Global Scan

iPhone won't stay charged? Blame Facebook


Facebook has been linked to problems with iPhone battery life.


Antonio Bronic/Reuters

Apple has recently been providing advice on how to maintain the battery life of your iDevice, like suggesting you don't use your battery in temperatures exeeding 95 degrees or in extreme cold. But new research suggests the best tactic may be to change your Facebook app settings.

Two researchers, one from the US and one from Germany, have independently announced that when they disabled Facebook's background app refresh, battery life immediately increased on the phone — and the battery drained more slowly after that.

To be sure, this isn't really a sign of a problem with Facebook — more that the app depends on a constant connection to Facebook's servers. And the app is so ubiquitous that problems from Facebook can seem like problems with the phone itself. The Guardian details how exactly to tune your iPhone for better battery life — and if you're an Android user, some of the tips may be applicable to you, as well.

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How the world looks through the lens of Russian TV

Robert Coalson wanted to get a better understanding of how the world looks from Russia — so, on March 31, he spent the entire day watching Russian state television. Writing for The Atlantic, he describes a media environment where information is, at best, presented out of context and, at worst, completely misrepresented.

Among the reports was a dubious account of how a Polish general was responsible for convincing French leader Napoleon Bonaparte to invade Russia — complete with elaborate graphics and innuendo about Polish hatred of and ill intentions toward Russia. And, apparently, all is well in Russia. It's a bastion of morality and democratic freedom — lined up against a rising tide of facism and moral depravity around the world. At least, that's the world, according to Russian state TV.

This soccer ball was supposed to change lives — but it broke

PRI's The World has a new installment in its Tracking Charity investigation. It examines an innovative soccer ball that was supposed to power lamps across the developing world, using only the energy that kids are already expending as they kick soccer balls.

The Soccket Ball has been hailed as a marvelous innovation that would let children study at night if their homes don't have electricity. The World's investigation, though, found that many families have their Soccket Balls tucked in a closet because they broke after just days or months of use. The World and its partner in the project, Tiny Spark, are hosting an online discussion with a panel of experts on how to use technology to fight poverty — and the best use of scarce resources. You can leave questions now, or join the chat, which runs all day Wednesday.

Was a disgraced North Korean official executed by flamethrower?

A South Korean media outlet is reporting that another round of leadership changes in North Korea has ended with a violent and hard-to-believe execution of one former top-ranking official, by flamethrower. The Independent, a UK outlet, reports that Kim Jong-un ordered O Sang-hon, a senior figure in North Korea's public security ministry, to be burned alive until no trace of his body remained.

While it's impossible to confirm, it wouldn't be the first time the country has used a novel execution method to send a political message. The new round of dismissals, including jailings and executions, is believed to be tied to an earlier round that saw Kim's uncle and once-advisor dismissed and executed in public. The maneuvers are widely viewed as Kim establishing his own circle of advisors, independent from those of his father.

All hair isn't created equal

The US Army is embroiled in controversy after it handed down new personal grooming guidelines. At the heart of the controversy is that the guidelines treat all hair types as the same. Specifically, critics say, it is practically impossible for black women soldiers to follow the guidelines. PRI's The World has the story, and examples of the now-forbidden hairstyles.

What we're seeing on social

Weather around the world

It's been a wet couple of days in one particular Argentinian town. Neuquen, Argentina, reported 7.37 inches of rain over the past 48 hours — more rain than it typically gets in a year, according to AccuWeather.

If only we had a reason...

Secretary of State John Kerry says Russia is sending agents into eastern Ukraine to "create chaos" and a convenient pretext for military intervention. In recent days pro-Kremlin activists have seized government buildings in several cities in Ukraine's east, declaring independence and vowing to vote on splitting from Kiev.


(c) Arend Van Dam, The Netherlands

This post is a regular feature of It's a daily brief and email newsletter of stories, events and graphics that are catching the attention of our news staff. The World's Leo Hornak kicks it off from London and various folks on our editorial team around the globe contribute from there, like Cartoon Editor Carol Hills in Boston. Don't expect anything near the standard wrap of major news stories. This blog post and its email companion will be as idiosyncratic as our staff... and we'll want you to tell us what you like and don't like. Sign up for a account and subscribe to our newsletter to get it delivered to your inbox. The newsletter arrives during the US morning hours.