National News

Illinois Lawmaker Found Guilty Of Accepting $7,000 Payoff

NPR News - Tue, 2014-06-10 13:21

The jury didn't buy state Rep. Derrick Smith's argument that the repeated efforts to get him to accept the money amounted to entrapment.

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Court OKs Universities' Quest To Turn To More Digital Copies Of Books

NPR News - Tue, 2014-06-10 13:17

An appeals court has ruled against a group of authors, deciding in favor of a consortium of universities in a case that hinged on copyright law and provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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Potatoes fight to get on the WIC nutrition list

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-06-10 13:16

Funding for WIC, the food assistance program for low-income women, infants and children, is expected to be debated on the floor of the House this week, and the Senate soon after. One of the more surprising issues that will come up: potatoes. 

WIC gives low-income mothers vouchers to buy certain foods—foods with nutrients they might not otherwise be getting enough of. A panel of scientists puts together the list, and it has evolved (once carrots were one of the only approved vegetables). A few years ago the list was overhauled to add all kinds of fresh fruits and veggies.

But one food item scientists left off the list: potatoes. This has recently become a concern for a bipartisan group of congress-folk.

“Never would I have guessed that the lowly potato would turn out to be such a contentious issue,” said Republican Senator Susan Collins at a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing recently. Collins is from Maine--home to a lot of potato growers.

Collins has been leading the fight to get fresh potatoes—just fresh ones—put on the WIC list. She passed around a chart showing the nutritional value of potatoes. A few of her colleagues made "hot potato" jokes.

But this is serious business for people like Mark Szymanski, with the National Potato Council.

“As the National Potato Council and the entire potato industry, we're very concerned when the federal government is telling people they should avoid our vegetable,” Szymanski says.

But Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition at New York University, says the government isn’t trying to ostracize potatoes. Nestle, who loves potatoes herself (“there’s nothing more delicious than a baked potato,” she told me), argues they shouldn’t be on the WIC-approved list because WIC participants are eating plenty of potatoes already—especially the kind that wind up as french fries and potato chips. 

Eric Rimm, a professor of nutrition at Harvard who advises the USDA, says the point of WIC money is to encourage pregnant women and young kids to go beyond potato. 

“Forty-five percent of vegetables consumed by women of child-bearing age are already potatoes, he argues, citing a 2013 study. “It's not like we're a potato-deficient society.”

How big is Iraq's oil industry now?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-06-10 13:14

In Iraq, sectarian violence erupted in the city of Mosul. The Iraqi army fled their posts and much of the city is now under the control of Sunni Militants. Mosul is a key city for the Iraqi oil industry which has been ramping up production and exports steadily since the US led invasion in 2003. Iraq has overtaken Iran as the second largest oil producing country among the 12 OPEC nations.

In February, oil production in Iraq hit 3.6 million barrels, setting a 30 year record. “Most of it is concentrated in the south,” says Iraq Oil report Editor-in-chief Ben Lando, “80 to 90 percent of it in Basra Province alone.”

Since March, when the Iraq Turkey pipeline in the north was bombed, production has been restricted.  Attacks on repair workers have prevented the pipeline from being repaired.  “So that’s about 300,000 barrels a day that would have been exported now shut in.” says Lando.

The Kurdish government in the north is trying to get oil out independently. It recently shipped a million barrels of crude by tanker, through Turkey. “From what we can tell, there wasn’t a buyer ahead of time and they are essentially looking for a port,” says Chad Mabry is an analyst with MLV and Company.

Those tankers are basically circling the Mediterranean waiting for a buyer, says Mabry, “and you are seeing some pressure from the Iraqis, telling potential buyers, you better watch out if you take that on, we are going to apply some pressure from our end.”

Iraq has set very ambitious goals for oil. The country wants to nearly triple its current production, to 9 million barrels per day by 2020, a number that, is way above industry forecasts says IBISworld analyst James Crompton. “According to the International Energy Administration by 2020 Iraq could be producing about 6 million barrels per day.”

But even those forecasts may be optimistic, if the region faces more instability.

The oil cartel OPEC, of which Iraq is a member, meets in Vienna on Wednesday to discuss production quotas for the second half of the year. Which makes your wonder about the numbers behind Iraq's oil industry:

2

Iraq ranks as the second largest oil producer among the 12 OPEC nations, overtaking Iran. Saudi Arabia is the top producer.  (WSJ)

3.6 million

The number of barrels of oil Iraq produced per day in February, a 30-year high. The previous high-water mark was 3.5 million barrels per day, recorded in 1979 when dictator Saddam Hussein took power. (WSJ)

5

Iraq's rank among other nations around the world in terms of its proven crude oil reserves. (EIA)

9 million

The number of barrels of oil Iraq is expected to produce daily by 2020, according to Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Hussain al-Shahristani. He also expects Iraq to export 7.5 million barrels of oil per day in the same time frame. (UPI)

6 million

The number of barrels of oil International Energy Administration analyst Jeremy Crompton says Iraq will be capable of producing daily by 2020, a forecast much lower than the country's aspirations. (International Energy Administration)

300,000

The number of barrels of oil per day that otherwise would have been exported from Iraq, were it not for a March 2 bombing attack of the Iraq-Turkey pipeline, according to Ben Lando, editor-in-chief of the Iraq Oil Report. (Iraq Oil Report)

How big is Iraq's oil industry now?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-06-10 13:14

In Iraq, sectarian violence erupted in the city of Mosul. The Iraqi army fled their posts and much of the city is now under the control of Sunni Militants. Mosul is a key city for the Iraqi oil industry which has been ramping up production and exports steadily since the US led invasion in 2003. Iraq has overtaken Iran as the second largest oil producing country among the 12 OPEC nations.

In February, oil production in Iraq hit 3.6 million barrels, setting a 30 year record. “Most of it is concentrated in the south,” says Iraq Oil report Editor-in-chief Ben Lando, “80 to 90 percent of it in Basra Province alone.”

Since March, when the Iraq Turkey pipeline in the north was bombed, production has been restricted.  Attacks on repair workers have prevented the pipeline from being repaired.  “So that’s about 300,000 barrels a day that would have been exported now shut in.” says Lando.

The Kurdish government in the north is trying to get oil out independently. It recently shipped a million barrels of crude by tanker, through Turkey. “From what we can tell, there wasn’t a buyer ahead of time and they are essentially looking for a port,” says Chad Mabry is an analyst with MLV and Company.

Those tankers are basically circling the Mediterranean waiting for a buyer, says Mabry, “and you are seeing some pressure from the Iraqis, telling potential buyers, you better watch out if you take that on, we are going to apply some pressure from our end.”

Iraq has set very ambitious goals for oil. The country wants to nearly triple its current production, to 9 million barrels per day by 2020, a number that, is way above industry forecasts says IBIS world analyst Jeremy Crompton. “According to the International Energy Administration by 2020 Iraq could be producing about 6 million barrels per day.”

But even those forecasts may be optimistic, if the region faces more instability.

The oil cartel OPEC, of which Iraq is a member, meets in Vienna on Wednesday to discuss production quotas for the second half of the year. Which makes your wonder about the numbers behind Iraq's oil industry:

2

Iraq ranks as the second largest oil producer among the 12 OPEC nations, overtaking Iran. Saudi Arabia is the top producer.  (WSJ)

3.6 million

The number of barrels of oil Iraq produced per day in February, a 30-year high. The previous high-water mark was 3.5 million barrels per day, recorded in 1979 when dictator Saddam Hussein took power. (WSJ)

5

Iraq's rank among other nations around the world in terms of its proven crude oil reserves. (EIA)

9 million

The number of barrels of oil Iraq is expected to produce daily by 2020, according to Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Hussain al-Shahristani. He also expects Iraq to export 7.5 million barrels of oil per day in the same time frame. (UPI)

6 million

The number of barrels of oil International Energy Administration analyst Jeremy Crompton says Iraq will be capable of producing daily by 2020, a forecast much lower than the country's aspirations. (International Energy Administration)

300,000

The number of barrels of oil per day that otherwise would have been exported from Iraq, were it not for a March 2 bombing attack of the Iraq-Turkey pipeline, according to Ben Lando, editor-in-chief of the Iraq Oil Report. (Iraq Oil Report)

Coca-Cola ventures again into U.K. waters

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-06-10 13:07

Ten years after the calamitous launch of its Dasani bottled water in Britain, Coca Cola is getting back into the British bottled water market. Later this summer the drinks giant will introduce its leading American brand – Glaceau Smartwater – into the United Kingdom.

Coke has good commercial reasons to take the plunge.

“Bottled water is a growing market in the U.K., and that’s something you can’t say about any other drinks category,” says Olly Wehring of Just-Drinks. “Bottled water sales are worth 1.4 billion pounds ($2.35 billion) a year and are growing at 6 percent annually in Britain. While other categories, like colas, are stagnating chiefly due to health concerns.” 

But the rollout of Glaceau Smartwater has revived painful memories for Coca Cola. The Disani launch in 2004 was a marketing and manufacturing disaster. 

"The problem was they were discovered to be using tap water bought from the Thames Water utility, filtering it, putting it in a bottle and charging a wonderful margin,” says marketing expert Allysson Stewart-Allen.

“Matters got even worse when Coke learned that as a byproduct of the filtering process, you got a chemical in the water: bromate. And this bromate is - at high levels - a potential toxin.” 

Coke pulled half a million bottles off the supermarket shelves and pulled the brand out of Britain.

Ten years on, does the bitter aftertaste of that debacle linger among British consumers, and will it put them off buying Coke’s new offering? Marketplace sampled the views of some bottled water drinkers in a small shopping centre outside London. 

“I would probably try Smartwater just out of curiosity,” ventured Dick Pimm. “To be honest I didn’t know about the Dasani disaster.”

Rosie Pearce said she would probably not buy the new drink. “I’m a bit anti-Coca-Cola because it’s a large contributor to obesity. It’s probably getting more into bottled water as a way of deflecting criticism away from some of its more harmful products.”

Peter Woodman was not so hard on the drinks giant.

“I would probably try Smartwater. I think it would probably be fine,” he said

“And no I won’t be put off Coca-Cola products by the Dasani disaster. I’d give them a second chance!” 

Coca-Cola is steering well clear of tap water this time around. The new product will be distilled from vaporized spring water with electrolytes added. The company has clearly been chastened by the ill-fated Dasani rollout and has now set its sights on a major new goal. While it has the third largest share of the world’s bottled water market , it has only a 1 percent share of Britain’s. Coke is aiming to slake the U.K.’s growing thirst while feeding its own ferocious hunger for expansion and profit.

Don't Be A Jerk. There's A Lot More To Island Cooking

NPR News - Tue, 2014-06-10 13:05

Drawing on a history both savory and sweet, two sisters are reintroducing Caribbean cooking to the world beyond the islands. And they'd like to make one thing clear: It's not just about jerk spice.

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