National / International News

Unlocking France's Secrets To Safer Raw Milk Cheese

NPR News - Tue, 2014-08-12 12:58

A British cheesemonger wants to translate a French guide to raw milk microbiology into English. She says it has the potential to revolutionize our approach to cheese flavor and safety.

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The Trans-Siberian Railway's long journey

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-08-12 12:53

The Trans-Siberian Railway is the world's longest railway line, stretching between Moscow and Vladivostok. 

"It’s a railway along which wars have been fought. It’s a railway that united the world’s largest country, Russia," says Christian Wolmar, author of "To the Edge of the World: The Story of the Trans-Siberian Railway". "And it's a major artery of Russia and, therefore, incredibly important."

Before it was built in the 19th century, there was no simple way to get to the depths of Siberia. Today, it still acts as the main form of transportation between many Russian towns, including the rural Vladivostok and Irkutsk.

"There aren’t many flights and they’re very expensive for ordinary Russians," says Wolmar. "And the roads are just too long."

Wolmar tells us more of the story behind the 5,700 mile long railway in the audio player above. 

Ebola Shuts Down The Oldest Hospital In Liberia

NPR News - Tue, 2014-08-12 12:50

Ebola has claimed another victim. Reeling from the loss of staff and unable to cope with the deadly virus, St. Joseph's Catholic Hospital has closed its gates.

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Mother and children hurt in car fire

BBC - Tue, 2014-08-12 12:43
A mother and her two young children are taken to hospital with serious burns after a car fire in Hampshire.

Costa scores twice on home debut

BBC - Tue, 2014-08-12 12:41
Diego Costa scores twice on his home debut as Chelsea complete their pre-season with a 2-0 win over Real Sociedad.

Colorado Case Puts Workplace Drug Policies To The Test

NPR News - Tue, 2014-08-12 12:32

The urine test employers typically use to detect marijuana picks up cannabis smoked or swallowed days or weeks earlier. Should firms be allowed to fire workers who legally use marijuana at home?

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Glossary: Marbles Edition

NPR News - Tue, 2014-08-12 12:28

Everything you need to know to talk like a mibster.

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Gaza's Casualties Of War Include Its Historic Mosques

NPR News - Tue, 2014-08-12 12:27

More than 40 mosques in the Gaza Strip were destroyed or damaged in the recent fighting.

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U.S. Response In Iraq: From Emergency Solution To Slate Of Paths Forward

NPR News - Tue, 2014-08-12 12:09

The U.S. has begun sending humanitarian aid and conducting limited airstrikes in the attempt to protect Iraq's refugee populations. Going forward, the U.S. is facing several possible approaches there.

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Sony reveals PlayStation TV launch

BBC - Tue, 2014-08-12 12:09
Sony will launch its PlayStation TV in the US, UK, and Europe in the autumn in a bid to take on other streaming television consoles like AppleTV and Roku.

Trustee quits over festival funding

BBC - Tue, 2014-08-12 12:07
The chairwoman of the trustees at one of the north east's longest running cultural festivals resigns raising concerns about how funding is spent.

In Ferguson Shooting's Tumultuous Wake, Leaders Call For Peace And Protest

NPR News - Tue, 2014-08-12 12:05

Tensions are still high in a Missouri town where a black teenager was fatally shot by a police officer on Saturday. Religious leaders and activists are calling for calm and peaceful demonstrations after three nights of protests that alternately involved looting and police in riot gear.

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Russian Convoy Heads To Ukraine, Bearing Aid — But Some Suspect Foul Play

NPR News - Tue, 2014-08-12 12:05

A Russian convoy of nearly 300 trucks has left for eastern Ukraine, carrying what Russia claims to be humanitarian aid. Ukrainian leaders suspect the convoy could be a cover for a military operation. Katherin Hille of the Financial Times joins Robert Siegel to discuss the situation.

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South Sudan's Leaders Jostle For Power As Prospect Of Famine Looms

NPR News - Tue, 2014-08-12 12:05

South Sudan is facing the worst food security situation in the world, according to the United Nations and the Obama administration, which announced it would provide another $180 million to help feed the people of South Sudan. The U.S. has been warning that the country could face famine as rival political factions fail to make peace.

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Ebola Closes The Doors Of One Of Liberia's Oldest Hospitals

NPR News - Tue, 2014-08-12 12:05

A Spanish priest who was infected with the Ebola virus in Liberia has died at a hospital in Madrid. The Liberian hospital that Father Miguel Pajares had been working at in Monrovia is now shut down, because so many staff members have been infected with Ebola.

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Ethics Panel Endorses The Use Of Experimental Drugs To Slow Ebola

NPR News - Tue, 2014-08-12 12:05

A panel convened by the World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental drugs and vaccines to combat the Ebola outbreak, so long as certain conditions are met.

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Iraqi Helicopter Goes Down, But Rescue Effort Has More On The Way

NPR News - Tue, 2014-08-12 12:05

Iraqi military helicopters have been bringing food and water to Yazidi refugees trapped in the mountains near the Iraqi city of Sinjar, also at times even evacuating people off the mountain.

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Chief constable in misconduct probe

BBC - Tue, 2014-08-12 11:57
The Chief Constable of Greater Manchester faces a criminal probe into his role in an allegedly poorly-handled investigation into a suspected child sex offender.

Matthew Fred Thinks You Shouldn't Judge A Liberian By His Tribe

NPR News - Tue, 2014-08-12 11:52

He was persecuted because some of his own countrymen didn't like the tribe he belongs to. Now the quiet 27-year-old is an anti-tribalism activist.

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Why you should be wary of your financial adviser

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-08-12 11:52

Usually, it’s pretty easy to tell when someone just wants your money: the extra complimentary sales clerk, telemarketers who bungle your name or car dealers.

But what about financial advisers?

William Percy learned the hard way that they don’t always have their clients' backs.

Percy lives in Colorado, but he worked as a phone installer in California until the late '90s. Before he retired, he met with an adviser who he says gave him this pitch: “Hey, don’t take your pension and get $1,000 a month. Take this and you can get $2,400 a month.”

She sold him a variable annuity, which Percy thought he could live off for the rest of his life. But the market turned, the principal shrank and the fees piled up.

“It just wasn't as guaranteed as [she] said it was,” he explains, adding that he later found out the adviser was being paid each time she sold someone one of these products.

“To me, that was all she looked at... how many clients she could bring in,” he says.

“Financial services firms are able to portray themselves as trusted financial advisers,” says Barbara Roper, director of investor protection for the Consumer Federation of America. “They’re certainly relied upon as trusted financial advisers by investors, but many of them simply aren't subject to a requirement to act in the best interest of their investors.”

When it comes to retirement planning, Roper says the problem is a few key loopholes in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). One such loophole is that the people who give one-off advice don’t have to act in the client’s best interest.

Brokers just have to recommend products that are “suitable,” says Roper. “But they can recommend the worst of the suitable products, the one with the highest costs or the poorest performance if it happens to be the one that offers them the highest financial compensation.”

This can short change people of tens or even hundreds of thousands in retirement savings. ­­­

The Department of Labor is planning to propose an update to ERISA in January.

The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, a trade group, agrees that it would be helpful to create a uniform standard for investment advice, but is concerned that the Labor Department’s update might push firms to cut back on services to less well-off customers.

“The negative consequences are potentially so great in terms of not having access to someone to talk to, not having access to certain investment options,” says Lisa Bleier, SIFMA’s managing director and associate general counsel.

Instead, the group is advocating for the Securities and Exchange Commission to create a standard that applies more broadly, which the Department of Labor could then follow.

In the meantime, as Percy found out, access to financial advice can occasionally create more problems than it solves.

“I knew what [the adviser told] me,” he says. “But there is no way for the lay person to know everything. It’s like when you sign your automobile contract, do you know everything that’s in there?”

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