National / International News

'Greening' construction jobs for energy efficiency

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-06-10 02:00

When politicians talk about the future of employment and how to get the American economy back on track, there is one phrase that will inevitably flow from their lips: "Green jobs." But what exactly is a green job and where does it come from?

California is a good place to find the answer -- it has some of the most ambitious energy conservation goals in the nation. State building codes will require all new residential and commercial construction be zero net energy by 2030. That means every building will have to produce as much energy as it consumes.

To accomplish that, lots of construction workers will be needed.

“They are not, quote-unquote, green jobs. They are just ordinary professional and blue collar work in the building and construction industry,” says Dr. Carol Zabin, chairman of the Don Vial Center for Employment in the Green Economy. Zabin thinks a better way to describe this transition is the "greening" of existing jobs, not the creation of entirely new kinds of jobs.

For example, one of the key technologies needed to achieve California’s energy conservation goals is advanced lighting controls.

“A typical building will save anywhere from 50 to 80 percent of current energy by just controlling the lighting and using it when they need it, have the right amount of light,” said Doug Avery, an expert in lighting controls.

You are probably familiar with advanced lighting controls if you ever walked into a bathroom and the lights automatically came on. Or maybe they didn’t. When advanced lighting isn’t installed properly, building owners often override the systems, which compromises energy savings.

To ensure that electricians install these systems properly, a statewide initiative called the California Advanced Lighting Control Training Program,  or CALCTP, was created.

Inside a warehouse-sized classroom at the Electrical Training Institute of Southern California, certified electricians are working in groups of two, installing miniature lighting systems on pegboards. Fernando Martin and Mary Nagler were working together at one of the boards. They both said they're starting to see more of these types of lighting control systems in the field.  “As long as you are fairly experienced with this type of thing it's not that bad. But it definitely requires a class, if not some studying on your own part,” said Martin.

Tim Rainey, executive director of the California Workforce Investment Board, says demand for these skilled workers will rise significantly as older utility and construction workers retire over the next five to ten years, leaving big skill gaps in every industry, but especially in the utilities sector. "In fact two out of every three job openings will be because of retirement -- what we call replacements,” said Rainey.

Replacing those skilled workers is a big challenge, Rainey added, “but it’s also a big opportunity.”

That college essay on Proust could land you a job

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-06-10 02:00

Katie Jacobson recently finished college at the University of Minnesota-Morris and is ready to punch in at her dream job. Where exactly? And doing what? She's not sure.

"Ideally I'd like to have the power big-kid job. I want to dress to impress. I would like to have a cool office. I'd like to earn the big bucks," Jacobson says.

For help, she turned to the job search site Collegefeed. It's a free service that helps young people spin their college experiences into something that sounds more like work experience. That type of help separates Collegefeed from rivals job sites like LinkedIn, where users create their own profiles.

Jacobson has a profile up on the Collegefeed site that lists her accomplishments, like triple majoring in economics, management, and Spanish.

On a conference call with Kathy Cardozo, vice president of client engagement with Collegefeed, Jacobson learned that the draft version of her profile lacked focus.

"A hiring manager or recruiter would have a hard time figuring out what you want to do," Cardozo tells Jacobson.

Cardozo explains that Jacobson needs to play up the promotions she got working for the school's office of residential life, where she eventually became a hall director.

"You will show career trajectory-- meaning, you took on one role and you did so well that they hired you in the next role," Cardozo says.

Most graduates don't have a network. That's where Collegefeed steps in as matchmaker. It has 1,000 firms that pay to be in its database, including big names like Cisco Systems and eBay. Companies pay an average of a $1,500 per quarter to get a "feed" of candidates.

Though, Collegefeed, which is about a year old, has yet to turn a profit.

HR expert Jason Averbook of the consulting firm Appirio says droves of baby boomers will retire in the coming years. He says they'll need help finding replacement workers. So he thinks it makes sense for job search sites to specialize in the college grad demographic.

"We're going to have many new entrants into the workplace, and because of that, both businesses and these college graduates need tools to help them move forward," he says.

Demand does appear to be rising for the young workers in the Collegefeed markets. According to unpublished data from the Bureau of Labor Statistic's annual survey of recent college graduates, the unemployment rate for new college grads was 11 percent in October, its lowest level since 2007.

 

 

Banksy confirms 'spies' artwork

BBC - Tue, 2014-06-10 01:58
The "guerrilla artist" Banksy admits he painted a work of art depicting three spies "snooping" on a telephone box in Cheltenham.

Court fines 'may increase 300%'

BBC - Tue, 2014-06-10 01:58
Maximum fines imposed by magistrates in England and Wales are set to rise dramatically under new proposals being put before Parliament.

Hillary Clinton: I Helped Restore U.S. Leadership In The World

NPR News - Tue, 2014-06-10 01:53

To hear the former secretary of state and once and maybe future Democratic presidential candidate tell it, her new book, Hard Choices, isn't the kickoff to a 2016 campaign.

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Clinton Sought 'Tougher Deal,' But Won't Second-Guess Bergdahl Swap

NPR News - Tue, 2014-06-10 01:50

NPR's Renee Montagne sat down for a conversation with Hillary Clinton. Clinton's new book, Hard Choices, will be published on Tuesday.

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How do you define Islamist extremism?

BBC - Tue, 2014-06-10 01:44
Birmingham Trojan Horse row reignites long and difficult debate

McCartney postpones US tour dates

BBC - Tue, 2014-06-10 01:37
Sir Paul McCartney postpones seven US tour dates while he continues to recover from a virus he contracted last month.

Has Tesco signalled the end of the free current account?

BBC - Tue, 2014-06-10 01:34
Has Tesco signalled the end of the free current account?

Airport fears over Scots 'Yes' vote

BBC - Tue, 2014-06-10 01:23
A vote for Scottish independence could mean Newcastle Airport losing thousands of passengers a year, it is claimed.

South Korea ferry crew go on trial

BBC - Tue, 2014-06-10 01:21
Fifteen crew members go on trial over the deaths of at least 292 people on the South Korean Sewol passenger ferry in April.

Pakistan: Karachi Airport Training Center Attacked

NPR News - Tue, 2014-06-10 01:05

The firefight came on the heels of a brazen siege by the Taliban who on Sunday night stormed Karachi's Jinnah International Airport in an attack that killed more than two dozen people.

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US 'mountain man' jailed in Utah

BBC - Tue, 2014-06-10 01:00
A survivalist known as the "mountain man" who evaded police in the US state of Utah for six years has been jailed for more than a decade.

Obama, Tumblr, and student debt

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-06-10 01:00

On Monday, President Barack Obama signed an executive order that will help up to 5 million people pay off their student loans. He also pushed congress to lower borrowing costs for college kids.

Now, he's taking to Tumblr for the first time, to talk education.

It’s another chance for him to shine a light on the unsustainable cost of college.

It's also another chance to point out how comfortable he is with social media.

President Obama has participated in an Ask Me Anything on Reddit, a town hall meeting on Twitter, and even the online faux talk show “Between Two Ferns” to plug the Affordable Care Act.

“I wouldn’t give him an A on all the things in his presidency,” says Dave Kerpen, social media expert and cofounder of Likeable Media. “But on social media, I’d actually give the president an A.”

Tumblr, say experts, is exactly the right place to talk school costs. “It’s most popular with people under the age of 30,” said Mark Schafer, author of “Social Media Explained.”

It’s a direct line to a generation facing a trillion dollars in student debt, not to mention an indirect line to congress to put the pressure on.

Data on our data: 250,000,000 email address books

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-06-10 01:00

This month marks the first anniversary of the Edward Snowden leaks that changed our understanding of online privacy. Just like the subject matter of the leaks, the reporting over the last year has offered a deluge of information. So this week, we're posting a short series about all that data. Every day we'll bring you another number that reminds us how much we have learned in the last year about online surveillance and the reach of the NSA.

250,000,000

email address books

Stephen Cobb, *Senior Security Researcher at ESET says that during a single day in 2012, the NSA's Special Source Operations branch copied a ton of users' online address books and all the data therein, including names, phone numbers, addresses, and added notes. The exact breakdown?444,743 e-mail address books from Yahoo, 105,068 from Hotmail, 82,857 from Facebook, 33,697 from Gmail and 22,881 from other providers. The data is often succeptible to interception when a user logs on, composes a message, or synchronizes a computer or mobile device with information stored on remote servers. Cobb says you can get a really good picture of a person's activity and social network from an address book. And that should raise some alarms.

*CORRECTION: The original version of this story incorrectly identified Stephen Cobb. Cobb is a Senior Security Researcher at ESET. The text has been corrected.

Can Radio Shack fix it?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-06-10 01:00

Ever dropped your phone or tablet? Cracked a screen? RadioShack wants to help. It’s launching a nationwide repair program this week it calls "Fix It Here."

RadioShack says that customers can bring an injured iPhone or Samsung Galaxy into a store and it’ll be fixed right there. Repair prices start at $79.99. 

“I think it’s pretty cool,” says Samuel Gibbs as he leaves a RadioShack store in downtown Washington DC. 

He says his girlfriend recently dropped her phone. They didn’t even think about getting it repaired.

“She ended up having to get a new one, which cost us about $250 I think, so it would have been nice to have had a replaced screen instead,” he says.

Radio Shack may be onto something. More consumers are having to buy their own phones, so more may be interested in repairing them when they break. It doesn't change the fact that Radio Shack has been struggling for years. Will "Fix It Now" fix RadioShack? 

Not unless the chain makes other changes, says Harry Wang, director of mobile research at Parks Associates: "They either have to beef up their online program or try to find some really unique kind of merchandise to survive.”

Wang says RadioShack will also have to contend with competition as manufacturers and other big retail chains start their own repair programs.

Obama, Tumblr, and student debt

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-06-10 01:00

On Monday, President Barack Obama signed an executive order that will help up to 5 million people pay off their student loans. He also pushed congress to lower borrowing costs for college kids.

Now, he's taking to Tumblr for the first time, to talk education.

It’s another chance for him to shine a light on the unsustainable cost of college.

It's also another chance to point out how comfortable he is with social media.

President Obama has participated in an Ask Me Anything on Reddit, a town hall meeting on Twitter, and even the online faux talk show “Between Two Ferns” to plug the Affordable Care Act.

“I wouldn’t give him an A on all the things in his presidency,” says Dave Kerpen, social media expert and cofounder of Likeable Media. “But on social media, I’d actually give the president an A.”

Tumblr, say experts, is exactly the right place to talk school costs. “It’s most popular with people under the age of 30,” said Mark Schafer, author of “Social Media Explained.”

It’s a direct line to a generation facing a trillion dollars in student debt, not to mention an indirect line to congress to put the pressure on.

VIDEO: Lineker tips Messi for Golden Boot

BBC - Tue, 2014-06-10 00:42
Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker thinks Argentina's Lionel Messi is the player most likely to top score at this summer's World Cup

S African MPs 'catering making us fat'

BBC - Tue, 2014-06-10 00:35
Politicians blame greasy cafe for bulging waistlines.

The difference between debt and deficit: An explainer

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-06-10 00:34

A lot of people confuse the words debt and deficit. They're not quite the same, although they are related.

It's pretty simple, though. If you spend more money than you make, that's a deficit. And if you run a deficit, you have a choice: you can either borrow money and go into debt, or you can go bust, or default.

Debt itself isn't necessarily bad. Debt can help you grow – you may not be able to get an education without a student loan, for example. And just because you have some debt doesn't necessarily mean you're running a deficit. So long as you make enough money to pay the interest on the loan without going into more debt, you're in good shape. You may even be running a surplus, which is when you make more money than you spend.

The one thing you don't want to do, as a homeowner, is to use debt to run a deficit. In other words, you don't want to get into a situation where you're spending more money than you make, and you're making up the difference by borrowing.

But that's what a lot of Americans do. And they do it by using credit card debt. The Federal Reserve's latest figures say American household debt is now $13 trillion, and the average U.S. household credit card debt stands at $15,191.

Borrowing money to keep your financial head above water is a bad idea to begin with, but using the most expensive kind of debt is insane. And credit card debt is, without a doubt, the most expensive kind of debt that's out there.

For a household, then, running a deficit is, generally, a bad idea, particularly if you're using credit card debt to stay afloat.

But what about a country? The U.S. has a roughly $17 trillion debt load. And our government spends $306.4 billion more than it earns. And we make up for that $47.2 billion deficit by borrowing even more!

The fact is that when countries borrow to make up a deficit, they generally don't have to resort to the most expensive debt out there. And in the case of the U.S. government, it's the reverse: the U.S. is able to borrow at the cheapest rate anywhere.

But just because we can run a deficit cheaply doesn't mean we should, does it?

That depends on your points of view. An economy like the U.S. is far more complicated than a household. It has many more variables, and is infinitely more complex. To ensure the economy didn't run at a deficit, the country's leaders would need a big insurance plan to deal with any variables that required more money than they expected.

That would mean having a large reserve, and running a big surplus. That, in turn, would mean keeping that money out of circulation, which would inevitably crimp growth – perhaps a smart plan for a household, but not a healthy strategy for an economy.

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