National News

Three years post-revolution, a look at Tunisia's economy

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2013-12-26 05:11

This month marks the third anniversary of the Arab Spring.

In Tunisia, where the uprising began, the economy is still trying to find its footing. Many Tunisia watchers say fostering entrepreneurship will be critical to establishing a sustainable recovery.

So how easy is it to set up a business? One way to see: Drop in on a networking party for young start-ups and venture capitalists in the capital of Tunis.

Get your kid a golf cart when she turns 16

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2013-12-26 05:09

It can be worth it to drive your golf cart off the green. And, around the country, at local council meetings from South Dakota to Kentucky to Wisconsin, new regulations making it legal to do just that are being proposed.

Ten years ago, the local high school in Peachtree City, Georgia had to build a special parking lot with hundreds of new spots, tecause the teenagers there drive golf carts.

“They definitely get out and use them," says Sharon Lee, with Peachtree City Golf Cars. She says for parents, the carts make good financial sense. “You’re not paying near the insurance that you do when you have a teenager,” she says. And when you think about the cost of gas, notes Lee, it's hard for drivers to miss the potential savings of driving an electric cart,  "when you have an SUV that gets nine miles to the inch."

Peachtree has 90 miles of special paths for the carts, and Georgia doesn’t require them to be insured. Currently, there are ten thousand golf carts registered in Peachtree.

The city has been a trendsetter, but now, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safeway, all but four states allow golf carts to be driven on some public roads.

Brandon Ruiz, an industry analyst at IBIS World, says part of their popularity can be chalked up to a certain...greying population.  “As the baby boomer generation continues to get older, you're more likely to see them use golf carts to get from point A to point B,” he says.

The average cost of an electric cart, says Ruiz, is $3,500 dollars. And he says sales are expected to hit almost 700 million dollars this year.

Boxing Day? Is Dec. 26 still a day for sales?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2013-12-26 05:07

Dec. 26 has historically been a day to visit the shopping mall. One, to buy stuff on sale. And two, to exchange unwanted gifts. But sales keep moving earlier in the holiday season. So is the day after Christmas still a big deal for retailers?

“Dec. 26 is already institutionally one of the busiest shopping days of the year because it’s the busiest day for returns,” says Brian Hoyt, a spokesperson for the digital coupon company, RetailMeNot.com.

Of course, returns don’t make money for a store. In fact, the volume of returns can cause some businesses to lose money on Dec. 26.

The popularity of gift cards has been a blessing for many retailers, helping them to offset the returns.

“A lot of consumers are telling us -- about 79 percent -- that they plan to shop at these end of year sales that kick-off historically on the 26th of December," Hoyt says. "And a lot of them are going with the gift card money that they received for the holidays.”

Some industries benefit more than others. Britt Beemer is chairman and founder of the consumer research company, America’s Research Group. He points to clothing companies.

“Those retailers that rely upon that high school/teenage customer base, it’s by far their most important week of the year,” says Beemer.

Same goes for businesses that sell furniture.

“That week between Christmas and New Years for the furniture retailers is referred to by many of them as their 13th month,” says Beemer. “They’ll do as much business in those last five or six days as they did in the previous month of December.”

Apologies, Promises From UPS And FedEx About Delivery Delays

NPR News - Thu, 2013-12-26 04:45

A last-minute crush of online orders and some bad weather kept the companies from getting some packages delivered before Christmas, they say. Both have called in extra workers and are renting extra trucks to make deliveries on Thursday.

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Japan's Abe May Have Hoped To Anger Others With Shrine Visit

NPR News - Thu, 2013-12-26 03:55

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe paid his respects Thursday at a Shinto shrine where war criminals are among those honored. China and South Korea protested. The U.S. expressed its disappointment. Analysts say Abe's nationalist agenda may be well served by the diplomatic dust-up.

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Pacific Northwest Suffers After China Bans Shellfish Imports

NPR News - Thu, 2013-12-26 01:02

Earlier this month, China imposed a ban on shellfish imports from most of the U.S. West Coast after finding two bad clams. The move is hitting Washington state particularly hard. State agencies estimate businesses there are losing as much as $600,000 a week.

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Pacific Northwest Suffers After China Bans Shellfish Imports

NPR News - Thu, 2013-12-26 01:02

Earlier this month, China imposed a ban on shellfish imports from most of the U.S. West Coast after finding two bad clams. The move is hitting Washington state particularly hard. State agencies estimate businesses there are losing as much as $600,000 a week.

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More People Have More To Eat, But It's Not All Good News

NPR News - Thu, 2013-12-26 00:18

In 1965, a majority of the world survived on less than 2,000 calories a day per person. Now, 61 percent of people worldwide have access to 2,500 or more calories each day.

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Gun Control Lobby Takes Note Of Opposition's Success

NPR News - Thu, 2013-12-26 00:17

Momentum to pass tighter gun laws surged after the shootings in Newtown, Conn., a year ago. But a provision to expand background checks failed in the Senate. In that loss, gun control activists say they learned some important lessons from those who lobbied against them.

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Japanese Prime Minister Visits Contentious War Shrine

NPR News - Wed, 2013-12-25 21:23

The Yasukuni shrine honors 2.5 million war dead, including convicted war criminals. Visits to Yasukuni by Japanese politicians have long been a point of friction with China and South Korea, because of Japan's brutal aggression during World War II.

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