National / International News

Army helicopter makes forced landing

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-12 07:39
An Army Apache attack helicopter makes a forced landing on a school sports pitch after developing a technical fault.

Juries to decide if Uber drivers are 'contractors'

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-03-12 07:36

The ride services Uber and Lyft failed to convince a pair of U.S. judges Wednesday that their drivers are “independent contractors” rather than regular employees.

The class-action lawsuits – brought by drivers of both companies – will now go to jury trial, the results for which could have important consequences for the sharing economy.

By serving as middlemen in a market for surplus labor, or car rides, or whatever, many sharing economy startups have been able to skirt labor regulations such as social security, worker’s comp, or sick leave.

In yesterday’s ruling, Judge Edward Chen noted that Uber, “would not be a viable business entity without its drivers,” and that the company can also fire drivers for a variety of reasons, including low passenger ratings, or for no reason at all. Both of these reasons are cases for the drivers being considered employees.

By cautious estimates Uber has upwards of 160,000 drivers across 61 cities in the United States.  If it has to pay out benefits to all those drivers it will affect the profitability of their business model, as well as other gig-economy apps such as TaskRabbit, Wonolo, Instacart or Handy.

Still, given how much money Uber has already raked in from investors, even if a jury rules against them on the issue of independent contractors, they should still be able to adapt.

"I'm sure they have a contingency plan to deal with this,” says John Horton, from NYU’s Stern School of Business. “It may take some of the shine off them as an investment, but my guess is we're not going to see Uber close up shop if the jury rules against them."

Uber is valued somewhere north of $40 billion, Lyft is around $2.5 Billion. Horton points out that many of the labor regulations that apply to the workforce were written into law before companies like Uber were part of the marketplace.  Still, he cautions against re-writing laws too quickly.

“One of the things you worry about when crafting policy before the contours of the industry are already apparent,” Horton says. “It can happen where the people who seem to be already out in front, can use regulation to squash new entrants.”

Horton notes this frontrunner position could be leveraged by other companies in the surplus economy, not just Uber.  He also says it would likely result in increased costs being passed on to consumers.

If Uber or Lyft drivers are ultimately ruled to be employees, they'll be entitled to reimbursement for gas and vehicle maintenance, among other expenses, according to Reuters.

FCC Publishes Full Text Of Net Neutrality Rules

NPR News - Thu, 2015-03-12 07:30

Two weeks after it voted to approve rules on net neutrality, the Federal Communications Commission releases what Chairman Tom Wheeler calls "a shining example of American democracy at work."

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Can the new owners re-invent BHS?

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-12 07:26
It only cost £1. So, can BHS find a way to encourage in new customers?

Fantasy author Pratchett dies aged 66

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-12 07:24
UK fantasy author Terry Pratchett dies aged 66 after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease, his publisher says

McCoy has first win at last Festival

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-12 07:19
AP McCoy gets a first win on day three of his final Cheltenham Festival after riding Uxizandre to victory in the Ryanair Chase.

Colombia explosion injures police

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-12 07:07
An explosive device injures five police officers and two other people in the Colombian capital Bogota in the early hours.

Caravan park murder inquiry launched

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-12 07:05
A murder investigation is under way after 18-year-old Connor Marshall died following an attack at a south Wales caravan park.

Real chief backs Bale and Ancelotti

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-12 07:04
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has backed Gareth Bale and denied that coach Carlo Ancelotti is facing the sack.

Meet The 15-Year-Old From Rural Guatemala Who Addressed The U.N.

NPR News - Thu, 2015-03-12 07:01

Back in 2012, Emelin asked the mayor to help the girls of her town. He laughed in her face. But she didn't give up. This week, she told the U.N. General Assembly about her efforts.

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PM rejects Russian parade invitation

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-12 06:51
David Cameron will not attend Russia's World War Two commemorations in May if he remains as prime minister, due to the country's actions in Ukraine.

S Pacific volcano forms new island

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-12 06:35
A volcanic eruption in Tonga in January leads to the creation of a new island in the Pacific, some 500m across and 250m high.

How do toy banknotes get past cashiers?

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-12 06:22
Police are searching for a suspected fraudster after a shop in Northern Ireland accepted a toy 100 euro note.

Man held 'for helping UK Syria trio'

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-12 06:19
A man has been arrested for allegedly helping three British schoolgirls cross into Syria, Turkey's foreign minister says.

Terry defends Chelsea team-mates

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-12 06:17
John Terry defends his Chelsea team-mates after PSG forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic called them "babies" in Champions League.

VIDEO: Two police officers shot in Ferguson

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-12 06:04
Two police officers have been shot in the US city of Ferguson, where tensions have been running high since the killing of an unarmed black teenager in 2014.

'Dozens die' in Syria village battle

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-12 06:03
At least 50 government soldiers and rebels have died in a battle for control of a strategic mountain village in north-west Syria, activists say.

Kincora ruled out of abuse inquiry

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-12 06:02
Home Secretary Theresa May appears to rule out extending the scope of a child sexual abuse inquiry to cover Northern Ireland and Scotland.

VIDEO: The Duchess goes to Downton

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-12 06:01
The Duchess of Cambridge is making one of her final public appearances before she gives birth to her second child.

Woman accused of school assaults

BBC - Thu, 2015-03-12 05:49
A 26-year-old woman is accused of assaulting young children at a private school in Aberdeen.

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