National / International News

School inspections more frequent

BBC - Thu, 2014-10-09 04:45
Schools in England will face more regular, light-touch inspections, but unannounced inspections will not become standard, says Ofsted.

Caption Challenge: Feel hungry punk?

BBC - Thu, 2014-10-09 03:31
It's the Caption Challenge. Oh yes it is.

PODCAST: Like cars? Head to Paris

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-10-09 03:00

The clothing company Gap, which also owns Old Navy and Banana Republic, is unfashionable right now--at least to investors. Its CEO announced his retirement, and since that news broke, the markets have been unkind to the company's stock. Plus, President Obama will be in California today. He's scheduled to deliver a speech on the economy. But the president's not making many campaign speeches ahead of the midterms. His role is to motivate donors more than voters. We look into the change in tactic. And if you like cars, Paris is a good place to be right now. The city is hosting the Paris Motor Show, one of the biggest events of the year for the global auto industry. More than 270 companies from 21 countries are showing off their latest products. A report from our friends at the BBC takes a look at a few of them.

Smashed Hits: God Only Knows

BBC - Thu, 2014-10-09 02:14
How Beach Boy Brian Wilson came to write God Only Knows.

The president as fundraiser-in-chief

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-10-09 02:00

President Barack Obama is making a series of economic speeches around the country, and the latest comes Thursday in Santa Monica, California. 

All this speaking means the president hasn't been doing a lot of campaigning for Democrats in close red state races. 

“When you look at the approval ratings for President Obama in most of these states, he’s in the low 30s,” says Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. 

Sabato says the president is helping Democrats more by staying out of sight and raising big money. 

Who still loves him? The party’s base. 

“There are a lot of very affluent Democrats and liberals who are willing to pay money to see the president,” says John Jack Pitney, a political scientist at Claremont McKenna College.

The White House doesn't have numbers for how much President Obama has raised for Democrats. When asked, The Democratic National Committee wouldn't provide one, either. 

The Center for Responsive Politics does keeps track of fundraising reports, though. It says the Democratic Party has raised almost $600 million so far this year.

AT&T pays a price for cramming

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-10-09 02:00

Two major federal government agencies and the country's state attorneys general have settled a case with AT&T in which the wireless carrier will pay $105 million dollars for cramming.

If you don't know what cramming is, you're not alone, and that's part of the problem. In this case—the biggest in history according to the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission—it's about AT&T allowing third party companies to hit its customers with fraudulent charges.

Click the media player above to hear FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez in conversation with Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson.

$80 million of the settlement will go through a program the FTC has set up to reimburse customers who suffered the charges.

Most seniors aren't saving enough for retirement

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-10-09 02:00

Despite recent gains, older Americans still aren’t saving enough for a comfortable retirement, according to a new survey from Interest.com. There's a personal finance rule of thumb that says seniors need at least 70 percent of their pre-retirement income once they quit working.

In 2013, seniors in only two places met that threshold: Nevada and Washington D.C.

Mike Sante, managing editor of Interest.com, says many federal workers in the District of Columbia retire with government pensions. Nevada may be harder to explain, but he suspects the predominance of union workers in Las Vegas may be part of the reason.

“Union membership tends to mean that they still have traditional retirement plans,” says Sante.

American seniors are inching closer to meeting that retirement “rule of thumb," however. They now earn close to 60 percent of pre-retirement income.

Americans 65 and over earn about 60 percent of what pre-retirement Americans ages 45-64 earn. That's a 10 percent jump from 2005.

Sante contends those gains are partly due to the fact that more seniors are staying on the job longer. Many can't afford to retire at age 65.  

Sante says the survey is aimed not at seniors but “everybody who’s working in their 30s, 40s and 50s.” 

He says, “When you’re still in your 30s and 40s, even in your 50s, you can still save a significant amount of money and have a big impact on your quality of life after you stop working."

Inside the Paris Motor Show

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-10-09 02:00

If you like cars, Paris is a pretty good place to be right now. Not for driving—the traffic is terrible there pretty much any time of the year.

But if you like checking out the newest innovations in car design, there's a festival for petrolheads at the Paris Motor Show. More than 270 companies from 20 countries are showing off their latest vehicles.

BBC reporter Theo Leggett has this report from inside the show.

Want to save money? Call your cable company.

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-10-09 02:00

Most of us have cellphone, pay-TV and credit card bills, but few of us realize that simply calling companies and asking for a better deal can save a substantial amount on those bills. 

“Many times customer reps are empowered to provide you with something,” says Tony Giorgianni, a money advisor with Consumer Reports. “It costs companies five times as much to acquire a new customer than it does to keep an old one.”

So, it is a factored-in cost of doing business to provide discounts or other incentives for customers who call and ask. Companies know that most customers won’t ask, so it’s a small price to pay to hang onto those who do. 

In fact, a recent survey by CreditCards.com found that only 23 percent of credit card  customers called to ask for better terms. But, when they did, most got better interest rates or waived late fees. 

Matt Schulz, a senior analyst with CreditCards.com, says even he was surprised by the survey’s findings. So he understands that most customers don’t realize they have the power to get better deals. 

“And that’s kind of understandable. Given that in the depths of the recession, all we saw in the headlines was credit limits being slashed and accounts being closed and all that sort of thing,” Schulz says, adding that banks are competing for customers again, as the economy recovers. 

Consumer Reports’ Giorgianni points out that consumers have leverage in any industry where there’s competition. 

Elizabeth Coffman, a college professor in Chicago, found out the power of the call recently when looking for a better price on her cellphone plan. She has a family plan with several cellphones on it at a price of $300 a month.

“We have called both the cable company and the cellphone company, because our charges were too high, and said we were going to go to another company if we couldn’t lower them. In both cases we were successful,” Coffman says. 

But, it has been a while, and she decided to contact her cellphone company again, just as other carriers were offering discounts and incentives to win over customers. The result: a more than $100 per month price reduction, saving her more than $1,200 a year. 

Carol Helton of Cape Coral, Florida had a similar story with her cable company. About six months ago, she called her cable company to complain about raised fees. 

“I mentioned that I keep getting mailers from their competition and I was thinking about switching. They put me through to their ‘retention specialist.’ Not only was she able to take off the new charges, she was able to give us a lower rate than we had been paying,” Helton wrote in response to a Marketplace questionnaire on the Public Insight Network. 

Sometimes, success isn’t immediate. Sharon Forrest of Atlanta, Georgia, says she called her phone company three times and had to wait for her bill to increase, before she could get them to reduce her payments. 

“I learned not to take for granted that the company will make the changes they promise. I learned to persist,” Forrest wrote. 

Giorgianni says persistence is important. If you call and don’t get the answer you want from a customer service representative, hang up and call again later. A different representative might be more helpful, or might know of a deal or promotion that the first one didn’t. 

Most importantly, Giorgianni says, remain happy and positive. If a company thinks they still have a way of keeping you a happy customer, then they’ll try to do so. But if they think you’re so angry that they’ve already lost you, they’ll have little incentive to try. 

VIDEO: GoPro makes surfer boss a billionaire

BBC - Thu, 2014-10-09 01:06
The tiny high definition camera called the GoPro has made its founder and chief executive a multi-billionaire after it was floated.

VIDEO: 'I managed to keep my head'

BBC - Thu, 2014-10-09 00:52
Nancy Birtwhistle, the winner of this year's Great British Bake Off, has told BBC Breakfast how she managed to 'keep her head ' to beat her two rivals in the final.

Farewell payday lenders, welcome loan sharks?

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-08 23:59
Farewell payday lenders, welcome loan sharks?

VIDEO: John Humphrys meets Johnny Rotten

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-08 22:00
The BBC's fearless interrogator comes face-to-face with the king of Punk.

Councils warn services to disappear

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-08 21:57
Key services will be dismantled and the "very fabric" of communities will be tested after a £146m budget cut, warn council leaders.

Anger as Ebola nurse's dog put down

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-08 21:48
Health authorities in Spain put to death the dog of a nurse infected with the Ebola virus in Madrid, sparking protests from animal rights groups.

VIDEO: 'My son joined Islamic State'

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-08 21:43
A Belgian man whose adopted son travelled to Syria to join Islamic State gives an insight into life with the militants.

Budget proposals to be discussed

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-08 21:32
Proposals for the latest round of financial allocations to the Stormont departments will be brought to a meeting of the executive later.

Care in England 'not good enough'

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-08 21:18
The chief inspector of adult social care at the Care Quality Commission tells the BBC "too much awful care" is happening in England.

Civilians suffer in Kashmir clashes

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-08 21:01
The BBC's Sanjoy Majumder and Shaimaa Khalil visit villages in the disputed region of Kashmir where at least 16 people have died in the worst violence in a decade.

Terror policing review put on hold

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-08 20:29
Home Secretary Theresa May postpones plans to review who should co-ordinate counter-terrorism policing until after the general election.

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