Friday marks the day that 100 years ago, Grand Central Terminal opened its doors for business for the very first time. The largest railroad terminal in the world, the magnificent Beaux-Arts building is in the heart of New York City on 42nd St. And while it no longer serves long-distance trains, it's still a vibrant part of the city's eco-system.
This week saw the end of a years-long, international, multi-billion-dollar battle over one of the most boring things in finance: savings accounts.
At the center of the battle was Iceland, a tiny country where the banks grew into international behemoths during the credit bubble.
The banks got so big partly by convincing foreigners to open up online savings accounts. In particular, lots of people in England and Netherlands opened up "ICESAVE accounts" with a bank called Landsbanki. During the financial crisis, the bank collapsed.
It took years for Democratic Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina to become who he is today: the highest-ranking African-American in Congress.
And those years included many failures. During a visit to StoryCorps, his granddaughter Sydney Reed, who was 10 at the time of the recording, asks Clyburn a personal question: "Have you ever felt you wanted to quit?"
Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. When the huge golden cookie that stood for 100 years outside the headquarters of a big German cookie maker went missing, the company put up a reward. Then the kidnapper sent a ransom note. I have the biscuit, it said with text cut from magazines. It demanded the company donate cookies to children in a local hospital, and the reward to an animal shelter. Signed: Cookie Monster. Cute. But so far the bakery has not bitten. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Sunday's Super Bowl - a contest between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers - is also a battle of craft breweries. Maryland's Flying Dog Brewery made a bet with Anchor Brewing of San Francisco. The loser must pour the winner's beer in its taproom for a week. And the loser's brewery tour guides will have to wear the winner's Super Bowl championship gear. Could be tough, but if they need a beer after all that, they're all set.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
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And I'm Renee Montagne.
This is the time when we begin to find if the emotional power of the Newtown school shooting will translate into political change. People affected by mass shootings are now talking with state and federal lawmakers.
Susan Aaron's daughter escaped the shooting in Newtown after seeing her teacher and friends killed.
Let's sort through what we know and do not know about Israel's reported airstrike on Syria. Syrian officials, the government of Bashar al-Assad, have affirmed that Israeli warplanes struck, although we have conflicting reports about what the target was. We're going to work through the information with NPR's Jerusalem correspondent, Larry Abramson. Hi, Larry.
LARRY ABRAMSON, BYLINE: Hi there, Steve.
INSKEEP: What do you know, and how do you know it?
Note: We originally published a version of this post a few weeks ago. We are republishing it now to coincide with our story airing today on Morning Edition.
All kinds of proposals to reduce gun violence have been floated recently. One idea that has gotten the attention of economists is liability insurance. Most states require car owners to have liability insurance to cover damages their vehicles cause to others; some economists think we should require the same of gun owners.
We reached out to a few economists to get their thoughts.
Boeing is scrambling to figure out why batteries malfunctioned on its 787, prompting officials to ground the airplane this month. And at a time when Boeing most needs its skilled engineers, they're weighing a possible strike. Union leaders are considering the company's final contract offer.
The standoff between Boeing and about 23,000 engineers and technicians — mostly in the Seattle region — has been brewing for months. Dozens of them recently packed a union hall south of Seattle for training in how to run a picket line.
Originally published on Thu January 31, 2013 11:12 am
Ben Harper grew up roaming the aisles and restoring guitars at his family's music store, the Claremont Folk Music Center. Going on its 60th year of business, the storefront in Southern California is where Harper first discovered the harmonica playing of blues legend Charlie Musselwhite.
"We had Charlie's records stacked high at my family's store and at my house," Harper tells NPR's Steve Inskeep.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep, with Renee Montagne. Good morning.
Let's try again, shall we, to explain what it means when we hear that the U.S. economy shrank in the fourth quarter of 2012. As we've discussed elsewhere in the program, the decline was slight - just one-tenth of a percentage point - but it is the first contraction of the economy since the Great Recession officially ended in 2009. NPR's Jim Zarroli is with us once again in New York. Jim, good morning.
Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne with gnomes in the news. This time, about 2,300 tiny paintings of gnomes have appeared on utility poles all over Oakland, California. Since the little guys showed up last year, full-sized residents got into the spirit - blogging and tweeting new sightings. Pacific Gas and Electric was going to evict the bearded figures, but when the anonymous artist appealed, PG&E backed off. Yesterday it declared the poles gnome-man's-land. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
The Caravan of Peace is an annual march at the Vatican. As Pope Benedict looked on, two doves, symbolizing peace, were released into St. Peter's Square. It was beautiful until a seagull assaulted one of the doves. Time magazine got one of the finest headlines ever seen outside The Onion: Pope's Dove of Peace Attacked by Seagull of Irony. But the symbolism grew deeper when the surprisingly tough Dove of Peace fought off the much larger seagull.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne.
It's that rare week in politics when Republicans and Democrats have been advocating roughly the same thing.
INSKEEP: Some - though by no means all - GOP leaders insist it's time to back changes in immigration laws. Republican Senator Jeff Flake argued on this program yesterday, for example, that reform was morally right and also politically necessary for his party.
OK. In the next few days, cable companies announce how they did financially in 2012. Most industry watchers expect some negative trends to continue. More people are canceling their cable subscriptions. They are called cord cutters, because they are getting TV from the Internet and over the air, not their cable cords. But they're not the only problem the cable industry needs to worry about. NPR's Neda Ulaby reports.
The Gallup Organization made its name with landmark public opinion polls. The company surveyed everything from presidential elections to religious preferences, branding itself as the most trusted name in polling.
But lately, Gallup's name has been tarnished by a whistle-blower lawsuit and a suspension from winning federal contracts.
Gallup's roots stretch back to 1922, when its founder, George Gallup, was a college junior. He got a summer job interviewing people in St. Louis.
He couldn't figure out how his wife, who suspected him of having an affair, knew the contents of his private conversations.
"His wife knew things that he said in his car and office, including conversations over the telephone," recalls Qi Hong, a former journalist from Shandong province in eastern China, and a friend of the official.
So Qi asked a buddy who owned bug-detecting equipment to help.
When Secretariat won what was certified to be his last race, I went down onto the track at Woodbine, and gauging where he had crossed the finish line, snatched up the last grass that perhaps the greatest thoroughbred ever had laid hooves to in his career.
In his inaugural address, President Obama talked about a country where even "a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else." But in reality, that's not always the case. A new report finds that one of the biggest obstacles for many Americans is that they don't have the savings or assets they need to help them get ahead.
For a half-century, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been in the beach business, dredging up new sand as shorelines wash away. Federal disaster aid for Superstorm Sandy could provide billions more for beach rebuilding, and that has revived an old debate: Is this an effective way to protect against storms, or a counterproductive waste of tax dollars?
On a recent blustery day at Virginia Beach, the latest beach nourishment project is in full swing. A bulldozer smooths out pyramids of sand, and on the horizon, a large, black hopper dredge appears with another load.
Two is a coincidence. Three is a trend. That's why an Oklahoma City house has been dubbed The Twin House, after a third consecutive couple living there had twins - a boy and a girl each. Current tenants, Brady and Chelsea Smith, said they didn't believe in the twin mojo when they moved in. Then an ultrasound showed she was expecting twins. New father Brady Smith told the Oklahoman, now his friends won't even drive down the block.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep.
The city of Timbuktu is free...
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Mali, Mali, Mali, Mali...
INSKEEP: ...and residents cheered as French and Malian forces entered the city. Those forces swept aside Islamist rebels who'd controlled the place for months. The Islamists rule included amputations and the destroyed ancient tombs. It ended with the burning of a library housing priceless manuscripts.
An immigration plan announced Monday by a bipartisan group of senators would create a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the country and overhaul legal immigration. It also calls for improved border security and better tracking of individuals in the U.S. on visas. Steve Inskeep talks with one of the senators behind the plan, Republican Jeff Flake from Arizona.