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A new era in Saudi Arabia was demonstrated at gas stations across the country on Monday night: Long lines of cars stretched from the pumps as drivers filled up to beat price hikes announced by the government earlier in the day.

It was an unusual scene for the world's largest oil producer, but it underscored the economic impact of dramatically lower crude prices on a government budget that relies on it.

The swift deadline to chop government subsidies on gas, water and electricity surprised Saudis, and some stations ran out of gas and shut down in the storm of demand.

Puerto Rico will default on bond payments worth about $37 million on Jan. 1, as it struggles to contend with a mountain of debt worth $72 billion, government officials said today.

Still, the commonwealth will be able to pay off most of the $328 million it owes on its general obligation debt — but that's only by clawing back some of the money from other government sources, Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla noted.

Animal welfare advocates got major traction this year pushing for cage-free eggs.

In September, McDonald's pledged it would move to 100-percent cage-free eggs in its supply chain. And while the movement was already underway, this announcement seemed to really set off a domino effect.

Some of the biggest egg producers in the U.S., including Rembrandt Foods, pledged allegiance to cage-free. Packaged good behemoths like Nestle and fast food chains like Subway did as well. (See the list of companies below.)

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The U.S. economy has improved enough for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates, but much of the rest of the world remained mired in slow growth and high unemployment in 2015.

And the picture was especially grim in the so-called emerging markets, countries such as Brazil, Russia, Venezuela and South Africa.

What these places share is that they export a lot of oil and other commodities, and they've been hard-hit by the slowdown in China.

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You have probably been hearing a lot about virtual reality in the past couple of years; this coming year you finally may get to try it. Several major consumer headsets are hitting the market, allowing users to experience everything from travel, games, news and shopping.

But it's not clear whether that will be enough to entice consumers to spend a few hundred bucks on a VR headset.

Brian Blau thinks it will be enough. The analyst at Gartner, a tech market-research firm, has watched dozens of people don a virtual reality headset for the first time.

Podcasts would sound pretty bland without music. When done well, the medium's music cues are evocative and tone-setting. In rare cases, they can become iconic (think of the plinking chords that let you know you're listening to Serial). But for the most part, the music is meant to be invisible: You wouldn't sit down to listen to it or put it on in your car, and you're unlikely to ever know who composed it. So where does podcast music come from?

Right before the holidays, Congress approved tax credits for clean energy. It was just a tiny part of a $1.8 trillion spending bill, but solar and wind power companies say it's a Christmas present that will catapult their industry forward. Analysts are predicting a big boost in wind and solar projects over the next few years.

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Solicit opinions about health insurance and you're almost guaranteed to find consensus: It's mystifying and irritating.

"It just seems like a lot of the buzzwords are intended to just complicate the whole thing and make it more expensive," says David Turgeon, 46, who's sitting in a Minneapolis mall eating lunch.

Enrollment season rolls on, and people shopping on HealthCare.gov and the other marketplaces have until Jan. 31 to decide on a plan.

When CVS Health customers complained to the company about privacy violations, some of the calls and letters made their way to Joseph Fenity. One patient's medication was delivered to his neighbor, revealing he had cancer. Another was upset because a pharmacist had yelled personal information across the counter.

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José Anzaldo is a bright, cheerful third-grader in Salinas, Calif. He loves school, he's a whiz at math, and, like lots of little boys his age, he wants to be a firefighter when he grows up. He also entered the country illegally, and his parents are migrant farmworkers who harvest lettuce.

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Paid family leave is something that's not widely available to most American workers, though, this year, that started to change. NPR's Yuki Noguchi has more.

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In late 2008, Americans were getting crushed by an avalanche of bad business news.

Financial systems were melting down, jobs disappearing, homeowners defaulting and auto companies heading for a cliff. With so many contenders, picking that year's five biggest stories was tough.

In contrast, 2015 looks almost placid. Unemployment steadily drifted down, wages tiptoed up, the real estate scene brightened and inflation stayed low. So nominees for the biggest stories of 2015 seem tame compared with the terrifying Great Recession years.

When the U.S. and Cuba reopened their embassies this year, American businesses started to look for opportunities on the island. They are quickly learning, though, that it will be a tough slog.

The weekend after Christmas has typically been big business for retailers, as people return gifts — and buy new ones for themselves. But some brick-and-mortar retailers are struggling this holiday season, facing the dual problems of overexpansion and an increasingly demanding consumer base that likes the ability to shop online.

Sarah Jackson had quit abusing drugs and had been sober for six months when she found out she had hepatitis C.

"That was weeks of not sleeping and just constant tears," she says. "I had already put a lot of that behind me and had been moving forward with my life and this was just a major setback."

To get rid of the infection, her doctor prescribed Harvoni, one of the new generation of highly effective hepatitis C drugs. But Jackson never started the treatment because her insurance, Indiana's Medicaid, refused to pay for it.

The special holiday version of Hershey's Kisses, now on sale nationwide, is an icon of the food industry's past, and perhaps also a harbinger of its future.

Back when Milton Hershey started making this product, more than a century ago, it was a simpler time. He ran the factory and the sales campaigns — although, for decades, he refused to advertise.

Today, The Hershey Company is a giant enterprise with factories around the globe. It owns food companies in China, Brazil and India.

In 2008, Canadian student Christopher Charles was working in rural Cambodia, living in a typical Cambodian house on stilts. He had no electricity, no running water and, he says, a lot of time to sit around and think.

"I was looking at the prevalence of anemia and parasite infection in the region and began to uncover this huge problem that no one was doing anything about," in Cambodia. Anemia is a disease that's linked to low levels of iron in the blood, and almost half of Cambodia's population suffers from it.

Police in Charlotte, N.C., say an argument between two groups of people who knew each other led to the death of an armed suspect.

Chief Kerr Putney of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department says a group of individuals with a history of feuding were at the Northlake Mall and got into an altercation shortly after 2 p.m. on Thursday, and gunshots were fired.

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Now a holiday story about a tariff dispute. And if anyone could come up with such a story it would be our Planet Money team. Here are Robert Smith and Jacob Goldstein.

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In Latin American cultures, Christmas Eve is Noche Buena and time for a big family celebration, often featuring a pig roast. There are lots of ways to cook a whole pig. But at Noche Buena parties in South Florida and, increasingly, around the country, the preferred method for roasting a pig involves something known as a "China box."

Tax avoidance is a big issue in the United Kingdom these days. The discussion usually revolves around a large multinational company that "goes offshore" by using creative accounting methods to reduce or avoid paying British taxes on its profits.

But in a small town in central Wales, local business owners have decided to try the same thing — to make a point.

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