National / International News

Shame banana thrower, says Alves

BBC - Tue, 2014-04-29 02:42
Barcelona defender Dani Alves says the fan who threw a banana at him during Sunday's win at Villarreal should be publicly shamed.

Cameras set up to find wild boars

BBC - Tue, 2014-04-29 02:40
Cameras have been set up to try to find wild boars which were released during a burglary at a farm in Bridgend county.

BBC beats ITV in breakfast battle

BBC - Tue, 2014-04-29 02:39
BBC Breakfast attracts double the amount of viewers who tuned in to ITV's first broadcast of its new breakfast programme Good Morning Britain.

Venezuela ex-intelligence chief shot

BBC - Tue, 2014-04-29 02:19
Major Eliecer Otaiza, who served as the head of the Venezuelan intelligence service under President Hugo Chavez, has been killed, officials say.

Cities want to make your rooftop gardens profitable

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-04-29 02:18

On a recent Saturday morning in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, the city's River Revitalization Corporation is showing off a plan to add green space to an area that's now dominated by heavy industry. And Lee Christie of architecture firm Perkins+Will is explaining some options.

"You'd be looking at more raised beds or more greenhouses," she says, "which really opens up the possibility for rooftops."

Rooftops have a lot of hidden potential. A new EPA study predicts that as cities grow hotter, replacing flat black rooftops with plants could cool the cities back down.

According to Phil Morefield, one of the co-authors of that study, "any sort of well-designed, well-maintained green roof will give some benefit for the building that it's installed on."

Those benefits include reversing urban warming, absorbing rain before it overburdens sewers, and providing habitat for butterflies.

There's just one problem: green roofs come with a big up-front cost. So now, some cities are experimenting with financial encouragement.

For example, Austin lets developers build more floor space if they include green roofs. And Seattle gives out credits and discounts for rooftop gardens.

"Properties that take advantage of that credit range from single family homes to a regional airport," says Seattle Urban Designer Dave LaClergue, "so they're very different in size and scale."

The gardens on top of the Chloe Apartments in Seattle. That's the Space Needle on the right.

Courtesy of Dave LaClergue/City of Seattle

But it's been a learning process. Many of Seattle's first rooftop gardens died, since they were designed with assumptions based on what worked in east-coast cities. And a garden that cools one city might have less of an effect in another.

"There really isn't a 'one-size fits all' strategy," says Britta Bierwagen, another co-author on that EPA study. "And there are a lot of things to consider."

Financial incentives are similarly fickle. In Nashville, a credit of $10 per square foot of green roof hasn't attracted a single taker. But Portland, Oregon, got an overwhelming response to a credit of just half that much.

That's because green roofs need to be customized to what the market in each city wants, as much as to the weather. One market might respond best to grants, while another prefers tax credits.

Courtesy of Dave LaClergue/City of Seattle

For example, in Portland, the incentive amount was determined in part by the region's damp climate and sewers that combine wastewater with stormwater. "It was the amount that we could apply that essentially would cost less to manage a gallon with a green roof than it would with a pipe," explains Portland Environmental Program Coordinator Matt Burlin.

And green roof incentives aren't just for major cities. In tiny Saluda, North Carolina, the Polk County Community Foundation provided a $6,000 grant for a green roof on the new restrooms at Pearson's Falls.

On a recent afternoon, foundation President and CEO Elizabeth Nager stopped by to see how the plants are filling in. It's looking good: "The roof resembles the forest floor in the glenn below the waterfall," she observes. "There are smooth rocks that fill the space where you expect to see traditional gutters."

It's more than just a few rocks and sage bushes, of course. It's part of a national experiment that's happening right over our heads.

MPs back HS2 bill despite rebellion

BBC - Tue, 2014-04-29 02:13
MPs reject calls for the proposed HS2 rail link between London and the West Midlands to be scrapped, despite a 35-strong Tory revolt.

Megacities contend with sinking land

BBC - Tue, 2014-04-29 01:59
Subsiding land is a bigger immediate problem for some of the world's big coastal cities than sea level rise, say scientists.

Tougher European bank tests revealed

BBC - Tue, 2014-04-29 01:44
European banks will be expected to prove they can survive a 7% drop in GDP under new tougher stress tests unveiled by the regulator.

Manufacturing is GDP star performer

BBC - Tue, 2014-04-29 01:38
GDP figures show economy picking up momentum

Rivals are just jealous - Schurrle

BBC - Tue, 2014-04-29 01:31
Chelsea forward Andre Schurrle says critics of his side's defensive approach are just "jealous" of the club's success.

Microsoft must release overseas data

BBC - Tue, 2014-04-29 01:18
A US judge orders Microsoft to hand over a customer's emails, even though the data is held on a server in Ireland.

Pardew plans long stay despite unrest

BBC - Tue, 2014-04-29 01:18
Manager Alan Pardew believes he has a "long-term" future at Newcastle despite six straight defeats and unrest among fans.

Libyan barracks hit by car bomb

BBC - Tue, 2014-04-29 01:13
A car bomb explodes at the gates of a military barracks near the airport in the Libyan city of Benghazi, killing two soldiers, security officials say.

Child sexually assaulted in street

BBC - Tue, 2014-04-29 01:02
An 11-year-old boy is left "traumatised" by a sexual assault in a busy residential street, police say.

241 new jobs at NI electronics firm

BBC - Tue, 2014-04-29 01:00
Almost 250 new jobs are being created at an electronics firm in County Antrim.

Hiding pregnancy from the marketing machine

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-04-29 01:00

When couples find out they are expecting, they usually spread the news to family and friends as soon as possible. When Janet Vertesi, an assistant professor of sociology at Princeton University, found out she was pregnant, she made a very similar call to family and friends, but with very different intentions.

Those close to Vertesi and her husband were told not to post anything on social media sites that would reveal the couples' pregnancy. Vertesi had decided to take her pregnancy off the grid, not because she wasn't overjoyed, but because marketing bots that figure out when a woman is pregnant become relentless in their targeted advertising.

Vertesi says the project was inspired by the invasiveness of data driven marketing that seems to go unchecked. So for the last nine months, she and her husband have paid for all baby-related expenses in cash, avoided social media, and used Tor, a browser that lets you use the internet anonymously, to visit sites like Babycenter.com and Namberry.com. 

"So many of those websites also have trackers and cookies that know that you’re visiting so they can follow you around with advertising afterwards," says Vertesi. What she noticed in hiding her pregnancy from marketing bots was that her activity looked more like someone involved in illegal activity than someone about to have a baby. Tor, for example, is notoriously used for drug deals.

While she wouldn't recommend the experiment to others, Vertesi says it raised some interesting questions:

"What I would recommend is thinking seriously about how and where you want your data to go...That doesn’t mean, 'Don’t participate in social networks' or 'Don’t buy anything online.' But it does mean it’s time to think seriously about how and where we want to engage in these kinds of transactions."

Clifford case 'disproves witch-hunt'

BBC - Tue, 2014-04-29 00:57
A lawyer representing victims of sex offences says the conviction of Max Clifford proves the investigation is not a "celebrity witch-hunt".

Faked twerking video wins Webby

BBC - Tue, 2014-04-29 00:56
A video of a twerking routine gone horribly wrong has won one of the internet's highest honours, while the Guardian and the BBC take home news prizes.

North Korea conducts live-fire drill

BBC - Tue, 2014-04-29 00:54
North Korea conducts a live-fire drill near the disputed maritime border but no shells enter South Korean territory, Seoul officials say.

Russia alarmed over US-Nato activity

BBC - Tue, 2014-04-29 00:51
Moscow voices concern over an "unprecedented" rise in US and Nato military activity near Russian borders, amid an escalating crisis in Ukraine.
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