National News

In The Making Of Megafarms, A Few Winners And Many Losers

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-16 13:19

A tiny fraction of America's 2 million farmers produces most of our food. They are the winners of a long-running competition for land and profits that has also drained the life out of small towns.

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Court Overturns Sharing Of FISA Surveillance With Defense Lawyers

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-16 13:17

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals says that the Justice Department can keep intelligence information secret in terrorism cases.

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Teens Disappear In The West Bank, And Israel Blames Hamas

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-16 13:11

The Israeli military is searching the West Bank for three Israeli teens who were kidnapped last week.

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Poll: Congressional Approval At Dangerous Low Point

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-16 13:10

A new Gallup survey finds key midterm election indicators at or approaching historic lows. Satisfaction with the direction of the country is also near rock bottom.

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Can Schools Solve The Tech Industry's Pipeline Problem?

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-16 13:03

It might be time to change the message on STEM.

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GM Recalls 3.2 Million More Cars For Faulty Ignition Switches

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-16 12:45

The latest recall is in addition to the 2.6 million cars the automaker has already recalled for a similar problem.

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Citing Unpaid Debts, Russia Cuts Off Gas Supplies To Ukraine

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-16 12:35

Russia says it has cut natural gas supplies to Ukraine after Kiev missed a deadline to pay part of its huge outstanding energy debt.

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Growing Worker Shortage Looms Over Logging Industry's Future

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-16 12:25

Logging is dangerous, arduous work, and fewer young people are pursuing it. Logging groups hope more outreach, and a bill that would lower the minimum logging age, will help keep the industry going.

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A mall in the middle of (what used to be) nowhere

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-06-16 12:21

Williston, North Dakota, has the nation’s highest rents. Thanks to the fracking boom, a basic apartment in Williston costs more than something similar in New York or San Francisco.  And it comes with a lot fewer amenities.

For instance, shopping. If Walmart doesn’t have it, the nearest outlet is at least two hours away. Now, a Swiss investment firm has announced plans to build a $500 million development that will include a major shopping center.

There are good reasons retail has taken so long to catch up with the town’s exploding population.

About three years ago, California real-estate developer Jeff Lunnen and his partners went to Williston to check out the fracking boom’s business prospects.

It wasn’t an easy trip. “It was hard to get accommodations," he says. "Hard to get something to eat, and trucks going in every direction.” At the time, many of the workers crowding into Williston camped out in RVs—some in the Walmart parking lot, others on the street.

All of which, to Lunnen, signaled unlimited opportunity. “We went back in two weeks, and started buying real estate,” he says, “and it’s been very good for us.”

The town’s population has more than doubled, and the RVs have been replaced by “man camps”—basically company barracks—after a city crackdown.

Lunnen has focused on industrial projects, but some developers have started to create more-permanent housing, at those sky-high rents.

Retail, says Lunnen, presents special challenges. “It’s a little like building your retail project on the moon,” he says. “There’s some logistical issues.”

For instance: Who would work in the shops? Are they supposed to live in the man-camps? How could retail stores pay competitive wages, when oilfield companies pay unskilled 19 year-olds $80,000 a year?

Traditional lenders haven’t been quick to get involved in retail development. “We are looking to avoid what I would refer to as over-capacity,” says John Giese, who oversees business banking for Wells Fargo in North Dakota. In other words, when things level off, will there be more malls than even a built-up Williston needs? 

No one knows for sure how many people live and work in Williston now. A study commissioned by the city planning department puts the range between 39,000 and 44,500.

Meanwhile, like Jeff Lunnen, Wells Fargo has plenty to do in a line that’s more of a sure thing: working with energy producers. “Supporting that industry—making equipment and construction loans and such—will have quicker payback,” he says.

A Swiss investment firm called Stropiq is behind the newly announced $500 million project, to include housing, hotels and 1.2 million square feet of retail.

Donn Fuller, a Jones Lang LaSalle executive who is managing the build-out and soliciting tenants, says the first phase will focus on what he calls commodities:  “Grocery, pharmacy, theaters,” he says. “In that area we consider theaters a commodity. Which is a little different, but there’s not a lot of entertainment.”

Fuller hopes to have that phase—which may include department stores and women’s fashion—up and running in about three years. The project as a whole may take seven to ten.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” he says. “On the site plan, the financial model. All I can say is, we think it’s going to be profitable. How profitable remains to be seen.”

Fuller admits: He’s never done a project in a location like this before.

Iraqi Ambassador: 'In Iraq Now, You Have A Thousand Bin Ladens'

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-16 12:12

Lukman Faily, the Iraqi ambassador to the U.S., speaks about Iraq's hopes for the American response to recent turmoil, as well as the conditions the U.S. has placed on its possible intervention.

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Chicago Gets Out From Under Its History Of Political Patronage

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-16 12:07

A court-appointed federal monitor will no longer oversee hiring in the city of Chicago. A federal judge ruled that the city has put in place enough safeguards to minimize patronage in Chicago government jobs. It took 45 years of court orders and consent decrees, but political reformers say that patronage, which once built a powerful democratic machine, is slowly becoming a thing of the past.

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Boon Or Blood Bath, Life Under ISIS Depends On The City

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-16 12:07

In Mosul, the militant group ISIS is providing cooking fuel to families and telling locals that soon they'll trade their masks for regular uniforms. In Tal Afar, where locals are Shiite and less sympathetic to ISIS, a bloody takeover has ensued instead.

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Calm Or Violent Chaos, Life Under ISIS Depends On The City

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-16 12:07

In Mosul, the militant group ISIS is providing cooking fuel to families and otherwise restoring order. But the mixed Shiite and Sunni town of Tal Afar has already seen the brutal face of ISIS.

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By Slim Margin, Supreme Court Preserves Key Gun Control Law

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-16 12:07

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that federal law may prohibit someone from buying a gun for another person — whether or not the other person is legally allowed to purchase a gun.

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Software That Sees Employees, Not Outsiders, As The Real Threat

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-16 12:07

Security software that's meant to prevent data loss in firms is shifting the focus to employee behavior, monitoring activity round-the-clock in search of bad intent. But will bosses go too far?

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Finally! A Decent Espresso On The International Space Station

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-16 12:06

An Italian aerospace firm, in conjunction with coffee company Lavazza and the Italian space agency, have jointly developed a system for producing zero-G espresso.

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Photos: Father Of Santa Barbara Killer Meets Victim's Dad

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-16 11:51

Richard Martinez made national news when he railed against politicians. Earlier this month, he made good on his promise to meet with the killer's dad to talk about how they could make things better.

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You can't beet vegetables. Lettuce explain.

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-06-16 11:19

From the Marketplace Datebook, here's a look at what's coming up Tuesday, June 17:

In Washington, the Labor Department releases the Consumer Price Index. It lets us know if consumers paid more or less for stuff in May than they did in April.

The Commerce Department tells us how many new homes were built in May.

The Federal Reserve begins a two-day meeting on interest rates. It's one of eight regularly scheduled meetings for the year.

The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee holds a hearing on creating jobs through bio-based manufacturing.

And start thinking about broccoli, beets and Brussels sprouts. Tuesday is Eat Your Vegetables Day. Don't argue with me.

Texas Politics To Be Lone Star Of New HBO Series

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-16 11:01

A new HBO drama, God Save Texas, is set to take the chaos and color of the Texas political scene to the small screen.

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