National News

Bill Clinton Says His Wife's Brain Is Just Fine, Thank You

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-14 11:16

The former president said Republican strategist Karl Rove's recent remarks about Hillary Clinton's health are "just the beginning" of the attacks that are headed her way.

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Unrest Breaks Out In Vietnam Over Island Dispute With China

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-14 11:08

Mobs in Ho Chi Minh City targeted Chinese-owned factories, setting some on fire. Meanwhile, the Philippines says China is building an airstrip on the disputed Spratly Islands.

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'New York Times' Replaces Jill Abramson As Executive Editor

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-14 10:48

Dean Baquet, the paper's managing editor, will become The Times' first African-American executive editor. Abramson's departure was reportedly related to "an issue with management in the newsroom."

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Neuroscientists Hack Dreams With Tiny Shocks

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-14 10:15

Small electrical pulses make people feel that they can control their dreams, the hallmark of lucid dreams. But researchers are far away from inducing powers like those seen in the movie Inception.

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Debate: Is Death Final?

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-14 09:54

The idea of an afterlife has fascinated humans for millennia. In a recent Intelligence Squared debate, two teams faced off over the concept of life after death from a scientific perspective.

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For The Win(e): U.S. Passes France As World's Top Wine Consumer

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-14 09:22

French wine consumption fell 7 percent between 2012 and 2013, while U.S. consumption grew by 0.5 percent, a report finds. Still, the French drink six times more wine per head than Americans.

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In A New Twist To A Poignant Tale, Oscar-Winning Director Found Dead

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-14 08:32

Swedish director Malik Bendjelloul won an Oscar with his first documentary, a poignant story about an American singer who was famous in South Africa for decades and didn't know it.

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Greenwald On NSA Leaks: 'We've Erred On The Side Of Excess Caution'

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-14 07:50

Journalist Glenn Greenwald says he and his team weighed the public's interest against the potential harm to innocent people when deciding how many of Edward Snowden's leaked documents to make public.

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Kids Hurt After Bounce House Soars High In The Air

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-14 07:50

Two children were seriously hurt in upstate New York after the inflatable playhouse they were in was sent high into the air by a strong gust of wind.

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PODCAST: Fixing infrastructure and American jobs

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-05-14 07:49

President Obama heads to New York's Tappan Zee bridge today. The crumbling, sixty year old span across the Hudson River will be the backdrop for a speech on America's infrastructure. Barring action from Congress, a federal fund for road, bridge and transit construction and repair is expected to run dry in August, something the adminstration argues could cost up to 700,000 jobs. Marketplace's Krissy Clark breaks down that number.

Meanwhile, Cisco Systems is viewed as a sort of barometer for the tech industry, and when it announces its profits on Wednesday, Silicon Valley will be paying attention to the company's latest push into the "Internet of Things," aiming to link cars, machines, devices and everything in between.

And, we now know once-disgraced mortgage giant Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have made enough money to hand more than $10 billion back to the U.S. Treasury for last quarter.  That's where the US Treasury says it has to go, given the taxpayer bailout five years ago. But with all things Fannie and Freddit, this is controversial. Marketplace regular Alan Sloan is senior editor at large at Fortune Magazine and joined us to discuss.

The 2014 Club Sandwich Index

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-14 07:12

To some, the traditional doubledecker delicacy is an example of excess. To others, it's pure excellence.

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San Diego County Explains 'Offending Words' In Fire Message

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-14 06:50

Fire officials hope they've seen the worst of a fire that has burned 1,550 acres. They also say they'll get to the bottom of a message in an alert stating, "fire in your pants."

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How the White House calculates infrastructure jobs

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-05-14 06:42

President Obama heads to New York's Tappan Zee bridge today. The crumbling, sixty year old span across the Hudson will be the backdrop for a speech on the nation's infrastructure.

Barring action from Congress, a federal fund for building and repairing roads, bridges and transit systems is expected to run dry in August, something the White House says could cost a lot of jobs.

As Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told a White House briefing on Monday, “Unless Congress acts, up to 700,000 Americans will lose their jobs over the next year and road work, bridge building, transit maintenance – all of these types of projects – may be delayed or shut down completely,”

How did he come up with that 700,000 number?

A Department of Transportation spokesperson directed me to an explanation on the DOT website, which breaks down the calculations a bit. According to the explanation there, the tally includes the number of “direct, indirect and induced jobs” that come from highway infrastructure investment. 

A “direct” job would be the kind of work you see crews with hard hats doing, from laborers to engineers—the folks involved in the construction project itself. Paychecks for those jobs actually come out of federal coffers. 

As for the “indirect” jobs, those involve manufacturing the materials-- the steel, concrete or paint, for example, which are used in an infrastructure project. The “cost of materials” line in the budget for a federal highway project would indirectly fund these sorts of indirect jobs.

And then there are those “induced” jobs—jobs created “elsewhere in the economy as increases in income from the direct government spending lead to additional increases in spending by workers and firms,” according to the DOT. 

I asked Robert Puentes, director of the Metropolitan Infrastructure Initiative at the Brookings Institution, to help translate this one. These jobs, he says could be “everything from the food truck that's getting lunch” for the construction workers themselves, “to the guy that’s cutting their hair.” 

A spokesperson for the DOT would not elaborate on how exactly it estimates the number of induced jobs created, but says that all the numbers are based on research from the White House's Council of Economic Advisers. 

When the Council added up all these jobs-- induced, indirect, and direct—it found that about 13,000 jobs are supported for every $1 billion in federal highway and transit investment.  Recently, the highway trust fund has spent about $50.9 billion dollars annually on infrastructure projects. So, multiply 50.9 by 13,000 and you get a little under 700,000 jobs.

But that may actually be a low estimate, according to research done by Standard and Poor's U.S. Chief Economist Beth Ann Bovino. She recently released a report that found a $1.3 billion investment in infrastructure would likely add 29,000 jobs to the construction sector alone.  Meaning the $50.9 billion annual in federal highway trust fund spending would amount to more than 1 million jobs.

Construction jobs which are, by the way, the kind of “good” jobs that have been largely absent from the economic recovery so far, Bovino points out. 

As her report puts it: “The American middle class, which suffered disproportionately during the recent economic slump, would benefit most from investing in transportation infrastructure because it creates what are traditionally middle-class jobs.” 

MERS 101: What We Do (And Don't) Know About The Virus

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-14 06:39

Scientists are racing to figure out how the Middle East respiratory syndrome virus infects people. After surfacing in 2012, it has spread to the U.S. and other countries. Here's what we know so far.

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Often dressed in cheese, it never goes out of style

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-05-14 06:18

From the Marketplace Datebook, here's a look at what's coming up Thursday, May 15:

In Washington, the Federal Reserve releases its April industrial production report.

Are consumers experiencing inflation in their day-to-day living expenses? The Labor Department releases its monthly Consumer Price Index.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee discusses the state of tobacco use in the U.S.

The first woman to be appointed as Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, turns 77.

And let's build something. How about a big, juicy, burger? May is National Hamburger Month. Now, doesn't that feel productive?

Doctors Debate Whether Screening For Domestic Abuse Helps Stop It

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-14 05:54

After your doctor asks you whether you smoke, she might also ask if you feel safe with your partner. But an analysis suggests universal screening may not be helping people who have been abused.

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'I'm Happy,' Says Man Whose Case Changed Europe's Rules For Google

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-14 04:09

The Spanish man whose court battle against Google brought a win for the "right to be forgotten" says he's pleased — and that Google is even better now.

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Manning Could Move To Civilian Prison For Hormone Therapy

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-14 03:44

The Pentagon is working on a prison transfer for convicted WikiLeaks source Pvt. Chelsea Manning, formerly named Bradley, who has said she wants to live as a woman.

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Death Toll Passes 200 In Turkish Coal Mine Explosion

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-14 03:13

Officials say hundreds more are still missing. Efforts to rescue any survivors far below the Earth's surface are being complicated by a fire in the mine.

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Cisco tries to navigate "The Internet of Things"

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-05-14 02:38

Cisco Systems is viewed as a sort of barometer for the tech industry, and when it announces its profits on Wednesday, Silicon Valley will be paying attention to the company's latest push into the "Internet of Things," aiming to link cars, machines, devices and everything in between.

"It's pretty much this notion of connecting anything that has an on-off switch," says Jacob Morgan, co-founder of Chess Media Group, a consulting firm that helps organizations understand the future of work.

For now, the "Internet of Things" is a long-term strategy for the company.

"In terms of selling cars to people, it may be a little bit trickier because its such a a really big vision, it may be hard to make the benefits obvious to all customers," says Michael Endler, an associate editor with Information Week.

But Cisco says this sector of technology could be worth $19 trillion.

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