National News

House Panel Grills GM CEO And Investigator Over Switch Recall

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-18 08:23

Questions about a potential cover-up dominate a congressional hearing about General Motors' handling of a deadly safety flaw. "How could they not know?" one congressman asked.

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The Twisty Tale Of The World's Most Expensive Stamp

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-18 08:17

The British Guiana One-Cent Black on Magenta begins its journey in a young Scottish boy's collection and passes through the hands of a delusional killer. It was auctioned Tuesday for $9.5 million.

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What's Next For Iraq?

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-18 07:54

Until the past few days, no one was talking about renewed U.S. military action in Iraq. Here's a look at the ways the latest crisis could play out.

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Goats In The City? Making A Case For Detroit's Munching Mowers

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-18 07:54

Goats aren't allowed in Detroit, but billionaire Mark Spitznagel thinks they could help revitalize blighted neighborhoods. Goat raisers in other cities say the animals can be eco-friendly landscapers.

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Washington Redskins' Federal Trademarks Cancelled

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-18 06:43

The agency ruled in a case brought by five Native Americans. The decision does not require the football team to change its name; the team confirms it will pursue an appeal.

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Japan Bans Possession Of Child Pornography

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-18 06:41

The country's new law makes the possession of child porn punishable by up to a year in prison or a fine of nearly $10,000. But it excludes manga, animation and computer graphics.

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U.S. Offshore Wind Energy Area Would Nearly Double Under New Plan

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-18 05:18

The U.S. Department of the Interior says the new Massachusetts Wind Energy Area would be auctioned off in four leases. It includes more than 1,000 square miles of ocean.

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Fewer Women Are Having Labor Induced Early

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-18 05:03

Government data show that fewer women are having labor induced before 39 weeks for nonmedical reasons. Advocates say that change is good for the health of babies.

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Ukraine's President Announces Plan For Unilateral Cease-Fire

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-18 04:25

The break in action is to give armed separatists time to lay down their weapons, President Petro Poroshenko says.

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Amazon likely to unveil new smart phone

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-06-18 04:00

The online retailing giant Amazon is expected to unveil a smart phone at a media event in Seattle today, with tech observers buzzing over the anticipated bells-and-whistles-like 3D features.

But many think the phone will largely function as a handheld shopping cart that you can then fill with more of Amazon's stuff.

“They want you to interact with them five, ten times a day, and the mobile phone is a great way to ensure that Amazon is there whenever you might need something,” says James McQuivey, a media analyst with Forrester Research.

McQuivey says an Amazon phone might also include a built-in payment system that could be used with any retailer.

Colin Gillis, senior technology analyst with the brokerage firm BGC Financial, thinks the phone might well be free. Same goes for the data if you're, say, downloading music from Amazon.

“It's the classic razor and blades. You can have the razor for free as long as you keep buying blades from us,” Gillis says.

Even so, Gillis thinks a smart phone won't bust Amazon out of its low profit margins.

The ‘Maker Movement’ heads to Washington

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-06-18 03:30

Some say that America is becoming a country of paper-pushers; that we aren’t actually making much real stuff anymore. But grassroots designers and fabricators are looking to change that perception. Today these so-called makers are gathering at the White House for a kind of trade fair to promote their businesses and their movement.

Jules Pieri, CEO of The Grommet, who helped shape the event, joins Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio to discuss.

Click the audio player above to hear Jules Pieri in conversation with Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio

Militants Attack Iraq's Largest Oil Refinery As Sectarian Clashes Spread

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-18 03:30

Iraq's government is using limited air attacks to strike back at the Sunni group known as ISIS, which now controls large areas of northern Iraq.

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PODCAST: Guardians of interest rates

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-06-18 03:00

In advance of the press conference coming out of the Federal Reserve's two-day meeting, a look at what to expect from Chair Janet Yellen. Plus, more on the debut of the amazon phone. Also, while some criticize the U.S. for not making anything anymore, several fabricators and makers head to Washington, D.C. as part of the 'maker movement.'

Meet New Jersey’s tobacco bonds

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-06-18 03:00

And now for a fairy tale about tobacco bonds: once upon a time, it seemed like the clouds had opened up and rained money on many states when the great tobacco company settlement of 1998 was struck.

But like many a lottery jackpot, the $206 billion promised  would only get paid out slowly, over time. Impatient and cash-strapped states then figured out ways to get the money quicker by authorizing special bonds. Investors would lend the states their money, knowing they'd get paid back later when the tobacco settlement money trickled in, plus interest. 

Yet in some places -- New Jersey, for example -- some of those bonds ran into trouble and the investors who bought them weren’t so happy. Although state officials are under no obligation to fix the problem, they are proud of their solution.

But Fortune magazine senior editor-at-large Allan Sloan is not proud of his home state’s solution

Click the audio player above to hear Allan Sloan in conversation with Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio

With Iraq back again, are we just hearing re-runs?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-06-18 02:00

We did something the other day that I don’t actually think we’ve ever done before. Not on purpose, anyway. 

We re-ran an interview from the archives: Donald Rumsfeld, from a year or so ago, when he had a new book out that he was pushing.

We try real hard not to repeat ourselves. Real hard. Even if it’s the zillionth story on… I dunno…unemployment or something, we’re gonna try to find a fresh angle and tell you something new. 

But as we were putting the show together this past Friday, it dawned on me that we had an interview with one of the key people on what the United States did in Iraq a decade ago and it was just sitting there waiting to be heard.  Okay, re-heard, but you get my meaning. And with what's been happening over there the past couple of weeks, I figured airing it again would be a better service to our listeners than almost anything else we could do.

So we did.

Now, you could argue that an interview about Iraq has no business being on Marketplace. Or that I was rude and disrespectful to a former secretary of defense. Or that he's an unrepentant neo-conservative who should be in jail. All of those things – and more – were said about that interview (in the 100+ comments on our site and the hundreds of shares and links on Twitter and Facebook). Fine. 

And yes, I completely get and agree with the point Jim Fallows makes --  that those who led us into Iraq, or counseled in favor of war, should do the decent thing and stay quiet right now (he also, recommends those who should be listened to right now).

But when you have the opportunity to ask pointed question, as I did with Rumsfeld, and as Erin Burnett did with Paul Bremmer Monday night on CNN, then I think the obligation is to do exactly that and let people make up their own minds.

YouTube changes terms and conditions for labels

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-06-18 02:00

Digital "Terms and Conditions" are the things we agree to with the click of a box and a tiny prayer that they don’t turn on us. When the same thing happens on a grand scale, it can get pretty ugly.

This week, independent artists and record labels are locked in a staring contest with Google over new terms and conditions for posting music on YouTube -- The artists are names you'd recognize, including Adele and Jack White.

Molly Wood, New York Times Tech Columnist, says, "this is a story of big companies behaving badly.”

YouTube, trying to capitalize on its status as the number one place for streaming music, is starting a subscription music service. However, it is also threatening independent labels with being blocked from uploading to You Tube if they don’t license their music.

Says Wood, "For years, they [content producers] may have been bullied by movie studios, or TV studios, or record lables, and they thought they had found a safe haven in some of these digital startups, and the reality is that the behavior is looking the same."

Fed grapples with rising prices and slow growth

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-06-18 02:00

The Federal Reserve’s key policy-making body — the Federal Open Market Committee — wraps up its two-day meeting today with a news conference hosted by Chair Janet Yellen, and  projections on economic growth going forward.

Consumer prices were up strongly in May — at around a 2 percent annual rate — for everything from food and gasoline, to rents and new cars. If that keeps up, the Fed might have to raise short-term interest rates sooner than expected, to tamp down prices. That could also tamp down consumer spending and job growth.

“You’ve still got the backdrop of this slow-growth economy with stagnant household income," says Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com. "Suddenly inflation’s starting to pick up, so you’re taking away what little spending power the consumer had.”

And Bernie Baumohl at the Economic Outlook Group says even though economic growth and job-creation have clearly rebounded since the dismal winter months, there are a lot of wild cards out there for the Fed — like stubbornly low wage-growth in the U.S., not to mention civil strife in Iraq, and soaring oil prices worldwide.

 “The geopolitical pot is really boiling furiously," says Baumohl. "And it really greatly complicates the decision-making process on the Fed, among investors and also among CEOs.”

 

Report finds low graduation rates, but high federal aid

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-06-18 02:00

A new report from the Education Trust says over $15 billion a year in federal aid goes to colleges where most of the students don’t graduate. Plus, many of the students -- three out of ten -- have so much debt they can’t repay it.

Not so suprising: most of the schools on the list are for-profit institutions.

There’s some argument in academic circles as to what is a good graduation rate -- some students transfer, some take longer to graduate, and not everyone finishes. Judith Scott-Clayton, a professor of economics and education at Columbia University’s Teacher’s College, says while that is the case, it's still easy to spot problematically low rates.

“I think most people could agree that 15 percent is probably too low," Scott-Clayton says.

But over a six year period at a group of schools (many of which are for-profit), the report found that 15 percent is exactly how few students are graduating.

Michael Dannenburg, Director of Higher Education Policy with Education Trust cites the University of Phoenix, a for-profit that he says receives $4 billion a year in federal student aid and has a lot of campuses on the low graduation list. The school points out that many of its students work on top of their studies, so of course it takes them longer to graduate. 

But Dannenburg notes the average college graduation rate from four year colleges after six years of enrollment is 59 percent. He also says you can’t pin low rates on low income students.

Says Dannenburg, "We’ve looked at scores of institutions that are serving similar students with similar characteristics that get very different results. In other words, demography is not destiny in higher education."

Deford: How To Host A Sports Extravaganza That Won't Break The Bank

NPR News - Tue, 2014-06-17 23:25

Building new World Cup or Olympics facilities in different cities every several years is just too costly, says commentator Frank Deford. So why not, he asks, try something different?

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Is Collecting Animals For Science A Noble Mission Or A Threat?

NPR News - Tue, 2014-06-17 23:25

Museums are filled with dead insects, birds, fish, mammals and reptiles meticulously gathered worldwide in the name of scientific discovery. But some researchers now say scientists should think twice.

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