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.
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."
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.
The North American International Auto Show opens to the public today. That's the fancy name for the Detroit car show. NPR's Sonari Glinton has been getting a sneak preview in the Motor City, hanging out with engineers and auto execs. And he's with us now. Good to talk with you, Sonari.
SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: It's good to be here, Lynn.
NEARY: Now, you've spent, I think, four days at the car show. What are the standouts?
The U.S. Supreme Court is delving into the technology-versus-privacy debate, agreeing to hear two cases that test whether police making an arrest may search cellphones without a warrant.
The court's announcement Friday that it would take the cases came just hours after President Obama outlined his proposals to address government retention of citizen phone data as part of his speech outlining reforms at the National Security Agency.
Lawmakers are promising new efforts to restore jobless benefits for long-term unemployed, but it may take a while - 1.4 million people who've been out of work long term saw their benefits disappear three weeks ago. Congress failed to agree on funding to renew them. NPR's Tovia Smith visited with a few people who are without work in Boston.
Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 5:40 pm
Freedom Industries, the West Virginia company that's been blamed for a chemical spill that left around 300,000 people without water for days, has filed for bankruptcy. The chemical used in cleaning coal leaked into the Elk River and into the public water system.
Nothing ends the tech week with a bang like the president's much-anticipated words on the NSA. But let's start with the weekly roundup of tech news from here at NPR and our friends at publications around the country.
Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 2:23 pm
The holiday season data breach at Target that hit more than 70 million consumers was part of a wide and highly skilled international hacking campaign that's "almost certainly" based in Russia. That's according to a report prepared for federal and private investigators by Dallas-based cybersecurity firm iSight Partners.
And the fraudsters are so skilled that sources say at least a handful of other retailers have been compromised.
"The intrusion operators displayed innovation and a high degree of skill," the iSight report says.
Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 7:51 am
President Obama is expected to announce Friday morning that he is "ordering a transition that will significantly change the handling of what is known as the telephone 'metadata' " that the National Security Agency collects, officials are telling Reuters and NPR.
The wire service, which broke the story, writes that:
Colombia is a country famous for its exports. It's well known that those exports traditionally include flowers and, also, unfortunately, cocaine. You may not realize Columbia is also the world's fourth largest coal exporter thanks in part to the Drummond Coal Company. The Alabama-based mining firm produces about 25 million tons of coal annually in the South American country.
Many in the region of Catalonia in Spain are pushing to secede from the country, partly for cultural and partly for economic reasons. Naturally, the government of Spain opposes that. But yesterday, the regional parliament pressed the bid for independence a step further.
NPR's business news begins with a slam dunk for Bitcoins.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
INSKEEP: Pro basketball's Sacramento Kings will now accept Bitcoins, the electronic currency, as payment for just about everything, from court-side seats, to a DeMarcus Cousins jersey. The Kings are the first major professional sports team to accept the virtual currency.
This next story began as pretty much your standard contract dispute. The Weather Channel wanted more money for its programming, and DirectTV wanted to pay less.
So, at 12:01 Tuesday morning, the satellite service dropped the Weather Channel and replaced it with a smaller producer of weather programming, which raises the question: How much do TV viewers really want or need weather information when they can get it from other sources?
MONTAGNE: Yes, Omaha. It's more than just the biggest city in Nebraska. It's also a signal that Denver Bronco's quarterback Peyton Manning barked out repeatedly last Sunday during a playoff game against the San Diego Chargers.
In 1895, legislators in New York state decided to improve working conditions in what at the time could be a deadly profession: baking bread.
"Bakeries are actually extremely dangerous places to work," says Eric Rauchway, a historian at the University of California, Davis. "Because flour is such a fine particulate, if it gets to hang in the air it can catch fire and the whole room can go up in a sheet of flame."