National / International News

Actor-Comedian Robin Williams Dies At 63

NPR News - Mon, 2014-08-11 15:33

Williams was found in his California home Monday. The cause of death is believed to be suicide, according to a statement by the Marin County Sheriff's Office.

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VIDEO: Yazidis cling on to aid flight

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-11 15:26
The BBC's Jiyar Gol reports from one of the helicopters dropping aid to the Yazidis in Mount Sinjar, desperate to avoid the advance of the Islamic State in Iraq.

Heads warn about Trojan overreaction

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-11 15:14
There are warnings that anti-extremism measures for schools in the wake of the Trojan Horse inquiries are rushed and could have unintended consequences.

Moncton police killer pleads guilty

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-11 14:15
A Canadian man accused of killing three police officers in June in Moncton, New Brunswick, has pleaded guilty to all charges.

Barneys Agrees To Settlement Over Racial Profiling Allegations

NPR News - Mon, 2014-08-11 14:03

The retailer will pay a fine of $525,000 in connection to charges that its flagship store in New York was disproportionately suspecting black and Hispanics of credit card fraud and shoplifting.

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Who on Earth are the Zonians?

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-11 13:42
A patch of smalltown America transported to the tropics

Man City complete Mangala signing

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-11 13:39
Manchester City sign France international defender Eliaquim Mangala from Porto for a fee understood to be about £32m.

The Man Who Might Be Iraq's Next Prime Minister

NPR News - Mon, 2014-08-11 13:31

Haider al-Abadi, a prominent politician for the past decade, has been nominated as prime minister. But a potential confrontation looms with Nouri al-Maliki, the man who's had the job for eight years.

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Majority of Scots back using pound

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-11 13:30
A majority of Scots think an independent Scotland should continue to use the pound, according to the Scottish Social Attitudes survey.

In pictures: Exodus of Yazidis

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-11 13:29
Yazidi refugees fleeing violence from Islamic State militants

After Factory Layoffs, Struggling To Stay On The Economic Ladder

NPR News - Mon, 2014-08-11 13:29

Lynn Eldredge has had six different jobs since he was laid off from a tractor manufacturer in 2000. Fourteen years later, he makes the same amount of money at his current job that he did back then.

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Foreign Office minister resigns

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-11 13:22
Junior Foreign Office minister Mark Simmonds resigns from the government, saying he "has to put family life first".

Academic must return boy to Japan

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-11 13:22
A Cambridge University academic is ordered to return her seven-year-old son to his father in Japan, a family court rules.

Anti-fracking vigil at borehole site

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-11 13:22
Anti-fracking protesters celebrate a decision to block permission for an exploratory borehole for shale gas in County Fermanagh.

Aid mission to Ukraine 'agreed'

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-11 13:20
Ukraine and Russia say they agree to a Red Cross-led humanitarian aid mission to the eastern Ukrainian rebel stronghold of Luhansk.

British hopes high for Zurich gold

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-11 13:20
Established stars and talented British youngsters can shine at the European Athletics Championships, writes Tom Fordyce.

Are your sneakers real?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-08-11 13:16

The World Customs Organization, an international association of customs and law enforcement agencies, is out with its annual report on seizures of illegal goods and counterfeiting.

The product most likely to be counterfeited or illegally traded last year was pharmaceuticals, at a whopping 76 percent of all seizures.

The most counterfeited brand, on the other hand, was Nike. Followed by Apple, Rolex, Samsung and Adidas

 

Why BuzzFeed might be worth $850 million

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-08-11 13:16

BuzzFeed, the website that blessed us with the listicle revolution, just raised $50 million from some very prominent venture capitalists. That investment values the company at an estimated $850 million. To put this in context, the Washington Post recently sold for $250 million dollars. So, how did that valuation happen?

For one thing, BuzzFeed boasts that 150 million people visit it every month. By contrast, the New York Times gets 53.8 million visitors, according to comScore. But it's not just the number of visits that’s valuable, it's who those visitors are. Paul Sweeney, an analyst at Bloomberg Industries, said most of BuzzFeed’s audience is 35-and-under, a demographic that’s catnip to advertisers.

"It’s been harder and harder for advertisers to reach a younger demographic," Sweeney said. "The younger folks are the ones who are spending more time on the Internet, more time off of traditional media like newspapers, magazines or television."

A lot of BuzzFeed’s traffic comes from people sharing its stories on social media sites. Sweeney says that's a risky strategy. BuzzFeed’s audience would be decimated if social media sites excluded its content.

But investors are betting that BuzzFeed will grow beyond listicles, said Ethan Kurzweil, a venture capitalist at Bessemer Venture Partners. He said investors expect BuzzFeed to become a go-to-platform that offers all kinds of content from video to news and who knows what else.

"I assume they’re betting on a modern media tech company," Kurzweil said. "Sort of a modern People Magazine, ESPN all in one, all in one, all in one property."

In fact, BuzzFeed is using its newest round of funding to expand into movies, said Rebecca Lieb, an analyst at the Altimeter Group. She says don’t expect BuzzFeed to compete with 20th Century Fox or Paramount by making traditional films.

"I really don’t think that’s going to be the case," she said. 

Lieb predicts BuzzFeed will redefine movies and create ones that cater to its digital-first audience.

Kinder Morgan deal lays groundwork for more pipelines

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-08-11 13:16

Kinder Morgan oversees a vast network of oil and gas pipelines in North America. It's actually a family of companies and now they're consolidating. The "why" is complicated but the upshot isn't: the new corporation wants to spend more money acquiring even more pipelines. Because, it turns out, there's a shortage. 

Kinder Morgan already operates or owns a piece of some 80,000 miles of pipelines in North America. Barbara Shook says its founder clearly wants more.

“Mr. Kinder kept talking about acquisitions and acquisitions and acquisitions during the conference call with analysts this morning,” says Shook, senior reporter-at-large with the Energy Intelligence Group. Disclosure: Shook owns shares in one of the Kinder Morgan companies.

She says the corporate restructuring will make it cheaper for Kinder Morgan to borrow money. That’s money Kinder Morgan can use to buy a precious commodity: other pipeline companies.

“We were caught short in terms of our transportation infrastructure for energy,” says Bob McNally, president of the Rapidan Group. He says the U.S. oil and gas boom changed everything – both the scale of the boom and where it’s happening.

“The parts of the country where we’re increasing production of oil and gas are not areas where we produced oil and gas before,” he says.

Think of all that natural gas in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio. Think of the Bakken Shale in North Dakota and Montana.

Paul Sullivan, an energy security expert at Georgetown University and the National Defense University, says there aren’t enough pipelines to move it all.

“I think the proof that there is need for more is the amount of oil that is moving by rail,” he says, adding that so much oil is moving by rail that corn and other agricultural goods are getting squeezed out. Plus, derailments have a devastating effect.

“Moving oil by rail is more expensive and it’s also less safe,” Sullivan says.

Which is why companies like Kinder Morgan want to lay the groundwork for more pipelines.

It's Amazon vs. Disney in a new pricing dispute

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-08-11 13:16

There’s a new front in Amazon’s battle with its vendors. Because of a reported pricing dispute,  some of Disney's DVDs and Blue-rays are no longer available for pre-order on Amazon.com. Book publisher Hachette is in a similar position. Its spat with the e-commerce site has become highly public, with each company publishing scathing letters about the other side. (Amazon's here, Hachette's here, and a group of 900 authors supporting Hachette here).

If this were a Disney movie, some would cast Amazon as the bad guy, like the evil fairy Maleficent (OK, she's  less evil this time around, but still). Others would say it’s a Captain America-esque hero, fighting for lower prices for consumers.

Physical discs of both new Disney films are currently unavailable for pre-order on Amazon, though they are available for pre-purchase through the company's instant video service.

But, says Ed Brodow, the author of Negotiation Boot Camp, Amazon’s tactics aren’t good or bad –  they’re business. Amazon, like all companies its size, is flexing its muscle to get the best deals possible.

“That’s what people do in negotiation all the time, they use their leverage,” says Brodow. “Amazon has a tremendous amount of leverage.”

Wal-Mart employs similar muscle, says Michael Pachter with Wedbush Securities.

“Wal-Mart pays as low a price as anybody wholesale for any product that it sells, and it’s able to do so by exercising  its market muscle,” he says. “Amazon is trying very hard to be Wal-Mart-like.”

Pre-orders are important for Disney because it will impact their first-day sales rankings, but Pachter doubts customers will miss the option much.

Not everyone agrees.

Amazon’s aggressive tactics risk its reputation with its customers, says Michael Norris, an independent publishing and media consultant.

“It’s really remarkable to me that a company that claims to be very consumer-centric finds absolutely nothing wrong with inconveniencing millions of consumers,” he adds.

 

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