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Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

Episode 700: Peanuts and Cracker Jack

May 6, 2016

There's not a lot of running in baseball. Mostly the players just stand around. But up in the stands, there is a very different game being played--one that demands hours of nonstop effort. The players in this game are vendors, the ballpark workers who run up and down stairs, carrying cases of water and bins of hot dogs above their heads. They are competing to sell as much overpriced junk food, in as little time as possible.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

All over eastern Kentucky, you see cars and pickup trucks with black license plates proclaiming the owner is a "friend of coal."

Even though the license plates are all over, it's getting harder to find actual coal miners here: Fewer than 6,000 remain in the state, where the coal industry is shrinking fast. More than 10,000 coal workers have been laid off since 2008.

Many have had to leave the area to find work, but a few have found employment in other — and sometime unexpected — fields, as businesses are innovating to use former coal workers in new ways.

The pace of job creation slowed substantially last month, the Labor Department said Friday.

Employers added 160,000 employees in April, downshifting from the monthly average of 192,000 workers so far this year. That was a disappointment for many job seekers.

But the country does have one group enjoying lots of opportunities: newly minted college graduates. In fact, economists say this might be the best time to be graduating in a decade.

Last year, Seattle began phasing in a minimum wage of $15 an hour. Businesses with more than 500 employees are all required to pay that wage by 2018. Smaller companies have until 2021 to comply, but some entrepreneurs are embracing the call for a higher minimum wage ahead of schedule.

One of them is Renee Erickson, a Seattle chef, who this week won the 2016 James Beard Award as the best chef in the Northwest. She employs 100 people at her restaurant group.

SpaceX has done it again. Launching from Cape Canaveral, Fla., early Friday morning, the company successfully landed part of its Falcon 9 rocket on a floating barge. A second part or "stage" continued into space, carrying a communications satellite.

The U.S. economy added 160,000 jobs in April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in its monthly report. That's significantly fewer than analysts had projected.

The unemployment rate last month held steady at 5 percent, Friday's report says.

As NPR's Chris Arnold told our Newscast unit ahead of the release: "Analysts are predicting a gain of about 200,000 jobs for April. The economy's been averaging some 250,000 more jobs a month over the past 6 months."

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 WSHU Public Radio Group. To see more, visit WSHU Public Radio Group.

By my count I have helped some 58 friends (including many colleagues in public radio) buy a car. That's sort of funny, considering I didn't buy a car until I was 37 years old and began reporting on the auto industry for NPR.

On Saturdays over the last few years, I have gotten phone calls from friends at car dealerships asking for advice. It's no small financial matter, when the average cost of a new car is roughly $33,000.

So if you are reading this while in a car dealership, do what I tell all my friends: Stand up! Leave the dealership! Do not buy a car today!

Let's say you're an environmentally motivated eater. You want your diet to do as little damage as possible to our planet's forests and grasslands and wildlife.

But how do you decide which food is greener?

Take one example: sugar. About half of America's sugar comes from sugar cane, and half from sugar beets. They grow in completely different climates. Sugar cane is a tropical crop, and sugar beets grow where it's colder and dryer.

Each one has an impact on the environment — sometimes a dramatic impact — but in very different ways.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Finger-lickin' good?

KFC in Hong Kong is marketing edible nail polish that tastes like — wait for it — chicken.

"Yes, it is actually a real thing," the agency running the campaign tells The New York Times.

Many credit card and loan agreements these days have in the small type what's called a "mandatory arbitration clause." Most people don't even know what that means. But by signing, customers agree not to sue the financial firm in a class action lawsuit. Instead, they agree to work out any problem with an arbitrator hired by the bank.

For several decades now, Georgia Tech professor Tom Conte has been studying how to improve computers: "How do we make them faster and more efficient next time around versus what we just made?"

The Food and Drug Administration is banning the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors as part of a broad set of regulations the agency finalized Wednesday.

With the rules that were more than two years in the making, the agency is expanding its authority over e-cigarettes, cigars and hookah tobacco, in much the same way it already regulates traditional cigarettes.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

When Jennifer Kaiser's mother was her age, a lot of the women she knew were stay-at-home moms who could maintain a solid standard of living without taking outside work. These days, that's pretty much an unaffordable luxury.

"For me and a majority of the people I know it's a paycheck-to-paycheck society. That's the way it is and it stinks," said Kaiser, a 44-year-old legal assistant at a downtown Indianapolis law firm.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The Department of Transportation on Wednesday announced the recall of an additional 35 million to 40 million faulty air bag inflators made by Japan's Takata Corp., an auto-parts supplier.

Already, 28.8 million Takata inflators have been recalled. In all, this massive action will add up to the largest safety recall in U.S. history.

Federal regulators have dramatically increased the number of vehicles to be recalled because of defective air bags made by Takata Corp. An additional 35 to 40 million air bag inflators will need to be replaced, according to regulators. The vehicles will be recalled in five stages between now and December 2019.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Frozen vegetables are a staple in many diets, so a huge recall of them has us peering at the packages in our freezers.

On Tuesday evening, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced an outbreak of the deadly Listeria monocytogenes bacteria — and frozen vegetables and fruits are believed to be the cause.

Panama City is bustling with construction. At least half-a-dozen cranes dot its picturesque, oceanfront skyline, teeming with glass towers.

At one site, real estate broker Kent Davis steps into a construction elevator in a nearly completed 30-floor apartment building. Seventy percent of the apartments have already been sold.

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