Michael Zusman used to be a lawyer, specializing in suing financial companies. The work literally started making him sick. Then he stumbled into baking. His new cookbook promises that you can make your own pastrami, pickles and bagels better than you can buy at your local deli.
On a segment of the Melissa Harris-Perry Show, panelists captioned a photo of Romney's family, which included his adopted grandson. Cue the jokes, the Internet backlash and the apology.
This final note, a wrap-up of some of the items Americans will "drop" at midnight, to celebrate the New Year.
- Eastport, Maine will drop a giant fake sardine.
- Boise, Idaho, a $10,000 foam potato.
- Brasstown, N.C., will lower a live and controversial possum.
- Bethlehem, Penn., a 75-pound light-up candy peep.
Tomorrow many of us will be recovering from tonight, watching football, perhaps a long nap, avoiding the gym.
But doctors are busy with last-minute preparations as millions of new patients sign up for health insurance and seek treatment they’ve put off – in some cases for years.
Anybody who’s been watching the Affordable Care Act roll out knows the next few months in healthcare will be filled with confusion, and the doctor’s office is Ground Zero.
On the eve of the Affordable Care Act’s full launch, different scenarios are running through Dr. Cheryl Bettigole’s head. Say, someone on a new plan coming in on Thursday with a hernia that needs immediate attention.
“Ok, we can give you a surgery referral,” says Bettigole. “But who takes your insurance? You know that book that’s going to arrive in the mail and tell us the whole list of specialists, we don’t have that yet.”
Referrals are one thing, but Bettigole says she’s not sure how much her doctors will get paid under the new exchange plans.
“If we end up with very low reimbursements for patients with these exchange plans, that could impact our ability to stay open or provide services,” she says.
Dr. Charles Cutler, an internist in suburban Philadelphia who also chairs the Board of the American College of Physicians, believes his patients will better off in the long run.
“My estimate is that things are going to be good, that this is going to work, and we will not have a breakdown of the medical system,” he says.
Over Cutler’s 30 years in practice, he has seen patients routinely turn down treatment, more concerned about cost than their own health. He thinks that will be different under the Affordable Care Act.
“We’re suddenly covering preventive care, screening we’re covering," he says. "So people will have an opportunity to be diagnosed earlier,” he says.
Cutler knows there will be mistakes: like patients leaving his office with prescriptions not covered by their new insurance plans. But he says that happens now, adding that the protections for patients that are new will be worth the headaches in the coming months.
2013 was the year commodities prices dramatically took a dive after a long period in the clouds. Corn, coffee and more have dropped substantially. The reason why isn’t terribly complex. Corn and coffee prices are down largely because there’s an awful lot more corn and coffee in the world. Supply has exploded without a similar growth in demand.
News of lower commodity prices is of little comfort for shoppers frustrated with the persistent cost of breakfast cereal or Starbucks drinks. Unfortunately for consumers, lower commodity prices don’t instantly translate into cheaper prices at the cash register.
“People don’t eat commodities. What they do is they eat food,” says Iowa State University economist Bruce Babcock, who watches corn prices professionally and coffee prices personally. “I do know I’m spending 14 dollars a pound on Peet’s coffee and it bears no reflection whatsoever to the price of Arabica beans down in Brazil.”
There are many additional and separate costs involved in transforming commodities to food, from transportation to manufacturing to marketing. Food prices may come down for shoppers, but probably not for a while. And some consumer brands are strong enough that they don’t have to pass the savings on to you.
“The raw commodity, which is coffee, is going down. So your costs are going down, your revenues are staying about the same, which means your profitability is gonna go up,” says Duke University business professor Campbell Harvey.
It’s not just edible commodities that are seeing price decreases. Metals are dropping too, with always volatile gold in a free fall. Then there’s copper, which is sinking as China’s growth slows.
“They’re gonna be pulling back a little bit on some of the spending they’ve been doing to build factories and homes,” says Paul Christopher, chief international strategist at Wells Fargo Advisors. “That’s gonna reduce their demand for copper.”
And in turn, copper’s price will suffer, like so many other commodities these days.
Mark Garrison: Corn and coffee prices are down largely because there’s a lot more corn and coffee in the world. In New York, I'm Mark Garrison, for Marketplace.
I’m kidding of course. We’ve got 90 seconds, so let’s try a different question, perhaps one you’ve pondered while buying your favorite cereal or a pricey drink at Starbucks. If commodities prices are dropping for companies, how come we’re still paying basically the same price in stores?
Bruce Babcock: People don’t eat commodities. What they do is they eat food.
Iowa State University economist Bruce Babcock points to all the other expenses that go into making food, from transportation to manufacturing to marketing. Professionally, he thinks a lot about corn prices. But personally, coffee.
Babcock: I do know I’m spending 14 dollars a pound on Peet’s coffee and it bears no reflection whatsoever to the price of Arabica beans down in Brazil.
Duke University finance professor Campbell Harvey says some brands are strong enough that they don’t have to pass the savings on to you.
Campbell Harvey: The raw commodity, which is coffee, is going down. So your costs are going down, your revenues are staying about the same, which means your profitability is gonna go up.
Food prices may come down for shoppers, but probably not for a while. And it’s not just edible commodities. Metals are dropping too, with always volatile gold in a free fall. Then there’s copper. Paul Christopher at Wells Fargo Advisors says it’s lower because China’s growth is slower.
Paul Christopher: They’re gonna be pulling back a little bit on some of the spending they’ve been doing to build factories and homes. That’s gonna reduce their demand for copper.
And consequently, its price. I'm Mark Garrison, for Marketplace.
The Health and Human Services Secretary, who has spent months fending off critics of the Affordable Care Act rollout, is touting the improving numbers.
New Year's Day has become its own holiday of sorts for some hockey fans. The Detroit Red Wings play the Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor on Wednesday in front of more than 100,000 people. The game time weather forecast: about 18 degrees, with an 80 percent chance of snow.
Search for "Champagne, bubbles and drunk," and you'll get headlines like "Why Bubbles Make You More Giggly." But when we took a close look at the science supporting the urban legend, we weren't impressed. The effect doesn't happen to everyone, and when it does, it's just temporary.
The Irony of Fate is the country's favorite holiday movie. Like classic American films such as It's A Wonderful Life, it captures the magic of the holidays, but in a way that is quintessentially Russian.
Even for people who get insurance that complies with the Affordable Care Act, there are potential trouble spots. Those include expensive prescription drugs, specialist care and services such as physical therapy that typically require a course of treatment over weeks or months.
Riding on the momentum of its first bipartisan budget deal in decades, Congress still has plenty of issues on its plate. So how much momentum is there?
“This deal doesn’t solve all of our problems,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said after the agreement was reached in December. “But I think it is an important step in helping to heal some of the wounds in Congress, to rebuild some trust, and show that we can do something without a crisis right around the corner.”
Congress could use the model of that budget deal in 2014. If lawmakers do that on immigration, it might mean a piecemeal approach. On tax reform, it could mean closing some loopholes. But the size of the Congressional compromise in late 2013 suggests big changes aren’t likely to come soon.
If anything defined 2013, it was the political misstep. Between the broken promises, personal scandals and federal government shutdown, it was a year that left voters frustrated and, in some cases, appalled.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz was a political hit or miss, depending on whom you ask. Host Michel Martin and guests talk about Cruz and other politicians of note for this year's 'Tell Me Awards.'
Since June, we've been "live-tweeting" moments from 1963 as if they were happening today. That includes "replays" of the March on Washington, the Birmingham church bombing and President Kennedy's assassination.
When the North American Free Trade Agreement was being negotiated, supporters promised it would increase the income of Mexicans. And the middle class did grow over the past two decades. But it's clear that the country's ultrarich are its big winners.
The giant inflatable is supposed to project peace and harmony. But Tuesday, it suddenly burst. This isn't the first time that one of Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman's floating works of art has gone pffff.
There was news this month that car maker Audi and Google may be planning to partner on developing an Android operating system for cars. The two companies have collaborated before, but this new partnership -- which could be announced at next week's consumer electronics show in Las Vegas -- might be a very big deal. Dave Sullivan, analyst at AutoPacific, joined us to help explain why.
Click play on the audio player above to hear more.
The Dow is up 28 points, two tenths percent to 16-thouand 532. That's up 29 percent from the close of business last New Year's Eve. The S&P 500 is up a tenth percent, 39 percent for the year with a few hours to go.
2014 is upon us. Auld Lang Syne makes us think about getting older, and for many, older means an investment portfolio that should be a little more prudent and less risky. So, the advice is often get more bonds into that portfolio and move a bit away from the volatile stock market. But is the economic climate safe enough even for bonds?
And, as we hear more about the commercial development of drones, a new state law seeks to control how law enforcement can use them. January 1, the Freedom from Drone Surveillance Act goes into effect in Illinois. This limits how police can use drone surveillance (they'll need a warrant). Also, business consulting is about selling outside expertise and can be very lucrative. But did you know companies like Disney and MTV are also in the consulting game?
A train carrying crude oil derailed and exploded in North Dakota on Monday.
“This is just one in a string of legitimate concerns about the movement of crude oil by rail,” says Sandy Fielden, an energy analyst at RBN Energy.
In July, a train carrying oil exploded in Canada, killing 47 people. Last month, in Alabama, an oil-carrying train caught fire when it derailed.
Depending on the investigation, says Fielden, there may be pressure to make some regulatory changes. But don’t expect anything too dramatic: North Dakota is the second largest oil producing state. By some estimates, trains will move 90 percent of North Dakota’s crude next year.
“There’s no question, this oil is going to get to the market,” says Robert Bryce from the conservative Manhattan Institute. He supports the Keystone Pipeline project — as an alternative to moving oil by train. But, he says, it’s going to get to market one way or another.
It’s too early to know exactly what happened in North Dakota. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating. There are questions about the tracks, the trains, the tankers that were moving the oil.
Holly Arthur, with the Association of American Railroads, says rail is safe. Rail has been used to move crude oil since the early days of the industry. Business has picked up dramatically since 2009 and the rise of fracking.
“Today 99.997 percent of all hazmat moved by rail reaches its destination without a release caused by an accident,” says Arthur.
99.997 percent is a reassuring number. But people who live along these lines know there are also more trains hauling oil.
NPR has been taking a look at the numbers that tell the story of 2013. These 13 reflect the highs and lows of the year, from deadly wildfires and the war in Syria, to football stadiums and same-sex marriage.