The World Economic Forum is underway at the Swiss Alpine resort of Davos. It's an annual meeting of the world's business elites but also in attendance are world leaders and academics, celebrities and charities.
Gideon Rachman is chief foreign affairs columnist for the Financial Times. He's a regular at Davos and he joined us from there. Good morning.
GIDEON RACHMAN: Good morning.
MONTAGNE: Tell us about who is there this year and if there are some names that you're surprised to find are not.
Oil is now running through the southern part of the keystone XL pipeline. Supporters and opponents will be watching carefully to see what that could mean for the northern section of the project, that still awaits approval from the Obama administration.
Spain's banking system on Thursday is marking an end to its reliance on bailout loans from Europe that were desperately needed 18 months ago to shore up its banks after a construction boom-and-bust.
Spain is now the second eurozone country to cleanly exit its bailout program, after Ireland.
It's a dramatic difference from a year and a half ago, when demonstrations erupted outside banks in Spain almost daily. At the time, record numbers of Spaniards were losing their homes in foreclosure. Unemployment soared past 25 percent and kept rising.
The credit and debit card data breaches at Target and Neiman Marcus compromised more than 70 million American consumers, and analysts say even more of us are at risk. That's because the technology we use to swipe for our purchases — magnetic stripes on the backs of cards — isn't hard for a skilled fraudster to hack.
The Affordable Care Act had ardent critics and supporters long before last fall's troubled launch of the HealthCare.gov website. Opponents of Obamacare say the law will reduce, not increase, the number of health plans available to Americans and that fewer consumers will be able to afford care than before. And delays in implementation of portions of the ACA, they argue, demonstrate how the Obama administration has been forced to undermine its own law in order to keep it running.
Basically, Quicken is offering a $1 billion grand prize — yes, that's billion, with a B — if someone correctly picks the outcome of all 63 games in the men's Division I college basketball tournament this spring.
Originally published on Tue January 28, 2014 8:35 am
It might be hard to imagine in this sputtering recovery, but 2.4 million people actually quit their jobs in November, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That's nearly a million more quitters than there were during the darkest months of the recession.
Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 2:22 pm
Long John Silver's has gained some notoriety in the past for serving up what the food police dubbed the most unhealthful meal in America. (aka heart attack on a hook.)
But the fast-food chain is out to change its reputation. One step in this new direction: a quick transition from partially hydrogenated oils that contain bedeviled trans fats. Today, the chain announced it is moving to a 100 percent soybean oil that is trans-fat free.
Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 11:26 am
It is a myth that "poor countries are doomed to stay poor," and by the year 2035, "there will be almost no poor countries left in the world," Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates writes in his latest annual letter about the work of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and conditions in the nations where the foundation works.
Gates sees a world where once-impoverished countries have already made tremendous progress and where more will follow their lead.
Amazon has a patent for what it calls "anticipatory shipping" — shipping goods to a warehouse near you before you've bought them. Renee Montagne talks to Tim Stevens, editor-at-large for CNET, about Amazon developing a sales method to ultimately read your mind.
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.
NPR's business news begins with a Chicago farewell.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
MONTAGNE: Sears announced its closing its flagship store in downtown Chicago as part of an ongoing effort to cut expenses. It was once the largest retailer in Chicago. In fact, it was the namesake for the Sears Tower, the country's second tallest building.
One executive said that ever since it moved from the Sears Tower - which is now the Willis Tower - the downtown Chicago Sears has lost millions of dollars.
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.
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:
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.
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.