And this latest winter storm and those freezing temperatures are putting a strain on already low supplies of propane in the Northeast and Midwest. Millions of Americans use the liquefied gas to heat their homes. And as NPR's Tovia Smith reports, they're paying more and getting less this winter season, which started early, thanks to the extreme cold of the polar vortex.
Over the past week or so, most of the country's banks have reported their profits for the last quarter of 2013. The numbers, mostly, have better than most analysts expected. After a rough few years, most big financial institutions are faring pretty well. But there's some debate about how sustainable the numbers really are.
Bobby Foster Jr. can often be found reading the paper on a wooden bench outside Murry's grocery store on the corner of Sixth and H streets northeast in Washington, D.C.
"The sun shines over here this time of day," says Foster, a retired cook. "It's always good when the sun shines."
Murry's has been an anchor in this neighborhood for decades — during the crack wars of the 1980s and the urban blight that followed, when most other businesses packed up and left. Foster has been somewhat of an anchor, too. He's lived here for 54 years.
Drew Philp made waves this month by explaining to the Internet why he bought a house in struggling Detroit for $500. In his much-discussed story for Buzzfeed, Philp said that he is part of "another Detroit," one where people are working to help each other and save their city.
A major supplier to bike-sharing companies declared for bankruptcy this week — but experts say they still see the services spreading. Here, a man rides a Citibike through the Dumbo district of Brooklyn.
The retailing giant Target is doing what it can to limit the damage from a massive data breach. But there are signs that other hackers are trying to take advantage of the original data theft with elaborate "phishing" schemes.
The rest of Washington may have shut down for the snow, but not the U.S. Supreme Court. Instead, the justices heard arguments Tuesday in a case that could decimate public employee unions. At issue: whether nonunion members can be required to pay fees to help cover the cost of negotiating a contract from which they benefit.
Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 4:55 pm
If you've ever shopped at Whole Foods, you've probably noticed that some of the foods it sells claim all kinds of health and environmental virtues. From its lengthy list of unacceptable ingredients for food to its strict rules for how seafood is caught and meat is raised, the company sets a pretty high bar for what is permitted on its coveted shelves.
I'm Celeste Headlee, and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Michel Martin is away. Coming up, much of the news out of Detroit has been bad lately, but one guy says it's a great place to live. We'll hear why he decided to help the Motor City comeback by purchasing a $500 wreck of a house. That's just ahead.
Many cities across this country have paved over their streams, often to make way for urban development. The streams go underground. Now cities are realizing that uncovering those streams can have environmental and economic benefits.
Ann Thompson of member station WVXU reports so-called daylighting could be coming to a stream near you.
The American Postal Workers Union is fighting back against a deal that puts U.S. Postal Service counters inside Staples stores. The Postal Service is facing a deficit and increased competition, so it's developing retail partnerships with companies like Staples.
The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Tuesday in an Illinois case that could drive a stake through the heart of public employee unions.
At issue are two questions: whether states may recognize a union to represent health care workers who care for disabled adults in their homes instead of in state institutions; and whether non-union members must pay for negotiating a contract they benefit from.
To understand why a growing number of states actually want to recognize unions to represent home health care workers, listen to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan:
Chef Furard Tate is the kind of man who never sits still. He flits from the order desk at Inspire BBQ back to the busy kitchen, where young men are seasoning sauce, cooking macaroni and cheese, and finishing off some dry-rubbed ribs smoked on a grill.
"We grill on a real grill," Tate says. "None of this electric stuff."
But as important as the food is, Tate says it's also important that it's made by young hands who must learn a slow, consistent process.
And it's been a big year for T-Mobile. The telecom company finally landed the iPhone. It started trading as a public company and has kicked off a price war with its competitors. In the process, it's become the fastest-growing mobile phone company in the country, recruiting 4.4 million new customers. But as NPR's Steve Henn reports, T-Mobile's combative and profane CEO, John Legere, is grabbing all the headlines.
People in the Bay Area are familiar with San Francisco's many complicated parking laws, and the very expensive consequences of disobeying them. Nearly half of all parking tickets are dismissed in court but fighting a ticket takes time and knowledge. David Hegarty started Fixed, an app that fights parking tickets for you.
Originally published on Mon January 20, 2014 2:10 pm
Lots of consumers are smitten with local food, but they're not the only ones. The growing market is also providing an opportunity for less experienced farmers to expand their business and polish their craft.
But they need help, and increasingly it's coming from food hubs, which can also serve as food processing and distribution centers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that there are about 240 of them in more than 40 states plus the District of Columbia.
Roger Ailes is a hero to the political right and a boogeyman to the left for leading the Fox News Channel to become the top-rated force in cable news --- the competition is not even close. Ailes and Fox refused to cooperate with author Gabriel Sherman.
MONTAGNE: Paramount Pictures will be the first major Hollywood studio to stop releasing movies on 35 millimeter film. The Los Angeles Times reports the motion picture studio is now distributing its films to U.S. theaters in digital format only.
Every hospital has a price list but it is hard for the average consumer to figure out what a hospital really charges for care. Traditionally, the price on that list is nowhere near what it actually expects you or an insurance company to pay.
On a recent Friday evening in Langley Park, Md., police officer Juan Damian drives his patrol car past fast food restaurants, discount stores and Hispanic groceries.
Damian estimates that at least two-thirds of the people here are undocumented, and that has made it a magnet for robberies over the years. Gangs know undocumented day workers are especially lucrative targets, he says. Their pockets are often stuffed with a day's or even a week's worth of wages. The street term for these men: "walking ATMs."
For months, the 50th anniversary 2015 Ford Mustang was cloaked in secrecy. But an upcoming car can't stay in the garage forever. It has to undergo rigorous testing, and that means taking it out in traffic to monitor its handling on roads across the U.S.
To keep the redesign out of the public eye before December, Ford completely covered the car with camouflage.
"Underneath that material is a whole science and art, all-in-one," says Mustang chief engineer Dave Pericak. "They're creating a new exterior over the exterior."
Most of the diamonds synthesized from cremated remains come out blue, due to trace amounts of boron in the body. These diamonds, made from the ashes of animals, were created through the same process used to make diamonds from human remains.
If you're a football fan, Sunday is kind of like Christmas.
Two conference championship games will determine the teams that advance to the Super Bowl, and the matchups couldn't be more exciting: Denver vs. New England (Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady). And some would say the other game, pitting San Francisco against Seattle, might just feature the two best teams in the league.
America shows its love for the sport in many ways beyond breathless anticipation of big games. It also gives back to the National Football League with tax breaks and publicly funded stadiums.