National News

By Putting Interrogations On Tape, FBI Opens Window Into Questioning

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-21 12:17

The FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies will soon begin recording the interrogations they conduct. It's a reversal of decades of policy and, the Obama administration says, a demonstration that agents act appropriately, without coercing suspects. Some big loopholes remain in the policy, though.

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Israel Targets Tunnels, But Hits Elsewhere — Including Gaza Hospital

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-21 12:17

As the Israeli military expands its assault in the Gaza Strip, casualty numbers continue to grow. At last count, more than 550 Palestinians — mostly civilians — and 25 Israeli soldiers have died. On Monday, an Israeli strike hit a hospital in central Gaza, killing people in the intensive care unit.

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In Days After Jet's Downing, A Dark Cloud Hangs Over Holland

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-21 12:17

Nearly 200 Dutch citizens died in the Malaysian airliner shot down over Ukraine. To learn about the country's response to the tragedy, Audie Cornish speaks with Thomas Erdbrink of The New York Times.

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In Days After Jet's Crash, A Dark Cloud Hangs Over Holland

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-21 12:17

Nearly 200 Dutch citizens died in the Malaysian airliner crash over Ukraine. To find out more about the country's response to the tragedy, Audie Cornish speaks with Thomas Erdbrink of The New York Times.

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Boston Bombing Suspect's Friend Is Convicted On Obstruction Charges

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-21 12:17

A college friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been convicted of impeding the investigation into the attack. Azamat Tazhayakov was found guilty Monday of obstruction of justice and conspiracy.

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Obama Signs Order To Protect Against Anti-LGBT Bias

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-21 12:17

President Obama has signed an executive order to ban bias against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees among federal contractors.

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GOP Marks Dodd-Frank's 4th Birthday With Calls For Repeal

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-21 12:17

It's been four years since Dodd-Frank Act was signed into law. On the anniversary of this sweeping overhaul of financial regulations, Republicans have released a report that argues the law falls short on one of its main tasks.

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Can The Egyptian Regime Still Play Peace Broker In Gaza Strife?

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-21 12:17

Violence continues to escalate in the Gaza Strip. According to many foreign observers, Egypt must play a key role in any peace agreement between Israel and Hamas. To find out why, Robert Siegel speaks with Michele Dunne, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

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Same-day delivery gains traction

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-07-21 11:23

Online shopping's convenience can be tripped up by long shipping times, keeping retailers like Amazon from being the go-to place to pick up ice cream or deodorant.

That's why the online retail giant is experimenting with same-day delivery in a few cities, says Marcus Wohlsen, senior staff writer at Wired. These new trucks would come pre-loaded with items just waiting to be ordered.

"You've got this fleet of trucks that's constantly combing through city neighbords," Wohlsen says. "Lo and behold, somebody orders something that Amazon predicted they or someone in that general vicinity would order and it's already on that truck ready to bring to that person's door."

Amazon's recent interest in drone delivery has also attracted attention recently. Though those trucks "aren't nearly as sexy as a drone," Wohlsen says, they're much more efficent, and give Amazon control over more of the buying process. But filling those trucks and sending them out presents a big logistical problem.

"You can't virtualize that tube of toothpaste; you still have to figure out how to get it there," Wohlsen says. "That said, I think that companies like Amazon and Google are in the best position to make advances in the field of logistics because logistics is a very, very complicated math problem. That's what these companies prioritize. It's how they make money."

For Amazon, Wohlsen says, the move is all about trying to "overtake brick and mortar stores as the main way people buy things. Online retail is still a very small portion of commerce in the U.S. It's something like 6 percent of retail purchases. There's a lot of runway left for Amazon."

Summer fun for future Fed chiefs? Maybe.

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-07-21 10:52

If sprinklers, Slip'N Slides and the other joys of summer aren’t wonky enough for your kids, there’s always Fed camp. The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond runs a summer program for kids in grades K-8. It’s a field-trip destination, with half-day workshops meant to boost children’s basic financial literacy.

Outreach specialist Angela Collier gathers a group of rising kindergarteners around her at the Richmond Fed. They’re four- and five-year-olds in bright orange T-shirts, visiting from Camp Primrose.

In her best ‘this-is-awesome’ voice she tells them, “We’re gonna be talking about goods. And services. And consumers and producers and spending and saving.”

Oh yeah, it’s Fed boot camp.

“Uh, I wouldn’t call it Fed boot camp,” Melanie Rose quickly corrects. She oversees the Richmond Fed’s economic education programs, including its Summer Camp Challenge.

Is she at least scouting for the next Janet Yellen? Or Ben Bernanke?

Well, if we happen to find one I’m sure we would take him,” she says. “But no.”

Really, this is more like Fed-lite. It’s a chance for almost a thousand kids to stop by, play games about personal finance, and build their economic knowledge. But let’s just say you were secretly grooming future Fed chairs. You’d start young, right?

Step One: Establish everyone’s weight in gold.

“Probably all of you weigh about … one and a half, maybe two gold bars,” Collier tells the 40-pound kindergarteners. They’re standing in front of a gold brick that weighs 401.75 troy ounces.

Now that they’ve got the gold standard down, it’s time for Step Two: Master the difference between a good and a service.

A good, Collier says, is “something you can touch and feel and take home. Can you think of anything that would be an example of a good?” she asks.

“Play dough?” suggests camper A.J. Salvatto.

“Play dough is a great example of a good!” Collier cries.

Well done, A.J. Save that kid a space on the Federal Open Market Committee.

Step Three: Practice. The kids turn over cards, with pictures of cars and clocks and waiters. They try to identify goods and services. There are a lot of question marks in their little voices.

“Uh, a service?” asks one.

“A good?” asks a bunch of them.

Camper Tony Cavero nails it. He holds up pictures of firefighters.

“Are they providing a good or a service?” Angela Callier asks.

“A service,” he replies.

Tony Cavero: destined for the Board of Governors.

Now, older kids come through the Fed summer camp challenge too. But these little guys showed so much promise, we asked them about the biggest lesson learned from their day at the Richmond Fed.

Like Skanda Athreya, whose dad is an economist there, they all mention the same thing: the bus ride.

“I learned on the bus, when the driver’s driving, don’t distract your driver, ‘cause it can make him get in a car crash,” Skanda says.

Which in the coded language of Fed-speak says a whole lot about how to manage the economy.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's Friend Convicted For Impeding Bombing Inquiry

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-21 10:04

Azamat Tazhayakov has been found guilty on some obstruction of justice charges, and not guilty of others. He was accused of removing evidence from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's dorm room.

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Could The Conflict In Ukraine Turn Into A Regional War?

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-21 09:53

Nearly 300 people died after a Malaysian Airlines plane crashed near the Russian-Ukrainian border. European security expert F. Stephen Larrabee explains what this might mean for the volatile region.

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Understanding The Basics Of the Conflict In Gaza

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-21 09:53

Fighting between Israel and Hamas escalated over the weekend as Israeli forces shelled the town of Shejaia in Gaza. Host Michel Martin learns the latest from Zack Beauchamp of Vox.

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From Scratch Or Not? French Restaurant Law Stirs Controversy

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-21 09:51

A French law requires restaurants that sell homemade food to display a label on their menu to distinguish them from places that use frozen or vacuum-packed food. But critics say the law is too vague.

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Afghan Veteran Who Held Off Taliban Attack On His Own Receives Medal Of Honor

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-21 08:06

Army Sgt. Ryan Pitts is credited with holding off a brutal Taliban attack back in 2008. He was the only one left alive at an observation post in Afghanistan, and continued to attack despite injuries.

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Your Wallet: Kids are moving in with their parents

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-07-21 07:23

Have you ever had an extra bedroom or couch occupied by a loved one longer than you anticipated?

According to the Los Angeles Times, more homes than ever before have multiple generations under one roof:

A record 57 million Americans, or 18.1% of the population, lived in multigenerational arrangements in 2012, according to the Pew Research Center. That's more than double the 28 million people who lived in such households in 1980, the center said.

In the past, the elderly were the primary group moving in with family. But now, it's millennials:

About 23.6% of people age 25 to 34 live with their parents, grandparents or both, according to Pew. That’s up from 18.7% in 2007, just prior to the global financial crisis, and from 11% in 1980.

For the first time, a larger share of young people live in multigenerational arrangements than of Americans 85 and older.

If you've dealt with this situation, we want to hear how you made that sometimes difficult break. How did you help get that person out of the house and onto their feet? Email us, or let us know on Twitter.

Mapping the city, statistic by statistic

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-07-21 07:05

The map, one of the central elements of navigation, has expanded in capability since the form has been translated to digital. Case in point, the MIT Media Lab’s “You Are Here” project is a collection of maps that visualize a variety of datasets over space. Things from bike accidents to coffee shops, graffiti reports, and transit connectivity are all laid out, using a variety of open data and other online resources, such as Google’s map directions services API.

Sep Kamvar, one of the leaders of the MIT project, says he was prompted to start this project by noticing the subtle ways in which cities differed — often due to deliberate decisions.

“I realized that the cities are quite different, and they’re quite different because of lots of tiny little design decisions that were made, from the width of sidewalks, to the number of trees on the streets, to the proximity of independent coffee shops,” he says.

Kamvar goes on to argue that a typical map does not show these other factors that shape the city — all important, but often underestimated.

The goal of the maps, according to Kamvar, is to illuminate where things are happening in the city, not just how to get around.

“My hope is that each of these maps gives information on how to make the city a better place,” he says, citing as a partiuclar example a map that allows users to map where trees throughout the city are located. 

The MIT project is not the only initative using open data to illuminate cty-level statistics. Last week, another project visualized the distances travelled by by New York City taxicabs in a single day, using data obtained from the city's taxi regulator. Below is one of the project's "Fastest Mode of Transit" maps.

Check out this map of the fastest modes of transportation in Manhattan

Republicans have a birthday card for Dodd-Frank

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-07-21 06:00

Passed in the aftermath of the financial crisis, the Dodd-Frank Act sought both to prevent future economic disasters and create a better framework to deal with them, should they still arise. Monday marks its fourth birthday. How’s the toddler doing?

New criticisms

Many are still unhappy with these reforms, including Republicans in the House Financial Services Committee, who are marking the anniversary with a 100-page report criticizing the law for failing to prevent banks from becoming “too big to fail.” The report also expresses concern that some non-banks are labeled systemically important (which makes them subject to special regulations) and that label could act as a guarantee of sorts, signaling to investors that the government won’t let those companies fail if they get into trouble.

Implementation

There were about 400 different individual elements that made up Dodd-Frank. An analysis by the law firm Davis Polk found roughly half those rules have been finalized; another quarter are in the proposal phase and the last quarter still need government agencies to even come up with them.

However, even finalized rules might require tweaking.

“There’s still a tremendous amount of work to do and even the work that has been done will have to be redone over time,” says Jeffrey Manns, a law professor at George Washington University. “It’s a process of trial and error in that rules will be implemented or are being finalized, but those rules will need to be changed.”

Like a large construction project, work can begin on day one,  Manns says, but you’re going to working and tinkering for many years to come. 

Reports: Texas Gov. Perry To Deploy 1,000 National Guardsmen To Border

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-21 05:55

During an Iowa visit, Rick Perry said if the federal government did not act to curb the influx of immigrants along the southern U.S. border, he would take matters into his own hands.

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Dozens Killed As Libyan Militias Battle For Tripoli's Airport

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-21 05:44

The fighting in the North African country is some of the worst since the ouster of Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

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