National News

Casino Boat Runs Aground Off Georgia Coast In Maiden Voyage

NPR News - Wed, 2014-07-16 07:52

So far, the Coast Guard has been unable to move the boat. Passengers who have been stuck for hours are now being evacuated by small boats and helicopter.

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Neil Whosis? What You Don't Know About The 1969 Moon Landing

NPR News - Wed, 2014-07-16 07:51

The year he landed on the moon, astronaut Neil Armstrong was famous, iconic, an American hero. One year later he wasn't. In 1970, how many people remembered his name? This will surprise you.

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Move Over Hong Kong: The World's Priciest Cities Are In Angola And Chad

NPR News - Wed, 2014-07-16 07:45

A new survey of the most expensive cities in the world puts Luanda and N'djamena at the top. How did these African capitals beat our perennial top dollar towns like Hong Kong and Tokyo?

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Palin's Call For Impeachment Reopens Debate Over ... Sarah Palin

NPR News - Wed, 2014-07-16 07:45

The former Alaska governor hasn't done any favors for Republicans who've been trying to channel anger at President Obama in directions that might do the GOP more good.

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A Huge New Crater Is Found In Siberia, And The Theories Fly

NPR News - Wed, 2014-07-16 07:40

The crater is estimated at 262 feet wide and is in the northern Siberian area of Yamal, a name The Siberian Times says roughly translates as "the end of the world."

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A Dozen People Killed As Typhoon Batters The Philippines

NPR News - Wed, 2014-07-16 06:43

Mass evacuations helped limit the death toll from Rammasun as it passed through densely populated areas. The government was better prepared following a killer storm last fall.

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Nepalis Treat This Peace Corps Volunteer Like Justin Bieber

NPR News - Wed, 2014-07-16 06:26

And that's not necessarily a good thing. Our blogger reveals the darkly funny side of being a local celebrity who's trying (and not always succeeding) to improve health, nutrition and income.

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Death, Sex And A Glimmer Of Hope: Reporting On Ebola From Sierra Leone

NPR News - Wed, 2014-07-16 06:05

How does a town cope with Ebola? One man tries to honor his mother's burial wishes, despite objections. People are afraid to touch. Despite the gloom, there's a hopeful note: Five patients are cured.

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New Hampshire Says It Will Now Allow D.C. Residents To Buy Booze

NPR News - Wed, 2014-07-16 05:40

Last week, a group of Washingtonians visiting New Hampshire were told they couldn't buy alcohol because their IDs weren't from a state.

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Murdoch Confirms A Spurned Bid For Time Warner

NPR News - Wed, 2014-07-16 04:54

Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox says that it sought to buy Time Warner last month, confirming an offer said to be worth $80 billion.

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EEOC Announces Tougher Rules Protecting Pregnant Workers

NPR News - Wed, 2014-07-16 04:28

Discrimination against female workers who might get pregnant in the future, or have been pregnant in the past, is against the law, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says.

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Students React To The Closure Of A Giant For-Profit College

NPR News - Wed, 2014-07-16 04:21

The for-profit college chain Corinthian Colleges is closing or selling most of its 107 campuses and online programs.

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Court Finds Netherlands Liable For 300 Deaths In Srebrenica Massacre

NPR News - Wed, 2014-07-16 04:11

The decision is a victory for only some of the families of the 8,000 men and boys slain in the July 1995 massacre in Bosnia.

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Syria's Assad Sworn In For Third 7-Year Presidential Term

NPR News - Wed, 2014-07-16 03:34

He was declared the winner of last month's election, which outside observers labeled a sham. Syria is in the midst of a civil war that has created a massive refugee crisis.

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Israel Warns People To Leave Gaza As Cease-Fire Debate Continues

NPR News - Wed, 2014-07-16 03:19

Those who received the warning in Gaza were given until 8 a.m. local time to leave. The airstrikes that followed targeted Hamas leaders.

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PODCAST: Unlikely tech friends

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-07-16 03:00

Once notorious enemies, IBM and Apple have announced a partnership, with IBM developing more than 100 business apps for Apple. Plus, with Bank of America's disappointing earnings report, a look at what banks are dealing with this profit reporting season. Also, more on how campaign strategists maximize the effectiveness of email.

Apple and IBM: from flipping the bird to partnership

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-07-16 03:00

There’s a famous picture of Steve Jobs flipping the bird at an IBM sign:

Andy Hertzfeld, one of the original members of the Macintosh team, first published the photo to his Google page.

Then there was an Apple TV commercial depicting IBM as Big Brother from the book, 1984.

An annoucer intones, “On January 24, Apple computer will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like 1984.”

But that was when Apple and IBM hated each other, and competed for the desktop computer market. 

Now, Apple needs IBM’s expertise as it tries to get companies to order more iPhones and iPads. Apple and IBM say IBM will develop more than 100 business apps for Apple.

Apple hopes the partnership will answer security concerns, and give CEOs one more reason to buy Apple.

“It's not just - hey the employees prefer it. But it also means, hey, the business advantages might even  be stronger if I go with the Apple solution," says Forrester analyst Frank Gillett.

As for IBM, it gets to be part of a winning team. Plus, IBM’s app designers will have greater access to Apple software. 

 

The challenge of funding a community college education

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-07-16 02:30

Federal student loans -- widely regarded as the safest form of education financing because of their low, fixed interest rates and flexible repayment plans -- are out of reach for one million community college students nationwide. That’s according to a new report from The Institute for College Access & Success.

The report says that while community colleges are generally a low-cost way to get a degree or certificate, students can still face roughly $15,000 in annual costs, with tuition and living expenses combined.

The majority of community colleges do offer federal student loan programs. But the report cites big regional differences, with 250,000 students shut out from the programs in California alone.

David Baime with the American Association of Community Colleges doubts the situation needs to change, noting that only 17 percent of community college students take out loans.

Plus, Baime says some schools might be reluctant to offer the loan programs because they fear defaults. High student loan default rates could hurt a college’s ability to secure other forms of federal aid, such as Pell Grants.

The numbers behind a community college education

1 MILLION

The number of community college students nationwide who lack access to federal student loans.

64 PERCENT

The number of African-American community college students lacking access to federal student loans in Alabama, compared to 35 percent of their white peers.

$3,300

The average tuition and fees for a full-time, full-year community college student, as estimated by the American Association of Community Colleges.

$15,000

The full cost of one year of attendance at a community college, including tuition, fees, books and supplies, living expenses and transportation, as estimated by The Institute for College Access & Success.

1 IN 5

The number of community college students defaulting on loans within three years of beginning their repayment, according to the American Association of Community Colleges.

17 PERCENT

The share of community college students who take out loans, according to both groups cited above.

Acid rain aftermath: damaged ecology, damaged politics

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-07-16 02:00

Karen Roy was in grad school in the early 1980s when two things made her realize acid rain was a big deal. The first was the decline of the forest on Camel’s Hump, a mountain in Vermont. The second was learning about dying lakes in the Northeast.

“There were people talking about the record fish that were no longer found,” she says.  

Roy now manages the Adirondack Long Term Monitoring program. When I visited, she and her team were heading to a pond near Lake Placid, New York. They were going to check how acidic the water is these days; a process repeated in dozens of lakes monthly. But first we have to hike through a forest.  

“What affects the forests, ultimately affects lakes and streams as well,” Roy says. 

Forests and lakes are connected, but how they recover from acid rain is very different. 

Since the bad old days of the 1970s and '80s, there has been a whole lot less acid falling on the Northeast. That’s mostly thanks to the 1990 Clean Air Act, which has made a big difference to lakes and streams. Many are now coming back to life, with fish and other fauna reviving. But that’s not the whole story. 

“It’s just like everyone [said], 'Whew, that problem is solved, now we can think about something else,'” says Gene Likens, co-founder of the Cary Institute of Ecosystems Studies, and one of the first people to discover acid rain in the U.S. 

He says forests are having a much tougher time. Years of acid rain falling on their soils has leached away calcium and other minerals that used to neutralize the acid. So, even though today’s rain is far less acidic, sensitive forests are less able to deal with it. 

“The system is more sensitive. And one could argue that the impact is as bad as it was in 1990 when we passed the Clean Air Act amendments,” he says. 

Trees like sugar maple and red spruce are suffering the most. They need a lot of calcium and the soils are depleted. Forests are on a completely different timeline than lakes. 

“Some will recover on the order of decades. But others will not recover for many, many, many decades,” says Charles Driscoll, university professor of environmental systems engineering at Syracuse University.  

That’s why, despite all the progress made since 1990, Likens and Driscoll would like to see lawmakers reduce smokestack emissions even more.

That’s unlikely. The political environment has changed so much since the 1990 Clean Air Act was passed with bipartisan support. That bill included the acid rain provisions, the first widescale use of cap and trade. 

Back then, cap and trade was an idea nearly everyone could get behind. Democrats and environmentalists liked that it could slash pollution. Republicans liked that it used market forces and gave industry choices.

“What had been for decades a bipartisan issue has evolved into what is now a highly polarized, partisan issue,” says Robert Stavins, a Harvard professor who studies emissions trading programs.

The 1990 Clean Air Act was championed by both President George H.W. Bush and northeastern Democrats. The cap and trade program helped cut acid rain-causing sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides by more than 70 percent -- faster and more cheaply than planned. 

“It was decidedly a success,” Stavins says. 

But critics say it had one flaw.  

“Congress never put a provision in there to make changes to the program in the future,” says Gary Hart, owner of Clean Air Markets, and former manager of emissions trading at Southern Company, the large utility. 

By the 2000s, the bipartisanship was gone. Democrats killed Republican acid rain proposals because the bills didn’t do what they wanted about climate change. Democrats tried to apply cap and trade to carbon dioxide, which Stavins says led a new breed of Republicans to turn on their own idea, “because it was the mechanism on the table.”  

Critics labeled it "cap and tax." Meanwhile, the public became skeptical of markets after the financial crisis.

With no help from Congress, Presidents Bush and Obama started trying to change the acid rain rules through regulation. Hart says that caused more damage.  

“When the government comes in and changes the program in the middle of the game, and sort of changes the rules, it really impacts investors and the players in the market. It impacts their confidence,” he says. 

Trading in the acid rain cap and trade program has all but ceased.   

In the end, regulations for other pollutants like mercury and particulates have had the side effect of reducing acid rain even more. But those regulations are a final blow to one of the most successful examples of using the market to solve an environmental crisis.

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