Business

U.S.
4:07 pm
Tue February 17, 2015

After Sandy: Insurance Claim Battles Cost Homeowners, Taxpayers

Dan and Eileen Stapleton in front of their post-Sandy home in Long Beach, N.Y. They say it would cost taxpayers less if insurance just settled their claim.
Charles Lane WSHU

Originally published on Wed February 18, 2015 9:07 am

It's been more than two years since Superstorm Sandy flooded homes in New York and New Jersey. Yet the legal battles continue over how much insurance should pay.

About a thousand homeowners have disputed in court what they call "lowball" estimates for repairs. Also, some insurance companies have been accused of falsifying the engineering reports used to lower those estimates.

And then there's this: the legal fees to defend the estimates could surpass what it would cost just to pay the claims outright.

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Middle East
5:05 am
Tue February 17, 2015

On Iran's Streets, 'Death To America' ... And Hope For A Nuclear Deal

Iranians commemorate the 36th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution near the Azadi Tower in Tehran on Wednesday. While many Iranians would like to reorder relations with the West, there's also plenty of skepticism about whether it will actually happen.
Ebrahim Noroozi AP

Originally published on Tue February 17, 2015 1:01 pm

At the anniversary of Iran's revolution, Iranians still chanted "Death to America." Yet many we encountered in a brief visit to the country seemed prepared to shift relations with the West.

We interviewed more than 20 people in three cities: Tehran, Isfahan and Kashan. Our talks were very far from a scientific sample. They took place in a country where citizens must speak with great care.

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All Tech Considered
3:33 am
Tue February 17, 2015

You Might Want To Take Another Pass At Your Passwords

They might be hard to remember sometimes, but good passwords may be the best defense against hackers.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue February 17, 2015 12:24 pm

Compromises of private corporate or consumer data are all too common. This month, health insurer Anthem announced its customer data was hacked.

Yet even President Obama last week poked fun at our common line of defense: the lazy password.

"It's just too easy for hackers to figure out usernames and passwords like 'password' or '123457.' Those are some of my previous passwords," he said.

In short, passwords have, in some cases, undermined their own security intent.

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Energy
4:51 pm
Mon February 16, 2015

With Quakes Spiking, Oil Industry Is Under The Microscope In Oklahoma

A functioning oil rig sits in front of the capital building in Oklahoma City, Okla. The oil industry is an important employer in the state, but officials are concerned a technique used to dispose of wastewater from oil extraction is behind a surge in earthquakes here.
Frank Morris KCUR

Originally published on Tue February 17, 2015 12:24 pm

Out on Oklahoma's flat prairie, Medford, population about 900, is the kind of place where people give directions from the four-way stop in the middle of town.

It seems pretty sedate, but it's not. "We are shaking all the time," says Dea Mandevill, the city manager. "All the time."

The afternoon I stopped by, Mandevill says two quakes had already rumbled through Medford.

"Light day," she laughs. But, she adds, "the day's not over yet; we still have several more hours."

Mandevill may be laughing it off, but Austin Holland, the state seismologist, isn't.

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The Two-Way
3:04 pm
Mon February 16, 2015

Report: Using Malware, Hackers Steal Millions From Banks

Originally published on Mon February 16, 2015 5:50 pm

Putting in place a sophisticated digital racket, hackers were able to steal millions of dollars from up to 100 banks in what the Russian cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab is calling "the most successful criminal cyber campaign we have ever seen."

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Shots - Health News
3:44 am
Mon February 16, 2015

Satisfied Patients Now Make Hospitals Richer, But Is That Fair?

Medical Park Hospital's patients tend to be pretty happy customers, leading to thousands of dollars in rewards from Medicare.
Novant Health

Originally published on Mon February 16, 2015 1:05 pm

In Medical Park Hospital in Winston-Salem, N.C., Angela Koons is still a little loopy and uncomfortable after wrist surgery. Nurse Suzanne Cammer gently jokes with her. When Koons says she's itchy under her cast, Cammer warns, "Do not stick anything down there to scratch it!" Koons smiles and says, "I know."

Koons tells me Cammer's kind attention and enthusiasm for nursing has helped make the hospital stay more comfortable.

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Around the Nation
8:32 am
Sat February 14, 2015

West Coast Port Closures Are Hitting Several Industries Hard

A few trucks move along the docks at the Port of Los Angeles on Thursday. Seaports in major West Coast cities that normally are abuzz with the sound of commerce are falling unusually quiet due to an ongoing labor dispute.
Nick Ut AP

Originally published on Sat February 14, 2015 12:53 pm

No cargo will go in or out of 29 West Coast ports this weekend.

It's the third partial shutdown in operations at these ports in a week, the result of a bitter labor dispute between shipping lines and the union representing 20,000 dock workers. The dispute has been dragging on for eight months, and now the economic impacts of the shutdown are starting to be felt.

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Planet Money
4:22 pm
Fri February 13, 2015

For Florists, Roses A Nerve-Racking Business Around Valentines Day

Originally published on Fri February 13, 2015 6:33 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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The Salt
11:19 am
Fri February 13, 2015

How NAFTA Changed American (And Mexican) Food Forever

In 2013, the U.S. imported about 2 million tons of Coronas and Modelos, making beer Mexico's largest agricultural export to the U.S., according to a USDA report.
Scott Olson Getty Images

If you were to try and list the biggest game-changers for the American food system in the last two decades, you might note the Food Network, or the writing of Michael Pollan, or maybe even the evolution of Walmart.

But you'd probably overlook NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement.

And that would be a mistake, according to a lengthy report out early February from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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Politics
5:09 am
Fri February 13, 2015

Political Necessity Forces GOP Into Middle-Class Income Debate

Originally published on Fri February 13, 2015 8:12 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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Business
5:50 pm
Thu February 12, 2015

Obama's Plan To Tax Overseas Earnings Draws Scrutiny

Originally published on Sun February 15, 2015 12:01 pm

American companies have about $2 trillion in overseas accounts — money they could be using to hire workers and pay dividends in the United States. But they're reluctant to do so, in part because of the way the U.S. tax system works.

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The Salt
4:45 pm
Thu February 12, 2015

Like Yelp For Labor Rights: This App Rates How Restaurants Treat Workers

Customers pick up their orders from a Shake Shack in New York City. It's one of the restaurants whose labor practices are detailed in the ROC United Diners' Guide app.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

Restaurant servers are three times more likely to receive below-poverty-line pay than the rest of the U.S. workforce. Yet in a world where shoppers fret over cage-free eggs and organic vegetables, how many are also asking how much their favorite restaurant pays its staff?

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Energy
4:39 pm
Thu February 12, 2015

Low Oil Prices Great For Consumers, Less So For Investors

Originally published on Thu February 12, 2015 6:26 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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Economy
12:19 pm
Thu February 12, 2015

As Commodity Prices Plunge, Groceries May Be Next

The prices of everything from corn to sugar have fallen, too. So some economists predict lower prices at the grocery store later this year.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 12, 2015 2:36 pm

Anyone who has pulled up to a gas station this winter knows oil prices have fallen — down roughly 50 percent since June.

But it's not just oil. Prices for many commodities — grains, metals and other bulk products — have been plunging too.

Here are a few of the changes since many prices peaked in recent years:

- Copper is $2.59 a pound, down from $4.50 in 2011.

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Environment
5:19 am
Thu February 12, 2015

Keystone XL Pipeline Would Transport 'Dirty Energy'

Originally published on Fri February 13, 2015 1:54 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The years' long debate over the Keystone XL pipeline arrived at an important moment yesterday. Congress gave final approval for the project after a vote in the House.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

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Planet Money
1:05 pm
Wed February 11, 2015

The Fall And Rise Of U.S. Inequality, In 2 Graphs

Quoctrung Bui/NPR

Originally published on Wed February 11, 2015 2:21 pm

Since World War II, inequality in the U.S. has gone through two, dramatically different phases.

In the first phase, known as the great compression, inequality fell. Incomes rose for people in the bottom 90 percent of the income distribution, as the postwar boom led to high demand for workers with low and moderate skills.

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Planet Money
5:32 am
Wed February 11, 2015

How Banks Are Transforming Canada's Cannabis Industry

Originally published on Thu February 26, 2015 2:13 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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U.S.
5:17 pm
Tue February 10, 2015

Failing Bridges Taking A Toll; Some States Move To Raise Gas Tax

The James C. Nance Memorial Bridge, which connects Purcell and Lexington, Okla., is closed for repair in March 2014. A handful of states have raised their gas taxes in part to fund transportation projects like bridge and road repairs.
Sue Ogrocki AP

Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 8:53 pm

A dozen states are considering something that was rarely discussed a few years ago: raising gas taxes. Low prices at the pump have emboldened state officials to think about raising new revenue to repair crumbling roads and bridges.

It's a scene that's all too familiar in much of the country — construction workers performing emergency repairs on a bridge. In Franklin Township, N.J., one bridge closed abruptly last month when it was deemed unsafe.

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NPR Story
5:07 am
Tue February 10, 2015

State Budgets To Be Hit By Slide In Oil Prices

Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 7:59 am

Copyright 2015 Wyoming Public Radio Network. To see more, visit http://www.wyomingpublicmedia.org.

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Your Money
3:37 am
Tue February 10, 2015

The Great Solar Panel Debate: To Lease Or To Buy?

Elizabeth Ebinger in Maplewood, N.J., bought her solar panels, while neighbor Tim Roebuck signed a 20-year lease. Both are happy with the approach they took, and both are saving money on energy bills.
Jeff Brady NPR

Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 12:12 pm

More than 600,000 homes in the U.S. have solar panels today — up dramatically from just a few years ago, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. Leasing programs that require little or no money up-front have played a key role in that growth.

But here's a question for homeowners: Is it better to lease or buy?

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Business
3:33 am
Tue February 10, 2015

Unions Have Pushed The $15 Minimum Wage, But Few Members Will Benefit

Fast-food workers in Los Angeles march in August 2013 to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Similar protests around the country have been organized by labor unions.
Nick Ut AP

Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 4:33 pm

The Los Angeles City Council is currently considering whether to raise the minimum wage to $15.25 an hour by 2019. It would follow Seattle and San Francisco, two cities that approved $15 minimum wages in the past year.

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The Salt
6:04 pm
Mon February 9, 2015

If Apple Made iMilk And Nike Sold Fruit: Designer Groceries As Art

Fruit by Nike is a piece by designer Peddy Mergui in his exhibit "Wheat is Wheat is Wheat," next on display in May at Expo Milano 2015.
Courtesy of Peddy Mergui

Originally published on Thu February 12, 2015 6:57 pm

Just eat it.

It's hard to look at these stylish packages of citrus fruit, bearing Nike's iconic swoosh, without having the athletic company's famous slogan "Just do it" immediately come to mind. And that's precisely the point, says Israel-based designer Peddy Mergui.

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Business
4:26 pm
Mon February 9, 2015

Los Angeles Residents Divided Over Proposed $15 Minimum Wage

Protesters assemble in front of a McDonald's in Los Angeles, demanding a $15 an hour minimum wage in September.
Paul Buck EPA/Landov

Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 10:51 am

Los Angeles is considering raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour, from $9 currently. The dramatic proposal is causing excitement and some anxiety.

San Francisco and Seattle have already passed a $15 minimum wage (they'll rise to that level over the next few years), but what's different in LA is the number of working poor in this huge city.

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The Two-Way
12:56 pm
Mon February 9, 2015

Madoff's Victims Are Repaid Another $355 Million, Trustee Says

Originally published on Mon February 9, 2015 3:39 pm

More than half of the accounts with allowable claims against disgraced financier Bernard Madoff have now been fully repaid, according to the trustee handling recovery efforts. Trustee Irving Picard says more than $355.8 million was recently doled out, in the fifth round of repayments.

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Economy
3:34 am
Mon February 9, 2015

Oil Price Dip, Global Slowdown Create Crosscurrents For U.S.

Oil pumpjacks are seen in McKenzie County in western North Dakota. Cuts in production and energy company payrolls will cost the U.S. economy up to $150 billion, economist David Kotok of Cumberland Advisors projects.
Matthew Brown AP

Originally published on Mon February 9, 2015 8:48 am

Continued job growth has boosted prospects for the U.S. economy, but it continues to face some tricky crosswinds. The big drop in oil prices and a stronger dollar both help the economy and hurt it. Add to that the recent slowdown in global growth.

Lots of economists have suggested the big drop in oil prices is a gift to consumers that will propel the economy. David Kotok of Cumberland Advisors is one of them. He argues that cheaper oil will ultimately be a positive.

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Economy
5:28 pm
Fri February 6, 2015

U.S. Jobs Picture Finally Getting Back To Normal

Originally published on Sat February 7, 2015 2:24 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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The Two-Way
12:06 pm
Fri February 6, 2015

Donations Roll In For Detroit Man Who Walks 21 Miles To Work

James Robertson, 56, has been making headlines for walking more than 20 miles to and from work every weekday in Detroit.
Ryan Garza Detroit Free Press/TNS/Landov

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 10:53 pm

It took just one newspaper article to change James Robertson's life.

Last Sunday, the Detroit Free Press ran a front page story about the 56-year-old factory worker. It said every weekday for a decade, Robertson has left his house and walked more than 20 miles to and from his job in suburban Detroit. Robertson's car had broken down years before and so he made a long and lonely commute on foot in every kind of weather.

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Economy
11:07 am
Fri February 6, 2015

Oil Industry Sees Layoffs, Even As Jobs Numbers Rise Elsewhere

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 11:25 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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The Two-Way
10:25 am
Fri February 6, 2015

Kansas Will Cut Education Funding To Help Close Budget Gap

Gov. Sam Brownback delivers his State of the State address at the Kansas statehouse in Topeka last month. Brownback has announced cuts in education to plug the state's budget woes.
Orlin Wagner AP

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 12:00 pm

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback says he will cut funding for public schools and universities in a bid to keep the state solvent through June after aggressive tax cuts left gaping budget shortfalls.

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The Two-Way
9:10 am
Fri February 6, 2015

Economy Adds 257,000 New Jobs; Unemployment Rate Up Slightly

A construction worker looks down on the site of the Manhattan West project last month in New York. Construction was among the hardest-hit sectors during the worst recession in modern memory.
Mark Lennihan AP

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 10:47 am

Updated at 9:50 a.m. ET

Some 257,000 jobs were added to the U.S. economy in January, continuing a 12-month span of growth that saw at least 200,000 jobs added each month, according to the Department of Labor. Even so, in a separate survey released by the department's Bureau of Labor Statistics, the benchmark unemployment rate ticked up slightly to 5.7 percent.

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