National News

Thousands Rally In Hong Kong To Call For Democratic Vote

NPR News - Tue, 2014-07-01 05:16

Activists are threatening to blockade the city's financial district unless China allows a free and fair vote to elect Hong Kong's leader.

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Skimpier Health Plans Could Impose Big Out-Of-Pocket Costs

NPR News - Tue, 2014-07-01 04:42

Insurers and some Democratic senators say people should have a cheaper option on the health exchanges. But those plans may leave people with painfully high copays and deductibles if they get sick.

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More workers get crammed into less space

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-07-01 04:00

More people have jobs than before the Great Recession started, but office workers are cramped into less space than before. A lot of office space went empty during the recession, but a report from the real-estate information company Reis shows that only about half of that space has filled back up. 

It’s normal for office space to come back more slowly than employment, partly because offices often shrink more slowly than the workforce too.

"As you go into a recesssion and companies start to lay off employees, often-times the size of their physical footprint can’t shrink in accordance with that," says Ryan Severino, an economist at Reis. "So there tends to be a little bit of a mismatch."    

In other words, when companies bring back workers, a lot of them already have a bunch of extra space to put those people.  

Even when companies don’t have extra space — say, they were able to get out of their old lease and take a smaller space — increasing the footprint comes after hiring the people, and not until the old space gets tight.

"When you start doubling-up that office space, and start hearing complaints, you’re going to start planning," says  Susan Wachter, a professor at the Wharton School of business. "But you need to know the people are on board, and that you’re gonna need that space. And then, that too takes time." Budgeting for a move, for example, doesn't happen overnight.

This recovery has seen even less pickup of office space than previous cycles. Wachter also notes that open layouts, which require less space per employee, have become more popular.

France's Former President Sarkozy Taken Into Custody

NPR News - Tue, 2014-07-01 03:55

Suspicions about Nicolas Sarkozy's fundraising activities also touch on late Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi and the heiress to the L'Oreal fortune.

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Israel Kills Man In Raid As Troops Seek Teens' Abductors

NPR News - Tue, 2014-07-01 03:30

The operation was part of the search for two Palestinians suspected in the deaths of three Israeli teens whose bodies were found Monday.

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Asking Kids With Special Needs To Clear The Same Bar

NPR News - Tue, 2014-07-01 03:07

An official pronouncement raises more questions than it answers.

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PODCAST: Shrinking office space

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-07-01 03:00

As the second half of 2014 gets underway, a look at the S&P 500 index. Plus, with the number of jobs recovering since the Great Recession, a look at why office space doesn't tend to increase at the same rate. Also, is the "sharing economy" all it's cracked up to be? With big money flowing through businesses like Airbnb and Lyft, not everyone is on as equal a playing field as promised.

When the 'sharing economy' doesn't really play fair

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-07-01 03:00

A "sharing economy" can be as simple as a neighborhood with a shared lawnmower, but companies with big cash flow – think ride-sharing services like Lyft and Uber, as well as room rental places like Airbnb – are increasingly considered part of this model.

Oakland, California-based reporter Susie Cagle writes of her experience attending "Share," a conference on the sharing economy sponsored by Airbnb, Lyft, and eBay. She left the conference thinking the word "sharing" is getting stretched completely out of shape.

In her article, "The Case Against Sharing: On access, scarcity, and trust," Cagle recognizes the opportunity in these peer-to-peer economies, but thinks larger businesses like Airbnb and Lyft should be treated as just that: a business.

Click the media player above to hear reporter Susie Cagle in conversation with Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio.

IBM's Watson Is Out With Its Own Barbecue Sauce

NPR News - Tue, 2014-07-01 02:55

The supercomputer first showed off its intellectual prowess on Jeopardy. Now after analyzing a massive number of recipes, Watson has come up with its own sauce.

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Facebook's psychology study under scrutiny

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-07-01 02:00

Facebook has been at the center of controversy in the tech world after it was revealed that the social network manipulated the feeds of its users to examine how they react to changes in the tone of their friends' posts. 

The main finding of the study, according to Karen North, professor of social media and psychology at USC, is that Human beings are social animals — People saw that their friends were posting positive or negative things, and leaned towards doing what their friends were doing. 

As for the motivations behind the study, improving Facebook's core business was likely the key. 

“This is probably a combination of how to get people to buy things but also how to drive up engagement with Facebook,” says North. 

She also noted that the mining of consumer data in such a manner is fairly common. The reaction here, she argues, might speak to the nature of the business Facebook is in. 

She adds, "This is nothing new, it's just that it feels a little more invasive here because it feels like it is infiltrating our private conversations."

The most popular crowd at the public library?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-07-01 02:00
<a href="http://marketplaceapm.polldaddy.com/s/library-users">View Survey</a>

Green cards pay for new hotels

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-07-01 02:00

A new hotel just opened in downtown Los Angeles, with most of the money to pay for it originating outside the country – 95 percent of the financing came from 320 immigrant investors from 14 countries.

The sleek, modern lobby is unusual because it serves two hotels in one building: a Marriott Courtyard and Residence Inn.

General manager Erik Palmer says the two-in-one model appeals to investors.

“From an owners’ lens, it makes the hotel a lot more efficient. We have one front desk team, one housekeeping team and one engineering team," he says.

Almost all the financing came through what are called EB-5 visas, otherwise known as investor visas. In return for a $500,000 investment that creates at least ten jobs, foreigners get a green card.

One hotel investor – William Jeffcock – is a British citizen by way of Monaco.

“Because my home and residence was Monaco, there were very few paths which I would have qualified for. So the EB-5 really was the only way for me to come,” says Jeffcock.

He says his hotel investment was not primarily to buy a green card for the U.S.

“I hope to make money on this,” says Jeffcock. “I believe in the next two or three years I’ll be making 2 to 6 percent on my money.”

But other businesses using EB-5 money don’t always deliver what’s promised. In several states, the visa program has been used to defraud investors. Some observers dispute the number of jobs created.

Plus, there’s the issue of who collects the money. Even though the U.S. government is giving away the green cards, it’s the private sector that collects the half-million dollar payment.

“If you really want to create jobs, why not do it directly, by having the money come to the government? And then the government can decide how to allocate that to create jobs,” says John Vogel, who teaches at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

Vogel says the government could use money from investment visas for hiring workers to repair our infrastructure or expand internet access; the kind of economic development that benefits more of society than new hotels.

Need protection? Consider a collar!

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-07-01 00:00

If you've been following the stock market closely, you've probably read or listened to news stories where pundits and reporters describe the market as "frothy," "toppy," and "overheated."  Translation: we could be in for a big correction. 

Note use of the words "could be." The fact is, the stock market could continue on a tear. Or it could keep going up, up, up. No-one really knows.

It's not the upside you're worried about right now - it's the downside. You're probably not worried about what you might make in the future: you're looking back at the huge gains we've made in the market, and that's getting you worried about what you might lose.

You need protection. You need insurance against loss. But just like insurance against the loss of your car or your house or your life, insurance isn't free, and it can be very expensive.

In the stock trading world, insurance against loss is called a "put." In a put, you pay another investor a certain amount of money per share to sell your shares to her at a certain price.

Say you own 100 shares in Cadbottom Inc. Right now, the shares have risen to $2,005 a share, but you're worried they're going to fall. You purchase a put from your friend Helen, so that if the shares fall below $2,000 a share — called the strike price — she will buy them all from you for $2,000 each.

This put costs you $10 per share, or a total of $1,000. But there is a way to get your insurance for free.

You do this by selling a "call." A call is the right to buy shares at a certain price. You have another friend, Joan, who is prepared to pay you $10 per share for the right to buy your stock in Cadbottom if it rises above $2,010 per share.

Place a put and a call together, and you've got a collar.

Well done! You have now protected your investment from losing more than $2000 a share, and you did it for free! The only downside is that if the market in Cadbottom does really well, and the shares rise above $2010 each, you won't benefit, because you'll have to sell them to Joan. Doubtless, she'll be jeering at you, but you'll have a sack full of cash, and she'll be the one worrying about insurance. 

Hamas Member Killed In Israeli Raid After 3 Teens Found Dead

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-30 23:54

A Palestinian was shot dead when he threw a grenade at forces carrying out an arrest raid hours after the discovery of the bodies of 3 Israeli teenagers who had been abducted, Israel's military said.

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Supreme Court Deals A Blow To Public Employee Unions

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-30 17:09

The justices ruled 5-4 to allow workers who don't join the union and don't pay any fees to get the same benefits as those who do pay union dues.

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Ukraine's President Ends Ceasefire, Vows To 'Free Our Lands'

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-30 16:23

The truce lasted for 10 days, even though Ukrainian authorities said the ceasefire had been violated many times by pro-Russian separatists and 27 Ukrainian troops had been killed.

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Obama Orders 200 More Troops To Iraq

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-30 15:09

The president had previously deployed about 300 military advisers to assist Iraqi security forces and he sent 275 troops to guard the embassy.

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Obama's No-Win Immigration Predicament

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-30 15:07

The president's announcement that he would shift immigration enforcement resources to the Southern border failed to placate anyone.

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Skip The Stirrups: Doctors Rethink Yearly Pelvic Exams

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-30 14:34

The American College of Physicians says annual pelvic exams aren't necessary for healthy women and could be harmful. But not all doctors agree, and the new recommendation is stirring up debate.

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How Many Companies Will Be Touched By Court's Contraception Ruling?

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-30 14:23

The Supreme Court says owners of closely held corporations may exercise their religious beliefs. That covers a majority of firms, but experts question how many would want to assert religious views.

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