National / International News

US Supreme Court blocks executions

BBC - Wed, 2015-01-28 14:59
The US Supreme Court postpones the executions of three death row inmates who say the use of the sedative midazolam in the procedures is cruel.

AG Nominee Lynch Says She Differs From Obama On Marijuana

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-28 14:47

The moment contrasted with other exchanges between Lynch and members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, such as when she defended Obama's right to take executive action on immigration rules.

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VIDEO: Post-war blocks get listed status

BBC - Wed, 2015-01-28 14:29
Fourteen office blocks, including one nicknamed the hanging gardens of Basingstoke, have been given protected Grade II* listed status.

VIDEO: Warnings as snow hits parts of UK

BBC - Wed, 2015-01-28 14:26
BBC correspondents report from the areas of the UK which are worst hit by the snow.

'After 88 minutes, give me the ball'

BBC - Wed, 2015-01-28 14:24
Spurs midfielder tells team-mates to give him the ball late on after another crucial goal in the League Cup semi-final.

Coffee Horror: Parody Pokes At Environmental Absurdity Of K-Cups

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-28 14:21

The market for single-serving coffee pods is dominated by Keurig's K-Cups. But they aren't recyclable, and critics say that's making a monster of an environmental mess. Meet the K-Cup Godzilla.

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McDonald's boss steps down

BBC - Wed, 2015-01-28 14:18
McDonald's boss Don Thompson steps down after two and a half years in the job, as the company struggles with a declining customer base in its home market.

Earthquake recorded in East Midlands

BBC - Wed, 2015-01-28 14:18
An earthquake with a magnitude of 3.8 has been recorded in the East Midlands, the US Geological Survey reports.

Beefed-Up Border Security Proposal Unsettles Texas Business Leaders

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-28 14:11

A bill proposing tighter security on the Southern border has provoked a backlash from some South Texas leaders. They say the measures may hurt trade with Mexico, the state's largest trading partner.

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McDonald's CEO Don Thompson Steps Down

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-28 14:10

He is being replaced by company executive Steve Easterbrook. Today's announcement comes just days after the world's largest fast-food chain warned of weak results in the first half of 2015.

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VIDEO: Ebola vaccine 'looks well tolerated'

BBC - Wed, 2015-01-28 14:08
The first results of an experimental Ebola vaccine being tested in Oxford suggest it is safe.

'Maker Space' Allows Kids To Innovate, Learn In The Hospital

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-28 14:00

At a children's hospital in Nashville, Tenn., a mobile maker space allows patients to share materials and tools to build new things, while also teaching them about math and science.

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Castro issues Guantanamo Bay demand

BBC - Wed, 2015-01-28 13:56
Cuba demands the US hands back the Guantanamo Bay military base before relations with Washington are normalised.

Back From The Dead: A Cat Returns Home 5 Days After His Burial

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-28 13:55

Bart returned home with a broken jaw, open wounds on his face and a ruptured eye. He is being treated by the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, Fla., and will return to his owner after he has recovered.

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Amid Fighting In Donetsk, On Edge And Seeking Safety Underground

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-28 13:48

The eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk has been under siege and subject to artillery and rocket attacks for months — residents are living in stressful conditions and the separatist militia are jumpy.

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A move to simplify the FAFSA

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-01-28 13:42

A huge chart outside of Terri Williams’ office at Vivien T. Thomas Medical Arts Academy tracks where all 90 seniors at the Baltimore high school are in the college application process. “Have they gone on any college tours, how many applications have they done, have they completed their FAFSA?” says Williams, a college access specialist with the CollegeBound Foundation.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is used by the federal government, states and colleges to figure out who gets aid, and how much. Most of Williams’ students don’t have a shot at affording college without help, so she sends out letters and text messages – even intercepts students on their way to the bathroom – to make sure they complete the form on time.

The FAFSA goes live each year on Jan.1 and is due March 1 in most states. “I don’t care where they are,” she says. “I’m going to stop you so we can get it taken care of.”

Taking care of it means answering up to 108 questions. Questions like: Have you had a drug conviction? How much do your parents make? Is either a “dislocated worker?”

For many students, just tracking down some of that information can be a challenge. “They feel like ‘This is too much, I can't do it, and I’m not going to get anything anyway,’” Williams says. In reality, most of her students would be eligible for the maximum Pell grant, which is $5,730 this year. Because more than 1 million high school seniors don't bother to fill out the FAFSA each year, they fail to claim millions of dollars in financial aid.

The government is trying to make things easier. The Obama Administration proposed eliminating 27 questions. A bipartisan bill in Congress would replace the FAFSA with a postcard asking just two questions about household size and income. For most families, those two questions tell the government everything it needs to know, says Carrie Warick of the National College Access Network. “Most of those additional questions are really targeted at families with much more complicated financial situations,” Warick says, like wealthier families with assets and investments.

 The FAFSA does have some defenders. The vast majority of students now fill it out online, says Justin Draeger, president of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. “Skip logic” technology lets them bypass questions that don’t apply. “The average student today can complete the entire FAFSA, start to finish, in 20 minutes,” Draeger says.

But that doesn’t count the time it may take to dig up and sort through tax files and bank records. Draeger is all for getting rid of questions that don’t have anything to do with a student’s financial need, like the one about drug convictions.

Still, Draeger says, colleges rank students according to their relative need when they distribute their own grants and scholarships, and they need a lot of details to do that fairly. “If we make the application too simple, that ultimately means that more colleges will introduce their own applications,” Draeger says. “The net result for students is nothing. Nothing’s changed.”

There is one change pretty much everyone agrees on: The current FAFSA asks for data from the most recent tax year, but if you’re applying for aid right now, that would be 2014. Most people haven’t filed their taxes yet. 

If families could use their returns from one year earlier, they could import their tax information directly from the IRS, says Lauren Asher, president of the Institute for College Access and Success. They could also apply for aid earlier. “If you can file the FAFSA more easily and earlier, you’re much more likely to benefit from all the available aid that can help you pay for college and get to graduation,” she says.

In many states, grant money is handed out on a first-come, first-served basis — until it’s gone. A recent report from Edvisors, a publisher of student aid information, says students who file their FAFSA in the first three months of the year get more than twice as much grant aid, on average, as those who wait longer.

A move to simplify the dreaded FAFSA

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-01-28 13:42

A huge chart outside of Terri Williams’ office at Vivien T. Thomas Medical Arts Academy tracks where all 90 seniors at the Baltimore high school are in the college application process. “Have they gone on any college tours, how many applications have they done, have they completed their FAFSA?” says Williams, a college access specialist with the CollegeBound Foundation.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is used by the federal government, states and colleges to figure out who gets aid, and how much. Most of Williams’ students don’t have a shot at affording college without help, so she sends out letters and text messages – even intercepts students on their way to the bathroom – to make sure they complete the form on time.

The FAFSA goes live each year on Jan.1 and is due March 1 in most states. “I don’t care where they are,” she says. “I’m going to stop you so we can get it taken care of.”

Taking care of it means answering up to 108 questions. Questions like: Have you had a drug conviction? How much do your parents make? Is either a “dislocated worker?”

For many students, just tracking down some of that information can be a challenge. “They feel like ‘This is too much, I can't do it, and I’m not going to get anything anyway,’” Williams says. In reality, most of her students would be eligible for the maximum Pell grant, which is $5,730 this year. Because more than 1 million high school seniors don't bother to fill out the FAFSA each year, they fail to claim millions of dollars in financial aid.

The government is trying to make things easier. The Obama Administration proposed eliminating 27 questions. A bipartisan bill in Congress would replace the FAFSA with a postcard asking just two questions about household size and income. For most families, those two questions tell the government everything it needs to know, says Carrie Warick of the National College Access Network. “Most of those additional questions are really targeted at families with much more complicated financial situations,” Warick says, like wealthier families with assets and investments.

 The FAFSA does have some defenders. The vast majority of students now fill it out online, says Justin Draeger, president of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. “Skip logic” technology lets them bypass questions that don’t apply. “The average student today can complete the entire FAFSA, start to finish, in 20 minutes,” Draeger says.

But that doesn’t count the time it may take to dig up and sort through tax files and bank records. Draeger is all for getting rid of questions that don’t have anything to do with a student’s financial need, like the one about drug convictions.

Still, Draeger says, colleges rank students according to their relative need when they distribute their own grants and scholarships, and they need a lot of details to do that fairly. “If we make the application too simple, that ultimately means that more colleges will introduce their own applications,” Draeger says. “The net result for students is nothing. Nothing’s changed.”

There is one change pretty much everyone agrees on: The current FAFSA asks for data from the most recent tax year, but if you’re applying for aid right now, that would be 2014. Most people haven’t filed their taxes yet. 

If families could use their returns from one year earlier, they could import their tax information directly from the IRS, says Lauren Asher, president of the Institute for College Access and Success. They could also apply for aid earlier. “If you can file the FAFSA more easily and earlier, you’re much more likely to benefit from all the available aid that can help you pay for college and get to graduation,” she says.

In many states, grant money is handed out on a first-come, first-served basis — until it’s gone. A recent report from Edvisors, a publisher of student aid information, says students who file their FAFSA in the first three months of the year get more than twice as much grant aid, on average, as those who wait longer.

Taylor Swift, trademark diva

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-01-28 13:32

Taylor Swift is the very model of a shrewd entrepreneur.

She has secured trademarks for a whole mess of lyrics from her most recent zillion-selling album, "1989," including "Party Like It's 1989," "This Sick Beat," and "Nice to Meet You. Where You Been?"

She owns them for "public appearances," "clothing" and "ornaments" among other goods and services, according to the trademark.

As the website Vox points out, singers make an increasing slice of their income not from actual singing, but from all of the related stuff. 

 

Sheff Utd 2-2 Tottenham (agg 2-3)

BBC - Wed, 2015-01-28 13:30
Tottenham set up a Capital One Cup final date with Chelsea at Wembley on 1 March with Christian Eriksen's late goal.

Florida Health Officials Hope To Test GMO Mosquitoes This Spring

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-28 13:28

The British firm that developed the strain of mosquito says it has already tested the insect in tropical countries, and found it can reduce populations of disease-carrying mosquitoes by 90 percent.

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