National / International News

UK shops cut prices at 'record' rate

BBC - Wed, 2014-02-05 03:22
Retailers in the UK cut their prices during the January sales at the fastest rate since at least 2006, says the British Retail Consortium.

What story will Twitter's first earnings report tell?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-02-05 03:21

Twitter is announcing its first ever earnings figures later today. But for the social media company, revenue is hardly the only number that matters.

Sure, earnings do matter in an earnings report. But people who follow Twitter -- the stock — are going to be looking other places for clues, too.

Debra Aho Williamson, an analyst at eMarketer, says, "I'm going to be watching for any information about how big their user base is getting."

How many more people are using Twitter is important.

"They do trail behind Facebook by a wide margin," she says, "and there have been some concerns that while they are growing substantially, Twitter is still a hard service to use."

Williamson will be looking for any sign Twitter might try to simplify. Nate Elliott, who follows Twitter for Forrester Research, says, "I'm most looking forward to hearing what the management has to say about their plans for marketing and advertising offerings."

Of course, all these indicators --  how many users, how many ads -- add up to the question investors want an answer to: how much revenue?


VIDEO: Clacton: Ten injured in house gas blast

BBC - Wed, 2014-02-05 03:16
At least five people are hurt in a gas explosion and fire at a residential street in Clacton, Essex.

Man Utd back anti-homophobia campaign

BBC - Wed, 2014-02-05 03:12
Manchester United and Chelsea join leading an anti-homophobia campaign for the first time as the group seeks ongoing support.

Amid Texas drought, this rain man bottles water

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-02-05 03:10

Drive west on U.S. 290* about 20 miles from Austin, Texas, and turn directly into Richard Heinichen’s driveway. A sign overhead reads, “Tank Town: World Headquarters, rainwater stuff.”

From this 10-acre plant in Dripping Springs, Heinichin installs home rainwater-collection systems for his neighbors in the Hill Country, and sells “bottled cloud juice” to cafes and hotels in Austin.  

Collecting rainwatwer may seem like an unorthodox proposal to address the record water shortages that have gripped the drought-gripped state. Heinichin says it's no problem. "You got enough square footage"— on a rooftop—"you got it covered."  

He's got the square footage at Tank Town. Two barns have 20,000 square feet of rooftop that rain can run off of. Instead of downspouts, the gutters run to across-spouts, like aqueducts, to 17 above-ground tanks.

Those tanks hold a quarter-million gallons, and they’re full up, even though Heinichin bottles about 37,000 gallons a year.

That’s not enough to keep up with the rainfall, even in a drought.

"It rained 11 inches on Halloween," he says.  "Over 100,000 gallons went out on the highway out there."   

Heinechin says it’s not just the quantity of rainwater that makes it compelling. It’s the quality.

"I didn’t realize rainwater was so good," he says, "till I drilled a well."

That was in the early 1990s, when he moved to the Texas Hill Country. At first, well water— hard and salty-- was the only option.

"Took a bath in it— I smelled like rotten eggs," he recalls. "Almost threw up in the shower. And you try to go to the shower to get clean!"

His clothes stood up by themselves. His coffee tasted awful.

So he decided to give rainwater a try. As a trained blacksmith, and a tinkerer, Heinichin did the work himself, installing the gutters, the aqueducts, and the first tanks.

He liked the result, but he didn’t think of it as a line of work. That came to him.

"My neighbor comes over and says, 'What’s the deal with your dishes? They’re so clear!'" he says.  "And I say, 'I know!' Because before they were foggy and looked like hell.  And he came over and just noticed it, and says, 'I want— I have to have that, too.'"

That neighbor told others, and a business was born.  "Tank Town just grew by itself," says Heinichin, "Bbcause there was such demand for what I did."

The cost — around $15,000 — is comparable to having a well dug.

"People say, ‘When is this damn thing gonna pay me back?’ And I say, ‘First shower.’"  

Heinichin says he does about 30 home systems a year — and he doesn’t want more customers.

"We weed ‘em out," he says. "If we do their system, then they become a Tank Town citizen — one of our people — and we have to take care of them. And some of these — you don’t want to take care of everybody."

However, to start the bottling business, he did need to do some convincing. Just not to customers.

"Government said, 'You can’t do that, because government’s not approved as a source for water,'" he says. "I say, 'OK, where do you get your water?'  They keep thinking, and I get ‘em up to the highland lakes.  ‘OK, so what fills that?’"

The Texas Commision on Environmental Quality eventually certified Tank Town as an approved public source of water.

*CORRECTION: The original version of this story misidentified the highway leading to Richard Heinichen’s home. It is U.S. 290. The text has been corrected.


VIDEO: Crow defends tube strike action

BBC - Wed, 2014-02-05 03:08
Bob Crow says he accepts that London Underground needs to modernise, but objects to the way changes are being implemented.

Koreas agree to family reunions

BBC - Wed, 2014-02-05 03:05
North and South Korea agree to hold reunions for families separated after the Korean War, in what could be the first such meetings since 2010.

VIDEO: Move to decriminalise marijuana in DC

BBC - Wed, 2014-02-05 02:58
Washington DC has taken a first step towards decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana, joining a growing number of states that have already done so

UK warns of bank cyber-attack risk

BBC - Wed, 2014-02-05 02:55
Vince Cable warns of the vulnerability of Britain's banks and other critical infrastructure to cyber-attack at the first summit of industry regulators and spy chiefs.

AUDIO: Sci-fi films 'lack new ideas'

BBC - Wed, 2014-02-05 02:37
Louis Savy and Paul Cornell discuss how science fiction films have to keep up with new technologies and visions of the future.

Jaguar to build XJ model in India

BBC - Wed, 2014-02-05 02:29
Jaguar says it will build its XJ saloon car in India, but the company's chief executive tells the BBC he is "absolutely committed" to manufacturing cars in Britain.

Wiggins' children bullied over doping

BBC - Wed, 2014-02-05 02:28
Sir Bradley Wiggins says he had to move his children to a new school when his son was bullied amid the Lance Armstrong doping row.

Is UK's housing-finance system broken?

BBC - Wed, 2014-02-05 02:25
Tensions over whether making banks safer will restrict flow of credit

Late Pope's private notes go on sale

BBC - Wed, 2014-02-05 02:25
A collection of private observations by late Pope John Paul II on religious subjects goes on sale amid controversy in his native Poland.

VIDEO: Why don't more young people vote?

BBC - Wed, 2014-02-05 01:34
In the last General Election less than half of 18 to 24 year olds voted. Tim Muffett visits one organisation that is attempting to engage young people in politics.

VIDEO: Going into battle with the paparazzi

BBC - Wed, 2014-02-05 01:23
New York artist Adam Harvey explains why he invented an anti-paparazzi device.

Timing of Laudrup sacking 'bizarre'

BBC - Wed, 2014-02-05 01:21
Michael Laudrup's sacking as Swansea City manager is "bizarrely timed", according to former Wales striker Iwan Roberts.

Lib Dems 'would stop 45p tax cut'

BBC - Wed, 2014-02-05 01:21
Senior Lib Dem Treasury minister Danny Alexander says any cuts to the top rate of tax before the 2015 election will only happen "over my dead body".

Cambodia tests public bus system

BBC - Wed, 2014-02-05 01:09
Cambodia starts a trial run of a public bus system in the capital for the first time in over a decade in a bid to reduce traffic jams.

Anti-piracy app launched in UK

BBC - Wed, 2014-02-05 01:07
The UK music industry is launching an educational app that aims to put young people in the shoes of aspiring musicians.

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