Business

Shots - Health News
1:25 am
Fri December 27, 2013

The Number 6 Says It All About The HealthCare.gov Rollout

iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 6:08 am

When it comes to health care, the rollout of the Affordable Care Act was supposed to be measured in the millions. That's how many people were expected to sign up for insurance to begin on Jan. 1.

But for both supporters and opponents of the law, there's one number that sticks out above all others. Six. That's how many people actually managed to enroll through the federal HealthCare.gov website the first day it opened, Oct. 1.

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Planet Money
2:51 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

The Tragic Number That Got Us All Talking About Our Clothing

A Bangladeshi worker participates in a protest outside a garment factory in Dhaka.
A.M. Ahad AP

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 3:31 pm

1,134 is the official government death toll of the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh. The building, which collapsed in April, was home to five garment factories.

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The Two-Way
2:50 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

President Obama Signs Budget, Defense Bills

President Obama speaks to current and retired members of the U.S. military and their families as they eat a Christmas Day meal in the Anderson Hall mess hall at Marine Corps Base Hawaii on Wednesday.
Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 3:58 pm

President Obama on Thursday signed the bipartisan budget bill agreed upon earlier this month, setting the stage for an easing of mandatory spending cuts over the next two years.

The Senate approved the spending measure last week, following its passage in the Republican-dominated House.

The president also signed the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2014.

As The Associated Press reports:

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Parallels
2:36 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

Venezualan Flights Are Dirt Cheap ... If You Can Get A Ticket

At the official rate, 1 U.S. dollar is worth 6.3 Venezuelan bolivars. But in a country with runaway inflation, the black market rate is about 60 bolivars to the dollar. This has made airfares extremely cheap for those using currency acquired on the black market.
Juan Barreto AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 5:35 pm

Reporter John Otis was looking for a flight to Venezuela. That may sound like a simple task, but air travel to and from that Latin American country turns out to be extremely complicated these days. Here's his story.

A direct flight from my home in Bogotá, Colombia, to Caracas, Venezuela, takes about 90 minutes. But when I tried to buy a ticket recently, none were available. I was offered a flight with an overnight stop in Miami, but that would have cost $5,000.

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Economy
2:36 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

Manufacturing 2.0: Old Industry Creating New High-Tech Jobs

Unlike the smoky, eardrum-damaging factories of yesterday, today's manufacturing is going high-tech. That can mean more robots and automated machines than workers. But companies like Machine Inc. in Stoughton, Mass., are still growing and hiring.
Chris Arnold NPR

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 4:07 pm

As the U.S. economy continues to recover, it has been getting some help from an unexpected place. After decades of massive job losses, manufacturing firms have been steadily creating jobs — many of them well-paying. One particularly bright spot is a new generation of high-tech manufacturers.

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Business
2:36 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

With More Online Shopping, Expect More Holiday Shipping Delays

As the volume of online orders surged, some retailers and package delivery companies were unable to fulfill promises to deliver gifts by Christmas. UPS acknowledged it was overwhelmed by all the late traffic. In response to complaints, Amazon says it is offering gift cards and refunds for shipping charges.

The Two-Way
12:41 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

McDonald's Shuts Down Website That Told Workers To Avoid Fast Food

Protesters demonstrate at a McDonald's in New York on Dec. 5. Protesters staged events in cities nationwide, demanding a pay raise to $15 per hour for fast-food workers and the right for them to unionize.
John Moore Getty Images

McDonald's has decided to shut down a website aimed at providing work and life advice to its employees after it was reported that it had urged workers not to eat the very fast food they are hired to produce.

The Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald's said Thursday that information on its McResources Line site had been taken out of context thus generating "unwarranted scrutiny and inappropriate commentary," according to a McDonald's spokeswoman.

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The Two-Way
7:54 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Jobless Claims Fell Sharply Last Week

A "help wanted" sign earlier this year in the window of a clothing store in Pasadena, Calif.
Kevork Djansezian Getty Images

Just as last week's figures may been distorted by temporary factors related to the holiday season that made things look worse than they really are, the word Thursday that there's been a sharp drop in claims for unemployment insurance needs to be accompanied by the same sort of caveat.

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The Two-Way
5:47 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Apologies, Promises From UPS And FedEx About Delivery Delays

UPS delivery man Vinny Ambrosino was dressed for the holiday season on Tuesday as he delivered packages in New York City. Not all the things ordered for Christmas got to their destinations on time.
Carlo Allegri Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 6:28 pm

Update at 8:20 p.m. ET. Amazon, UPS, Offer Refunds:

The Washington Post reports:

"Amazon and UPS said Thursday they would offer refunds to customers who did not receive their Christmas orders on time, after a surge in last-minute online shopping caught the shipping giant off guard."

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Business
2:50 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Frustrated Documentary Maker Opens Cafe In West Bank

Originally published on Sun December 29, 2013 6:16 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, economic growth has been slowing this year. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has proposed an ambitious plan to lure large-scale foreign investment. But details of his plan remain under wraps. Small businesses make up the vast majority of companies in the West Bank.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

NPR's Emily Harris has this profiles of one new one.

EMILY HARRIS, BYLINE: Before opening a cafe, Palestinian Tariq el-Ayyan worked on documentary films.

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Business
2:50 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Southwest Airlines Lags In On-Time Arrivals

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 5:49 am

Southwest Airlines finished last in on-time arrivals in October — the last month for which statistics are available. According to the Department of Transportation, Southwest's on-time arrival rate was 78.8 percent. It was the second month in a row the airline came in at the back of the pack.

Business
2:50 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Pacific Northwest Suffers After China Bans Shellfish Imports

A geoduck farm near Totten Inlet, Washington.
KBCS/Bellvue/Seattle/Flickr

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 8:23 am

China has closed its doors to all shellfish imports from an area that stretches from northern California to Alaska. The state of Washington says it's losing as much as $600,000 a week.

Among the shellfish not being harvested is the geoduck, a long-necked clam that can fetch up to $150 per pound in China. It's a major export for the Pacific Northwest.

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Business
2:50 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Chinese Military Uncovers Secret Tunnel

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 5:49 am

The underground passageway goes from the city of Shenzhen to Hong Kong. It's outfitted with concrete walls, interior lighting and rail tracks, presumably intended to transport goods. Chinese authorities believe a gang intended to use the tunnel to smuggle cell phones and other electronics to Hong Kong — which has lower tariffs than the mainland.

Business
2:50 am
Thu December 26, 2013

The Secret Protectionism Buried Inside NAFTA

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 5:49 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Now NPR's Zoe Chase, from our Planet Money Team, reminds us about one industry that played a big role in NAFTA's passage: men's underwear.

ZOE CHACE, BYLINE: Now you're used to the labels: made in Mexico, made in China, made in Bangladesh. But back in the '80s, when they were first talking about NAFTA, about half of American clothing was made in America, by people like this.

BERTHA MARR: Graduated from the eighth grade, then went straight on in to working at Fruit of the Loom.

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Business
2:50 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Wave Of Illegal Immigrants Gains Speed After NAFTA

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 5:49 am

The North American Free Trade Agreement, known as NAFTA, turns 20 next week. Hailed as a boon for regional trade, it had some undesirable effects. It hastened a trend away from small farmers, and speeded illegal immigration to the U.S.

Business
2:50 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Drug Stores Rx For Profits: Offer More Than Prescriptions

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 5:49 am

Earnings are skyrocketing at drug stores — Walgreens alone saw its earnings grow nearly 70 percent in the last quarter. Drug stores no longer handle just prescriptions and selected sundries. Big chains now compete with grocery stores and sandwich shops. Consumers are also shopping there for holiday gifts.

Economy
2:47 pm
Wed December 25, 2013

Rising Home Prices Are Good News For Owners, Not So Much For Buyers

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 11:39 am

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel. And now, the latest in our series Number of the Year. We're taking numbers and exploring what they tell us about the year that was 2013. Today, NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports on the number 13. That is the estimated percentage of how much home prices have risen this year.

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Parallels
1:04 pm
Wed December 25, 2013

NAFTA Opened Continent For Some Canadian Companies

The Bombardier Challenger 300 is one of the most popular midsize business jets in production. Canada-based Bombardier has boomed in the two decades since the North American Free Trade Agreement was signed.
Todd Williamson AP

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 6:27 pm

Six brand new Challenger corporate jets sit on a showroom floor waiting to be picked up here at the Bombardier Aerospace plant on the outskirts of Montreal. Manager Frank Richie watches as technicians polish the gleaming aircraft and make last-minute adjustments. Each one is personalized, from the leather trim inside to the fancy paint job on its exterior.

Through a side door, you enter an enormous assembly line for more than a dozen other Challenger jets. The factory floor spans nearly 900,000 square feet.

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Business
4:07 am
Wed December 25, 2013

Some UPS Deliveries Are Running Behind

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 5:04 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

We'll begin NPR's business with some empty Christmas stockings.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GREENE: All right, if you're stocking was empty this morning, don't blame the Grinch. UPS acknowledged yesterday that some gifts guaranteed for Christmas Eve delivery did not reach their destinations.

Economy
4:04 am
Wed December 25, 2013

U.S. Economy Forecast To Do Better In 2014

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 5:04 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The economist Nariman Behravesh puts out an economic forecast every year. And he's predicting the U.S. economy will do better in 2014, which will help of the unemployed and also the long-term unemployed. He spoke to my colleague Steve Inskeep.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The U.S. unemployment rate has gone down to 7 percent in the year that's just ending. Where is it heading next?

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NPR Story
2:48 am
Wed December 25, 2013

AmEx Settles With Feds Over Add-On Products

Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 9:07 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Now American Express has agreed to a settlement that's worth more than $75 million. This deals with claims that the company misled customers about some of its, quote, "add-on" products.

NPR's Sam Sanders explains.

SAM SANDERS, BYLINE: Banks and finance companies sell safety. Security.

(SOUNDBITE OF AMERICAN EXPRESS AD)

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: But are you too comfortable? These days, crime can happen in a few keystrokes. American Express can help protect you.

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Arts & Life
1:20 am
Wed December 25, 2013

Detroit Needs Money. Can A 'Grand Bargain' Save The City's Art?

Gladioli, Claude Monet, ca. 1876, oil on canvas.
Detroit Institute of Arts

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 5:04 pm

Can wealthy art lovers help save Detroit's pension funds — and one of its museums?

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U.S. Commutes: The Way We Get To Work
1:15 am
Wed December 25, 2013

What's In Store For Commuting's Future? (Hint: There's Hope)

Imagine if the road ahead includes driverless cars.
Jiha Hwang Illustration from The Car in 2035: Mobility Planning for the Near Future is courtesy of the Civic Projects Foundation

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 5:04 pm

If you want to look into the future of commuting, you need only go to the graduate transportation program at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif.

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Planet Money
3:27 pm
Tue December 24, 2013

The Great Handbell War

Malmark handbells on the left and Schulmerich bells on the right.
malmark.com/schulmerichbells.com

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 10:21 am

Jake Malta left his job as chief engineer at Schulmerich, the world's biggest handbell company, in 1973.

But Malta couldn't stop thinking about bells. He had a vision for a perfect bell — a bell he had never quite achieved at Schulmerich.

So he set up shop in his living room. "He had a folding table, two of them, stretched out with all of his drafting supplies and piano behind him," his daughter, Joann, says.

He traveled to Europe and studied the physics of bells. He made sketch after sketch. "He knew that he could make it better," his daughter says.

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Shots - Health News
10:40 am
Tue December 24, 2013

Drugmaker Names Pill After CEO Who Sought Daughter's Cure

Martine Rothblatt, CEO of United Therapeutics, is the namesake of the company's latest drug, Orenitram.
Ron Levine Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 2:25 pm

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The Salt
6:32 am
Tue December 24, 2013

Top German Chocolate Maker Fights For Its 'Natural' Reputation

If you're selling food in Germany, "natural" is good. It's a place that distrusts technological manipulation of what we eat.

Witness, for example, a 500-year-old law that allows beer-makers to use only three ingredients: water, barley and hops. The law has since been loosened slightly, but many brewers continue to abide by it for marketing reasons.

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Economy
5:30 am
Tue December 24, 2013

Thousands Fall From Middle Class After RV Industry Collapse

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 5:24 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

We're going to take a close look, now, at the human cost when an industry shuts down. Oregon has kept detailed records on what happened to thousands of people who lost their jobs when the state's RV manufacturing industry imploded during the recession. Since then, many workers dropped from middle wage to low wage earners, a trend playing out across the United States. Some fared even worse. NPR's Kelly McEvers when to Oregon to meet the people behind the numbers.

BRADLEY WARING: Entering Junction City, 5,460 people.

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Business
5:30 am
Tue December 24, 2013

USDA Grants Santa Special Livestock Permit

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 5:24 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

OK. Our last word in business today - what else: Reindeer.

From Dasher to Prancer, Vixen to Cupid, and of course, Rudolph - all of Santa's reindeer have gotten the green light from the Agriculture Department to enter U.S. territory. It's very important. The USDA granted, quote, Mr. S. Claus a special livestock permit. And in the spirit of Christmas, the department even waived the normal application fees and disease testing requirement for his reindeer.

Business
3:34 am
Tue December 24, 2013

How Paternity Leave For New Dads Benefit Women

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 5:24 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Something caught our eye in the current issue of The Atlantic. Liza Mundy writes this: Paternity leave makes men more involved at home, women more involved at work, and workplaces friendlier for all parents. It turns out the stigma associated with men who take extended leave when a baby is born is disappearing in some places.

And Liza Mundy, thanks for coming on the program. We appreciate the time.

LIZA MUNDY: Oh, it's great to be here. Thank you.

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Business
3:30 am
Tue December 24, 2013

Target's Troubles Mount After Payment Data Breach

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 5:24 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

NPR's business news begins with a legal bullseye on Target.

OK. More than a dozen customers have now filed lawsuits against the retail giant. This is after Target's security was breached and information from nearly 40 million credit and debit cards were stolen.

NPR's Sonari Glinton reports that the company is in full defense mode.

SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: Target has offered credit monitoring to its consumers. It's taken to every social medium to get out its story. That's while the first lawsuits have begun to poor in.

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