There's a quick, one-word explanation for why the federal government started selling flood insurance: Betsy.
Hurricane Betsy, which struck the Gulf Coast in 1965, became known as billion-dollar Betsy. Homes were ruined. Water up to the roofs. People paddling around streets in boats. Massive damage.
This would be the time when you'd expect people to be pulling out their flood insurance policies. But flood insurance was hard to come by. You could get fire insurance, theft insurance, car insurance, life insurance. Not flood.
When compared with its neighbors Coney Island and the Rockaways, Manhattan seemed hardly touched by the waters and winds of Superstorm Sandy in late October. But almost three months later, areas of lower Manhattan are still laboring to recover.
Earlier this month, a museum devastated by Sandy finally reopened. About 800 people packed the lobby and upstairs galleries of the South Street Seaport Museum in lower Manhattan as Mayor Michael Bloomberg addressed the crowd.
"Britain's prime minister said Wednesday he will offer citizens a vote on whether to leave the European Union if his party wins the next election, prompting warnings from fellow member states about the soundness of such a move," The Associated Press writes.
The wire service adds that:
"Cameron proposed Wednesday that his Conservative Party renegotiate the U.K.'s relationship with the European Union if it wins the next general election, expected in 2015.
The House is expected to vote Wednesday on a Republican leadership plan to put off the debt ceiling fight for three months. This marks a new strategy for House Republicans who until recently had pledged not to raise the debt ceiling unless it was matched with an equal amount of spending cuts.
Half of all tomatoes eaten in the U.S. come from Mexico, and tomato growers in Florida aren't happy about that. In fact, they're willing to risk a trade war to reverse the trend.
At JC Distributing In Nogales, Ariz., one misstep and you're likely to get knocked over by a pallet full of produce. Forklifts crisscross each other carrying peppers, squash and especially tomatoes from trucks backed into the warehouse loading dock.
"This is a Mexican truck being unloaded," says JC President Jaime Chamberlain. "He's just waiting for his paperwork to get back."
MONTAGNE: Nebraska's governor has approved a new plan for where the controversial Keystone XL pipeline will pass through his state. In 2011, the governor opposed the pipeline for its potential environmental impact. Yesterday, he wrote a letter to President Obama saying the new route avoids the more environmentally fragile parts of Nebraska.
It now falls to the Obama administration to approve the project. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
And today's last word in business is: extraterrestrial gold rush.
A company called Deep Space Industries - which sounds like it's a company fm a Mel Brooks movie - anyway, it's planning to start mining asteroids - mining asteroids by the year 2015. The idea is to first send small spacecraft to explore asteroids for minerals like platinum and gold.
Fresh snow lures a lot of people to do some outdoor exploring, but sometimes that exploring can go too far. When snowmobilers or skiers wander off or get in over their heads, many call 911, putting a strain on already underfunded search-and-rescue budgets.
In Vermont, state police have had to help find 50 lost skiers in the past four weeks.
Farmers who had hoped to get some answers on why prices for their raw milk went into free fall a decade ago were disappointed Tuesday by the settlement of a case accusing Dairy Farmers of America Inc. of creating a milk monopoly in the Southeast.
Dairy farmers and industry observers had hoped for their day in court after years of delays in the large class-action suit. But the day before the trial was to start in federal court in Tennessee, DFA announced a $158.6 million deal, saying it didn't want to risk going to trial.
This undated image shows the Amenas natural gas field in Algeria, where Islamist militants raided and took hostages last week. Dozens of hostages and their captors were killed when Algerian forces subsequently raided the facility.
The prime minister of Algeria is defending his government's response to last week's attack on a natural gas plant that left 37 hostages dead. He says the Islamic militants who were behind the attack planned to blow up the facility and would have killed a lot more people if they hadn't been stopped.
The attack happened at a huge, internationally operated facility in the Sahara. And it underscores the dangers that energy companies face when they do business in politically unstable places.
And today's last word in business is: Who do you trust with your money?
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MONEY")
PINK FLOYD: (Singing) Money, get away. Get a good job with more pay and your OK.
INSKEEP: Any excuse to play Pink Floyd. A new ranking suggests which industries consumers trust. And for the third year in a row, the industry consumers trust the least is the industry that you pretty much have to trust with your money.
NPR business news starts with global unemployment figures.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
INSKEEP: We usually focus on American unemployment, which has been going down. But world unemployment may hit record levels this year, according to an annual report by the International Labor Organization, which is forecasting that up to 202 million people who won't work will be out of work around this world this year.
Lots of companies make products that don't have much in common, but AeroVironment specializes in two products that are very different — electric vehicle chargers, which keep cars like the Nissan Leaf on the road, and military drones. The Los Angeles-area firm is a leading manufacturer of small unmanned aircraft.
One of President Obama's gun control proposals appears to have widespread support — universal background checks for gun purchases. Some experts on mental health and gun violence find problems with the current laws, and they say the system doesn't do a very good job of predicting and preventing gun crime.
When you enter Kerley's Hunting and Outfitting in Cupertino, Calif., you're greeted by a taxidermy lion roaring and leaping. There are rows of rifles on the walls, but the owner, Harry Dwyer III, doesn't appear to be as fierce as his mascot.
OK, the first lady always generates attention for her fashion choices. As we mentioned elsewhere in our broadcast, she made news last week by getting bangs. People do not necessarily pay as much attention to that guy that the first lady may bring around to various events, but presidential fashions can make history. Think of Ronald Reagan's brown suits or Jimmy Carter's cardigans. NPR's Rachel Ward takes a look at this president's sartorial statements.
And we're in the midst of year-end earnings announcements. This week, companies including Apple, Lockheed-Martin, Microsoft and Starbucks will announce their final 2012 results. NPR's Yuki Noguchi has a preview of the corporate earnings season.
INSKEEP: OK, last year, the United States government shut down the file-sharing website Megaupload over charges of copyright infringement. That was a popular place for users to share pirated films and music. Over the weekend, the founder of Megaupload, the New Zealand tycoon Kim Dotcom, launched a successor to the site. It's called simply Mega.
With huge crowds expected in Washington, D.C., dozens of pedicab drivers have come to town to take advantage of the president's swearing in. Mike Kowalczyk of Newport, Rhode Island, told WTOP he's a little worried about directions. He said he got lost his first night in the nation's capital.
After the first Obama inauguration, everybody talked about three things: the historic moment, the Arctic weather — and Aretha Franklin's hat.
If it is possible for a piece of millinery to steal the thunder of one of the most-watched moments in recent memory, the Queen of Soul's hat managed to do it. Her gray felt cloche was topped with a giant, matching bow, outlined in rhinestones that flashed in the chill sunlight as she sang "My Country 'Tis of Thee."
For years, British environmental activist Mark Lynas destroyed genetically modified food (GMO) crops in what he calls a successful campaign to force the business of agriculture to be more holistic and ecological in its practices.
His targets were companies like Monsanto and Syngenta — leaders in developing genetically modified crops.
Earlier this month he went in front of the world to reverse his position on GMOs.
Standing near the Remington Arms factory, Beth Neale, deputy mayor of Ilion, N.Y., says she's watched a lot of large manufacturers leave the region. She's not sure Ilion would easily recover from losing Remington.
Credit Mike Groll / AP
Workers from Remington Arms Company in Ilion, N.Y., talk with Assemblyman Marc Butler and Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney about gun legislation at the Capitol on Jan. 14 in Albany, N.Y.
With the global auto industry gathered in Detroit this week for the city's renowned auto show, Renee Montagne talks to Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne about his company's stunning turnaround, manufacturing overseas and a Chrysler IPO.
Steve Inskeep interviewed Whole Foods CEO John Mackey on Wednesday and Thursday. Mackey has a new book out called Conscious Capitalism. Mackey used the word "facism" when answering a question about the health care measure.
Much of the money from the Hurricane Sandy relief bill the House of Representatives passed will fund beach and infrastructure restoration projects in areas such as Mantoloking, N.J., seen on Oct. 31.
Credit John Moore / Getty Images
Hurricane Sandy exposed weaknesses in New York City's electricity grid. Experts say work can be done to revamp it so it's more tolerant to support backup solar power. Here, the New York City skyline, seen from the Brooklyn Bridge, on Nov. 3.