of interest rates is partly due to the Federal Reserve winding down its extraordinary fiscal stimulus policy known as quantitative easing. The Fed has been buying tens of billions of dollars worth of bonds each month to keep interest rates low and encourage more investment and consumption in the U.S.

After a mostly-unexpected announcement late 2013 that increased the likelihood for further tapering moves in the first half of 2014, Yellen meets Congress to discuss concerns such as: ‘Is the job market getting healthier?’, ’Is inflation a danger long-term?’, ‘Are emerging markets a threat to U.S. markets?’, and ‘Could a precipitous slowdown in U.S. or global growth change the course of tapering?’

“I believe that Janet Yellen will be as careful, as forthright, and as candid as Ben Bernanke,” predicts economist Bernard Baumohl of the Economic Outlook Group in Princeton, New Jersey. “And that, I think, is a departure from the kind of obfuscation that we saw with (Alan) Greenspan.”

Baumohl says Yellen will attempt to deflect questions that bear on what the Fed might do in specific situations -- like if a major emerging market defaulted, or if Congress failed to raise the debt ceiling, noting that market participants will listen closely for cues on asset value policy changes  (i.e., for equities and real estate). They’ll be looking for hints as to “whether she is going to be able to prevent, or carefully deflate, any kind of asset bubble that may be emerging,” he added. “She is going to be doing something that no one has done before” in the wake of the financial crisis and the extraordinary fiscal measures to refloat the economy. 

The damage (along with asset bubbles) that inflation-hawks warn is already on the horizon because of the Fed’s quantitative easing will also likely be a topic of questioning, predicts economist John Canally at LPL Financial in Boston.

“Consumers see inflation all the time—at the gas station, at the grocery store,” says Canally. "And it’s infuriating to the average consumer who says ‘Wait a minute, there’s inflation—my food bill’s higher, my gasoline bill’s higher too.' So Yellen may get asked about inflation. But the answers she gives might not be what consumers want to hear.”

Meanwhile, a significant bloc in Congress—and one that crosses party lines—is pushing legislation to limit the Fed’s wide powers over the economy and the financial sector. Karen Petrou, managing partner at Federal Financial Analytics in Washington, D.C., says those lawmakers won’t hesitate to grill Yellen on what they perceive as the Fed’s overreaching regulation and over-intervention in the economy, independent of the will of the legislative branch. That aggressive stance on the Fed’s leadership role originates with Ben Bernanke and his efforts to stabilize markets during the financial crisis, and Yellen also strongly backs the policy.  

“It’s one of the few areas where the Republicans and more liberal Democrats really agree," says Petrou. "They think the Fed is being too good to the big banks, is agreeing to too many international compacts that should be reviewed by Congress. They come together when it gets around to disliking and distrusting the Fed.”

One thing Janet Yellen doesn’t want, says Petrou, is to start a term by having Congress clip her regulatory wings. It’s an eventuality Yellen is likely to fight with both rhetoric, and an effort to fully cooperate fully with Congressional requests for information and additional appearances on the Hill in coming months.

Yellen also appears before the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday.

Sea threat to force coastal retreat

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-11 03:50
Coastal communities in Wales face being abandoned as rising sea levels mean the cost of maintaining defences can no longer be justified, BBC Wales can reveal.

Firefighter dies suddenly on duty

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-11 03:50
A firefighter dies suddenly after collapsing at the scene of a fire in Lurgan, County Armagh.

Car smoking ban 'due before 2015'

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-11 03:50
A ban on smoking in cars carrying children in England will come into force before the next general election, which is due in 2015, No 10 sources say.

VIDEO: Cameron: Repairs will take time

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-11 03:41
The Prime Minister warns it will "take time" to put things right after the severe flooding that has hit large parts of southern England and Wales.

Is a complete ban on smoking next?

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-11 03:30
Is a complete ban on smoking next?

Shirley Temple Dies; Childhood Movie Star Became Diplomat

NPR News - Tue, 2014-02-11 03:30

Her singing and dancing in movies charmed millions during the Great Depression, when she was the top box-office draw. After leaving show business, Temple (known in her private life as Shirley Temple Black) was an ambassador. She represented the nation at the U.N. and in Prague during the Cold War.

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Egypt sets date for al-Jazeera trial

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-11 03:29
The judicial authorities in Egypt say the trial of 20 journalists, including four foreigners, on terrorism charges will start next week.

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.

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