National / International News

Ebola Hotspot Opens A New Treatment Center

NPR News - Mon, 2014-08-18 12:16

The Ebola outbreak has been spreading through Liberia with alarming speed, yet for weeks there have been only two places in the whole country where people infected with the virus could get medical care. Doctors Without Borders just opened a third facility.

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What Washington Can, And Can't, Do In Ferguson

NPR News - Mon, 2014-08-18 12:16

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder visited the White House to brief President Obama on the latest federal response to unrest in Ferguson, Mo. FBI agents are set to finish canvassing for witnesses to the shooting of Michael Brown, and more federal peacemakers will arrive to try to ease tensions.

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Oklahoma Wind Power Companies Run Into Headwinds

NPR News - Mon, 2014-08-18 12:16

The state produces a lot of energy, but environmentalists and the oil industry are joining to combat wind power companies as they try to expand.

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Won't you please take a vacation?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-08-18 11:52

Chances are you know someone in your workplace who refuses to take a vacation. Or maybe it’s you. Research shows that one out of seven workers entitled to paid vacation time didn’t use it this past year.

Some managers prefer when their employees don’t take a vacation.

"Somewhere around 13 percent of U.S. managers are more likely to promote people who don’t take all of their vacation days," says Nancy Koehn, historian at the Harvard Business School.

Other companies want to fix this problem - so, they’re paying for their employees’ vacation expenses. In 2012, the company FullContact began offering their employees about $7,000 a year for a vacation.

"The perception of managers and workers is that somehow people who never take any vacation, or are always doing their job, are somehow better team members and are more productive," says Koehn. "But the evidence on all of that is unambiguous. People who take time off are actually less stressed, more focused and more productive."

VIDEO: Birthday girl an 'unintended target'

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-18 11:37
Sabrina Moss became the unintended victim of a battle between drug gangs when she was shot dead on her birthday.

Former Vermont Sen. Jeffords, Who Once Tipped Senate Scale, Dies

NPR News - Mon, 2014-08-18 11:32

James Jeffords' decision to leave the GOP and become an independent handed power to Democrats for 18 months. In his career of more than 30 years, Jeffords focused on education and the environment.

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Iceland raises volcano alert level

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-18 11:06
The risk of an eruption at Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano has increased, as well as the risk level to the aviation industry, meteorologists say.

'No medical student goes to...become a businessperson'

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-08-18 11:05

When Dr. Sandeep Jauhar was growing up, his mother held doctors in high esteem. 

"She always told us she wanted us to become doctors because she wanted people to stand when we walked into a room," says Jauhar, who went on to become a cardiologist.

Upon donning that hallowed white coat, however, Jauhar says he started to get uncomfortable. He felt like he was compromising some of the ideals of his youth to fit the business model of the American healthcare system. His new book, "Doctored: The Disillusionment of an American Physician", voices his frustrations with today's changing medical landscape.

"What the system has done is forced physicians to behave in ways that they don't want to behave," he says. "No medical student goes to become a doctor to become a businessperson, but the system is so dysfunctional today that it has created this business mentality among doctors."

Jauhar says the system needs to be fixed to accommodate the needs of more ordinary patients.

"The system is wonderful if you have a rare disease or if you require very high-tech care, but if you're a run-of-the-mill patient who has a chronic disease that needs to be managed by multiple doctors, the level of coordination and communication in the American system is so weak, so lacking," he says. "Today, if a politician says, 'we have the best medical system in the world,' he doesn't sound patriotic, he just sounds clueless."

Sandwich Monday: The Roman-Style Burger

NPR News - Mon, 2014-08-18 11:04

For this week's Sandwich Monday, we try a burger, Roman-Style. At M Burger, that means two grilled cheese sandwiches replace the bun.

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Elephant deaths reach tipping point

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-18 11:01
Africa's elephants have reached a tipping point, where more are being killed each year by poachers than are being born, a study suggests.

Break-in at Canada party leader home

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-18 10:54
Canadian police investigate a break-in at the home of Canadian Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau, as he considers requesting a security detail.

Khan's MPs to quit Pakistan seats

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-18 10:35
The Pakistan opposition party led by Imran Khan says it is to resign all its seats in parliament in a bid to oust Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

VIDEO: Abseilers clean Big Ben's clock face

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-18 10:32
The clock face of the Elizabeth Tower, which houses the famous Big Ben bell, is being cleaned, with the hands frozen at 12 o'clock.

Pope Says It's OK To 'Stop' Aggressors In Iraq To Protect Minorities

NPR News - Mon, 2014-08-18 10:21

Pope Francis added "the means that can be used to stop them must be evaluated." The comments come as the U.S. conducts airstrikes against militants of the Islamic State who are targeting minorities.

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Why we should bring back the Postal Banking system

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-08-18 10:19

When I was 12 years old, my Mum presented me with a little blue plastic-covered book with the design of a key on it.

It was my first savings account, provided by the British Post Office. There's no way that I would have been able to open an account with a bank, given the paltry amount of money I wanted to save, or the zero amount of money that I earned. But the Post Office didn't care that how skint or young or unemployed I was: it was determined to provide me with banking services, regardless. That savings account really did operate like a key. It helped me understand all sorts of thing about personal finance, including the magic of compounding.

I mention this because I just read a fascinating article about the history of the postal banking system in the US. First off, I had no idea that there used to be a postal bank system in America, but there was. And just like the Post Office in the UK, it was aimed at  providing banking services to people of modest means. The kind of people who today are widely denied access to banking services, and who are forced instead to reply on payday lenders.   The post office offered information to customers in 24 languages and would pass out leaflets right outside the ports of entry into the U.S.

The author points out that the rise of payday lending coincided exactly with the decline in postal banking. That began around 1965, when the postmasters general began to endorse ending it. The system died a quick, quiet death, which coincided with banks' withdrawal from low-income (and thus low-yield) neighborhoods in the early 1970s. That created a financial services vacuum, which was quickly filled by, you guessed it, payday loan operations.

Postal banking was America’s most successful experiment in financial inclusion—a problem we face again today.

The problem is that postal banking is expensive. It's a low-margin business, after all, as most customers probably won't have much money to save, and the post office would find it tough to upsell its banking customers into higher-yielding products, in the way banks do. It's also administratively expensive: a recent British government report on the unbanked in the UK found the cost of a simple banking transaction at the Post Office was about 100 times more expensive than a similar transaction done at a bank. 

Of course, that's not really the point. The point is that in the U.S. there are large sections of the population that are denied banking services, not because they don't understand how to use them, but because the banks have rejected them and the government has deserted them. As such, they are preyed upon by unscrupulous payday lenders, and often left even more disadvantaged than before.

The government has tried a private sector solution, demanding the banks set up shop and provide banking services in these neighborhoods, but the private sector has failed. Which leaves it up to the public sector.

Postal banking is a possible solution. It will be expensive, as most public services are. But the alternative, in the long run, will surely cost us more.

PM defends 'clear' Iraq strategy

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-18 10:02
Prime Minister David Cameron insists the government's position on Iraq is "clear" and says the UK will not deploy "boots on the ground".

Norway's Statoil in Russian deal

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-18 09:57
Norway's Statoil partners with Russian state energy giant Rosneft to search for oil in the Arctic, despite Western sanctions against Moscow.

MP wants answers on Sir Cliff search

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-18 09:49
South Yorkshire Police and the BBC are asked to explain to a committee of MPs how the broadcaster knew in advance Sir Cliff Richard's home was to be searched.

Paris Heist: Gunmen Take $335,000 From Saudi Motorcade

NPR News - Mon, 2014-08-18 09:42

The thieves left with a stolen Mercedes that was later found burned along with one of two BMWs the robbers used to stop the convoy. Police say the team seems to be fairly experienced.

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'Refugee convoy hit' in east Ukraine

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-18 09:31
Many people died when rockets and mortars hit vehicles moving refugees from the Luhansk area of eastern Ukraine, the Ukrainian military says.
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