And now to matters of personal finance. If you're one of the millions of people already on the prowl for that hot must-have gift this holiday season, you might have already noticed something new at your favorite big box store and we're not talking about stocking stuffers. More and more of the big box stores are also offering financial products, like home mortgages or small business loans, along with the flat-screen TVs, lumber and paper towels.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, just in time for the holidays, some big box stores want to help customers finance those shopping sprees, but will financial products from big retailers be a hit or a miss for consumers? We'll speak with our business reporter who's looked at this. That's just ahead in our Money Coach conversation.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, you've probably heard the name Treyvon Martin in connection with the debate about the so-called Stand Your Ground law in Florida but have you heard about John McNeil? He's a Georgia homeowner who's been sentenced to life in prison for fatally shooting a man who'd threatened McNeil's son on McNeil's property.
Baltimore has thousands of abandoned houses. It also has one of the nation's most comprehensive programs to clean them up. It focuses on selling houses in neighborhoods near key employers and other attractions, and demolishes buildings in less viable areas of the city. But the plan requires government officials to make some hard choices about which neighborhoods are worth saving.
A grand bargain, a compromise to avert the so-called fiscal cliff, could all come down to one word: revenue. It's now widely agreed that steering away from the cliff — the combination of spending cuts and tax increases set to hit at the start of the year — will require some combination of revenue increases and spending cuts. The central sticking point could well be whether President Obama and Congress can agree on the definition of revenue.
At the moment, the casual observer could easily get the sense that the president and Republicans in Congress are talking past each other.
Most people try to avoid ticks. But not Tom Mather.
The University of Rhode Island researcher goes out of his way to find them.
He looks for deer ticks — poppy seed-sized skin burrowers — in the woods of southern Rhode Island. These are the teeny-tiny carriers of Lyme disease, an illness that can lead to symptoms ranging from nasty rashes to memory loss.
For holiday shoppers, retailers' approach to fees, returns and other practices can bring praise or anger. And when customers rant or rave, Consumer Reports takes note — and compiles them into its annual "Naughty and Nice" list of companies.
"They're policies and practices that people either felt were consumer-friendly or not," Consumer Reports senior editor Tod Marks tells NPR's Steve Inskeep. He adds that the list isn't related to the ratings his magazine is known for.
Intrade, the prediction website that accepted bids on, among other things, the result of the presidential election, is shutting its operations to U.S. customers. The move came Monday just hours after the Commodity Futures Trading Commission accused the Ireland-based company of violating the agency's ban on off-exchange options trading.
Here's more from Intrade's news release announcing the move:
A Burmese python coils around the arm of a hunter during a news conference in 2010 in the Florida Everglades. New research suggests that the pythons won't spread through the American Southeast, as previously believed.
There are several exotic snake species that have become a problem in the Everglades. But for wildlife managers, the biggest headache is the Burmese python.
Earlier this year, researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey captured the largest Burmese python yet in Everglades National Park. Three USGS staffers had to wrestle the snake out of a plastic crate to measure it. The snake was a 17-foot-7-inch female carrying 87 eggs.
Wildlife managers are working to get a handle on the problem of exotic snakes in South Florida; but the snakes have already made a big impact.
Rosa Maria Ramirez lost most of her belongings in the storm and is moving out of her damaged house on Staten Island. Because she's undocumented, she doesn't qualify for federal financial disaster assistance.
The living room was muddy and foul when 16-year-old Prisma revisited her family's apartment days after Superstorm Sandy washed through it last month. The furniture was tarnished, and most of the family's belongings were scattered and in ruins. The home was uninhabitable.
"Everything was completely in a different place," Prisma says. "It was really nasty."