National / International News

VIDEO: Giant Galapagos tortoise preserved

BBC - Mon, 2014-09-22 16:07
Scientists at the American Museum of Natural History and taxidermy experts have preserved Lonesome George, the last Pinta giant tortoise, who died in 2012 in the Galapagos Islands.

Families of missing weigh plea risks

BBC - Mon, 2014-09-22 15:38
Hostages' families roll the dice with public appeals for release

VIDEO: Who's afraid of video for theatre?

BBC - Mon, 2014-09-22 15:05
Movie style trailers are increasingly common for theatrical shows, but not everybody in the theatrical world thinks they are a good idea.

US crackdown on overseas tax deals

BBC - Mon, 2014-09-22 15:01
The White House announces new treasury department measures aimed at stopping companies avoiding US taxes by merging with overseas firms.

Overseas study leads to jobs abroad

BBC - Mon, 2014-09-22 14:58
University exchanges have a far-reaching influence on working lives and romantic relationships, says a study.

Rail delay passengers 'dissatisfied'

BBC - Mon, 2014-09-22 14:56
Two-thirds of rail passengers are unhappy with the way their train company deals with delays or cancellations, a survey suggests.

Museum reunites Colossus veterans

BBC - Mon, 2014-09-22 14:56
The largest gathering of veterans who operated the Colossus code-cracking computer in World War II has been held at Bletchley Park.

Go TV-free to fight fat, says NICE

BBC - Mon, 2014-09-22 14:55
Adults and children should consider having TV-free days or limiting viewing to two hours a day under new proposals to tackle obesity.

A brief history of the UK Parliament

BBC - Mon, 2014-09-22 14:54
The 900-year-story behind the creation of a UK parliament

Treasury Announces New Steps To Reduce Corporate Tax Dodges

NPR News - Mon, 2014-09-22 14:28

The Treasury said corporations were increasingly moving their parent companies overseas to dodge U.S. taxes. The Treasury said the practice erodes the tax base.

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VIDEO: Thousands of Kurds flee Syria

BBC - Mon, 2014-09-22 14:19
Mark Lowen speaks to refugees on Turkey's border with Syria, as the Turkish government says more than 130,000 Syrian Kurds have crossed over in the last three days to try to escape IS militants.

Why is the Birmingham accent so difficult to mimic?

BBC - Mon, 2014-09-22 13:54
Why is the Birmingham accent so difficult to mimic?

VIDEO: Alice police carry out water search

BBC - Mon, 2014-09-22 13:52
Detectives investigating the disappearance of the missing school girl Alice Gross have been searching the River Brent in West London, close to where she was last seen on 28 August.

White House intruder had ammo in car

BBC - Mon, 2014-09-22 13:50
The man who broke into the White House on Friday had 800 rounds of ammunition, a machete and two hatchets in his car, officials say.

Why Did Congress Kick The Can On Funding Islamic State Mission?

NPR News - Mon, 2014-09-22 13:39

The president got approval for his plan to train and equip Syrian opposition fighters, but lawmakers didn't approve funds to pay for it or the broader air campaign.

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Street sweeper wins £4.5m jackpot

BBC - Mon, 2014-09-22 13:34
A street cleaner from central London wins £4.5m on the Lotto.

Could Gotham improve Fox ratings?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-09-22 13:30

Fox's ratings are in free fall. Last season, the network averaged about half the viewers of CBS. Without big football games to shore up its ratings, the network is looking for a hit. 

"I think it’s very important," says Horizon Media Research Director Brad Adgate. " Television is still a hit driven business and they need a hit."

One potential bright spot in the darkness is "Gotham", a dramatic Batman prequel. The Television Critics Association has named it the season's "most promising series." "It's exciting. It's a little scary," says TCA treasurer and TV critic Jacqueline Cutler. "I will be absolutely gobsmacked if this is not Fox's huge hit of the year."

But critics have been gobsmacked before, and Fox needs more than a critical darling. The network has struggled since the heyday of American Idol, which regularly helped FOX come from behind to lead with the coveted 18-to-49-year-old demographic. "They did that [for] eight straight seasons, which is unprecedented in the annals of television," Adgate says. "You know, they can’t rely on that anymore."

It's a particularly tall order at a time when network television as a whole, is losing ground to cable television. "Network TV at this point is less than a third of the national TV advertising market. Cable is two times bigger," says Brian Wieser, media analyst at Pivotal Research. 

"In that context a decline in ratings at Fox shouldn't be that surprising."

So Fox is betting big on "Gotham", and entering the market for superheroes while the getting is good. The CW found enough success with another DC show, "Arrow", that it's doubling down this season with a lighter spin-off about the Flash. But the CW generally gets lower ratings than other broadcast networks, and a smash there — "Arrow" usually pulls in around 3 or 4 million viewers — just won't hold up on the big four.

The Marvel series "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." was a solid hit for ABC, but couldn't hold onto the nearly 12 million who tuned in for its massive debut. ABC brought the show back and added another, "Agent Carter". But in all, the field is going to be a lot more crowded. NBC also has a DC show, "Constantine" on Friday nights this fall, and juggernaut CBS just ordered a "Supergirl" series.

Gotham premieres tonight at 8 p.m. eastern, but with Hulu and DVR, analysts say we won’t know the real ratings for another week.

Spilling the beans on Starbucks' coffee-beer

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-09-22 13:30

I love coffee. I love beer. But I'm not sure how big of a market there's going to be for a coffee drink that tastes like beer. 

This weekend, Starbucks workers took to Reddit to talk about the Dark Barrel Latte, which is, I suppose, supposed to remind one of stout. Like coffee-flavored stouts, but the other way around? 

It's also going to have caramel, chocolate and whipped cream. So really, it's not even coffee.

And yes, I am a purist.

Blackberry's not dead yet

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-09-22 13:30

Blackberries used to be a permanent fixture on the hip of many professionals, but in recent years, lots of those users have ditched the “crack berry” in favor of iPhone or Android devices. Vultures have circled over the company as a few of its new smart phones flopped.  

But despite the ongoing death watch, Blackberry is still alive and will likely debut two new phones this week: The Classic and the Passport.

However, it’s not trying to reclaim its old status, says Charles Golvin, the founder and principle analyst of Abelian Research.

“It would be a mistake to think about Blackberry as a competitor to Apple and the iPhone or other Android-based device manufacturers,” says Golvin. “They’re not focused on consumers, they’re focused on businesses.”

Blackberry’s target is “the hard-core email user who’s in a regulated industry where the keyboard is really the value-added differentiator,” explains Bryan Prohm, an analyst who covers Blackberry for Cowen and Company.

These phones are meant to attract government, finance, and legal users, plus IT managers who will be tempted by Blackberry's security and device management software.

The devices are a way to get people to use Blackberry’s software – the company’s real focus these days.

So is this makeover enough to shoo away the vultures?

“The way I see it is, it’s a reinvention in progress,” says Frank Gillett, an analyst at Forrester Research. “There’s still lots of challenges before we know whether [Blackberry] will survive. So I haven’t written them off, but they really aren’t competitive anymore in the consumer handset market.”

The company, which declined to comment for this story, has stabilized its financials in recent quarters. But Apple is also chasing corporate clients. It announced a new partnership with IBM recently, with its eye on a similar business prize.

You could be the life on Mars. Yes, you.

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-09-22 13:17

Suddenly, everyone seems to be going to Mars.

NASA's MAVEN satellite has just begun orbiting the Red Planet and studying its atmosphere, and a craft launched by the Indian space agency is due to arrive in the Martian orbit this Wednesday. Meanwhile, various private sector organizations are planning something far more ambitious: the first manned landings on Mars.  One of them – the Dutch-based Mars One project – says it’s on course for blast off with a four person crew within a decade.

You might think that Mars One’s biggest problem would be recruitment. The Mars visitors face a seven month long journey to a bitterly cold, dusty wasteland that has no oxygen and not much water. And then there’s the matter of the return journey: There isn’t one. The cost of bringing the crew back would be so prohibitive that this is to be a one-way trip. These are not so much Mars visitors as settlers or colonizers.

Nevertheless, an astonishing 200,000 people applied to join the mission. This figure has been winnowed down to a more modest 705 who are now being more closely assessed.

Twenty-one year-old Ryan McDonald – a physics student at Oxford University – is one of the (so-far) successful applicants . He can hardly wait for lift-off.

"I’m going there because I want to live on Mars, spend my life there – because that’s how I think I can achieve the most for humanity," he says.

"My main motivation is the example of the Apollo mission. It was the generation that was inspired by the moon landings that went on and gave us things like the internet, iPhones, advanced technology which immeasurably improves our lives and we’re so dependent on these days. A manned landing on Mars could have a similar effect. So I want to give a new generation their Apollo moment."

McDonald is unfazed by the prospect of never returning to Planet Earth. The same goes for 34-year-old school lab technician Alison Rigby – another Martian "candidate."

"It’s happened throughout human history,” Rigby says. “People have traveled across the planet with no hope of returning to where they came from. So I would belong to the next generation of these pioneers."

Bryan Versteeg and Mars One/ www.mars-one.com

Rigby – who has a master’s degree in chemistry – finds the idea of spending the rest of her life in a bio-dome examining the chemistry of another planet "enticing."

The man behind the Mars One mission – Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp – claims his inspiration for the project comes from the Olympics.  Lansdorp, who made his money from a wind energy firm, says what caught his eye about the London Games was the revenue from sponsorship and broadcasting rights: $4 billion for only three weeks of broadcasting.

"That was because the world was watching," says Lansdorp “The world would certainly want to watch the first Mars Landing. We will raise the $6 billion we need for the project by selling the media rights.”

A subsidiary of the Dutch company that created the Big Brother TV franchise has already snapped up the broadcasting rights to the Mars One final crew selection process.
But Dave Wade – an underwriter at the Lloyds insurance market in London who specializes in insuring commercial space projects – is skeptical about the viability of the Mars One project. First of all, he believes it would cost a lot more than $6 billion: “ More like $100 billion,” he says. And he can see a problem with the those broadcasting rights – a conflict between the demands of interplanetary travel and reality TV.

Bryan Versteeg and Mars One/ www.mars-one.com

“The TV producers will want controversial people, difficult people. They want drama,” Wade says. “That’s not the kind of people you want on a space mission, particularly a one-way mission where the crew are going to be locked up in cramped capsule for months on end. It’s just fraught with difficulties. And they won’t be able to evict anyone from the bio-dome on Mars!”

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