National / International News

VIDEO: Man and dog rescued from capsized boat

BBC - Tue, 2014-03-18 03:12
A man and his dog had to be rescued from their upturned boat that capsized in Matagorda Bay in Texas.

VIDEO: Carlisle: Go-Go's 'still a curiosity'

BBC - Tue, 2014-03-18 03:04
Singer Belinda Carlisle talks to BBC Breakfast about still touring with her band the Go-Go's, considered to be the first all-girl punk band, and her solo career.

A mixed outlook for the housing market

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-03-18 02:49

New home construction took another hit last month, according to the latest figures from the Commerce Department. Housing starts slipped for a third straight month, though applications for building permits rose more than 7 percent.

In parts of the country relentless winter storms have slowed down homebuilding, but the fragile housing recovery is up against more than bad weather.

In a typical recovery, young people would be the first time buyers flocking to model homes. But analysts say Millennials have been slower to move out of their parents' homes and form their own households - held back by a tough job market and soaring student loan debt. For people who do want to buy, higher mortgage rates and rising prices have also made housing less affordable.

The National Association of Home Builders says members are pessimistic about the next six months, as they face higher materials costs, and shortages of skilled labor and ready-to-build land.

West Is Ruled 'By The Gun,' Putin Says As He Annexes Crimea

NPR News - Tue, 2014-03-18 02:45

The Russian leader has approved legislation to draw that part of Ukraine into the Russian Federation — over the objections of the new leaders in Kiev and despite Western sanctions.

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Trans-Dniester plea to join Russia

BBC - Tue, 2014-03-18 02:38
Pro-Russian politicians and activists in Moldova's breakaway Trans-Dniester region ask the Russian parliament to draft a law that would allow their territory to join Russia.

VIDEO: David Beckham joins Only Fools

BBC - Tue, 2014-03-18 02:23
David Beckham joins the cast of Only Fools and Horses for a special sketch to raise money for Sport Relief

Rodgers my best man-manager - Gerrard

BBC - Tue, 2014-03-18 02:21
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers should get a new contract for the work he is doing at Anfield, says Steven Gerrard.

Dog attacks up by 81% in 10 years

BBC - Tue, 2014-03-18 02:11
Dog attacks in Wales have increased by 81% in the last decade, a BBC investigation finds.

Sainsbury's reports fall in sales

BBC - Tue, 2014-03-18 02:09
Sainsbury's reports its first fall in sales for nine years, and says the market is growing at its slowest rate since 2005.

M4 motorway expansion plans revealed

BBC - Tue, 2014-03-18 02:07
The government is considering imposing variable speed limits and converting the hard shoulder for traffic on a 31-mile stretch of the M4 in an effort to cut congestion.

Hammer appeal in hunt for killer

BBC - Tue, 2014-03-18 02:07
Detectives investigating the murder of an artist in West Sussex are appealing for information about anyone who has threatened violence with a hammer.

Putin moves towards annexing Crimea

BBC - Tue, 2014-03-18 02:00
President Vladimir Putin informs parliament formally of Crimea's request to join Russia and approves a draft bill on absorbing the peninsula.

PODCAST: Stress tests and more political ads

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-03-18 01:49

 The guardians of interest rates and stimulus are in the first session of a two day meeting today in Washington. It's also a big week for the Federal Reserve in its role as bank supervisor.  This is the first round of stress tests for banks and it is supposed to help prevent the government having to bail out the banks as happened five years ago. 

The mid-term congressional elections happen later in the year.  But the Republican National Committee is launching a six-figure ad campaign this week, with a chunk of the money going toward ads on cable.  And the spending comes as campaigns realize fewer people are tuning in, at least the way they used to. 

Plus, these days, it seems that every industry has a trade show.  The American Feed Industry Association met in Las Vegas last week. So did the American Membrane Technology Association. So it stands to reason there is a trade show for trade shows. A convention convention. It’s very meta. Six thousand people attended last year’s Exhibitor convention. 

VIDEO: 'Wife carrying' gives presenter giggles

BBC - Tue, 2014-03-18 01:47
Seventh annual wife carrying race has taken place in Dorking, Surrey

Villas-Boas agrees to manage Zenit

BBC - Tue, 2014-03-18 01:43
Ex-Spurs and Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas agrees a deal to manage Zenit St Petersburg, according to the Russian club.

AUDIO: Hawking 'wins inflation debate'

BBC - Tue, 2014-03-18 01:34
Tom Feilden, Stephen Hawking and Neil Turok discuss new evidence that scientists claim supports a Big Bang Theory for the origin of the Universe.

Youngsters have what it takes - McNish

BBC - Tue, 2014-03-18 01:31
In his F1 column for BBC Sport, three-time Le Mans 24-hour champion Allan McNish assesses the new stars on the scene

St John's wort blights contraceptive

BBC - Tue, 2014-03-18 01:11
Women on hormonal contraceptives such as the pill are being warned that they could fall pregnant if they take St John's wort because the herbal remedy can have an unwanted interaction.

Frowny faces help conserve water

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-03-18 01:04

To encourage people to consume less water and energy, conservationists often turn to taxes, rebates, or advertising.  But there may be a more cost-effective tool out there: peer pressure. A public utility in drought-stricken California is getting people to conserve water with some good old neighborly competition.

Giri Seshagiri is proud of his new low-flow showerhead, because it uses far less water than the old one. He installed it after his local utility, East Bay Mud, started sending him reports that compared his monthly water usage to that of his neighbors. He saw that some similar-sized households were using less water, so he began taking steps to cut back.

The water reports Seshagiri receives come with simple bar graphs and “empathetic gauges,” a fancy name for these emoticons shaped like big water droplets. Do better than most neighbors each billing period, and your water droplet is happy and smiling. Do worse, and your water face is anxious and concerned. At the bottom, the report has simple recommendations on how to conserve water and improve the mood of your emoticon.

Peter Yolles is the CEO of WaterSmart Software, the start-up that generates the reports. He says the easy-to-understand bar graphs and emoticons compel customers to change their behaviors. “In a way,” he says, “it's like looking at a mirror of yourself.” And that reflection can have powerful effects.

Yolles says households in Seshagiri's pilot program reduced water consumption by five percent last year. WaterSmart Software found that the primary reason customers cut back on their usage wasn’t conservation or monetary savings. It was the peer pressure. In the program, Yolles says, “eight out of ten are motivated because they want to keep up with the Joneses.”

The peer pressure has worked like a charm on Seshagiri. He now cleans all his dishes with the dishwasher, which the water report told him was more efficient than washing by hand. He is currently planning to replace his lawn with drought-resistant plants. And that, he says, should make his household more water efficient than most of his neighbors.

Peer pressure is becoming a common conservation tool. The company Opower creates similar comparison reports for people's energy use. As with water, Opower has noted that people use less energy when they are shown how their consumption compares to neighbors.

MIT professor Alex Pentland describes this kind of “keeping up with the Joneses” tactic “as a sort of passive social pressure.” He is studying more active forms of peer pressure that could have even more potential to change consumer behavior.

Pentland and his graduate students have run studies where participants get rewarded whenever their friends cut back on energy use. In some cases they found this kind of “buddy motivation system” up to sixteen times more efficient than individual incentives like taxes or rebates.

“The key thing,” Pentland says, “is you have to think of using the social fabric rather than the individual.” It is a new way of thinking, he says, and it is proving to be very effective.

Pentland says we are already seeing this kind of peer pressure have an effect on things like personal health. He thinks it has promise in areas like education or finance, but that would be a bit trickier. When it comes to those subjects, he says, people are more reluctant to share the necessary data.

But with water and energy usage, the public utilities already have the information. All companies have to do is show consumers how they stack up against their neighbors.

New political spending in changing TV landscape

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-03-18 01:00

November’s congressional elections are still months away, but the Republican National Committee is launching a six-figure ad campaign this week. It’s spending a chunk of the money on cable ads, even though people aren’t  glued to live TV like they used to be. 

“Nearly 30 percent, so almost one in three voters, said they watched no live TV other than sports in the past week,” says Julie Hootkin, with the Democratic polling firm Global Strategy Group which released a survey last week of voter viewing habits. Robert Blizzard, of the Republican firm Public Opinion Strategies, is a co-author, and says even if live TV viewership is in decline, "that’s where a bulk of the campaign voter contacts should go."

"But you can’t ignore that other 30 percent anymore because that’s the number that’s growing,” he says.

Maybe that's why there’s a digital component to the new RNC ads.

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