National / International News

To Get To The Bottom Of Your Microbiome, Start With A Swab Of Poo

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-15 11:58

To find helpful patterns in personal microbe populations, scientists also need to gather a long list of information about the people who serve as homes for the microscopic critters.

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Six dead in Pennsylvania shootings

BBC - Mon, 2014-12-15 11:24
A suspected gunman is on the run after six people were shot dead and three wounded in the US state of Pennsylvania, police say.

Supreme Court Rules Traffic Stop OK Despite Misunderstanding Of Law

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-15 11:16

The court has upheld a cocaine conviction that began when police stopped a car with just one brake light, even though state law in North Carolina requires only one brake lamp.

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Search Is On For Gunman Who Left 6 Dead Near Philadelphia

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-15 11:16

Officials say the gunman is Bradley William Stone, 35, who also left three people wounded. The victims are all related to Stone, officials say.

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Man survives nine cardiac arrests

BBC - Mon, 2014-12-15 11:12
Father who survived nine cardiac arrests

May wants more powerful abuse inquiry

BBC - Mon, 2014-12-15 11:04
An inquiry into historical child sex abuse should be able to compel witnesses to give evidence and have statutory powers, Home Secretary Theresa May has said.

Sony warns media against publishing leaked information

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-12-15 11:00

Sony Pictures Entertainment fired a warning to media outlets over the weekend saying they'd better stop posting the gory details of its computer hack.

At stake? The company's intellectual property and trade secrets.

"One of the most sensitive things out there from the standpoint of Sony corporate is what are called 'ultimates,' the studio profit and loss statements," says Jonathan Handel, an entertainment and technology attorney with the law firm TroyGould in Los Angeles.

The dissemination of Sony's hacked profit and loss statements undermines the studio when it's negotiating to pay talent, Handel says. Such documents paint a picture of the studio's costs and what it can afford.

"Once you got those for several films, it gives you background for more," Handel says. "You get a sense of what the studio overhead is and how they internally charge things."

Sony also cites the loss of intellectual property as a big concern.

For example, the screenplay for a James Bond film got released in the computer hack. That could mean fewer people showing up at the box office for the film.

But those worries might be overblown, according to Paul Dergarabedian, a media analyst with Rentrak, a box office data firm.

"The reason people, the average person, goes to the movies is they don't want to read the script, they want to see the movie," he says.

A lot of the leaked documents — screenplays, marketing plans — gets updated and changed all the time, Dergarabedian says.

How much damage will all this do to Sony? That script is still in development.

We lost $100 million making pennies and nickels

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-12-15 11:00

 A penny is worth 1 cent, and a nickel, 5. But how much does it cost to make the money itself?

According to the U.S. Mint's most recent report to Congress, way too much.

The good news is that the Mint says we saved $29 million this year making coins thanks to cheaper copper prices.

The bad news is that we're still losing $100 million a year on pennies and nickels because it costs 1.66 cents to make a penny and more than 8 cents to make a nickel. A nickel is made of 75 percent copper and 25 percent nickel.

Of course, I'm on the record as favoring getting rid of the penny anyway.

Treasury undersecretary wanted, must love Wall Street

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-12-15 11:00

Fresh off their stand against rollbacks to the Dodd-Frank act in the recently passed government spending bill, liberal Democrats are displeased with President Obama's pick for a Treasury undersecretary job – investment banker Antonio Weiss .

Speaking about Wall Street's influence on economic policy late Friday, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said, “Enough is enough with Wall Street insiders getting key position after key position and the kind of cronyism that we have seen in the executive branch.”

But the White House has called Weiss a “highly qualified nominee.”

So just what does this job entail?

If the U.S. Treasury were to draft a job description for the current vacancy, it might list a set of skills that included “understanding of very high level and sometimes very complex finance,” says Kevin Jacques, a professor at Baldwin Wallace University who spent 14 years at Treasury. Potential hires should also be able to translate wonky economic papers into policy and work across different government agencies, he says.

“Absolutely critical is an ability to talk [and] negotiate with Wall Street,” says Jacques, which is partially why he says so many candidates come to the job from financial institutions. It gives them credibility with the industry.

Lawyer Jerry Hawke held the post in the '90s, but has never worked on Wall Street and doesn’t think that should be a must. It does help, he says.

But “the process of treasury issuance of bonds and notes and so on, that was an area I didn’t have any real experience in,” he says. “Someone who understood bond trading and Wall Street could make a great contribution.”

But Wall Street isn’t the only source of these skills, says Daniel Carpenter, a professor of government at Harvard University. “There’s a lot of alternative sources of expertise that are used by Wall Street banks themselves,” he says, “including the legal academy, the business academy, consumer financial organizations, and state government officials.”

It might be worth sacrificing some financial acumen, Carpenter says, for the fresh perspective a Wall Street outsider would bring.

"There's too many people who think that just because somebody worked on Wall Street, they literally are a financial master of the universe and can do any finance job," says Dennis Kelleher of Better Markets, Inc., a nonprofit that seeks to promote the public interest in the financial markets. "That's just objectively false." He suggests drawing from large global corporations instead. 

Of course, in the end, the final must for this undersecretary? Confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

Private equity's PetSmart maneuver

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-12-15 11:00

The year’s biggest buyout deal went down today – not in cable TV or a mobile app or a Chinese brand, but in the pet business.

Private-equity firm BC Partners and investment partners purchased PetSmart for $8.7 billion. Analysts say the deal suggests brick-and-mortar PetSmart outlets have a decent financial pulse, despite the onslaught of online competition. Some items, say a hefty 30-pound pack of Iams Minichunks, sell better in stores than online.

This deal came about due to a confluence of several factors: an aggressive PetSmart shareholder agitating for a sale, the company’s willingness to cut expenses, and BC Partners’ ability to  borrow sufficient capital, given PetSmart’s low debt and secure cash flow.

 

 

Cartoonist Cathy Guisewite on her best gift ever

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-12-15 11:00

Ten years ago, we started calling up big names in business and culture and asking them, "What was the best gift you've received?"

In honor of Marketplace's 25th anniversary and the holiday season, we've pulled the "Best Gift Ever" series out of our archives. Here's the answer we got from cartoonist and "Cathy" creator Cathy Guisewite back in 2004: 

The best gift I ever received was a two-part gift I got for Christmas when I was 10 years old. 

A bride doll and an electric train. 

They were not things I'd ever told anybody I'd wanted. But they were like my secret heart desires because those exact opposites were who I was and what I loved. 

The electric train was who I appeared to be. I loved everything mechanical, I wished I was a boy.... The bride doll was my more romantic side that I think wasn't as apparent, but that became my time with mom, making doll clothes.

Those two sides of myself are, for better or for worse, the psychotic conflict inside that has fueled almost all of my creative work.

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Private equity finds PetSmart yummy

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-12-15 11:00

The year’s biggest buyout deal went down today — not in cable TV or a mobile app or a Chinese brand, but in the pet business.

Private-equity firm BC Partners and investment partners purchased PetSmart for $8.7 billion. Analysts say the deal suggests brick-and-mortar PetSmart outlets have a decent financial pulse, despite the onslaught of online competition. Some items, say a hefty 30-pound pack of Iams Minichunks, sell better in stores than online.

This deal came about due to a confluence of several factors: an aggressive PetSmart shareholder agitating for a sale, the company’s willingness to cut expenses, and BC Partners’ ability to  borrow sufficient capital, given PetSmart’s low debt and secure cash flow.

 

 

VIDEO: May: 'Torture is abhorrent and wrong'

BBC - Mon, 2014-12-15 10:48
The Home Secretary Theresa May has rejected calls for a judge lead inquiry into whether British intelligence agents colluded in alleged torture by the CIA.

Golf needs speeding up - McIlroy

BBC - Mon, 2014-12-15 10:10
World number one Rory McIlroy has calls for a faster version of golf in a bid to attract young players to the sport.

VIDEO: Bond filming under way after script theft

BBC - Mon, 2014-12-15 10:10
While Daniel Craig has been filming some of the first scenes of the next James Bond adventure Spectre in London cyber hackers have managed to steal and leak an early draft of the film's script.

A Copper Bedrail Could Cut Back On Infections For Hospital Patients

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-15 10:07

Around the world, patients acquire new infections simply from spending time in a hospital. One way to fight back: replacing hospital bed rails with copper, a natural infection-killer.

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Peat is Amazon's carbon superstore

BBC - Mon, 2014-12-15 09:59
Satellite data reveals that the most dense stores of carbon in Amazonia is not above ground in trees but below ground in peatlands.

Denmark Claims Part Of The Arctic, Including The North Pole

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-15 09:39

The region claimed is more than the size of Texas and Oklahoma combined. The energy-rich Arctic is also contested by Canada, Russia, Norway and the U.S. A U.N. panel will study the Danish claim.

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11 dogs rescued from isolated gorge

BBC - Mon, 2014-12-15 09:36
Eleven dogs from a hunt pack are rescued after becoming trapped in a gorge near Aberystwyth.

VIDEO: Dog rescued from frozen pond

BBC - Mon, 2014-12-15 09:31
Fire crews rescued a dog which fell through ice while chasing a duck across a frozen pond in Arbroath.

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