National / International News

VIDEO: Punch-up at parish meeting

BBC - 8 hours 15 min ago
Pictures have emerged of a brawl at at Lancashire parish council committee meeting over a waiting list for grazing land.

Garcia quitting 'new low for Fifa'

BBC - 8 hours 27 min ago
Fifa's reputation has been hurt by the resignation of ethics investigator Michael Garcia, says vice president Jim Boyce.

6,000 uses for petroleum – and counting

One 42-gallon barrel of oil produces about 19.4 gallons of gas. But according to a list put out by the oil and gas firm Ranken Energy, gasoline isn't the only thing that comes from a barrel of oil. Some highlights from the 6,000 items on the list:

  • Deodorant
  • Yarn
  • Floor wax
  • Crayons
  • Aspirin
  • Umbrellas
  • Shampoo
  • Balloons
  • Insect repellent
  • Nail polish
  • Footballs

 

6,000 uses for petroleum – and counting

One 42-gallon barrel of oil produces about 19.4 gallons of gas. But according to a list put out by the oil and gas firm Ranken Energy, gasoline isn't the only thing that comes from a barrel of oil. Some highlights from the 6,000 items on the list:

  • Deodorant
  • Yarn
  • Floor wax
  • Crayons
  • Aspirin
  • Umbrellas
  • Shampoo
  • Balloons
  • Insect repellent
  • Nail polish
  • Footballs

 

Cuba's open doors don't mean open for business

President Obama’s announcement regarding normalizing diplomatic relations with Cuba also had a few economic goodies. 

Travelers to Cuba can bring back up to $400 worth of goods to the U.S. ... but only $100 worth of tobacco and cigars. 

Telecom companies can export more to Cuba, in an effort to open the country up to the outside world, and agricultural exports were made easier thanks to an easing of financing restrictions — but the embargo is still in place, and full-blown business opportunities are largely years away.

Click play above to hear more about Cuba's business impact

How the oil boom woke up a Texas town

Texas oil companies started tapping into the Eagle Ford shale deposit in 2008, and have since produced millions of barrels of oil. One Texas city affected by this boom is Carrizo Springs. Kai Ryssdal talked with Mayor Adrian DeLeon about the benefits and challenges that come with change.

“There’s a lot of good, and there’s a lot of bad … but when we’re talking about Eagle Ford shale, we’re talking about job creation, and it’s a good thing. It’s a blessing for us,” DeLeon said. “There’s around 60,000 jobs here. It’s lucrative for people who really want to work.”

The biggest change, since before the oil boom, is that local business is thriving.

“We’re just grateful to see so many people who were losing their houses and losing their cars, to [now] paying off their cars and paying off their houses…. It’s a great thing,” DeLeon said.

Benefits:

  • Thousands of new jobs and thriving business
  • Creating a city police department
  • Hiring developers and workers from around the country

Challenges:

  • Highways are not equipped for heavy truck traffic
  • Regulating oil and gas
  • Avoiding water pollution

A circular argument: How cheap oil affects tire prices

This is a busy time of year for the Goodyear tire store and garage in McLean, Virginia. People want a tune-up before heading out for the holidays, or maybe want to pick up a set of tires.

Store manager Eddie Adiyeh has been selling tires for almost 30 years, so he should know: Do tire prices normally go down, along with oil prices? 

“I don’t remember them going down when the prices went down," he says. "But I remember them going up a little bit when the oil went up.”

Goodyear owns Adiyeh’s store, and sets the prices. So I called a Goodyear spokesman, Keith Price, and asked: Will tires get cheaper?

His response: “I’m not able to comment or speculate on what might happen to the price of tires.”

But Price did say it takes a while for a tire to go from factory to warehouse to distributor to store. He figures tires being made now, with cheaper oil, should be in stores this spring. 

So will they be cheaper then?

“It’s not entirely black and white,” says Nicholas Mitchell, a senior vice president and research analyst at Northcoast Research who follows Goodyear. He says oil makes up about a quarter of the cost of synthetic tires, the kind most consumers buy. Mitchell thinks competition among tire manufacturers will push down prices.   

“Someone will move first and try to lower prices to drive market share,” he says.

But here’s why it’s not black and white: With gas prices down, we’re driving more, and wearing out our tires faster. If demand for tires rises, Mitchell says, prices won’t fall as much. 

Trickle down oil prices?

This is a busy time of year for the Goodyear tire store and garage in McLean, Virginia. People want a tune up before heading out for the holidays, maybe want to pick up a set of tires.

Store manager Eddie Adiyeh has been selling tires for almost 30 years, so he should know: Do tire prices normally go down, along with oil prices? 

“I don’t remember them going down when the prices went down," he says. "But I remember them going up a little bit when the oil went up.”

Goodyear owns Adiyeh’s store, and sets the prices. So I called a Goodyear spokesman, Keith Price, and asked him: will tires get cheaper?

His response: “I’m not able to comment or speculate on what might happen to the price of tires.”

But Price did say it takes a while for the tire to go from factory to warehouse to distributor to store. He figures tires being made now, with the cheaper oil, should be in stores this spring. 

So will they be cheaper then?

“It’s not entirely black and white,” says Nicholas Mitchell, a senior vice president and research analyst at Northcoast Research who follows Goodyear. He says oil makes up about a quarter of the cost of synthetic tires, the kind most consumers buy. Mitchell thinks competition among tire manufacturers will push down prices.   

“Someone will move first and try to lower prices to drive market share,” he says.

But here’s why it’s not black and white: With gas prices down, we’re driving more, and wearing out our tires faster. If demand for tires rises, Mitchell says, prices won’t fall as much. 

Farmers feel ripple effects of the oil boom

The oil boom in Texas has ripple effects that go beyond the cost of gasoline. Kai Ryssdal talked with commercial grain farmer Curt Mowery of Mowery Farms in Rosharon, Texas, to find out how oil is reflected in his business.

As a commercial grain farmer, Mowery estimates that 50 percent of his costs circle around oil. Some examples include the chemical costs on some of the crop protectants, containers and transportation from getting grain from the field to the processor. “Everything’s tied to oil that we do in our business,” he says.

As the cost of oil goes down, Mowery might see savings in 2016, but he doesn’t believe the consumer will see savings for a while. “The price will go down a lot slower than the price will go up," he says.

Oil prices scrape bottom of the barrel

Crude oil prices fell to 5½ -year lows on Thursday. The price of Brent Crude closed at $59.27 a barrel, and West Texas Intermediate Crude closed at $54.11 a barrel.

A barrel of crude oil is a “convenient measure,” says Eric Smith, associate director of Tulane University’s Energy Institute. “It’s 42 gallons because that’s what John D. Rockefeller put it in – old beer barrels, back in the 1890s.” Today, oil moves in pipelines, tanker ships, barges and railcars to get from the oil fields – whether in Saudi Arabia, Nigeria or North Dakota – to the refineries.

Transportation only constitutes a small fraction of the barrel’s cost, according to economist Rayola Dougher of the American Petroleum Institute, the industry trade group. Most of the cost of oil can be attributed to exploration, drilling and pumping.

“Finding the oil is a very involved process,” says Dougher. “Onshore it can take $19 to $20 a barrel, but it could be twice to three times as much offshore.”

In the Bakken shale oil fields in North Dakota, which are pumping out a lot of high-quality light sweet crude (a similar grade to the benchmark West Texas Intermediate), producers can still make a small profit with crude in the $55-a-barrel range, after subtracting the costs of exploration, production and transportation, Smith says.

“You’d probably go down to $30 before somebody shuts in a well. They might not drill a new one. But they wouldn’t stop producing the old one until the price got below that cost.”

VIDEO: Brawl over Kenya security bill

BBC - 8 hours 50 min ago
Kenyan lawmakers traded blows and the deputy speaker had water thrown on her during a chaotic parliamentary session which approved changes to a tough new security bill.

PM 'did not leave NI for rave party'

BBC - 9 hours 3 min ago
Downing Street rejects suggestions that the prime minister left talks in Northern Ireland early last week so he could attend his wife's "Ibiza-style rave" birthday party.

White House Says Response To Sony Attack Will Be 'Proportional'

NPR News - 9 hours 12 min ago

The White House won't confirm North Korea is behind the attack, citing an ongoing investigation. Nevertheless, it is mulling over its options.

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VIDEO: Mourning and rage after school attack

BBC - 9 hours 13 min ago
Pupils who survived a massacre at their school in Pakistan have been paying tribute to those who died.

NIH Allows Restart Of MERS Research That Had Been Questioned

NPR News - 9 hours 19 min ago

The National Institutes of Health has approved requests for waivers from a moratorium on experiments that aim to make the virus that causes Middle East respiratory syndrome more infectious in mice.

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Sony hack is 'US security issue'

BBC - 9 hours 30 min ago
The cyber attack on Sony that forced the cancellation of a major film release is being viewed as a national security matter, the White House says.

The casualties of Russia's decline

BBC - 9 hours 36 min ago
The knock-on effects of Russia's economic troubles

VIDEO: 'Exhausted workforce' in Apple factory

BBC - 9 hours 37 min ago
A BBC investigation for Panorama has exposed poor working conditions in factories making Apple products in China.

Is Putin right?

BBC - 9 hours 43 min ago
Most analysts say Russia can afford its debt repayments for the next couple of years, but Mr Putin will have to stem the tide of money leaving the country.

Cost of MPs' advisers hits £8.4m

BBC - 9 hours 50 min ago
The cost of ministers' special advisers increases more than £1m in the past year, taking it to £8.4m, official figures show.

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