National / International News

In Mexico, things go better with...water

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-04-10 02:00

If you’re looking for lunch in the northern Mexico border town of Nuevo Laredo, you might walk into a spot called La Parilla. When I walked in there, I noticed almost every table has 4 or 5 empty soda bottles on it. This isn’t a big restaurant – less than 20 tables. My waiter tells me that he sells about 100 sodas every day.

“It’s because people just enjoy the flavor,” he says.

And his customers aren’t alone. The Mexican population drinks more soda than anywhere else in the world. The numbers work out to more than 160 liters of the sugary stuff a year. That’s about half a liter per person every day.

Jose Luis Quinones drives a cab in Monterrey. He says when he leaves for work in the morning he grabs something quick.
“And what’s the cheapest thing I can buy?” he asks. “A can of soda and some crackers. It’s cheaper to buy a can of soda than a bottle of water.”

Why is that the case? It could be that poor Mexicans don’t have the purchasing power to create a viable market for water. That’s certainly the case in a lot of the rural parts of the country where more than 10 percent of people don’t have access to potable water. But for some reason, they can always grab a soda. Tom Bollyky, Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, says the reason behind that is a combination of things.

“It’s something that costs the same price as water," he says. "And it’s more accessible in schools in Mexico. And it’s sweet. That combination is literally deadly.”

It leads to obesity. Mexico now has the highest obesity rate in the world. And the Mexican government is trying to do something about it. Last year, the government passed a soda tax. It also started running ads urging children to drink water instead of soda. But Bollyky says the way they’re using the money – earmarking it for raising access to drinking water in elementary schools – is just as important.

It will still take a while to see how well the tax and ads work. But early numbers look pretty good. According to Bollyky, while still high, soda consumption in Mexico is down 7 percent.

In Panama, President Obama seeks economic growth

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-04-10 02:00

President Barack Obama is in Panama for the Summit of the Americas, a gathering of American heads of state. This year the leaders will be joined for the first time by Raul Castro, Cuba's leader. For years, Cuba was excluded from the summit, which created tension between Latin American leaders and the U.S. 

Disagreement over the U.S. embargo of Cuba wasn't the only gripe Latin American leaders had with U.S. policy in the region. "American presidents have a hard time paying attention to Latin America," says Moises Naim, a fellow at the Carnegie Endowment.

But the Obama Administration seeks to slow the tide of illegal immigrants, so Naim says "the top priority for the United States ... is to have strong economies that produce jobs."

That's a shift from years of sending money to the region's militaries to pay for the War on Drugs. 

"The United States has moved beyond a single policy toward Latin America," said Bruce Bagley, a professor of political science at the University of Miami. But focusing on poverty alleviation in places like Honduras, which has high violence and a high level of emigration, isn't easy, because "one of the major constraints is the absence of capital and expertise," he said.

That absence of capital is one reason why cabinet member and U.S. Small Business Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet was in Panama to announce a new partnership between the SBA and ConnectAmericas, a social network for Latin American entrepreneurs. "That's how we help their youth change their future and change their lives," Contreras-Sweet says. 

LinkedIn wants to teach you stuff

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-04-10 02:00

LinkedIn, the professional networking site, is purchasing, the online video training company, in a deal worth $1.5 billion in cash and stock. The acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of 2015, LinkedIn said in a press release.

"The combination of LinkedIn and is the kind of fit that benefits everyone," LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner wrote in a company blog post. "LinkedIn has the members, the jobs... and... can be accessed by roughly 350 million people to share professionally relevant knowledge.'s service has the premium library of skills-based courses."

The acquisition makes sense in terms of LinkedIn's goals "to build out kind of an entire ecosystem around training, job recruitment, job hiring, talent development," says Analyst Mark Mahaney of RBC Capital Markets.

But it also has pitfalls for LinkedIn, says Colin Gillis of BGC Partners. "You're paying $1.5 billion for a business that is a subscription business and may come into pressure from free sites like YouTube."

Silicon Tally: Defending your digital life

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-04-10 02:00

It's time for Silicon Tally! How well have you kept up with the week in tech news?

This week, we're joined by Jason Scott, the curator of the Internet Arcade.

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Wolf Hall divides Broadway critics

BBC - Fri, 2015-04-10 01:57
The Royal Shakespeare Company's production of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall gets a mixed reception from New York critics as it opens on Broadway.

Athletes die in Morocco collision

BBC - Fri, 2015-04-10 01:47
A head-on collision between a coach and lorry in Morocco has killed 31 people, many of them young athletes, officials say.

Crews remain at scene of wildfire

BBC - Fri, 2015-04-10 01:47
Firefighters remain at the scene of a wildfire near water treatment works at Dornoch in Sutherland.

VIDEO: Lifeboat retrieves golden retriever

BBC - Fri, 2015-04-10 01:45
How a Lifeboat crew saved a golden retriever from being swept out to sea

Gaza police seize Banksy artwork

BBC - Fri, 2015-04-10 01:45
Police in Gaza confiscate a door bearing graffiti by UK artist Banksy after its original owner said he had been tricked into selling it.

Singleton pulls out of Tupac biopic

BBC - Fri, 2015-04-10 01:39
Oscar-nominated film director John Singleton pulls out of the forthcoming biopic of the late rapper Tupac Shakur.

VIDEO: Women's Boat Race makes history

BBC - Fri, 2015-04-10 01:37
For the first time in the history of the Oxford versus Cambridge boat race, women will race on the same day and the same course as the men.

Extra flights tackle strike backlog

BBC - Fri, 2015-04-10 01:34
Easyjet will run "rescue" flights and may put bigger planes on busy routes to deal with the after-effects of two-day strike action by French air traffic controllers.

Why derby won't help Man City - Savage

BBC - Fri, 2015-04-10 01:25
Robbie Savage on why Sunday's derby comes at the wrong time for Manchester City as they try to rediscover their best form.

UK industrial output edges higher

BBC - Fri, 2015-04-10 01:23
UK industrial output rose by just 0.1% in February, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics.

FTSE 100 back near record high

BBC - Fri, 2015-04-10 01:01
The FTSE 100 approaches its record high, with drug firm Shire the top riser after it says US regulators are to give an eye treatment a priority review.

Do wings give you wings?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-04-10 01:00
$ 1.5 billion

That's how much LinkedIn paid for, an online video training company. The huge price tag may be worth it for LinkedIn. As part of LinkedIn's broad strategic ambition, the acquisition build out an ecosystem around training, recruitment, hiring, and talent development. 

100 million

That's how many chicken wings sports bar chain Buffalo Wild Wings sold during this year's NCAA basketball tournament, Bloomberg reported. The Minneapolis-based company has been on an extraordinary rise, riding the fast-casual wave and adapting to volatile wing prices and crowds that come and go with sports seasons.


That's how many men and women under 25 working at the IRS. The total staff? 87,000. The IRS is trying to convince more millennials it's cool to work for the tax agency, according to Bloomberg. Four years from now, about 40 percent of its workforce will be eligible to retire. The recruiting page for student and recent grads reads, "You’ll be part of a tax collection process that funds our nation’s most vital programs—from securing the nation and protecting social services, to maintaining parklands and forests, building libraries, opening museums, enhancing schools and much, much more.” 

April 24

The hotly anticipated release of the Apple Watch. But Business Insider notes Apple is changing the way it approaches launch day, letting people try on the smart watch by appointment and encouraging them to order online. Part of this shift is practical — with so many watch combinations and price points, it could be tough to keep everything in stock — but it's also about image. Apple's new retail chief came over from Burberry, and the Watch is being sold in part as a luxury item. Long lines and tents outside of the store isn't exactly classy.

87 days

That's how long oil flowed into the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in 2010, spilling nearly 5 million gallons. Five years later, the Gulf's reputation for great seafood is starting to recover, but there isn't as much to sell as there used to be.

160 liters

That's how much soda the Mexican population consumes every year — or about half a liter per person per day. Mexico drinks more of this sugary stuff than anywhere else in the world. And in areas without easy access to fresh water, people more often turn to soda to quench their thirst. This trend has lead to obesity, but the Mexican government is trying to tackle it with a soda tax. 

Tributes for cricket legend Benaud

BBC - Fri, 2015-04-10 00:58
The world pays tribute to Richie Benaud, the former Australia captain and legendary cricket commentator, who has died aged 84.

Pakistan votes for Yemen neutrality

BBC - Fri, 2015-04-10 00:51
Pakistan parliament calls for neutrality in Yemen conflict, snubbing Saudi Arabia's request to join anti-Houthi coalition.

Murder inquiry after woman, 95, dies

BBC - Fri, 2015-04-10 00:37
A 73-year-old man is arrested on suspicion of murder after the body of an elderly woman is found at her home, police say.

'The market is rigged' - Michael Lewis

BBC - Fri, 2015-04-10 00:19
Michael Lewis, the author of Flash Boys and Liar's Poker, says high speed electronic traders are still a threat (but there is a solution).