National / International News

VIDEO: Clegg and Cameron clash over deficit

BBC - Thu, 2015-04-02 11:41
Seven party leaders have been taking part in a live, two-hour televised general election debate.

Khan announces fight with Algieri

BBC - Thu, 2015-04-02 11:27
Amir Khan announces he will fight former light-welterweight world champion Chris Algieri on 30 May.

China Protests Emergency Landing Of U.S. Warplanes In Taiwan

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-02 11:12

Two Navy F-18s landed at an airbase on the island, which Beijing considers part of its sovereign territory.

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VIDEO: Obama welcomes Iran nuclear deal

BBC - Thu, 2015-04-02 11:09
President Obama welcomes the outline agreement reached between Iran and six major powers in Switzerland.

Why Babies Love (And Learn From) Magic Tricks

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-02 10:43

A new study in the journal Science explores the power of surprise to motivate infant learning.

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Tension mounts ahead of TV debate

BBC - Thu, 2015-04-02 10:33
Seven party leaders are making final preparations ahead of the first televised general election debate.

California drought prompts 25 percent mandatory cutbacks

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-04-02 10:28

We're not quite there yet, but it's entirely possible that the not-so-distant future in California includes two-minute showers, brown lawns, and — heaven forbid — unwashed cars.

Governor Jerry Brown ordered the first mandatory water cuts in California's history on Wednesday. Local water districts will be required to cut per-capita consumption by 25 percent.

The question on the minds of many Californians and other drought-watchers: what took the state this long?

"For some reason during this drought, [they] have not stepped up the way they have in earlier droughts, which is somewhat alarming to us," says Felicia Marcus, chair of California's Water Resources Control Board. "There really is, obviously, a need for greater state leadership."

Brown made his announcement at Tahoe, where officials measure the snowpack each spring. Sierra Nevada snowmelt trickles into rivers and aqueducts and accounts for about a third of the state's drinking water. 

Marketplace sustainability reporter Sarah Gardner has the key details:

  • The cuts will be handled at the local level. There are over 400 water districts in California. 
  • Districts that have already reduced consumption won't have to meet the full 25 percent target.
  • Some districts in Orange and San Diego Counties still tick off 500 gallons of water consumption, per person, per day. 
  • Over half of residential water use goes to maintaining lawns and gardens. 
  • Agriculture, which accounts for nearly 80 percent of water consumption in California, is not subject to these mandatory cutbacks. 

In short, Gardner says, this mandate is all about urban use, which may prove controversial among city-dwellers who resent agriculture's overwhelming share of water. Farmers counter that the state produces half of the US-grown nuts, vegetables and fruit. 

"Governor Brown made a point, yesterday, of sort of defending agriculture," Gardner said.

"He said, farmers, specifically those with junior water rights have already had a lot of cutbacks. State officials talked, too, about all the land that's been fallowed. They are not ready to challenge this centuries-old water rights system."

Gardner added, the mandatory cuts will only intensify the debate over who gets how much water in California, and for what purpose. 

Like Mars: Dusty Sandstorm Blocks Visibility And Travel In Dubai

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-02 10:19

More than 100 cars were reportedly involved in accidents. Conditions forced airlines to delay or cancel flights in Dubai after the sandstorm arrived from Saudi Arabia early this morning.

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Bowie writes songs for stage show

BBC - Thu, 2015-04-02 09:57
Rock legend David Bowie is co-writing a stage show inspired by The Man Who Fell to Earth - including some new songs.

Kenya attack: Wanted man

BBC - Thu, 2015-04-02 09:49
Mohamed Kuno, the man alleged to have masterminded the attack in the Kenyan town of Garissa, is a well-known leading al-Shabab member.

Iran nuclear 'framework' deal agreed

BBC - Thu, 2015-04-02 09:41
An outline agreement on the future shape of the Iranian nuclear programme is reached after marathon talks between Iran and six major powers.

Pakistan army court death sentences

BBC - Thu, 2015-04-02 09:34
Military courts in Pakistan sentence six suspected militants to death in their first verdicts since being announced after the Peshawar school massacre.

U.N. Report: 25,000 Foreign Fighters Joining Islamist Militant Groups

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-02 09:26

Thousands have left their homes en route to Iraq and Syria, which the U.N. report calls an "international finishing school" for extremists.

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Iran Reached Agreement With World Powers On Nuclear Program

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-02 09:21

Iranian Prime Minister Hassan Rouhani tweeted that Iran and six world powers, including the United States, had reached an agreement on "key parameters" of the issue.

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Allitt victim must pay back £23,000

BBC - Thu, 2015-04-02 09:20
A woman left brain damaged by serial child killer Beverley Allitt is ordered to pay back £23,000 in benefits.

The Menendez Paradox

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-02 09:19

The senator who once testified against a corrupt mayor is facing his own federal corruption charges.

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Patagonia tests the limits of sustainability

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-04-02 09:18

On Thursday, the venture fund for outdoor clothing company Patagonia announced an investment of more than $1 million in a Swiss company, Beyond Surface Technologies (BST), that works to reduce the impact of textile chemicals on the environment.

Phil Graves oversees the Patagonia fund, called $20 Million and Change, which targets environmental problems. He says the investment in BST could yield dividends for the planet.

What makes them unique, Graves says of BST, "is they don't use synthetic, petroleum-based chemicals for their textile finishings. They use natural substances."

Patagonia is one of the most progressive, environmentally committed American companies. But at the same time that it searches for solutions, Patagonia has also contributed to the environmental problems.

For example, the current process of water-proofing for performance clothing, like Patagonia's rain jackets, involves some harmful chemicals.

"The existing technology uses fluorocarbons, which are pretty nasty things in terms of environmental impact," Graves says. "They take forever to degrade. The challenge is when you look at some of the existing alternatives that are more environmentally-friendly, they don't last."

That idea of durability is a recurring theme. It resurfaces again when Phil Graves takes me surfing. We hit the waves so I could test another Patagonia innovation — an earth-friendly wetsuit that's 60 percent plant-based bio-rubber.

"When you look at the environmental benefits, it's a much cleaner process than the process that goes into making neoprene," Graves says.

I wore the new, "green" wetsuit. Graves wore one of Patagonia's traditional wetsuits, which is 100 percent neoprene.

From my brief demo, I found the bio-rubber wetsuit just as warm as any neoprene versions I've ever used, and even a little bit thinner, which made it easier to paddle out.

But that bio-rubber wetsuit doesn't come cheap. Patagonia charges more than $500. That's about four times more than a standard neoprene wetsuit from a competing brand.

Mike Russo studied Patagonia for his book "Companies on a Mission: Entrepreneurial Strategies for Growing Responsibly, Sustainably, and Profitably."

"A significant part of the customer base cares and might reward the company for its environmental programs with purchases at prices higher than they would be willing to pay otherwise," Russo says.

Also, that innovative eco-wetsuit is still 40 percent synthetic rubber.

Back at Patagonia headquarters, I ask CEO Rose Marcario why the company entered the wetsuit market before it had an environmentally-friendly alternative to offer.

"In our case, we enter the market and create a market so that we have a voice in the market," Marcario says.

What about the conflict between the company's eco-friendly investments and its continued use of the traditional, harmful chemicals used for water-proofing?

"That's always been a tension because we create the best gear for very extreme conditions. And sometimes the best finishes for those extreme conditions — of wind and snow — are chemical based," she says.

And, again, there's that idea of durability.

"The issue, when you look at some innovative products — in terms of environmental sustainability — is that they don't have the performance," says Phil Graves. "What we've found is — long-term — when you look at the total footprint of the wetsuit or the jacket or whatever it is, extending the life of that garment makes the biggest difference in terms of environmental impact."

At some level, it may be better to have a synthetic product that lasts for generations, rather than an innovative substitute that repeatedly needs to be replaced.

Police probe 'hang Sturgeon' tweet

BBC - Thu, 2015-04-02 09:13
Police are investigating a comment on social media suggesting that the SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon should be hanged.

Will Your Child Become Nearsighted? One Simple Way To Find Out

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-02 09:10

If you're not a bit farsighted at age 6, you're much more likely to be nearsighted by age 12, a study of thousands of children finds. A simple eye refraction exam can spot it early on.

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Quiz: Balancing school and work

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-04-02 09:08

More than 10 percent of full-time undergrads receive work-study financial aid, according to the Department of Education.

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