National / International News

Murder accused mum moved to hospital

BBC - Tue, 2014-04-29 02:52
A mother being held in prison charged with killing three of her children is remanded under the mental health act to a secure hospital.

Ringleader Of Human Smuggling Ring Dies, Leaving A Complex Legacy

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-29 02:50

Cheng Chui Ping died of cancer in prison on Thursday. She made a career of smuggling thousands of Chinese immigrants to the U.S. and worked with a notoriously violent gang to enforce payment.

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Ballymurphy killings review declined

BBC - Tue, 2014-04-29 02:46
A call for an independent panel to examine 11 killings by the Army in Belfast in August 1971 is rejected by the NI Secretary.

Toyota of Texas

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-04-29 02:45

Toyota is moving its North American headquarters – all three of them. To Plano, Texas, just north of Dallas.

Right now the car company has its sales headquarters near Los Angeles, its manufacturing headquarters in Erlanger, Kentucky, and another headquarters in New York.

The move is part of reinvention at the company, says Columbia Graduate School of Business professor Rita Gunther McGrath.

"With the problems following on their latest recall and all the problems they had with unintended acceleration, they were in the process of rethinking a lot of things that had been taken for granted in that company, including things like location," she says.

Moving a large company offers a rare opportunity to alter a business's "social architecture" says McGrath. "It breaks through inertia, shakes up existing power relationships, and it changes the way people share information."

Old rationales for being located in different places were no longer as relevant as they were before. Los Angeles for example, where Toyota has its sales and marketing headquarters, no longer has the draw it once did.

"Once upon a time," says Kelley Blue Book analyst Karl Brauer, "the coast of California was the closest part of the mainland U.S. to Japan physically and that mattered," whether for transfer of people or cars. Now, the bulk of Toyotas in the U.S. are built in the U.S., from West Virginia to Indiana.

But why Plano, Texas?

It's closer to Toyotas plants, including its newest, most expensive one in San Antonio. Texas has tried to brand itself as a business-friendly place, and there were undoubtedly economic incentives offered by some constellation of state and or local governments.

But it's not just about the business. Toyota has to convince 4,000 people with families and hobbies and lives to move as well.

"This is difficult – this is a life event for a lot of people," says Dave Sullivan with Auto Pacific. People have to move their families, find new school districts, it's stressful. When Nissan moved to Nashville in 2005, many employees did not follow, creating significant challenges for the company.

Plano, part of greater Dallas, is more palatable than other options.

"Its mild climate, central location, transportation, quality of education – all of that is very desirable," says Kelley Blue Book's Brauer.

Texas also has no state income tax, which, when combined with the lower cost of living than Los Angeles or New York, is a powerful incentive in its own right.

Toyota says offices will move in stages and gradually, and that the move won't be complete until 2017.

Shame banana thrower, says Alves

BBC - Tue, 2014-04-29 02:42
Barcelona defender Dani Alves says the fan who threw a banana at him during Sunday's win at Villarreal should be publicly shamed.

Cameras set up to find wild boars

BBC - Tue, 2014-04-29 02:40
Cameras have been set up to try to find wild boars which were released during a burglary at a farm in Bridgend county.

BBC beats ITV in breakfast battle

BBC - Tue, 2014-04-29 02:39
BBC Breakfast attracts double the amount of viewers who tuned in to ITV's first broadcast of its new breakfast programme Good Morning Britain.

Venezuela ex-intelligence chief shot

BBC - Tue, 2014-04-29 02:19
Major Eliecer Otaiza, who served as the head of the Venezuelan intelligence service under President Hugo Chavez, has been killed, officials say.

Cities want to make your rooftop gardens profitable

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-04-29 02:18

On a recent Saturday morning in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, the city's River Revitalization Corporation is showing off a plan to add green space to an area that's now dominated by heavy industry. And Lee Christie of architecture firm Perkins+Will is explaining some options.

"You'd be looking at more raised beds or more greenhouses," she says, "which really opens up the possibility for rooftops."

Rooftops have a lot of hidden potential. A new EPA study predicts that as cities grow hotter, replacing flat black rooftops with plants could cool the cities back down.

According to Phil Morefield, one of the co-authors of that study, "any sort of well-designed, well-maintained green roof will give some benefit for the building that it's installed on."

Those benefits include reversing urban warming, absorbing rain before it overburdens sewers, and providing habitat for butterflies.

There's just one problem: green roofs come with a big up-front cost. So now, some cities are experimenting with financial encouragement.

For example, Austin lets developers build more floor space if they include green roofs. And Seattle gives out credits and discounts for rooftop gardens.

"Properties that take advantage of that credit range from single family homes to a regional airport," says Seattle Urban Designer Dave LaClergue, "so they're very different in size and scale."

The gardens on top of the Chloe Apartments in Seattle. That's the Space Needle on the right.

Courtesy of Dave LaClergue/City of Seattle

But it's been a learning process. Many of Seattle's first rooftop gardens died, since they were designed with assumptions based on what worked in east-coast cities. And a garden that cools one city might have less of an effect in another.

"There really isn't a 'one-size fits all' strategy," says Britta Bierwagen, another co-author on that EPA study. "And there are a lot of things to consider."

Financial incentives are similarly fickle. In Nashville, a credit of $10 per square foot of green roof hasn't attracted a single taker. But Portland, Oregon, got an overwhelming response to a credit of just half that much.

That's because green roofs need to be customized to what the market in each city wants, as much as to the weather. One market might respond best to grants, while another prefers tax credits.

Courtesy of Dave LaClergue/City of Seattle

For example, in Portland, the incentive amount was determined in part by the region's damp climate and sewers that combine wastewater with stormwater. "It was the amount that we could apply that essentially would cost less to manage a gallon with a green roof than it would with a pipe," explains Portland Environmental Program Coordinator Matt Burlin.

And green roof incentives aren't just for major cities. In tiny Saluda, North Carolina, the Polk County Community Foundation provided a $6,000 grant for a green roof on the new restrooms at Pearson's Falls.

On a recent afternoon, foundation President and CEO Elizabeth Nager stopped by to see how the plants are filling in. It's looking good: "The roof resembles the forest floor in the glenn below the waterfall," she observes. "There are smooth rocks that fill the space where you expect to see traditional gutters."

It's more than just a few rocks and sage bushes, of course. It's part of a national experiment that's happening right over our heads.

MPs back HS2 bill despite rebellion

BBC - Tue, 2014-04-29 02:13
MPs reject calls for the proposed HS2 rail link between London and the West Midlands to be scrapped, despite a 35-strong Tory revolt.

Megacities contend with sinking land

BBC - Tue, 2014-04-29 01:59
Subsiding land is a bigger immediate problem for some of the world's big coastal cities than sea level rise, say scientists.

Tougher European bank tests revealed

BBC - Tue, 2014-04-29 01:44
European banks will be expected to prove they can survive a 7% drop in GDP under new tougher stress tests unveiled by the regulator.

Manufacturing is GDP star performer

BBC - Tue, 2014-04-29 01:38
GDP figures show economy picking up momentum

Rivals are just jealous - Schurrle

BBC - Tue, 2014-04-29 01:31
Chelsea forward Andre Schurrle says critics of his side's defensive approach are just "jealous" of the club's success.

Microsoft must release overseas data

BBC - Tue, 2014-04-29 01:18
A US judge orders Microsoft to hand over a customer's emails, even though the data is held on a server in Ireland.

Pardew plans long stay despite unrest

BBC - Tue, 2014-04-29 01:18
Manager Alan Pardew believes he has a "long-term" future at Newcastle despite six straight defeats and unrest among fans.

Libyan barracks hit by car bomb

BBC - Tue, 2014-04-29 01:13
A car bomb explodes at the gates of a military barracks near the airport in the Libyan city of Benghazi, killing two soldiers, security officials say.

Child sexually assaulted in street

BBC - Tue, 2014-04-29 01:02
An 11-year-old boy is left "traumatised" by a sexual assault in a busy residential street, police say.

241 new jobs at NI electronics firm

BBC - Tue, 2014-04-29 01:00
Almost 250 new jobs are being created at an electronics firm in County Antrim.

Hiding pregnancy from the marketing machine

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-04-29 01:00

When couples find out they are expecting, they usually spread the news to family and friends as soon as possible. When Janet Vertesi, an assistant professor of sociology at Princeton University, found out she was pregnant, she made a very similar call to family and friends, but with very different intentions.

Those close to Vertesi and her husband were told not to post anything on social media sites that would reveal the couples' pregnancy. Vertesi had decided to take her pregnancy off the grid, not because she wasn't overjoyed, but because marketing bots that figure out when a woman is pregnant become relentless in their targeted advertising.

Vertesi says the project was inspired by the invasiveness of data driven marketing that seems to go unchecked. So for the last nine months, she and her husband have paid for all baby-related expenses in cash, avoided social media, and used Tor, a browser that lets you use the internet anonymously, to visit sites like Babycenter.com and Namberry.com. 

"So many of those websites also have trackers and cookies that know that you’re visiting so they can follow you around with advertising afterwards," says Vertesi. What she noticed in hiding her pregnancy from marketing bots was that her activity looked more like someone involved in illegal activity than someone about to have a baby. Tor, for example, is notoriously used for drug deals.

While she wouldn't recommend the experiment to others, Vertesi says it raised some interesting questions:

"What I would recommend is thinking seriously about how and where you want your data to go...That doesn’t mean, 'Don’t participate in social networks' or 'Don’t buy anything online.' But it does mean it’s time to think seriously about how and where we want to engage in these kinds of transactions."

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