National / International News

Thousands show interest in pay-offs

BBC - Fri, 2015-04-17 09:16
Over 7,200 civil servants register for a new voluntary redundancy scheme aimed at saving £90m annually

Brothers have jail terms increased

BBC - Fri, 2015-04-17 09:14
Two brothers from Enniskillen received unduly lenient sentences for beating a man unconscious in a bar in 2013, the Lord Chief Justice rules.

How to catch a flash sale before it's over

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-04-17 09:01

Whether it's a coupon arriving in your inbox, a time-limited Groupon offer or a tweet alerting you to a right-in-the-moment quickie deal, we've entered an era of instant retail. In other words, flash sales.

Valerie Folkes, marketing professor at USC's Marshall School of Business, says although it may seem counter-intuitive, flash sales can make sense for merchants. Advertising is changing as retailers adapt to new media and younger consumers migrate away from more traditional outlets like TV, commercial radio and newspapers.

A flash sale can entice consumers, make a brand or a restaurant seem exclusive and crowded, or force a potential buyer to stop procrastinating and spend. Take the Groupon example: as the clock ticks down on a deal, the number of buyers climbs. With limited time and limited number of offers, a deal might seem more exclusive. A restaurant might begin to look more popular, and the influx of customers can do a business good.

Folkes notes this short-term satisfaction might not lead to a lasting relationship, but done well, a flash deal can help with brand loyalty. She cites JetBlue, which posts deals that may seem like obvious losses: $32 tickets out of New York City (a deal that only lasted 32 minutes, while it was 32 degrees out) and 90 percent-off sales (on 90 degree days). These sales force customers to act fast, and even though JetBlue might be losing money on some tickets, overall, the sale works as an ad.

"It's kind of a fun idea. It gets people thinking about JetBlue because it reminds people: JetBlue offers all these great deals, I really need to pay attention to Jet Blue, because who knows what they'll next," Folkes says. "What they're really doing here is buying great publicity. They're getting people talking about their airline, and about travel, and if you miss out on this, if you don't actually get on their airplane, you are now thinking about going someplace, and you're thinking about going someplace that JetBlue flies."

But businesses have to be careful not to foster the idea that you should never pay full price. Timing is important, and people buying during a sale should feel that they got lucky. And many people do, especially when they score a great deal that seems like a secret.

George Hobica, head of AirFareWatchdog.com, specializes in secret deals. His company mines flight searchers for the lowest possible fares: the advertised on-sale tickets, the unadvertised super-sale tickets and the blooper fares — mistakes that make flights way, way cheaper than they ever should be.

Getting in on the sweetest deals requires a lot of focus, patience and luck. There are frequently very few seats available and very little time to book. And if you do find out about a deal in time to make a big purchase?

"You really have to jump on it very, very quickly," Hobica says. "What I tell people is put it on a 24 hour hold ... and then talk to your spouses and your friends and get the hotels and get all your ducks in line."

Hobica recommends keeping a vigilant eye on social media and signing up for alerts from sites like AirFareWatchdog, Hopper and Kayak. Even then, it's a little bit like playing musical chairs — except when the music stops, a million people want to sit down.

Syncing club beats with heart beats

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-04-17 09:01

Will Bensussen is an alternative hip hop producer and DJ. You might know him by his nom de clubThe Gaslamp Killer.

After moving to Los Angeles in 2006, he helped found Low End Theory, a weekly experimental hip hop and electronic music club night.

Speed is particularly important to Bensussen. If attend one of his gigs, you might notice that the beats of his music are frequently in sync with the beat of your heart. A healthy human heart beats between 60 and 120 beats per minute, he says.

"I come in so quiet and so weird you don't even know it's starting yet," he says. "I build up from 60 BPM to 100 BPM, to 120 if I'm feeling really frisky. ... I sort my experience using the BPMs. I like to stop whatever party was happening before I showed up and I like to start my own."

His new album, "The Gaslamp Killer Experience," comes out April 28th.

Your Wallet: Invisible money

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-04-17 09:00

The money you hide away: Do you bury it in the back yard? Stuff it in a mattress, or maybe stash it in a 401k?

Tell us where you keep your money! Does it work? We promise, we won't give away any super specific secret hiding places.

Send us an email, or reach us on Twitter @MarketplaceWKND to give us the scoop.

Fast food service pumps the breaks

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-04-17 09:00

The pace of fast food service has been getting slower as menus grow more complex.

Sam Oches is editor of QSR Magazine, the bible of the fast food industry. He says consumer demand for quality ingredients in fast food is changing the game across the board.

"You even see something like Taco Bell has some menu items that have 10, 11, 12 ingredients, whereas it didn't used to be the case. So in order to be able to put together these menu items, it takes a little bit more time," he says.

A survey by the magazine found that as a result, drive-through service is now about 20 seconds slower on average. But the industry wants to work to both simplify, and kick into a higher gear.

Click the media player above to hear the full story.

Rosberg beats Hamilton in practice

BBC - Fri, 2015-04-17 08:46
Nico Rosberg beats Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton to fastest time in second practice at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

CBC sackings after Ghomeshi inquiry

BBC - Fri, 2015-04-17 08:38
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has let go two executives after an independent report found that management condoned the actions of former radio host, Jian Ghomeshi.

Gothic city centre hotel on fire

BBC - Fri, 2015-04-17 08:37
A hotel in the centre of Oxford is ablaze, sending a huge black smoke cloud across the city.

TV's 'Sabado Gigante' Will Cease Production This Fall, Ending Record Run

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-17 08:34

Sábado Gigante has been a ratings and cultural phenomenon, captivating viewers with a three-hour blend that included amateur talent shows, interviews and music performances.

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What is misconduct in public office?

BBC - Fri, 2015-04-17 08:28
Misconduct in public office is an ancient common law offence, created by judges, which can be traced back to the 13th century.

King of Clubs Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri: Saddam's ally and enforcer

BBC - Fri, 2015-04-17 08:25
Profile of Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, Saddam Hussein's right-hand man, who later became a fugitive and a leading Sunni insurgent.

UN makes $275m appeal for Yemen aid

BBC - Fri, 2015-04-17 08:21
The UN launches an appeal for nearly $275m to help civilians after fighting and air strikes worsen the country's humanitarian crisis.

Violence Against Immigrants In South Africa Turns Deadly

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-17 08:09

At least five people have been killed, immigrant-owned businesses have been attacked and thousands have sought refuge at temporary shelters. The government has condemned the violence.

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Go Figure: The week in numbers

BBC - Fri, 2015-04-17 08:01
The week's big numbers, visualised.

Weekend edition: The best of the week's reads

BBC - Fri, 2015-04-17 07:53
A collection of some of the best reads from the BBC News website this week.

Abandoned arcade baby's mother found

BBC - Fri, 2015-04-17 07:53
The mother of a newborn baby girl, abandoned inside an amusement arcade toilet block, is found.

Charges dropped for nine journalists

BBC - Fri, 2015-04-17 07:49
Charges against nine journalists accused of making illegal payments to public officials are dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Boy, 13, detained for woman's murder

BBC - Fri, 2015-04-17 07:42
A 13-year-old boy is given a life sentence for murdering a woman he punched and then stamped on.

From "promposal" to dress, everything must be unique

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-04-17 07:37

Prom season is in full swing. And if you're thinking to yourself, "That's not a business story," keep reading. 

An amazing statistic from Visa: the average prom-going teen will shell out $919 in preparation this year. With that much at stake, formal wear boutiques are courting as much business as possible away from department stores and online retailers, who have the advantage of endless selection and cheaper prices. 

One strategy they've hit upon: prom dress registries, so that no two girls from the same high school show up to prom in the same gown. 

"I worried about a lot of things as a teenage girl. This was not one of them," said Elizabeth Holmes, senior style reporter for the Wall Street Journal, who recently wrote about prom registries. 

The "OMG, Mom!" sense of embarrassment over a twin-effect at prom is nothing new. Beverly Hills, 90210 had a dramatic spring dance moment back in 1993. 

 

 

To avoid Kelly and Brenda's embarrassment, stores are keeping registries so that each girl has her shining moment on prom night. 

Holmes spoke with one Silicon Valley formal wear boutique that tracks 600 high school proms. 

"They have this massive computerized dress registry where they're tracking who is wearing what, to which prom," she said.

For store owners, it may be uncomfortable to tell an excited teen, "No, you can't have that dress." But particularly in smaller markets, formal boutiques rely on repeat business and hope that customers will see the value. 

Holmes said, it's a "play to the parents," who more often than not are footing the bill for $400 and up gowns. 

"They're dealing with a dramatic teenager and they don't want to have — come prom night — tears if someone else had my dress."

Because prom has always been about the pictures as much as the dance, teens now document everything from the dress-buying experience to their "promposals" through social media. And while boys don't have to worry about suit or tuxedo registries (yet, anyway), Holmes said, they tend to foot the bill for increasingly popular promposals,be they elaborate or goofy. 

 

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