National / International News

Russian Engines Could Be Focus Of Antares Launch Failure Probe

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

NK-33 engines, originally destined for a Soviet-era moon shot that never got off the ground and later used in the Antares, are suspect, some scientists say.

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Egypt destroys homes for Gaza buffer

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-29 10:17
Egypt begins demolishing homes along its border with Gaza as part of a planned 500m buffer zone intended to prevent weapons smuggling.

VIDEO: Woman who had 100 catcalls in 10 hours

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-29 10:02
A video director has filmed an actress as she walked the streets of New York City to highlight the harassment women face in the city.

Federal Reserve Stays The Course, Ends Most Recent Stimulus Program

NPR News - Wed, 2014-10-29 10:01

The Fed has been buying up bonds by the trillions since the financial crisis started in 2008. Today, it affirmed that it was going ahead with plans to end its third round of stimulus.

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The economy as seen through political ads.

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-10-29 09:13

If you live in a swing state, chances are you’ve seen a political ad or two in the run-up to this year’s midterm elections.  And there’s also a pretty good chance that ad talked about the economy.  

Which brings us to this question:  if those ads were your only source of information, what would you think about the state of the economy?  What kind of picture are the ads painting?  It’s not always what you’d expect.

Check out these two ads, for gubernatorial races.

In his ad, the Republican governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, says we’re on the road to recovery. 

And the Democratic candidate for governor of Wisconsin, Mary Burke, talks about bleak job prospects and layoffs.

“We would expect Democratic candidates to trumpet the success of the economy and for Republicans to be on the attack," says Vincent Hutchings, political science professor at the University of Michigan. "But at the state level, especially if we’re talking about gubernatorial contests, that logic gets turned on its head.”

Hutchings says incumbents, whatever their political stripe, have to defend their handling of the local economy. 

Challengers blame economic problems on the incumbent.  

But in national, congressional races, political ads focusing on the economy are more predictable.

For Republicans:

“It’s all doom and gloom,” says Erika Franklin Fowler, co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project

Listen to ads from Republican congressional candidates, she says, and you think the economy will never pick up.

“So, a lot of ads will make references to the squeeze on the middle class in particular," she explains. "I’ve seen ads on recent college graduates and frustration over spending a lot of money on a college education and not being able to find a job.”

Franklin Fowler says, for congressional Democrats, it’s morning in America. 

Or it would be if it weren’t for the Republicans.     

“Democrats will often go after Republican incumbents and/or wealthy challengers who own businesses for shipping jobs overseas or for job losses,” she says.

In fact, Franklin Fowler says, about 20 percent of ads for all Senate candidates mention jobs, with very different takes on the jobs picture. 

I wondered – who’s right? 

I turned to Richard DeKaser.  A corporate economist at Wells Fargo.

“I’d give the economy a B-minus,” he says.

DeKaser says we’re creating about 250,000 jobs a month, and GDP is growing at about three percent. That’s pretty good. 

But it’s an uneven recovery.  Not everyone is benefiting.  

So politicians can cherry pick economic data, to make a point.

“You can pick and choose from the data and tell pretty much any story you’d like," DeKaser says. "And more often than not, that’s the case.  It’s just a matter of biased presentation rather than dishonest presentation. Though there is some dishonesty as well.”

And when the economic picture is a bit ambiguous like it is now, it’s that much easier to manipulate. 

The numbers for October 29, 2014

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-10-29 08:25

The Red Cross claimed to deliver 17 million meals and stacks, 74,000 shelter stays and 7 million blankets and flashlights to victims of Hurricane Sandy. But a joint investigation from ProPublica and NPR not only casts doubt on the organization's own tracking, but shows a pattern of prioritizing public relations over aid after hurricanes Sandy and Issac.

The investigation found the Red Cross was unprepared for the disasters and botched the delivery of meals, supplies and other aid. Response was slow and meals were wasted, and in one case an official reportedly ordered volunteers to drive around empty trucks to give the appearance of relief.

In other news: More earnings are on the way today and there will be an official announcement from the Fed on quantitative easing. For now, here's what we're reading - and the numbers we're watching - Wednesday.

$1.7 trillion

That's what the Fed has spent on bonds in just the third round of quantitative easing, or QE3. That's according to the New York Time's Upshot, which has seven charts laying out the program's history and future.

74,829

As of Wednesday morning, that's how many people follow SugarString on Twitter. The site posits itself as a slick tech/lifestyle news site "presented" by Verizon, but the Daily Dot reported that corporate "presenters" have handed down a big restriction: no writing about domestic surveillance or net neutrality, two topics Verizon is very involved in.

4

The number of meals in a day, according to Taco Bell. The restaurant is the first fast-food joint to offer nationwide mobile ordering via a new app launched today. Taco Bell made the announcement through a bit of social media jujitsu, the Verge reported, seemingly erasing its popular Twitter account to push users toward the app. In reality, the restaurant's tweets and 1.4 million followers are hiding the protected account @totallynothere.

White leader appointed in Zambia

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-29 08:03
Guy Scott is appointed Zambia's interim leader, Africa's first white head of state for many years, after the death of President Sata.

VIDEO: Should MPs wear slogans on T-shirts?

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-29 08:01
Harriet Harman wore one in PMQs, but the PM chose not to wear a T-shirt with a slogan in support of gender equality.

Have there been lions in London since 1210?

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-29 07:24
The decision by London Zoo to build a new lion exhibit means its three remaining lionesses will be temporarily relocated outside of the UK's capital.

VIDEO: Russia's 39,000-year-old mammoth

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-29 07:05
A 39,000 year-old baby mammoth named Yuka has been put in display in central Moscow making it the best preserved mammoth in palaeontology.

VIDEO: House of Commons

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-29 06:16
David Cameron takes part in his weekly questions session with Ed Miliband and MPs.

'Orphan' artworks set to find homes

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-29 05:59
Millions of photos, diaries, letters and recordings whose copyright owners cannot be traced may be made accessible for the first time under a new scheme.

VIDEO: UK adopts the 'smart shopping' habit

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-29 05:33
Britain's biggest supermarkets have been having a tough time recently. Their profits have been squeezed by the discounters Aldi and Lidl.

VIDEO: Wood hails 'electric' Dylan film

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-29 05:25
Elijah Wood praises his latest film, based on the life of the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, as an "electric, vibrant" piece.

Rebels reinforce besieged Kobane

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-29 05:05
Free Syrian Army fighters arrive in Kobane to help the defence of the Syrian border town under siege by Islamic State militants, sources there say.

VIDEO: PM 'paralysed' over by-election

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-29 04:58
Ed Miliband accuses the prime minister of delaying an European Arrest Warrant vote, but is told it will go ahead.

VIDEO: Sri Lankan landslide after monsoon

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-29 04:21
At least 10 people have died and hundreds are missing after a landslide in the Badulla district of central Sri Lanka.

Day in pictures: 29 October

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-29 04:07
24 hours of news images: 29 October

End of QE is whimper not bang

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-29 03:38
As the Fed Reserve ends quantitative easing, those who prophesied that these trillions of dollars of debt purchases would spark uncontrollable inflation have been proved wrong. But QE could still prove toxic.

Hopes fade for trapped Turkey miners

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-29 03:08
Fears grow that a flood at a Turkish mine may have drowned 18 workers as the president and prime minister prepare to visit the scene.

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