National / International News

Free nursery has 'no academic benefit'

BBC - Mon, 2015-03-30 08:33
Free nursery places for three-year olds have helped mothers back to work, but have made "no difference" to academic performance later on, researchers claim.

Family of four dead in Gibraltar flat

BBC - Mon, 2015-03-30 08:25
Four people including a British man and two children have been found dead in a flat in Gibraltar, police in the British territory have said.

Doctors With Cancer Push California To Allow Aid In Dying

NPR News - Mon, 2015-03-30 08:23

Dr. Dan Swangard doesn't know if he would take lethal medications to hasten death. But as someone with metastatic cancer, he wants to have that choice. He's part of a suit to change California law.

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My best position is striker - Barkley

BBC - Mon, 2015-03-30 08:21
Everton's Ross Barkley says he is best played as a striker, despite most of his career being as an attacking midfielder.

An Unexpected Wilderness Cam At Britain's 10 Downing Street

NPR News - Mon, 2015-03-30 08:19

Photographers who staked out the prime minister's residence in London today captured images of a fox slinking past the door of the famous building.

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Legal high boy, 14, speaks out

BBC - Mon, 2015-03-30 08:00
A 14-year-old schoolboy from the Neath Valley tells how he was hospitalised after taking a "legal high".

VIDEO: On board Tory election 'battle bus'

BBC - Mon, 2015-03-30 07:54
The BBC's Carole Walker took a look inside the Conservative Party's campaign bus, as it headed off to its first election rally.

Where do hotels buy their art?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-03-30 07:33

Aaron Bachler, an amateur photographer, recently received an email from his mother, who was staying at a hotel at the Grand Canyon. She thought the art hanging on the walls looked like her son's work. "She said, 'Boy, these look a lot like yours,'"  Bachler says. "And I thought: Where do these hotels buy, y'know, that kind of artwork?"

The answer begins with the hotel owner — and the "brand" of the particular hotel.

"We manage many different brands," says Hung Luk, COO of the Lam Group, a hotel developer in New York City. "Marriott, Starwood, Hilton..." 

All these familiar chains are actually franchises — like McDonald's or Burger King. Hotel owners pay to share the name, the reservation system and, yes, the "look." For each hotel, the Lam Group's architects and interior designers create furniture and finishings within that chain's "brand standards."

"A lot of our guests stay with us consistently no matter what city they're in, so we want them to see some consistency to the brand," says Terry Brooks, director of product quality for Hilton Garden Inn. "For Hilton Garden Inn, I would describe it as light, bright, airy, very professional but approachable." 

Those "airy" brand qualities can be translated into very concrete design guidelines. Brooks says each Hilton Garden Inn must have two pieces in the lobby from a particular set of approved artworks. A visit to several Hilton Garden Inns around Manhattan revealed the same dot-patterned carpeting, and tree-like pattern on the glass front doors. 

When it comes to the art in the guestrooms, guidelines can be just as stringent — Hotel Indigo, for instance, requires black and white photographs from within a few blocks of the hotel, according to hotel art provider Jesse Kalisher

But people throughout the industry say that over the years, franchises have given owners more latitude when it comes to selecting art. 

"When I first got started, I remember the franchise community would say 'Pick A, B or C art options,'" says Luk, the hotel developer. He describes seeing many landscapes and flowers. "If you travel around the country, you don't want to see the exact same flower," he laughs. 

But the reason the same flower appeared in many hotel rooms twenty years ago wasn't just the brands — it was also the technology. 

"It used to be just poster art, where everything was on paper and what you saw is what you got," says Puneet Bhasin, COO of the Artline Group, a hospitality art provider in Hicksville, New York. He says the only technology for getting cheap, mass-produced art 22 years ago was to turn to catalogs of posters that had been mass-produced using offset lithography, the kind of printers used for newspapers. 

"The designer would say 'Send me a catalog!'" Bhasin says. "And we would literally mail them hundreds of catalogs and they would choose the image based on that. But now, with the digital age, all the items are digitized, so you can make whatever color you want, whatever size you want, and you can print them on whatever you want." 

In the entryway to the Artline Group's office, there are shelves of samples of exotic materials onto which they can print drawings, photographs and paintings.

"These are like MDF boards, which is basically a hard type of wood," says graphic artist Tony Bracco, knocking on the board to demonstrate. "These are aluminum." 

Not only does digital printing allow a variety of materials, it allows printing a near-infinite variety of images. Bhasin says the Artline Group has access to over 200,000. He says if a single image is licensed for use in a hundred hotel rooms, the licensing fees can drop to as low as a couple of bucks a copy.

The digital approach also allows Artline to accommodate more custom requests, such as the one they received from the Radisson Martinique in midtown Manhattan. 

"What they wanted to do was a collage with the Chrysler Building, street signs, the Brooklyn Bridge, street map," says Artline graphic artist Tony Bracco. "And they had a specific color set: They wanted blacks, whites and gold."

Bracco used Adobe Photoshop to combine and filter stock photographs to produce new artworks — and so his artworks are prominently displayed  in an upscale hotel. 

"Yes, but it doesn't have our names on it unfortunately," he says. 

Then again, to include the names of all the photographers, hotel employees and brand managers whose input resulted in this work — well, that probably wouldn't fit on the canvas.

Courtesy:Tony Bracco

Plastic bag tax to plug funding gap

BBC - Mon, 2015-03-30 07:31
Up to £800,000 raised from the tax on plastic bags could help sustain environmental groups whose funding was slashed in the Stormont budget.

Bill Gates Tells The World: Get Ready For The Next Epidemic

NPR News - Mon, 2015-03-30 07:26

In a strongly worded essay in The New England Journal of Medicine, the philanthropist calls for a global system to respond to future medical emergencies. We ask experienced Ebola hands to weigh in.

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Sandwich Monday: The Passover Sandwich

NPR News - Mon, 2015-03-30 07:24

For this week's Sandwich Monday, we introduce our non-Jewish colleagues to the wonders of the Passover lunch. Manischewitz rules this meal.

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1 Death Reported Outside NSA After Car Tried To Ram Security Gate

NPR News - Mon, 2015-03-30 07:21

A car that was intercepted near the security gate of the National Security Agency's headquarters at Fort Meade, Md., was fired upon Monday morning, killing one suspect and injuring another.

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Indiana Republicans Say They Will Seek To Clarify Religious Freedom Law

NPR News - Mon, 2015-03-30 07:16

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act stoked controversy almost from the moment it was passed by the state's GOP-dominated Legislature and signed by Gov. Mike Pence on Thursday.

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Teachers' 'British values' warning

BBC - Mon, 2015-03-30 07:15
Teachers should ignore rules on promoting "fundamental British values", a teachers' union conference has heard.

Ian Gough claims ex 'made up' attack

BBC - Mon, 2015-03-30 07:05
Former Welsh rugby international Ian Gough appeals his conviction for assaulting his ex-girlfriend, model Sophia Cahill.

Sense of history at Iran talks

BBC - Mon, 2015-03-30 07:04
If a framework for an Iranian nuclear deal is agreed this week, it could pave the way for one of the most significant, but most sensitive, accords in decades, says the BBC's Lyse Doucet.

Oops: World Leaders' Personal Data Mistakenly Released

NPR News - Mon, 2015-03-30 06:57

An Australian immigration official accidentally exposed passport details, dates of birth and other personal information for 31 world leaders during last year's the G-20 summit in Brisbane.

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Yoox in talks with Net-a-Porter

BBC - Mon, 2015-03-30 06:55
Italian online fashion retailer Yoox says it is in merger talks with London-based rival Net-a-Porter.

Landslides destroy Burundi homes

BBC - Mon, 2015-03-30 06:42
At least 10 people are missing, feared dead, in Burundi after landslides which have destroyed hundreds of home, officials say.

Bangladeshi Blogger Hacked To Death; 2 Alleged Attackers Arrested

NPR News - Mon, 2015-03-30 06:39

Washiqur Rahman's killing comes a month after a deadly attack by Islamists on Bangladeshi-American blogger Avijit Roy in the country's capital.

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