National / International News

Charges in Canada Senate expense row

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-04 11:50
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police charge a senator and an ex-senator with fraud, saying they claimed expenses to which they were not entitled.

Swansea City sack boss Laudrup

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-04 11:39
Michael Laudrup is sacked as Swansea manager and club captain Garry Monk placed in temporary charge of the club.

Navy Investigating Alleged Cheating By Nuclear Trainees

NPR News - Tue, 2014-02-04 11:14

The cheating did not involve trainees working with nuclear weapons, so the scandal is not comparable to the one rocking the Air Force.

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Teen guilty of murdering grandmother

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-04 11:10
A teenager from Hull is found guilty of the murder of his grandmother and the attempted murder of his grandfather in an attack "like the film Psycho".

Forex allegations 'as bad as Libor'

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-04 11:07
Allegations of foreign exchange rate-fixing at major banks are "every bit as bad" as the Libor scandal, the boss of the UK's financial regulator tells MPs.

Poverty school failure link 'a myth'

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-04 10:55
The most disadvantaged pupils in Shanghai match the maths test results of wealthy pupils in the UK, says the OECD.

Scotland's gay marriage bill passed

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-04 10:49
A bill which allows same-sex weddings to take place in Scotland is passed by MSPs in the Scottish Parliament.

Microsoft's great debate

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-02-04 10:47

With 22 years under his belt, Satya Nadella is the consummate Microsoft insider. But don’t think that experience made him a shoo-in for the top job.  

One reason Microsoft went nearly six months without a CEO was because executives spent time looking for their new one outside the company. Microsoft is a case study of what so many aging technology companies -- from Intel to Hewlett Packard -- are going through.

The old line businesses still bring in a ton of cash but they’re slow to innovate, said Michael Cusumano, a professor at MIT.  Often times, he says, companies like Microsoft consider bringing in an outsider to provide that spark.

"I think they juggled all these balls in the air and concluded that it would be too difficult for an outsider to come," said Cusumano. "You really need someone that understands the culture and people to really get the  most out of the organization."

Cusumano said that Microsoft seems to have found somebody who can keep the company pumping money, and hopefully, turn it in the right direction.

Bob Sutton, the author of "Scaling Up Excellence", thinks picking an insider was the right decision.

"Although there’s the mystery and the allure of having the outsider ride in on the white horse," said Sutton. "There’s actually a large body of academic research that shows when outsiders come in, they do worse."

Sutton pointed to a study that showed former GE C.E.O.’s who went on to head-up other companies did consistently worse than insiders. And that trend holds across industries.

Sutton said the problem is that outsiders often think there’s a silver bullet. That is, if they lay-off departments and issue mandates, a turnaround is sure to happen. But he said, that approach ignores the human factor.  

"Every organization has its own quirks and history and culture," Sutton said. "And it turns out it takes a very long time to learn where, if you will, the bodies are buried and where the good things are."

But insiders can be tainted by company culture, said Harlan Platt, who teaches turnarounds at Northeastern University.

"I got into the business of turnarounds by asking this silly question, ‘How do you find a good manager at a bad company?’" Platt said.

Platt said Microsoft’s poor culture of innovation suggests that a company man might not be the best bet.

What exactly is a market correction?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-02-04 10:47

All told, 2014 hasn’t been the rosiest year on Wall Street so far. The markets are up a bit today after a dismal yesterday, but the Dow Jones Industrial Average is about 1,000 points lower than it was at the beginning of the year, and the S&P 500 is off about 75 points.

So: We’ve been hearing a lot lately about how a market correction is coming. Should we be bracing for the fall?

Historically speaking, yes.

Technically, a correction is a change of 10 percent or more, so the Dow would need to lose around 650 more points and the S&P 500 would need to drop by another 100.

"The S&p 500 has averaged a correction, that is a drop of 10 percent of more, every 18 months and currently we haven’t had one since 2011, so we’re about 28 months overdue," says Alec Young, Global Equity Strategist at S&P Capital IQ.

Plus, many key economic indicators like manufacturing and unemployment indicate stocks should be a little lower says Bill Stone, Chief Investment Strategist at PNC Wealth Management. "We will get a 10 percent pullback sometime. Whether this is it or not is hard to say, but you ought to a be ready for it."

Still, we’re probably not talking about a crash, because companies’ profits are pretty much in line with current stock values.

"The best measures of long run stock market fundamentals, the price to earnings ratio, is not in bubble territory," says economist Heidi Shierholz, with the Economic Policy Institute in Washington DC.

But those profits don’t necessarily mean a strong economy. In fact, says Shierholz, a lot of Wall Street’s success has come at the expense of main street’s economy.

"The very weak labor market actually strongly reduces wage growth, and is one of the reasons corporate profits are doing so well right now."

As for investors, PNC’s Stone says they should try to sit tight.

"That is, unfortunately, I guess the price of owning what has long term been the best performing asset class... you probably need Maalox along the way."

Not the extra-strength Maalox we needed in 2008, though. Most economists expect the market will end 2014 a little higher than where it started.

Seahawks Say They Figured Out Manning's Signals

NPR News - Tue, 2014-02-04 10:44

Like all teams do, Seattle studied its opponent. Then during the game, says cornerback Richard Sherman, the Seahawks figured out the hand signals that the Denver quarterback was using. Other teams do that too. Seattle certainly took advantage of things, though, and dominated during the 43-8 win.

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Curiosity Update: NASA Mulls Sending The Rover Over A Sand Dune

NPR News - Tue, 2014-02-04 10:39

Other rovers have gotten stuck in similar terrains, so this is a delicate operation for the Mini-Cooper-sized vehicle.

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Tube strike expected as row goes on

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-04 10:30
A strike on the London Underground is due to start later as a row continues over the proposed closure of ticket offices.

Why the FCC pays for landlines but not broadband Internet

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-02-04 10:28

In a speech today, President Barack Obama talked up plans to give all schools fast internet connections. And he came prepared with a sound bite:

 "In a country where we expect free Wi-Fi with our coffee, we should definitely demand it in our schools," he said. 

Many of the high-stakes tests students will take in coming years are administered online. According research by the non-profit Education Superhighway, about a third of schools have enough broadband to give the most advanced tests. The group's director, Evan Marwell, says another third could give more basic online exams. 

"And then we still have a third of our schools that don't have enough bandwitdth to administer a test on a computer," says Marwell.  "That's a problem."

Tomorrow the Federal Communications Commission plans to announce what the President calls "a $2 billion down payment" toward fixing that problem. 

The FCC currently distributes more than that to schools for telecom -- a $2.4 billion fund called E-Rate, paid for out of fees collected by telecom companies. But so far, only half of E-Rate's money goes toward broadband connections. Some pays for cellphones, and a quarter of it pays for phone service: -- translation: landlines. 

"That made sense back at the beginning of the program [in 1996]," says Marwell. "How did most schools get on the Internet in 1996? Dial up. But today, how many schools get on the internet with dial up?"

When E-Rate funds do pay for broadband, it turns out that we don’t really know exactly how much bandwidth schools get for the money.

"That would be really useful information," says Danielle Kehl, a policy analyst with the New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute.

Kehl says the FCC doesn't get information from broadband providers about the rates schools pay and the bandwidth they get. For a simple reason: "They don’t actually ask the telecom providers for that precise information," she says.

She hopes the agency will change that don’t ask, don’t tell practice.  

How Obamacare will shrink the workforce

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-02-04 10:27

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its 2014-2024 budget and economic outlook this morning. It is a forecast of what the economy will look like over the next decade. The headline? The economy is growing and the deficit is shrinking – for now, at least. 

The non-partisan CBO also looked at what effects the Affordable Care Act – Obamacare – will have on the deficit and the labor market. The headline here? The equivalent of 2 million or so fewer full-time workers. 

According to the analysis, some Americans will choose to scale back how much they work. Thanks to Obamacare, they will decide to go part-time. One reason: As your income goes down, the help you can get from the government goes up.

Katherine Baicker, a professor of health economics at Harvard University, puts it another way: "If your subsidy for purchasing health insurance goes down as your income rises, that provides some disincentive to have higher income."

So, it could be advantageous for an individual to work a job that pays less than four times the federal poverty level, which works out to about $46,000 a year.

"That’s not a wealthy person, but it covers a bigger share of the distribution of people than you might think, if you were just thinking about poor people," Baicker says.

We’re talking about tens of millions of Americans.

Some will work less, knowing they can get health insurance through government-run exchanges. Others will stop working altogether. Two million fewer full-time workers by 2017 sounds bad. Is it?

"Yeah, I mean, I hate to be an economist for you, but this is sort of an 'on the one hand, on the other hand' kind of answer," says Craig Garthwaite, an assistant professor of management and strategy at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, and co-author of a paper called “Public Health Insurance, Labor Supply, and Employment Lock.”

One the one hand, “we want people to participate in the labor force,” he says. On the other hand, he says, Americans will be able to pick jobs that are good fits without having to worry about losing their health insurance.

And some older Americans will be able to retire sooner – namely, people in their sixties who would have had a hard time finding affordable coverage on their own, says Jonathan Gruber, an economist at MIT who helped write the Affordable Care Act.

"These are people who were sort of chained to their desks by the failures in the individual insurance market," Gruber says.

The CBO says its predictions are subject to "substantial uncertainty." That comes with the territory given all the uncertainty about how implantation of the Affordable Care Act will play out.

BP boss warns of Scottish uncertainty

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-04 10:15
Oil giant BP boss Bob Dudley has warned there are "big uncertainties" for the company over the possibility of Scotland becoming independent.

Woman jailed for Caribbean killing

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-04 10:15
A Cardiff woman is jailed for 12 years for killing her husband in a road crash in the Dominican Republic.

Data reveals England's fattest areas

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-04 10:06
Copeland in West Cumbria is the fattest local authority area in England, according to new government figures.

Kidnap gang 'boss' was Tory activist

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-04 10:02
Convicted kidnap gang "boss" Mujeeb Bhutto was a Conservative activist before he joined UKIP, but the Tories say a bid to rejoin them has been blocked.

'Record' US convicts cleared in 2013

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-04 09:58
A record 87 US convicts were cleared of their alleged crimes last year, including one who had been sentenced to death, according to a new study.

Alcohol floor price announced

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-04 09:57
The government confirms a plan to ban extreme discounting of alcohol in England and Wales, to try to stop shops using major brands as loss-leaders.

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