National / International News

Warsaw Uprising: 'There were flames everywhere'

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-01 16:22
RAF veterans who risked their lives to help Polish resistance

The strange world of super-specialist cutlery

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-01 16:21
A designer has made a collection of "useless cutlery" to highlight how absurd some kitchen implements are.

How small financial setbacks can derail college plans

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-10-01 15:58

A year ago Jan Escobar was working part-time as a bank teller and going to school full-time at Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland. Then his boss started asking him to work more. Escobar needed the cash and didn’t want to jeopardize the job.

“When you’re in a tight situation with your money, it’s harder to say no to extra hours,” he says.

Escobar, the son of working-class immigrants from El Salvador, thought he could manage the workload. It turned out he couldn’t.

“The way I planned it out, everything had to fall perfectly into place, and that’s really not likely at all,” he says. “It didn’t work out.”

Escobar ended up dropping a class—after the deadline—and wound up owing the school almost $500 for credits he never got. He couldn’t re-enroll until he’d saved enough to pay off the debt. The whole thing set him back a year.

“What you can see is that a few hundred dollars, a thousand dollars, can really derail a student’s success,” says Mike Wasserman, Massachusetts executive director for Bottom Line, a group that helps low-income students get in to college and then make it to graduation.

Situations like these are one reason low-income students are much more likely to drop out of college than wealthier students. One study from the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education found that only 11 percent of low-income, first-generation students (those whose parents didn’t finish college) had earned a bachelor’s degree in six years, compared to 55 percent of more advantaged students.

Colleges will often be flexible about things like an add/drop deadline when an emergency comes up, Wasserman says, but students may still have to give back their financial aid.

“Often families are using a student’s financial aid to keep the family going,” he says.

So even when the school doesn’t charge for dropped classes, students may have to return their financial aid, Wasserman says. If the money’s already been spent on rent and food, students have to find a way to pay it back.

Other times students just lose track of what they owe. A couple of overdue library books and an unexpected charge at the campus health center can add up.

Angel White had to take some time off from Western Illinois University to work at Wal-Mart so she could pay off a few hundred dollars she owed the school. After she returned, a financial aid snafu left her owing $1,300 she couldn’t pay.

When she tried to transfer to a less expensive community college, White says Western Illinois wouldn’t release her transcript. That meant she couldn’t transfer even the credits she’d paid for. She had to take several classes over again.

“The whole experience set me back a lot, seeing as though right now I’d be a senior in college instead of a sophomore,” she says. “It’s a very discouraging process.”

When you don’t have parents who can bail you out or help navigate the system, small mistakes and emergencies can carry a high price, says Nancy Leopold, executive director of CollegeTracks, which works with low- and moderate-income students in Montgomery County, Maryland.

“In many ways what they really lack is the slack that their more affluent counterparts have, that sort of room to maneuver when the unexpected happens,” she says.

Many believe colleges aren’t doing enough to help those students manage the almost inevitable financial challenges.

“Many colleges now have opened the doors wider to admitting low-income students because they are interested in a more diverse student population, but they haven’t addressed the problems of keeping those students in school,” says Marvin Hoffman, who helps advise disadvantaged students from Chicago in a program called AIM High.

More colleges are turning their focus to retention. Some schools offer emergency loans or grants. Others have stepped up their advising to help students avoid pitfalls in the first place.

Jan Escobar went back to Montgomery College with the help of a mentoring program called Future Link. His mentor made him a deal: Future Link would pay half the debt as long as Escobar got more involved with the group.

“We’re in touch like twice a week,” Escobar says. “They’re always checking up on me to see if I’m doing my work.”

So far he is, he says. He found a job with more flexible hours, working as a host at a restaurant. He’s hoping to finish his associate’s degree in business administration next year and then transfer to a four-year college.

Horowitz to write new Bond novel

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-01 15:54
Anthony Horowitz, best-selling author of the Alex Rider teenage spy adventures, becomes the latest writer invited to pen a new James Bond novel.

Head of US Secret Service resigns

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-01 15:42
Secret Service director Julia Pierson resigns as criticism of the agency intensified following several high-profile security lapses.

One Picture, Of 35,000 Walrus, Shows One Effect Of Global Warming

NPR News - Wed, 2014-10-01 15:28

The picture shows the walrus huddled up on an Alaskan beach. Usually, they would spread out on sea ice. But this year, it's all melted.

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Rio 2016 Olympics "are on track"

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-01 15:15
The International Olympic Committee says it is satisfied with the progress made by Rio de Janeiro in its preparations for the 2016 Olympics.

VIDEO: Smartphone beacons beckon you

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-01 15:11
Click learns how to bend beacon technology to its bidding by turning a London Street into a musical wonderland.

In pictures: A journey through 19th Century Brazil

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-01 15:10
19th Century Brazil seen through the eyes of an Englishman

Will our cities be congestion-free?

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-01 15:09
Will our cities ever be congestion-free?

EU commissioner: Nude celebs 'dumb'

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-01 15:07
Celebrities who had intimate pictures of themselves leaked onto the internet were "dumb" for taking them, the EU's new digital commissioner says.

Lyth and Lees win PCA awards

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-01 15:05
Yorkshire batsmen Adam Lyth and Alex Lees are named the PCA's player and young player of the year respectively.

Devil worship on the man-eating mountain

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-01 15:05
Devil worship in the tunnels of the man-eating mountain

Job hunting the big data way

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-01 15:03
How data crunching is dictating our job prospects

Wenger praises 'electric' Welbeck

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-01 15:03
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says Danny Welbeck is "electric" after his hat-trick in the 4-1 win against Galatasaray.

VIDEO: The world's most beautiful train journey?

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-01 15:01
One of the most beautiful railways in the world has had one of its most successful summers on record.

Gerrard questions team-mates' desire

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-01 14:51
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard says Basel "wanted it more" in their 1-0 Champions League Group B win.

That's no moon... it's all the money 'Star Wars' made

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-10-01 14:49

In his day job, Chris Taylor is deputy editor of the news site Mashable. But recently he’s been able to combine his love of journalism and “Star Wars” to pen the ultimate behind-the-scenes biography about the storied franchise.

How Star Wars Conquered the Universe” sets the record straight on rumors, and offers a few spoilers from the upcoming “Star Wars: Episode VII," due to hit theaters in December 2015. Here are the three big “Star Wars” facts Kai discovered when he sat down with Taylor:

The first movie came dangerously close to being scrapped.

Several major production companies dropped “Star Wars” because they believed it would be a huge flop. The movie studios—and George Lucas himself—believed it was going to be a children’s movie; the average children’s movie at that time grossed about $12 million. 

It's near-impossible to find someone who has never heard of "Star Wars."

Taylor traveled to Window Rock, Arizona, for a "Star Wars" screening — it was the first movie to be translated into the Navajo language. One tribe elder told Taylor he’d never heard of "Star Wars," but remembered seeing "wild birds in space” on television once. After talking to the man some more, Taylor realized he had actually caught a glimpse of the movie's X-Wing fighters. So the search continues.

The franchise has made about $42 billion (so far).

Taylor estimates "Star Wars" merchandise has raked in $32 billion so far. Ticket sales? A measly $4 billion, and another $6 billion on home video. But there's far more money to be made. Since buying Lucasfilm for more than $4 billion in 2012, Disney has announced at least five more films and a new TV series.

VIDEO: Girl found 12 years after abduction

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-01 14:41
A 17-year-old girl has been found in Mexico 12 years after she was abducted by her mother.

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