Baltimore has thousands of abandoned houses. It also has one of the nation's most comprehensive programs to clean them up. It focuses on selling houses in neighborhoods near key employers and other attractions, and demolishes buildings in less viable areas of the city. But the plan requires government officials to make some hard choices about which neighborhoods are worth saving.
A row of restaurants in the Cleveland Park neighborhood of Washington, D.C., looks tantalizing — there's Vietnamese, Italian, New American.
But if you walk around to the alley at the back of this row you might gag. Dumpsters packed with trash are lined up, and they get emptied only twice a week. Which means a lot of food sits here, filling the block with a deep, rank odor.
A grand bargain, a compromise to avert the so-called fiscal cliff, could all come down to one word: revenue. It's now widely agreed that steering away from the cliff — the combination of spending cuts and tax increases set to hit at the start of the year — will require some combination of revenue increases and spending cuts. The central sticking point could well be whether President Obama and Congress can agree on the definition of revenue.
At the moment, the casual observer could easily get the sense that the president and Republicans in Congress are talking past each other.
On Tuesday's Morning Edition, NPR's Neda Ulaby has a story about Chuck Lorre, the producer whose name is attached to three of the five highest-rated comedies on American television last season: The Big Bang Theory, Two And A Half Men, and Mike & Molly.
For holiday shoppers, retailers' approach to fees, returns and other practices can bring praise or anger. And when customers rant or rave, Consumer Reports takes note — and compiles them into its annual "Naughty and Nice" list of companies.
"They're policies and practices that people either felt were consumer-friendly or not," Consumer Reports senior editor Tod Marks tells NPR's Steve Inskeep. He adds that the list isn't related to the ratings his magazine is known for.
Intrade, the prediction website that accepted bids on, among other things, the result of the presidential election, is shutting its operations to U.S. customers. The move came Monday just hours after the Commodity Futures Trading Commission accused the Ireland-based company of violating the agency's ban on off-exchange options trading.
Here's more from Intrade's news release announcing the move:
In recent years, the start of the holiday shopping season has meant nothing but gloom for independent bookstores. But this year, the mood seems to be lifting, and a lot of booksellers are feeling optimistic. Even President Obama kicked off his Christmas shopping at a neighborhood bookstore in Northern Virginia.
Cyber Monday saw a big retail push following a Black Friday that expanded into Thanksgiving Day. The big question now is whether all the early shopping will boost total holiday sales or just push them up earlier on the calendar.
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chairwoman Mary Schapiro is stepping down. She took over the agency in 2009 as it was reeling from criticism over the financial crisis and the Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme. Schapiro is credited as a consensus builder who restored some stability to the SEC. She is being replaced by SEC commissioner Elisse Walter.