Business & Education

Business & education news

The air conditioner at Jim and Julie Powell's house has been fending off the 100-degree summertime heat for two decades — ever since they came to the Sun City retirement community just west of Phoenix.

"It's been a workhorse," Julie says. "It's probably 20 years old, but it does the job."

Inside, Jim leafs through their summer bills from the power company Arizona Public Service, or APS. He counts: "$183, $262, $250."

Steep, but predictable. Ever since he's heard about a new fee, though, he's begun to worry.

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

A Chemist Accidentally Creates A New Blue. Then What?

Jul 16, 2016

Mas Subramanian wasn't expecting blue.

In 2009, as part of his lab at Oregon State University, Subramanian — a professor of materials science — was working with students to manufacture new materials that could be used in electronics. They would mix and grind chemicals, then heat them to over 2000 degrees Fahrenheit.

One grad student, Andrew E. Smith, took a particular mix out of the furnace to find it had turned a surprising, bright blue color.

"You know what Louis Pasteur said?" Subramanian asks. "Luck favors the alert mind."

It's only been out a week, but Pokémon Go is making more money than a Meowth using Pay Day.

Presidential nominees choose vice presidential running mates for what they add to the ticket, whether it be experience or the capacity to draw votes. Here's what Mike Pence might subtract from this fall's Republican ticket with Donald Trump: an unknowable amount of campaign cash from the financial services industry.

Herbalife has agreed to pay $200 million to reimburse consumers who lost money on its nutrition supplements and will also make major changes in its sales and distribution practices, the Federal Trade Commission announced today.

The FTC filed a complaint accusing the company of deceiving consumers about how much money they could make selling its products, noting that most Herbalife distributors make no money at all.

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

When Julian Castro assumed the post of Housing and Urban Development secretary in 2014, the U.S. government already had a few programs aimed at expanding Americans' access to the Internet. It's the sort of thing that is paramount to success in the modern economy, long advocated by President Obama and other government officials.

Most of us — and by "us," I mean urban and suburban consumers like me — don't usually get to meet the people who pick our apples, oranges or strawberries.

So about a year ago, I decided to launch a series of stories about the people who harvest some of America's iconic seasonal foods. Many of these workers move from place to place, following the seasons.

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

Even though House Speaker Paul Ryan has endorsed Donald Trump, he has continued to have plenty of criticism for his party's presumptive nominee.

In an interview with NPR's Steve Inskeep on Thursday afternoon in his office in the Capitol, Ryan was optimistic that Trump would come around on free trade agreements and the controversial tone he's used on the campaign trail.

Ever feel as though you're not getting ahead financially?

Join the club. The very big club.

A new study shows that across the world's 25 advanced economies, two-thirds of households are earning the same as, or less than, they did a decade ago.

After years of bitter debate and legislative stalemate over the labeling of genetically modified ingredients, a compromise proposal sailed through Congress in breathtaking speed over the past three weeks.

The House of Representative passed the measure on Thursday with solid support from both Democrats and Republicans. It now goes to the White House, where President Obama is expected to sign it.

In the wake of last week's shootings, Facebook has seen a significant spike in flagged content, with users calling out each other's posts as racist, violent and offensive, according to Facebook employees, who say the company is having a very hard time deciding who is right or how to define hate speech.

Unpublished, and re-published

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

The 2016 Emmy Award nominations were announced Thursday morning in Los Angeles. The full list of nominations is here.

Although HBO's hit Veep received the most comedy nominations, the ABC show Black-ish was nominated in three top categories, including best comedy series and best lead actor and actress in a comedy series.

Updated at 11:32 a.m. ET to reflect a recent ruling in the Facebook v. Power Ventures case.

People share passwords all the time. A husband might give his wife his bank account login so she can pay a bill. A professor might ask a secretary to check emails. Comedian Samantha Bee's segment on Syrian refugees featured her teaching them essential phrases in U.S. culture, including "Can I have your HBO Go login?"

Editor's note: This story contains language that some may find offensive.

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

There are a lot of people suffering from a mental health condition who need therapy. And there are a lot of therapists who want to help them. But both sides believe the insurance companies that are supposed to bring them together are actually keeping them apart.

Insurance companies, for their part, say there's a shortage of therapists.

But it's not that simple. Especially in urban areas, there are lots of therapists. They just don't want to work with the insurance companies.

Episode 711: Hooked on Heroin

Jul 13, 2016

When we meet the heroin dealer called Bone, he has just shot up. He has a lot to say anyway. He tells us about his career--it pretty much tracks the evolution of drug use in America these past ten years or so. He tells us about his rough past. And he tells us about how he died a week ago. He overdosed on his own supply and his friend took his body to the emergency room, then left.

New British Prime Minister Theresa May announced six members of her Cabinet Wednesday.

The Boston Citgo sign, all 3,600 square LED feet of which has served as the backdrop to Red Sox games since 1965, is now officially a "pending landmark."

When the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union last month, the seaside town of Port Talbot in Wales eagerly went along with the move. Brexit was approved by some 57 percent of the town's residents.

Now some of them are wondering if they made the wrong decision.

The June 23 Brexit vote has raised questions about the fate of the troubled Port Talbot Works, Britain's largest surviving steel plant — a huge, steam-belching facility that has long been the town's biggest employer.

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

The season for blueberries used to be short. You'd find fresh berries in the store just during a couple of months in the middle of summer.

Now, though, it's always blueberry season somewhere. Blueberry production is booming. The berries are grown in Florida, North Carolina, New Jersey, Michigan and the Pacific Northwest — not to mention the southern hemisphere.

But in any one location, the season is still short. And this means that workers follow the blueberry harvest, never staying in one place for long.

More than 4 in 10 working Americans say their job affects their overall health, with stress being cited most often as having a negative impact.

That's according to a new survey about the workplace and health from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

While it may not sound so surprising that work affects health, when we looked more closely, we found one group was particularly affected by stress on the job: the disabled.

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

What does it mean to be middle class in America? Nearly a century ago, in Detroit — which was then the burning core of the country's middle class — the answer might have looked like a hot dog: a Detroit Coney, to be precise.

At its most basic, a Detroit Coney is a kind of chili dog — "a steamed bun, with a natural-casing hot dog, beef and pork," explains Joe Grimm, author of the book Coney Detroit. "And on top of that hot dog — which should be grilled, not boiled, not deep-fried — goes the sauce, the most important part."

A majority of Americans say they're stressed at work. And it's clear the burden of stress has negative effects on health, including an increase in heart disease, liver disease and gastrointestinal problems.

Pages