Crude oil prices are up about 20 percent over the past two months. On Tuesday, the price of the U.S. benchmark, West Texas Intermediate, hit $109. Events in Syria are driving the price spike. Syria doesn't produce much oil, but there is great concern that the conflict there might spill over and involve other Persian Gulf nations such as Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Originally published on Fri August 30, 2013 1:29 pm
There's no question that dealing with mortgages, car payments and other bills takes up time and energy. But having a tight budget may also zap our ability to think clearly, scientists report Thursday in the journal Science.
In a series of clever experiments involving farmers in India and shoppers in New Jersey, scientists found that people are worse at solving puzzles — similar to those on the IQ test — when they're first reminded of money problems.
Originally published on Thu August 29, 2013 1:16 pm
The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service announced on Thursday that when it comes to federal tax purposes, same-sex couples who have legally married will be treated the same as straight married couples, no matter what state they reside in now.
Originally published on Thu August 29, 2013 12:11 pm
In perhaps the largest nationwide fast-food strike in history, the employees who make your 99-cent burgers and tacos were planning strikes in 50 U.S. cities Thursday. Workers are calling for a $15 minimum wage and hoping to raise attention to the fast-food industry's low pay and limited prospects. The current federal minimum wage standard is $7.25 per hour.
Originally published on Thu August 29, 2013 12:41 pm
A U.S. bankruptcy judge on Thursday indicated that he's leaning in favor of a allowing American Airlines to emerge from bankruptcy, clearing a major obstacle to the carrier's planned merger with US Airways.
The Monopoly game hitting store shelves contains a sleek kitty, which will join the classic Scottie dog and top hat. Fans adopted the cat in an online vote earlier this year. The company shelved the iron after a 78 year run.
Seattle-based coffee giant Starbucks has announced it's going to expand to Colombia.
The country is known for its Arabica beans and for the mythical coffee farmer Juan Valdez. He's helped sell Colombia's coffee for 50 years. Starbucks has cafes in 50 countries. And now, it's coming to perhaps the country most associated with coffee.
Howard Schultz, the company's chief executive, announced that the first shop will open in Bogota in 2014, followed by 50 more cafes and in other cities over five years.
Ford is ramping up production of the popular midsized car. The automaker is adding 1,400 workers, and a second shift at one of its Detroit area plants. The Fusion has helped deliver the best numbers the automaker has seen since 2006.
Bunol, Spain, held its annual La Tomatina food fight on Wednesday. About 20,000 people pelted each other with tomatoes. Money is tight in Spain these days, with the country deep in recession. So for the first time, participants had to pay for the right to smear each other with some 130 tons of overripe, dripping produce.
So let's get back to the home of Starbucks - Seattle. There, even as fast food workers have been protesting for higher pay, what they call a living wage in many cities, one of Seattle's best known restaurant owners has just upped the pay of his workers on his own.
Tom Douglas owns 14 restaurants and bakeries in Seattle. And even though he resents the idea of a law telling him how much to pay his workers, Douglas raised the pay for hundreds of his dishwashers and cooks. He joined us to talk more about why.
Losia Nyankale helps daughter Jonessa and son Juliean learn the alphabet. Nyankale, who works in a restaurant in Washington, D.C., says she needs food stamps and child-care subsidies to make ends meet.
Losia Nyankale, 29, didn't mean to make a career in the restaurant business. But after Nyankale was in college for two years, her mom lost her job as a schoolteacher and could no longer pay tuition. Then, Nyankale's temp jobs in bookkeeping dried up in the recession. So she went back to her standby — restaurant work.
"I did some kitchen work. The pantries or the salad station," she says. "I've also managed, supervised, wash[ed] dishes."
This week, Jess Jiang and Robert Smith visited the factory in Indonesia where U.S. cotton was spun into yarn for the Planet Money T-shirt. (They also visited several other factories.) Here are some of the pictures Robert posted to our T-Shirt Tumblr.
Originally published on Sun September 1, 2013 6:34 am
When you go to the Dead Sea for a float in its extraordinarily buoyant waters, signs warn you not to drink a drop. "Did you swallow water?" one Dead Sea do's and don'ts list asks. "Go immediately to the lifeguard."
Originally published on Wed August 28, 2013 1:36 pm
In the flood of stories about Steve Ballmer's time at the helm of Microsoft, a troubling symbol of the company's office culture keeps emerging. It's called "stack ranking," a system that had corrosive effects on Microsoft employees by encouraging workers to play office politics at the expense of focusing on creative, substantive work.
Originally published on Sat August 31, 2013 10:57 am
A week without water can easily kill the average person.
But a garden that goes unwatered for months may produce sweeter, more flavorful fruits than anything available in most mainstream supermarkets — even in the scorching heat of a California summer. Commercial growers call it "dry farming," and throughout the state, this unconventional technique seems to be catching on among small producers of tomatoes, apples, grapes, melons and potatoes.
The New York Times' website isn't working for us, and many other users, again this morning. As All Tech Considered reported Tuesday evening, the Times appears to be the victim of another hacking by the Syrian Electronic Army — a pro-Assad organization that has previously taken over the websites of other U.S.
As the Rim Fire rages on, thousands of houses are threatened; over 100 have already burned. One of them was the home and the family ranch that Corinna Loh grew up on. Now she's struggling to keep her bar, the Iron Door Saloon, one of California's oldest, up and running. Good morning to you.
CORINNA LOH: Good morning.
MONTAGNE: It sounds like it's been a harrowing week. Tell us what has actually happened to you.
That was roughly the reaction of Vermonters who read this magazine headline. Quote: "Autumn In Arizona and Why It's Better Here Than It Is In Vermont."
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
You see, leaf-peepers, those are the tourists who head north to look at the colorful foliage, are a huge part of the state's economy. An estimated 3.5 million people visit Vermont during the season, spending some $130 million.
NPR's business news starts with settling suits for big money.
U.S. authorities are pressing JPMorgan Chase to settle lawsuits over bonds backed by subprime mortgages. And the Federal Housing Finance Agency is looking in the range of $6 billion to settle those suits.
JPMorgan Chase is still negotiating with the government. But here's another eye-popping number: The bank has spent about five billion for legal costs in each of the past two years. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Yahoo yesterday announced a redesign of some of its major sites, the latest step in CEO Marissa Mayer's dramatic turnaround of the company. Since she took the helm last year, Yahoo's stock has surged. And a leading industry measure recently showed Yahoo topping Google in the number of website visits - which is something, since Marissa Mayer jumped to Yahoo after years of being a top player at Google.
Originally published on Tue August 27, 2013 5:22 pm
In its first "Global Government Requests Report," Facebook has released details on the number of requests it has gotten from government agents for user data.
Facebook reveals that governments around the globe have made 38,000 total requests for user data in the first half of 2013, and the U.S. dwarfs the rest of the world in requests. Up to June 30, the U.S. government asked Facebook for access to accounts of between 20,000 and 21,000 users, the company said.
Facebook has more than 1.1 billion users globally.
Originally published on Tue August 27, 2013 10:33 am
It's been a good year for Tesla Motors, the luxury electric car maker, particularly in California, where it's selling more cars than Porsche, Jaguar, Lincoln, or Buick. In 2013, the company has sold 4,714 cars in the state, according to the California New Car Dealers Association.