National / International News

What's That Smell? The Beautiful Tree That's Causing Quite A Stink

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-24 13:00

Once embraced by cities for its beautiful white flowers, disease resistance and ability to grow just about anywhere, the Callery pear is now considered a nuisance due to its smell and invasive nature.

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Is your partner a financial bully?

BBC - Fri, 2015-04-24 13:00
Is your partner a financial bully?

How much paper would it take to print the Internet?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-04-24 13:00

This story falls firmly in the categories of A: People having too much time on their hands and B: Stuff that's kind of interesting nonetheless.

Students at the University of Leicester over in the U.K. have figured out how much paper it would take to print the Internet. The whole Internet. 

They started by figuring out what it would take to print Wikipedia. Turns out? Almost 71 million pieces of paper. 

Then, using the generally accepted figure of 4.5 billion websites out there, and adjusting for font size, pictures and all that, they say it'd take 136 billion pieces of 8-by-11-inch paper to print the whole Internet.

Amazon's cloud services rain profits

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-04-24 13:00

Amazon released first-quarter earnings Thursday,  and made it clear that,  for now, it owns the cloud and it's raining profits.

Amazon Web Services, which offers data storage and other tech services,  took in revenues of $1.57 billion during the first three months of the year.  Profits topped $265 million. 

“Yeah, I mean, [it's] really firing on all cylinders,” says Colin Sebastian, senior research analyst at Robert Baird. 

Amazon's success in the cloud can be credited to one very smart move, says Sebastion.  It got there first. 

“The reason they dominate is they created this market,” he says 

Amazon started as an online marketplace for everything. To be that marketplace, it had to build more and more servers. The company built  to peak capacity, which means often times it was left with more capacity than it needed. 

“They woke up one day and realized they could sell that same service to other companies.”

Amazon Web Service’s profit margin is 17 percent. The company's overall profit margin is 2 percent. "Think of it as accounting for a third of overall profits, a tremendous amount of operating income” says Gene Munster, senior research analyst at Piper Jaffray.  

Cloud services are still a nascent industry. “There are literally tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars at stake,” says Sebastian.

And AWS is still seven times larger than Microsoft's cloud services — it's nearest competitor, says Munster.  But Google, IBM and HP are all racing to catch up by offering more than simple data storage, which has become a commodity. 

Munster says it’s going to be hard for competitors to gain market share. AWS already has more than a million customers including Netflix and NASA, “and now what we’re seeing now, is businesses are standardizing on Amazon Web Service, building applications that are optimized for AWS, that just creates more stickiness.”

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has said web services could one day outsize Amazon’s retail business. That day  may not come soon enough. As it has done many times, the retail side posted a loss last quarter. 

Pakistani activist killed in Karachi

BBC - Fri, 2015-04-24 12:55
A leading Pakistani activist is shot dead, and her mother left seriously injured, after leaving a seminar on torture in Karachi.

Clearing The Tangled Path For Land Ownership In The West Bank

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-24 12:55

Palestinians often buy and sell land without title deeds, or proof of ownership. That's because most of the land doesn't have them. It a problem dating back generations.

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Bath 43-18 London Irish

BBC - Fri, 2015-04-24 12:54
Sam Burgess is man of the match as Bath come from behind to beat London Irish and move up to second in the Premiership.

'Love rainbow' graffiti fine waived

BBC - Fri, 2015-04-24 12:50
Belfast City Council scrubs out its decision to impose a £60 graffiti fine on a performance artist who repeatedly wrote the word 'love' in coloured chalk on a pavement

Nasdaq and S&P 500 at record highs

BBC - Fri, 2015-04-24 12:49
The Nasdaq and S&P 500 close at new record highs after US tech firms report strong first quarter profits.

The complicated formula — and incentives — behind CEO pay

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-04-24 12:45

Long ago, CEO pay came in the form of a CEO paycheck — and perhaps a bonus. 

Today, Aaron Boyd, director of governance research at executive compensation firm Equilar, says those cash payments are dwarfed by the roughly 65 percent of compensation for S&P 500 CEOs that comes in the form of stock.

Time-based Stock: Stocks that are awarded once you have worked at a company for a specific amount of time, such as 5 years. 

Performance Stock: Stocks that are awarded if the company meets certain metrics, like revenue goals or earnings per share.

Raghu Manavalan/Marketplace

The shift to stock was motivated in part by regulators' and shareholders' desire to make CEOs more accountable.

"The obvious thing to do for the CEO would be to just, you know, relax, definitely slack off on our dime," says Lalitha Naveen, associate professor of finance at the Fox School of Business at Temple University.

"If you want to prevent that then you want the CEO to think like a shareholder," Naveen says. 

Most of that stock compensation itself is now tied to some further performance metrics. But Kevin Murphy, professor of finance and business economics at the USC Marshall School of Business, thinks while the idea sounds good on paper, it's only created more ways to game the compensation system.

LGBT Activists Push States To Expand Anti-Discrimination Laws

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-24 12:40

The Supreme Court hears arguments over same-sex marriage on Tuesday. But laws still exist in many states that allow discrimination against LGBT people in employment, housing and public accommodations.

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In Charlotte, Police Use Simulators To Engage Community Amid Distrust

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-24 12:22

In the wake of several police shootings of unarmed black men, many police departments are holding community forums to talk to residents about policing.

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At The Heart Of A Watch, Tested By Time

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-24 12:22

Watchmakers have long thrived by selling timepieces that will be cherished as family heirlooms. But, if pragmatism rendered the pocket watch obsolete, what happens when watches become computers?

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Young Trafficking Victim's Story On NPR Leads To Senator's Amendment

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-24 12:16

Hearing the NPR story of a young woman's struggle to wipe away her conviction on prostitution charges inspired New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen to introduce legislation to help other victims.

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Labour candidate gets 'death threat'

BBC - Fri, 2015-04-24 12:15
A senior Scottish Labour politician has had a death threat left on his answering machine, the party says.

VIDEO: Plasticine art on show at Sotheby's

BBC - Fri, 2015-04-24 12:10
Henry Hudson has impressed the art establishment with his unique use of Plasticine, and now Sotherby's is exhibiting his new work.

Scientists Discover Massive New Magma Chamber Under Yellowstone

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-24 12:05

The newly discovered chamber is 4.5 times larger than the shallow reservoir already known and it contains enough partially molten rock to fill the Grand Canyon 11 times.

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IS posts 'health service' video

BBC - Fri, 2015-04-24 12:05
Islamic State appears to have released a promotional video for its own health service featuring NHS-style branding and an Australian doctor.

Sabeen Mahmud, Pakistani Social Activist, Shot Dead In Karachi

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-24 11:38

Mahmud ran the city's Second Floor café, which she designed as a community space for open dialogue. It had just hosted an event on the political situation in Pakistan's Balochistan province.

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World Cup trophy is brought to NI

BBC - Fri, 2015-04-24 11:28
The World Cup trophy is brought to Northern Ireland for the first time for the premiere of the film Shooting for Socrates.

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