National / International News

How Venezuelans stave off hunger amidst a food crisis

BBC - 6 hours 2 min ago
Food has become so scarce in Venezuela after the economy collapsed that people are getting desperate.

Winter Olympics: Anna Gasser wins women's big air final with last jump

BBC - 6 hours 8 min ago
Austria's Anna Gasser produces the best score of the day with the last jump to snatch gold from Jamie Anderson in the women's big air final.

Domestic abuse: Guidelines recommend tougher sentences

BBC - 6 hours 43 min ago
Guidelines say courts should now view offences more seriously than those committed against strangers.

Florida Shooting Survivor Weighs In On Meeting With President Trump

NPR News - 6 hours 45 min ago

Parents and survivors connected to the school shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Sandy Hook and Columbine, met with President Trump at the White House Wednesday to advocate for better protections for the nation's students.

Winter Olympics: Marcel Hirscher crashes out of men's slalom

BBC - 6 hours 48 min ago
Austria's Marcel Hirscher, the favourite for the men's slalom, crashes out of the event after missing a gate early in his first run.

'The story of a weird world I was warned never to tell'

BBC - 6 hours 56 min ago
Pauline Dakin's childhood was full of secrets, disruption and unpleasant surprises - it wasn't until she was aged 23 that she found out why.

Twitter has a hard time with bots because it was designed to be bot-friendly

It's been a hard year for social platform companies like Twitter and Facebook. After reports emerged of Russians interfering with the 2016 presidential election by using bots and fake accounts, both companies have come under pressure to clean up their user bases. And for Twitter, this may be especially tricky; as far as platforms go, the site is incredibly bot-friendly.  "This is something that they've struggled with over the years ever since its inception," said Bloomberg's Selina Wang in an interview with Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal. "Twitter, as a company, has encouraged anonymity in various forms, as well as automated accounts." According to Wang, most of those bots on Twitter are innocuous; they handle customer service or tweet articles. But over time, bot use has become more diverse, and in some cases, malicious. But Twitter's business model could make screening for those malicious bots particularly complicated.  "When you look at Twitter, the main metric Wall Street cares about is this number called 'monthly active users.' They want to grow that number as much as possible," Wang said. "As they combat this issue, it will cause an impact, at least in the short term, on this monthly active user number." Click the audio player above to hear the full interview.

Anti-depressants: Major study finds they work

BBC - 7 hours 19 min ago
Scientists hail "good news for patients" as analysis finds 21 drugs reduce symptoms of depression.

Trump Backs Arming Teachers During Emotional White House Listening Session

NPR News - 7 hours 22 min ago

A week after 17 people were killed at a Parkland, Fla., high school, President Trump hosted survivors, parents and teachers from that and other recent school shooting tragedies.

(Image credit: AFP Contributor/Mandel Ngan)

Parents And Students Express Frustration During School Safety Meeting With Trump

NPR News - 7 hours 46 min ago

One week after 17 people were shot and killed at Majory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., students and parents sat down with President Trump to discuss school safety and gun control.

A New Survey Finds 81 Percent Of Women Have Experienced Sexual Harassment

NPR News - 7 hours 47 min ago

A nationwide survey found that most women have experienced some form of sexual harassment, many since their teenage years. The results illustrate why the #MeToo movement was so successful.

(Image credit: Sarah Morris/Getty Images)

'Mad' Mike's rocket mission to check if Earth is flat

BBC - 7 hours 53 min ago
A US rocket enthusiast is looking to blast himself into outer space to test an age-old theory.

Meet the farmer who found happiness in an ancestral way of life

BBC - 8 hours 24 min ago
French farmer Jean-Bernard Huon has rejected modern techniques such as machinery and chemicals, relying instead on traditional methods.

Should the water industry be renationalised?

BBC - 8 hours 30 min ago
The pros and cons of Labour's vow to bring the water industry back into public ownership.

Productivity is poised to rise. Finally.

Labor productivity, a measure of how efficient workers are, hasn't been improving in recent years. That has caused worry among economists, because worker productivity has a big impact on economic growth. Well, times may be a-changing. The McKinsey Global Institute is out with a new report that says this era of low productivity growth might finally be coming to an end. Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

The Papers: 'Landmark' Worboys ruling and Brexit divisions

BBC - 8 hours 44 min ago
Thursday's papers cover the latest on Worboys, Tory in-fighting over Brexit and experts endorse use of antidepressants.

Brit Awards 2018: Stormzy scoops Ed Sheeran to win top prizes

BBC - 8 hours 49 min ago
The grime star beats Ed Sheeran to two prizes, while pop singer Dua Lipa also wins a double.

Mayor eyes downtown development for Erie turnaround

President Trump pledged sweeping political and economic changes during the campaign. We have no idea if Trump can deliver on those promises, but we can explore what it’s going to take for him to try. It’s all in our series The Big Promise. As you may know from reading our ongoing coverage of Erie, Penn., the city of around 100,000 is divided between those who see the city's economy as a glass half-empty situation and those who see the glass half-full. Someone who's optimistic about Erie's future is Mayor Joe Schember, who has only been in office a month, but has lived in Erie his entire life. Like other mayors in similar-sized cities across the country, Schember is counting on construction of new buildings and a vibrant downtown to bring life back to Erie's economy. He talked with Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal about the challenges of getting residents on board. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.  Kai Ryssdal: What is the biggest economic challenge you face in the city of Erie? Joe Schember: Well, Erie has been losing jobs and population since the late 1960s, when we were around 140,000 population. We're down under 100,000 now, about 97, 98,000. And so my number one priority is to bring more good, family-sustaining jobs to Erie. I think that's the most important thing we need, and we need to turn that around, and I think we have a really unique opportunity right now to do that. Ryssdal: One of the things the president said during his campaign was he was going to bring jobs back to towns like Erie. He talked manufacturing, specifically. Do you think that the president is capable of doing what you also say you need to do in the city of Erie? Schember: Yeah, I'm not sure on a national level what the president may or may not do, but I really believe locally here in Erie we have the opportunity to do that. And I really believe most job development needs to be done at a local level not at a national level. Ryssdal: Where are the bright spots for you then, sir? Because what was for a long time the biggest employer in town, General Electric, has started pulling down. What's the upside for you? Schember: The upside is there's all kinds of new construction planned and actually already started in Erie. For instance, we have a Fortune 500 company in town here: Erie Insurance Exchange. They just started building a new building maybe six or nine months ago. It's going to take them a couple of years to build it. It will be the biggest building in downtown Erie ever constructed in my lifetime, and it's going to bring 600 new jobs to downtown Erie. So one of the things I'm trying to do is encourage local developers to create more good market-rate housing downtown. Right now, we have a real shortage of market-rate housing. My vision for that is we need to have this housing so downtown Erie can be more like downtown Pittsburgh, where the millennials live and work, walk to work, walk to the restaurants. I want to create that kind of environment in downtown Erie. Ryssdal: Since you mentioned your lifetime, sir, I should note here that you raised your kids in the house that you grew up in. You've been in Erie your whole life, you worked at the same company, PNC Bank, for 40-something years. Why did Erie change so much? What happened between when you were a kid and today? Schember: You know, we are a Rust Belt town, and I think what happened to us isn't unique, it happened throughout the Rust Belt. Some cities have been quicker in recovering than we've been. But again I think we have this opportunity now to really accelerate this recovery. I actually feel lucky that I got elected mayor at this point in time. And I mentioned Erie Insurance, that's like a $135 million project. There's a total of $600 million in projects in downtown Erie that have been announced. Our hospitals are building new buildings. We're getting new development on the bay front, which is one of our unique strengths we've never capitalized on, and something that can attract people here. It can be a great place for our residents to live, work and play. So I'm really excited about the opportunity, and what I'm trying to do is make sure we get the most out of all this opportunity we have right now. Ryssdal: So I've been in Erie probably four times over the past year, talked to a bunch of people. I was at the Polish Falcon about two days ago talking to people, and we've been walking around downtown talking to folks. They are not entirely happy with all the kinds of development that's happening, right? Lots of big giveaways for the hotels and the convention centers and stuff down on the waterfront. And they're not seeing the kind of growth that you're talking about. Schember: You know, what happened with the convention center -- there is controversy about that -- but it is state law what was done there in terms of the tax breaks they got. And to me, that's the first major development we've had on our bay front. What we need now is some for-profit businesses down there. There's a local restaurateur who's announced that in the parking ramp down there he's going to put a real unique restaurant. And I'm anxious for that because that will be the first for-profit thing down there. And he's got three or four restaurants around town, they're all popular. That will draw people down there, and as people start going down there more for things other than conventions, just to recreate, that will draw more businesses and hopefully some good market-rate housing over time. It's not going to be easy. And I understand people are frustrated and unfortunately, we do have a tendency in our town to look at the cup half empty. I want people to start looking at it half full and say, how can we make that even fuller than it is? Ryssdal: Well you know it's interesting you bring that up because as I said, I was in Erie a couple of days ago talking to a bunch of people around town, and there was an interesting generational divide. A lot of the folks who've been in Erie for a long time are very much glass half empty in a four-letter word kind of way that I can't say on the radio, and the younger people that I talked to actually had some optimism. They were hopeful and I think that generational divide is kind of interesting. Schember: Yeah, that is interesting. It's very encouraging to hear that about the younger generation, and I've got some access to a lot of them. I can tell you my mayor's office, the staff I put together, is very diverse which I'm proud of. We have an Indonesian, a new American citizen. We have an African-American. We have a millennial. We have a couple of women. I always say I'm the only old white guy on the team. We've also added a new business development officer, a new grant writer and a new city planner. The city of Erie has never had a planner before. We've never looked beyond the current year to say, where do we want to be five, 10, 15 years from now? And what do we need to do today to start getting there? So this team, I want to say they formed around me, because these are people that kind of came to me, talked to me over the course of the last year or so. Some of them I've known for a lot longer than that, but I feel very lucky to have this team, and I think this team can kind of change the way we look at things from that glass half empty to the glass half full as we start to have some early successes. I'm hoping even the older people, people more my age, will start to say hey, we do have the possibility to move things forward and make the city great again. Ryssdal: When you go to conferences of small- to medium-size city mayors in this country, as I'm sure you all do, what are you seeing from your peer cities across the country? Because there are thousands of cities like Erie all over the United States. Schember: Yes there are, and I've been in office about a month now. I've actually been to one training session where there were other mayors, and that was up at Harvard. That was actually before I took office. But at that particular meeting, I heard a lot of the same things from other mayors from across the country in similar-sized cities: that you've got to encourage the private sector to develop and grow. I don't want to create jobs in government. I want to create good, family-sustaining jobs in the private sector by encouraging them to locate, expand and grow here in Erie. Ryssdal: If I could just ask you to pull back for a second and talk about the national economy, are you worried about the situation that we have with the politicians in Washington running the national economy, their inability to agree, and how that might trickle down and affect you? Or are you just keeping your head down and doing your job? Schember: I do worry about that. And the same thing exists, to be honest, at at state level here in Pennsylvania, where the Democrats and Republicans just seem to oppose each other no matter what. We have a Republican senator, Dan Laughlin, who I've developed a relationship with. In fact, I was in Harrisburg yesterday and spent an hour meeting with him talking about a couple of programs that we might both have interest in trying to propose and move forward. So I don't care if it's a Democrat or Republican, any elected official that represents the same people I represent, I want to work with them to help the people and not worry about who's going to get elected in two or four years from now. That's the type of politics I hate. You know, I'm not a career politician, and I just wish they'd stop and start talking about how can we make the country better, how can we help our people.

Ian Williams: Doncaster Knights team-mate Will Owen pays tribute to prop

BBC - 8 hours 59 min ago
Doncaster Knights centre Will Owen pays tribute to team-mate Ian Williams, saying the prop's "charm and kindness were contagious".

Universities braced for 14 days of strikes over pensions

BBC - 9 hours 10 min ago
Lecturers at 64 universities walk out over changes they say could halve their retirement income.