National / International News

Big firms 'must condemn GamerGate'

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-29 15:59
The developer forced to leave her home due to threats

Burgess will succeed, says Robinson

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-29 15:50
Dual-code great Jason Robinson believes "there is no doubt" Bath-bound convert Sam Burgess "will play a massive part for England".

Ferdinand suspended & fined £25,000

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-29 15:43
QPR defender Rio Ferdinand is suspended for three matches and fined £25,000 by the FA for comments he made on Twitter.

Inventor Of 'Operation' Game Says He Can't Afford His Own Operation

NPR News - Wed, 2014-10-29 15:32

John Spinello missed out on a lot of money, because he sold his patent for the legendary game for just $500. Over the past few years, things have been rough for Spinello.

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Police apology over murderer's guns

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-29 15:29
Surrey Police apologises to the family of two women for returning guns to a man convicted of murdering them at a puppy farm near Farnham.

FTC Says AT&T Misled Customers About 'Unlimited' Data Plans

NPR News - Wed, 2014-10-29 15:05

The Federal Trade Commission says AT&T slowed data speeds for 3.5 million customers, sometimes up to 90 percent.

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Young Fathers win Mercury Prize

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-29 15:03
Edinburgh-based hip-hop trio Young Fathers win the £20,000 Barclaycard Mercury Prize with their album Dead.

US attends Ebola conference in Cuba

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-29 14:55
Two health officials from the United States attend an Ebola conference in Cuba despite frosty relations between the two long-standing adversaries.

Lava flow creeps toward Hawaii homes

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-29 14:55
Rain has helped tamp down smoke from a creeping lava flow, which continues to threaten residents of a Hawaiian village.

VIDEO: Pensioner guilty of double murder

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-29 14:48
Puppy farmer John Lowe, 82, has been found guilty of murdering his partner Christine Lee and her daughter Lucy Lee on his Surrey puppy farm

Andre Agassi’s pivot to education capitalist

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-10-29 14:44

Former tennis star Andre Agassi has spent the last few years building schools. Recently, he has stopped doing it out of pure generosity. After years of raising money for charter schools, Agassi has had a conversion. He teamed up with investors and joined the growing ranks of education capitalists.

Agassi has been touring some of his schools this fall, including a recent in Nashville.

The second graders in this Rocketship classroom were barely born when Agassi hung up his tennis racket. So they don’t really know much about the guy with the shaved head touring their new school, other than they should be grateful to him.

“What made you want to play tennis?” one student asks. “I never really wanted to,” Agassi says, explaining that his dad made him.

But turns out, he was pretty good.

“And then all of the sudden when I won, I had the chance to build my own school,” he says.

The irony is not lost on him, since Agassi dropped out of school himself. He has since raised $100 million to supplement public funding for a charter school in his hometown of Las Vegas.

But in the last few years, he teamed up with investors to start a hedge fund. They don’t run schools. They just buy the land, finance construction, then rent the school back to a charter, typically part of a national chain like KIPP Academy or Rocketship.

Critics of the charter movement have charged investors with lining their pockets on the backs of public education, and Agassi says he had his own hesitance before switching gears into profit-mode.

“I thought about it a thousand times going into this adventure,” Agassi says.

But given the struggle to finance his own charter school, Agassi says he’s decided charity has limitations.

“I don’t believe – personally – that philanthropy is scalable,” he says.

Agassi’s charter school real estate venture certainly satisfies a need. School founders almost universally struggle to find adequate facilities. Often school districts are reluctant to rent out vacant school buildings to charters, who are sometimes seen as competitors. They occasionally have to locate in less-than-ideal learning environments, like a renovated strip mall.

The pitch from Agassi’s investors is something like this: “Let us build you a school. You focus on teaching. And if you want to buy the building from us in a few years, great.”

 Santa Monica-based investor Bobby Turner helped get Agassi on board.

“If you want to treat a problem in society, philanthropy is fine,” Turner says. “But if you want to cure – really cure – you need to harness market forces to create a sustainable solution. That means making money, because only then is it scalable. And by the way, there’s no rulebook that says you can’t make money and societal change at the same time. They’re symbiotic.”

But some parents don’t buy the sales pitch.

“It kind of makes my stomach turn,” says Brett Bymaster, a parent in San Jose where the Agassi-Turner fund has been active.

He’s taken it upon himself to dig into their business model, though one can only dig so far. While they’re building public charter schools, there’s very little disclosure, including what they charge tenants.

“We need to partner with people outside, but I don’t think the solutions to problems in my community are one-percenters getting filthy rich,” he says.

Bymaster wonders what happens to one of these buildings if the charter has to shut down, and many do. So far, all 39 schools built by the fund are still up and running. A spokesman says if one closed, the building could be rented to another charter operator.

Even among charter school advocates, there is some quiet suspicion of partnering with hedge funds. First, there’s cost. One charter founder said a deal with Agassi was 25 percent above any other option.

Jessica Johnson leads the Colorado-based Charter Schools Facilities Initiative and doesn’t take a position on for-profit investors.

“I mean, I know of many instances where it’s worked out really well. I know of others where there have been challenges,” Johnson says.

Johnson says plenty of charter schools have had trouble working with non-profits too. That’s why she cautions everyone to read the fine print, no matter who is helping build their school. 

VIDEO: UK charities launch Ebola aid appeal

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-29 14:36
An appeal for the Ebola crisis in West Africa is to be launched by the Disasters Emergency Committee.

Close To 100,000 Hungarian Demonstrators Protest Internet Usage Tax

NPR News - Wed, 2014-10-29 14:11

Critics of the tax said this is a government attempt to create a "digital iron curtain" around Hungary. The government said it was just extending taxes it places on phones.

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As Infrastructure Crumbles, Trillions Of Gallons Of Water Lost

NPR News - Wed, 2014-10-29 14:06

The nation's aging pipes and water mains are springing expensive leaks, wasting more than 2 trillion gallons of drinking water nationally and 22 billion gallons in the Chicago area alone.

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Manchester City 0-2 Newcastle United

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-29 14:05
Holders Manchester City are knocked out of the League Cup as Newcastle earn their first win in 12 attempts at the Etihad.

After The Waves, Staten Island Homeowner Takes Sandy Buyout

NPR News - Wed, 2014-10-29 14:03

Staten Islander Stephen Drimalas barely survived Hurricane Sandy. Now he and several Staten Islanders will sell their oceanfront homes to the state, which hopes to get people out of flood-prone areas.

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Pietersen claims sadden England pair

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-29 14:00
England bowlers Stuart Broad and James Anderson say they are saddened by Kevin Pietersen's claims of a bullying culture.

Decoding The Food And Drink On A Day Of The Dead Altar

NPR News - Wed, 2014-10-29 14:00

The Mexican tradition celebrates the dead and welcomes their return to the land of the living once a year. Enticing them to make the trip is where the food, drink and musical offerings come in.

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VIDEO: Newly-lit Sistine Chapel is unveiled

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-29 13:56
The Vatican has unveiled a new hi-tech LED lighting system for the Sistine Chapel in Rome.

Wales' £2bn EU deal formally agreed

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-29 13:48
A deal for Wales to receive £2bn in European aid between 2014 and 2020 has been formally agreed.

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