Business

The Two-Way
12:53 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Detroit's Bankruptcy Is Over, Michigan's Governor Says

Gov. Rick Snyder speaks today flanked by Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan (left) and emergency manager Kevyn Orr. Snyder said that the nation's largest municipal bankruptcy will end at midnight.
Paul Sancya AP

Originally published on Wed December 10, 2014 1:59 pm

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said today that Detroit's bankruptcy, the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history, will end at 12:01 a.m. ET on Thursday.

"The financial emergency in the city of Detroit will be defined as wrapping up today," Snyder said at a news conference in Detroit.

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The Salt
4:54 am
Wed December 10, 2014

Mexican Megafarms Supplying U.S. Market Are Rife With Labor Abuses

At the end of the day, Roma tomatoes are ready for transport in Cristo Rey in the state of Sinaloa. Half the tomatoes consumed in the U.S. come from Mexico.
Don Bartletti Los Angeles Times

Originally published on Wed December 10, 2014 9:06 pm

"Product of Mexico" — it's a label you see on fruit and vegetable stickers in supermarkets across the U.S.

It's also the name of an investigative series appearing this week in the Los Angeles Times.

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Economy
4:54 am
Wed December 10, 2014

Cheap Crops Mean Tight Times For Midwest's Fledgling Farmers

Like many beginning farmers, Grant Curtis wants to invest in his operation, but expectations of low prices are tying his hands.
Abby Wendle Harvest Public Media

Originally published on Wed December 10, 2014 6:18 pm

Farmers who just got into the business in recent years found it was a good time to both plant and harvest.

"We were all spoiled little brats the past two years, with $5, $6, $7 corn, yep," says farmer Grant Curtis.

He's sitting in the captain's chair of his combine on a brisk, overcast day in western Illinois. He's driving back and forth over rows of corn on his family's farm. Then he arcs the 80,000-pound machine off course towards a single stalk he missed.

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The Two-Way
7:42 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Congress Will Get A $1.1 Trillion Omnibus Spending Bill This Week

Originally published on Wed December 10, 2014 10:10 am

Faced with a Thursday deadline to finance the U.S. government, leaders of both parties in Congress have worked out a $1.1 trillion spending bill to fund the government until October 2015. But a vote isn't likely to come before the day of the deadline.

Update at 8:45 p.m. ET: Welcome, Cromnibus: Bill Is Published

The House Committee on Appropriations gives an overview of the newly published bill:

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Law
4:16 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Supreme Court Rules Employers Are Not Required To Pay For Security Time

The court's ruling came Tuesday in a case involving Amazon warehouses and a temp agency, Integrity Staffing Solutions Inc. Hourly workers were required to wait in line for an average of 25 minutes after they clocked out.
Ross Franklin AP

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 5:03 pm

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that companies do not have to pay workers for time spent in anti-theft security screening at the end of a shift.

The decision is a major victory for retail enterprises and manufacturing businesses that could have been on the hook for billions of dollars in back pay for time spent in security screenings.

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Parallels
2:19 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Argentina: Where Cash Is King And Robberies Are On The Rise

A newsstand owner counts Argentine pesos in Buenos Aires. Many Argentines carry large amounts of cash, saying they do not trust banks. This has contributed to a surge in robberies.
Leo La Valle AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun January 4, 2015 3:10 pm

Leonel Kaplan, an Argentine jazz musician, often has to travel abroad.

Before a recent trip to Europe, he went to a bank in Buenos Aires to change money and then went to get a haircut. Kaplan felt happy and relaxed and took the bus home after what had been an uneventful trip.

That, however, was about to change.

"As I get down from the bus, a motorcycle with two people wearing helmets cuts me off," he recalls. "One gets off and takes out a gun and says to me directly, 'Give me the 500 euros you got in the bank.' "

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Governing
5:11 am
Tue December 9, 2014

Sources: FAA May Require Licenses To Fly Commercial Drones

Amazon is developing an unmaned aircraft project that it hopes will deliver purchases in 30 minutes or less. The FAA has been struggling to write regulations for such aircraft, but is expected to release rules this month.
AP

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 12:27 pm

Drones, drones, drones.

Everybody wants one. Amazon, to deliver packages, Hollywood to shoot movie scenes, agriculture interests to monitor crops.

And everyone is waiting for the FAA to issue regulations as to how commercial drones might be allowed to operate in the U.S. Those regulations are supposed to come out by the end of the month.

The FAA has been struggling to write the rules for unmanned aircraft for several years. In 2012, Congress told the agency to get on with it and set a deadline for final regulations by September 2015.

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Business
5:11 am
Tue December 9, 2014

That Nest Egg Needs To Last As Long As You Do. So How Do You Start?

While people can often estimate how much they might need for 10 or 15 years of retirement, that calculation becomes more difficult for retirement that could last 20 years or more.
Gary Waters Ikon Images/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 2, 2015 5:47 pm

Retirement for baby boomers will look different than it did for their parents — Americans are living longer, health care costs more, fewer people have pensions today, and many people facing retirement haven't saved much.

All of that makes managing the nest egg you do have even more vital. But many people need and want guidance on what they should do to make sure their retirement savings last.

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Economy
5:06 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Some Liberals And Tea Partiers Unite To Oppose Trade Deals

Protesters of varied stripes and political affiliations gathered outside the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative where negotiators from 12 nations were meeting to discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
James Clark NPR

Originally published on Mon December 8, 2014 6:15 pm

When it comes to environmental regulations, taxes and the minimum wage, business groups generally object to President Obama's positions, while liberals support him.

But one issue blurs the usual political lines: trade.

Just last week, Obama told the Business Roundtable he would push to complete massive trade deals with both Asian and European nations. "If we can get that done, that's good for American businesses," he said.

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Business
4:58 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

GOP Leaders: Gas Tax Hike Could Fuel Fixes To Bad Roads And Bridges

Thomas Harden of Chicago pumps gas into his truck. He says he wouldn't support a gas tax increase.
David Schaper NPR

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 1:57 pm

Gasoline prices are at their lowest level in four years. The price at the pump in many states is almost a full dollar cheaper than it was last spring.

So some politicians think this is a good time to raise gasoline taxes. Several states are tired of waiting for Congress to fix the federal highway trust fund, so they're considering raising gas taxes themselves to address their crumbling roads.

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Parallels
4:17 am
Mon December 8, 2014

U.S. Tech Firms See Green As They Set Up Shop In Low-Tax Ireland

The Apple campus in Cork, southern Ireland, employs 4,000 people — though its financial benefits are felt across the city. But Ireland's attractive tax laws — which have lured other industry leaders — are now under scrutiny.
Paul Faith AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 8, 2014 8:54 am

Here's a fact that might surprise you: All of the top 10 U.S. companies that were born on the Internet — including Google, Amazon and eBay — have overseas corporate headquarters in Ireland.

The American tech sector is huge in Ireland. It's growing rapidly — and having a huge impact on life there.

But the tax system that's fueling the growth is also infuriating some people in the U.S. and Europe — and has Ireland reconsidering its tax code.

A City, And Country, Transformed

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Asia
4:57 pm
Sun December 7, 2014

'A Universe Beneath Our Feet': Life In Beijing's Underground

Zhuang Qiuli and her boyfriend Feng Tao sit on the bed in their basement apartment two floors below a posh condominium. Since this photo was taken, the couple has moved above ground.
Sim Chi Yin VII

Originally published on Fri January 2, 2015 5:47 pm

In Beijing, even the tiniest apartment can cost a fortune — after all, with more than 21 million residents, space is limited and demand is high.

But it is possible to find more affordable housing. You'll just have to join an estimated 1 million of the city's residents and look underground.

Below the city's bustling streets, bomb shelters and storage basements are turned into illegal — but affordable — apartments.

Claustrophobic Living Quarters

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The Salt
5:18 pm
Sat December 6, 2014

Getting Your 'Shine On Is Becoming Increasingly Legal

Cynthia Thomas puts labels on bottles of moonshine near Union Springs, Ala., Friday, Oct. 25, 2013. Last year, High Ridge Spirits — Alabama's first legal distillery since Prohibition — joined the growing trend of more than 600 craft distilleries operating around the country.
Dave Martin AP

Originally published on Fri December 12, 2014 9:31 pm

Moonshine might bring to mind an illegal backwoods still in the mountains of the South, carefully hidden to evade authorities. In recent years, though, legal distilleries have been popping up in sort of a moonshine renaissance — and artisanal hooch is now a thing.

In Alabama, legal moonshine starts in an 80-gallon kettle in a horse barn in rural Bullock County. The man in charge is Jamie Ray.

"This where I'd steep the grain. I'll add a sack of rye to this ... Let it seep for a couple of hours and that converts the grain to a simple beer," Ray says.

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Economy
4:47 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

Labor Secretary: Job Growth Is Good, But Wages Need Help

Originally published on Fri December 5, 2014 6:30 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez joins me here in the studio to talk about those new jobs numbers. Welcome back to the program.

U.S. LABOR SECREATRY THOMAS PEREZ: Melissa, it's always a pleasure to be with you.

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Economy
4:47 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

'Blockbuster' Jobs Report Shows 321,000 Added To Payrolls

Originally published on Fri December 5, 2014 6:30 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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Goats and Soda
4:27 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

Baby's Necklace Could End Up Being A Life Saver

Vikram is the first child to wear a Khushi Baby necklace, which will keep track of his immunizations. He's at a vaccine clinic in Rajasthan, India.
Ruchit Nagar Courtesy of Khushi Baby

Meet Vikram. He's that cute baby in the picture above. Now, take a closer look at his neckwear.

It's traditional for newborns in northern India to wear a black thread necklace as a symbol of good health and good fortune, but Vikram's got a high-tech version. The round pendant on the string is a wearable device called Khushi Baby that carries his vaccination history inside a computerized chip about the size of a dime.

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Business
3:38 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

2014: The Year When The Job Market Finally Turned The Corner

A construction worker clears wood from a platform that spans the Penn Station railroad tracks in New York City on Nov. 18. Construction jobs rose by 20,000 according to the November jobs report.
Mark Lennihan AP

Originally published on Fri December 5, 2014 4:23 pm

As 2014 winds down, you might want to save that calendar hanging next to the fridge.

Maybe even frame it.

After so many years of misery for the middle class, 2014 is now looking like the one that finally brought relief. The November jobs report, released Friday by the Labor Department, had blowout numbers showing a surge in job creation, an upturn in work hours and a meaningful boost in wages.

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The Two-Way
8:33 am
Fri December 5, 2014

Economy Adds 321,000 Jobs In November, Unemployment Holds Steady

The number of jobs added each month, dating back to 2004.
BLS

Originally published on Fri December 5, 2014 10:14 am

The November jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that the U.S. job market continues to improve at a steady pace.

Here are the two big numbers from Friday's report:

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Economy
5:13 am
Fri December 5, 2014

November Jobs Report Shows Steady Growth

Originally published on Fri December 5, 2014 1:07 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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Parallels
3:24 am
Fri December 5, 2014

For World's Oil Exporters, Falling Prices Have A Domino Effect

A sculpture of oil workers in Caracas, Venezuela. The country is heavily dependent on oil exports, and falling oil prices have had a ripple effect on the country's already troubled economy.
Ariana Cubillos AP

Originally published on Fri December 5, 2014 1:07 pm

Imagine you're sitting back one evening, planning your holiday shopping list, knowing that every day you wait to get to the shops, the value of your money will be losing ground.

That's what's happening in places like Russia, Venezuela, Nigeria and other nations that rely heavily on oil exports.

Oil was more than $100 a barrel at the start of the summer. Now it's around $70 a barrel, and many forecasts say it could go lower still.

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The Salt
6:56 pm
Thu December 4, 2014

A Burger Joint Pays $15 An Hour. And, Yes, It's Making Money

A worker at Moo Cluck Moo, a fast-casual burger and chicken chain in suburban Detroit, prepares a meal. Workers at Moo Cluck Moo all make $15 an hour.
Zachary Rosen for NPR

Originally published on Fri December 12, 2014 11:56 am

Fast-food workers rallied around the country Thursday, calling for a minimum wage of $15 an hour. But in suburban Detroit, a small but growing fast-casual burger and chicken chain has already figured out how to pay higher wages and still be profitable.

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Planet Money
3:23 pm
Thu December 4, 2014

Where Wages Are Rising (And Falling), In 1 Graph

Quoctrung Bui/NPR

Job growth has been strong and steady over the past year. Wages, not so much: Average pay for U.S. workers barely kept up with inflation. But there was a fair bit of variation across different sectors. Here's a look. (In the graph, the size of the circle indicates the total number of jobs in each sector.)

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Parallels
3:37 am
Thu December 4, 2014

A Syrian Entrepreneur Looks To Build The Amazon Of The Arab World

Ronaldo Mouchawar, a native of Syria, is the founder of Souq.com, which is now considered the leading e-commerce site in the region. He says his company, which is based in Dubai, reflects a quiet transformation that is taking places in parts of the Arab world.
Courtesy of Souq.com

Originally published on Thu December 4, 2014 9:11 pm

When Ronaldo Mouchawar was working in a Boston engineering firm he dreamed of moving back to the Arab world. Born and raised in Aleppo, Syria, he had come to the U.S. to study, then got a high-paying job, but he believed he "owed something" to his home region.

It turned out his ticket back was a smart idea at the right time.

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Europe
5:05 am
Wed December 3, 2014

Russia Heads Toward Recession, With No Relief In Sight

Pedestrians walk past a board listing foreign currency rates against the Russian ruble in Moscow on Wednesday. The ruble was trading at about 35 to the U.S. dollar this summer. Now it's more than 50 rubles to the dollar and the currency has been hitting record lows recently.
Vasily Maximov AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 3, 2014 12:12 pm

Russia's economy has taken a series of heavy hits in the past few months, and now it seems to be in the midst of a perfect storm.

The country depends heavily on oil exports, and prices are down sharply. The Russian currency is losing value fast. And U.S. and European sanctions, imposed after Russia's takeover of Crimea, are biting hard.

President Vladimir Putin remains defiant, saying sanctions will never bring Russia to its knees.

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Around the Nation
3:20 am
Wed December 3, 2014

Mischief Under The Mistletoe: Office Partygoers Behaving Badly

Too much partying at the office holiday bash can lead to lawsuits, firings or just plain awkwardness.
Bill Sykes Images Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 6:14 pm

Thanksgiving kicks off holiday party season, and at office holiday parties around the country, this means co-workers will make merry and mischief.

This time of year, Minneapolis attorney Kate Bischoff is a busy woman.

"I often represent clients who are handling the aftermath of a holiday party when it has gone off the rails," Bischoff says.

This includes, but is not limited to, bosses hitting on interns. There was also the case in which a manager gave a direct report a sexually explicit gift. Perhaps it was a joke, but it resulted in a harassment claim.

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Business
6:43 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

Holiday Shoppers Are Filling Their Carts, Online

Workers pack items Sunday at an Amazon fulfillment center in Tracy, Calif. Cyber Monday online sales jumped 8.5 percent over 2013.
Noah Berger Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Tue December 2, 2014 7:45 pm

This weekend, Will Falls decided to skip the local mall near Raleigh, N.C., and shop online instead.

"No standing in line, no finding a parking spot," he says. "Just get comfortable and go at it."

Millions of Americans did the same — Falls helped contribute to an 8.5 percent increase in online shopping Monday compared with 2013, according to data from IBM.

That growth stands in contrast to an 11 percent drop in sales reported by the National Retail Federation at brick-and-mortar stores over the Black Friday weekend compared with a year ago.

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Planet Money
4:18 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

Silk Road Drug Market Was An Economic Experiment Gone Wrong

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 7:10 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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The Two-Way
2:30 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

Chicago Council Strongly Approves $13 Minimum Wage

A new minimum wage was approved Tuesday in Chicago, where fast food workers and activists demonstrated outside McDonald's downtown restaurant this summer.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 2, 2014 3:13 pm

By a 44-5 vote, Chicago's City Council set a minimum-wage target of $13 an hour, to be reached by the middle of 2019. The move comes after Illinois passed a nonbinding advisory last month that calls for the state to raise its minimum pay level to $10 by the start of next year.

The current minimum wage in Chicago and the rest of Illinois is $8.25. Under the ordinance, the city's minimum wage will rise to $10 by next July and go up in increments each summer thereafter.

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Goats and Soda
1:36 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

For Giving Tuesday: A Guide To Gifts That Give Back

Each item, including boots from Guatemala, a basket from Rwanda and a soda can cuff from Kenya, are handmade. And when people buy these gifts, the profits go back to the artisans and their community.
Courtesy of Teysha; Indego Africa; Serrv

Originally published on Tue December 2, 2014 2:18 pm

After you've seized all the deals on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, it's giveback time.

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Economy
5:20 am
Tue December 2, 2014

Drop In Oil Prices Is Being Felt By U.S. Drillers, Oil Field Firms

Originally published on Wed December 3, 2014 7:39 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Falling oil prices have begun to hurt oil companies. This may be the point where you make a sarcastic remark - oh, the poor oil companies.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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