National / International News

'At least 75 dead' in CAR violence

BBC - Mon, 2014-02-03 12:35
Sectarian fighting in the Central African Republic town of Boda over the last five days has left at least 75 people dead, a local priest says.

Man found guilty of burning murder

BBC - Mon, 2014-02-03 12:28
A man who beat and stabbed his ex-partner's father before setting his body alight is found guilty of murder.

Rape claim woman falls to her death

BBC - Mon, 2014-02-03 12:19
A woman dies in a fall from a car park roof days after a man accused of raping her was acquitted by a jury.

Going to prison can be costly for the whole family

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-02-03 12:13

At the end of last year, the Department of Justice issued a memo stating the federal prison system is in crisis: It’s overcrowded and expensive to run. And while there’s always a lot of hand-wringing over the burdened taxpayer - it costs about $29,000 a year to keep an inmate in federal prison - it can also be expensive for the family. 

For the Hurleys in Maine, having two sons in federal prison has been surprisingly expensive.

The men were arrested for their involvement in a cocaine ring in Waldo County and sentenced to serve 30 and 56 months respectively at a federal prison camp in Florence, Colo.

"Here’s this lower middle class, working class family, our family," explains their uncle, Mike Hurley, "We’re in Maine and they take two guys and stick them in Colorado. You know, don’t look for compassion from these people."

Matt spent $10,000 on a lawyer and Chris used a public defender -- not a lot to spend on legal fees, respectively. Chris says he could have borrowed from his large family.

"They would have done it, but, I didn’t say 'Let’s sell the house and fight this.' I couldn’t ask that."

But even without fancy lawyers, the costs went into the thousands. Chris lost his job and access to his bank account – everything had to be managed, and paid for, by his family back home. There’s also no cash allowed inside prison, although some kind of alternative currency often develops, like trading cigarettes or stamps.

"Some places it’s not stamps. In New Hampshire, it was ramen," Chris, who was held briefly in that state, said. "It was a trip because people would be carrying around laundry bags full of ramen."

He says that it was possible to have your laundry done in exchange for two ramen. But bartering goods in prison isn’t legal, so as their months in the Colorado prison went on, when the brothers wanted something from the commissary: shower shoes, dental floss, sweatpants - Uncle Mike helped the family organize a fund.

"What I was trying to avoid was making these guys beg or do stuff in prison that would get you money in prison."

He made sure that every month his nephews would have $50 each, collected from the family. That adds up to about $2,500. But the biggest expense was for visits. The brother's grandmother figures it cost her $1,500 for one of her two 2,000-mile trips from Maine to Colorado. That’s a lot for Roseann Costello, who still works full-time in her mid-70s. 

"I just needed to see them," Costello said, holding a stack of the various bills she collected over the past few years on her lap. "To see that they were okay. And they needed to see me.  So it was good."

Family members made the trip 13 times over the past few years, totaling roughly $20,000.

"What we know from an analysis we did recently is that the average federal inmate is about 500 miles away from home," explained Nancy La Vigne, director of the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute. She says the federal prison system has grown sevenfold in the past 30 years, so the impact is now felt far and wide.

"Virtually every American in this country knows somebody who’s been touched by the criminal justice system."

Including this large, tight-knit family from Maine.

"Frankly, the day they got arrested taught them everything that they learned," argued the brother's aunt, Jerri Holmes. She says that the brothers’ time in federal prison has come at a great cost to everyone involved. When the family added up everything, they figure they’ve spent $60,000.

And the money has been the least of it.  

"It doesn’t heal anything, it doesn’t teach you anything," continued Holmes. "Except for how to hoard your postage stamps."

U.S. One Step Closer To Future Where Cars Talk To Each Other

NPR News - Mon, 2014-02-03 12:11

The technology, the Department of Transportation says, could mitigate 70 to 80 percent of accidents. The agency is not talking about self-driving cars; instead it's talking about a system that alerts drivers to dangers.

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A woman quit her job on TV: Good news for the economy?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-02-03 12:01

During yesterday’s Super Bowl, an ad for the web hosting company GoDaddy featured "Gwen," an engineer from New York quitting her job and announcing her new puppet business.  She did this in front of a TV audience of 100 million people -- but apparently, no one from the Department of Labor.

Because while the government tracks how many people quit their jobs, the data doesn’t provide a category for public quitters – like people who announce their departure on You Tube, or on national television.

"The Department of Labor does not track those numbers," says Kent Smetters, a professor of economics at Wharton.

Smetters says 480,000 workers quit jobs in accommodations and food services last November, and that we’re seeing high quit rates from other jobs with low pay, like retail. It's what he'd expect to see as the economy recovers.

"Those were kind of like holding jobs," says Smetters, "Temporary jobs they will quit... if they feel like they can move up."

But William Ward, a professor of social media at Syracuse’s Newhouse School, says public quitters beware – your need to vent on a large platform can come back to bite you in the tuchus.  

"It’s fun to watch on movies and on television and as entertainment, but it’s really never a great career move," he says.

Barbara Pachter, author of the Essentials of Business Etiquette, agrees.

"The bottom line is it’s just not fair to the other people. You’re only presenting one side to the story. There’s always two sides. I mean, people can publicly quit and they can be a bad employee," she says --which means future employers may be wary.

Jon Israel, a labor lawyer in New York, says GoDaddy’s Super Bowl ad could have been a lot worse. Gwen, the worker featured in the ad, appears to have been careful. She didn’t even mention the name of the company she was leaving:

"I suspect there was a lot of consideration given not to make difficulties for her employer," he says.

Or difficulties for herself. Israel says public quitting can lead to lawsuits. Or what Ward calls "social media hangovers,"  the feeling a public quitter might awaken to, the morning after.

"'Did I really do that? Can I take it back?' Unfortunately once you do it it’s out there forever," he says, "so you can’t take it back."


United kills another airline hub. What happens next in Cleveland?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-02-03 12:01

When United Airlines announced that it will be dropping Cleveland as a hub, the move itself wasn’t a huge surprise. The city’s been working overtime to keep United there, knowing the ice was thin.

But the timing was awkward. Just last week, United executives came to town for a big party hosted by the Chamber of Commerce, celebrating the new issue of United’s in-flight magazine, which features a 56-page insert about Cleveland.  

Joe Roman, who heads the Greater Cleveland Partnership, puts on a resolutely brave face.  "Well, we’re certainly disappointed," he says, "but I don’t feel as though we left anything out on the table."

With Roman's urging, the airport got some upgrades, the city pulled back on some airport fees, and Roman says hundreds of local businesses encouraged their employees to fly United for work. 

He says some of them adopted policies putting United’s bottom line ahead of their own.  "Companies have created specific threshhold policies, where they said: 'If the price of flying United falls within $300 or $400 of a competitor’s ticket, fly United.'"

But it didn’t work out. The airline says it was losing tens of millions of dollars a year on its operations there. The company is pulling 470 jobs from Cleveland. 

The worst-case scenario would be that other businesses pick up and move.  

"The major example in recent memory is Chiquita," says Adie Tomer, from the Brookings Institution.

Delta pulled its hub out of Cincinnati’s airport, and Chiquita Brands moved its headquarters to Charlotte.

"It offered them a metropolitan area of similar size, but more-expansive flight connections," Tomer says.

That kind of pullout seems unlikely in Cleveland's case, says Michael Boyd, president of Boyd Group International, an aviation-industry consulting firm.

"Cleveland will do fine," he says. "They’ll end up with 35 to 40 non-stop destinations. They won’t have non-stop flights to Albany anymore, and all seven people who took that flight every day will be upset, but other than that, it’ll be back to normal."

Other, smaller, cities—places that the Cleveland hub serves—will get hurt more. He offers Parkersburg, W.V., as an example.  "Their main access to the rest of the world is on a commuter flight that connects to that hub" in Cleveland, he says. "That hub is gone." 

Tomer and Boyd agree, the smaller number of hub airports, and the smaller number of flights to smaller cities, are part of the consolidation of the airline industry in recent decades.

"Thirty years ago, there were something like 40,000 people who flew between Albany and Boston," says Boyd. In those days, smaller regional airlines made money flying those routes.  

Not anymore. Today, he says, "there's probably not one-tenth that number" flying from Albany to Boston.

"And almost none of them are flying non-stops. There aren't any flights."

So, how are people getting from Albany to Boston?  "They're not," he says.  "The travel paths have changed. You can't fly there anymore, so people just don't travel it."


How Germany fell in love with snooker

BBC - Mon, 2014-02-03 11:57
Snooker draws bigger crowds in Germany than anywhere else in the world - now all they need is a home-grown hero

Food Comics Turn 'ZAP' And 'POW' Into 'Sizzle' And 'Bubble'

NPR News - Mon, 2014-02-03 11:52

A growing number of comic artists are focusing on what's on their plates, rather than dreaming up caped crusader capers. One common theme in these contemporary comics is the epicurean epiphany.

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VIDEO: N Koreans get 'western education'

BBC - Mon, 2014-02-03 11:50
BBC Panorama has gained exclusive access to a university, largely paid for by Western Christian charities, that teaches the state's future elite.

Russia warns Ukraine opposition

BBC - Mon, 2014-02-03 11:38
Russia urges Ukraine opposition leaders to end their "ultimatums and threats" as President Yanukovych returns to work amid continuing protests.

Sandwich Monday: Poppin' Pebbles, A Fruity Pebbles Spinoff

NPR News - Mon, 2014-02-03 11:38

For this week's Sandwich Monday, we try an update to the breakfast classic "Fruity Pebbles." They've added a Pop-Rocks-like substance to make the cereal sizzle in your mouth.

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Manhunt on for escaped US murderer

BBC - Mon, 2014-02-03 11:37
Authorities in the US state of Michigan launch a manhunt for a convicted multiple murderer who escaped from prison on Sunday.

US abortion rate 'continues decline'

BBC - Mon, 2014-02-03 11:35
The rate at which US women had abortions fell between 2008-11 to the lowest level since abortion was legalised in 1973, a new study suggests.

VIDEO: Anger over premium rate flood helpline

BBC - Mon, 2014-02-03 11:30
Several coastal towns in south-west England have been hit by fresh flooding, disrupting business and severing road and rail links.

Khan declines Taliban talks role

BBC - Mon, 2014-02-03 11:29
Pakistani politician Imran Khan will not be part of a team representing the Taliban in peace talks with the government, his party confirms.

Inexpensive Aquarium Bubbler Saves Preemies' Lives

NPR News - Mon, 2014-02-03 11:21

Students at Rice University designed a low-cost medical device to help premature infants breathe. The instrument, which uses a cheap aquarium pump, boosted the survival rate of newborns with respiratory problems by 60 percent at a rural hospital in Malawi.

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South-west towns hit by more floods

BBC - Mon, 2014-02-03 11:20
Several coastal towns in south-west England are hit by fresh flooding, disrupting business and cutting road and rail links, as high tides and strong winds hit the UK coastline.

Leeds set for new takeover talks

BBC - Mon, 2014-02-03 11:13
Leeds chairman Salah Nooruddin insists GFH Capital remains the club's owner, as the group prepares for fresh takeover talks.

AUDIO: Tim Yeo refutes 'invisible MP' claim

BBC - Mon, 2014-02-03 11:10
The veteran Conservative MP, Tim Yeo, has failed in his efforts to be re-adopted as the Tory candidate for the South Suffolk constituency, which he has represented for the last 30 years.

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