National / International News

AirAsia tragedy introduces U.S. to an iconic CEO

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-12-29 12:31

The disappearance of AirAsia flight 8501 is a story with lots of sadly familiar questions: What exactly happened, and where and how? Is there any hope for survivors?

One less-familiar element has been the quick response by the company and its CEO, Tony Fernandes, who has been talking to family members and taking to Twitter with the latest news.  For U.S. audiences, the story has been an introduction to an iconic Asian CEO and the innovative company he created.

In Jakarta this morning to communicate with Search and Rescue. All assets now in region. Going back to Surabaya now to be with families.

— Tony Fernandes (@tonyfernandes) December 29, 2014

In 2001, Tony Fernandes took over AirAsia and its enormous debts for 29 cents. He had a new idea: a budget airline for Asia.

It’s like Spirit Airlines in the U.S. — super-low fares, zero frills — but without the customer unhappiness that has become almost a trademark for Spirit. AirAsia’s gets great ratings for customer satisfaction. The difference is the customer that AirAsia serves.

"They’re really grabbing passengers who have never flown before," says Vinay Bhaskara, a senior business analyst with Airways News. "And they’re very transparent about their business model. You’re going to have to pay extra if you want extra."

For many AirAsia customers, flying itself is a huge upgrade, as reflected in the airline’s motto: "Now, everyone can fly!"

"That's an amazing concept — bringing air travel to the masses," says aviation consultant Michael Boyd, president of Boyd Group International.

By 2013, AirAsia was a network of regional airlines, and Fernandes was starring on an Asian version of “The Apprentice.” 

"All of these young business people were dying to work with him because of the mystique, and because of what he had actually accomplished," says Richard Turen, a luxury travel agent and a senior contributing editor for Travel Weekly.

Fernandes has branched out in other ways. He has a majority stake in an English Premier League football team and he's opened a chain of budget hotels that Turen says fill a new niche — something like a bridge between a hostel and a resort.

"It's like, 'Yes, you can go to a resort, and no it doesn’t have to be stuffy,'" he says. "'And no, you don’t have to pay $70 for breakfast.'"

As the weekend’s tragedy unfolded, Fernandes sent out multiple emotional tweets, calling the event his worst nightmare.

Argentine President Takes On Godson To Keep Werewolf At Bay

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-29 12:31

Presidential protection of the seventh son in a family of male children is a tradition in Argentina. According to local legend, the seventh son in a family of boys will assume a lycanthropic form.

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The 2014 Tech Trends We'll Still Be Talking About Next Year

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-29 12:11

Apple is ending an influential 2014 but faces another big test ahead. And we revisit the mega-hacks of the year and look to a more voice-controlled future.

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James Fallows On The 'Tragedy Of The American Military'

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-29 12:11

The gulf between the vast majority of the American public and the nation's military has had a detrimental effect on the U.S. fighting force, according to James Fallows in an Atlantic cover story.

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Few Common Factors Between 2014's Airline Disasters

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-29 12:11

Lourdes Garcia Navarro speaks with John Cox, an airline safety expert and former commercial pilot, about Saturday's disappearance of an AirAsia flight over the Java Sea.

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Don't Bench That Dentist: A Guide To Ugandan English

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-29 12:11

The language called "Uglish" is as controversial in Uganda as Ebonics is in the U.S. And now it has its own dictionary. Is it just bad English or a legitimate local variant?

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Massive Recalls Give The Auto Industry An Unwanted Record

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-29 11:58

More than 60 million vehicles were recalled in the U.S. this year. But analysts say those recalls say more about the way the industry has restructured than about overall car safety.

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British Health Care Worker Tests Positive For Ebola

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-29 11:28

The patient, who had worked in an Ebola clinic in Sierra Leone, arrived in Glasgow, Scotland, late Sunday via London and Casablanca, Morocco. This is the first Ebola case diagnosed in the U.K.

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As More Women Tell Abortion Stories, Both Sides Claim Advantage

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-29 11:26

Does telling your abortion story help end stigma about the procedure, or does it help opponents make the case against abortion? The answer to that question depends very much on whom you talk to.

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VIDEO: Bodybuilder, 55, back after 20 years

BBC - Mon, 2014-12-29 11:21
A 55-year-old bodybuilder talks about his 'incredible' comeback after 20 years out if the sport.

No charges after woman, 46, died

BBC - Mon, 2014-12-29 11:02
The death of a 46-year-old Cynon Valley woman in Cardiff is 'not suspicious' say police, as they release a man without charge.

Corporate Twitter accounts try to be bae ... and fail

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-12-29 11:00

Bae, for those of you who don't know, is a favorite word of kids these days. I had to ask my 23-year-old colleague for a definition. Basically, "bae" is a term of endearment.

Now brands are getting in on the bae action, trying to be bae with everyone on social media. In response, the Brands Saying Bae Twitter account makes fun of corporate accounts that try to act cool. 

Accounts like Pizza Hut:

Basically this says that anyone who voluntarily follows Pizza Hut is too stupid to get a pun without an explanation.

— Brands Saying Bae (@BrandsSayingBae) December 28, 2014

... and Whole Foods:

I wonder if Whole Foods CEO Walter E Robb IV tweeted this.

— Brands Saying Bae (@BrandsSayingBae) December 29, 2014

Really, Whole Foods? We tweeted "bae" before it was cool:

Sequester cuts to squeeze BAE, overseas defense suppliers

— Marketplace (@Marketplace) February 21, 2013

Backlash over standardized testing expected to continue

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-12-29 11:00

One of the big stories of 2014 was the backlash against standardized testing. Teachers, principals and school boards protested against the number of tests their students had to take.

As most states gear up for the first big round of Common Core tests in 2015, more protests are expected.

"Teachers say it’s disruptive to the school day," says Marketplace’s education correspondent, Amy Scott. "And that spending a lot of time preparing for tests is not the same thing as learning."

So will we see fewer tests in 2015? Scott seems to think so. She says some states have already moved to reduce the amount of tests students have to take. And the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 is long overdue for a rewrite.

The NFL's 'ready, set, fire' day

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-12-29 11:00

The NFL's regular season ended Sunday. And that means “Black Monday" followed, the day teams take stock of their wins and losses and, if they’re not happy, fire their head coaches and their staffs.

But finding new coaches means a scramble under intense pressure. Fans can turn into critics, teams are not allowed to recruit from their competition and owners are turning to executive search firms for help.

VIDEO: Ethiopians enjoy melancholic music

BBC - Mon, 2014-12-29 10:45
Ethiopia is experiencing something of a renaissance in Jazz and live music with a focus on traditional tunes.

Murphy apologises for posting image

BBC - Mon, 2014-12-29 10:25
Blackpool's Jacob Murphy apologises for posting an image on social media that appears to mock the team's on-field woes.

Ebola case confirmed in Glasgow

BBC - Mon, 2014-12-29 10:09
A healthcare worker who has just returned from West Africa has been diagnosed with Ebola and is being treated in hospital in Glasgow.

VIDEO: Boxer Khan visits Pakistan school

BBC - Mon, 2014-12-29 10:01
The boxer Amir Khan has visited a school in Pakistan where Taliban militants massacred 152 people earlier this month.

Absentee pilots strand passengers

BBC - Mon, 2014-12-29 09:58
More than 100 passengers are stranded at an airport in Tanzania after pilots failed to report to work following their Christmas break, officials say.

Greece political developments stir European debt fears

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-12-29 09:57

Greece may have tipped Europe back into crisis.

In its third and final attempt, the parliament in Athens failed to choose a new president, and that’s triggered a snap general election next month in which a radical anti-austerity, anti-bailout party called Syriza is the favorite to win.

Some analysts fear that if the Greeks do elect Syriza, it will weaken Germany’s support for Greece’s membership in the Eurozone and bolster German opposition to monetary easing across the stagnant Eurozone.

After a quiet 2014, the Eurozone looks set once again to become a major focus of international investor unease in 2015.