National / International News

Watch It Swallow An Entire Tree In Seconds

NPR News - Wed, 2014-07-02 03:03

It's got big iron teeth and a powerful jaw. When it finds a 30-foot tree it goes to the top, opens its mouth and — watch this.

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PODCAST: Companies get healthy

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-07-02 03:00

More on the lawsuit filed against Goldman Sachs that highlights alleged gender discrimination at the banking firm. Plus, the US Marshals' auction of bitcoin may have had an unintentional positive side-effect for the digital currency. Also, a look into why some companies are trying to offer healthier products without any prompting from government or legislation. 

Can companies Unilever and PepsiCo make us healthier?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-07-02 03:00

For five years, Derek Yach pushed to make PepsiCo – the brand behind munchies like Lays and Cheetos – a producer of healthier, lower sodium, lower sugar foods and beverages.

The responses were both sweet and salty.

“There are parts of a company where the support and awareness of the needs to change are very high,” Yach reflects. “But of course there were many who isolated me.”

Yach is attending this year's Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado as corporate insiders reflect on their role in creating a healthy society. He was brought on by PepsiCo’s CEO, Indra Nooyi. Yach says she saw the potential of a multinational to influence public health with different products.

“While I was there, I saw the growth of hummus, the launch of dairy products for the first time, yogurt, and we saw a range of other healthier products being tested," says Yach.

Still, the company wasn’t willing to invest as much into research and new products as Yach had hoped. He's now with a health research group called The Vitality Institute, but says unlikely companies are coming together with an interest in health and prevention.

“They include companies like Samsung, Microsoft, General Electric, small startups,” he says. “They’re looking of a root to profitability through new products to promote better health, whether it's devices or smart phones, or alerts, or adherence. And they’re looking at how it’s going to benefit the bottom line, and people’s personal health.”

Power From Behind The Counter

Rather than wait for consensus, or for the government to make the first move, drugstore chain CVS is trying to make the products behind its counters healthier. In October, CVS will stop selling tobacco products altogether, wiping out an estimated $2 billion a year in sales.

Dr. Troy Brennan, Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President of CVS, says it will be only a short-term loss.

“If you’re creative, you’ll be creative to the bottom line,” Brennan says. “Taking two billion out now, long-term that’s going to be a smart decision.”

He admits a lot of people were holding their breath before the announcement, expecting the stock to drop. Instead, Brennan says, it went up.

“We’re beginning to know we have to do something to take better care of ourselves. Companies that do those sorts of things, I think consumers are attracted to that and that’s the business interest.”

Across the pond, supermarket chain Tesco is also trying to nudge customers towards healthier decisions. By the end of the year, Tesco will remove displays of chocolates and candies at the checkouts in grocery and convenience stores.

Many more corporations are turning inwards and focusing first on wellness among employees. Yach says whether companies are changing products in stores or implementing health programs for workers, evaluation by a third-party will be key to understanding what works.

“The win will come through seeing whether the companies who do the right thing will see the uplift on the share price over the long term,” he says.

VIDEO: Blast-off for Nasa CO2 satellite

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-02 02:58
Nasa has launched a mission dedicated to measuring carbon dioxide (CO2) from space.

ISPs take legal action against GCHQ

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-02 02:56
Internet service providers from several countries are taking the UK intelligence agency to task over alleged illegal network intrusion.

Killers fail to win referendum vote

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-02 02:47
Appeal court judges reject a legal bid by two convicted murderers to overturn a ban on serving prisoners voting in the independence referendum

VIDEO: Police and guns on Tinder

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-02 02:42
Should police pose on dating sites with their weapons?

Mothercare rejects £266m takeover bid

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-02 02:41
Mothercare has rejected two takeover proposals from US firm Destination Maternity which value the mother and baby products retailer at £266m

Chikungunya cases rise in Caribbean

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-02 02:36
There has been a sharp increase in the number of suspected cases of the mosquito-born chikungunya virus in the Caribbean, health officials say.

20mph school speed zones approved

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-02 02:30
20mph limits are to be introduced outside every school in Flintshire.

The next financial crisis?

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-02 02:27
Are asset managers fomenters of lethal new financial bubbles?

Church elder jailed for sex abuse

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-02 02:24
A senior Jehovah's Witness is jailed for 14 years for sexually abusing women and girl worshippers.

Isis demands Iraq rebels' allegiance

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-02 02:20
Sunni rebels in Iraq face Isis allegiance dilemma

British MEPs in angry Europe debate

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-02 02:14
Angry exchanges involving British MEPs mark the first debate of the newly-elected European Parliament.

How a hotel earns five stars: the checklist

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-07-02 02:00

Hyatt is building a five-star hotel on West 57th street in Manhattan. According to Forbes Travel Guide, there are only seven others in New York City. The hotel’s pool will feature underwater speakers with a custom soundtrack from nearby Carnegie Hall, and the hotel's bath amenities are perfumed with Tubereuse 40, a custom scent created by Le Labo. 

Hanya Yanagihara, an editor at large at Conde Nast Traveler, says there are various evaluative bodies - AAA, the Michelin Guide - that rank hotels. For a hotel to win that coveted fifth star, certain standards must be met. 

“There has to be a 24-hour reception area, and there has to be an onsite restaurant, there has to be 24-hour room service, there has to be express dry cleaning service,” she says. 

Forbes Travel Guide uses 800 standards on a checklist used to evaluate hotels. Michael Cascone, the guide’s president and COO, says 70 percent of its secret algorithm is tied to customer service.

"No one leaves a hotel and says, 'you know what? That lobby was beautiful, but the service was bad and I’m going back.'” 

Bruce Wallin, editorial director at luxury lifestyle magazine "Robb Report," which covers hotels, says five-star guests expect 400-thread count sheets and nice artwork.

He agrees that top-notch hotels need to maintain high-end facilities, or as he puts it: "It can't be fake wood and Formica."

But Wallin also points out that ranking systems can be too focused on checklist items, and as a result, might overlook the less tangible elements of a hotel. This could potentially excluding smaller, yet special, properties.

What really sets top hotels apart, he notes, is service and surprise.

“In Milan there’s a hotel where every afternoon, you get a knock on your door, and instead of housecleaning it’s a cocktail cart and they’ll make whatever drink you want, right in your room," says Wallin.

But the real surprise may be six and seven star hotels, which Yanagihara says can be found in Dubai.

"It can mean that every guest has acess to their own Bentley, or there’s a helicopter pad on the roof," she says. 

The ranking, notes Yanagihara, is not formally recognized by any governing body.

A Five-Star Rating by the numbers

Inspectors for Forbes Travel Guide’s respond with a “yes” or “no” answer to certain standards during an incognito visit to a hotel. The hundreds of yes's and no’s on the inspection report are tallied into a score that ultimately earns the hotel a "Five-Star," "Four-Star," or "Recommended" rating. Here's some more numbers behind a Five-Star rating:

800 items

The number of items on the checklist that determines star ratings.

70%

The percentage of items on the checklist that are specifically related to service quality.

To receive a Five-Star Rating:

10 minutes

The amount of time within which bags should arrive after registration.

90 minutes

The amount of time within which the staff at the pool should offer a complimentary drink on a warm day.

5 minutes

The window of time surrounding the estimated time of delivery within which room service should be delivered.

24 hours

The amount of time that both a reception desk and a restaurant must be available and open.

To receive a five-star rating, a specific welcome gift should be provided, and bathrooms should be supplied with a variety of items the guest would find useful. For example, guests at Park Hyatt New York will be offered bathroom amenities scented with Le Labo Tubereuse 40, a custom designed scent for the hotel.

Bitcoin auction gives the currency more legitimacy

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-07-02 02:00

The US Marshals Service has announced that the bitcoins sold in its auction on Friday went to one, lucky bidder. Now, the almost 30,000 bitcoins have been transferred to that winner. 

The Marshals routinely seize the property of criminals, but only auction stuff off that’s legal. You wouldn’t have a heroin auction, for example. But they did auction the bitcoin seized from the black market website, Silk Road.

Why auction bitcoin?

“Because bitcoin is a legitimate asset," says Gil Luria, a managing director at Wedbush Securities. "And now the US Marshals Service has acknowledged that.”

But even with that legitimacy, bitcoin still isn’t easy to trade. To get it, you have to go to unregulated markets in places like Slovenia or China. Still, CoinDesk US editor Pete Rizzo says the auction helps.

“Is it raising awareness beyond where bitcoin was maybe a month ago?  I think absolutely," he says. "Does it still have a long ways to go?  I think yes.”

The new respectability has pushed up the price of bitcoin.  And even though it fell when the Marshals first announced their auction, it’s made up the lost ground, and then some.

 

 

 

 

 

Life for killing homeless love rival

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-02 01:57
A man who beat his homeless love rival to death while consumed with "jealous rage" is jailed for life.

VIDEO: First look at new aircraft carrier

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-02 01:57
Jonathan Beale takes a look around the Royal Navy's new aircraft carrier ahead of her naming ceremony.

Nasa launches carbon dioxide observer

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-02 01:57
The US space agency lofts a high-resolution carbon dioxide observatory, to study where the gas is being emitted and absorbed at the Earth's surface.

From Austin Powers to documentary maker

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-02 01:54
Mike Myers on why he's turned documentary maker
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