National / International News

UK anger at £1.7bn EU cash demand

BBC - 20 hours 11 min ago
UK politicians react angrily to demands for an extra £1.7bn (2.1bn euros) contribution towards the European Union's budget due to the country's better economic performance.

Parking valet on demand

Marketplace - American Public Media - 20 hours 17 min ago

Recently, I was late for a meeting in downtown San Francisco. Worse yet, it was during the workday when it was impossible to find parking. 

Now, this is a problem you’ve likely encountered if you live in a big city—That is, circling around looking for parking. Well, no surprise, the techies in Silicon Valley have an app for that. And so I pulled out my iPhone, clicked on a parking app called Luxe and told it where I was going.

When I got to my location, Kelda ran up to greet me. She was my Luxe valet.

“How long are you staying today?” she asked.

I told her about an hour. And then I asked Kelda how she knew what side of the street I was going to be on.

She took out her iPhone and said, “I have it right here on the app and so you can see where you’re coming from.”

Kelda took my car to a parking lot that had partnered with Luxe. For this service, I pay five-dollars-an-hour with a $15 dollar maximum. Not bad for valet parking in downtown San Francisco. And when I was ready to leave, I pulled out the app to get my car.

Curtis Lee, the CEO of Luxe Valet, says despite its name, the start-up isn’t just providing a luxury, it’s using technology to tackle real transportation problems.

“Thirty percent of traffic is people looking for parking,” he says. “And in parts of San Francisco, that amounts to 27 minutes on average” of people circling around.

With parking being a $30 billion industry in the United States alone, Lee points out there are a handful of start-ups in San Francisco that are trying to capture that market.

“I call it the 'instant gratification economy,'” says Liz Gannes, a reporter at Re-code. She says it started with services like iTunes, where with one click, Apple could zap a song to your computer. Now smartphones are bringing it into the real word.

“You push a button on your phone and get rides through Uber and Lyft,” she says.

She says this new iteration of the instant gratification economy has a few big challenges. First off, these parking-tech companies probably don’t make sense outside of densely populated cities

“And, you’re dealing with real world goods and services,” Gannes adds.

Unlike, say, a digital music file, you can’t just zap up a hundred parking spaces. Plus, you need real people in the real world to provide the service.

“One of the ways that different companies are doing that is that they’re working with people who are not full-time employees and are subcontractors,” Gannes says. 

And that introduces real world labor issues. In other words, as the instant gratification economy tries to move offline, tech companies are losing their online advantage and facing many of the same problems brick-and-mortars do.

 

Silicon Tally: Nadella must have good karma

Marketplace - American Public Media - 20 hours 17 min ago

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

This week, we're joined by Kevin Roose, a writer for New York Magazine.

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UPS hiring 95,000 workers for holiday season

Marketplace - American Public Media - 20 hours 17 min ago

In Chicago this weekend, job applicants will interview at a recruiting event to become temporary UPS drivers. It’s part of an effort by the shipping giant to hire as many as 95,000 seasonal workers across the country to help meet the demand from online Christmas shoppers.

UPS is working to avoid what happened last year, when a rush of last-minute online orders and bad weather led to a public relations nightmare: UPS was late in delivering some Christmas gifts.

To help with the surge of demand last year, UPS eventually hired some 85,000 workers during the holiday shopping season. But it had only hired 55,000 initially. This year, it is taking no chances by hiring more temp workers, and hiring them all earlier in the season.

"UPS will flex its air and ground network with more temporary processing capacity,” says UPS Spokesperson Susan Rosenberg. “And that is everything from added work shifts to sort packages, as well as mobile sorting and delivery centers that are pop-up in some fast-growth locations.”

Rosenberg says UPS began planning for this holiday season on December 26 last year, including “collaborating with the shippers for better volume forecasting.”

Last year, there was a burst of last-minute orders, which, combined with major snow storms, worked against UPS. 

“A lot of the retailers were pushing the last date for delivery back as far as they could to compete with Amazon,” says Yory Wurmser, a retail analyst with eMarketer, an e-commerce consulting firm.

This year, retailers are adding another complexity by changing up how they ship in the first place.

"A lot of retailers are shifting their fulfillment models to shipping from stores. So there’s going to be a big increase in pick-up points,” says Wurmser.

That’s likely to put even more pressure on shippers like UPS this holiday season, as holiday shoppers increase their reliance on shipping. Online orders are forecast to increase 16.6 percent this holiday season, and are likely to see double-digit gains for several years to come, according to eMarketer. 

In Botswana, all eyes are on the election

Marketplace - American Public Media - 20 hours 17 min ago

The world’s biggest producer of gem-quality diamonds holds presidential elections Friday. The same party has ruled the country since its independence.

Diamonds have been good to Botswana, but not everyone has benefited equally.

Diamonds helped transform Botswana from a very poor country into an upper-middle income economy. Former U.S. Ambassador Michelle Gavin says Botswana avoided the dreaded ‘resource curse.’

That’s when countries with rich natural resources experience low economic development. Gavin says Botswana largely protected its revenue.

“It hasn’t gone into Swiss bank accounts; it’s not in some former president’s yacht somewhere in the Mediterranean,” she says. “In Botswana, you can see what happened to those revenues. You can see it in the roads you drive on, the schools and the clinics that you pass.”

Botswana ranks high on the Ibrahim Index of African Governance. You still see poverty, though. And income inequality.

“There’s tremendous inequality and there has been for years in Botswana,” says political science professor Amy Poteete of Concordia University. “It’s one of the more inequitable countries in the world.”

Poteete says the volatility of diamond prices has increased in recent years, which plays into the country’s lower growth rates.

Whoever wins this presidential election will face continued pressure to diversify the nation’s economy.

 

VIDEO: Too many train announcements?

BBC - 20 hours 41 min ago
Graham Satchell looks at whether train companies should speak more or less frequently during railway journeys.

Sweden calls off search for sub

BBC - 20 hours 48 min ago
Sweden calls off its massive week-long search for a suspected Russian submarine, saying the vessel has probably left its territorial waters.

Murphy unaware of exiled IRA abusers

BBC - 20 hours 56 min ago
A Sinn Féin MP has said he has never heard of cases of IRA sex abusers being exiled to the Republic of Ireland.

Thousands enjoy Diwali celebrations

BBC - 20 hours 59 min ago
Leicester's Golden Mile lights up for Diwali celebrations

VIDEO: Cliff Richard police raid 'inept'

BBC - 21 hours 6 sec ago
A police raid at the home of veteran pop star Sir Cliff Richard has been described as inept by a group of MPs.

EU leaders agree CO2 emissions cut

BBC - 21 hours 17 min ago
The EU agrees what it calls "the world's most ambitious" deal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030, overcoming deep divisions.

Mortar fire on Pakistan-Iran border

BBC - 21 hours 18 min ago
Pakistani and Iranian forces have exchanged mortar fire, in the latest incident between the two countries along their porous border.

Iraq's Abu Ghraib Is Back In The News, Now As A Front-Line Town

NPR News - 21 hours 24 min ago

A town west of Baghdad and home to a notorious prison, Abu Ghraib is where Iraq troops are bracing for a possible attacks by Islamic State militants. Many local residents feel caught in the middle.

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European Scientists Conclude That Distant Comet Smells Terrible

NPR News - 21 hours 24 min ago

A European spacecraft has picked up a foul odor emanating from a comet called 67P/C-G. Imagine sharing a stable with a drunk person and a dozen rotten eggs.

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With Ferguson Protests, 20-Somethings Become First-Time Activists

NPR News - 21 hours 24 min ago

Near Ferguson, Mo., young people are taking the lead in protesting police brutality. Many say they had never considered activism before, but saw Michael Brown's shooting death as a call to action.

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A Tale Of Immigration Unleashed In 'Green Dragons' Film

NPR News - 21 hours 24 min ago

The film Revenge of the Green Dragons is based on the true story of a Chinese-American gang in New York City that helped traffic unauthorized immigrants from China in the 1980s and '90s.

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VIDEO: Could amputees re-grow lost limbs?

BBC - 21 hours 28 min ago
Amputees could one day re-grow their missing limbs, according to researchers at Imperial College London.

Standalone TSB picks up customers

BBC - 21 hours 30 min ago
Newly independent bank TSB says it is attracting more new customers than it had expected.

More charges over New Forest killing

BBC - 21 hours 35 min ago
Two more people are charged over the death of a mother of five in the New Forest.

Ashya King due to finish treatment

BBC - 21 hours 40 min ago
Brain tumour patient Ashya King will receive his final dose of proton beam therapy later, the clinic treating him says.
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