National / International News

Baffling, Boy-Swallowing Holes Close An Indiana Dune

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-08 12:03

A popular summer spot is closed indefinitely because of mysterious holes — one of which temporarily buried a boy — that open and close in less than a day. Scientists have no idea why.

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Auction Marks An End To A History Of Scandal At Tea Pot Dome

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-08 12:03

Nearly a century since a national scandal, the U.S. government's involvement with Teapot Dome is finally ending. Wyoming Public Radio's Stephanie Joyce says that the whole site is being auctioned off.

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Is This Save The Children Ad Too Sexy For The Cause?

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-08 12:03

Save the Children hopes sex will sell its message: that the world's mothers and young children die from diseases and conditions that could be prevented. But it's unclear if the public will buy in.

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Why books always seem to have a discounted price

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-05-08 12:01

If you want to get a sense of just how dramatic online book pricing can be, it helps to go to a local bookstore. Like Eight Cousins Books in Falmouth, Massachusetts.

Carol Chittenden is the owner there. She lets me play price-check. Her price for Michael Lewis's "Flash Boys"? $22.36. And Amazon's price that day? $16.77.

“I think that's a little less than we could buy it for from the publisher,” Chittenden says.

We look another bestseller. "The Goldfinch". Eight Cousins sells it for $24. Amazon sells it for $17. So far, online's looking like the way better deal.

We move onto notebooks. And that's when things get interesting. The store's notebooks are pretty much the same price as Amazon's. Same with the store's totebags. In fact, it turns out just about everything Eight Cousins Books sells that isn't a book is pretty much the same price as on Amazon.

Online has way cheaper book prices . But compare other products, and that price difference goes away.  So what is it about books as products that leads to these steep price cuts by discounters?

Oren Teicher's CEO of the American Booksellers Association says "Books are the one significant product left in the marketplace today in which the manufacturer actually prints the suggested retail price on the product.”

This means book markdowns are extremely visible. Sellers can tout their low prices compared to what's on the back of book covers, the price publishers want to sell it for. And that can be a convenient psychological device -- especially if you're a big retailer with lots of other stuff to sell.

“When the customer sees a book at 40, 50 percent off,” Teicher says, “the presumption is that everything else that that retailer is selling is also equally inexpensive.”

And books bring in some pretty attractive consumers.

“Book buyers are good customers,” Teicher adds. “They tend to be slightly more affluent, they tend to be consumers who shop and therefore are always in the marketplace for other products.”

But Dennis Johnson, the founder of the Brooklyn publisher Melville House, says books are getting used as a vehicle here.

“It really devalues the whole concept of the book,” he says. “And the book is very important to our culture.”

Johnson is worried about these discounts in the book industry. But he's not about to stop selling his books to Amazon.

“That would be very stupid business,” he explains. “They're the biggest part of our sales, and my core job as a publisher is to sell books.”

Hardcover sales are actually on the rise, they're growing faster than ebooks. And despite all the online discounts, Oren Teicher at the American Booksellers Association says sales at independent bookstores are growing too. He explains that the localism trend – shopping at local farmers markets, drinking local microbrews – has also driven sales at independent booksellers.

“I feel that booksellers are very powerful in fact,” says Carol Chittenden at Eight Cousins Books, "because we're very involved in our communities, and our customers are so loyal.”

A short history of the billionaire

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-05-08 11:51

The following is part of a collection of essays in "But Enough About You."

Cassius Binocularius Anthrax
Residence: Capri, 3 B.C.
Net Worth: 90 million aureii.  
Source of Wealth: Off-circus betting, slave trading.

Nickname "Buddy" bestowed on him by the emperor Tiberius during a three day Lupercal drinking binge.

Said to have fixed the 1 B.C. chariot race at the Circus Maximus between Ben Hur and his rival Messala. Pocketed enormous winnings after Messala (favored 50-1) was trampled under Ben Hur's chariot.

Parlayed windfall into franchise betting operations in Parthia, Dacia, Iberia and Germania, using a highly controversial system of reporting Roman chariot race results.

Forced to shut down Germania operations after tribes torched his betting shops (with the concessionaires inside) following years of consistent losing.

Bounced back; established a slave-trading network (Jeevus Dottus Commus) that kept patrician homes from Rome to the Amalfi Coast supplied with prized Britannic butlers.

Gilead (Sam) Starbuck
Residence: Boston, 1775.
Net Worth:140,000 dollars to 160,000 dollars (silver)
Source of Wealth: Tea

In December 1773 Starbuck was purser on the New Bedford whaleship Incontinent when it put into Boston Harbor to offload. Observing a crowd of Bostonians oddly dressed as Native Americans and hurling bricks of valuable English tea into the harbor, he lowered one of Incontinent's whaleboats and rescued some of the 45 tons of jettisoned tea.

Opened his first tea shop in Braintree several days later, serving a beverage called "Sal-Tea." When Sal-Tea failed to catch on, he rebranded it "Patrio-Tea," which did eventually find acceptance with Boston's tea-starved public.

Subsequently struck a deal with the East India Company to supply (that is, smuggle) non-salty tea to Massachusetts.

His string of tea shops prospered, but scholars argue that Starbuck made a mistake calling them "Gileads" instead of some other catchier name.

Man jailed over Ann Maguire abuse

BBC - Thu, 2014-05-08 11:50
A man is jailed for eight weeks for posting abusive Twitter messages about the death of school teacher Ann Maguire.

Strong earthquake hits Mexico

BBC - Thu, 2014-05-08 11:45
A strong earthquake of 6.4 magnitude shakes parts of Mexico, including the capital, Mexico City, and Acapulco on the coast.

Cameron's appeal to UKIP voters

BBC - Thu, 2014-05-08 11:42
David Cameron tells UKIP voters only the Tories have the answers on the EU and immigration in a BBC interview.

Why the Beverly Hills Hotel boycott could backfire

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-05-08 11:40

Hollywood's concerns over the enactment of strict Islamic law in Brunei may fall on deaf ears.

Demonstrators gathered across the street from the historic Beverly Hills Hotel to protest against Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultan of Brunei, who announced strict sharia law in his country would go into effect on May 1. Reports indicate the penal code provides for the imprisonment of those who miss Friday prayer, amputation of the limbs of robbers, and stoning to death of homosexuals.

The sultan owns the Dorchester Collection, a British company that runs--along with other hotels across Europe--the Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel-Air.

The Bel-Air Hotel in Los Angeles, owned by the Dorchester Collection.

David McNew/Getty Images

"When this law became known, it started to spread on social media and within the celebrity community," says Sharon Waxman, founder of The Wrap. "What has happened is that this has boomeranged against the hotel."

Celebrity protestors include Ellen DeGeneres, Richard Branson, and Jay Leno. But despite all this star power backing the cause, the CEO of the Dorchester Group, Christopher Cowdray, released a statement saying that this boycott is misguided.

"He's trying to defend the interests of his hotel and his employees, which has nothing to do with the policy and laws being passed in Brunei," Waxman said. "And he has no power over that. That's his boss, that's his owner."

But the economic plea on Cowdray's part appears to have had no effect on the efforts of the boycott. As for the sultan himself, he has said nothing so far.

"He's in the economic position where he can say, 'I don't care,'" Waxman said.

Giro d'Italia opens in Belfast

BBC - Thu, 2014-05-08 11:40
The opening ceremony of the Giro d'Italia cycle race takes place in Belfast.

Anti-Aging Hormone Could Make You Smarter

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-08 11:37

Scientists have found that a hormone associated with long life also seems to make people smarter. The gene strengthens the connections between brain cells, a process that's essential for learning.

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Congress Votes To Subpoena VA Chief Shinseki

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-08 11:29

The Veterans Affairs secretary would be called to testify over allegations that delays at VA hospitals have caused as many as 40 patients to die awaiting care.

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What is halal meat?

BBC - Thu, 2014-05-08 11:28
What is it and why are campaigners so concerned?

Rice Theory: Why Eastern Cultures Are More Cooperative

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-08 11:22

Westerners tend to be more individualistic than Easterners. Did our ancestors plant these cultural differences hundreds of years when they chose which grains to grow?

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VIDEO: ANC on course for victory in SA

BBC - Thu, 2014-05-08 11:19
The African National Congress (ANC) has won a commanding victory in South Africa's general election, partial results show.

Abu Hamza lost hands in 'accident'

BBC - Thu, 2014-05-08 11:17
Radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri, tells his US terror trial how he lost his hands and an eye in an explosives experiment in Pakistan.

Court criticised over herpes ruling

BBC - Thu, 2014-05-08 11:16
Campaigners criticise the Court of Appeal after it rejects a man's appeal against his conviction for infecting a woman with genital herpes.

VIDEO: Muscovites struggle to find Crimea

BBC - Thu, 2014-05-08 11:09
Following a US survey that showed many Americans were unable to find Ukraine on a map, the BBC's Russian Service carries out a similar test with Muscovites on their geographical knowledge of Crimea.

Barclays to cut 19,000 jobs

BBC - Thu, 2014-05-08 10:59
Barclays says it will cut 19,000 jobs by the end of 2016, including 7,000 from its troubled investment bank.

Army to review female combat roles

BBC - Thu, 2014-05-08 10:57
A review of whether women in the armed forces should serve in roles which would see them directly engage the enemy is being brought forward, the MoD says.

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