National / International News

Apple chief: 'I'm proud to be gay'

BBC - 14 hours 25 min ago
Apple chief executive Tim Cook has publicly acknowledged his sexuality saying he made his announcement to help others struggling with their identity.

AUDIO: Punk poet's praise for Michael Gove

BBC - 14 hours 28 min ago
John Cooper Clarke says Michael Gove was "right" to support the learning of poetry by rote.

Sun worker 'paid for budget details'

BBC - 14 hours 31 min ago
A journalist at the Sun newspaper paid a government press officer £750 to leak secrets from the 2010 Budget, a court is told.

GDP Posts Strong 3.5 Percent Growth Rate In 3rd Quarter

NPR News - 14 hours 33 min ago

The economy performed better-than-expected in the July-September period, after making a 4.6 percent jump in the second quarter of the year.

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Apps Aim To Guide You On 'Sustainable Food' (Whatever That Means)

NPR News - 14 hours 44 min ago

Consumers who care about how their food is produced have a growing number of apps they can turn to at the supermarket. The problem? Nailing down just what sustainability means when it comes to food.

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Penalties 'do not stop' drug use

BBC - 14 hours 55 min ago
There is no link between tough laws and levels of illegal drug use, a Home Office study finds, sparking a policy row within the coalition government.

Ian McKellen given freedom of London

BBC - 15 hours 6 sec ago
Lord of the Rings star Sir Ian McKellen is given the freedom of the City of London in recognition of his work for gay rights.

Drones buzz French nuclear plants

BBC - 15 hours 4 min ago
An investigation begins after France's state-owned EDF power company says unidentified drones have flown over seven of its nuclear plants.

In North Dakota, the oil boom changes politics

North Dakota has always been a friendly, easy place to vote. It is the only state in the country without voter registration, and precincts are small enough that poll volunteers often recognize the people who come through the door.

"It’s kind of like a reunion," said Bonnie Fix, who has worked elections since 2001. "Kind of like a family picnic."

Running for office in North Dakota has historically been equally low-key – and low budget, with winning candidates for state offices raising less than a few thousand dollars each. But the oil boom has changed all that. The 2014 election cycle looks like it will be the most expensive ever in state history, with over $17 million in campaign contributions.

"It’s gotten ugly," said Jim Fuglie, the former head of the Democratic Party in North Dakota and a political commentator. "We’ve never had an industry this big, with this much money, have this much influence on an election."

Fuglie believes the tone of politics has changed, too, and points to negative campaign ads like the one calling the Democratic candidate for Agriculture Commissioner, Ryan Taylor, a "tree-hugger."

The ad, which ran on commercial radio stations leading up to the election, was paid for by a local political action committee or PAC, funded by the national Republican State Leadership Committee. Some of its top donors are oil and gas companies like Devon Energy and ExxonMobil.

Between PACs, trade groups and corporations, the oil and gas industry has spent $1.3 million on the 2014 election in North Dakota, according to data from the North Dakota Secretary of State. Some races matter more to the industry than others - like the Agriculture Commissioner race.  While the title sounds irrelevant to oil and gas, as one of three officials who sit on the state's Industrial Commissin,  the agriculture commissioner has a lot of power to regulate the oil and gas industry.

So far, the oil and gas industry has kicked in $73,000 to support Republican Doug Goehring - about a quarter of all the money he's raised. They're worried that if Taylor, the Democratic challenger, wins, he’ll slow the pace of development.

"The oil and gas industry has been somewhat successful in characterizing any questioning of the speed as potentially threatening everything," said Nicholas Kusnetz, a reporter with the Center for Public Integrity who’s written extensively on the industry’s influence on politics in North Dakota.

Another issue, however, has attracted even more money, both from the oil and gas industry and others: The North Dakota Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks Amendment, also known as Measure 5. Measure 5 would create a constitutional amendment setting aside five percent of the oil extraction tax for conservation projects. Even though it doesn’t create new taxes, the oil and gas industry strongly opposes it.

Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, said oil companies want to see as much money as possible go directly to the boomtowns, fixing roads and building schools and housing. "The more oil tax money going back to those communities helps to attract and retain workforce," he said.

The American Petroleum Institute has also weighed in, calling Measure 5 "a disservice to the state's economy and its residents." To help defeat it, API has spent over a million dollars on yard signs, magnets and a website. And it’s sponsoring phone calls. Carmen Miller is the director of public policy for Ducks Unlimited, a conservation group backing Measure 5.  She knows about the anti-Measure 5 phone bank, because she received a call.

"If you’re calling the proponents of the measure, you must be calling just about every phone number in the state," she said.

But it's not just oil and gas companies that are spending heavily on this election. National conservation groups like Ducks Unlimited and The Nature Conservancy have kicked in a combined $4.8 million to support Measure 5. Miller wouldn't comment on whether proponents of Measure 5 had planned to spend that much initially, or if they had upped their spending in response to oil industry donations. But four days after American Petroleum Institute spent its million to defeat the measure, The Nature Conservancy chipped in $600,000.

Democrat Ryan Taylor has raised nearly $300,000 for his campaign to become Agriculture Commissioner -- about a quarter from out-of-state donors. That's more than twice as much as the winning candidate raised in 2006.

For Bob Harms, the chairman of the North Dakota Republican Party, the  levels of spending are indicative of how much money is now flowing into state coffers. The state gets about $9 million every day in oil tax revenue.

"We have more money to fight over," he said, "and we have more money to fight with."

UK can be sued over rendition case

BBC - 15 hours 20 min ago
A Libyan man can sue the UK government over claims he was illegally sent back to Libya and tortured, the Court of Appeal rules.

Day in pictures: 30 October

BBC - 15 hours 24 min ago
24 hours of news images: 30 October

Apple's Tim Cook In Rare Company As Publicly Gay Chief Executive

NPR News - 15 hours 26 min ago

In an essay for Bloomberg Businessweek, Cook comes out by saying he's proud to be gay and his silence was a matter of personal privacy. Two other publicly traded U.S. companies have publicly gay CEOs.

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Bianchi remains critical but stable

BBC - 15 hours 30 min ago
Jules Bianchi remains "critical but stable" in hospital, nearly four weeks after he crashed at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Palestinians Condemn Closure Of Disputed Religious Site In Jerusalem

NPR News - 15 hours 34 min ago

Israel closed the Temple Mount, holy to both Muslims and Jews, following an assassination attempt against a Jewish activist who wants Jews to be able to pray at the site. The site will be open Friday.

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Police to exhume cemetery remains

BBC - 15 hours 39 min ago
Police will exhume remains from a communal grave in north Wales in a bid to solve a missing person case dating back to 1978.

VIDEO: RFA Argus arrives in Sierra Leone

BBC - 15 hours 42 min ago
The Royal Navy's casualty ship RFA Argus has arrived in Sierra Leone to help to tackle the Ebola crisis.

Why It's OK To Worry About Ebola, And What's Truly Scary

NPR News - 15 hours 51 min ago

Public health officials are telling us not to freak out about Ebola in the United States. But fear is what motivates people to protect themselves from danger. When should we worry?

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VIDEO: Scientists appeal on 'starling ballet'

BBC - 16 hours 20 min ago
Scientists are asking for help in a study of the amazing formations made by starlings as they flock in the sky.

Soldier guilty of comrade's murder

BBC - 16 hours 21 min ago
A soldier is convicted of murdering his comrade in an attack at their barracks.

US posts better-than-expected growth

BBC - 16 hours 21 min ago
The US economy grew at an annual rate of 3.5% in the third quarter, a better figure than economists were expecting.
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