National / International News

'Humbling abdication' and McCann search - the papers

BBC - Tue, 2014-06-03 00:20
Several papers report the King of Spain's decision to step down on their front pages, while others focus on the hunt for Madeleine McCann.

Autism linked to 'male hormones'

BBC - Tue, 2014-06-03 00:20
Exposure to high levels of "male" hormones in the womb increases the chance of a baby boy developing autism, according to researchers.

In pictures: Sunrise Celebration 2014

BBC - Tue, 2014-06-03 00:19
Music festival closes gates as locals flock to new Welsh site

Search area cut for missing trekker

BBC - Tue, 2014-06-03 00:13
The head of the search team looking for a backpacker missing in Malaysia says they have narrowed their search to a smaller area.

France wades into BNP Paribas US row

BBC - Tue, 2014-06-03 00:09
France's foreign minister says the reported $10bn (£6bn; 7.3bn euros) fine being faced by banking giant BNP Paribas in the US is "not reasonable".

Instagram defends rules on nudity

BBC - Tue, 2014-06-03 00:03
The company's CEO Kevin Systrom says Instagram's rules on nudity are "fair" and help keep it safe for all users.

Housing market 'starts to moderate'

BBC - Mon, 2014-06-02 23:43
House prices rose by 0.7% in May, the Nationwide says, but there are "tentative signs" that activity in the market may be "starting to moderate".

NZ's Read out of first England Test

BBC - Mon, 2014-06-02 23:41
New Zealand forward Kieran Read is ruled out of the first Test against England in Auckland after concussion.

Singapore's got some big retirement issues

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-06-02 23:39

Here in the U.S., it’s pretty standard to complain volubly and publicly about government programs, particularly those to do with retirement – Social Security, healthcare for the elderly and the poor and pension and retirement plans in general

Not so in Singapore. The people in Singapore rarely question government policy, and almost never criticize it. So when you hear people complain openly about government policy on retirement and Singapore’s version of social security, it’s worth paying attention.

“Openly” being, of course, on the Web. On blogs and on social media, and particularly on Facebook (Singaporeans were big users of Facebook at a time when most Americans were still obsessed with MySpace). A debate that would ordinarily have been held in private, in coffee shops or around dinner tables, has been running for some time in the very public forum of social media. 

Many Singaporeans are not happy about the way their retirement program, the Central Provident Fund (CPF), is being handled by the government, and, for once, they’re not being shy about expressing their feelings. Emotions are running so high that  a prominent blogger named Roy Ngerng recently made the claim that Singapore's prime minister had "misappropriated" Singaporeans retirement money. The prime minister responded equally disproportionately, by slapping Ngerng with a lawsuit.

I’m not going to drive you insane with an explanation of how CPF works: it deals with social security, retirement planning and medical insurance all in one-go, so as you can imagine, it’s pretty complicated. You can read more here and here. Many observers point admiringly at the CPF, saying it's an excellent example of effective central planning. But just like Social Security in the U.S. and equivalent programs in Europe and the rest of the world, CPF is coming under intense pressure.

The pressure comes in two parts. First, Singaporeans are living longer. Second, healthcare costs here are soaring. Any of that sound familiar? It's a double-barreled shotgun that every developed nation is facing down right now.

Singapore's response will sound equally familiar: The government, more accurately the ruling Peoples Action Party (which has won every election ever held here),  is demanding its citizens cough up more money. Its recent demand that some Singaporeans put a greater proportion of their salary into the CPF sounds to many like a tax hike. Which it effectively is.

The changes to CPF are not going down well. But it's encouraging to see some Singaporeans standing up and demanding transparency from the government about the way CPF is run. It's a pity, however, that the PAP is resorting to old-school methods to deal with the media storm. They're missing an opportunity to show how mature Singapore is, how unafraid are its leaders of criticism, and how much more open they can be about the way government programs are handled.

Regardless, Singapore has a problem: it has become too successful, too quickly. When the country gained independence in 1963, its people expected to live until around 66 years of age, on average. Today they expect to live until they're 82. That's a sign of how quickly and efficiently the country has developed, but it has put its systems under enormous strain.

It almost makes America's social security system look as though its in relatively good shape!

Paddy Hirsch filed this while on vacation in Southeast Asia.

Pub landlords to get extra help

BBC - Mon, 2014-06-02 23:36
Publicans tied to big pub companies who are struggling to pay rent or beer costs will get more support, under rules unveiled by the government.

How Atomic Particles Helped Solve A Wine Fraud Mystery

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-02 23:31

By testing for radiation, detectives showed that wine bottles purportedly from Thomas Jefferson's collection were fake. And with wine fraud rising, authentication is getting even more sophisticated.

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The Common Core Curriculum Void

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-02 23:29

States and school districts are struggling to navigate the flood of new materials claiming to be Common Core-aligned.

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Sunday soldiers

BBC - Mon, 2014-06-02 23:28
Reliving the past, WW2 re-enactors

VIDEO: Spike in number of pet hedgehogs

BBC - Mon, 2014-06-02 22:59
Hedgehogs are becoming increasingly popular as household pets in the United States.

'The African Messi' & other potential World Cup stars

BBC - Mon, 2014-06-02 22:58
BBC Sport commentators highlight the best young players from outside the Premier League to look out for in Brazil.

Jobs for young scheme hits 13,000

BBC - Mon, 2014-06-02 22:47
The number of temporary jobs available to young people through a flagship scheme is higher than expected after a target was reached a year early.

Health drive for 'school gate' shops

BBC - Mon, 2014-06-02 22:44
Shops and grocers near Scottish schools are being urged to offer healthier food to improve lunchtime choices for children.

Woman killed in two-car crash on A82

BBC - Mon, 2014-06-02 22:26
An elderly woman dies in a two-car crash on the A82 in the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park.

More heart wait patients dying

BBC - Mon, 2014-06-02 22:10
The number of heart patients who died while waiting for heart surgery at two south Wales hospitals rises during the past year.

Elephant work wins wildlife award

BBC - Mon, 2014-06-02 22:05
French sculptor Pascal Chesneau wins the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation 2014 Wildlife Artist of the Year award for Transparence Elephant.
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