National / International News

Retirement coverage upsets Swann

BBC - Wed, 2013-12-25 09:00
Graeme Swann hits out at some media coverage of his cricketing retirement as he prepares to leave England's Ashes tour.

End mass surveillance, says Snowden

BBC - Wed, 2013-12-25 08:58
Ex-National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden delivers an "alternative" UK Christmas message, calling for an end to mass surveillance.

Calif. Law To Help Domestic Abuse Victims Escape Violence

NPR News - Wed, 2013-12-25 08:48

A new California law taking effect in 2014 will make it easier for abuse survivors to break their leases. Victims will no longer need to get a court order or police report and instead can give landlords a simple form as proof they have been abused.

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PODCAST: Big data meets big sickness

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2013-12-25 08:47

The flu season is upon us, and if last year is any guide, it could be a bad one. Last year was one of the worst in recent history. For companies in the business of  helping people through their aches, pains, fevers, runny noses, and the rest, there is money to be made. But first you’ve got to find those people. To do that, companies are watching us

In this time of giving, roughly 25 percent of us choose to donate before the end of the year. And there’s a benefit to charitable giving beyond the warm and fuzzy holiday spirit -- such donations can shave a bit off the year’s tax bill.

Christmas Day at Camp Bastion

BBC - Wed, 2013-12-25 08:31
UK troops spend their last Christmas in Afghanistan

Egypt Declares Muslim Brotherhood A Terrorist Group

NPR News - Wed, 2013-12-25 08:25

Members of the Brotherhood have waged near-daily protests since the toppling of President Mohammed Morsi in a military coup. The designation gives authorities more power in cracking down on the group.

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Alan Turing gets a long overdue pardon

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2013-12-25 08:21

If you know anything about the history of computer science, you've probably heard the name Alan Turing. He's called the father of computer science for formalizing ideas like the algorithm and computation. The famous mathematician also played a key role in helping the Allied Forces use code breaking against the Nazis during World War II, which is why it may come as a surprise that a few years later he was convicted of homosexuality by the British government and died at the age of 41. This week, Turing got a royal pardon. Danny Shaw, home affairs correspondent for the BBC, tells Marketplace Tech the story. Click the audio player above to listen.

'Cool Tools,' a 'Whole Earth Catalog' for today

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2013-12-25 08:03

The idea of turning a blog into a book is nothing new, but Kevin Kelly, author and former editor of Wired magazine, has gone all out for his new book, "Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possiblities." It's based on the idea of an old catalog, called the Whole Earth Catalog. It’s big, colorful, and it features scannable QR codes attached to many of the nearly 1500 descriptive entries so that you can buy an object you like with a click of the smartphone. Kelly tells Marketplace Tech about the spirit of "Cool Tools," which comes from a hacker history that started in the 1960s. 

Give! (And keep track of your donations!)

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2013-12-25 07:50

In this time of giving, roughly 25 percent of us choose to donate before the end of the year. And there’s a benefit to charitable giving beyond the warm and fuzzy holiday spirit -- such donations can shave a bit off the year’s tax bill.

But keeping careful track of your donations is crucial. In order to do this more effectively, Marketplace Money host Carmen Wong-Ulrich offers one bit of advice:

“When you give to charities, many now use online payment systems,” Wong-Ulrich says. “So if you can use a credit or a debit card, it enables you to probably tag your charitable giving. So at the end of the year you can just log in to your account, and you can pull up what you’ve given for the whole year so you don’t miss any of those deductions.”

Click on the above audio player to hear more tax-friendly money moves you can make before the year’s end.

UK troops mark last Afghan Christmas

BBC - Wed, 2013-12-25 07:50
British troops mark their final Christmas in Afghanistan ahead of next year's scheduled pullout.

Robbers pistol-whip Uruguay senator

BBC - Wed, 2013-12-25 07:32
Uruguayan presidential candidate Jorge Saravia sustains head injuries as armed robbers break into his home while he was dining with his family.

Pope's Christmas Wish: A Better World

NPR News - Wed, 2013-12-25 07:25

In his first Christmas message since being elected pontiff in March, Pope Francis prayed for peace in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere. He also spoke about everyday people, especially those struggling for a better life.

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VIDEO: Royals attend Christmas service

BBC - Wed, 2013-12-25 07:22
The Queen and other members of the Royal Family attend church in Sandringham for the traditional Christmas service.

U.S. Embassy In Kabul Hit By Indirect Fire

NPR News - Wed, 2013-12-25 07:17

Officials are investigating after two rockets hit an open area at the embassy Wednesday morning. There were no injuries.

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Need a last-minute gift? How about $13,000 in chocolate?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2013-12-25 07:15

The National Retail Federation says 92 million Americans took advantage of Black Friday sales this season. But there's another group of holiday spenders who aren't watching their pennies quite so closely.  Those customers expect the best … and are willing to pay for it.  And, of course, there are businesses that cater to these wealthy customers. 

Clay Storseth owns a business called "The Christmas Decorator."  He decks the halls of private homes, mansions and five-star hotels throughout Los Angeles. Clay counts Michael Jackson among his past clients.

These are discerning, high-end customers.

"Mostly people who just call me and say, 'We'd like to do this and this and this,' and then they don't really ask me how much it costs. And I go do it, and then I bill them -- and they pay me."

For 20 years, Clay's been buying the best trees from Lyra Marble, the owner of "Mr. Greentrees".

"He spends a lot of time here looking through the trees, over and over and over again to find just the right one," says Marble.

Lyra is particular, too. She hand-picks her inventory in Oregon and Washington, keeps them moist twice a day and even humidifies the tent. They're a specialty tree lot and describes it as "the spa for Christmas Trees." And that comes with spa-like prices.

One of her 14-foot noble fir trees can set you back $2,000.

So, what would you pay to have someone decorate your mansion? Depending on what you're doing, Clay says it can cost $3,000 … or way more.

"If you're doing something on a really really big scale and we're doing garlands on every window and putting nine Christmas trees inside your home… Yeah. It would be a lot," Storseth says.

Despite the expense, Clay is booked solid with more than 40 clients this year.

In Brentwood, Calif., Compartes Chocolates, a family shop which has been in business since 1950, say they have almost more customers than they can handle this time of year. They hand-make beautiful chocolate truffles with exotic flavors like Wasabi Ginger and Peanut Honey Sea Salt.

Owner and chocolatier, Jonathan Grahm, says that he expects and plans on these three weeks as do-or-die for his business. Being in Brentwood, Grahm describes his customers as "the cream-of-the-crop elite people" – people who can afford to order almost $13,000 of chocolate to complete their holiday gift list.

One customer, he says, "walked in and ordered 80 of the 80 piece boxes – people call it the biggest chocolate box that you've ever seen in your life. It's $160. In the past, I may have sold 10 in a year — and this person came in and ordered 80 of them, so that's ... 6,400 pieces handmade just for one client's order."

The holiday season is everything to these business owners. They're exhausted, but their clients are happy and they're doing pretty well for themselves. For Clay – the Christmas Decorator – these few months of hard work will support him and his partner for the rest of the year.

"I still act and I still do Shakespeare, but I get to do Christmas and it keeps me in theater and my apartment in New York and my house in Los Angeles," he says. "So, I'm lucky."

Pope urges aid access to Syria

BBC - Wed, 2013-12-25 07:12
Pope Francis tells thousands of pilgrims in the Vatican to pray for aid access and peace in Syria, in his first Christmas address as pontiff.

VIDEO: The Queen's Christmas Broadcast 2013

BBC - Wed, 2013-12-25 07:10
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II delivers her annual Christmas message to the peoples of the Commonwealth.

Queen reflects on new royal birth

BBC - Wed, 2013-12-25 07:08
The Queen talks about the need to pause for reflection as she looks back on a memorable year, in her Christmas broadcast.

Man dies after Christmas Eve crash

BBC - Wed, 2013-12-25 06:51
A 20-year-old driver dies and his girlfriend is in a serious condition in hospital after crashing into a tree in West Lothian.

Russia drops more Greenpeace charges

BBC - Wed, 2013-12-25 06:48
Russia is in the process of dropping charges against the remaining 29 Greenpeace crew members, arrested during a protest in the Arctic oil fields.

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