National / International News

Pope Francis: climate, economics, and values

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-06-18 13:00

Pope Francis released his much-anticipated encyclical, "Laudato Si'" ("Praise Be To You"), on Thursday, calling on all nations and all peoples to take action on climate change. He came down with the overwhelming majority of scientists, who say global warming is caused by the activities of man.

And he was pretty critical of two of those activities: capitalism and consumerism. The quest for too much profit, and for too much stuff, harms the planet, he said.

In going there, the pope staked out territory that most economists make a point of avoiding: a moral interpretation of our economy.

This isn’t the first time a major faith has put forth a moral interpretation of economic prosperity — even within the Catholic Church, from popes going all the way back to Leo XIII. 

Leo XIII wrote an encyclical titled “Rerum Novarum,” taken from the Latin for “of revolutionary change,” which was meant as a push back against some of the negative aspects of the Industrial Revolution. 

More recently, even Pope Benedict XVI wrote about the need for “adequate mechanisms for the redistribution of wealth.”

“Consistently the popes have spoken that the marketplace is not God; that it’s not going to solve all of our problems,” says Thomas Reese, a Jesuit priest and senior analyst at the National Catholic Reporter.

Reese notes that economists tend to view their subject as “value free” — a matter of the efficient allocation of scarce resources— but that the Pope feels that approach isn’t addressing the needs of the poorest and weakest among us.

“The realm that he deals with, and the morality of life, is one that economics has struggled with," says Maureen O’Hara, a professor of finance at Cornell University. "I think that economics is beginning to rethink that a little bit.”

In talking about issues like climate change and the environment in terms of “values,” the pope is entering territory many economists tend to avoid.

“The closest we tend to get is things are ‘inefficient’," O’Hara says. “I think many people kind of feel that may not tell the full story, and that's where I think the pope is trying to blend both the pieces from the economics perspective and the moral perspective together."

O’Hara says she agrees with much of what the pope said in his encyclical, but not his opposition to trading carbon credits. Cap and trade, she says, can be an effective tool for reducing pollution.

Elephant poaching hotspots identified

BBC - Thu, 2015-06-18 12:54
Most illegally poached African elephant ivory can be traced back to just two areas of Africa, research shows.

England U21 v Portugal U21

BBC - Thu, 2015-06-18 12:37
England fail to score for the first time in 18 matches as they lose to Portugal in their European Under-21 Championship opener.

VIDEO: Winehouse documentary angers family

BBC - Thu, 2015-06-18 12:33
A documentary about the life of the late award-winning singer, Amy Winehouse has its UK premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Nasdaq index closes at record high

BBC - Thu, 2015-06-18 12:27
The tech-heavy Nasdaq index closed at a record high on Thursday, with the Dow Jones and the S&P also closing sharply higher.

Woman killed in beach incident

BBC - Thu, 2015-06-18 12:26
A woman dies in an incident on Llantwit Major beach in the Vale of Glamorgan.

One Teacher's Quest To Build Language Skills ... And Self-Confidence

NPR News - Thu, 2015-06-18 12:26

For our 50 Great Teachers series, we profile Thomas Whaley. With his second-graders on Long Island, he's teaching English ... and a lot more.

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Justices Give Officials More Say On Cars' Plates, Less On Roadside Signs

NPR News - Thu, 2015-06-18 12:26

Justices on Thursday upheld the right of Texas to ban the Confederate battle flag from official license plates, but struck down the regulations an Arizona town imposed on churches' road signs.

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What we talk about when we talk about the grid

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-06-18 12:08

What is the grid? It dates back to Edison and it gets power from plants to homes and businesses accross the nation. But it's also vulnerable and aging.

The Greeks are getting tired of crisis talks

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-06-18 12:07

Most Greeks back the government, but weariness is the mood. They are tired of the meetings, crisis talks, deadlines, and living up to the next critical moment.

In Central Athens, there isn't much evidence of the economic crisis. However, Nick Voglis, the owner of a sandwich bar, says, “If one person in Greece right now goes to the ATM, and tries to remove money and money does not come out, this place will go on fire. It will explode. There’s no doubt about that.”

There hasn't been a bank run yet, but since October, $33 billion has been withdrawn from the Greek banking system. Wealthy people are taking their money out and putting it overseas. The less well-heeled are taking their money out and keeping it at home. Marketplace’s Stephen Beard explains from Athens.

Killer son 'cannot remember attack'

BBC - Thu, 2015-06-18 11:55
A man who sexually assaulted his mother before killing her when he was high on drugs tells a court he has no memory of it.

What We Can Learn From A Herd Of Hungry Goats

NPR News - Thu, 2015-06-18 11:40

They didn't quite break the internet, but the video of 700 goats on their way to a snack is definitely having a moment. We wanted to hear the story behind the herd.

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In Search Of Edible Weeds: Adventures In Urban Foraging By App

NPR News - Thu, 2015-06-18 11:19

An expert forager has a video and an app for finding weeds to make the ultimate locally grown salad. But even a master foraging app might not lead an amateur to success.

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Kids' Art Show Takes Over Two Billboards In Times Square

NPR News - Thu, 2015-06-18 11:16

Through the weekend, art by 23 public school students will be seen on two large billboards in the heart of New York City.

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Congress Breathes Life Into President's Fast-Track Trade Plan

NPR News - Thu, 2015-06-18 11:16

In a close vote, the House approved fast-track authority, but the fate of the trade measure is still to be determined.

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NASA: Europa Spacecraft Goes Into Development Phase

NPR News - Thu, 2015-06-18 11:12

The probe would make dozens of flybys of the Jovian moon in an effort to study its vast subterranean ocean that could harbor life.

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VIDEO: What's behind US hate crimes?

BBC - Thu, 2015-06-18 11:11
According to the most recent FBI data available, over 7,000 people in the US were victims of hate crimes in 2013. The BBC takes a look at what the numbers say about who is committing these crimes and why.

Obama Mourns Charleston Deaths, But Laments 'Politics' Of Gun-Control

NPR News - Thu, 2015-06-18 11:09

After a shooting at a Charleston, S.C., church left nine dead, President Obama noted, "Mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries," but tighter gun controls in the U.S. were unlikely.

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Houghton praises Sampson tactics

BBC - Thu, 2015-06-18 11:04
England captain Steph Houghton praises manager Mark Sampson's tactics as the team reach the Women's World Cup last 16.

Fitbit goes public without breaking a sweat

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-06-18 10:52

Fitness tracker maker Fitbit went public Thursday, and was received surprisingly well. The stock went up 50 percent as soon as trading began, ending the day at $29.68 a share.

"We’re at a scale of revenue and profitability that we felt it made a lot of sense to go public," says Fitbit CEO James Park.

In 2014, the company reported $745 million in revenue — proving that people will spend a lot of money on wearable technology.

"There’s a lot of great things that we can do with the capital that we raise from the IPO. There’s a lot of advanced research and development that we can do on our products ranging from, more hardware to more incredible software to make people healthier," Park says. "We started investing in pretty significant sales and marketing campaigns. Fitbit is pretty much already synonymous with health and fitness tracking — we’re almost a ‘Kleenex’ of the category."