National / International News

What If Everyone In America Had To Vote?

NPR News - Thu, 2015-03-19 09:43

President Obama called the idea of mandatory voting potentially "transformative." That's true, and Democrats might love it, but it's not likely to happen.

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Sturgeon: 'Don't fear us in England'

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-19 09:42
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tells the BBC that voters in England should not be frightened by the SNP and what role it might play after May's election.

Big labor's March Madness problem

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-03-19 09:41

About 60 million Americans filled out brackets to predict the outcome of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. It's also estimated by Challenger, Gray & Christmas that the productivity drop during the three-week tournament is $1.9 billion.

That isn't all that's on employers’ minds, though. Workplace pools can also lead to trouble with organized labor.

“I sort of do it on my own time and I suggest that employers do not allow it to run rampant," says Gary Lieber, an attorney at FordHarrison who represents management in labor cases and warns that allowing bracket bets in the workplace could violate what's known as the "no-solicitation rule."

"Work is work,” he says. “An employer can demand that employees spend all of his work time dedicated to the employers' operations."

That means no work-time solicitation in companies that bar it, and that's where unions get a little defensive. Matt Ginsburg, associate general counsel for the AFL-CIO, says employers often have a double standard when it comes to enforcement. He says in one case, a judge found against an Indiana hospital for interfering with nurses organizing a union, while ignoring other violations.

"He found examples that included solicitations for Girl Scout cookies, March of Dimes, United Way, Secretaries' Day, Boss Day, and going-away parties," Ginsburg says.

So could March Madness pools be included on that list?

"If an employer is promoting a March Madness pool,” he says, “I think that can be a form of solicitation, yes."

He says the AFL-CIO has yet to file any complaints regarding a March Madness pool, but like in the tourney, there is no such thing as a sure thing. I'm looking at you, Kentucky fans.

Afghan lynched 'after burning Koran'

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-19 09:38
An Afghan woman is lynched by a crowd in the Afghan capital Kabul after reportedly burning a copy of the Koran, police say.

Interest rate cut 'as likely as rise'

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-19 09:37
The chief economist of the Bank of England says UK interest rates are as likely to fall further as to rise.

Ryanair abandons US flight plans

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-19 09:28
Budget airline Ryanair abandons plans to operate transatlantic flights, just days after it said its board had approved the measure.

Quiz: Tests, tests and more tests

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-03-19 09:24

On average, students in grades 3-5 spend 15 hours a year taking standardized tests, according to the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

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EuroMillions syndicate shares £1.1m

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-19 09:22
A lottery syndicate of friends and family set up on Facebook has scooped more than £1.1m in a EuroMillions draw.

Ministers pushed over 'summer-borns'

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-19 09:12
Parents of summer-born babies should get more powers to appeal against decisions on when their children start school.

The music industry sings a sorrowful, flat note

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-03-19 09:08

Recording industry revenues were flat in 2014, according to a new report by the Recording Industry Association of America. About 15 years ago, revenues peaked at about $14.5 billion. Now the industry brings in half that.

“It’s a big drop, but a lot has happened in those years,” says Joshua Friedlander, vice president of strategic data analysis with the RIAA.

First, there was piracy. Then iTunes and Amazon made it easy to buy just one song for a buck, as opposed to an entire CD for maybe $15.  And then came streaming.

“I think there’s been an overall competition for people’s attention and their time,” says Serona Elton, director of the Music Business and Entertainment Studies Program at the University of Miami. She says people are spending their time and their money on other things. Who’s suffered the most?

“I think the first people, the first entities to feel it were definitely the record companies,” Elton says.

But, she says, there’s a trickle-down effect, from the artists to the songwriters. Except those making vinyl records. Those sales were up 50 percent. 

Should oil companies be liable for earthquake-related damage?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-03-19 09:08

The Oklahoma Supreme Court will soon rule on a case that could hold oil and gas companies liable for earthquake-related damage.

Since 2009, Oklahoma has experienced earthquakes at a rate nearly 300 times higher than previous decades. Several peer-reviewed studies link seismic activity with oil and gas development — in Oklahoma's case, that's fracking.

The high court case is a personal-injury dispute. Four years ago in Prague, Oklahoma, a 5.7 earthquake struck and pieces of homeowner Sandra Ladra’s chimney fell on her leg. Ladra may need a knee replacement, and sued two companies in the fracking wastewater business, arguing they caused the quake.

West Virginia law professor Josh Fershee says science links injection wells with earthquakes, but says Ladra’s challenge is to prove wastewater disposal caused the 2011 tremor. If the companies lose, he expects industry to support new rules stipulating what the energy industry can do to avoid or limit quake liability.

Such changes cost money, as do new efforts to take fracking wastewater and recycle it. Still, if more lawsuits come, or more large quakes, the price of safety could be worth it to industry. 

India's prime minister needs a raise

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-03-19 09:08

On Business Insider, we found a piece pegged to a pledge by Russian President Vladimir Putin to reduce his salary by 10 percent because of economic sanctions that have been imposed on the country.

Putin's official salary, by the way, is $136,000.

Business Insider compiled what other world leaders make, and Barack Obama is right up there at $400,000 — just above Canada's Prime Minister Steven Harper, and Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel. 

Narendra Modi of India earns about $30,000 a year — the lowest on the list. The highest? Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at $1.7 million.

Target's data breach settlement sets a big precedent

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-03-19 09:08

Target will establish a $10 million fund for reimbursement of data breach victims up to $10,000.

The breach, in which customer data was stolen by hackers, affected some 40 million shoppers in 2013 and has already cost Target upward of $100 million in security upgrades and legal fees. 

The settlement is noteworthy for the fact that Target is admitting fault. 

"Target is admitting that data breaches cause real consumer harms," says Ed Mierzwinski with U.S. Public Interest Research Group in Washington D.C 

The case could also set a precedent for future data security cases.

"Settlements are negotiations and any time another settlement happens it helps set what is the going price," says Bill McGeveran of the University of Minnesota School of Law.

A class-action suit is currently underway in Atlanta against Home Depot for its 2014 data breach.

2022 World Cup final on 18 December

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-19 09:07
Fifa confirms 2022 World Cup final in Qatar will take place on 18 December - and France will host 2019 Women's World Cup.

Lawro's predictions v the Eggheads

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-19 09:05
BBC Sport football expert Mark Lawrenson takes on Jeremy Vine and the Eggheads in the weekend Premier League games.

Virginia's Governor Orders Inquiry Into Black Student's Bloody Arrest

NPR News - Thu, 2015-03-19 09:04

The case created an uproar after photos emerged showing a member of UVA's Honor Committee bleeding as he lay on the sidewalk with a uniformed ABC agent crouching over him.

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Who needs what in Six Nations fight?

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-19 08:49
As England, Ireland, Wales and France battle for the Six Nations title this weekend, BBC Sport assess their chances.

Vonn equals legend Stenmark's record

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-19 08:49
American Lindsey Vonn wins a 19th World Cup title to equal Swedish legend Ingemar Stenmark's record.

Murray on marriage, best men & his voice

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-19 08:47
Andy Murray loosens up behind the microphone and talks about marriage, his choice of best man and tennis commentary.

Clarkson 'fracas' report due next week

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-19 08:44
The BBC's report into Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson's "fracas" with a producer is to be handed over to the director general next week.