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Creepy Clown Scare Isn't Funny For The Real Clowns

Oct 9, 2016
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Excerpts from speeches Hillary Clinton was paid to give to big banks suggest a relationship with Wall Street that is a lot more familiar and pragmatic than the fiery rhetoric she has sometimes used on the campaign trail.

"I represented all of you for eight years. I had great relations and worked so close together after 9/11 to rebuild downtown, and a lot of respect for the work you do and the people who do it," she told a Goldman Sachs symposium on Oct. 24, 2013.

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Would you trust your smartphone to guide your drinking habits?

A lot of people are doing just that. With many of us glued to our digital devices for much of the day, web developers and medical researchers are taking note of the potential for harnessing our phones, tablets and laptops as tools to moderate drinking, or stay sober after quitting booze.

Episode 728: The Wells Fargo Hustle

Oct 7, 2016

The third-largest bank in the country, Wells Fargo, is in big trouble. A federal investigation found that Wells Fargo was opening bank accounts without customers' permission. Perhaps as many as two million fraudulent accounts.

After the scandal broke, Wells Fargo's CEO John Stumpf was called to Capitol Hill to testify. He told the senators that the bank's upper management wasn't responsible for the giant scam. He said it was just a bunch of bad apples working at bank branches. Mostly low-level employees.

Add to Volkswagen's woes an auto safety recall. Volkswagen and its Audi brand are recalling nearly 281,500 vehicles owing to fuel leaks.

The recall is massive for VW. The company sold approximately 350,000 vehicles in the last year.

There are actually three separate recalls but all pertain to fuel leaks, though the defects could be different. For many vehicles the suction pump in the fuel tank was improperly assembled, according to Volkswagen.

Shela Bryan, 63, has been comparing prices for individual health insurance plans since May, and she can't believe what she has been seeing.

"They cost a thousand, $1,200 [a month], and they have a deductible of $6,000," she said. "I don't know how they think anyone can afford that."

Most of America's poultry producers have been promising to cut back on the use of antibiotics in recent years. One of them, however, has consistently led the way.

The U.S. economy generated 156,000 new jobs in September, according to the monthly jobs report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The results did not meet expectations: Economists had predicted between 170,000 and 176,000 new jobs for September.

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Add to the list of worrisome economic trends what economists call "NEETs" — young people who are Not in Education, Employment or Training.

Their numbers are growing, now 40 million in the 35 member countries of the OECD — the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. And two-thirds of them are not actively looking for work.

The figures come from the biennial OECD report, Society at a Glance 2016.

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Just two years after the blood-testing company Theranos was valued at $9 billion, the company has announced that it will close its clinical labs and blood-test centers and cut more than 40 percent of its staff.

Theranos says it is shifting its focus to a product it calls the miniLab, with the goal of commercializing "miniaturized, automated laboratories."

The executive director of Alabama’s Commission on Higher Education plans to retire at the end of this year.

The commission announced yesterday that Gregory Fitch will end his 45-year career in education this year. He has led Alabama’s coordinating board for higher education since July 2006.

Fitch says he notified the commission of his retirement plans in June. Vice Chairman Randy McKinney of Gulf Shores has been tapped to lead the search committee to find a replacement director.

When the Labor Department announces the September job-creation numbers on Friday, presidential candidates will pounce, hoping to find data to support their talking points on the economy.

For the last three months, the numbers have been favoring the incumbent Democratic Party. Candidate Hillary Clinton could point to a steady, low unemployment rate of 4.9 percent and average growth of 232,000 jobs per month, a robust pace.

Zero. That's the stated goal of transportation officials in the U.S., no traffic fatalities by 2046. Zero deaths is a movement that began in Sweden. There, it's called Vision Zero. The idea is simple. "No loss of life is acceptable." That is the one sentence motto of Sweden's campaign.

Prepaid cards are a growing segment of electronic payment that often function like debit or credit cards, but currently aren't regulated like them. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says it is changing that, requiring prepaid card providers to conduct some of the same credit checks and disclosures required of credit card providers.

"This rule closes loopholes and protects prepaid consumers," CFPB director Richard Cordray said today in a statement. "And it backs up those protections with important new disclosures to let consumers know before they owe."

The idea behind the company Blue Apron is simple: Each week, it sends customers a box with recipe cards and fresh ingredients to make a handful of meals, each of them in just under 35 minutes.

The company has grown quickly since its founding in 2012: It delivers around 8 million meals per month.

Episode 521: The Town That Loves Death

Oct 5, 2016

Note: This episode originally aired in February 2014.

People in La Crosse, Wisconsin are used to talking about death. In fact, 96 percent of people who die in this small, Midwestern city have specific directions laid out for when they pass. That number is astounding. Nationwide, it's more like 50 percent. La Crosse is such an exception thanks to one guy who decided that people in this town needed to make plans for their death.

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Despite having more than 300 million users, Twitter has struggled to make a profit and keep its investors happy. Yet, the service has arguably been good for public dialogues and news gathering.

So as Twitter considers a sale, maybe it's worth pondering the idea of Twitter getting out from under the pressures of Wall Street and turning itself into a nonprofit.

Twitter at crossroads

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A "race to the bottom" in state workers' compensation laws has the Labor Department calling for "exploration" of federal oversight and federal minimum benefits.

"Working people are at great risk of falling into poverty," the agency says in a new report on changes in state workers' comp laws. Those changes have resulted in "the failure of state workers' compensation systems to provide [injured workers] with adequate benefits."

Architecture was one of Adolf Hitler's passions, and he commissioned hundreds of buildings and arenas reminiscent of imperial Rome to inspire and intimidate.

It's a legacy Germany has struggled to erase by re-purposing or razing Nazi-era structures. The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, for example, was placed in an old SS barracks in Nuremburg, while the German Finance Ministry took over the Nazi aviation building in Berlin.

The Berlin bunker where Hitler spent his final days was reduced to a parking lot.

Vice presidential candidates Tim Kaine and Mike Pence debated Tuesday night in their only official matchup of the election season.

NPR's politics team, with help from reporters and editors who cover national security, immigration, business, foreign policy and more, live annotated the debate. Portions of the debate with added analysis are underlined in yellow, followed by context and fact checks.

Tax avoidance has been in the news from Apple to Donald Trump. A new study by Citizens for Tax Justice looks at how widespread the the practice is.

How do you lose more than $900 million?

"I think a good part of it was mistakes," said Barbara Res, a former executive vice president at the Trump Organization who managed construction at Trump Tower.

Res said the mistakes started in the 1980s, when Trump paid $365 million for the Eastern Air Lines Shuttle and $400 million for the Plaza Hotel.

"He overpaid for all that stuff," said Res. "Those were not wise decisions. Those were mistakes on his part."

Rising wages and cheap loans are setting the stage for a strong holiday season, according to retailers, consultants and pollsters.

On Tuesday, the National Retail Federation predicted a 3.6-percent increase in holiday sales, compared with 2015. That's considerably better than the 10-year average gain of 2.5 percent for the holiday period.

On her first day back at work after giving birth, Tricia Olson drank copious amounts of coffee, stuffed tissues in her pocket, and tried not to cry. After all, her son Gus was just 3 weeks old.

Olson, 32, works for a small towing company and U-Haul franchise in Rock Springs, Wyo., and she could not afford to be away from work any longer.

"The house bill's not going to pay itself," she says, her voice breaking in an audio diary she kept as part of a series on the challenges facing working parents airing on NPR's All Things Considered.

Google's products are everywhere: maps, Gmail, the Chrome browser, the Chromecast video/audio system, the Android mobile operating system, YouTube, Waze. But the company has been far less successful at selling things rather than software.