Planet Money
2:51 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

The Undertakers Of The Retail Industry

Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 4, 2012 6:13 pm

When the internet kills a big box retailer, Gordon Brothers is the undertaker.

"They're stuck with selling the things that are inside the box," says bankruptcy lawyer Steve Jakubowski.

Gordon Brothers specializes in retail liquidations. When a store dies, they put on a suit, greet the guests and sell them whatever remains. And that means everything — not just books and clothing and DVDs, but shelves, lighting fixtures, even the chairs.

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The Two-Way
2:25 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

Reports: Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson Won't Seek Re-election

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.).
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

The race for control of the Senate just got even more interesting with word from several news outlets that Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) won't be seeking re-election in 2012.

The Omaha World-Herald says "it's good news for Republicans, but incredibly bad for Democrats who need the equivalent of a Christmas miracle to keep the seat."

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The Two-Way
2:15 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

Brazil Overtakes U.K. As World's Sixth Biggest Economy

Thousands of people crowd Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as summer gets going in the Southern Hemisphere.
Vanderlei Almeida AFP/Getty Images

Brazil is now the world's sixth biggest economy overtaking the U.K., according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research. As the Financial Times puts it, it's another milestone that's part of a larger trend where emerging economies outpace developed ones. China, they report, overtook Japan earlier this year.

The BBC explains:

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Politics
2:14 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

Congress Really Is As Bad As You Think, Scholars Say

House Speaker John Boehner, surrounded by Republican House members, speaks during a news conference in Washington last week. The House initially rejected a plan to extend a tax cut for two months to buy time for talks on a full-year renewal. It later compromised — a rare event in 2011.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Thu December 29, 2011 10:41 am

Congressional approval ratings are on the rocks, hovering in or near single digits for the first time since pollsters started measuring them. But just how bad is the current congressional stalemate?

Thomas Mann, senior fellow of governance studies at the Brookings Institution in Washington, is working on a book about Congress with a title that provides a succinct answer: It's Even Worse Than It Looks.

In modern history, Mann says, "there have been battles, delays, brinkmanship — but nothing quite like this."

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All Tech Considered
1:45 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

Tutors Teach Seniors New High-Tech Tricks

At Pace University in New York, college students who tutor seniors in local retirement homes are prepped with sensitivity training. Brittany Beckett (left), a Pace student, and Muriel Cohen work together at United Hebrew of New Rochelle.
Courtesy of Pace University

A week after Christmas, many Americans are no doubt trying to figure out how to use the high-tech gadgets they got as gifts. This can be especially challenging for seniors. But a number of programs across the country are finding just the right experts to help usher older adults into the digital age.

For Pamela Norr, of Bend, Oregon, the light bulb went off as she, yet again, was trying to help her own elder parents with a tech problem. To whom did she turn?

"My teenage kids," she says.

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The Two-Way
1:40 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

India's Hazare Begins New Hunger Strike In Corruption Fight

A supporter receives blessings from Indian anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare during the first day of Hazare's hunger strike, in Mumbai, India on Tuesday.
Rajanish Kakade AP

Originally published on Tue December 27, 2011 1:43 pm

India's anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare, 74, has begun another three-day fast in Mumbai just as Parliament begins debate on a bill that would create an office with the authority to investigate corruption.

But, as The Christian Science Monitor reports, Hazare calls the bill "weak and useless." The Monitor adds:

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The Salt
12:49 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

Inhalable Caffeine: Party Drug Or Handy, Pocket-Sized Boost?

One AeroShot contains 100 mg of caffeine and sells for $2.99, making if roughly comparable to buying a latte.
Breathable Foods

If you've ever lamented the time and effort it takes to brew or procure a cup of coffee, this might perk you up. "Breathable Energy. Anytime. Anyplace."

That's the campaign slogan for AeroShot, a plastic inhaler, roughly the size of a lipstick tube, filled with a powdery, calorie-free mix of caffeine, B vitamins, and citrus flavors. It's slated to hit stores in January, just in time for the New Year.

But some aren't so sure selling caffeine in pocket-sized tubes — and marketing it to young people — is a great idea.

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Shots - Health Blog
12:27 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

For Hospitals, There's No App For Adopting Tablet Computers

Tablets are easy to find at the local coffee shop but are still scarce at hospitals.
iStockphoto.com

Hospitals are often eager to embrace the latest medical technology, but the road to deploying tablet computers has been a little bumpy.

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Crisis In The Housing Market
12:11 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

Housing Market Stays Mired In Low Home Price Spin

According to the Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller Home Price Index released Tuesday, home prices were down 3.4 percent this year as of October — around a 35 percent drop from their peak.
Scott Olson Getty Images

This month, consumer confidence jumped to its highest level since April, a sign that the U.S. economy is starting to mend. But the housing market isn't going along yet with this cheerier mood: Home prices were down 3.4 percent for the year as of October, according to a new report released Tuesday.

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