Six states will soon be chosen as commercial drone test sites. So major companies like Amazon say they're hoping to use drones to ship products. But first, the Federal Aviation Administration has to figure out how to fly them safely in civilian airspace. Nevada is one of the states that wants to give commercial drones a try, as Will Stone from member station KUNR reports.
For 160 years, the pianos made by Steinway & Sons have been considered the finest in the world. So when hedge fund billionaire John Paulson recently bought the company, it struck fear in the hearts of musicians: Would the famously handcrafted pianos be changed, for the sake of efficiency? Paulson, who owns several Steinways himself, says nothing will change.
Democrats in Congress are promising to try to retroactively extend emergency unemployment benefits after the new year. With the House already in recess, the benefits are expected to expire at the end of the month.
The Senate is still in Washington working on a bipartisan budget agreement passed by the House before it left town last week, but the bill does not include a benefits extension.
Many economists and investors think there's a good chance that at the end of their two-day meeting that begins Tuesday, Federal Reserve policymakers will announce that they'll begin reducing their $85 billion monthly stimulus, their third round of quantitative easing, or QE3.
The analysts think recent economic data, like a drop in the unemployment rate to 7 percent and a budget deal in Washington, have brightened the outlook for the economy enough that the Fed can pull back.
Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 5:00 pm
At the moment, Washington fiscal policy is a good news, bad news story.
The good news is that the budget agreement, overwhelmingly passed by the House last week in a bipartisan vote, is likely to be approved by the Senate this week. That takes another costly government shutdown off the table.
The bad news? Another debt ceiling fight, with all the attendant risks of a U.S. government default, appears to be right around the corner.
This week the Fed's influential Open Market Committee meets to discuss some unfinished business. With Chairman Ben Bernanke getting ready to turn things over to Janet Yellen, Fed policymakers must decide whether it's time to start winding down the "quantitative easing" program put in place years ago to protect the recovery.
Now we're going to look ahead at emerging trends in the auto industry and what kinds of cars we'll be seeing in 2014. I'm joined by Dan Neil. He's automotive columnist for The Wall Street Journal. Dan, welcome back to the program.
DAN NEIL: Hi, Melissa.
BLOCK: And we just heard U.S. automakers have managed to turn it around. I'm curious to hear whether there's one new car coming out that you think really captures that turnaround.
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish. We begin this hour with a number. That number is 50. It's for our new series Number of the Year, where we explore the numbers that tell the story of 2013, numbers about same sex marriage, the minimum wage, Syria, even pandas. Today's number tells the story of a rebound in the U.S. auto industry.
Charter Communications Inc. is expected to announce a new merger offer for Time Warner Cable Co. this week. It will be the company's third such offer. Industry analysts don't expect this one to work any better.
Since the tragic death of actor Paul Walker in a car crash, Universal Pictures has been struggling with how to handle its billion-dollar Fast & Furious franchise. Production on the seventh movie was underway when he died. David Greene talks to reporter Kim Masters, who has been following the story for The Hollywood Reporter. Masters also hosts The Business on member station KCRW.
In Belgium, the Trappists produce Orval. Forbes Magazine reports there simply aren't enough monks to expand production of Orval. The abbey once had 35 monks, but today that number is down to just a dozen.
Kansas City residents are proud of their barbecue, their Chiefs football, their national champion soccer team and Boulevard Brewing, a local brewery that has built up quite a local following since its launch in the late 1980s.
"It's our thing. You know, like la cosa nostra, it's our thing," says Char O'Hara, a Kansas City, Mo., resident who, like thousands of other local 20-somethings, grew up with Boulevard.
But soon, it will be a Belgian thing, too. Any day now, Belgian beer maker Duvel is expected to finalize its purchase of the Kansas City brewery.
Bill Battle peers through the window of a pickup truck at his catfish farm, Pride of the Pond, near Tunica, Miss. The land is pancake-flat, broken up by massive ponds, some holding up to 100,000 pounds of catfish.
Cormorants fly low over the ponds, keeping an eye out for whiskered, smooth-skinned fish. Battle keeps a shotgun in the front seat; business is hard enough without the birds cutting into his profit.
Ireland was one of the countries hardest hit by Europe's debt crisis. On Sunday, it passed a big milestone when the nation became the first country to formally exit the bailout program funded by the International Monetary Fund and the European Union.
After three years of the bailout program, it isn't hard to find signs of improvement in Ireland and of an economy coming back from the dead.
"Don't get me wrong, it's been bad in a lot of ways, but there's a silver lining in every cloud," says Conor Mulhall, a 41-year-old father of three.
Even the most mundane online tasks require us to hand over sensitive data. Privacy policies pass by with an easy click. Yes, each company has its own legal language about the risks we take on, but the standards for consumer protection are murky.
"There is no one law in the United States that mandates that websites and phone applications have good data security," says law professor Woodrow Hartzog, who focuses on the area of privacy law and online communication.
So if there isn't one set of rules, who's working to keep your personal information safe?
For the first time, a woman has been named CEO of a major U.S. automotive company. Mary Barra, 51, breaks a glass ceiling in one of the most male-dominated industries in the nation. But women buy more than half the cars in America, so the question is why it took so long.
Negotiations between Boeing and the machinists union in Washington State broke down again last night. The union rejected Boeing's latest contract offer. The deal would've guaranteed that production of the new 777X airplanes would stay in the Seattle area. Now, the aerospace giant may be taking those planes and thousands of jobs elsewhere.
Other states are eagerly courting them. But Michael Tomsic of member station WFAE in Charlotte reports that landing the aerospace company won't come cheap.
As we become a more digitally connected society, one question has become increasingly pervasive: Is the expectation of privacy still reasonable?
Ann Cavoukian, the privacy commissioner for Ontario, Canada, thinks so. She contends that privacy â€” including privacy online â€” is foundational to a free society. She developed a framework for approaching privacy issues back in the 1990s that's been recognized around the world.
Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 5:54 pm
If you think grains of rice or kernels of corn are free gifts of nature, think again. Seed companies â€” and the FBI â€” take a very different attitude, and walking off with the wrong seeds can land you in very serious trouble indeed.
In two apparently unrelated cases this week, federal prosecutors arrested citizens of China and charged them with stealing seeds that American companies consider valuable intellectual property.
Seven months after his was nominated, the U.S. Senate this week confirmed former Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., to head the agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the giant companies that control much of the mortgage market.
The vote occurred after Democrats changed the rules on filibusters â€” now the Senate can confirm presidential nominees with a simple majority.
For people who watch the U.S. housing market, Watt's confirmation is a very big deal that could mean easier credit.
Jakarta, Indonesia, has some of the worst traffic on the planet. For some local entrepreneurs, all those people stuck in their cars are potential customers.
In a middle of one Jakarta traffic jam, a guy pushes his chicken cart through the cars, clanging his pots. Men walk down the center lane selling nuts, crackers as big as your head and other treats. They're all trying to make eye contact with the drivers.
The citrus industry is facing a crisis. It's called citrus greening â€” a disease that has devastated orange production in Florida since it first showed up eight years ago. Now the U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced a new effort to try to control the disease before it destroys the nation's citrus industry.