National / International News

Mulberry boss quits after profit slump

BBC - Thu, 2014-03-20 01:48
Mulberry chief executive Bruno Guillon quits following a profit warning at the luxury handbag firm.

A hidden cost of Osborne's pension reform?

BBC - Thu, 2014-03-20 01:33
A hidden cost of Osborne's pension reform?

'Nine killed' in Turkey train crash

BBC - Thu, 2014-03-20 01:31
At least nine people are killed and five injured after a passenger train crashes into a minibus carrying people to work in Turkey, local media say.

Ten policemen die in Afghan attack

BBC - Thu, 2014-03-20 01:29
At least 18 people killed as gun battles follow a car bomb attack by Taliban fighters on a city in eastern Afghanistan ahead of elections.

Fifa steps up World Cup investigation

BBC - Thu, 2014-03-20 01:28
Fifa's chief investigator, who is examining claims of wrongdoing, is to interview all 12 current members of the executive committee.

Meeting the real bionic man

BBC - Thu, 2014-03-20 01:25
How to manufacture limbs that work as well as real ones

Next annual profit jumps by 12%

BBC - Thu, 2014-03-20 01:17
Next reports a 12% increase in profits for the last year to £695m, and is poised to overtake earnings at M&S for the first time.

Hitachi to move rail business to UK

BBC - Thu, 2014-03-20 01:09
Japanese electronics firm Hitachi - the manufacturer of the first bullet trains - announces it will move its global rail business from Japan to the United Kingdom.

Strictly to receive special Bafta

BBC - Thu, 2014-03-20 01:03
Celebrity ballroom show Strictly Come Dancing is to receive a special Bafta award to recognise the show's "outstanding creative and technical" achievements.

Short-selling: A step-by-step guide.

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-03-20 01:00

People have been shorting stocks since the early 1700s. It’s basically a way of betting against a company. It’s extremely common, and part of the fabric of Wall Street. But how, exactly, does it work?

Step 1:  You've got to be pretty sure that a company’s stock is gonna go down. Let’s say it’s ACME stock, and you suspect that the bad publicity from Wiley Coyote’s interminable failure is going to soon take its toll.

Step 2:  Before you think the stock is going to go down, you (technically, your stock broker) will borrow some of that stock. 

Step 3:  Sell it. That’s right – sell the stock that’s not even yours. So, let’s say ACME stock is at $1,000 a share, you now have $1,000. 

Step 4:  Wait for the stock price to tank. During this time, you can count your $1000. Or smell it. Or perhaps you prefer to roll in it. But remember it’s not yours to keep.

Step 5:  Does the stock actually tank? Congratulations.  Proceed to Step 6. Does the stock....rise? You might want to sit down before you proceed to Step 7.

Step 6:   Now that the stock has sunk like you (wisely) knew it would – let’s say to $1 a share – you buy it back for $1. You keep the remaining $999 you had before. Go ahead.  Smell it again. This time with passion. 'Cause all that cheddar is yours, baby!

Step 7:  Well, the stock has risen. Let’s say to $1,500. Unfortunately, you have to return the stock that you borrowed. And the only way to get it is to buy it back. At the new, higher price. I know, I know. So you take the $1,000 you made when you sold it, and then shell out $500 more, you buy the stock, and return it to whoever you borrowed it from, and it sucks.  This is your life and these are the choices you’ve made.

Step 8:  But wait! Wait! Are you a billionaire with a large personality? Are you convinced that ACME stock is worthless and the continued failure of Wiley Coyote must eventually drive the stock price over a cliff? OMG are you the ROAD RUNNER?? If you answered yes to any of those, you have a final option. Do everything you can to take ACME down. Lobby our own government and foreign ones, take out ads, fund non profit groups. Make it your mission in life. Seriously! People actually do this!

Some interesting notes about shorting: If a lot of people are shorting a company, say ACME, well, that doesn’t look good for ACME. It’s like wearing a scarlet letter. People start asking questions. The stock price can go down, in a sort of self fulfilling death spiral.

Sabri Ben-Achour


On the other hand, there are some investors who really like a challenge.  They might actually swoop in to rescue a company whose stock is at risk of being shorted to death, because they sense an opportunity to fix it. If they do fix it, and things start looking up for the company, all the people who shorted it will sprint to the market to buy back the shares they owe various other people and entities. Then that creates a spiral up in price. What is that called? A life spiral? Technically, it’s called a “short squeeze.”

After combat, a battle for job-hunting veterans

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-03-20 01:00

The Labor Department is expected to release its annual report on the job situation for veterans soon. The jobless rate for those who served after 9/11 has tended to be higher than the overall unemployment rate.

Though typically highly skilled, disciplined and hard-working, veterans of recent conflicts often have more difficulty than civilians in finding work. Companies love to hang yellow ribbons and run ads about supporting America’s veterans. But veterans say they aren’t always as quick to hire them because civilian managers don’t understand how to evaluate military experience.

“The hardest part for me when I first got out of the military was figuring out what to write on a resume,” says Marine veteran Michael Wersan, who served in Iraq as an infantry assaultman. “Nobody cares that I did 700 patrols in seven months. That doesn’t compute for a civilian.”

But he translated his skills into a civilian resume and picked up new ones studying at the City University of New York. He’s now a construction supervisor.

Former Marine Tireak Tulloch did two tours in Iraq and had advanced training in network engineering. His skills are in demand, but at first, he says he couldn’t get past initial phone interviews. A reservist when he was job searching, he felt managers wouldn’t hire him because they feared he’d be sent back to Iraq. But he kept at it and his civilian career in technology has since taken off.

Those who speak for veterans say there's a great deal of mistunderstanding amongst employers. 

“I think there are a lot of misconceptions that every veteran is a ticking time bomb,” says Derek Bennett, an Army veteran, who is chief of staff of the advocacy group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a reality after combat. But veterans groups say employers need to understand that PTSD is managable. Overall, they want employers to look beyond stereotypes and do more to reach out to veteran communities, where they may find men and women with the skills they’re looking for.

Mark Garrison: Companies love to run ads about supporting the troops. But former Army officer Derek Bennett, of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, says that doesn’t always mean hiring them.

Derek Bennett: Finding employment can be difficult. Translating what you’ve done in the military into something that is recognizable by an employer can be difficult as well.

Marine veteran Michael Wersan says combat experience is hard to explain on a resume.

Michael Wersan: Nobody cares that I did 700 patrols in seven months. That doesn’t compute for a civilian.

He’s now a construction supervisor. Iraq Veteran Tireak Tulloch found job hunting frustrating at first.

Tireak Tulloch: I really couldn’t get past the phone interview.

But he kept at it and now works in network engineering. Apart from misunderstanding military skills, Derek Bennett says some employers misunderstand vets.

Bennett: I think there are a lot of misconceptions that every veteran is a ticking time bomb.

Not all veterans have PTSD. And it’s manageable. Vets want employers to look beyond stereotypes and do more to find the veterans who might have the skills they’re looking for. I'm Mark Garrison, for Marketplace.

Amazon Prime could be too popular?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-03-20 01:00

There's been speculation that Amazon may drive away customers by jacking up the price of its Prime service, which includes free two-day shipping and amenities like streaming video. In a survey, about 40 percent of Amazon Prime customers told Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) that, yes, they might ditch the service if the price went up twenty bucks. 

However, CIRP partner and co-founder Josh Lowitz doesn't believe them. He says Prime is still a good deal: Free shipping, plus the video streaming, and word of more to come, like free streaming music.

"We think people will figure it out. In fact, we think when people make the $99 commitment to Amazon Prime, they’re going to be even better Amazon customers.  Because they’re going to want to get their money’s worth out of the shipping."

Which could be the real problem for Amazon. That’s how Colin Gillis, a tech analyst at BGC Partners, sees it. He points out that Amazon already loses billions of dollars a year on shipping, and those losses are growing fast.

"If you look at their shipping losses, it’s about 4.7 percent of total revenue. And that’s about the margin that a decent retailer makes."

Worst-case scenario, Amazon becomes a big-scale version of an old joke:  Sure, I lose a penny on each one, but I sell a ZILLION of them!

*CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated the name of a CIRP partner and co-founder. He is  Josh Lowitz. The text has been corrected.

A letter to the President warns of history repeating itself

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-03-20 01:00

Formed in 1975 to examine the possible overreach of national security investigation and intelligence, the Church Committee - named after the chairman of the committee, Frank Church - was responsible for the creation of the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act. At the time, the committee investigated when and how the NSA had overstepped its bounds, including the opening of people's mail without notification.

Former members of the group sent President Obama a letter this week sighting similarities between their findings during the original investigation and the current situation with NSA surveillance. In fact, they pointed out that this time around, the technology available has made the offenses much worse and larger in scope. Cyrus Farivar, senior business editor at Ars Technica, points to the increase in personal technology that the average American carries on their person.

"Typically in those days people had one phone at a fixed location: their office, their home. Nowadays, nearly all of us carry around mobile phones in our pockets which act as a really good proxy for showing where we are [and] when we are in time...I think that that’s really incredible to see these veterans of looking at some of these abuses from 40 years ago saying now that what’s going on today is far worse than what they saw previously."

Opposition Fails To Maintain Momentum In Venezuela

NPR News - Thu, 2014-03-20 01:00

Venezuela has cracked down on student protests, leaving 29 people dead. The main square in Caracas, where protesters were based, has been dismantled. The opposition is divided over what to do next.

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Satellite Images Show Potential Debris From Flight 370

NPR News - Thu, 2014-03-20 01:00

Host David Greene gets the latest from NPR's Frank Langfitt about the potential debris from Malaysia Flight 370 spotted by satellite imagery in the southern Indian Ocean.

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Fed Signals It Won't Tap Brakes Until Job Market Improves

NPR News - Thu, 2014-03-20 01:00

David Wessel of the Brookings Institution talks about Janet Yellen's first policy meeting and press conference since taking over as chairwoman of the Federal Reserve.

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FAA Review Finds Dreamliner 'Fundamentally Sound'

NPR News - Thu, 2014-03-20 01:00

A review by the Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing has concluded that the troubled 787 known as the Dreamliner is safe.

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Obama's Surgeon General Nominee Stuck In Limbo

NPR News - Thu, 2014-03-20 01:00

President Obama's nominee for surgeon general has a medical degree and an MBA, but his confirmation is being held up in the Senate because of special-interest politics and Democrats facing tough re-election campaigns.

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Objects Spotted In Indian Ocean Possibly Linked To Missing Jet

NPR News - Thu, 2014-03-20 01:00

Australian officials say they are searching the Indian Ocean southwest of Perth after satellite images found objects that are possibly connected to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

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The 500-Pound 'Chicken From Hell' Likely Ate Whatever It Wanted

NPR News - Thu, 2014-03-20 01:00

OK, maybe it just munched vegetation, small animals and eggs. But this newly named dino looked like a cross between a chicken and a bulked-up ostrich. Five-inch claws? We'd have stayed out of its way.

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