National News

Halloween High Jinks For Fun And Nonprofits

NPR News - 57 min 5 sec ago

Many Americans are not scared to reuse old clothes for new Halloween costumes.

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Dallas Nurse Nina Pham, Now 'Ebola Free,' To Be Discharged Today

NPR News - 1 hour 6 min ago

The National Institutes of Health in Maryland announced that the 26-year-old who was infected while caring for a Liberian patient, has no detectable virus in her blood.

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Boko Haram Reportedly Abducts More Girls Despite Cease-Fire Deal

NPR News - 1 hour 48 min ago

Within hours of a government announcement last week that a truce had been signed and the release of more than 200 schoolgirls secured, another 25 were kidnapped by Boko Haram extremists.

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VIDEO: Talking While Female

NPR News - 3 hours 7 min ago

For starters: Your voice is too squeaky, too loud; it lacks authority, is grating or obnoxious or unprofessional. Why is talking while female such an offense?

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Mali's First Ebola Case In Current Outbreak Is 2-Year-Old Girl

NPR News - 4 hours 20 sec ago

The toddler was reportedly brought by her grandmother from neighboring Guinea, where the epidemic is raging.

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A Wisecracking Biochemist Shares Her Kitchen ABCs

NPR News - 5 hours 7 min ago

Shirley Corriher, author of Cookwise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Cooking, has tips on taking the bitter bite out of coffee, and holding onto cabbage's red hue while it's in the pan.

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PODCAST: All I want for Christmas is a gift I ordered

A physician who traveled to West Africa to care for Ebola patients is now in isolation at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. More on precautions being taken in his care. Plus, some news out of Europe this morning: members of the European Union have agreed on new targets for emissions. Back here in the states, investors continue to pay attention to energy prices which are on the decline. More on that. And in Chicago this weekend, UPS will hold a recruiting event to hire temporary drivers. The company says it needs 95,000 seasonal workers to meet the demand from holiday shoppers and to avoid what happened last year.

A Black Cosmetic Company Sells, Or Sells Out?

NPR News - 5 hours 21 min ago

Entrepreneur Lisa Price started Carol's Daughter to create natural hair and skin products for black women. Now that L'Oreal owns the brand, can it maintain the loyalty of African-American customers?

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Man With Hatchet Shot Dead After Attacking NYPD Officers

NPR News - 5 hours 23 min ago

The attacker charged a group of patrol officers in Queens, wounding two of them. A bystander was hit by a stray police bullet as police engaged the assailant.

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Parking valet on demand

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

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

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

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.

 

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

NPR News - 7 hours 17 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 - 7 hours 17 min ago

A European spacecraft has picked up a foul odor emanating from 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 - 7 hours 17 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 - 7 hours 17 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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Frank Mankiewicz, Aide Who Announced Robert Kennedy's Death, Dies

NPR News - Thu, 2014-10-23 22:23

The journalist, political aide and author was Kennedy's press secretary when he died in 1968. Mankiewicz also ran Sen. George McGovern's presidential campaign. He died Thursday night at the age of 90.

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Recently Returned From Africa, Doctor Tests Positive For Ebola At NYC Hospital

NPR News - Thu, 2014-10-23 17:48

A doctor, identified as Craig Spencer, who had worked in Ebola-stricken countries with Doctors Without Borders, had been monitoring his health and arrived at the hospital today with a fever.

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