National / International News

'Incredible' Ward puts GB on brink

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-06 14:25
Great Britain captain Leon Smith heaps praise on James Ward after the world number 111's Davis Cup win over John Isner.

Clinton, White House Play Delicate Dance As Emails Await Release

NPR News - Fri, 2015-03-06 14:20

Questions about Hillary Clinton's reliance on a private email account when she was Secretary of State will dog the likely presidential hopeful — and the administration she worked for — for months.

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Grease, griddles and gravy: 24 hours straight as a Waffle House grill operator

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-03-06 14:18

Feel like going “all the way” tonight? At diner-chain the Waffle House, that means you ordered something along the lines of poutine made in the South: Hash browns smothered in cheese, jalapeños and oh so much more.

This is just some of the lingo devised by Waffle House staff to keep the restaurant running like a well-oiled — err, greased — machine. Life at the griddle of the Waffle House is far from glamorous, but that didn't stop Bon Appétit restaurant and drinks editor — and Waffle House aficionado — Andrew Knowlton from trying his hand behind the counter of one in Atlanta, Georgia for 24 hours straight.

Brian Finke/ Bon Appetit

His piece, “What It’s Like to Work at the Waffle House for 24 Hours Straight” appears in Bon Appétit.

“It was a steep, steep learning curve,” says Knowlton. “The line cooks never see a ticket — it gets yelled out by the waiters. Then they take various condiments, whether it’s ketchup or grape jelly and where they put it on the plate … immediately identifies what the plate is that the grill operator needs to cook. I fumbled my way through that.”

The Waffle House is an American staple, with over 1,700 restaurants peppered across 25 states. A native Southerner, Knowlton is a bit of a Waffle House new convert; he was 17 years old when he first experienced the magic of the ‘House. Once he tried it, he was hooked. Fast-forward a few years and Knowlton found himself on the other side of the order window serving up nosh for hungry — and sometimes drunk — diners.

Brian Finke/ Bon Appetit

At the end of the long shift, Knowlton says he walked away with one lesson: “Being a gentleman and a professional costs you nothing… Smile, have a good time … most of the people coming through are good people … a few bad ones come in, but that’s kinda life anyway, and it’s how you roll with it."

VIDEO: Syria girls hid police letters

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-06 14:09
Relatives of three east London school girls who ran away to Syria, say the police failed to give them crucial information that could have helped them stop their daughters from joining Islamic State.

VIDEO: Retracing the Selma to Montgomery march

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-06 14:03
The BBC's Aleem Maqbool has been retracing the path of the Selma to Montgomery civil rights march to find out what has and has not changed in the past half century.

Three charged over US data breach

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-06 13:56
US authorities charge three men for their roles in what they claim is one of the biggest data breaches in American history.

Part-Time Workers Struggle With Full-Time Juggling Act

NPR News - Fri, 2015-03-06 13:49

By the numbers, February was a good month for job creation. But while there is plenty of hiring, there are still many part-timers who want more work and struggle to balance the jobs they do have.

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Neighbours to give Venezuela food

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-06 13:34
Foreign ministers from the regional Unasur bloc promise to help Venezuela overcome a shortage of food, medicine and other products.

Erratic McIlroy throws club into lake

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-06 13:30
World number one Rory McIlroy launched his club into a lake during an erratic second round at the WGC-Cadillac Championship in Miami.

Snowden: Asylum In Switzerland A 'Great Political Option'

NPR News - Fri, 2015-03-06 13:28

The NSA leaker, living in exile in Russia, made the remark while speaking via video link to an audience in Geneva.

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US senator 'faces corruption charge'

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-06 13:21
The US justice department is preparing to bring criminal corruption charges against Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, US media reports say.

Two charities cease funding Cage

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-06 13:15
Advocacy group Cage is no longer being funded by two charities, according to the Charity Commission.

'My number plate could have cost £1m'

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-06 13:00
The most expensive number plate sold at a DVLA auction

Voluptuous Veg: Can Food Porn Seed Lust For Healthy Eating?

NPR News - Fri, 2015-03-06 12:55

Tempting-looking spoonfuls of chocolate are plentiful online. Beautiful Brussels sprouts? Not so much. A campaign aims to boost the number of these images and whet our appetites for healthy foods.

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VIDEO: Lithuania 'already under attack'

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-06 12:37
The Lithuanian president says her country is "already under attack" and conscription is being reintroduced in Lithuania as a response to threats in the region.

The lavish lifestyle of India's royalty

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-06 12:36
The lavish lifestyle of India's royal families

Flight MH370: Could it have been suicide?

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-06 12:34
Struggling to explain the course of the missing plane MH370

In shale country, a boom in quiet

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-03-06 12:15

Carroll County, in eastern Ohio, was the original bird’s-eye for Utica shale gas development in the state.  Trucks with Texas license plates now jam the roads alongside Amish buggies. Farmers are fixing up their houses as money from mineral leases rolls in.

But for Frank Brothers, the price is too high.

“As you can see, that’s what’s coming right at our door,” Brothers says, nearly yelling to be heard above the continuous, grating hum emanating from a nearby gas compressor station.

It’s something you’d expect to hear inside a factory, not in a residential urban neighborhood – and less in a rural township like this one.

But even though their house sits on 21 forested acres, the Brothers family has been cooped up indoors with the windows closed since last March. That’s when the energy company Blue Racer Midstream started the huge engines of its compressor station across the street. They’ve run pretty much 24/7 since.

“They’re you’re hitting 87,” Brothers says, holding up a decibel meter at his front property line. It’s hard to have a conversation from just a few feet apart.

Compressors are needed about every 50 to 100 miles along pipelines to help move gas through them.

They’re always loud, but this situation is rare – energy companies do usually shield the neighbors. And that’s what’s pushing what you might call a "silent boom" accompanying the oil and gas bonanza – a boom in noise abatement. 

Companies say business took off with development of the Barnett Shale in the mid-to-late 2000s, as oil and gas companies were rushing to pull gold out of the ground under Fort Worth, Texas.

“Noise became a front-burner issue for them, because the sweet spot of the shale was literally underneath some of the more densely populated areas,” says Murray Stacy, vice president of Shreveport-based Sound Fighter Systems.

Stacy says energy companies improvised their own solutions at first, but soon realized they needed expert help. At the peak of Barnett development, 80 percent of Sound Fighters’ business came from the shale gas industry, he says. It’s still about 60 percent. 

The demand for noise control in the Utica and Marcellus shales drew Canadian company Noise Solutions to open a branch in western Pennsylvania.

“It was a growth of about 100 percent,” says Tyler Mose, the company’s business development engineer, as he stands on the busy production floor of the plant in Sharon. He shows off 15-inch-thick sound-absorbing walls, and explains that everything is custom-built to address specific sound frequencies.

Then he takes me outside to show me what his company can do.

He leads me across the snow to a little building, designed for loud equipment. One side is open, and another is walled off by a series of panels, a few inches thick and about a foot and a half deep.

From inside the building, it’s like you’re looking through open window blinds. The panels are made of perforated sheet metal and sound-absorbing insulation.

Mose crouches inside, looks out at me through the slats, and starts talking. Even though he’s only three or four feet away, I pick up only the faintest hints of his voice. Mostly, I watch his mouth move and hear nothing. It’s kind of amazing.

That kind of technology can reduce compressor noise from factory-floor level, like in Frank Brothers’ yard, to a low hum, about what you’d expect if you lived in an urban neighborhood.

In fact, when I stand about eight feet outside a noise-suppressing building housing a compressor station in Canton, Ohio, the sound is similar to the highway traffic I hear from my neighborhood in Cleveland.

Dominion East Ohio owns this station, and John Schniegenberg is the company’s principal engineer. He says the effect isn’t cheap.

“We’re probably talking in excess of a quarter million dollars,” for noise abatement at the $6 million facility, he says.

But that has bought much better relations with the neighbors.

Even with low oil prices, professional noise fighters are confident. Sound regulations are tightening. And gas producers profit on volume, so they’re always trying to move more gas, faster. That means stronger – and louder – compressors.

Noise Solutions’ CEO Scott MacDonald says his role is to referee.

“We help to ensure harmony between the industry and the community,” he says.

That doesn’t guarantee communities will embrace oil and gas development. But it might lower the volume on a little part of the debate.

Should Labels Say Meat Was Made In USA? Ranchers, Meatpackers Disagree

NPR News - Fri, 2015-03-06 12:14

U.S. ranchers want consumers to know their meat came from cattle "raised in America." Meatpackers argue such labels add cost without much benefit. A trade dispute could soon make the labels disappear.

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Sierra Leone athlete 'is homeless'

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-06 12:03
Sierra Leone athlete Jimmy Thoronka is found 'homeless in London' after going missing following the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.