National / International News

Obama tours for minimum wage rise

BBC - Wed, 2014-01-29 12:47
US President Barack Obama takes his campaign for a minimum wage rise to the streets, after his State of the Union address.

Neanderthal Genes Live On In Our Hair And Skin

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-29 12:44

Scientists know that a small percentage of humans' genes came from Neanderthals. But they were surprised to find that one-fifth of Neanderthal genes are in modern humans living today. That includes genes associated with diseases including Type 2 diabetes, Crohn's disease and lupus.

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Neanderthal Genes Live On In Our Hair And Skin

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-29 12:44

Scientists know that a small percentage of humans' genes came from Neanderthals. But they were surprised to find that one fifth of Neanderthal genes are in modern humans living today. That includes genes associated with diseases including Type 2 diabetes, Crohn's disease and lupus.

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myRA retirement plans, explained

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-01-29 12:37

President Obama unveiled the new "MyRA" plans in his State of the Union speech last night. He stumbled a bit over the name, and there's still some confusion about what they'll be called -- some of the folks we talked to are pronouncing it "Myra," like the name. But the idea behind the accounts is simple, according to Karen Friedman, executive vice president and policy director of the Pension Rights Center. 

"It’s a starter plan," she says. "It at least enables people to save in a secure, government-backed account."

The new accounts are aimed at low-income workers, who have few retirement saving options.

"Roughly half of the workforce right now doesn’t have a pension plan at work," says David Certner, legislative counsel with AARP. "Which is where most people prefer to save -- by having these monies deducted automatically from a paycheck."

And that’s how the new accounts would work. Employers and their workers have to volunteer to participate in the plan. But once they do, money will be deducted automatically, and invested in safe, government bonds. The initial investment could be as little as $25.

"The little amounts are what end up being the big amounts later on," says Stuart Ritter, a senior financial planner at T. Rowe Price. "So we shouldn’t be poo-pooing the smallness of getting people started."

In fact, the Obama administration already has plans for when the accounts get big. Once they hit $15,000, they have to be transferred into a private-sector IRA. 

Ukraine 'on brink of civil war'

BBC - Wed, 2014-01-29 12:37
Ukraine is "on the brink of civil war", the country's first post-independence president warns parliament as they debate an amnesty for protesters.

Nigerian senators in mass defection

BBC - Wed, 2014-01-29 12:31
At least 11 Senators from Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan's party defect to the opposition, the latest in a series of desertions.

Carney warning over Scots pound plan

BBC - Wed, 2014-01-29 12:29
The Bank of England governor says an independent Scotland would need to give up some power to make a currency union with the rest of the UK work.

Scientist To W.Va. Lawmakers: 'I'm Not Drinking The Water'

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-29 12:29

An environmental scientist from Marshall University said water samples taken from a downtown Charleston restaurant had traces of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. "It's frightening, it really is frightening," he said.

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Bullying head teacher struck off

BBC - Wed, 2014-01-29 12:24
A former Cardiff head teacher who bullied staff and threatened parents is struck off the professional register.

US Fed further tightens stimulus

BBC - Wed, 2014-01-29 12:21
The US Federal Reserve reduces its monthly bond purchases from $75bn to $65bn in the second straight month of winding down stimulus efforts.

On A Roman Street, Graffiti Celebrates 'SuperPope'

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-29 12:21

What can't Pope Francis do? First he's Time's "Person of the Year," then he's a Rolling Stone cover story. Now, graffiti art in Rome is depicting the pontiff as a comic-book caped crusader. Even the Vatican approves.

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UK seeks pair over politician murder

BBC - Wed, 2014-01-29 12:16
UK prosecutors ask Pakistan to trace two suspects believed to have been involved in the 2010 London murder of Pakistani political figure Imran Farooq.

A Boarding Pass Design That's So Much Better Than What We Have

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-29 12:16

You're in a hurry and just want to make your connection. Unfortunately, your boarding pass doesn't make it easy to quickly see the information you need. A British designer has an answer.

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Distress call helicopter lands safely

BBC - Wed, 2014-01-29 12:14
A Super Puma helicopter with 14 people on board lands safely in Shetland after sparking a full-scale emergency.

Can two TV stations share the same airwaves?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-01-29 12:11

There's a bit of a technical issue in this country: The amount of data being gobbled up by smartphones is increasing ad jnfinitum, but the digital plumbing has limits. Only so many tweets and YouTube videos can flow through it.

The FCC has proposed a solution, one that takes its inspiration from a pre-school lesson: Sharing is Caring. The FCC wants TV stations to share the spectrum with one another other, essentially doubling up on a single channel. And the very first experiment of this digital sharing idea is about to begin.

The two stations taking part in this experiment are KLCS, a PBS station, and KJLA, a commercial Spanish language station, both in Los Angeles. "We decided we would rather be informed than not informed," says Alan Popkin, director of TV engineering at KLCS.

In describing this experiment he uses this analogy, "You don't jump out of an airplane and then invent the parachute on the way down."

The experiment will begin off-air, then move to non-peak hours, and eventually, the entire schedule of both stations will be transmitted from one channel. The results will show whether two channels can be packed into one without compromising the quality of the broadcast, and will look at out how TV's will know which channel to display, when faced with two programs on the same part of the spectrum.

If channel sharing works, it could save stations a lot of money because two stations could share the cost of transmission.

"There would be one tower and one transmitter and that would cut down a lot on the cost of operation," says Lonna Thompson, chief operating officer* and executive vice president of the Association of Public Television Stations. In addition, she says, each station would be able to sell its unused bandwidth to the FCC in an Incentive Auction next year.

"The incentives auction is an effort that the FCC is leading to create incentives to use spectrum as efficiently as possible and to free spectrum for mobile broadband services," says Scott Bergmann, vice president of regulatory affairs with CTIA-The Wireless Association, a trade group.

Companies like T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint are currently arguing over how much of the spectrum each company should get. Bergmann says mobile carriers could use their share to improve services for customers by providing greater capacity, faster speeds, and less congestion.

"The channel sharing pilot is an effort to make the incentive auction successful," Bergmann says.

The auction is scheduled for mid-2015 and is expected to generate $25 billion.

*CORRECTION: In an earlier version of this story, we misidentified Lonna Thompson’s position at the Association of Public Television Stations. She is the chief operating officer. The text has been corrected.

Coulson 'knew what went on' at NoW

BBC - Wed, 2014-01-29 11:52
Former News of the World editor Andy Coulson, who is accused of conspiring to hack phones, knew "exactly what went on on his watch", a former reporter tells the Old Bailey.

VIDEO: William Roache 'a perfect gentleman'

BBC - Wed, 2014-01-29 11:47
Some of Coronation Street actor William Roache's co-stars appeared as defence witnesses at his trial in Preston Crown Court on Wednesday.

US snooping sows distrust - Merkel

BBC - Wed, 2014-01-29 11:33
Angela Merkel says US and British spy programmes "sow distrust" among allies, in her inauguration speech of her third term as German chancellor.

Labour plans 'one member, one vote'

BBC - Wed, 2014-01-29 11:15
Miliband plans for major call on union relationships

A Milk Mystery: Did Gloomy Weather Make Us Love The Stuff?

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-29 11:14

The latest twist in this evolutionary whodunnit has us questioning whether the lack of vitamin D from the sun played any role in our complicated, sometimes dangerous, love affair with milk. New DNA analysis of ancient farmers from sunny Spain suggests that this theory may have gone sour.

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