National / International News

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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New report finds 64 percent of managers 'disengaged'

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-04-02 09:06

A new poll out from Gallup says half of all employees in this country have, at some point or another, quit their jobs to get away from a bad boss.

...Which is either depressing or empowering, I'm not sure which.

Of course, that may be because of the second part of the survey: just 35 percent of managers in American companies call themselves "engaged." 64 percent say they're "not engaged" or "actively disengaged."

Which is just a drag.

What can the Fed do about income inequality?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-04-02 09:01

Once upon a time, back when Laurence Meyer was a governor of the Federal Reserve, he was called to testify before Congress. Bernie Sanders, today a U.S. senator from Vermont, asked him what the Fed would do about income inequality. Meyer's reply? "Nothing."

That's not because he thought it wasn't a problem, but because of the Fed's strictly defined mandate: "full employment and price stability," Meyer said. "Anything else — not their job."

But what the Fed can do is conduct research, and that's just what Janet Yellen called for in a Thursday speech in Washington, D.C. Yellen called income inequality a "disturbing trend" and noted that family dynamics and related microeconomic factors could impact economic mobility and the broader economy.

A growing body of research suggests that lifelong economic productivity is affected by both family and early childhood development.

Randall Kroszner, an economics professor at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business, says "I think we have much more data than we did before to drill down into the micro-factors that may be driving macroeconomics."

Ted Peters, a former Fed director, said that Yellen's star status means she can use the bully pulpit to rally politicians to take note of emerging economic trends that might affect the American economy.

"Janet Yellen publicly speaking out against this carries a lot of weight," Peters says. 

Could Chris Christie Appoint Himself To The U.S. Senate? Yes, He Can

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-02 08:58

The indictment of Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., could lead to Chris Christie, R-N.J., appointing a replacement. With Christie's presidential prospects, he might want to consider appointing himself.

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'Seventy killed' in Kenya attack

BBC - Thu, 2015-04-02 08:41
At least 70 hostages have been killed in an al-Shabab militant attack on Garissa University College campus in north-eastern Kenya, officials say.

North advised not to play in April

BBC - Thu, 2015-04-02 08:39
Northampton Saints and Wales wing George North will not play again this month on the advice of a neurologist.

New York women arrested in bomb plot

BBC - Thu, 2015-04-02 08:35
The FBI says it has arrested two women accused of plotting to plant a bomb in New York City.

VIDEO: Election campaign day four in 90 secs

BBC - Thu, 2015-04-02 08:28
The leaders of seven UK parties are looking forward to their two-hour live televised election debate.

Traffic changes on bus death road

BBC - Thu, 2015-04-02 08:11
Traffic will be stopped from travelling eastbound on a Swansea road where a collision resulted in Sgt Louise Lucas's death.