National / International News

Top VA Health Official Resigns Amid Scandal Over Treatment Delays

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-16 10:59

The resignation of the department's undersecretary for health comes a day after he and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki testified before Congress.

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Five big stores that are moving online

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-16 10:49

To no one's surprise, online sales in the U.S. are continuing to steal a larger and larger share of the consumer market, and expected to hit $370 billion by 2017. Even though the overwhelming majority of stuff is sold offline, where you shouldn't shop for the latest Game of Thrones novel in your underwear, brick-and-mortar retailers are still doing everything they can to move into that still growing market. Here are five big stores that have said they are moving to become a bigger presence in the online market:

Staples

Staples is really feeling the pinch from online retail. According to its chairman, Ronald L. Sargent, online retail is the main reason Staples will close nearly 225 stores by the end of 2014. And with the closing of so many physical stores, Staples is trying to make sure it dominates the online office supply market. Already, online orders make up nearly half their business, and Staples now offers 500,000 products on its website, rather than the 100,000 offered just a year ago. It even acquired Runa, a tech company specializing in e-commerce personalization. However, investors might be wary of Staples' new direction, as its stocks fell 15 percent in one day when the company announced it would close stores.

Wal-Mart 

Amazon is still the king of selling everything you could possibly want over the internet, but Wal-Mart, known for its gargantuan stores in real life, could be closing the gap. In 2013, Wal-Mart’s online sales grew faster than Amazon’s for the first time. Wal-Mart’s had to invest heavily to catch up to Amazon, acquiring 12 tech companies and building a presence in Silicon Valley. But even though Wal-Mart is growing faster than Amazon, it’s still a world away. Just look at the numbers: While Wal-Mart racked up $10 billion dollars in online sales over 2013, Amazon took in $67.8 billion.

Apple

The Apple Store might be the shiniest place in the mall, but Apple’s online store might be even shinier -- metaphorically, that is. That’s because Apple is the second largest online retailer in the U.S., right behind Amazon. Factoring in the App store, iTunes, and sales of Apple’s hardware at Apple’s website, Apples pulls in $18.3 billion in online sales. It’s not that Apple doesn’t still value it’s retail stores; they’re doing very well. But for the first time in Apple’s history, one person is being put in charge of both the online store and the retail stores, which is supposed to bring more collaboration between the two entities. As it is now, Apple’s online and retail aspects are both extremely successful, leaving Apple in a pretty sweet spot.

Best Buy

According to its CEO, Best Buy is now an “online first” retailer -- as opposed to being a "showroom" when shoppers would browse Best Buy first, and then actually buy their electronics online. They’ve even hired a handful of tech people to update their decade-old (yup, decade old) website. They’ve also instituted a loyalty program that works with their website and started a big-data mining project called Athena to get customer information for a more focused experience. Perhaps most notably, they’re using innovative methods to attempt to get products to shoppers faster than Amazon. This is all in an effort to double their online sales, and hopefully compete in a market that may have left them behind.

Target

With the public relations fallout from a huge data breach as well as an employee rant going viral on Gawker, Target is in a pretty bad place right now. But the company is hoping a push toward online retail could help turn things around. It’s experimenting with Google to deliver same-day shipping, and it’s significantly expanded its online subscription service. However, if the anonymous employee rant is anything to go by, they have a long way to go.

Twin bombing near big Nairobi market

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-16 10:36
Two bomb explosions strike Gikomba market area of the Kenyan capital Nairobi, killing at least 10 people and injuring scores, officials say.

Ex-student held over terror bombing

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-16 10:34
A former Welsh university student is arrested in connection with a bomb blast at a crowded bus station in Nigeria in which more than 70 died in April.

Separatists Abandon Government Buildings In Eastern Ukraine

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-16 10:25

Patrols of miners and steelworkers, urged on by Ukraine's richest man, have forced pro-Russian partisans to end their occupation of some areas.

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That Darn Cat: 'Hero' Feline Will Throw Out First Pitch At Game

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-16 10:15

The cat that saved a young boy from an attacking dog became an Internet star this week. Next week, we'll see how Tara the cat does on the ball field.

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VIDEO: Film Review - the week's new films

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-16 09:56
Film critic Mark Kermode reviews the week's film releases, including Godzilla, A Touch of Sin and The Two Faces of January.

Introducing Roma Cuisine, The Little-Known 'Soul Food' Of Europe

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-16 09:46

There's a long history of prejudice against the Roma people in Europe. A non-profit in Slovenia is hoping to diffuse it by launching a restaurant serving the tastiest of the traditional Roma dishes.

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Introducing Roma Cuisine, The Little-Known 'Soul Food' Of Europe

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-16 09:46

There's a long history of prejudice against the Roma people in Europe. A non-profit in Slovenia is hoping to diffuse it by launching a restaurant serving the tastiest of the traditional Roma dishes.

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Salmond: 'We are gaining ground'

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-16 09:42
The "Yes" campaign is gaining ground ahead of the independence referendum, Scotland's first minister tells BBC Scotland.

Stuart Hall cleared of rape charges

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-16 09:24
Ex-BBC broadcaster Stuart Hall is cleared of raping two girls, but is convicted of an indecent assault.

Man rescued in cabin cruiser fire

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-16 09:22
A man is rescued from a 26ft (8m) cabin cruiser and taken to hospital after the vessel catches fire off Aberystwyth.

Travel firms halt Kenya coast tours

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-16 09:12
British tourists are being evacuated from parts of Kenya by tour operators Thomson and First Choice, following a terrorism warning from the Foreign Office.

Boots of murdered woman are found

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-16 09:08
Boots belonging to Swindon woman Sian O'Callaghan, who was murdered three years ago, are found in a pond.

Economists find same-sex marriage gives a boost

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-16 09:03

This week marks ten years since the first legal same-sex marriages took place in the U.S. At 12:01 am on May 17, 2004, the state of Massachusetts started issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. Since then, more than a dozen states have followed suit, and still more are in the middle of legal battles over whether they should.

Setting aside for a moment the debates around justice, personal freedom, and religion, there are also plenty of economic dimensions to the legalization of same sex marriage. While the research is limited, there are a number of studies that show that legalizing same sex marriage is a net good for the economy. A few years ago, researchers at the William’s Institute at UCLA conducted surveys and combed through state- tax records, and found that during the first years of same-sex weddings in Massachusetts, the local economy got a boost of more than $111 million. Studies of other states have shown similar benefits.

The benefits extend from a family budget to a state budget, says Lee Badgett, an economist at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, who is behind much of the research.

At the personal level, for couples who live in a state that recognizes gay marriage, legalization has “probably saved them a lot of money,” she says. “It gives people security to be treated legally as a family and to have access to health care benefits, social security benefits,” she says.

Across the country about 150,000 same sex couples have gotten married in the last ten years according to Badgett. Meaning, a bump in business for the companies that make those weddings happen. A survey from TheKnot.com found that the average same-sex couple spends about $10,000 on their wedding.

“That’s millions and millions of dollars that are being pumped in to local economies and small businesses, like florists, caterers and hotels,” Badgett says, pointing out that all this business has come at an important time-- during an otherwise gloomy economy.

“Our business keeps tripling every year,” says Michael Jamrock, the founder of EnGAYgedweddings.com, a national clearinghouse where LGBT-friendly wedding services pay to advertise their businesses to same-sex couples about to tie the knot. When Jamrock started the company six years ago, Massachusetts and Connecticut were the only states where same-sex marriage was legal. “Whenever a new state becomes legal, the traffic to the website is just absolutely phenomenal,” he says.

Legalization can also boost state revenue, says economist Badgett. States see more sales tax dollars—from couples spending on their weddings, and guests who travel from out of state to celebrate. There can also be a rise in income tax revenue from couples filing jointly.

Badgett says legalizing gay marriage can also mean less government spending on social safety net programs, as married couples pool financial resources often rely on less public assistance.

“When marriage strengthens families in terms of economic security, that's also good for state budgets,” she says.

Legalizing gay marriage can also bring some extra costs. Spouses of state and private employees may qualify for more retirement and health-care benefits. But economists who’ve crunched the numbers say on net, those costs don't outweigh the overall revenues.

A report in 2004 from the Congressional Budget Office, then headed up by Doug Holtz-Eakin (who now runs the conservative American Action Forum) estimated that if same-sex marriage was recognized in all fifty states and at the federal level, the federal budget’s bottom line “would improve the budget’s bottom line to a small extent: by less than $1 billion in each of the next 10 years.”

Tear gas fired at Turkey mine unrest

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-16 09:03
Turkish police fire tear gas at thousands of protesters in town of Soma where some 300 miners died on Tuesday.

Scudamore emails 'insult all women'

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-16 08:54
England goalkeeper Rachel Brown-Finnis says emails sent by Richard Scudamore are an "insult to all women".

AUDIO: Miliband on immigration concerns

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-16 08:47
Labour leader Ed Miliband says immigration will be a big issue in next year's general election.

Man murdered by intruder named

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-16 08:46
Police say they are following a "definite line of inquiry" over the death of a man in a flat in the Scotstoun area of Glasgow.

Farage aide interrupts interview

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-16 08:41
Nigel Farage's spokesman interrupts a live interview after the UKIP leader is pressed about immigration and expenses.
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