National News

Experimental Drug Saves Monkeys Stricken With Ebola

NPR News - Fri, 2014-08-29 09:09

Even when monkeys were near death, an Ebola treatment called ZMapp was able to save them. The drug has been used in a few people, but the limited supply has been exhausted.

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The Most Bizarre Bits To Come Out Of The Trial Of Virginia's Ex-Governor

NPR News - Fri, 2014-08-29 09:02

At issue are serious allegations of corruption, but the trial has also unveiled some unfortunate details of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's personal life.

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Malaysia Airlines Cuts A Third Of Its Workforce After Steep Losses

NPR News - Fri, 2014-08-29 08:29

The disappearance of MH370 and the shooting down of MH17 in recent months have compounded the hit to the carrier's already shaky bottom line.

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A Peace Corps Stint In Madagascar Gave Him A Vision Of Vanilla

NPR News - Fri, 2014-08-29 07:28

The top source of vanilla beans sends its fragrant crop abroad for processing into extract. Now a former Peace Corps volunteer aims to boost Madagascar's economy by building a bean-to-bottle business.

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Britain Raises Terror Alert Level, But Cites No Specific Threat

NPR News - Fri, 2014-08-29 07:00

The warning was raised to "severe," the second-highest level, as British Prime Minister David Cameron said Islamic extremism poses a "greater and deeper" threat to the U.K. than ever before.

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California Lawmakers Pass 'Affirmative Consent' Sexual Assault Bill

NPR News - Fri, 2014-08-29 06:19

The bill states that students on college campuses would need "affirmative consent" before engaging in sexual activity. Silence or a lack of resistance would not constitute consent.

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Life Under The Islamic State: Sharia Law And Few Services

NPR News - Fri, 2014-08-29 06:17

News from Mosul has been scarce since the Islamic State took power. Speaking by phone, Iraqis say the group has imposed strict controls that are alienating residents and are providing few services.

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Volcanoes In Iceland, Papua New Guinea Keep Residents On Edge

NPR News - Fri, 2014-08-29 05:09

Two eruptions a half a world apart have caused evacuations and aviation warnings, but so far no injuries.

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Plea To Ferguson's Leaders: To Help Heal, Acknowledge Our Hurt

NPR News - Fri, 2014-08-29 04:53

NPR's Michel Martin was invited by St. Louis Public Radio to moderate an intensely emotional community conversation around race, police tactics and leadership.

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U.N.: Syrian Refugee Crisis Is 'Biggest Humanitarian Emergency Of Our Era'

NPR News - Fri, 2014-08-29 04:09

The number of refugees from the Syrian civil war is on the verge of surpassing 3 million, the United Nations said. Almost half of all Syrians have been forced out of their homes.

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PODCAST: Nashville's parking crisis

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-08-29 03:00

In a digital world where our personal data is sometimes passed around like popcorn at the stadium, Apple is getting strict. The Financial Times and the Guardian newspapers are reporting that Apple has told its developers they cannot sell to third parties health data generated by its devices. The tightening of privacy rules comes as Apple is preparing to launch an updated operating system and a new platform for health and fitness. Plus, Alibaba -- known as the Amazon of China or the Paypal of China or the Ebay of China -- is going public this month in what may well be the largest new stock offering in U.S. history. And as any company must, Alibaba will be doing what's called a "road show" - where executives meet with investors to gin up interest.  We take a look at how this road show will be different. And the city of Nashville's urban core is bubbling over with growth, bumping up land prices and gobbling up parking spots. For business owners, this means parking lots are becoming increasingly unaffordable. Enter, on the wings of supply and demand, valet parking companies.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Says Government Will Seek NATO Membership

NPR News - Fri, 2014-08-29 02:58

Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Kiev was sending a bill to parliament to get the process rolling. Meanwhile, NATO held an emergency meeting to discuss further Russian incursion into Ukrainian territory.

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Weekly Wrap: 'Confident but careful' and Snapchat

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-08-29 02:39

Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal discusses the week that was in business and the economy with Nela Richardson, chief economist at Redfin, and Cardiff Garcia, of FT Alphaville. 

Silicon Tally: Charlotte's Web...in your Suzuki

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-08-29 02:00

It's time for Silicon Tally! How well have you kept up with the week in tech news?

Our guest this week is Marketplace senior reporter Stacey Vanek Smith. Smith stops by for one last game before heading off to join our colleagues at NPR's Planet Money. 

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Inside Nashville's valet parking boom

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-08-29 02:00

Tyler Ross is a musician who parks cars in his spare time — and for spare change. Shaved head, standard-issue polo shirt, khakis and Ray-Bans to shield the beating sun, he looks like the quintessential valet guy. Having been in the game for about a year, slick rides barely faze him.

"It's always funny because people are like, 'you park Mercedes and BMWs?' And I'm like 'Yeah, I park a hundred of those, they're not nice any more, ya know? I park Aston Martins and Bentleys and stuff,'" says Ross, who personally drives a Toyota Matrix.

Ross is among hundreds of part-time valet workers who have found employment in Nashville's valet boom. In the city's urban core, where Ross mostly works, searching for a spot feels like a treasure hunt, and that spells big opportunity for purveyors of parking assistance.

According to city records, there were a little more than a dozen valet locations in 2011. That number is on track to triple by year's end.

When David Purcell was planning the development of his burger joint Pour House, parking availability wasn't foremost on his mind. But that quickly changed.

"You look at your lot, and you go, 'OK, I have plenty of parking,' until you actually open and look at the space you're trying to fill," Purcell says. Other restaurant owners echoed that: public parking is getting harder and harder to find while, for many business owners, the prospect of purchasing a separate lot is not manageable. So Purcell pays a valet company to take care of it.

"If you own a parking lot, it's a license to print money," Purcell says. "Had to do it all over again, I'd probably be in a different business."

Fred Kane, a land broker with Cassidy Turley, says he hears from restaurant owners all the time who would like to buy land for parking, but it's rarely available. When it is, the price is astronomical — a reflection of steadily rising land values all around Nashville's hip neighborhoods. He recalls selling a piece of land to some investors.

"I go, 'Guys, this is the last $20-a-foot dirt in Nashville,'" Kane says. "Now the stuff around there is $90 to a $100."

Kane says big returns on investment don't come from stand-alone parking garages, so for developers, it's not an easy sell. It's more palatable for an investor when the project is at least partially publicly-financed. Even with some public support, though, lenders consider a parking garage a risky bet.

"Nobody is going to lend them the money to build the $15 million, $20 million parking deck, until the demand is there," Kane says, adding that what drivers perceive as high demand and what banks perceive as high demand are vastly different.

Right now, valets have a big advantage.

Here's how it works:

When a restaurant applies for a permit from the city, the owners have to show how they're going to supply parking. The city generally requires one parking space per 1,000 square feet of floor space. That's not much.

Kane says many restaurants are outsourcing all parking obligations to valet companies. When a business applies for a permit, an owner shows city officials a contract stating that the valet company will handle parking.

When restaurants offload parking to valet companies, parking lot owners get a payday, since they're leasing space. Then Tyler Ross gets a call a to work. The valet boom is great for him, but in the end, it's very much a service industry job.

"The famous 'crumble up the one dollar bill so it looks like you're giving more but it's really one dollar' — yeah, that happens all the time," Ross says.

His wage is like a restaurant server's, based on tips. He says three bucks is the average. "Two sometimes, like, nothing wrong with two," he says.

Catching his breath after parking in a lot about a block away, Ross says the inside of a person's car is a telling portal into their personality.

"Some people are kind of embarrassed about the inside of their car," he says. "But I try not to pay attention to it, because I've seen it all."

Why you've been getting bonuses, not raises, lately

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-08-29 02:00

Good-bye, annual raises. Hello, bonuses?

In its annual U.S. Salary Increase survey, human resources consulting firm Aon Hewitt found performance-based bonuses were nearly 13 percent of payroll this year. That’s the highest percentage in the 35 years the company has conducted it survey.

University of Wisconsin Business Professor Barry Gerhart says there’s an easy explanation why: “If you put the money into salary, it’s there forever. If you give out money in terms of a bonus, people get it that year and have to re-earn it the following year,” he says.

Bosses' love affair with bonuses began pre-Recession, and even if the economy heats up, Gerhart doubts firms will move back to annual across the board. That's because raises carry fewer fixed costs and give companies flexibility.

Wharton Business School economist Iwan Barankay says if businesses rely on bonuses, they should be careful.

“If they are not designed well. The problem is that it leads to an environment where people are gaming the scheme just to maximize their bonus, but not really creating more value to the company,” he says.

Barankay says incentives are like a meal: what you put in determines whether you get what you want.

Summer interns as art installation

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-08-29 01:30

The Chicago office of ad agency Havas Worldwide uses its lobby as a gallery, with picture windows facing the street. This summer’s exhibit: The company’s interns, doing their jobs, working around a long black table. Signs in the windows — like the one that said “feeding the interns is permitted and appreciated” — suggested a zoo exhibit as much as performance art.

The interns made out like working in public view was no big deal.

"Like every now and then we’ll look up when there’s like people peering through between the signs, trying to figure out what’s going on," Tori Dubray said.

That might be because they applied for the job — or the right word may be "auditioned" for it — in public.

"This year’s internship program was entirely cast and recruited through Instagram," said Jason Peterson, who runs the 500-person office and designed the internship.

To apply, potential interns posted to Instagram.

"It was a hashtag, Iamheretotakeyourjob," said intern Chris Hainey. That’s I. Am. Here. To. Take. Your. Job. "So, basically you challenged an employee that works here, and kind of posted something on Instagram saying why you would be better-suited for the position."

Hainey posted a stop-motion video — it showed an airplane flying in front of a colorful line of suitcases — with a suggestion that current Havas workers start packing.

Photography student Anna Russett took a different route. Havas offered two internships to people who could show they had more than 50,000 Instagram followers. When we met, she was at 111,000.

"That’s basically my resume," she said. "Showing that I can gain that many followers." 

She applied through a smartphone app called Popular Pays — a startup with offices at Havas. Popular Pays allows users get free stuff from local businesses if they agree to post photos of those rewards to a big enough group of Instagram followers.

"That’s currency," Peterson said, "because I can go into Antique Taco and I can go:  OK,  because I have a thousand followers, I can exchange that currency for a free milkshake."

"You will share that photo with that amount of people," Russett said. "Like, guaranteed."

This prompted a question: "So, you’re saying, like:  I will pimp myself out to a hundred thousand people for a milkshake?"

"Well…" Russett began. 

Peterson interrupted, "Whoa, whoa, whoa. First of all, have you been to Antique Taco? It’s a horchata milkshake? It’s delicious!"

Among the interns’ duties this summer: Coaching Havas employees on making better use of social media.  

Summer interns as art installation

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-08-29 01:30

The Chicago office of ad agency Havas Worldwide uses its lobby as a gallery, with picture windows facing the street. This summer’s exhibit: The company’s interns, doing their jobs, working around a long black table. Signs in the windows — like the one that said “feeding the interns is permitted and appreciated” — suggested a zoo exhibit as much as performance art.

The interns made out like working in public view was no big deal.

"Like every now and then we’ll look up when there’s like people peering through between the signs, trying to figure out what’s going on," Tori Dubray said.

That might be because they applied for the job — or the right word may be "auditioned" for it — in public.

"This year’s internship program was entirely cast and recruited through Instagram," said Jason Peterson, who runs the 500-person office and designed the internship.

To apply, potential interns posted to Instagram.

"It was a hashtag, Iamheretotakeyourjob," said intern Chris Hainey. That’s I. Am. Here. To. Take. Your. Job. "So, basically you challenged an employee that works here, and kind of posted something on Instagram saying why you would be better-suited for the position."

Hainey posted a stop-motion video — it showed an airplane flying in front of a colorful line of suitcases — with a suggestion that current Havas workers start packing.

Photography student Anna Russett took a different route. Havas offered two internships to people who could show they had more than 50,000 Instagram followers. When we met, she was at 111,000.

"That’s basically my resume," she said. "Showing that I can gain that many followers." 

She applied through a smartphone app called Popular Pays — a startup with offices at Havas. Popular Pays allows users get free stuff from local businesses if they agree to post photos of those rewards to a big enough group of Instagram followers.

"That’s currency," Peterson said, "because I can go into Antique Taco and I can go:  OK,  because I have a thousand followers, I can exchange that currency for a free milkshake."

"You will share that photo with that amount of people," Russett said. "Like, guaranteed."

This prompted a question: "So, you’re saying, like:  I will pimp myself out to a hundred thousand people for a milkshake?"

"Well…" Russett began. 

Peterson interrupted, "Whoa, whoa, whoa. First of all, have you been to Antique Taco? It’s a horchata milkshake? It’s delicious!"

Among the interns’ duties this summer: Coaching Havas employees on making better use of social media.  

Please, tip your waiters

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-08-29 00:00

I want you to close your eyes for a Labor Day thought experiment. 

Okay, no. This is not a mattress sale. It's a conversation about work, and what we learn from it.  

Think back to your first job. Maybe the person you were when you earned your first paycheck.

I was in high school in Washington, DC. And I spent my swampy 17-year-old summer working at a sandwich shop and café called A.K.A. Friscos (menu items were named for different places in San Francisco).

In rapid and terrifying order, I learned to prep food, slap together sandwiches for hostile, hungry journalists (the café was across the street from the local CBS affiliate), run the cash register, and bus tables.

We were quick, we were friendly, we cored lettuce with remarkable dexterity (I can still do it).

And I picked up a few lessons that stick with me.

1)      Work ethic matters. There’s simply no substitute for it. The shop’s assistant manager, Mesfin, had the most impressive work ethic I’ve ever seen. He was supporting a wife and a new baby while running the café, managing catering orders, helping open a new location, and supervising the high school kid…me.

2)      Laugh. Things invariably go wrong. Really, really wrong. Like mistaking-one-spice-for-another-in-the-chili wrong. I wish I could tell my younger self to laugh at these things instead of crying over them or getting mad. Chalk that one up to a lesson perhaps only learned with time.

3)      Tip. Like just about anyone who’s waited tables, I tip egregiously. In part because I was always shocked by the messes people left behind. But also because I think we don’t, as a society, place enough value on the work done in the service sector. Being on your feet and being pleasant can be hard, hard work. When I look at the growth in low wage jobs post-recession, I really worry. Hence, I continue to tip.

Just about everyone has a story or two from their first job. Love it, hate it, I bet you still carry it somewhere inside you. Come tell us about it. I’m @lizzieohreally, and the show is @marketplacewknd.

I might even make you a sandwich. 

As BP Pays For Oil Spill Impact, Some People Aren't Seeing The Cash

NPR News - Thu, 2014-08-28 23:38

The oil giant is paying billions of dollars to businesses hurt by the 2010 spill. But BP refuses to pay business owners hurt by a government drilling moratorium that was put in place after the spill.

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