Business

All Tech Considered
2:20 am
Mon April 6, 2015

Is Cash-Free Really The Way To Be? Maybe Not For Millennials

More Americans are ditching traditional cash and plastic, opting instead for new mobile payment applications. But new research indicates cash isn't completely dead.
Amy Sancetta AP

Originally published on Tue April 7, 2015 4:20 pm

Smartphones have new, seamless ways to purchase stuff lightning fast, with just a tap. With these new digital technologies available for mobile payment, many young people are ditching cash and plastic altogether.

But is traditional payment dead? According to Doug Conover, an analyst with the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, not exactly.

"The perception that young people rarely use cash is just not correct," he says.

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Code Switch
7:20 am
Sat April 4, 2015

The Time Coca-Cola Got White Elites in Atlanta to Honor Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in Norway in 1964. In King's hometown of Atlanta, social conservatives at first refused to attend an integrated dinner in his honor.
AP

Originally published on Tue April 7, 2015 9:54 am

Wal-Mart, Apple, Angie's List, NASCAR — some of the biggest names in business this week pushed back against "religious freedom" laws in Indiana and Arkansas. They said the laws could open the door to discrimination against gays and lesbians and were bad for their business.

Such corporate intervention is not new.

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Strange News
6:42 am
Sat April 4, 2015

Pondering The Popularity Of The Pet Rock — And Other Fads

Pet Rock creator Gary Ross Dahl became a millionaire from his rock sales in the 1970s. Each rock came in a special box (bottom left) with a detailed instruction manual.
San Francisco Chronicle AP

Originally published on Sat April 4, 2015 8:30 am

The Hula Hoop. The pogo stick. The Tamagotchi.

Fads, crazes and must-have toys all sweep the country from time to time. But in the annals of faddish toys, one achievement stands tall — or rather, sits small: the Pet Rock.

It was exactly what it sounds like: a rock (a Mexican beach stone, to be precise) marketed in the mid-'70s as a pet. Each came in its own box with air holes and a detailed owner's manual.

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The Salt
5:33 am
Sat April 4, 2015

Why Wal-Mart Is Betting Big On Being Your Local Urban Grocer

A customer shops for groceries with her son at the Wal-Mart on H Street in Washington, D.C.
Emily Jan NPR

Originally published on Wed April 8, 2015 4:16 pm

Wal-Mart made its name by going big: massive super centers with gallon jars of pickles and rows and rows of lawn chairs and tires.

Its future may depend a lot on going small. It's investing in smaller stores in densely populated urban neighborhoods, where customers buy fewer items at a time.

Customers like Donna Thomas, who walked over to a Wal-Mart near Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on her lunch break from her job as an executive assistant at Comcast.

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Goats and Soda
4:03 am
Sat April 4, 2015

Far From Silicon Valley, A Disruptive Startup Hub

An entrepreneur uses his laptop near graffiti-decorated walls at Hubspace in the Khayelitsha township.
Emily Jan NPR

Originally published on Mon April 6, 2015 9:14 am

Starting a business is tough anywhere.

But when you live in a place where many people lack basic services, such as electricity and toilets, it's even harder.

These are the obstacles facing new business owners in South Africa's townships — sprawling communities designated for nonwhites during apartheid. Apartheid may be history, but two decades into democracy, townships remain overwhelmingly disadvantaged.

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U.S.
2:47 am
Sat April 4, 2015

Despite Laws And Lawsuits, Quota-Based Policing Lingers

Multiple lawsuits accuse the New York City Police Department of pressuring officers into fulfilling monthly quotes for tickets and arrests, resulting in warrantless stops. The NYPD denies the allegations.
Spencer Platt Getty

Originally published on Sat April 4, 2015 8:30 am

In New York City, police rarely talk on the record at all, especially about a touchy subject like quotas. But Officer Adhyl Polanco is an exception.

"The culture is, you're not working unless you are writing summonses or arresting people," says Polanco.

One of the dirty secrets in law enforcement that no one likes to talk about is quotas. Police departments routinely deny requiring officers to deliver a set number of tickets or arrests. But critics say that kind of numbers-based policing is real, and corrodes the community's relationship with the police.

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Business
4:42 pm
Fri April 3, 2015

While Pay Holds Steady For Most, Low-Wage Workers Get A Boost

McDonald's announced this week that it will pay workers in its company-owned stores $1 more per hour than the local minimum wage. Wal-Mart, Target and the parent company of Marshalls and TJ Maxx have also promised to boost wages for their lowest-paid workers this year.
Lucy Nicholson Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Mon April 6, 2015 10:03 am

The vast majority of U.S. workers haven't seen any real wage gains since the recession. But that's starting to change, at least for low-income workers.

This week, fast-food giant McDonald's announced it will pay workers $1 more than the local minimum wage.

It joins some of the nation's other largest employers, including Wal-Mart, Target and TJX, the parent company of Marshalls and TJ Maxx. All say they will be boosting pay to at least $9 per hour this year, and some will go to $10 next year.

For Wal-Mart alone, that's a pay raise for half a million Americans.

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Around the Nation
2:53 pm
Fri April 3, 2015

California's Ongoing Drought Hits Water Recreation Businesses

Originally published on Fri April 3, 2015 4:42 pm

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

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The Two-Way
12:03 pm
Fri April 3, 2015

For U.S. Workers, The March Of Progress Slows Down

The big question hanging over the U.S. economy: Did job growth just take a rest during the harsh winter, or is it shifting to a much slower pace?
David Goldman AP

Originally published on Fri April 3, 2015 12:19 pm

Dear March,

We got your news that employers added just 126,000 jobs on your watch. Hate to say it, but you have disappointed everyone. No doubt you'll say you were under the weather — literally. Sure, it was cold, but still ... Let's hope April does better.

Sincerely,

America

On Friday, the Labor Department's report on weak jobs growth left economists scrambling to explain what went wrong in March.

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The Two-Way
10:55 am
Fri April 3, 2015

Mixed Reaction To Changes In States 'Religious Freedom' Bills

Originally published on Fri April 3, 2015 11:39 am

Many politicians and businesses have expressed satisfaction with changes made to the language of "religious freedom" measures in Indiana and Arkansas aimed at preventing them from being used to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

Others see the compromise language as a watering down or worse — a sellout. And a few said the changes didn't go far enough.

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The Two-Way
7:57 am
Fri April 3, 2015

If A Caller Says, 'I Am With The IRS,' He's Not

The Internal Revenue Service says the number of IRS-related phone scams is on the rise.
gmutlu iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri April 3, 2015 9:57 am

True story: The other day, I attended a speech by IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, who said phone scammers are swarming the country in the run-up to April 15, aka Tax Day.

These criminals call taxpayers and insist they must "immediately give up their personal information or make a payment," Koskinen warned. Don't fall for it.

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The Two-Way
6:42 am
Fri April 3, 2015

Economy Adds A Disappointing 126,000 Jobs In March

Seattle Police Detective Kevin Nelson (left) talks with U.S. Army soldiers at an October job fair at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., for soldiers who may exit military service in the next year.
Ted S. Warren AP

Originally published on Fri April 3, 2015 12:05 pm

Updated at 10 a.m. ET

The U.S. economy gained just 126,000 jobs in March, a figure well short of economists' expectations and the weakest growth since December 2013, the Labor Department reports. The unemployment rate held steady at 5.5 percent.

The consensus among economic forecasters had been for 245,000 new jobs, which would have continued a 200,000+ monthly streak that has been the longest such spurt of job growth since the early 1990s. Over the last year alone, the U.S. economy has added 3 million jobs.

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Planet Money
4:23 am
Fri April 3, 2015

How The Price Of Oil Caused A Downturn In The Recycling Business

Originally published on Fri April 3, 2015 5:56 pm

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

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Economy
1:44 am
Fri April 3, 2015

March Employment Report Shows Growth — But Disappointing Numbers

Originally published on Fri April 3, 2015 2:13 pm

Editor's note: This story was updated following the 8:30 a.m. ET release of the employment report.

The pulse of the U.S. job market was revealed Friday morning, when the government released employment data for March. Employers added a disappointing total: just 126,000 jobs.

Prior to March, it had been quite a run for the U.S. job market. The economy had added more than 200,000 jobs every month, maintaining a level of job creation that hasn't been seen since a 13-month run back in 1994-95.

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Goats and Soda
4:17 pm
Thu April 2, 2015

If You Know Where The Missing $6 Million Is, Please Tell Sierra Leone

The health workers of Sierra Leone — like Dr. Komba Songu M'Briwah (on the phone) — were dedicated to fighting Ebola. But they had a huge handicap. A government report reveals that some of the money allocated went to pay "ghost workers."
David Gilkey NPR

Sierra Leone poured a lot of money into the battle against Ebola.

The government earmarked $18 million of treasury funds and public donations to combat the disease, which has claimed around 3,800 lives there.

That's an admirable commitment. But there's just one problem. A third of that money appears to have disappeared.

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The Two-Way
4:16 pm
Thu April 2, 2015

Nixon's 'Western White House' Is Up For Sale

President Richard Nixon's California home, seen in 1969, is back on the market for $75 million. The 10-room Spanish-style adobe is located in San Clemente.
HF AP

Originally published on Fri April 3, 2015 10:06 am

After owning the estate for 35 years, retired Allergan CEO Gavin S. Herbert is selling the former home of President Richard Nixon for $75 million.

The estate in San Clemente, Calif., is large. Its main residence is 9,000 square feet, and the entire compound boasts more than 15,000 square feet of living space. The Wall Street Journal has details:

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Food
4:00 pm
Thu April 2, 2015

The Fake Meat Industry's Quest To Make Faux Taste Real

Originally published on Mon April 27, 2015 12:30 pm

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

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The Salt
4:00 pm
Thu April 2, 2015

How The Matzo Crumbles: Iconic Streit's Factory To Leave Manhattan

A rabbi (center) supervises the production of Passover matzos at the Streit's factory on New York's Lower East Side, circa 1960s. This Passover will be Streit's last one at the landmark location.
AP

Originally published on Fri April 3, 2015 10:42 am

This Passover holiday marks the end of an era for an iconic matzo factory in New York City.

Streit's has been baking matzo — the unleavened bread that Jews eat during the eight days of Passover — in the same factory on the Lower East Side for 90 years. But the company announced it will move production to a new, modern factory after the holiday.

That's a blow to Streit's loyal customers, who insist it tastes better than other brands.

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Business
3:07 am
Thu April 2, 2015

Arkansas Governor Asks Lawmakers To Rework Religious Liberty Bill

Originally published on Thu April 2, 2015 8:08 am

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

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Parallels
2:01 am
Thu April 2, 2015

Huge Scandal At Top Of Petrobras Trickles Down, With Devastating Effect

People, most of them unemployed, line up March 19 at a popular Itaborai, Brazil, restaurant where they can have lunch for about 30 cents. The Petrobras refinery and processing plant on the outskirts of town has been shut down; tens of thousands are now out of work in the area.
Vanderlei Almeida AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu April 2, 2015 2:14 pm

I meet Joao Jesus outside the local labor tribunal in the Brazilian town of Itaborai, east of Rio de Janeiro.

"This morning I wasn't able to give my kids breakfast," he says, in a way that suggests he can hardly believe it himself.

Financial crises often get spoken about in the nameless, faceless lingo of "world market downturns" or "changing patterns of consumption" — but the crisis engulfing Brazil and its state oil company, Petrobras, has names and faces.

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The Salt
1:59 am
Thu April 2, 2015

When Wal-Mart Comes To Town, What Does It Mean For Workers?

Jessey Drewsen, 25, lives near the H Street Wal-Mart in Washington, D.C. She says she doesn't like the store, but that she goes there for cheap supplies like pens.
Emily Jan NPR

Originally published on Fri April 3, 2015 1:58 pm

This is the second in a two-part story about Wal-Mart. Read and listen to Part 1 here.

One of the biggest objections critics often raise about Wal-Mart is how it treats its workers.

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The Two-Way
9:02 pm
Wed April 1, 2015

Still Need A Lawn Yeti? Good News — SkyMall May Be Cleared For Relaunch

Originally published on Thu April 2, 2015 1:50 pm

In January, SkyMall LLC and its parent company, Xhibit Corp., filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy, with some $50 million in liabilities. The company's assets were set to go up for auction in late March. The news led to a strong show of support for the in-flight catalog.

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The Salt
2:26 pm
Wed April 1, 2015

With Nostalgia And A Last Nosh, 1 Of 3 Remaining HoJo's Closes

A vintage postcard (circa 1930-1945) shows the HoJo's on U.S. Alternate Route I, in Fredericksburg, Va.
Boston Public Library/Flickr

Originally published on Wed April 1, 2015 6:55 pm

In the 1960s and '70s, Howard Johnson's restaurants were the biggest chain in the country, with more than 1,000 locations.

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NPR Story
3:54 am
Wed April 1, 2015

The Urban Neighborhood Wal-Mart: A Blessing Or A Curse?

The H Street Wal-Mart in Washington, D.C. Ten years ago, none of the city's 600,000 residents lived within 1 mile of a Wal-Mart. Today, almost 13 percent do.
Emily Jan NPR

Originally published on Wed April 1, 2015 3:22 pm

This is the first in a two-part story about Wal-Mart. Listen to Part 1 above, and tune into Morning Edition Thursday to hear Part 2.

The corner of First and H streets in downtown Washington, D.C., is a reflection of the changing face of the nation's capital. From here, you can see the Capitol dome, while across the street are a concrete public housing complex and a hip new Peruvian chicken restaurant.

You can also see a new Wal-Mart.

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NPR Story
3:01 am
Wed April 1, 2015

No Joke. Flood Insurance Rates Increase On April 1

Originally published on Wed April 1, 2015 3:22 pm

Copyright 2015 WSHU Public Radio Group. To see more, visit http://www.wshu.org/.

Transcript

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Business
3:03 am
Tue March 31, 2015

With 'Single-Stream' Recycling, Convenience Comes At A Cost

At Resource Management's materials recovery facility, workers pull plastic bags, other trash and large pieces of cardboard off the conveyor belts before the mixed single-stream recyclables enter the sorting machines.
Véronique LaCapra St. Louis Public Radio

Originally published on Fri April 3, 2015 1:30 pm

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The Salt
1:41 pm
Mon March 30, 2015

Our Food-Safety System Is A Patchwork With Big Holes, Critics Say

Walking through the warehouse of food processor Heartland Gourmet in Lincoln, Neb., shows how complicated the food safety system can be. Pallets are stacked with sacks of potato flour, and the smell of fresh-baked apple-cinnamon muffins floats in the air.

Heartland Gourmet makes a wide range of foods — from muffins and organic baking mixes to pizzas and burritos. That means business manager Mark Zink has to answer to both of the main U.S. food safety regulators, the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration.

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The Salt
12:42 pm
Mon March 30, 2015

Grocery Stores Are Losing You. Here's How They Plan To Win You Back

A little booze can't hurt: The Hy-Vee grocery chain has added a Market Grille to several of its locations in the Midwest and Great Plains. You can order drinks and dinner before or after you do your grocery shopping.
Courtesy of Hy-Vee Market Grille

Originally published on Mon March 30, 2015 4:41 pm

If pushing a cart up and down the lengthy aisles of your neighborhood supermarket — past dozens of brands of packaged cereal and crackers lit by fluorescent lights — feels overwhelming and soul-sucking, you're not alone.

But there's some good news: The days of shopping this way may be numbered.

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U.S.
1:42 am
Mon March 30, 2015

With So Much Oil Flowing, U.S. May Be Reaching Storage Limits

Cushing, Okla., is a major oil storage site. Amid record oil production, some analysts worry the U.S. will run out of places to put it all.
Daniel Acker Bloomberg via Getty Images

Originally published on Mon March 30, 2015 9:16 am

Never before has the U.S. had so much oil spurting up out of the ground and sloshing into storage tanks around the country. There's so much oil that the U.S. now rivals Saudi Arabia as the world's largest producer.

But there has been some concern that the U.S. will run out of places to put it all. Some analysts speculate that could spark another dramatic crash in oil prices.

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Politics
3:43 pm
Sun March 29, 2015

Proposed Payday Industry Regulations Must Strike Delicate Balance

Originally published on Sun March 29, 2015 3:54 pm

The federal government is moving to reign in the payday loan industry, which critics say traps consumers in a damaging cycle of debt. A look at the possible effects of proposed regulations and what push back they might face.

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

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