From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish. The stock market usually likes good news about the economy, but that's not always the case. This morning, stocks opened down sharply just after the government announced a surprisingly large drop in initial claims for unemployment benefits. In fact, claims fell to the lowest level since before the recession and the Dow Jones Industrials ended the day down 225 points, a decline of 1.5 percent.
For auto companies, that Environmental Protection Agency-approved MPG sticker on a new car is a high stakes and expensive process. These days it can be damaging to a company's image if customers can't achieve that great fuel economy in their own commutes.
Americans are buying less gasoline than they did just a few years back. While many people believe this is a good thing, it does present a problem: Most road construction is paid for with fuel taxes. Less gas tax revenue means less money for roads.
One reason gas purchases are down is that more people are driving more efficient cars, such as hybrid and electric vehicles. Now states are looking for solutions, including charging hybrids extra fees or imposing fees based on miles driven.
In better times — just last year — Paula Deen promoted a new line of furniture. While Universal Furniture International said in July it will continue to market the Paula Deen Home Collection, several other endorsers have dropped Paula Deen products.
Credit Jemal Countess / Getty Images
Grammy winning recording artist Beyonce launches her new "Heat" on Feb. 3, 2010, in New York City.
Not only is that 15,000 fewer than had been filed the week before, it's also the lowest number for any single week since before the U.S. economy officially slipped into its most recent recession, in December 2007.
Google Street View cars have been photographing roads and highways for years, but how about this: Google Beach View. Florida is paying a pair of intrepid trekkers to walk all 825 miles of the state's beachfront carrying the Google Eye camera in a 40 pound backpack — blue orb sticking out the top.
Gathering in Washington, D.C., drone manufacturers say they are optimistic about their business, despite a downturn in defense spending. The unmanned vehicle industry is hopeful the domestic market will open up. But they first must address privacy concerns exacerbated by the NSA spying scandal.
If economists looking at the housing sector are generally optimistic, those who follow the auto industry are practically brimming with glee. Right now, the average age of cars on the road is the oldest ever recorded, at 11-and-a-half years, which means at some time, people will have to buy newer ones. As NPR's Sonari Glinton reports, that time may be now.
Federal prosecutors in the U.S. have charged two former traders in JPMorgan Chase's London office with securities fraud. The two men were part of the so-called "London Whale" case, which ended up costing the company more than $6 billion. U.S. officials say the men lied about the value of some derivatives trades to cover up mounting losses.
Law school grads have been facing a tough job market, and this has prompted some young entrepreneurial attorneys to try out hybrid businesses.
Diane Orson from member station WNPR reports on one Connecticut attorney who's opened a shop that combines his passion for the law - with his skill as a barber.
DIANE ORSON, BYLINE: Donald Howard says he first got the hybrid-business idea working as a paralegal for a personal injury attorney who doubled as a sports agent. Then he saw the concept again on a reality television show.
In the 10 years since sagging power lines in Ohio sparked a blackout across much of the Northeastern United States and Canada, utility engineers say they have implemented measures to prevent another such event in the country's electric grid.
But there is one disaster scenario for which the power companies are still unprepared: a massive attack on the computer networks that underlie the U.S. electric grid.
Kristin Yentes (right) and other volunteers from U.S. Bank serve breakfast to diners at Catholic Charities Opportunity Center in Minneapolis. Workers from the bank have been volunteering with Catholic Charities for more than a year.
You're not likely to find many bankers wearing those old stereotypical green visors these days. But at U.S. Bank, some employees sport hairnets — at least when they're serving breakfast.
Every Friday morning, a group of U.S. Bank employees stands elbow to elbow at a Minneapolis soup kitchen, doling out French toast, sausage and other breakfast goodies. Most of the people getting free breakfast are homeless men who lug their belongings in plastic bags.
Imagine a ship carrying goods in containers that, if lined up, would stretch around 11,000 miles long, or nearly halfway around the planet. Rose George spent several weeks aboard one such ship as research for her new book, Ninety Percent of Everything: Inside Shipping, the Invisible Industry That Puts Clothes on Your Back, Gas in Your Car and Food on Your Plate.
One of the world's most trusted sources for news is back up, after an internal outage knocked it out for nearly two hours on Wednesday morning. The New York Times' main site and mobile app went down a little after 11 a.m. ET, when users who tried to visit received a "Service Unavailable" message.
The news organization's Twitter account sent this message, before the site returned:
Originally published on Wed August 14, 2013 1:02 pm
Bustle.com is a new women's site staffed by editors and writers from traditionally female-oriented organizations like Glamour and Seventeen but founded and led by a man, Bryan Goldberg. His previous venture was the multimillion-dollar sports site Bleacher Report. In announcing the launch of his new lady-targeted venture Tuesday, he wrote:
Originally published on Wed August 14, 2013 10:51 am
After several days of brutal criticism and commentary about the brutal way he fired a man during a conference call, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong is now apologizing.
"I am writing you to acknowledge the mistake I made last Friday during the Patch all-hands meeting when I publicly fired Abel Lenz," Armstrong says in an email to AOL employees, which Mashable has posted here.
GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: I'm Greg Allen, in Miami. To gauge the impact of Brazilians here, you only need to go downtown and look up.
(SOUNDBITE OF MACHINERY)
ALLEN: Just a few years after the housing downturn, in Miami, once again, cranes and construction crews are hard at work building high-rise condominiums. Thousands of units are going up all over town, and many are being built for Brazilians.
August means many parts of the world are virtually shut down with many workers off on summer holiday. A recent blog post in The Atlantic took on the question: Does more vacation mean happier workers? Some data suggests not so much.
And let's hear now about a proposed airline merger. In a surprise move, the Justice Department announced yesterday that it will try to stop American Airlines and U.S. Airways from becoming one. This is largely because of two other mergers that made both Delta and United Airlines much bigger. Those deals were approved back in 2008 and 2010. Now, as NPR's Wade Goodwyn reports from Dallas, the government seems determined to change course.
Now, the story of a man many call an outlaw. His crime: growing raisins and then deciding to sell them all. His case made it all the way to the Supreme Court.
Planet Money's Zoe Chace has the story.
ZOE CHACE, BYLINE: You might imagine that such an ordinary thing like a raisin works the same way lots of other stuff works. The raisin grower takes his sun-dried grapes and sells them, as many as he can to whoever wants them. That's not what happens.
Two years after cantaloupe were linked to one of the worst foodborne outbreaks in U.S. history, lawyers have filed a fresh round of lawsuits. Meanwhile, farmers are trying to win back customers after their signature crop was tarred by a broad brush.
Steinway & Sons, the 160-year-old musical instrument maker, is set to change hands.
Last month, a private equity firm emerged as the company's likely buyer. But a mystery bidder — rumored to be hedge fund manager John Paulson — has swooped in at the last minute, and now looks likely to take control of one of the oldest manufacturers in the United States. Paulson made billions betting against the housing market at a time when many thought housing prices could only go up. His reported offer for the company is $458 million.
The government's decision Tuesday to oppose the merger of US Airways and American Airlines stunned airline analysts, but many predicted the deal eventually will win go through.
"Given that other airline mergers were approved, this was a surprise," University of Richmond transportation economist George Hoffer said. Other major carriers already have been allowed to combine forces, so "it's illogical to oppose this merger. This move comes a day late and a dollar short," he said.
Power companies all over the country are in the process of replacing old residential meters with new digital smart ones. These meters transmit real time data back to the utilities, giving a precise picture of how much electricity customers are using and when. Audie Cornish talks to Severin Borenstein — director of the University of California Energy Institute — about the technology.