National / International News

Islamic State: Yazidi women tell of sex-slavery trauma

BBC - Mon, 2014-12-22 03:39
Sex-slavery trauma of Yazidis seized by Islamic State

VIDEO: Could beacons transform shopping?

BBC - Mon, 2014-12-22 03:38
Spencer Kelly puts beacon technology to the test

An Update On LA's iPad Program

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-22 03:23

A high-profile school tech program; a federal corruption investigation and the resignation of the superintendent.

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Reds starting to recover - Lawrenson

BBC - Mon, 2014-12-22 03:02
Former Liverpool player Mark Lawrenson, who had described the Reds as "rudderless", says there are now signs of recovery.

A new drug becomes the only option for some patients

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-12-22 03:00

A newly-approved drug for Hepatitis C will be the only treatment covered for many patients whose employers use a company called Express Scripts for their pharmacy benefits.

Last year, Gilead Sciences Inc. introduced a highly-effective hepatitis C drug, with an $84,000 price tag. Those kinds of prices have been more common for drugs treating conditions so rare they are sometimes called “orphan diseases." Hepatitis C, on the other hand, affects more than three million people.

"These were orphan-drug prices for common diseases," says Steve Miller, chief medical officer for Express Scripts. "That’s just not sustainable."

The sticker price on the new drug, from AbbVie Inc., is just a tiny bit cheaper— $83,319— but Express Scripts has negotiated a discount.

The company says patients will benefit through expanded access to the drug, which has generally only been covered for people with advanced stages of the disease. 

On the other hand, the new arrangement limits treatment options for patients. It's too soon to tell whether that downside will be significant, says Jack Hoadley, a research professor with Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute. AbbVie's drug was approved on December 19, just days before the Express Scripts deal was announced.  

"This drug is so recently approved we’re only going to be learning over time whether there are some patients this drug doesn’t work as well for," says Hoadley.

Express Scripts covers about 25 million people directly. It also administers drug benefits for another 65 million through health insurance plans.  

PODCAST: Prescription neutrality

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-12-22 03:00

People argue for network neutrality on the internet, but what about prescription neutrality? More on the news that Express Scripts introduced an exclusivity deal with AbbVie's new Hepatitis C medication. And Freddie Mac reports there’s a shortage of rental housing, giving a boost to big investors who bought thousands of foreclosed houses on a bet they’d be able to jack up rents. Now they can. Plus, with the coming of the new year, Sony plans to roll out an Internet-based live-TV service on its video game consoles. It's called Playstation Vue, and it will initially have about 75 channels - ones we traditionally associate with cable, like MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon. The idea is to marry traditional cable with a cloud-based, Netflix-like user interface.

Seal found in the middle of a field

BBC - Mon, 2014-12-22 02:57
A seal is found in the middle of a field in St Helens, Merseyside by a dog walker.

North Korea threatens US over Sony

BBC - Mon, 2014-12-22 02:39
North Korea threatens unspecified attacks on the US as it escalates a war of words over the Sony Pictures cyber attacks.

Giant 'El Gordo' lottery grips Spain

BBC - Mon, 2014-12-22 02:37
Spaniards await the results of the famous "El Gordo" (The Fat One) Christmas lottery, with €2.2bn (£1.7bn; $2.7bn) of prizes on offer.

Parents jailed over toddler's death

BBC - Mon, 2014-12-22 02:36
A mother and father convicted of causing or allowing the death of their young son are each sentenced to nine years.

550 pensioners lose their home help

BBC - Mon, 2014-12-22 02:35
Hundreds of elderly people across Belfast are to lose home help services because of cuts to the health trust's budget.

AUDIO: 'I never thought I'd see laptop again'

BBC - Mon, 2014-12-22 02:34
Stolen laptop containing the last photographs of a terminally ill child before she died has been returned to her family.

Jackie Chan's son charged over drugs

BBC - Mon, 2014-12-22 02:32
The son of Hollywood actor Jackie Chan is charged with a drug offence, Chinese prosecutors say, and could now face three years in jail.

VIDEO: Airbus to deliver first A350 XWBs

BBC - Mon, 2014-12-22 02:25
Monday marks a big day for Airbus at its main factory headquarters in Toulouse, as Qatar Airways takes the first delivery of the plane makers newest twin-aisle A350 XWB.

Fans voice anger at Rangers' AGM

BBC - Mon, 2014-12-22 02:21
Rangers' board are greeted with chants of "out, out, out" as they take their seats at the club's AGM on Monday at Ibrox.

Two arrested over McConville murder

BBC - Mon, 2014-12-22 02:17
Police investigating the 1972 murder of Belfast mother-of-ten Jean McConville arrest two men in counties Antrim and Armagh.

VIDEO: Panto 'most difficult of all' acting

BBC - Mon, 2014-12-22 02:15
York Theatre Royal's long-serving panto dame, Berwick Kaler, tells BBC Breakfast what it takes to excel in the role of Widow Twanky or Mother Goose.

IMF cuts blamed for Ebola spread

BBC - Mon, 2014-12-22 02:09
Spending cuts imposed by the International Monetary Fund may have contributed to the rapid spread of Ebola in West Africa, UK-based researchers say.

Passenger hurt as train hits flood

BBC - Mon, 2014-12-22 02:07
A passenger was hurt when a train came to a halt after striking flood water on a rail line in East Ayrshire.

Sony plans to offer the first Internet-based cable TV

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-12-22 02:00

The new year promises several new Internet-based streaming TV offerings that will look a lot like traditional cable. The planned services from Dish Network, Sony PlayStation and Verizon will be the first to offer bundles of live television channels over the Internet.

Sony Entertainment Network, separate from the film studio which is dealing with the aftermath of an unprecedented cyber attack, is the first out of the gate with its announcement of the cloud-based TV service PlayStation Vue. It began beta testing the service in New York in November, with plans to roll out the invitation-only beta to Chicago, Philadelphia as well as New York.

Sony says it will launch the service in the first quarter of 2015, but has not decided in which markets. It also eventually plans to make the service available on iPads and other devices.

The Playstation Vue is starting out with about 75 channels, such as MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon. Sony has not struck a deal with Disney but is in active talks. Disney owns ESPN, the sports channel which is a popular draw among a large portion of cable TV subscribers and commands the highest carriage fees on cable.

"They are under a lot of constraints. They have to pay a lot for content," says Colin Dixon, a media analyst at nScreen Media.

Dixon says Sony not only must offer enough channels at an attractive price, but also manage to attract a young demographic that is avoiding cable. 

"The young are much less interested in pay TV service than the rest of the population. So, it's going to be a challenge to get people to change," Dixon says.

Sony, though, says its challenge is different. Many PlayStation users do, in fact, have cable TV subscriptions, according to Sony, but rarely use them because they want a better user experience.

The company says it has not yet decided the price of the service, but promises transparent pricing without added charges and long-term contracts. 

The service's primary focus is not going after price-conscious consumers. Sony PlayStation is focusing more on improving the cable TV user interface by marrying traditional cable with a cloud-based, Netflix-like user interface, which allows for both live and time-shifted viewing, and recommendation lists.

Sony's Playstation Vue, once it debuts, is likely to face competition in 2015. Verizon has announced similar plans, and so has the satellite TV provider Dish Network.

Laura Martin, a cable and media analyst at Needham & Company, says Dish Network's plans in particular are significant, because it will be a pared-down, cheaper alternative to traditional cable.

"So, it's a way to go after the low-end of the market, which is the opposite of the Sony product, which is trying to cream skim the top end of the market," Martin says.

In either case, the new offerings aren't likely to threaten traditional cable TV, Martin says, but they will lead to big wins for one particular group. 

"The big winners here are the content owners," Martin says. "For example, Turner broadcasting used to have three or four new series a year. This year it has 12, because you can ... sell it to more outlets."

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