National / International News

Ferguson protests flare up again

BBC - Wed, 2014-09-24 09:29
Police in Ferguson say they will not tolerate further violence in the town after protestors looted shops and harassed officers on Tuesday night.

Here's how we'll cut down on greenhouse gases

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-09-24 09:11

This is Climate Week in New York City. About 300,000 people marched to call attention to global warming on Sunday. On Tuesday, at the United Nations, President Obama and more than 100 heads of state gathered to push for a low-carbon future, to combat global warming. The balance of the week is conferences and public events up and down Manhattan.

But let's be honest: Raise your hand if you have climate fatigue. Again with the parts per billion, the Arctic shelf, the guilt.

Business types in New York are trying to change the way we talk about climate change. So we will, too. Make it less about selflessness and altruism. More about investments, markets and, dare we say, greed.
 
So you may have asked yourself: What can I do on climate change? Bike to work? Eat locally grown food?
 
"When people ask me that question, and they do, my response is always the same," says Robert Stavins, an environmental economist at Harvard. Be prepared: his answer stings.
 
"What you will be able to accomplish or contribute through your solo actions," he says, "is so small it is lost in the noise."
 
The problem is too big. Stavins says you need scale, preferably for the lowest possible cost, to reduce the amount of carbon going into the atmosphere. Environmental bang for the buck.
 
One big bang is coal power: That's 44 percent of world emissions right there. Cleaner alternatives are solar, wind and natural gas.
 
"One of the most important opportunities for reducing CO2 emissions is to make sure that gas is replacing coal in electricity generation," says Helge Lund, president and CEO of Statoil, the Norwegian energy giant.
 
But in order to speed it up, Lund says, "You have a significantly higher CO2 price."

That's the "buck" part. Here's the idea: Fossil fuels pollute. So policymakers can take that environmental cost and add it to the price of fossil energy. That is, raise the price. That makes low-carbon technology more competitive.
 
Which ones would deploy? Natural gas? LED lights? Solar? Coal plants that bury emissions underground? Stavins says governments don't have to pick. Investors and customers will.
 
"That's the virtue of a carbon pricing mechanism," he says. "It will automatically draw to the fore those technologies, those practices which are lowest cost."
 
For instance, if solar is the cheapest, best option for household power, consumers will pick that. Solar-panel seller IKEA thinks they will. Here's President and CEO Peter Agnefjall.
 
"I think we'll halve the installed cost over the next 10 years of solar," he says. "So it's great sense to do it today. It will be unthinkable not to do it in 10 years' time."
 
Could he be wrong? Perhaps more money will pick wind energy. In certain places, it's cheaper, says Michael Liebreich of Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
 
"So if you look at the Great Plains in the U.S., you look at Brazil," Liebreich says. "You look at Australia, you look at India, you look at China. If you want really cheap electrical power, you build a wind farm now."

Now, on the other hand, he says, "You've got some very expensive technologies people would like to believe are part of the solution. Offshore wind is being done, but it's expensive. But then you can go up to wave power and then, always, on transportation, fuel cells."
 
Of course, down the road fuel cells may get cheaper. But the point is, customers and investors have no interest in overpaying. With a carbon price, the low-cost, low-CO2 products win. An efficient, shall we say cheapskate, road to a low-carbon future.

The U.S. Bombing Campaign: Is It War Or Counterterrorism?

NPR News - Wed, 2014-09-24 09:11

President Obama has been reluctant to call it a war, yet the administration and the Pentagon boast of a 40-nation coalition and warn of a military operation that could last for years.

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Vatican Arrests Defrocked Archbishop On Sex Charges

NPR News - Wed, 2014-09-24 09:01

Former Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, who was defrocked earlier this year, has been accused of paying for sex with children while he was papal ambassador to the Dominican Republic.

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VIDEO: Is the iPhone 6 prone to bending?

BBC - Wed, 2014-09-24 08:57
Marc Cieslak of BBC Click puts the iPhone 6 through some stress tests, in an unscientific test.

Golf 'now my girlfriend' - McIlroy

BBC - Wed, 2014-09-24 08:48
Rory McIlroy rules out a relationship for the foreseeable future four months after his split with Caroline Wozniacki.

When Cigarettes Cost More, People Drink Less. Except For Wine

NPR News - Wed, 2014-09-24 08:46

If you raised the price of Don Draper's cigarettes, would he have cut back on the whiskey? Probably not, but it works on most beer and spirits drinkers, a study finds. Wine drinkers, not so much.

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Will Miliband's deficit slip haunt him?

BBC - Wed, 2014-09-24 08:38
Will Miliband's deficit slip haunt him?

Jealous 'acid attack' woman jailed

BBC - Wed, 2014-09-24 08:34
A jealous wife is jailed for nine years for throwing caustic soda over a 22-year-old waitress at her husband's restaurant.

Cameron in talks with Iran's Rouhani

BBC - Wed, 2014-09-24 08:31
The UK's prime minister meets Iran's president for the first time since the country's revolution in 1979.

Jones attacks devolution response

BBC - Wed, 2014-09-24 08:28
First Minister Carwyn Jones fears the break up of the UK within 10 years because of the UK Government's response to fall-out of the Scottish "No" vote.

Miliband insists deficit 'priority'

BBC - Wed, 2014-09-24 08:27
The Labour leader admits leaving out a part of his conference speech about the deficit but insists he covered his plans for economy.

Conductor Christopher Hogwood dies

BBC - Wed, 2014-09-24 08:16
British conductor Christopher Hogwood dies aged 73 following an illness.

He Fixed South Africa's AIDS Policy, Now He's Out To Fight Salt

NPR News - Wed, 2014-09-24 08:14

Health Minister Aaron Motsolaedi faced an HIV/AIDS crisis when he took office in 2009. He's made great progress on that front. His new campaign: Convincing South Africans to live healthier lives.

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Mother and son killed by train named

BBC - Wed, 2014-09-24 08:11
A mother and her 10-year-old son who were killed when they were hit by a train in Slough, Berkshire, are named.

VIDEO: Is it a plane, is it a scooter?

BBC - Wed, 2014-09-24 08:10
Japan's Air Self Defence Force has marked the 60th anniversary of its founding with a display using plane-shaped scooters.

Tech pumps cash into DC, for what?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-09-24 08:08

For years, tech companies ignored Washington. But Washington wasn’t about to ignore them. 

A few years ago Congress debated some big bills on internet policy, and Silicon Valley wasn’t at the table.

So tech companies opened D.C. headquarters, and started lobbying. 

Two years ago web giants like Google, Amazon and Facebook joined forces to create a new trade group, The Internet Association.

Michael Beckerman is the association’s president and CEO. 

He showed me around their sleek, new Washington office and explained why he’s here.

“That’s my job," he says. "To help build relationships and bridge the gap between our industry and Congress.”

That gap makes it hard for tech to gain traction in Washington. 

Part of the problem? It takes time to build relationships on Capitol Hill, and tech is new to the K Street lobby game. 

Also, the tech industry wants quick movement on huge issues, like immigration and patent reform.

Back in Silicon Valley, they can’t understand what’s taking so long.

“In the Internet world and Silicon Valley, people see a problem and they find a way to solve it but that’s not always how Washington works,” Beckerman says.

No, it’s not. So Beckerman and his chief lobbyist, Gina Woodworth make regular trips to Capitol Hill. 

The day I meet up with them, they’re off to Congressman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) office.

Of course, we take an Uber SUV to Capitol Hill.

They're going to Ryan's office to talk about trade legislation.    

“The last time they drafted a trade bill was in 2002," says Gina Woodworth. "In 2002 a lot of our companies weren’t even created and we weren’t really an active stakeholder at that time. But now we are.”

And they have the cash to prove it.

“Spending by the tech sector has more than tripled since 1998,” says Sheila Krumholz,  executive director at the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks lobbyists' spending in Washington.

Krumholz says the tech lobby budget went from $40 million in the late 90s, to more than $140 million last year. 

And she says Silicon Valley is on track to spend at least that much this year.  

Today, tech is the fourth biggest spender on lobbying in Washington.

“What they get for all this lobbying is not clear,” says Anthony Corrado, a professor of  government at Colby College. “Even on a very narrow issue like immigration reform and a modification of visa policy to allow more engineers in, for example, they can’t get any action.”

What’s worse, Corrado says, sometimes tech companies lobby on different sides of an issue, like net neutrality. 

Which pits the companies that built the pipes of the internet against the users of those pipes.

Corrado says there’s a clear winner here. And it’s not the tech lobby.

“Members of Congress are more than happy to have tech industry lobbying on both sides of an issue because it makes it much easier for them to solicit campaign contributions,” he says.

Corrado calls it a fundraising bonanza. Welcome to Washington, Silicon Valley.

VIDEO: Tears at 91-year-old's NHS plea

BBC - Wed, 2014-09-24 08:02
A 91-year-old gives a passionate plea for the NHS as he recalls harsh times growing up and the death of his sister.

After The NIH Funding 'Euphoria' Comes The 'Hangover'

NPR News - Wed, 2014-09-24 07:54

The way the National Institutes of Health doles out research grants accentuates booms and busts in the financing of scientific research. More variety in the length of grants could help.

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Stunned shoppers film jewellers raid

BBC - Wed, 2014-09-24 07:42
Four masked people armed with hammers attempt to rob several jewellers in Glasgow's Argyll Arcade.
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