In the 1920s, a man passing through Washington, D.C., noticed something about the city in September: It was sweltering, and there were few places to seek relief. He figured you could make a lot of money selling ice-cold drinks.
That first business venture set J.W. "Bill" Marriott Jr. on a road to riches.
Originally published on Thu April 11, 2013 11:14 am
Some 3.4 million vehicles produced by four Japanese automakers are being voluntarily recalled due to faulty airbag inflators.
The inflators were installed in some of Toyota's top-selling Camry and Corolla models produced since 2000. Certain Honda Civics and Mazdas are also subject to recall, which also reportedly includes the Maxima and Cube, according to Reuters.
The defective passenger-side airbag inflators were produced by Tokyo-based Takata at a Mexican plant, Reuters says.
GREENE: The recall affects some three million vehicles made by four Japanese car makers: Toyota, Nissan, Honda and Mazda. All are citing a problem with passenger-side airbags that causes them to deploy abnormally and potentially cause a fire.
Now the Federal Housing Administration might need its first bailout in its 79 year history. So-called reversed mortgages are at the heart of the problem here, as fallout from the housing crisis continues.
NPR's Dan Bobkoff explains.
DAN BOBKOFF, BYLINE: Perhaps you've seen ads like this one on TV.
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FRED THOMPSON: A government-insured reverse mortgage allows seniors to stay in their own home and turn their equity into tax-free cash...
Now to Paris, France - where a walkout briefly shut down one of the world's most visited museums. Our last word in business: Pickpocket Protest.
The Louvre is famous for its priceless works of art - think the Mona Lisa - which it protects with high-tech security. But apparently, the Paris museum is less effective at protecting the valuables of patrons and staff.
OK. President Obama's budget is out - two months behind schedule. It is four volumes, 2,509 pages.
To tell us what pages we should be looking at closely, we turn, as we often do, to David Wessel. He's The Wall Street Journal's, economics editor and the author of a book on the budget called "Red Ink."
Until well into the 19th century, if you lived in the U.S. and wanted to heat your house, fire your forge, or whatever, you did what people had done for thousands of years: You chopped down a tree and burned it.
It wasn't until the rise of the railroads in the mid 19th-century that coal became a significant energy source in this country. As industrialization continued in the second half of the century, the use of coal continued to rise, powering heavy industry (think U.S. Steel), heating urban homes, and generating electric power.
Turns out that Saturday first-class mail service isn't going anywhere. The Postal Service today backtracked on its decision to reduce deliveries in an effort to save money. But it says that's only because language in the bill funding the federal government currently bars such a change. As NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports, this means the service will be running even deeper in the red.
Originally published on Wed April 10, 2013 3:17 pm
A judge has rejected a plea agreement from the former head of a sports memorabilia auction house who admitted to using shill bidders to drive up prices and to altering the most valuable baseball card ever sold.
William Mastro of Mastro Auctions admitted to doctoring the 1909 Honus Wagner cigarette card that was once owned by hockey great Wayne Gretzky. The card sold for $2.8 million in 2007.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Coming up, can I tell you how great you look? No? Well, that's my Can I Just Tell You essay and it's coming up in a few minutes.
But first, we are focusing on the economic progress or lack thereof facing African-Americans. This year marks the 50th anniversary of a number of important dates in civil rights history, including the march on Washington and Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech.
Originally published on Wed April 10, 2013 12:50 pm
The U.S. Postal Service has backed off a plan to halt Saturday mail delivery, saying that Congress has forced it to continue the service despite massive cost overruns.
In a statement released Wednesday, the USPS Board of Governors said restrictive language included in the latest Continuing Resolution, which keeps the government operating until September in lieu of a budget, prevents it from going ahead with the plan.
Originally published on Thu April 11, 2013 7:04 am
It may cost less to do business in places where there's what some people call a culture of health. And that's put Colorado, which has the lowest rates of adult obesity in the country, on the map for companies looking to relocate or expand.
Kelly Brough is making the most of it. She runs the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, and she's creative about luring businesses to relocate to Colorado. She runs a "Colorado loves California" campaign, for instance.
One of the oldest billboards in American advertising is getting an update. The Goodyear blimp has been used for company promotions since 1925. A new model is being assembled in Akron, Ohio, by a crew from Goodyear and the German company Zeppelin.
We'll begin NPR's business news with a $3.6 billion payback.
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GREENE: Starting this week, the nation's largest banks begin sending out checks to borrowers forced into home foreclosure during the robo-signing scandal. Over four million people will receive payments - ranging from $300 to $125,000 - as part of settlements made with the federal government.
That's the goal of an investment firm in Helsinki. That's the term for a video game controlled by brainwaves. The Wall Street Journal reports the agency is bringing together neuroscientists and game developers.
The federal government each year gives needy college students billions of dollars they don't have to pay back — $34.5 billion to be exact. More than 9 million students rely on the Pell Grant program. But a new study says much of the money is going to people who never graduate.
Sandy Baum, an expert on student financial aid, has been leading a group in a study of the 48-year-old Pell Grant program. Their report, commissioned by the nonprofit College Board, confirms what many have known for years about grant recipients.
A jury in New Hampshire has ruled that Exxon-Mobile must pay the state $236 million. The money would help clean groundwater that was contaminated with a gasoline additive known as MTBE. But as New Hampshire Public Radio's Sam Evans-Brown reports, the story doesn't end there.
SAM EVANS-BROWN, BYLINE: In a little state like New Hampshire, $236 million is nothing to sneeze at.
Businesses looking to relocate are making the health of a state's population part of their decision-making process. One Fortune 500 CEO explains it can save millions in reduced health insurance claims and absenteeism. Colorado's economic development officials are already trying to improve the health and fitness of the next generation of workers in order to stay competitive.
Steven Nolder joined the federal public defender's office when it opened in Columbus, Ohio, nearly 18 years ago. Nolder handled his share of noteworthy cases, including the first federal death penalty trial in the district and the indictment of a former NFL quarterback embroiled in a ticket fraud scheme.
Lately, Nolder says, his professional world has turned upside down.
Credit Jason Cato / Courtesy of Workers Defense Project
Marchers at the state capitol building in Austin, Texas, in February protest working conditions in the state's construction sector.
Credit Jack White / Courtesy of The Dallas Morning News
Two workers died when a crane collapsed under windy conditions at a University of Texas, Dallas, campus site in July 2012. OSHA cited the construction company with six serious safety violations and levied a $30,000 penalty.
Like almost everything in the Texas, the construction industry in the Lone Star State is big. One in every 13 workers here is employed in the state's $54 billion-per-year construction industry.
Homebuilding and commercial construction may be an economic driver for the state, but it's also an industry riddled with hazards. Years of illegal immigration have pushed wages down, and accidents and wage fraud are common. Of the nearly 1 million workers laboring in construction here, approximately half are undocumented.
It's college touring season, and many parents are on the road with their teenagers, driving from school to school and thinking about the college application — and financial aid — process that looms ahead.
Many baby boomers have already been through this stage with their kids, but because the generation spans about 20 years, others still have kids at home. So how should boomers plan to pay for school when, on average, students graduate from college in the U.S. with $25,000 in debt?
When President Obama on Wednesday unveils his blueprint for the government's 2014 budget, he'll offer lots of ideas for changes in taxes and spending.
But the proposal likely to grab the most attention will be the one dealing with cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security recipients. Many economists would applaud a change in the way Social Security officials measure inflation, but many older Americans may hiss, fearing a new formula will cut their benefits.