National / International News

The U.S. Helped Beat Back Ebola — Only Not In The Way You Might Think

NPR News - Wed, 2015-02-11 12:25

The deployment of troops to build treatment centers and train health workers didn't pan out as planned. But as most of the troops are being withdrawn, it is clear the U.S. still made a difference.

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Is that Greek's finance minister or an action film star?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-02-11 12:18

Greece’s new finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, has bounded onto the political stage not like a finance minister at all.  He's more like an action movie star.

With his bald head, athletic build and feisty manner, Varoufakis reminds some of the Bruce Willis of "Die Hard" fame. One German newspaper called Varoufakis “a sex icon, roaring around Athens in his motorbike leathers, radiating the sort of classical masculinity you usually find only in Greek statues.”

Varoufakis may not relish this kind of press. He is a serious academic economist who has held senior university teaching posts in Greece, the United States, the U.K. and Australia. Long before his election last month, he fought a passionate campaign against the deep cuts in public spending that Germany and other European creditor nations imposed on Greece as a condition of the country’s $280 billion bailouts.

As a left-winger, Varoufakis believes in big government. Indeed, he describes himself as a Marxist. But Professor Monojit Chatterji, his doctoral supervisor at the UK’s University of Essex, says we should take that description with a pinch of salt.

“People are scared of him because of this Marxist label that he bandies around,” says Chatterji. “It’s almost done deliberately, in order to say to people: ‘Look here, I am a Marxist but you know I’m really a cuddly toy.’”

In spite of his seriousness, Varoufakis seems not to be averse to game playing. Hardly surprising, his academic specialty is game theory, the study of strategic decision-making. Computer games giant Valve Corp. hired him for his game-theory expertise.

That could now stand him in good stead.

“It’s not a bad background to have when you’re entering a period of intense negotiation,” says James K. Galbraith, a University of Austin professor who is a friend and former colleague.

But Galbraith rejects the claim that Varoufakis is playing the so-called “madman strategy,” making crazy demands and threatening to bring down the euro to extract greater concessions from Greece’s creditors.

“That’s not true," Galbraith says. "There’s absolutely nothing mad or for that matter opaque about the position taken at this stage by the Greek government.”

Galbraith describes Varoufakis as one of the most interesting intellectuals on the planet who has energy, charm, intelligence and magnetism in abundance. Will these qualities be enough to win over Varoufakis’ key adversary in the debt negotiations, German Chancellor Angela Merkel?

Professor Chatterji recalls one of the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s favorite phrases: “Thatcher used to say: ‘The lady is not for turning.' I think about Merkel one might say: ‘This lady is not for charming.’”

Murders 'over parking, not religion'

BBC - Wed, 2015-02-11 12:18
The wife of the man accused of killing three Muslim students in North Carolina said the attack was due to a parking dispute, not religious hate.

Petrobras rig blast kills three

BBC - Wed, 2015-02-11 12:18
An explosion on an offshore oil and gas platform operated by Brazil's Petrobras kills at least three workers.

Obama: War Powers Resolution Does Not Signal New Ground War For U.S.

NPR News - Wed, 2015-02-11 11:50

President Obama defended a limited three-year resolution saying the country is not benefited "by being on a perpetual war footing."

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New Ebola cases rise for second week

BBC - Wed, 2015-02-11 11:20
The number of new cases of Ebola has risen in West Africa for the second week in a row, the World Health Organization says.

Darwin finches' messy family tree

BBC - Wed, 2015-02-11 11:19
Genome sequences reveal frequent interbreeding between the famous Galapagos finches, as well as discovering one gene strongly linked to their different beak shapes.

What Matters More To America: The Brian Williams Debacle, Or Jon Stewart's Departure?

NPR News - Wed, 2015-02-11 11:11

A new online survey shows only 27 percent of Americans can identify the NBC Nightly News anchor from his photograph.

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5 Things Jon Stewart Reminded Us About Politics

NPR News - Wed, 2015-02-11 11:10

When comedian Jon Stewart announced he was leaving The Daily Show that sound you heard was 2016 hopefuls breathing a collective sigh of relief.

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Two wheels make a comeback in Taiwan

BBC - Wed, 2015-02-11 11:04
Why bicycles are making a comeback in Taiwan

Lambert sacked by struggling Villa

BBC - Wed, 2015-02-11 11:04
Aston Villa sack manager Paul Lambert after the club dropped into the Premier League relegation zone.

VIDEO: The captain who abandoned ship

BBC - Wed, 2015-02-11 10:44
The captain of the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia has been found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 16 years in prison.

Why Hot Chocolate Might Be More American Than Apple Pie

NPR News - Wed, 2015-02-11 10:43

George Washington drank hot chocolate for breakfast, according to historians. His version was flavored with chili powder, vanilla and allspice and contained less sugar than the cocoa of today.

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VIDEO: Vaughan's World Cup ones to watch

BBC - Wed, 2015-02-11 10:42
Former England captain Michael Vaughan picks some stars to look out for in the upcoming Cricket World Cup 2015.

Costa captain guilty of manslaughter

BBC - Wed, 2015-02-11 10:41
Costa Concordia captain Francesco Schettino is jailed for 16 years for the manslaughter of 32 people who died when the cruise ship sank in 2012.

Strauss-Kahn angry with focus on sex

BBC - Wed, 2015-02-11 10:40
Ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn tells his pimping trial in France that he is annoyed with persistent questions about his sexual preferences.

Costa Concordia Captain Found Guilty Of Manslaughter

NPR News - Wed, 2015-02-11 10:33

Captain Francesco Schettino was sentenced to 16 years in prison for his role in the disaster in which the Italian cruise ship hit rocks in 2012 and sank, killing 32 people.

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More North Sea jobs under threat

BBC - Wed, 2015-02-11 09:51
Drilling and engineering contractor KCA Deutag announces proposals to cut up to 500 jobs worldwide, including 230 North Sea posts.

Ukraine talks open with a handshake

BBC - Wed, 2015-02-11 09:46
Urgent talks on ending the conflict in east Ukraine - brokered by Germany and France - begin with the Russian and Ukrainian presidents shaking hands.

VIDEO: Living in fear in eastern Ukraine

BBC - Wed, 2015-02-11 09:43
The BBC's Ian Pannell reports from the rebel held town of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, where many residents are living in fear.