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The Two-Way
8:40 am
Thu January 19, 2012

Jobless Claims Drop, Inflation At 3 Percent, Housing Starts Cool

A trio of economic indicators were just released:

-- First-time claims for jobless benefits plunged by 50,000 last week from the week before, to 352,000, the Employment and Training Administration says. You have to go back to Spring 2008 to find a lower number. Reuters says the news signals "continued improvement in the labor market."

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The Two-Way
7:55 am
Thu January 19, 2012

Search Resumes At Stricken Italian Cruise Ship

Searchers climbing on to the Costa Concordia earlier today (Jan. 19, 2012).
Vincenzo Pinto AFP/Getty Images

"Rescue efforts have resumed aboard the wrecked Italian cruise ship, Costa Concordia, off the coast of Tuscany," the BBC reports. "Operations were suspended on Wednesday as the vessel shifted its position. More than 20 people are still missing."

The ship, with about 4,200 passengers and crew aboard, ran into rocks on Friday and listed over to its starboard side. Eleven people are confirmed dead.

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Business
7:28 am
Thu January 19, 2012

So, Um, What Is A Private Equity Firm?

Before entering politics in the 1990s, Romney co-founded Bain Capital, one of the nation's largest and most profitable private equity funds.
David L. Ryan Boston Globe via Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 19, 2012 3:57 pm

In the run-up to Saturday's GOP presidential primary in South Carolina, candidates have clashed over the role of Bain Capital — a firm that either creates or kills jobs, depending upon whom you believe.

Front-runner Mitt Romney sees the bright side. Before entering politics in the 1990s, he co-founded Boston-based Bain Capital, one of the nation's largest and most profitable private equity funds. He has said he created 100,000 jobs while at Bain.

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The Two-Way
7:25 am
Thu January 19, 2012

Kodak Calls Bankruptcy Filing 'Necessary Step'

Eastman Kodak Co.'s corporate headquarters in Rochester, N.Y.
Guy Solimano Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 19, 2012 7:36 am

"Running short of cash and unable to sell 1,100 digital imaging patents that could have rescued it," as Rochester's Democrat and Chronicle writes, Eastman Kodak Co. today took the long-expected but still painful step of filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

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The Two-Way
6:55 am
Thu January 19, 2012

Iowa GOP Puts Santorum Ahead By 34 Votes, But Result 'Unresolved'

Republican presidential candidates Rick Santorum (left) and Mitt Romney during a debate in South Carolina on Monday.
Charles Dharapa/pool Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 19, 2012 10:37 am

(This post was retopped with the latest news at 9:35 a.m ET.)

The first-in-the-nation Iowa Republican presidential caucuses produced no clear winner, the Iowa Republican Party has confirmed.

While its recanvassing of the nearly 1,774 precincts where ballots were cast on Jan. 3 has put former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum 34 votes ahead of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney — a reversal of what we thought were their finishes — the party says it can't definitively say who won because it can't find the results from eight of the precincts.

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Iraq
12:01 am
Thu January 19, 2012

After 20 Years, An Iraqi Returns To A Changed Land

After a 20-year absence, Aseel Albanna returned to her native Iraq and found a very different country. Here, she poses with the statue of King Shahryar, a character in The Thousand and One Nights, near the Tigris River in Baghdad. The area used to be extremely popular, but many of the fish restaurants that once lined the streets have been torn down.
Sean Carberry NPR

In September 1991, Aseel Albanna was about to finish her last year of architecture school in Baghdad. Wanting a break from the years of war and hardship, she took a trip to the U.S. But a planned four-week visit turned into a 20-year stay.

Family members in Kentucky arranged for her to complete her architecture degree at the University of Kentucky. She then lived and worked in Louisville until she moved to Washington, D.C., in 2005.

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Energy
12:01 am
Thu January 19, 2012

Cheap Chinese Panels Spark Solar Power Trade War

Contractors with SunEdison install more than 1,000 Chinese-made solar panels on top of a Kohl's Department Store in Hamilton Township, N.J., in 2010. Energy generated by the solar system will cut the store's usage, on average, by 25 to 30 percent.
Robert Nickelsberg Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 19, 2012 10:36 am

There's a solar trade war going on inside the U.S., sparked by an invasion of inexpensive imports from China.

The U.S. solar industry is divided over these imports: Panel-makers say their business is suffering and want a tariff slapped on the imports. But other parts of the industry say these cheap panels are driving a solar boom in the U.S.

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Crisis In The Housing Market
12:01 am
Thu January 19, 2012

Silicon Valley Homebuilder Finds A Profitable Niche

James Witt stands next to the foundation of a house he is building in Palo Alto. Witt has built a successful business by tearing down and rebuilding houses in Silicon Valley. His business has survived four recessions, including the most recent one.
Cindy Carpien NPR

The U.S. housing market may be singing the blues, but there are pockets where home sales are rising. James Witt, a homebuilder in California's Silicon Valley is surviving and thriving thanks to his luck, location, and knowledge of the local market.

Witt is a tall lanky man whose graying long hair suggests an actor in a Western movie. He's standing on his 3-acre property in Palo Alto, which includes an updated old farmhouse and a yard with a pair of donkeys. One, named Perry, has an interesting pedigree.

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Europe
12:01 am
Thu January 19, 2012

A Look Back At Bosnia, Through Angelina Jolie's Eyes

NPR's Tom Gjelten joined Angelina Jolie (right) on a panel about the film In the Land of Blood and Money. Also seen are Vanesa Glodjo (left) and Goran Kostic, who act in the film.
Courtesy of FilmDistrict

Originally published on Thu January 19, 2012 10:36 am

Angelina Jolie was just 16 when the war in Bosnia began, and she acknowledges now that she paid little heed to it at the time. But as her awareness of international issues later took shape, her attention was drawn back to that Balkan conflict.

"I wanted to understand," she says. "I was so young, and I felt that this was my generation; how do I not know more?" Now, that war is the subject of In the Land of Blood and Honey, her debut film as a writer and director.

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