National / International News

'Welcome Back, Kotter' Actress Marcia Strassman Dies At 66

NPR News - Mon, 2014-10-27 04:55

She also had roles in M*A*S*H and the 1989 Rick Moranis comedy Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.

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Bolshoi behind bars

BBC - Mon, 2014-10-27 04:44
Costumes on show at a former prison

'Utter devastation' at Meyiwa death

BBC - Mon, 2014-10-27 04:32
South Africa midfielder Dean Furman speaks of the "utter devastation" of his team-mates following the death of Senzo Meyiwa.

VIDEO: Beard champ celebrates with flowers

BBC - Mon, 2014-10-27 04:24
More than 300 men from nine different countries have gathered in the United States for the World Beard and Moustache championships.

India 'fails' victims of abuse

BBC - Mon, 2014-10-27 04:13
The domestic violence that blights India

Tense calm follows Tripoli fighting

BBC - Mon, 2014-10-27 04:12
A tense calm is reported in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli after days of deadly fighting between Sunni militants and government troops.

VIDEO: Teacher guilty of IS terror plan

BBC - Mon, 2014-10-27 04:07
A chemistry teacher from Manchester has pleaded guilty to encouraging acts of terror after planning to join Islamic militant IS fighters in Syria.

Town In Hawaii Prepares For Possible Evacuation Ahead Of Lava Flow

NPR News - Mon, 2014-10-27 03:53

On the state's Big Island, the town of Pahoa is packing up to leave if the flow from Mount Kilauea continues its advance.

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A father's journey in the footsteps of his fallen son

BBC - Mon, 2014-10-27 03:43
A father's tale of a fallen soldier and his dog

VIDEO: Last British troops leave Helmand

BBC - Mon, 2014-10-27 03:43
The last British troops have left Helmand province in Afghanistan, a day after the end of UK combat operations was announced.

'Tree of the Year' shortlist issued

BBC - Mon, 2014-10-27 03:29
The 10 trees to make the final of England's "Tree of the Year" competition are announced.

Pro-Western Parties Sweep Ukraine's Parliamentary Elections

NPR News - Mon, 2014-10-27 03:01

Exit polls show parties allied with President Petro Poroshenko have won a clear majority, but the results are likely to further anger Russia.

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PODCAST: Saving leftover food

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-10-27 03:00

Pay for stuff by waving a mobile phone at a cash register: Apple's version of that was unveiled with much fanfare this month. But there may be a problem, and that problem is not a technical one but a business one. More on that. And later today, we'll hear how Twitter did last quarter. So, how much time does the company have to find a way to make money? Plus, the United Nations reports  1.3 billion tons of food gets thrown out every year. And now, figuring out how to keep perfectly good produce and leftovers out of landfills has become fertile ground for tech innovators. 

VIDEO: Tearful tribute to SA footballer

BBC - Mon, 2014-10-27 02:48
South Africa's football coach Ephraim Mashaba has paid tribute to captain Senzo Meyiwa, who died after being shot by intruders.

VIDEO: Mike Leigh on his film Mr Turner

BBC - Mon, 2014-10-27 02:44
The idea for film director Mike Leigh's new film first came to him more than a decade ago, and judging by the initial reaction it was worth the wait.

Russia in grim go-it-alone mood

BBC - Mon, 2014-10-27 02:29
Kremlin in defiant mood as Western sanctions bite

Attacker Made Video Of Himself Before Shooting, Canadian Police Say

NPR News - Mon, 2014-10-27 02:23

Police say they have "persuasive evidence" the shooting at a war memorial and Parliament building was ideologically and politically driven. The video, under analysis, will not be released for now.

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Jack Lew goes to Africa

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-10-27 02:00

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is in Cairo Monday, Tanzania Tuesday, and South Africa Thursday and Friday. He'll be meeting with finance ministers and business leaders, "to discuss the state of the global economy and policies to promote regional growth and investment," according to an official  Treasury Department advisory.

"When the Treasury Secretary goes to Africa, it’s about finance and private investment," says Todd Moss, senior fellow at the Center for Global Development. "I would expect some kind of either energy or agriculture deal to be announced in Tanzania."

"[Tanzania] has discovered vast reserves of natural gas," says Witney Schneidman, a Brookings fellow and Africa advisor at Covington and Burling. 

Schneidman says Treasury might want to evaluate the government's capacity to negotiate the resulting complicated energy contracts. "Sometimes Treasury will actually deploy some of their people to work in the ministry of finance," he says. 

But the visit isn't primarily about volunteering resources.

"There will be some specific deals announced, probably at each stop," says Moss. "Otherwise it’s a huge wasted opportunity."

But both Schneidman and Moss say the larger goal is to send a message: that Africa—home to six of the ten fastest growing economies in the world—matters to the American economy.

The connection between data and voter turnout

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-10-27 02:00

Data is hugely important to politics—for fundraising, sure—but also for getting registered voters to the polls. Ahead of the 2014 midterm election, state and local candidates are using tools the presidential campaigns pioneered two years ago, and they are testing out technology designed to get out the vote in 2016. 

In his office at NGP VAN, the company’s CEO and president, Stu Trevelyan, shows off a new “social organizing tool.” Many Democratic campaigns use NGP VAN’s technology. Trevelyan and his colleagues have created what he calls “a virtual phone bank.” A campaign will use your Facebook profile to find friends of yours in competitive districts.

“I grew up in Massachusetts. I know a lot of people there,” Trevelyan explains. “I went to college in California. I know lots of people there. I can actually identify people from that district and actually begin calling them.”

The thinking is you are more likely to take advice from someone you know. Campaigns are trying to tap into what’s called “social capital.” Until recently, campaigns relied on actual phone banks, and volunteers on the ground, going door-to-door.

“So there were a lot of clipboards and a lot of paper, and frankly, a lot of data that didn’t get used,” Trevelyan says.

According to David Nickerson, an associate professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame, it is now common for a canvasser to carry a smart phone. An app will have a script; afterward, the volunteer can punch in some important information. “And that data is automatically uploaded with a time stamp, and then it gives you the next household you are supposed to go to,” says Nickerson, noting new technology makes it easier for campaigns to allocate resources better.

“You do that next round of calls, you can remove all the dead wood,” he says. “Or if the people said they didn’t support, you can make sure that you don’t knock on them again.”

Campaigns are also trying out new tools to get a sense of what voters are still up for grabs.

“Through the use of statistical modeling and surveys and experiments, it is now possible to really focus efforts on people who are most likely to change their mind if contacted,” says Patrick Ruffini, a Republican strategist with Echelon Insights.

The digital landscape is constantly changing, he says. Last time around, social media was not the primary way for campaigns to communicate with likely voters directly. By 2016, it may be, and campaign strategists like Ruffini and Trevelyan want to refine new tools before the next presidential election.

 

 

 

 

Food waste provides fertile ground for tech innovators

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-10-27 02:00

Food waste is a big problem around the world. The United Nations reports that 1.3 billion tons of food are tossed every year. But now, figuring out how to keep produce and leftovers out of landfills has become fertile ground for tech innovators.  

Throwing out food happens all along the supply chain. Here’s an example: A farmer ships out a truckload of eggplant, but when it arrives, the re-seller thinks the color’s a bit off.  

“They say it should be dark or it should be purple. I’m not really sure what color eggplant is supposed to be, but a lot of times, eggplant is refused because it’s not the color they want,” explains long-haul trucker, Richard Gordon. "Or you might get a load of potatoes with too many eyes in it or too many curves and they reject it for that reason.”

Gordon has transported food along the East Coast for 30 years. When a shipment was rejected, he hated throwing it in a dumpster, so he’d call his brother to help. 

“I would get on the phone and try to find a place for him to donate it to,” says Richard's brother, Roger Gordon. “We realized one day that hey, you know, Rich is calling me from a mobile computer, we should be able to find a way to take me out of the equation.”

Two years ago, Roger Gordon launched the web and app service, Food Cowboy. It connects truckers, wholesalers, caterers and restaurants with food charities and composters. Food rescuers will pay 10 cents a pound and suppliers can get a tax write-off for the donation. 

When food becomes available, it has to get to a rescuer fast, which is why an instant, established network is important. As a result, food waste apps are popping up across the country. In New York, there's PareUp, and in northern California, Crop Mobster. Two MIT business students are launching Spoiler Alert in Boston later this month.

“We are creating a mobile marketplace and routing tool to help businesses connect with other businesses to help one another manage their excess, expiring and spoiled food,” explains Ricky Ashenfelter, who created the service with his classmate, Emily Malina. It’s a happy coincidence that Massachusetts just banned large amounts of food waste from heading into the landfill.

Malina says users will pay a monthly subscription fee to set up transactions based on profiles filled out by the retailers and rescuers. “Spoiler Alert would then be used to confirm the exchange, route the driver from the non-profit, in most cases, to the destination where the food is available and then process the transaction,” says Malina.

These start-ups hope that bringing partners together will reduce landfill waste and curb hunger. Roger Gordon estimates Food Cowboy has brought more than 100,000 meals to people who need them. “We have a lot of problems in this country, a lot of really complicated problems, but hunger and food waste shouldn't be one of them,” he says. “We have enough food to feed every hungry person in America, wholesome food, every day.”

His brother, Richard, sums it up best. 

“No matter how small it is, I hate to throw it away,” says Richard Gordon. “And, I can’t eat that many carrots, you know.”

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