The task of building your very own toy, or robot, or radio can seem daunting for someone without much background in engineering. But a set of color-coded electronic bits that can be magnetically snapped together called littleBits is aiming to make creating your own electronics easy for everyone. It's like Legos, if only Legos could be connected into circuits that light up, move or make music.
"Circuits in seconds," promises the outside of the box.
When it comes to getting ahead in the world, a lack of savings can be a big hurdle, especially for low-income families. Most don't have enough money set aside for emergencies, let alone for college or a house. Some people think the answer is to make savings more fun, like the lottery, with the chance to win big prizes.
It's called prize-linked savings, something that's been available in Great Britain for decades. Now, it's starting to catch on in the United States.
Short selling a stock - betting that it will go down instead of up - is common on Wall Street. But what about placing a bet against a company and then trying to get the government to do things that would drive down the company's share price?
Originally published on Mon March 10, 2014 10:41 pm
If there's anything most of us are tired of this winter, it's bone-chilling cold. It's enough to drive you to drink.
Literally. Because frigid weather is just what some enterprising artisans need to make a dessert wine that has been showing up on trendy tables and menus. Ice cider was invented in Quebec in the 1990s.
This time of year, it's fermenting on the other side of the border as well, as a few snowy states try to tap into the locavore market and turn perishables into profits.
NPR's business news begins with a soon-to-be top banana.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
MONTAGNE: An American company long synonymous with bananas is merging with an Irish rival to create the world's biggest banana company. The new company will be called ChiquitaFyffes, and it's expected to have annual sales of $4.6 billion.
The "Dirty Dozen" is not just the name of an action film from the 1960s. It's also the name of the list the IRS puts out each year documenting the most common tax scams. For the past two years, identity theft has topped the list. That's when thieves first steal someone's identity and then steal their tax refund by filing a fraudulent return.
ReBOUND Residential in Florida has bought multiple properties like this one, a formerly bank-owned home in Sunrise, Fla., as investment properties. The houses are now bringing steady returns as rentals.
It's taken several years, but in many parts of the country, home prices are nearly back to where they were at the peak. In places like Florida, where the housing recession hit hard, home prices rose last year by one-fifth or more.
A major factor in the price rise is hedge funds, private equity firms and other large investors. They've moved aggressively into the residential market over the past two years, buying tens of thousands of distressed properties, often at bargain prices.
William Clay Ford, a descendant of auto industry pioneer Henry Ford and owner of the Detroit Lions, has died at age 88. He was the son of Edsel Ford.
Ford's death was confirmed by the automaker that bears his family's name Sunday. The company said Ford died at home after suffering from pneumonia. And it said that during his 57 years with the company, Ford led the Design Committee and helped develop cars such as the Continental Mark II, a sleek two-door built in the mid-1950s.
Originally published on Tue March 11, 2014 12:53 pm
Italy has more UNESCO world heritage sites than any other country in the world, and its art and cultural riches have drawn visitors for centuries.
It also prides itself on being a culinary mecca, where preparing, cooking and serving meals is a fine, even sacred, art. And now that the country is in the deepest and most protracted recession since World War II, why not cash in on its reputation as a paradise for visiting gourmets and gourmands?
Each week, Weekend Edition Sunday host Rachel Martin brings listeners an unexpected side of the news by talking with someone personally affected by the stories making headlines.
After years of selling drugs and serving prison time in Detroit, 54-year-old Isaac Lott is now a site supervisor with the organization Reclaim Detroit. The group deconstructs abandoned homes to reclaim materials from them.
Originally published on Sun March 9, 2014 11:16 pm
The crowds are so thick in Austin, Texas, that locals are using an Avoid Humans app to find some peace and quiet, and the warning at the convention center of South By Southwest Interactive goes something like this: "Only one person per escalator step OR YOU WILL BREAK IT!"
Job training programs are failing to turn out enough skilled workers to fill job openings in the U.S., a phenomenon that puzzles some European companies that expand into the U.S.
President Obama freely admits that America needs to improve the way it trains workers. In a speech at a General Electric manufacturing plant in Wisconsin earlier this year, he said, "We gotta move away from what my labor secretary, Tom Perez, calls 'train and pray.' You train workers first and then you hope they get a job."