National / International News

How long is the average tongue?

BBC - Fri, 2014-09-12 15:17
A Californian man officially has the longest tongue in the world. But how much longer is it than the average tongue, asks Clare Spencer.

Vikings Star Peterson Indicted On Child Abuse Charges

NPR News - Fri, 2014-09-12 15:08

The charges relate to reckless or negligent injury to his son, who was visiting the Minnesota Vikings running back in Texas in May.

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What if the Fed just gave households money to help

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-09-12 14:54

It's raining cash, hallelujah, to (sort of) paraphrase what the Weather Girls sang. If you want to solve recessions, what about throwing cash at households instead of lowering interest rates by buying bonds or tweaking the interest rates American central bankers control more directly?

This is the proposal coming from a Brown University political economist and a London-based hedge fund guy. The professor, Mark Blyth, says if you took all the money the Federal Reserve has spent on its bond-buying and quantative-easing splurge, every household in America could have been handed $56,000.

Sure, the Fed waved its magic wand to "print" the money that bought the bonds. Under this cash-from-helicopters idea, central bankers would still have to use the magic of inventing money. But it's Blyth and Eric Lonergan's idea that the central banks could print less, give households more, and the stimulus would help a much wider cross section of the population than is helped now by QE.

Blyth told me that our current policies are designed to get people to borrow who don't really want to borrow. When interest rates are forced sown, this encourages people who already have excess cash to put more of their money into financial instruments, rather than spending it on business ventures in the real economy that might do more to create jobs.

Cash from helicopters is not a new idea. On the right, Blyth says Milton Friedman liked the idea. On the left, Keynes also embraced this.

We have done smaller versions of it before. Remember cash-for-clunkers, in which the feds handed out checks if you swapped an old car for a new one during the depths of the financial crisis? And the payroll tax holiday? Academic research shows that for every dollar spent on these programs, many more dollars went forth and multiplied through the economy.

The idea is the central bankers would still have to print money by saying the word "abracadabra" and making it appear, which can be inflationary. Some say that's the only way inflation happens. But Blyth and Lonergan believe under their proposal, the U.S. or Europe would have to print less of it than we do using the usual thinking.

Print less but transfer more, in their rallying cry. Details of this argument are in the September/October edition of Foreign Affairs. Will cash for households catch on? Blyth isn't optimistic at a time that political polarization means nothing catches on these days in Washington.

VIDEO: Hemingway diaries hold fishing clues

BBC - Fri, 2014-09-12 14:51
Ernest Hemingway's grandsons are making a trip to Cuba to visit the house he lived in and see his Nobel prize.

Johnson selected for Uxbridge seat

BBC - Fri, 2014-09-12 14:43
Boris Johnson is selected as the Conservative candidate for Uxbridge and South Ruislip in the 2015 general election.

Deadly collapse in Lagos building

BBC - Fri, 2014-09-12 14:35
A building linked to TB Joshua, one of Nigeria's best known preachers and televangelists, collapses in Lagos, killing at least three people.

VIDEO: Alibaba makes waves in California

BBC - Fri, 2014-09-12 14:28
Internet retailer Alibaba may have floated on the US stock market, but the China-based company is making waves in Silicon Valley as well as in Wall Street.

VIDEO: Malala attack suspects arrested

BBC - Fri, 2014-09-12 14:20
Ten people suspected of planning and carrying out the attack on the Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai have been arrested.

Can lessons be learnt from Scotland debate?

BBC - Fri, 2014-09-12 14:18
Can UK learn from predicted high voter turn-out?

The lap dancers who find it hard to leave

BBC - Fri, 2014-09-12 14:16
How hard is it to stop being a lap dancer?

The making and unmaking of Oscar Pistorius

BBC - Fri, 2014-09-12 14:15
The making and unmaking of Oscar Pistorius

Reflections on Ian Paisley

BBC - Fri, 2014-09-12 14:07
Reflections on the life and career of former DUP leader and Northern Ireland first minister Ian Paisley.

VIDEO: Whipping up support in Scotland

BBC - Fri, 2014-09-12 14:02
It has been another day of intense campaigning in Scotland, ahead of next Thursday's referendum on independence.

You love my job: JPL's Bobak Ferdowsi

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-09-12 13:54

You may have heard a series called "You hate my job" on our weekday sister show, Marketplace. Here's our first in our series: "You LOVE My Job."

Working at NASA sounds like a pretty awesome job.

Getting paid to maybe go check this place out for a week:

NASA

NASA

And hanging out here:

NASA

Or taking a picture like this:

NASA

What's it like to actually work there?

Well... every once in a while... it's like this:

Adam Berry/Getty Images

Yeah... a PowerPoint presentation.

Bobak Ferdowsi works at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory near Pasadena, California. You might know him as NASA mohawk guy:

He's an engineer who worked on the Mars Curiousity Rover, and is launching a new mission to Jupiter's moon Europa.

Don't get us wrong: His job is awesome.

But every job, even our fantasy ones, involves getting up, and going to work.

Opponents Spar In Court Over Texas Clinics That Do Abortions

NPR News - Fri, 2014-09-12 13:47

Three federal judges heard arguments Friday over whether a Texas law that would, in effect, shutter 11 health clinics that perform abortions puts an undue burden on women.

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Hand baggage: The best airlines

BBC - Fri, 2014-09-12 13:23
The best and worst airlines for hand baggage

Huddersfield 17-16 St Helens

BBC - Fri, 2014-09-12 13:22
Huddersfield clinch a Super League top-four place as St Helens' defeat opens the door for Castleford to finish top.

McIlroy joint second at Tour finale

BBC - Fri, 2014-09-12 13:19
Rory McIlroy moves within two shots of leader Billy Horschel after carding a 65 in the Tour Championship second round.

That extra chair in your home office? Rent it out

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-09-12 13:17

Normally around 10 in the morning, I'm writing a news memo or interviewing an expert on something like how our ethics change in accordance to our energy levels over the course of the day. But this morning I'm entirely focused on vacuuming up crumbs between couch pillows, and also, where to store squeaky dog toys (found behind the couch). That's because people are coming over, and soon. And these aren’t typical guests – they’re co-workers, and, bonus(!) perfect strangers who are planning to work, hopefully productively, from my dining room table for the day.

 

Together we’ll be beta-testing a new start up called SpareChair, a website that lets you rent out space in your home – like Airbnb, but for workers. And just minutes after I empty the dustpan and take down the trash, 32-year-old Brooklyn residents Jerry Emeka and Nate Graves, respectively a producer/ comedian and a web developer, arrive.

 

Like Airbnb, SpareChair lets homeowners or renters like me set their own rental rates, and the site takes a cut.
 
“I don’t think it’s that strange," Emeka says of the concept of paying to rent a chair in someone's private home. "It’s 2014 – we’re already dating online, we’re sharing our homes for strangers to live in. And we pay a lot of money to live in our homes. Why can’t we work at home?”
 
Why not indeed? Well, my apartment, for one, is in Brooklyn, on a traffic circle, and while I've become accustomed to the soundscape – which contains more than the occasional blaring of a taxi horn – I wasn't sure how co-workers would feel about the noise, especially if they were paying. SpareChair lets those offering space list amenities and preferences (such as "WiFi," "children present," or "children welcome") and users get to review them. But because Emeka and Graves were going to be my first co-workers, they didn't have any reviews to go on.

 

Luckily, neither said he minded.

 

"Even though I can see you cringing," Graves said. "I mean, compared to a coffee shop, this is steps above that in terms of noise."

 

Additionally, as a developer who works part time for MeetUp.com, Graves says he welcomes the chance to network and meet new people, so he regularly uses a co-working space. He says SpareChair would be about the same cost, and money changing hands can be a big plus of co-working.

 

“Cost reduction. It’s the economics," says Ed Glickman, executive director of the Center for Real Estate Finance Research at the NYU Stern School of Business.  He says co-workers tend to be young and live in expensive cities like New York or Seattle. For the renter out of home desk-space, co-working can literally pay off.

 

“All of the sudden not only do you have company, you have somebody who might give you connections but you also have a way to help you pay your rent,” he says.
 
And not just for the month. Glickman says co-working can lead to the birth of companies. People sharing space know what the others are up to, and sometimes join forces by pitching projects together. But, he notes, using a co-working space is altogether different than renting desk space in a private home.
 
“You’re taking a residential setting and all of a sudden you’re making it a workplace," he says. "You’re becoming a landlord.”
 
Which–if you're a renter–your own, real landlord, the one you signed a lease with, might not like. So Glickman says before renting desk, couch or other space out to people who are not on the lease or deed, you may want to check your insurance policy.

 

And, of course, there's always the ultimate, higher power employees need to get clearance from before taking on new projects: the boss. Before you consider working from home at all, make sure your manager fully supports the idea, and isn't just giving it lip service, says Douglas McCabe, a professor of management at Georgetown's McDonough School of Business. While some workers love telecommuting, management can still be skeptical.

 

“Are individuals working from home goofing off? Are they really working eight hours a day? Are they watching television when they should be on the computer?  It's a very interesting social, psychological phenomenon," he says, "that some people view this issue very well, and others view it very poorly."
 
There are pros and cons to working from home, McCabe says. In the plus column: no commute, and getting away from co-workers who want to talk about last night's Nets game, while you’re, um,  busy. McCabe does note that a particular kind of worker can be even more productive at home. But he says, most of us will miss the camaraderie of the office and can feel disengaged from employers, something he experienced first-hand while recuperating at home after having a medical procedure.
 
“I thought that this was going to be party - staying at home for three months, catching up on books that I've not read for a number of years," he said. "And I realized after about six weeks, boy, I miss the workplace, I want to go every day to be with my colleagues.”

 

Ben Waber, CEO of Sociometric Solutions, a company that uses wearable technology to understand how people’s interactions at work relate to job performance and satisfaction, says there's simply no substitute for the office

 

“Your default should be – you need to be with the people you work with,” he says.  “The whole reason we work in companies is because together we can do something that we couldn’t do by ourselves.”
 
Waber says it of course depends on the kind of work that you do. But for most of us, working solo is only okay sometimes. His company tracked a group of computer programmers to see how they worked best – together or apart.
 
“People assume, 'well you know what, a programmer, they’re just a person who sits in the corner, drinking Mountain Dew anyway,'" he said. "'They’re not going to talk to anyone anyway. It’s not a social job.'”
 
But when programmers don’t communicate, he says, their code takes a lot longer to write. And when workers don’t work in the same place, they communicate less. For big companies that can mean losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars. But he says working together is  not just about de-bugging Java. It's also about something more simple: face time with other human beings.
 
“Because that’s what gets lost," he says. "You still have the meetings about 'we have some big project coming up,' and you’ll get on a Skype call for that. But it's not the same as 'you’re at the coffee machine and you’re talking to a coworker about a movie you saw last night,' and you’re building that deeper connection with them. That’s what you can’t do when you’re remote."

 

But you can co-work, which Waber says is better than working alone. And toward the end of the afternoon I check in with Graves to see how he withstood my noisy living room. Did he get all his work done?

 

"It was good," he says. "I got as much done as I needed to."
 
And so did I.

Weekly Wrap: Hubub at Apple

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-09-12 13:14

Felix Salmon from Fusion and Leigh Gallagher from Fortune Magazine talked with Kai Ryssdal about the week that was: Does the looming Alibaba IPO spell trouble or fortune? Is the Apple Watch worth all the hubub? Is the era of small cell phones at an end?

Listen to their conversation in the audio player above.

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