National / International News

UK economic gap with London 'widens'

BBC - Mon, 2014-01-27 05:21
The economic gap between London and the rest of the UK is widening because other cities are "punching below their weight", new research claims.

Murray down to world number six

BBC - Mon, 2014-01-27 05:21
Andy Murray falls to six in the official ATP rankings, with Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka up to third.

Day in pictures: 27 January 2014

BBC - Mon, 2014-01-27 05:21
24 hours of news photos: 27 January

VIDEO: Better for business: Osborne or Balls?

BBC - Mon, 2014-01-27 05:20
As Labour promises to bring back the 50p tax rate, Adam Fleming tests the mood among commuters about trust in the chancellor and shadow chancellor.

Start-ups challenge big banks' technology

BBC - Mon, 2014-01-27 05:16
The small tech guys challenging the financial giants

Coffee's cheap right now, and you should be worried

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-01-27 05:13

Attention latte lovers, Folgers fanatics and espresso enthusiasts, your favorite cold weather beverage is getting cheaper. Coffee prices are near historic lows. Great news, right? Turns out, it’s not. To learn why, I headed to a large waterfront warehouse in Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood to talk with Ed Kaufmann, director of roasting for Joe, a chain of specialty coffee shops. 

He started me off by showing me his coffee roaster, which resembles a large, stainless steel washing machine. Through a small window, you can see cream-colored beans from Mexico being roasted to a deep brown.

"The beans we use are seasonal. We have coffees from Central America and Ethopia and now we’re transitioning into Papua New Guinea, Peru and Colombia, " he says.

Coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world after oil and the price of coffee beans has been on a wild ride: In 2011, coffee hit $3 dollars a pound, a 14 year high. Since then, the price has dropped to less than half that, near historic lows. But that doesn't mean coffee shops like Joe change the price of your morning macchiato every month. "We can’t really fluctuate our prices with the fluctuation of the market," says Kaufmann. "Coffee drinkers are very sensitive to increases in prices."

So, when prices rise, Joe tightens its belt, cutting travel and staffing. When coffee prices drop, staffing and travel get beefed up and Joe uses fancier beans.

But when the prices drop as much as they have recently, it only sets us up for another spike. "Coffee prices are now at such a low level that farmers are losing money," says Ross Colbert, a global beverage strategist at Rabobank. "The risk here is that farmers will replace coffee with other crops."

That could create a shortage of coffee and cause prices to rise. Add speculators and an increasingly global market to the mix and the price fluctuations for commodities like coffee become even more extreme. "The price of a crop rises,  so the farmers say, 'I want to plant more of that crop.'" says  Andrew Burns, economist at the World Bank. "Supply increases substantially and rather than the price falling to that equilibrium position, it actually falls way past it."

To cope with these wild swings, Joe’s Ed Kaufmann is working on drawing up contracts with growers. "We’re hopefully going to be able to lock in prices and work outside of the fluctuating market," he says. Kaufmann hopes the contracts will mean the price is right for him to get the quality beans he needs and for farmers to earn enough to keep our cups full.

Nigella to face no action over drugs

BBC - Mon, 2014-01-27 05:04
TV presenter Nigella Lawson is to face no further action by police over her courtroom admission that she had used cocaine and cannabis.

Tunisia's economy still recovering, 3 years after Arab Spring

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-01-27 05:03

A little over three years ago, a Tunisian street vendor set himself on fire and sparked the Arab Spring. A big part of the revolution had its root in economic instability. This weekend was a milestone for Tunisia. The North African country adopted a new constitution.

The lead-up to the new constitution was characterized by political instability that no doubt hurt the economy. Tourism, which makes up 12 percent of GDP, was especially hard hit. But the adoption of the new constitution could assure foreign investors and tourists that it's safe to come to Tunisia. "This is also going to reassure and give confidence to local companies and the local economy," says Riccardo Fabiana, the lead North Africa analyst with the Eurasia Group. "However", he adds, "this is probably not going to be enough."

One of Tunisia's biggest problems prior to the revolution was corruption and cronyism. The good news is that many of those corrupt officials have been removed from power. "Now these cronies are gone. But the barriers and the regulation are still there and are still somewhat of a structural problem for the private sector," says World Bank economist Jean-Luc Bernasconi. Bernasconi believes the new government will have to create policy reforms to solve these larger structural problems.

But Tunisia's slow economic growth is also the result of weak European economies, something the new government cannot control.

Ukraine threatens state of emergency

BBC - Mon, 2014-01-27 05:01
Ukraine's justice minister says she will call for a state of emergency and the end of negotiations unless protesters leave her ministry.

Pope John Paul ll relic stolen

BBC - Mon, 2014-01-27 04:58
Italian police are hunting for a stolen holy relic that contains the blood of the late Pope John Paul ll.

F1 pre-season testing set to begin

BBC - Mon, 2014-01-27 04:55
F1 teams start their on-track preparations for the 2014 world championship at this week's first pre-season test in Spain.

Education 'failing economic needs'

BBC - Mon, 2014-01-27 04:53
Business leaders and academics are urging the government to radically overhaul England's school curriculum to meet future economic needs.

Chelsea's Essien joins AC Milan

BBC - Mon, 2014-01-27 04:39
Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien secures a move to Italian side AC Milan and will be officially unveiled on Tuesday.

VIDEO: Grammy Highlights, Including A Bit Of Paul And Ringo

NPR News - Mon, 2014-01-27 04:26

Yes, they did come together. The two surviving Beatles performed Sunday at the Grammys. They're due to be together again for a Feb. 9 CBS-TV special celebrating the Beatles' first appearance, 50 years ago, on The Ed Sullivan Show.

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Appeal after memory-loss man found

BBC - Mon, 2014-01-27 04:25
Police ask for help to identify a man found sleeping rough and suffering from memory loss in Cleethorpes.

Ford staff to be balloted on strike

BBC - Mon, 2014-01-27 04:23
More than 5,000 workers at Ford across the UK are being balloted to strike about pensions and job security by union Unite.

Biker dies after city van crash

BBC - Mon, 2014-01-27 04:21
A motorcyclist aged 20 dies after his bike is involved in a crash with a van in Aberdeen.

Fracking delays over waste water

BBC - Mon, 2014-01-27 04:14
Energy company Cuadrilla withdraws applications for permits to frack in Lancashire after issues with radioactive waste water.

US strike 'targets al-Shabab chief'

BBC - Mon, 2014-01-27 04:10
The Pentagon says the US has carried out a missile strike in Somalia against a suspected militant leader with ties to al-Qaeda and al-Shabab.

Google calls for new NSA reforms

BBC - Mon, 2014-01-27 04:01
President Obama's NSA reforms do not go far enough, a senior Google executive tells the BBC, as Edward Snowden accuses the agency of "industrial espionage".

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