National / International News

Bank fine reduces public borrowing

BBC - Fri, 2014-12-19 02:04
A bank fine of £1.1bn for manipulating currency markets has helped government borrowing figures in November, official figures show.

Hackers aim to learn from Sony attack

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-12-19 02:00

As U.S. officials accused North Korea of the unprecedented cyber attack on Sony Pictures today, hackers hoping to learn from the attack — either to prevent or to commit future ones — continued to pour over the digital trail of the incident.

The FBI says it has gathered evidence which links the incident to the regime of North Korea's Kim Jong-un. The agency today cited technical similarities between the Sony hacking and past "malicious cyber activity" linked directly to North Korea.

"North Korea's actions were intended to inflict significant harm on a U.S. business and suppress the right of American citizens to express themselves. Such acts of intimidation fall outside the bounds of acceptable state behavior," the FBI said in a statement.

While government investigators are examining the cyber attack, which stole a trove of emails and corporate secrets such as financial data from Sony's film studio, to figure out who's to blame, hackers are looking to see what can be learned, according to Chris Wysopal of the security firm Veracode, who has been monitoring hacker chatter.

Wysopal says hackers are trying to answer a number of questions: "What worked? How did you get in? How did you move around? How did you exfiltrate data? What had value?"

Hackers want to know which digital tools were used so they can adopt those tools, says Wysopal, adding that he's been hearing from worried chief information security officers.

"They're definitely concerned. This shows that there's attackers out there, and that they are ready to go out there for blood," Wysopal says.

"The hacker mindset is often to outdo others," and the Sony hack set a new standard, says Gabriella Coleman of McGill University who has written a book on hackers. "In this case, I do think it will compel some hackers to do something similar and perhaps even more audacious," Coleman says.

She expects there'll be more hacks aimed at sabotage, not just the leaking of information.

Super-fast delivery is the new game in town

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-12-19 02:00

For about $8 in Manhattan, Amazon will have a bike courier deliver your groceries, toys, and toilet paper in under an hour.

John Morgan, who teaches at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business, says Amazon can pull this off because of its sheer scale. Other companies tried and failed during the dot-com boom for this kind of instantaneous delivery, and a host of start-ups are now trying to get into the game—companies like Instacart and Uber.

But John Deighton, professor at Harvard Business School, says they are making a mistake by focusing on delivery, not product.

In the end, says Josh Bivens from the Economic Policy Institute, the success of super-fast delivery rides on an army of cheap contract workers. Bivens says a healthy labor market would make instantaneous delivery more expensive and a harder business model. 

Chicken of the sea is nothing to squawk at

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-12-19 02:00
34 percent

That's how much profits fell for BlackBerry Ltd., as shown in their third-quarter revenue report. As reported by Bloomberg, the $793 million in revenue is well below analysts' expectations. 

58 percent

That's how much value Bitcoin lost in 2014. The online currency has somehow tanked even harder than the ruble, Quartz reported, which is down 47 percent this year.

1 in 5

1 in 5 Europeans ages 16 to 74 has never used the internet. But you already knew that, didn't you? So test your knowledge of tech news over at Silicon Tally, Marketplace Tech's Friday round-up quiz.


That's how many minutes of film "The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies" gets from each page of its slim source material. That's very high when compared to other blockbuster adaptations, FiveThirtyEight reported, and it's even more mind-boggling to consider its just one of three movies adapted from a 293-page book.

300 men

That's how many men have signed up as test subjects for a childbirth simulator since the trial began in November. The Jinan Aima Maternity Hospital in Jinan, China, offers expectant fathers the chance to sympathize — and we mean really sympathize — with their spouses in what it calls the "Pain Experience Camp." Four electrodes are attached to the subject's stomach, sending electric shocks that simulate labor contractions. Head over to the WSJ to read more.

$1.5 billion

That's how much Thai Union Frozen Products PCL will pay for Bumble Bee Seafoods (think Tuna). They are effectively purchasing the big tuna of seafood in the U.S., as Bumble Bee is the number one producer of canned tuna and sardines in North America, as reported by Reuters

Silicon Tally: Our romance is off the Hinges

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-12-19 02:00

It's time for Silicon Tally! How well have you kept up with the week in tech news?

This week, we're joined by digital dating consultant Laurie Davis. She's the founder of eFlirt, a service that helps clients polish their online dating profiles, decode text messages from dates, and improve their online chatting.

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An oilman bets prices will rise, and loses big

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-12-19 02:00

The oil price bust has left lots of people licking their financial wounds. Perhaps the biggest one-way bet in the wrong direction came from the oilpatch itself, by a company and its founder at the center of the U.S. oil revolution. Harold Hamm is the $8 billion dollar oilman; the man behind the biggest drilling company in North Dakota, Continental Resources.

In an earnings call five weeks ago, he said, "We're at the bottom rung here on prices and we'll see them recover pretty drastically pretty quick. Given our belief the recent pullback in oil prices will be short-lived, we made changes to our existing hedge book by monetizing practically all of our oil contracts."

That's oilspeak for: we're betting on prices to rise. Continental had locked in nice, high-selling prices by what's called hedging. Until it stopped doing that. The company has lost half its value in four months.

To Gregory Zuckerman, author of "The Frackers: The Outrageous Inside Story of The New Billionaire Wildcatters," this bet goes hand-in-hand with Hamm's astonishing success story. The son of Oklahoma sharecroppers, Hamm started with nothing and made an early, crazy bet on North Dakota oil. He was stubborn.

"You need that self-confidence," Zuckerman says. "But it can bite you on the way down by making you a little too sure of yourself. And I would argue that when he took off those hedges, he showed signs of that."

In a recent interview, Hamm says he still thinks oil prices could rise. He may well be right. But his timing was off.

Illegal attempts to enter UK on rise

BBC - Fri, 2014-12-19 01:59
Migrants made about 100 attempts a day to get into the UK illegally this summer, official figures suggest.

3D printer makes tool in space

BBC - Fri, 2014-12-19 01:56
Astronauts on the International Space Station use a 3-D printer to make a wrench, from instructions sent up in an email.

Nigeria 'outraged' by mass kidnap

BBC - Fri, 2014-12-19 01:46
Nigeria's government said it is "outraged and deeply saddened" after militants attacked a remote village and reportedly kidnapped about 200 people.

Garden bridge gets green light

BBC - Fri, 2014-12-19 01:39
A controversial garden bridge is to be built across the River Thames as the Mayor of London approves the scheme.

Formula 1 gossip column

BBC - Fri, 2014-12-19 01:36
Christian Horner says Red Bull must step up in 2015, Newey to stay involved, Alonso backs Ferrari to return to form plus more.

A&E has 'worst week' in England

BBC - Fri, 2014-12-19 01:32
Pressures in A&E units in England have hit record levels while Wales and Northern Ireland also perform poorly, figures show.

Aston Villa v Manchester United

BBC - Fri, 2014-12-19 01:27
Preview followed by live coverage of Saturday's Premier League game between Aston Villa and Manchester United.

Man injured in shooting at takeaway

BBC - Fri, 2014-12-19 01:17
An 18-year-old man is taken to hospital after being shot twice in the leg at a fast food outlet in west Belfast.

Xi Jinping and his China Dream

BBC - Fri, 2014-12-19 01:11
As 2014 draws to a close, the BBC's Carrie Gracie looks back on China's year and asks if the country has achieved its "dream".

'Derbies are like internationals'

BBC - Fri, 2014-12-19 01:07
BBC Sport's Jeremy Guscott looks ahead to Saturday's East Midlands and West Country derbies in the Premiership.

Police stretched to 'danger' levels

BBC - Fri, 2014-12-19 01:05
Brutal police budget cuts are stretching policing to dangerous levels, the Gwent police and crime commissioner warns.

'Seven clubs' want wage cap scrapped

BBC - Fri, 2014-12-19 01:03
Saracens call for the Premiership wage cap to be abolished and say they have the backing of six other top-flight teams.

When A Hospital Bill Becomes A Decade-Long Pay Cut

NPR News - Fri, 2014-12-19 01:02

Nonprofit hospitals provide assistance to poor patients in exchange for tax breaks. But some still seize wages of poor patients with unpaid bills — even those who qualify for free or reduced care.

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'Keane & Cleverley chat civilised'

BBC - Fri, 2014-12-19 01:02
Ex-Aston Villa assistant manager Roy Keane's doorstep chat with Tom Cleverley was civilised, says Paul Lambert.