National / International News

Shoppers 'using cash less than ever'

BBC - Mon, 2014-06-02 00:10
Cash use by shoppers has fallen by 14% over the last five years, according to figures from the British Retail Consortium.

Airline profits 'to be hit by China'

BBC - Mon, 2014-06-02 00:00
The global airline industry cuts its profit forecast for 2014 amid fears over China's economic growth, says the International Air Transport Association.

The 20th Century's first arms race

BBC - Sun, 2014-06-01 23:58
How the mania over Dreadnought battleships changed naval warfare

Russia extends Ukraine gas deadline

BBC - Sun, 2014-06-01 23:55
Russia's Gazprom gives Ukraine another week to settle its gas bill after receiving a part payment of $786m.

A question of numbers and geography

Marketplace - American Public Media - Sun, 2014-06-01 23:50

Let me come right out and say it: I am a trafficker in Gross Domestic Product data and I'm not proud.

With every GDP estimate, first and second revisions of this key indicator of the state of the U.S. economy, there I am in the morning on the radio dutifully sharing this number, like a co-pilot calling out the airspeed during the takeoff roll so the pilot can decide the precise moment to lift the nose of the plane.

Despite my disclaimers, people hear GDP and conclude from that number that the economy is fabulous, good, indifferent, bad, or terrible.

The thing is, GDP measures money changing hands. It doesn't tell you if the money changing hands is for good or for evil. If a pandemic of athlete's foot ever swept across America, GDP would go up, because we would still hobble into work, but we would spend more on doctor's visits and anti-fungals, contributing extra to GDP.

So GDP going up isn't always "good."

Furthermore, the inventor of the Gross Domestic Product, the American economist and demographer Simon Kuznetz, never intended it to be used as a scorecard in this way when he developed the calculation 80 years ago.

As I like to say, determining if the economy is good or bad by counting the dollars that are exchanged is like determining if a piece of music is good or bad by counting the number of notes.

Because, ultimately, do we really care how "the economy" is doing? We care about how well we, our families, our communities are prospering. How are we doing? -- That's the real question we all want answered.

If not GDP, then what numbers might yield a better readout about how we are doing?

Economists, statisticians, and economists are applying a variety of creative approaches to getting a better reading on our well-being. On Marketplace, we have vowed to cover these alternative measures early and often. Let me just highlight one here, a project devised by a researcher at the London School of Economics.

Some researchers are trying to see if there is a correlation between how happy you are and exactly where you are.

So many of us carry around precise tracking devices at all times. They are called "smartphones" and there's an app called "Mappiness."

Map + happiness = Mappiness, geddit?

If you download the app and opt in, the thing will buzz you at random times (you can make it leave you alone at night, in case you are wondering). When the app beeps, you let it know how happy or sad you are at that moment. Here is the interesting part: When you record your level of bliss vs misery scale, your phone knows where you are. Researchers are building a big database of these readings to see if patterns emerge, focusing first on Britain.

Are we happiest in the woods, in a park or in a shopping mall? How bummed out are we at work compared to at home?

Among the results so far: People seem to be more content when they are near the ocean. Coming in second, behind the coast, is the mountains. The middle of the city was, statistically, the least happy place, as least as measured in the British data.

If enough people have the app installed, the system might eventually be able to correlate not just where we are the happiest but with whom we are the happiest. You don't need an app to tell you who fills you with rapture or annoys the heck out of you.

But researchers would be very interested in the role relationships play in our well-being. That may play a greater role that that GDP number the guy on the radio is always yammering on about.

Brady Bunch star Ann B Davis dies

BBC - Sun, 2014-06-01 23:41
Ann B Davis, the American actress best known for her role as Alice Nelson, the housekeeper in The Brady Bunch, dies at the age of 88.

For One Soldier At Tiananmen, A Day 'Never Forgotten'

NPR News - Sun, 2014-06-01 23:36

Chen Guang is now an artist, and since early May, he has been held in police detention after staging a performance that was a comment on attempts to expunge the Tiananmen Square massacre from history.

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Pregnancy Hormone May Reduce Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms

NPR News - Sun, 2014-06-01 23:33

Women with multiple sclerosis often find that they have fewer problems when they are expecting. That led researchers to develop an experimental drug based on a hormone associated with pregnancy.

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Tiny Magnetic Beads Help Tame Severe Reflux For Some People

NPR News - Sun, 2014-06-01 23:32

Lots of people have heartburn or gastric reflux, and not all of them are helped by medications. A surgical device may help people with severe symptoms, but it hasn't been tested long term.

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VIDEO: Solar plane takes off on test flight

BBC - Sun, 2014-06-01 23:22
A solar-powered plane that will try to fly around the world in 2015 is making its first test flight after taking off in Switzerland.

Savile abuse reports 'reach 500'

BBC - Sun, 2014-06-01 23:02
There have been at least 500 reports of abuse by Jimmy Savile, NSPCC research for the BBC's Panorama finds.

British rivers cleanest in 20 years

BBC - Sun, 2014-06-01 22:19
Britain's urban rivers are the cleanest they have been for more than two decades, a study finds.

Solar plane makes inaugural flight

BBC - Sun, 2014-06-01 22:05
Solar Impulse 2, a solar-powered plane that will attempt a global flight in 2015, takes to the skies above Switzerland for the first time.

All-women row MP backs local party

BBC - Sun, 2014-06-01 22:01
The Labour MP at the centre of a row over an enforced all-women shortlist to replace her says local party members should make their own decisions.
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