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.
Bitcoin, the digital currency that trades outside the control of central banks and international borders, reached new heights Tuesday, surpassing the $200 mark for the first time. That level comes just five days after bitcoin approached $150, a development that Mt.Gox, the largest exchange service for the currency, deemed to be "epic."
Bitcoin's rise has been sharp. It was only two months ago that exchange rates put a single bitcoin's value at around $20.
Matthew Marcus works at his desk in the basement of Kansas City Startup Village in Kansas City, Kan., in January. The village houses several startup companies and takes advantage of the high-speed Internet. Google announced on Tuesday it would be installing its Google Fiber network in Austin, Texas, next.
Google announced Tuesday that its Google Fiber project would be hitting Austin, Texas, next. The company says Austin, famous for its South by Southwest festival, is a "mecca for creativity and entrepreneurialism, with thriving artistic and tech communities."
Google Fiber is the tech giant's blazing fast Internet service, with current rates at 1 Gpbs, about 100 times faster than your typical cable broadband Internet service. It debuted in Kansas City in 2012.
After an unsuccessful face-lift attempt by Ron Johnson, J.C. Penney will be led by former CEO Myron Ullman. Some analysts say this might be it for the retailer; others say it must "embrace" its customers to recuperate.
A year and a half ago, J.C. Penney's then-brand new CEO Ron Johnson undertook what was supposed to be a transformation of the 110-year-old department store. Yesterday, the retailer cut his tenure short.
J.C. Penney lost nearly $1 billion last year as customer traffic dropped off.
Now, it's bringing back former Chief Executive Officer Myron Ullman to try to stanch the bleeding.
KPMG has withdrawn as auditor of Herbalife and Skechers USA after the accounting firm revealed that one of its partners may have sold inside information on the companies to a third-party stock trader.
Nutrient-supplement seller Herbalife briefly halted activity in its shares after the revelation, only reopening trading Tuesday afternoon. The company's stock was down 21 cents at $38.18 Tuesday. The broader market was mixed.
In the 75 years since it was introduced, Americans have been arguing over the minimum wage.
Some say government intervention to artificially raise wages lowers demand for workers and interferes with economic freedom — preventing people who would be willing to work for less from getting jobs at all. They argue that the minimum wage especially hurts teenagers and young adults with few or no skills.
Originally published on Tue April 9, 2013 11:27 am
Which Japanese-manufactured car is the world's most popular vehicle? Maybe none of them. It might just be the Ford Focus.
More than a million Focus models were sold worldwide last year, with Toyota's Corolla coming in second. Next was Ford's top-selling F-Series pickup, sold almost exclusively in the U.S. and Canada, according to the marketing firm R.L. Polk.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, the Louisville Cardinals capped off a dramatic journey through March Madness to take the NCAA men's crown last night. We'll look back on the men's college basketball tournament. We'll look ahead to the women's final. That conversation is just ahead.
In a courtroom in New Orleans, the oil giant BP has begun presenting its defense in a case connected to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Plaintiffs include individuals and businesses hurt by the spill, as well as and state and federal governments. And they've argued BP was grossly negligent in drilling the deep water well.
But now it's BP's turn. The company argues that contractors who helped it drill should share the blame for the accident, which killed 11 workers and spilled more than four million barrels of oil.