This week, Americans have been remembering Neil Armstrong. But before he walked on the moon, he had to solve a much more prosaic problem.
"You're about to embark on a mission that's more dangerous than anything any human has ever done before," Robert Pearlman, a space historian and collector with collectspace.com, told me. "And you have a family that you're leaving behind on Earth, and there's a real chance you will not be returning."
Standing outside the Central Minnesota Ethanol Co-Op in Little Falls, Minn., there's not a lot going on. The pungent smell of fermentation that typically hangs in the air here is absent. And trucks piled high with corn are nowhere to be seen.
They're idled in part because of high corn prices. And it's unclear when that will change.
"Most of the industry is just breaking even in terms of profitability or actually running at slightly negative margins," says Geoff Cooper, vice president of research and analysis at the Renewable Fuels Association.
And today's last word in business is a home run for Major League Baseball.
ESPN agreed yesterday to pay the baseball association $5.6 billion over the next eight years for broadcast and digital rights to games. That is a record, we're told, for baseball broadcasting rights. It is also about double what ESPN currently pays to broadcast Major League Baseball games, although the sports network will be getting a lot more for its money this time around - more international rights, radio rights, rights to more games.
NPR's business news starts with upping the oil output.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
GREENE: The group of seven most industrialized nations are urging oil producing countries to ramp up production. In a statement yesterday, the so-called G-7 nations warned of the risks, quote, "posed by elevated oil prices." Demand for gasoline usually starts to wane at the end of the summer but right now gasoline prices are hitting new highs. Oil prices are surging because of tensions with Iran and the ongoing concern about Hurricane Isaac.
California's governor, Jerry Brown, has announced a set of long-awaited reforms to his state's underfunded public pension system. The Democratic governor says the package will save the state about $30 billion in the future. More details of the cost savings are expected later today.
Brown is hoping the reforms will pave the way for another of his policy goals, as NPR's Richard Gonzales reports.
Hundreds of protestors rallied, this week, in Albany, New York. They are trying to put pressure on New York's Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo. They want him to reject a plan to expand natural gas drilling. Specifically, Cuomo's expected to decide in the coming days whether to allow more aggressive hydraulic fracturing to reach gas deposits that are locked deep underground. As North Country Public Radio's Brian Mann reports, people on both sides are mounting eleventh-hour campaigns to try and sway the governor.