Economy

Senate panel: Banks helped hedge funds skirt taxes

Two giant global banks helped at least a dozen hedge funds skirt full tax payment on more than $100 billion worth of stock trades, according to a new congressional investigation made public Monday. | 07/21/14 17:23:50 By - By Kevin G. Hall

EPA rules would likely block Pebble Mine in Alaska

The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday announced severe restrictions on the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska, a move that is likely to block a project the EPA said could devastate the best run of wild salmon left on the planet. | 07/18/14 13:11:00 By - By Sean Cockerham

BNSF, labor union reach tentative deal to allow train operations with 1 employee

One of the largest U.S. railroads and one of the largest labor organizations representing railroad workers have reached a tentative agreement to allow one person to operate a train on routes protected by a new collision-avoidance system required by Congress in 2008. | 07/18/14 00:17:07 By - By Curtis Tate

Microsoft to cut 18,000 jobs in its biggest layoff ever

Atempting to fend off a culture that dwelled too long on tradition and replace it with one far more aggressive, Microsoft Corp.'s chief executive announced sweeping layoffs on Thursday that will affect workers worldwide. | 07/18/14 06:33:00 By - By PARESH DAVE

Home foreclosures fall to pre-bubble level

Foreclosure activity in June dropped to its lowest level nationwide since before the housing bubble started to burst nearly eight years ago, a new report said Thursday. | 07/18/14 06:33:57 By - By STEVE ROSEN

Did federal shutdown really cause July baby boom in D.C.?

For years, the weather has been a scapegoat for allegedly causing cabin-fever induced spikes in births, and now some in the Washington area are pointing to Congress to explain packed maternity wards at several local hospitals. | 07/17/14 15:21:54 By - By John Moritz

Controversial Alaska mine project wins one in Congress

Supporters of the embattled Pebble Mine project in Alaska are making a desperate effort in Congress and the courts to keep it alive in the face of warnings from the Environmental Protection Agency that it could devastate the finest run of wild salmon left on the globe. | 07/17/14 13:24:48 By - By Sean Cockerham

What you need to know about ‘grandparent scams’

When Linda and Ron Spence got a desperate phone call from someone who identified himself as their grandson, Michael, they didn’t think twice. He was in trouble. Of course they would help him. | 07/16/14 18:44:24 By - By Lindsay Wise

Ex-Im Bank creates political divisions in the Carolinas

Few people use the Export-Import Bank or even know what it is, but suddenly a government agency which helps promotes American businesses that want to sell products overseas has landed in the center of an unusual political tussle. | 07/16/14 17:12:46 By - By Renee Schoof and Kevin G. Hall

NTSB faults Washington state, trucking firm in bridge collapse

A series of safeguards failed to prevent an oversize truck from hitting a low-clearance bridge on Interstate 5 in Washington state last year, leading to the collapse of one of its spans, federal safety investigators concluded Tuesday. | 07/15/14 18:10:20 By - By Curtis Tate

California drought wreaks economic pain

California’s dogged drought will cost the state’s economy $2.2 billion and an estimated 17,100 jobs, but consumers will largely be spared higher prices, according to a major study released Tuesday. | 07/15/14 15:12:29 By - By Michael Doyle

Europe wants the energy, but not the fracking

Fracking for oil and natural gas remains slow to take hold in Europe in spite of deepening fears over the continent’s energy dependence on Russia. | 07/15/14 13:47:30 By - By Sean Cockerham

IRS drops screening requirements for many charities, Time reports

The Internal Revenue Service won’t carefully screen four of every five organizations seeking tax-exempt charitable status every year--a change that could mean less scrutiny of questionable use of the tax code by political groups, according to a new report in Time Magazine. | 07/14/14 09:00:23 By - By David Lightman

Marijuana ads signal new strategy in push to legalize

In the topsy-turvy world of marijuana politics, conservative Republican Rep. Doc Hastings of Washington state is the unlikely hero of the moment, lauded for trying to protect medical pot users from federal arrest. | 07/14/14 06:44:19 By - By Rob Hotakainen

Charlotte’s Food Babe has lots of fans – and some critics

Vani Hari’s followers hail her as a savior of food activism who reaches hundreds of thousands of readers eager for straight talk on the American processed-food machine. But in interviews with food-policy advocates and academics, she is criticized for sensationalized and overblown claims. Other activists say she takes more credit than she deserves. And in some cases, the Observer found evidence of errors and inconsistencies. | 07/13/14 10:45:04 By - Kathleen Purvis

Federal deficit is falling this year, White House says

The federal deficit is projected to come in this fiscal year $66 billion below earlier forecasts and $100 billion below the last fiscal year, the White House said Friday. | 07/11/14 17:02:27 By - By Kevin G. Hall and Anita Kumar

Amid abundant propane supply, calls come for strategic reserve

America is awash in propane, a byproduct of booming oil and natural gas production. Yet getting it to markets at home and abroad is proving challenging and controversial. | 07/10/14 12:20:18 By - By Kevin G. Hall

EPA sets out to explain water rule that’s riled U.S. farm interests

A proposal that federal officials said was intended to simplify federal water laws has instead been interpreted to do the opposite – and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is scrambling to defend itself to agriculture and other industries. | 07/10/14 07:27:34 By - By Chris Adams

Treasury hits firms tied to Syrian regime

Ratcheting up pressure on the Syrian government, the U.S. Treasury Department Wednesday announced sanctions against two Syrian firms and one in the United Arab Emirates that are allegedly linked to the regime’s weapons programs. | 07/10/14 06:01:16 By - By Kevin G. Hall

Media, transparency groups to Obama: Keep your word

Dozens of journalism and open-government organizations sent a letter to President Barack Obama Tuesday calling on the administration to order federal agencies to cooperate in releasing information to the public. | 07/08/14 17:45:34 By - By Kevin G. Hall

SEC and California school district settle dispute

The sprawling Kings Canyon Unified School District on Tuesday settled federal charges that it had misled investors during a 2010 bond offering. | 07/08/14 17:13:08 By - By Michael Doyle

Natural gas boom’s future may be in China

China is expected to double its demand for natural gas in the next five years, representing an irresistible market for Western companies attempting to export America’s energy bonanza as well as to exploit China’s own vast reserves. | 07/08/14 17:11:41 By - By Sean Cockerham

IRS in ‘bunker mentality’ as interest groups, media join Congress in seeking information

Congress isn’t alone in trying to wrest answers out of the embattled Internal Revenue Service. The courts, public-interest groups and the media are all struggling with uneven transparency and cooperation from the agency. | 07/08/14 15:21:05 By - By Kevin G. Hall

First retail marijuana store in Bellingham, Wash. opens

Hundreds of customers were on hand - along with TV stations and a food truck - as Top Shelf Cannabis opened Tuesday, July 8, the first store in Bellingham to legally sell recreational marijuana. | 07/08/14 13:48:21 By -

Rockefeller asks Obama to speed up crude oil tank car upgrades

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., asked President Barack Obama on Monday to use his executive power to make immediate improvements to the safety of tank cars carrying crude oil. | 07/07/14 19:28:27 By - By Curtis Tate

Scientists struggle to figure out why ground is shaking in heartland

Months after the prairie began to shake, scientists still struggle to explain a surge in Kansas earthquakes that appears connected to increased fracking. | 07/03/14 16:03:23 By - By Sean Cockerham

Happy days here again? Jobs surge, stocks hit record high

Job growth surged in June, capping the best first half since 1999, driving blue chip stocks to a record high and leading analysts to say the economy is shifting to higher gear. | 07/03/14 15:40:53 By - By Kevin G. Hall

Argentina faces more drama over debt, with grace period starting

On Monday, Argentina missed a crucial $539 million bond payment to U.S. creditors, putting the country in technical default and starting the clock on a 30-day grace period during which the government in Buenos Aires must make multiple debt payments, renegotiate some of its credit or face its second default since 2001. | 07/02/14 23:10:20 By - By Patrick Gillespie

As federal highway fund nears empty, DOT warns states to expect less

The U.S. Department of Transportation said Tuesday that it would start limiting payments to states for road and transit projects next month in an attempt to conserve the federal Highway Trust Fund’s rapidly diminishing cash balance. | 07/01/14 17:40:33 By - By Curtis Tate

GM opens gates for victim claims, recalls 8.4 million more cars

Beleaguered General Motors unveiled a compensation plan with no caps Monday for those harmed by crashes stemming from faulty ignition switches in its Chevy Cobalts and multiple other models, even while announcing the costly recall of another 8.4 million cars, the vast majority with similar defects. | 06/30/14 20:01:49 By - By Greg Gordon

New York ruling on fracking bans might send tremors across U.S.

New York state’s highest court ruled Monday that cities and towns have the power to ban fracking, a decision that comes as local governments across the nation are increasingly trying to use zoning laws to stop the contentious spread of drilling. | 06/30/14 19:05:55 By - By Sean Cockerham

Sleek buses seek passenger rail’s cargo on routes to the South

About an hour before the crowds began to arrive in Washington’s Union Station for the morning rush hour, about 50 people stood in line in a muggy third-floor garage, waiting for a Megabus to take them to Charlotte, N.C. | 06/30/14 13:20:00 By - By John Moritz

‘Prize-linked’ accounts offer cash prizes as incentive to save

A new type of savings account taps into the Powerball fantasies of Americans by giving customers the opportunity to win cash prizes every time they make a deposit. | 06/26/14 17:43:43 By - By Lindsay Wise

You’re paying more for gasoline, and here’s why

Think you’re paying more than you should be for gasoline right now? You are. | 06/26/14 16:07:47 By - By Kevin G. Hall and Sean Cockerham

As imports rise, the FDA is losing its fight against foul food

In April 2012, inspectors from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigated a seafood company in southern India that had been exporting tons of frozen yellowfin tuna to the United States. What they found wasn’t appetizing: water tanks rife with microbiological contamination, rusty carving knives, paint peeling above the work area, unsanitary bathrooms and an outdoor ice machine covered with insects and “apparent bird feces,” according to the report. | 06/26/14 14:58:06 By - By Rick Schmitt

Energy boom fuels economic growth in Midwest states

While the national business outlook remains tepid, the energy sector is driving fast economic growth in some states. | 06/25/14 15:34:25 By - By Patrick Gillespie

College Match: Helping low-income students achieve more than they might imagine

In spite of being among the top students in his school, Joseph Nelzy was quick to give up on being admitted to one of the nation’s best colleges after he got a rejection letter from Brandeis University, near Boston. | 06/25/14 07:20:22 By - By Jamaal Abdul-Alim

Railroads give up attempts to keep crude oil shipment data secret

The nation’s largest haulers of crude oil by rail on Tuesday appeared to abandon their insistence that information about such shipments could not be shared publicly for security reasons. | 06/24/14 17:42:13 By - By Curtis Tate

Parents, nurses fear school nurse cutbacks can be dangerous to children’s health

Parents in Charlotte, N.C., celebrated last week when their county commissioners approved a budget that includes $1.8 million to make sure every public school has a full-time nurse. | 06/20/14 13:57:49 By - By Renee Schoof

Coal state lawmakers concerned about new carbon rules

Republican lawmakers from states reliant on coal production and coal-powered energy challenged a top administration official Thursday, questioning the legality and effects of new standards to reduce carbon pollution through the nation’s power plants. | 06/19/14 18:37:00 By - By John Moritz

Public input missing from White House meetings on rail safety rules

As the White House reviews a package of proposed rail safety regulations, the rail, petroleum and chemical industries in recent weeks have held nearly a dozen meetings with Obama administration officials. | 06/19/14 18:08:01 By - By Curtis Tate

New survey finds 57 percent with marketplace coverage were previously uninsured

- An estimated 57 percent of Americans who bought marketplace health insurance were previously uninsured - most of them for two years or more - according to a comprehensive new survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation that measures how people are faring in the individual insurance market after it was restructured under the Affordable Care Act. | 06/19/14 17:10:05 By - By Tony Pugh

Faster FAFSA: New bill would speed up financial aid application

Legislation being introduced in the Senate today would make it much faster to fill out a FAFSA. | 06/19/14 16:40:10 By - By Patrick Gillespie

What happens in Iraq doesn’t matter to U.S. economy

More than a decade after the U.S.-led invasion, Iraq’s economy remains in shambles and two-way trade outside the oil sector remains minimal. | 06/18/14 17:31:47 By - By Kevin G. Hall

Oil train fires require SWAT teams, veteran firefighters tell states

_ A pair of Texans with decades of firefighting experience is encouraging state and local government leaders to consider establishing SWAT-like response teams for crude oil train fires. | 06/17/14 06:00:00 By - By Curtis Tate

Government numbers on crude-oil train safety don’t add up

The State Department projects 28 more fatalities and 189 more injuries a year if crude oil moves by rail instead of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Sounds bad, but is it true? | 06/16/14 15:36:53 By - By Curtis Tate

‘Devastating for our industry’: Pig virus affects farmers, market prices

The threat of a growing pig disease has local farmers embracing biosecurity measures to protect their farms and livelihoods. Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, or PEDv, is pushing up pork prices and prompting action on the national level. | 06/16/14 07:16:10 By - Chip Minemyer

Missouri company recalls 4,000 pounds of beef over mad cow concerns

A Missouri slaughterhouse is recalling thousands of pounds of beef products distributed to a grocery store chain and two restaurants because the processor failed to follow federal regulations aimed at preventing mad cow disease. | 06/12/14 16:25:01 By - By Lindsay Wise

Is inflation lurking out there?

All but absent in recent years, inflation is ticking up. That’s to the delight of those who think it signals a return to economic health, to the worry of others who fear it will disrupt financial markets. | 06/12/14 09:58:21 By - By Kevin G. Hall

Inaction feeds crisis over Mississippi River, environmentalists say

Decades of shortsighted decisions by industry and government have put the Mississippi River’s future at risk, and degradation at its southern Louisiana delta is contributing to “the greatest land loss on the planet,” a five-state environmental coalition warned Wednesday. | 06/11/14 18:04:57 By - By Greg Gordon

Report: All states but Alaska grew last year

Every state except Alaska posted economic growth in 2013, with the fastest-growing states tending to have more manufacturing of soft goods and a real-estate uptick, the Commerce Department said in a report released Wednesday. | 06/11/14 16:27:19 By - By Kevin G. Hall

Fight could be looming over secrecy of oil shipments by rail

A requirement from the U.S. Department of Transportation last month to limit the release of information about Bakken crude oil shipments by rail has set up a conflict between railroads, states and the federal government that could wind up in court. | 06/10/14 19:29:08 By - By Curtis Tate

Hundreds more fatalities if Keystone XL isn’t built? Not exactly

On Friday, the State Department revised its January report on the environmental impacts of building or not building the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, including the number of potential injuries and fatalities if Canadian oil would move by rail instead. | 06/07/14 16:48:55 By - By Curtis Tate

Psst, the economy isn’t as bad as many think

Another strong month of hiring should put to rest fears that the U.S. economy is downshifting _ and it suggests that there might finally be a head of steam building. | 06/06/14 17:26:48 By - By Kevin G. Hall

SEC chief is open to curbs on high-speed traders

The head of the Securities and Exchange Commission called Thursday for new rules governing the structure of financial markets, acknowledging that high-speed trading and the largely unregulated trading areas called dark pools may be working against ordinary investors. | 06/05/14 18:08:24 By - By Kevin G. Hall

Senate confirms Burwell as new HHS secretary

The Senate confirmed Sylvia Mathews Burwell on Thursday as the new secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services by a bipartisan vote of 78-17. | 06/05/14 17:32:53 By - By Tony Pugh

Peanut growers worry about unintended impact of farm bill

In the heart of the nation’s peanut zone, farmers are putting substantially more runners into the ground than they did last year. And in the eyes of some industry experts, that boom might spell doom. | 06/05/14 16:16:34 By - By Chris Adams

Senate panel approves spending bill with funds to improve oil train safety

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved on Thursday a transportation spending bill that includes funding to address gaps in safety and training revealed by recent derailments of trains carrying crude oil. | 06/05/14 18:20:55 By - By Curtis Tate

Europe flirts with negative interest rates

Faced with the prospects of debilitating deflation, the European Central Bank on Thursday unveiled a host of unusual measures designed to spark lending at all costs in a bid to boost businesses and consumers and keep the region’s economy moving forward. | 06/05/14 16:22:18 By - By Kevin G. Hall

Brazil finds bumpy path on way to becoming world oil power

Brazil’s efforts to become one of the world’s major oil producers have attracted businesses such as U.S. drilling giants Halliburton and Baker Hughes, gained it partnerships with oil companies from India and China, lured immigrants from idyllic Norway and drawn investment dollars from American pension funds in Florida, South Carolina and California. | 06/05/14 15:12:31 By - By Vinod Sreeharsha

HHS works to correct 2 million data discrepancies in marketplace applications

The Obama administration is contacting millions of Americans who signed up for marketplace health insurance about apparent discrepancies in the personal information they provided in their coverage applications. | 06/04/14 21:11:27 By - By Tony Pugh

New pollution rule puts onus on states

A major initiative to cut the pollution emitted from the nation’s power plants set off a scramble Monday in Washington – where Republicans instantly pounced on the proposed rules – as well as in states, where much of the work in implementing the rules will be done. | 06/03/14 06:42:37 By - By Chris Adams and Lesley Clark

White House energy report omits Keystone, other controversial issues

A White House report on its energy policy Thursday stressed good news but omitted any discussion of controversial issues such as lifting a ban on oil exports, the long-delayed Keystone pipeline or growing concern about crude oil in railroad tank cars. | 05/29/14 19:23:42 By - By Kevin G. Hall

Energy historian Daniel Yergin: Lift U.S. ban on oil exports

A report Thursday from a respected oil historian argues for lifting a longstanding ban on U.S. oil exports in order to keep down gasoline prices for consumers. It’s a view sure to raise eyebrows and comes amid a broader national debate about exporting America’s new energy bounty. | 05/29/14 01:00:00 By - By Sean Cockerham and Kevin G. Hall

Obama will let states decide how to cut greenhouse gas emissions

President Barack Obama is about to unveil the centerpiece of his agenda to fight climate change, a much anticipated rule to slash the emissions of planet-warming gases from power plants. | 05/27/14 15:15:53 By - By Sean Cockerham

A Maryland inventor’s big energy ideas have promise, and big ifs

While scientists are engaged in an all-out, worldwide scramble to avert the energy and climate change crises, the biggest discoveries could come from a surprising quarter: a modest redwood home on a wooded, five-acre tract in rural Maryland, where a lone inventor toils day and night. | 05/27/14 14:25:03 By - By Greg Gordon

U.S. wins trade dispute with China over duties on cars, SUVs; 2nd win since March

The World Trade Organization ruled Friday that China had violated trade rules when it slapped punitive duties as high as 21 percent on America-made cars and sport utility vehicles. | 05/23/14 16:55:56 By - By John Zarocostas

With ‘Internet of Things,’ your fridge will know when milk is low

Americans are adapting to a world in which virtually everything _ from cellphones and cars to washing machines and refrigerators_ is going to be connected to the Internet or a network. But watch out for the toaster. | 05/23/14 14:46:46 By -

Affordable Care Act, spending cuts slow health care hiring

In the dark hours of the Great Recession, it was one of the few economic bright spots. Week in, week out, the health care sector was adding jobs, when construction, manufacturing and retail hiring were mired in quicksand. Now, health care is a laggard. | 05/22/14 13:46:02 By - By Kevin G. Hall

Coventry, Humana, WellPoint offer most affordable marketplace coverage, study finds

Consumers in 37 states that want affordable marketplace health coverage are more likely to pick a plan from Coventry, Humana or WellPoint, according to new research by Avalere Health. | 05/22/14 06:23:30 By - By Tony Pugh

Community colleges train workers to fill manufacturing vacancies

U.S. manufacturers face a growing challenge of finding skilled workers. Currently, there are about 600,000 manufacturing job vacancies, and 2.7 million manufacturing employees are expected to retire in the next decade, according to industry groups. Northern Virginia Community College is one of a growing number of schools training workers for the manufacturing industry. | 05/22/14 14:36:17 By - Michelle Kim

Fracking boom is a struggle for Kentucky

The fracking revolution is not being kind to Kentucky’s role as an American energy leader, helping to decimate coal while struggling to deliver a natural gas boom for the state on par with nearby peers. | 05/21/14 12:54:24 By - By Sean Cockerham

No irrigation water for marijuana crops, feds rule

Delivering a blow to pot growers in Washington state and Colorado, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said Tuesday that it won’t allow any federally controlled water to be used on marijuana crops because Congress has banned the drug. | 05/21/14 00:04:18 By - By Rob Hotakainen

Credit Suisse won’t get tax write-off on DOJ settlement

Buried in the settlement with Credit Suisse, announced formally Monday night after weeks of speculation, is a clause that pleased public interest groups. The language prevented the Swiss bank from taking, directly or indirectly, and tax deduction, credit or any other offset against the huge $2.6 billion settlement it will pay as part of the plea agreement with the DOJ and bank regulators. | 05/20/14 17:59:43 By - By Kevin G. Hall

Retailers are working to attract shoppers with entertainment and efficiencies

Shopping centers and retailers want to give people an experience they can't get with a click of the mouse. Consumers want to do something or feel like they're getting treatment they couldn't get anywhere else. | 05/20/14 18:37:07 By - Charles Schelle

New York Times case draws new attention to pay-equity bill

Charges that The New York Times paid its top female editor less than male peers has breathed new life into legislation that seeks to ensure that women and men earn the same amount for the same work performed. | 05/19/14 17:43:20 By - By Kevin G. Hall

GM fined $35 million for failure to report ignition switch defect

In what it called the single highest civil penalty resulting from an automobile recall, the U.S. Department of Transportation on Friday fined General Motors $35 million for the company’s failure to report a safety defect. | 05/16/14 16:42:12 By - By Curtis Tate

New owner of railroad through Quebec town plans to ship crude oil again

The Wall Street firm that owns the railroad through Lac-Megantic, Quebec, is making plans to ship crude oil again through the lakside town devastated last summer by a fiery train derailment. | 05/16/14 16:27:47 By - By Curtis Tate

Fannie, Freddie legislation advances to uncertain future

A bill to overhaul mortgage-finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac won approval Thursday from a divided Senate Banking Committee and moved on to an uncertain future. | 05/15/14 18:20:52 By - By Kevin G. Hall

Colleges reach out to Hispanics as enrollment sags

Driving along US-411N, flanked by rolling green hills and slow-moving cows, it seems surprising to hear a DJ on the FM dial breathlessly announcing a merengue show in nearby Knoxville _ in Spanish. | 05/15/14 14:35:48 By - By Timothy Pratt

HHS nominee Burwell gets tough questions from committee that will decide her fate

The road to becoming the next U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary got a little bumpy for Sylvia Mathews Burwell on Wednesday as she was peppered with a series of pointed questions on a wide range of issues during her second Senate nomination hearing. | 05/15/14 12:54:09 By - Tony Pugh

Obama judicial nominee Boggs faces increasing opposition from Democrats

Opposition is growing to President Barack Obama’s nominee to serve as a federal judge in Georgia. | 05/14/14 18:06:42 By - By Lindsay Wise

U.S. alone among Western countries on lack of paid maternity leave, UN finds

The United States is the only Western country _ and one of only three in the world _ that does not provide some kind of monetary payment to new mothers who’ve taken maternity leave from their jobs, a new U.N. study reports. | 05/13/14 15:53:16 By - By John Zarocostas

'Woodwork effect' fuels Medicaid growth and cost increases for non-expansion states

Seventeen states that chose not to expand eligibility for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act ended up with more program beneficiaries - partly because of all the hoopla surrounding the health law, according to a new analysis by Avalere Health. | 05/13/14 15:40:49 By - By Tony Pugh

Obama draws criticism over Walmart visit

President Barack Obama came under fire on Friday for his visit to a Walmart in California. | 05/09/14 17:55:13 By - By Lindsay Wise

Treasury’s Lew to press China on currency

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew travels to China Sunday to press senior Chinese officials on currency reform, market access and a number of other trade irritants. | 05/09/14 16:23:33 By - By Kevin G. Hall

Fed appears open to loosening bank rules

An influential member of the Federal Reserve’s board of governors on Thursday raised the possibility of letting about 80 banks off the hook from the toughest provisions of a law requiring greater scrutiny of financial institutions. | 05/08/14 13:39:59 By - By Kevin G. Hall

Now more than ever, cash is king in real estate

One in three buyers of U.S. homes is paying cash, a record high number, according to data made available to McClatchy. | 05/08/14 06:00:00 By - By Kevin G. Hall

Yellen sees faster growth ahead for economy

Economic growth took a pause in the first three months of the year because of the harsh winter weather but is expected to pick up swiftly for the remainder of the year, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen told lawmakers Wednesday. | 05/07/14 11:31:07 By - By Kevin G. Hall

Regulators take voluntary route on tank car rules

DOT stops short of requiring phase-out of older tank cars in crude oil shipments. | 05/07/14 21:27:32 By - By Curtis Tate

Is Justice Department On Verge of Criminally Prosecuting Big Banks?

“While I will not specify any particular targets, I will say this: I am personally monitoring the status of these ongoing investigations,” Holder said in a video posted by the Justice Department. | 05/06/14 13:27:13 By - By Greg Gordon

Lynchburg, Va., oil train derailment illustrates threat to rivers

As Pat Calvert steers a small motorboat over the James River, it’s impossible to not notice the smell of motor oil, and it’s not coming from the boat. | 05/04/14 08:43:21 By - By Curtis Tate

Employers add 288,000 jobs in April, more than expected

With a punishing winter behind them, employers added a sizzling 288,000 jobs in April, the government said Friday in a report that also saw a confusingly sharp drop in the unemployment rate to 6.3 percent. | 05/02/14 16:49:19 By - By Kevin G. Hall

Oil train derailment spares but shakes up Lynchburg, Va.

Today, it’s mostly business as usual in the latest town to experience a brush with disaster from a train carrying crude oil. | 05/01/14 17:55:33 By - By Curtis Tate

Report: large employers could shift nearly all workers’ health coverage to marketplace by 2020

A new investor report predicts that Standard & Poor's 500 companies could shift 90 percent of their workforce from job-based health coverage to individual insurance sold on the nation's marketplaces by 2020. | 05/01/14 00:03:36 By - By Tony Pugh

Fed looks past weak growth, cuts back bond buying

Shrugging off dismal economic growth numbers for the first quarter of 2014, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday it would taper back its controversial monthly bond-buying program by another $10 billion in May amid an improving outlook. | 04/30/14 17:13:32 By - By Kevin G. Hall

Feds plan to let states toll interstate highways to pay for reconstruction

The U.S. Department of Transportation on Tuesday asked Congress to end the prohibition on tolling existing interstate highways as a way of paying for their reconstruction, marking a major shift away from how the system has been funded for decades. | 04/29/14 18:09:21 By - By Curtis Tate

With no federal water, pot growers could be high and dry

Newly licensed marijuana growers in Washington state may find themselves without a key source of water just as spring planting gets under way. | 04/27/14 07:01:11 By - By Rob Hotakainen

The reasons _ and risks _ behind shipping crude oil by rail

Along with prosperity, oil shipments have brought worry to communities along the rail lines. Since last summer, deadly and destructive derailments have created anxiety among community leaders from coast to coast. | 04/25/14 13:16:50 By - By Curtis Tate

Trade deal eludes Obama in Japan; more talks planned

While failing to seal a deal on his ambitious plan to expand trade in the Pacific Rim, President Barack Obama on Thursday said a long-stalled trade pact still can be finalized if Japan opens its markets and accepts more U.S. exports of everything from cars to farm goods. | 04/24/14 22:02:04 By - By Rob Hotakainen

Housing goes from hopeful to underwhelming as 2014 moves along

A spate of new economic reports shows that a speedier recovery of the housing market does not appear in the cards this year. Housing experts are dialing back rosier projections in favor of another ho-hum year, where home sales are flat and prices climb to make ownership less affordable. | 04/24/14 17:48:47 By - By Kevin G. Hall

New FCC proposal could be the end of net neutrality, opponents say

The Federal Communications Commission plans to propose new rules today that would let Internet service providers charge companies to move their content through a speedier lane, a “pay for play” model that opponents say will kill net neutrality. | 04/24/14 15:17:57 By - By Vera Bergengruen

Canada moves ahead of U.S. in phasing out older tank cars for shipping crude oil

In response to a deadly train derailment last summer, the Canadian government Wednesday ordered the country’s railroads to phase out tens of thousands of older, puncture-prone tank cars from crude oil transportation within three years. | 04/24/14 06:58:22 By - By Curtis Tate

In Miami, there’s no shortage of Medicare fraud to keep prosecutors busy

If there ever was any question that Miami is the champ when it comes to health care fraud, a peek inside Medicare’s list of banned providers should settle it. | 04/23/14 14:16:14 By - By Chris Adams

Policy group dives into retirement savings

Concerned about the future finances of Social Security and ample evidence that Americans are failing to save enough for retirement, the Bipartisan Policy Center on Wednesday launched a new Personal Savings Initiative. | 04/23/14 12:59:20 By - By Kevin G. Hall

Tank car fleet inadequate for crude oil, rail industry says

None of the tank cars currently in service carrying Bakken crude oil is adequate for carrying that product, a rail industry representative testified Tuesday, but until new federal regulations are completed, the use of inadequate cars will continue. | 04/23/14 00:28:58 By - By Curtis Tate

In South Carolina, leaders reconsider drilling along the coastline

The push to start drilling in the Atlantic Ocean is gaining momentum and dividing people along the grand coast of South Carolina, where some local leaders fear what it could mean for tourism. | 04/22/14 16:09:59 By - By Sean Cockerham

Consumer protection agency warns about automatic defaults on private student loans

The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Tuesday released a report about the problem of “automatic defaults” on private student loans. | 04/22/14 04:21:08 By - By Renee Schoof

Cowboy and Indian Alliance protest Keystone pipeline

The Cowboy and Indian Alliance met Tuesday morning in front of the Capital to kick off a five-day protest against the proposed expansion of the Keystone XL Pipeline. | 04/22/14 17:18:17 By - Anna Bisaro

Keystone pipeline decision delayed, likely till after elections

The Obama administration is indefinitely delaying a decision on approving the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, likely putting off any action until after the November midterm elections. | 04/18/14 18:35:50 By - By Sean Cockerham

Feds don’t require median barriers shown to curb traffic deaths

Hundreds of interstate highway fatalities have been prevented in multiple states by relatively inexpensive safety devices that were not in place at the site of a fiery bus-truck collision last week in California that killed 10 people. | 04/18/14 18:17:16 By - By Curtis Tate

Old-school coal is making a comeback

Coal, the former king of American energy, is making a comeback after being left for dead in favor of cleaner-burning natural gas. | 04/17/14 14:35:14 By - By Sean Cockerham

Far off? Russia-Ukraine clash echoes through U.S. farm belt

America’s diplomats and generals aren’t alone in watching the unfolding conflict between Russia and neighboring Ukraine. The U.S. agriculture sector is following the faraway events closely for reasons of both opportunity and risk. | 04/16/14 18:10:29 By - By Kevin G. Hall

Survey says . . . most won’t sweat income tax deadline

One in four Americans waited until the end of tax season to file their returns and a majority think they pay about the right amount in federal taxes, according to a new McClatchy-Marist Poll released just before the tax deadline. | 04/14/14 16:00:33 By - By Kevin G. Hall

To prevent data theft, businesses race to adopt new technology

Recent high-profile data breaches at Target and Neiman Marcus have accelerated plans by banks and retailers to implement technologies they say will prevent hackers from stealing consumers' account information. | 04/14/14 12:19:52 By - By Lindsay Wise

Treasury Sec warns on global risks

While all signs point to a firming U.S. economy, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew painted a more uncertain picture Friday for the global growth outlook. | 04/11/14 11:15:27 By - By Kevin G. Hall

Did GM, like Toyota, hide its safety flaw from regulators, consumers?

General Motors’ lengthy delay in disclosing defective ignition switches, which are now blamed for at least 13 deaths, bears a striking similarity to Toyota Motor Corp.’s concealment of deadly acceleration problems in its automobiles that triggered a U.S. criminal investigation and $1.2 billion in fines for Toyota. | 04/10/14 18:48:20 By - By Greg Gordon

Community colleges think big; too big, say some universities

In a high-ceilinged classroom, bright sun poking through the blinds and reflecting off the whiteboard, eight students lug heavy textbooks to their desks and prepare for this afternoon’s lesson: | 04/10/14 10:49:19 By - By Jon Marcus

Communities not prepared for risks of crude oil train derailments, Congress told

Emergency response officials told a Senate subcommittee Wednesday that big cities and small towns alike are unprepared for a disaster on the scale of an oil train derailment and fire last year in Quebec that destroyed part of a town and killed 47 people. | 04/10/14 06:19:33 By - By Curtis Tate

Bill would have FDA decide on labeling genetically modified food

Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo is pushing a bill in Congress that would shift responsibility for any labeling of genetically modified foods to the hands of the federal government, potentially stopping the efforts underway in many states to mandate labels on such foods. | 04/10/14 05:52:05 By - By Chris Adams

Motorola defends contracting practices, dismisses McClatchy stories as containing ‘innuendo’

Motorola Solutions Inc. is rejecting as “innuendo” a series of stories in which McClatchy examined the company’s decades-long dominance of the nation’s emergency communications market. | 04/08/14 15:54:23 By - By Greg Gordon

Crude oil trains revive Philadelphia refineries but deliver new risks

Just a few years ago, the region’s refineries were on life support, hurt by high prices of oil imported from foreign countries. Now, they’re humming again with the daily deliveries of domestic crude in mile-long trains. | 04/08/14 07:28:52 By - By Curtis Tate

Ukraine to get attention at IMF, World Bank meetings

The Treasury Department will push trading partners to expand aid to Ukraine when the International Monetary Fund and World Bank hold their annual spring meetings later this week, officials said Monday. | 04/07/14 16:45:47 By - By Kevin G. Hall

March gladness: Hiring regains its step

A return to solid hiring in March, reported by the government Friday, eased concerns that the U.S. economy was slipping back into lower gear. | 04/04/14 16:54:31 By - By Kevin G. Hall

Economy adds 192,000 jobs in March

Employers added a robust 192,000 jobs in March, the government said Friday, and revisions to earlier months point to an improving economy with underlying strength. | 04/04/14 09:00:30 By - By Kevin G. Hall

U.S. companies are chipping away at retiree health benefits

Throughout a bitter winter, burly linemen gathered at daybreak round tiny fire pits on a street in front of where they’ve clocked in to work for years. | 04/01/14 17:30:49 By - By Kevin G. Hall

New Ryan budget plan unlikely to go far

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan Tuesday unveiled his latest spending plan, a proposal with no chance of winning approval. | 04/01/14 16:56:34 By - By David Lightman

Marijuana raid in Missouri illustrates the evolution of an issue

As usual, Gene Halbin rolled a fat one after lunch. He’d taken a couple of hits when two strangers appeared at the front door. Halbin’s place sits way out of town, off the blacktop, down a dirt road, round a bend, over a bridge and deep into some woods in northwestern Bates County. Good bet they weren’t solicitors working the neighborhood | 04/01/14 15:58:26 By - Donald Bradley

As oil shipments rise on rails, California cities fight to be heard

As rail shipments of crude oil have risen inNorthernCalifornia, so has opposition in many communities along rail lines and near the refineries they supply. | 04/01/14 06:57:26 By - By Curtis Tate and Tony Bizjak

Sacramento officials kept in dark about crude oil transfers at rail facility

Since at least last September, trains carrying tank cars filled with crude oil have rolled into the the former McClellan Air Force base. Workers have transferred the oil, including some volatile Bakken crude, from trains to tanker trucks, which take it toBay Area refineries. | 03/31/14 17:05:51 By - By Curtis Tate and Tony Bizjak

After more than a century, a jewel of ocean research targeted for closure

For more than a century, federal scientists have worked on Pivers Island near the historic town of Beaufort, N.C., and the beaches of Emerald Isle studying the ocean, and the fish, turtles and dolphins of its sea grass estuaries and rocky reefs. | 03/31/14 08:16:19 By - By Renee Schoof and Jay Price

Who should get water deliveries divides California lawmakers

Seasonal storms have exposed once more some perennial political divisions over California water. | 03/31/14 08:09:42 By - By Michael Doyle

How one timely purchase of hardware bent a radio contract Motorola’s way

It was just one piece of equipment in an intricate emergency digital radio network, but the 2005 purchase of a Motorola master controller by California’s Alameda County started an often nasty intra-governmental tug of war that has worn on for nearly nine years. | 03/31/14 17:54:07 By - By Greg Gordon and Lydia Mulvany

Motorola spreads its money and influence far and wide

Motorola executives don’t talk much about their efforts to win friends in high places, but a trail of public records provides the outlines of the company’s attempts to cultivate loyalty and befriend key government decision makers. | 03/30/14 07:01:05 By - By Lydia Mulvany and Greg Gordon

Misrepresentations help Motorola get a $50 million federal grant

As a Motorola saleswoman from 2004 to 2006, Laura Phillips coached local officials on how to secure state and federal grant money to pay for new public safety radio equipment. | 03/30/14 07:01:05 By - By Greg Gordon and Lydia Mulvany

How Motorola bested Raytheon and captured L.A. County’s emergency radio contract

It looked in the summer of 2011 as if electronics giant Raytheon Corp. had gained a major foothold in the U.S. emergency communications market long dominated by one company: Motorola. | 03/30/14 07:01:05 By - By Greg Gordon and Lydia Mulvany

After Motorola parlays Katrina’s devastation into telecom riches, new Mississippi system lies fallow

Mississippi’s governor fought back hard from one of Hurricane Katrina’s more exasperating blows – a knockout punch to emergency radio systems that forced rescue workers along parts of the Gulf Coast to communicate with hand-carried notes. | 03/30/14 07:01:05 By - By Greg Gordon, Paul Hampton and Lydia Mulvany

Kansas gives Motorola $50 million contact, based on bids from 1991

Without inviting competitive bids, Kansas officials awarded Motorola a $50 million deal to build a new statewide emergency radio network by crafting it as an amendment to a contract signed 14 years earlier. | 03/30/14 07:01:05 By - By Greg Gordon and Deb Gruver

With friends in government, Motorola beats a path to telecom supremacy

At the eastern end of the San Francisco Bay Area, Sheriff Warren Rupf of Contra Costa County and cigar-chomping Sheriff Charlie Plummer of neighboring Alameda County were political powerhouses seemingly locked in an endless duel of one-upsmanship. | 03/30/14 07:01:05 By - By Greg Gordon and Lydia Mulvany

Drone technology way ahead of FAA as it tries to set rules for use

When it comes to unmanned aerial vehicles, it’s starting to become the Wild West out there. Drones are flying across the U.S. and being used by researchers, farmers, amateur photographers and others. | 03/27/14 12:30:12 By - Molly McMillin

U.S. wins WTO fight over China’s export limits on rare earth elements critical to high-tech items

The World Trade Organization on Wednesday sided with the United States against China in a trade dispute that could affect the price of nearly every modern electronic product manufactured today. | 03/26/14 18:04:15 By - By John Zarocostas

Little-known scores rank consumers’ value based on data from Web, mobile apps, loyalty cards

If you’ve bought a house or car lately, chances are you know your credit score, or at least whether it’s good or bad. | 03/25/14 15:41:46 By - By Lindsay Wise

Energy Department approves natural gas export site on Oregon coast

The Obama administration on Monday approved a terminal on the Oregon coast to export U.S. natural gas abroad, as pressure mounts on the president to use the nation’s energy bounty as a foreign policy weapon. | 03/24/14 17:24:20 By - By Sean Cockerham

U.S. again leads the world in patents; China surges past Germany

The United States retained its lead as the world’s most inventive country in 2013, accounting for 27.9 percent of all international patent applications, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization, which tracks patent applications in 148 nations. | 03/21/14 17:20:32 By - By John Zarocostas

Yellen speaks; clarity weak; stocks squeak

The Federal Reserve continued tapering its controversial bond purchases on Wednesday, trimming back another $10 billion a month in April and signaling clearly that it expects to promote low borrowing rates well beyond the end of its stimulus efforts. | 03/19/14 17:37:02 By - By Kevin G. Hall

Feds accused of steering funding to anti-pot researchers

As the nation’s only truly legal supplier of marijuana, the U.S. government keeps tight control of its stash, which is grown in a 12-acre fenced garden on the campus of the University of Mississippi in Oxford. | 03/19/14 15:36:45 By - By Rob Hotakainen

U.S. natural gas to Europe? Not so fast...

European nations are begging the United States to send them natural gas to blunt dependence on Russia, but a lack of infrastructure and market realities are calling into question America’s ability to flex its new muscles as the world’s leading energy power. | 03/18/14 18:42:01 By - By Sean Cockerham and Kevin G. Hall

Administration: More than 5 million have signed up for health care

More than 5 million Americans have now signed up for marketplace health coverage on state and federal insurance exchanges, the Obama administration announced Monday. | 03/17/14 19:07:31 By - Tony Pugh

Business leaders worry sanctions on Russia over Ukraine could disrupt world economy

With diplomatic efforts having failed to defuse the crisis in Ukraine, political and business leaders are worried that plans to place sanctions on the Kremlin will create an economic meltdown in the economies of the European Union and Ukraine, both of which have important trade relations with Russia and depend on it for their energy supplies. | 03/16/14 09:42:41 By - John Zarocostas

Fed bond purchases sent nearly $80 billion Treasury’s way in 2013

The Federal Reserve’s controversial bond-buying program, designed to stimulate the U.S. economy, generated interest income of $90 billion in 2013, an audit of the central bank confirmed Friday. | 03/14/14 17:55:15 By - By Kevin G. Hall

At award-winning Tijuana factory, plant offers more than just a job

On a recent day off from her assembly plant job, Antonia Morena put on her prettiest blouse, painted her lips bright red, and returned to her factory, her fiance at her side. | 03/14/14 07:22:22 By - By Tim Johnson

For advocates of GMO food labels, battle is in states, and wins elusive

In this small state with a very big legislature, the top official at the association for grocery stores knew he had a lot of people to convince about an important food-labeling bill. But he also had a lot of members on his side. | 03/13/14 06:46:27 By - By Chris Adams

Sprint chief says he’ll start a price war if he can have T-Mobile

The new chairman of Sprint Corp. says that if the U.S. government will let him take over T-Mobile, he’ll declare a price war that would revolutionize the American mobile market in the same way he overturned Japan’s. | 03/12/14 10:58:47 By - By Lindsay Wise

Sex trade varies by city

Here are the characteristics of the sex trade in the eight cities studied in the Urban Institute report: | 03/12/14 10:48:50 By - By Daniel White and Kevin G. Hall

‘We lost part of our soul’ in oil train disaster, mayor of Quebec town says

The mayor of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, where 47 people died in a massive inferno following a train derailment last summer, came to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to push lawmakers and regulators for rail safety improvements. | 03/12/14 06:47:43 By - By Curtis Tate

Sex trade in eight cities worth nearly $1 billion, study says

A study to be released Wednesday about the world’s oldest profession concludes that the lucrative underground commercial sex economy in eight large U.S. metropolitan areas brings in anywhere from $40 million annually to as much as nearly $300 million. | 03/12/14 00:00:00 By - By Kevin G. Hall and Daniel White

Despite deaths, push continues to open roads to ATVs

Last Mother’s Day, Jaret Graham, 14, climbed on the back of an all-terrain vehicle driven by his 12-year-old cousin. As they sped down a paved stretch of country road in west Texas, the 12-year-old lost control, the vehicle went into a ditch and the cousin fell off, injuring his leg. Jaret was thrown off and hit his head on a cattle guard, a barrier made from steel pipes. He died instantly. | 03/10/14 15:05:41 By - By Bridget Huber

Chiquita to merge with Irish produce company

Charlotte-based Chiquita Brands International said Monday that it plans to merge with Irish fruit company Fyffes, splitting senior executives between Charlotte and Dublin and creating the world’s largest banana company. | 03/10/14 13:29:00 By - Ely Portillo

As doubts cloud California high-speed rail, plans in other states gain support

When California Gov. Jerry Brown last week announced his bid for re-election, he renewed his push to build “the nation’s only high speed rail system.” | 03/07/14 18:08:18 By - By Curtis Tate

February jobs numbers surprise: Economy weathers the weather

A better-than-expected February jobs report Friday from the Labor Department renewed expectations of economic acceleration in the months ahead and snapped a two-month lull in hiring. | 03/07/14 15:54:30 By - By Kevin G. Hall

Rail carries Canadian crude while Keystone pipeline decision simmers

While supporters and opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline have been busy debating the controversial proposal, the oil that it’s intended to move has found another carrier _ one that didn’t require the president’s stamp of approval or several years and billions of dollars to construct. | 03/06/14 06:19:53 By - By Curtis Tate

Obama urges Congress: Give America a raise

President Barack Obama – and the governors of four New England states – dined Wednesday at a college town eatery that pays its employees more than the minimum wage, as Obama pressed his election-year campaign to “give America a raise.” | 03/05/14 17:22:44 By - By Anita Kumar and Lesley Clark

Those who burn palm fronds for start of Lent learn to handle the task with care

Over the last three years janet Sweeting has perfected the fiery, smoky, multi-stage task that scores of others around Kansas City have been busy with in these days leading up to Ash Wednesday: making ashes. These faithful do-it-yourselfers fulfill a growing need as more churches observe Ash Wednesday, adding new twists to an old tradition. | 03/05/14 12:16:04 By - Lisa Gutierrez

Crazy for coconuts: Do the health claims survive scrutiny?

Have we gone crazy for coconut? Just take a look around the supermarket these days: Coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut water. A message came through on the health claims: Not so fast. Many claims aren’t proven, and the products can have hidden nutrition costs. | 03/05/14 12:06:55 By - Kathleen Purvis

FCC questions state laws that block cities from building their own broadband network

Frustrated with the sluggish speed and high cost of their Internet service providers, the residents of Wilson, N.C., decided a few years ago to take matters into their own hands – they would simply build their own connection. | 03/05/14 13:19:15 By - By Vera Bergengruen

Obama wants tax cuts for the middle class, tax increases for the wealthy

In his budget to be released Tuesday, President Barack Obama will propose expanding a tax credit popular with lower- and middle-class families and paying for it by closing a controversial tax loophole deployed by some Wall Street firms, according to the White House. | 03/03/14 20:02:03 By - Anita Kumar and Kevin G. Hall

Sanctions against Russia likely but they’re no easy task

As Russia tightened its grip Monday on the Crimean peninsula, the Obama administration scrambled to find meaningful ways to sanction a nation that does relatively little U.S. business and exports primarily energy products that allies in Europe badly need. | 03/03/14 16:54:15 By - Kevin G. Hall

Your favorite store may be tracking you while you shop

Signals emitted by your smartphone leave a digital trail that retailers can follow to find out how long you lingered in front of a sales rack or languished in a checkout line. | 03/03/14 06:00:00 By - By Lindsay Wise

EPA blocks progress, for now, on Pebble Mine in Alaska

The Environmental Protection Agency is putting the brakes on the massive Pebble Mine project in Alaska, saying it endangers the finest wild salmon run on Earth. | 02/28/14 17:41:03 By - By Sean Cockerham

Ailing flower growers air complaints on Capitol Hill

U.S. flower growers normally consider themselves purveyors of joy, but they’re none too happy with the state of their industry these days. | 02/27/14 17:36:30 By - By Rob Hotakainen

Feds support air gun blasts to find Atlantic oil, gas

The Interior Department is endorsing seismic exploration for oil and gas in Atlantic waters, a crucial move toward starting drilling off the Carolinas, Virginia and possibly down to Florida. | 02/27/14 17:17:29 By - By Sean Cockerham

Consumer bureau urges companies to offer free credit scores

Consumers soon might have easier access to their credit scores after federal regulators sent letters urging credit card companies to strongly consider including the information at no cost online and on monthly statements. | 02/27/14 15:52:25 By - By Lindsay Wise

Fed-audit idea gains steam in Congress, though details scant

Who audits the biggest bank of them all? Once dismissed as a crackpot cause, the idea of a complete and real-time audit of the Federal Reserve is gaining support in Congress. | 02/27/14 12:49:32 By - By Kevin G. Hall

FDA proposes new food label rules

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday proposed a redesigned Nutrition Facts label for packaged foods that will highlight calorie counts and recalculate serving sizes in an effort to reduce the Americans' rate of chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease. | 02/27/14 11:32:02 By - By Lindsay Wise

Regulator declines to set date for new rail tank car safety rules

The chief of a federal agency tasked with improving the safety of crude oil shipments by rail declined Wednesday to give lawmakers a date for new tank car rules that railroads and safety officials have sought for years. | 02/26/14 19:34:33 By - By Curtis Tate

GOP tax writer Dave Camp offers revamp of tax code

The chairman of the Republican-led House of Representatives’ tax-writing panel proposed on Wednesday the first complete overhaul of the nation’s tax code since 1986, a plan that both political parties are likely to debate throughout this election year. | 02/26/14 17:49:40 By - By David Lightman and Kevin G. Hall

Lack of coal-waste oversight is under fire after giant spill

A massive North Carolina coal waste spill into a major river is increasing pressure on the Obama administration to start policing the more than 1,000 such waste storage sites across the nation. | 02/26/14 06:55:26 By - By Sean Cockerham

Feds ban small number of tank cars carrying crude, rail industry says

The Department of Transportation banned about 3 percent of a fleet of railroad tank cars from carrying flammable crude oil Tuesday, according to the rail industry’s leading advocacy group, leaving tens of thousands more vulnerable cars in service. | 02/25/14 19:41:04 By - By Curtis Tate

Credit Suisse, DOJ in Senate crosshairs on Swiss tax dodging

The Department of Justice has neglected to collect billions in unpaid U.S. taxes by failing to aggressively prosecute Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse Group AG, a Senate investigative report said late Tuesday, shortly before executives from the bank are scheduled to testify under oath. | 02/25/14 18:09:46 By - By Kevin G. Hall

Feds moved on tank car safety only after Quebec oil train disaster

The rail industry asked the Department of Transportation three years ago to write new regulations for railroad tank cars that were carrying the country’s nascent oil boom. | 02/25/14 06:00:00 By - By Curtis Tate

For farmers, decisions from new farm bill will be taxing

All the jawboning about the big farm bill was over two weeks ago, when Congress finally passed the $956 billion package. But for America’s farmers, the decisions are just beginning. And they could get complicated. | 02/24/14 06:34:52 By - By Chris Adams

As 2008 economic disaster loomed, Yellen first for aggressive action, transcripts show

When the financial crisis deepened in September 2008, Federal Reserve leaders initially viewed it as a problem that would reverse itself. Janet Yellen, now the new Fed chair, was the earliest voice for aggressive action, transcripts released Friday show. | 02/21/14 18:41:18 By - By Kevin G. Hall

U.S., rail industry agree on safety improvements for crude oil trains

The Department of Transportation outlined several steps Friday aimed at improving the safety of crude oil in trains after a series of derailments sparked concern from state and local officials. | 02/21/14 18:04:29 By - By Curtis Tate

Washington state gets leading role in clash over minimum wage

A bidding war of sorts has broken out in Washington state, where politicians are scrambling to raise the state’s minimum wage of $9.32, already the highest in the nation. | 02/21/14 15:08:25 By - By Rob Hotakainen

NAFTA leaders put saving monarch butterfly on trade pact’s agenda

The population of monarchs hibernating in Mexico from December to March has plummeted from a high of 1.1 billion in 1996 to a pitiful 33 million this year. | 02/20/14 15:46:03 By - By Tim Johnson

Obama to drop less generous retiree payments from budget

Obama walks away from earlier embrace of chained CPI, a move welcomed by seniors and liberals | 02/20/14 15:37:16 By - Kevin G. Hall and Anita Kumar

FCC chief wants new rules to better police Internet providers

The top federal regulator who oversees rules that govern the Internet on Wednesday waded into the thorny issue of a service provider’s right to restrict content. | 02/19/14 18:40:08 By - By Daniel White

Ukraine comments underscore how NAFTA trade partnership is drifting

President Barack Obama met Wednesday with his Mexican and Canadian counterparts but little tangible came out of the Three Amigos summit, a further sign that the world’s largest trading bloc is on autopilot, hobbled by spats between members. | 02/19/14 22:00:09 By - By Tim Johnson

Fed orders post-crisis crackdown at big banks

The Federal Reserve moved Tuesday to correct one of the main causes of the 2008 financial crisis, ordering the nation’s largest domestic banks and foreign ones operating in the United States to hold more capital in case things go bad. | 02/18/14 18:59:33 By - By Kevin G. Hall

CBO: $10 minimum wage would cut poverty but also jobs

Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour could lift 900,000 Americans out of poverty but also cost a half million jobs, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday in a report that’s sure to feed a simmering debate over how to help loft people up the economic ladder. | 02/18/14 18:39:15 By - By Kevin G. Hall and Sean Cockerham

Democrats: Economy will lose more than $3 billion due to loss of jobless aid

Democrats Tuesday estimated that the U.S. economy will lose more than $3 billion in January and February because emergency jobless benefits have not been extended. | 02/18/14 12:24:16 By - David Lightman

Unemployment now nation's top concern, new Gallup poll finds

The nation's top concern--unemployment, according to a new Gallup survey. Twenty-three percent mentioned jobs as the country's number one problem, with "the economy in general" second at 20 percent. | 02/17/14 17:03:07 By - David Lightman

Native Americans vow a last stand to block Keystone XL pipeline

Faith Spotted Eagle figures that building a crude oil pipeline from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast would bring little to Indian Country besides more crime and dirty water, but she doubts that Native Americans will ever get the U.S. government to block the $7 billion project. | 02/17/14 06:00:00 By - By Rob Hotakainen

Feds won’t enforce money-laundering laws against banks doing business with pot stores

Marking another milestone for the legal marijuana industry, the Obama administration on Friday said it has advised U.S. attorneys in states where the sale of marijuana is legal not to prosecute banks that allow pot stores to open accounts and accept credit-card payments. | 02/14/14 17:52:14 By - By Rob Hotakainen

Medicaid expansion is expected to strain mental health services

As millions of Americans gain health coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, experts say their higher rates of mental health and substance abuse disorders will be difficult to treat due to a lack of counselors and behavioral therapists who accept Medicaid patients. | 02/13/14 16:31:55 By - By Tony Pugh

McClatchy-Marist Poll: American dream seen as out of reach

Racing into a new century in which many of the old rules don’t seem to apply anymore, Americans are overwhelmingly pessimistic about their chances of achieving and sustaining the American dream, according to a new Marist-McClatchy Poll. | 02/13/14 09:32:22 By - By David Lightman

Water, water everywhere, but some tastes better than others

The National Rural Water Association held its annual Great American Water Taste Test on Wednesday, and the best drink in the house came from Curtis, Neb., population 935. | 02/12/14 18:36:17 By - By Daniel White

U.S. share of cloud computing likely to drop after NSA revelations

When the German version of the FBI needs to share sensitive information these days, it types it up and hand-delivers it. This time last year, it would have trusted in the security of email. But that was before revelations of the scope of the National Security Agency’s intelligence-gathering. | 02/12/14 06:00:00 By - By Matthew Schofield

Grilled on Capitol Hill, Yellen defends Fed policy

Testifying on Tuesday for the first time as the head of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen promised lawmakers continuity with her predecessor, shrugged off the threat of rising financial volatility in developing nations and stressed that she’ll look beyond the labor market to decide when to begin raising interest rates. | 02/11/14 15:24:58 By - By Kevin G. Hall

Lawsuit challenges Eric Holder action on Wall Street

A public advocacy group filed a legal challenge Monday to block implementation of a record $13 billion civil settlement between Attorney General Eric Holder and Wall Street powerhouse JP Morgan Chase. | 02/10/14 16:29:17 By - By Kevin G. Hall

Treasury Secretary warns Feb. 27 is debt limit deadline

By Sean Cockerham | 02/07/14 18:19:56 By - By Sean Cockerham

Jobs market doesn’t weather the weather in January

Economists and the stock market shrugged off the second consecutive dismal jobs report Friday, attributing it to temporary factors and expressing confidence in underlying economic strength. | 02/07/14 18:42:12 By - By Kevin G. Hall

Researchers gear up for battle against disease that’s devastating U.S. citrus crop

An insect that’s no bigger than the head of a pin _ the Asian citrus psyllid _ is responsible for spreading a disease called citrus greening that is wreaking havoc on citrus growers in Florida. And growers in other states, particularly California, are on guard as the disease shows signs of coming to their areas. | 02/07/14 06:00:00 By - By Chris Adams

Faced with a raucous caucus, Boehner fishes for an inducement from Democrats to raise debt limit

Republicans in the House of Representatives are in disarray over what to do about paying the nation’s bills, with the deadline looming and the party divided on whether to demand concessions from the White House in return for raising the borrowing authority needed to fund the government. | 02/06/14 18:13:29 By - By Sean Cockerham

Brazil’s social development minister describes how country cut poverty

Brazil is confronting numerous challenges this year, from international investors fleeing developing nations to the slowing economy in China – a major trade partner – to local protests over Brazil’s preparations to host the World Cup in June. | 02/06/14 16:40:20 By - By Kevin G. Hall

Think shutdown and debt fights were something? Now comes the real budget hit

Several years of budget battles and a government shutdown last year captured headlines but amounted to fights over the easy stuff. A new projection for the U.S. fiscal outlook over the next decade makes it clear the hard choices are still ahead as the baby boom generation retires. | 02/06/14 15:29:29 By - By Kevin G. Hall

Poll finds millions with weak financial situation

Millions of Americans are having difficulty making ends meet, according to a new NBC News/Marist poll | 02/06/14 05:56:44 By - David Lightman

CVS pharmacies will stop selling cigarettes and tobacco products

CVS pharmacies announced Wednesday that they will no longer sell cigarettes and other tobacco products at its 7,600 U.S. stores beginning in October. | 02/05/14 12:37:28 By - Tony Pugh

CBO: Obamacare would lead employees to work less

A government analysis sparked fierce debate Tuesday, projecting that the Affordable Care Act will lead American workers to voluntarily put in fewer hours on the job, a total that would add up to the equivalent of as many as 2.5 million jobs over the next decade. | 02/04/14 18:22:16 By - By Kevin G. Hall, Lesley Clark and Tony Pugh

Farm bill easily passes Senate, will change operations for farmers nationwide

The massive farm bill that emerged from the U.S. Senate Tuesday and is on its way to President Barack Obama will substantially change farmers’ lives nationwide and make a step toward altering the way they’ve done business for decades. | 02/04/14 18:25:00 By - By Chris Adams

Dow down big on Yellen's first day

The Dow Jones industrial average plunged more than 326 points Monday, an auspicious start of Janet Yellen's first day on the job as chair of the Federal Reserve. | 02/03/14 17:47:23 By - Kevin G. Hall

It's Official: Yellen in as First Woman Fed Chief

Janet Yellen sworn in as first woman to head Federal Reserve. | 02/03/14 12:07:52 By - Kevin G. Hall

Keystone report leaves environmental, energy, safety debates far from settled

The State Department minimized the climate change impact of building the Keystone XL pipeline in its final environmental review issued on Friday, a key finding as President Barack Obama decides whether to approve the controversial project. | 01/31/14 19:43:32 By - By Sean Cockerham and Curtis Tate

Obama asks employers, Congress to help long-term jobless

Tapping the bully pulpit, President Barack Obama used the White House backdrop Friday to urge American companies – and Congress – to help the nearly 4 million long-term unemployed. | 01/31/14 17:01:58 By - By Anita Kumar and Kevin G. Hall

China’s economic reset is likely to hurt world’s emerging economies

Countries that supply China with raw materials got a taste in January of what the future holds as the world’s second largest economy prepares to restructure itself and dampen its mega-growth of the last two decades. | 01/31/14 18:41:05 By - By Stuart Leavenworth

It's a Super Bowl for Art, too!

The Denver Museum of Art is putting up a Remington bronco statue to the Seattle Art Museum's giant Japanese screen of an eagle perched over waves with the losing city in the Super Bowl having to loan the winner the artwork for three months. | 01/31/14 06:03:09 By - Maria Recio

Federal rail agency collects minimal enforcement fines, documents show

The U.S. Department of Transportation collects relatively small civil penalties against the railroads it regulates, as concern grows over the safety of shipping large volumes of crude oil and ethanol in tank cars long known to be deficient, federal documents show. | 01/30/14 19:05:15 By - By Curtis Tate

Congress warms up to research on hemp

For the first time, the farm bill would allow nine states – including Kentucky and California – to use hemp, pot’s nonintoxicating sister plant, for research and academic purposes. | 01/29/14 18:26:10 By - By Rob Hotakainen

Fed Sticks to Guns, Tapers Further

Looking past soft December data, the Federal Reserve on Wednesday announced it will further taper back its controversial bond-purchasing program designed to stimulate economic activity. | 01/29/14 17:22:17 By - Kevin G. Hall

Farm bill passes House, and California growers are happy

California’s prune producers, winemakers and almond ranchers can take the new farm bill to the bank. | 01/29/14 15:20:41 By - By Michael Doyle

Vestiges of earlier America, tobacco barns hold allure for preservationists

With the buyout of tobacco-growing farmers in the 2000s after a settlement with cigarette makers, it’s the barns, many in disrepair, that remain. | 01/29/14 07:02:39 By - By Maria Recio

In State of the Union, Obama tries to make a place for himself in the history books

President Barack Obama on Tuesday followed a familiar script for presidents entering their sixth year, as he tried to revive his waning political clout while shaping his legacy. | 01/28/14 21:35:07 By - By David Lightman

Gap between rich and poor may be exaggerated

A growing number of prominent economists question how much the gap has widened between America’s richest and poorest, a divide that President Barack Obama is to highlight in his State of the Union address Tuesday. | 01/28/14 18:58:10 By - By Kevin G. Hall

Farm bill drops plan to block states from imposing tougher animal confinement rules

California can keep its strict animal welfare standards after all under a long-awaited farm bill, all but finished by congressional negotiators. | 01/27/14 17:37:24 By - By Michael Doyle

Savior from depression, or father of coming inflation? Bernanke era ends this week

When Ben Bernanke prepared to lead the Federal Reserve in January 2006, the former Princeton University professor and economic historian confided to colleagues that he hoped he’d be one of the least remembered chairmen of the Federal Reserve. | 01/27/14 13:47:42 By - By Kevin G. Hall

Railroad tank-car safety woes date decades before crude oil concerns

Long before crude oil and ethanol were transported by railroads in large quantities in minimally reinforced tank cars, other flammable and poisonous materials were riding around the country in the same cars, threatening major cities and waterways. | 01/27/14 06:00:00 By - By Curtis Tate

Improper Ag Dept. payments top $6 billion despite efforts to curb them

The Department of Agriculture reported more than $6 billion in improper payments last year, seeing its overall error rate tick up during a time the Obama administration was aggressively seeking to lower such mistakes, according to a recently released audit. | 01/23/14 18:41:42 By - By Chris Adams

NTSB pushes regulators to improve safety of crude oil trains

The National Transportation Safety Board called Thursday for federal regulators to take more aggressive steps to protect the public and the environment from oil spills and fires from trains. | 01/23/14 17:03:24 By - By Curtis Tate

Oil starts flowing through Keystone XL pipeline to Texas

Oil began flowing Wednesday through the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline, as a massive environmental battle continues over whether President Barack Obama should approve the northern portion to tap Canadian oil sands. | 01/23/14 06:51:11 By - By Sean Cockerham

U.S.-Brazil cotton dispute might ignite all-out trade war

Brazil is threatening to launch a full-blown trade war against the U.S. next month, accusing Congress of ignoring an order by the World Trade Organization to stop subsidizing its domestic cotton growers. | 01/23/14 06:00:00 By - By Rob Hotakainen

Sens. Wicker, Markey want seafood inspected for mislabeling

Fish sold on retail U.S. markets are routinely mislabeled, harming consumers while threatening the livelihoods of American fishermen, Republican Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi and Democratic Sen. Edward Markey of Massachusetts said in a letter Wednesday to President Barack Obama. | 01/22/14 18:23:15 By - By Greg Gordon

More oil spilled from trains in 2013 than in previous 4 decades, federal data show

More crude oil was spilled in U.S. rail incidents last year than was spilled in the nearly four decades since the federal government began collecting data on such spills, an analysis of the data shows. | 01/20/14 16:40:15 By - By Curtis Tate

World's richest 85 people have as much as half of globe’s population, Oxfam reports

The world’s richest 85 people control the same amount of wealth as half the world’s population, according to a report issued Monday by the British-based anti-poverty charity Oxfam. | 01/20/14 16:19:46 By - By Matthew Schofield

Pot backers cheer for a Seattle-Denver Super Bowl

If oddsmakers are correct, the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos will win Sunday’s National Football League conference championship games, advancing to a truly historic Super Bowl on Feb. 2: | 01/17/14 06:43:51 By - By Rob Hotakainen

New rules would let poultry industry rule the roost on plant safety, critics say

If the Obama administration gives the green light soon, fewer federal inspectors will be present in poultry processing plants and the lines will be allowed to speed up, a change that critics say could be risky for both food and worker safety. | 01/16/14 15:00:36 By - By Renee Schoof

Despite legal setbacks, officials say California high-speed rail on track

State and federal officials assured lawmakers on Capitol Hill Wednesday that California’s $68 billion high-speed rail system would move forward despite recent legal setbacks that have created new uncertainties for the embattled project. | 01/15/14 18:53:14 By - By Curtis Tate

U.N.: Investment in green energy is falling dangerously

Investment in clean energy is faltering at the same time the United Nations and others say it needs to quadruple to avoid the catastrophic impacts of climate change. | 01/15/14 18:15:50 By - By Sean Cockerham

Fed may restrict bank ownership of commodities

The Federal Reserve, in a surprise move, set the ball rolling late Tuesday for possible new limits on ownership of physical commodities by the large financial holding companies on Wall Street that it regulates. | 01/14/14 19:57:03 By - By Kevin G. Hall

Habitat for Humanity worries new lending law will hurt poor

The vast revamp of financial regulation in 2010 was created to protect the poor from the predatory lenders who drove the economy into financial turmoil. But groups such as Habitat for Humanity say that some new regulations crafted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will inadvertently stop nonprofits from helping some of those same low-income families get into homes. | 01/14/14 18:04:50 By - By Franco Ordonez

Budget bill sets spending for everything from military pensions to light bulbs

Congress’ spending plan for the federal government touches almost every facet of American life, as it tackles big priorities such as health care, education and combating terrorism as well as smaller concerns such as the future of light bulbs. | 01/14/14 17:47:30 By - By David Lightman, Kevin G. Hall and Hannah Allam

Audit finds cruise ships improving safety, but some fixes are still to come

The cruise ship industry is working to implement new safety measures for its passenger fleet, although efforts to use technology to detect passengers falling overboard aren’t yet in place, according to a new oversight report. | 01/13/14 17:29:30 By - By Chris Adams

Should we blast Atlantic with air guns to map oil drilling potential?

The Obama administration is nearing a decision on allowing seismic testing off the Atlantic Coast, a critical step in opening waters off Virginia, the Carolinas and elsewhere to oil drilling. | 01/13/14 04:42:20 By - By Sean Cockerham

California expects more crude oil by rail, seeks to beef up spill response

The state budget plan Gov. Jerry Brown unveiled this week bolsters the state Office of Oil Spill Prevention and Response, increasing its budget by $6.7 million and adding 38 staff members, “to address the increased risk of inland oil spills.” | 01/10/14 17:42:24 By - Curtis Tate

Troubles for trade: Obama’s fast-track plans face resistance

After criticizing a U.S. trade deal with Mexico and Canada when he ran for the White House, Barack Obama has emerged as one of the most aggressive pro-trade presidents ever, angering many of his fellow Democrats along the way. | 01/10/14 13:19:17 By - By Rob Hotakainen

Foster Farms poultry plant works to reopen after cockroach infestation, previous salmonella outbreak

The Foster Farms chicken plant remained closed as of Thursday evening as the company dealt with a cockroach infestation. | 01/10/14 07:20:15 By - By John Holland

After explosions, senators call for review of oil shipments by rail

A series of fiery derailments, including a deadly wreck in Quebec last summer and a near-miss last week in North Dakota, have gained the attention of lawmakers, who until this point had said little about the issue. | 01/09/14 18:39:49 By - Curtis Tate

Work at Foster Farms plant suspended after cockroaches found

The company said only five cockroaches were found in the massive plant over the past four months, but it carried out “enhanced sanitizing” Wednesday and expects it to reopen soon. It also said no products have been affected. | 01/09/14 07:59:00 By - BY JOHN HOLLAND AND RAMONA GIWARGIS

Rubio wants states, not U.S., to lead second wave in war on poverty

Sen. Marco Rubio on Wednesday proposed a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s anti-poverty programs, arguing that for decades Washington has been too fixed on dealing with poverty’s consequences rather than its causes. | 01/08/14 17:35:45 By - By David Lightman

Is tribal gambling too big? ‘Enough is enough,’ opponents say

By springtime, Bill Iyall figures the Cowlitz Tribe in Washington state will have 152 acres of new land in place and can make plans to break ground for its new casino in 2015. | 01/08/14 06:00:00 By - By Rob Hotakainen

Emergency jobless aid: An economic boost or a bust?

Supporters of the longer unemployment benefits that the Senate is now debating make a humanitarian argument: Jobless people need the money to keep a roof over their heads and bread on their tables. But the question gets more complicated when the argument turns to whether longer unemployment aid helps the econom | 01/07/14 19:01:59 By - By Renee Schoof

Debate rages over exporting America’s oil

The push to end the ban on exporting U.S. crude oil to foreign nations is at a level not seen in decades, with the top Republican on the Senate Energy Committee joining the call Tuesday. | 01/07/14 16:48:52 By - By Sean Cockerham

Obama presses for jobless benefits; fate in Congress uncertain

President Barack Obama pressed Congress on Tuesday to extend jobless benefits for 1.3 million Americans, dismissing the suggestion that the checks lead people to shun work and insisting there’s no need for budget offsets to pay the price. | 01/07/14 16:10:18 By - By David Lightman and Lesley Clark

Growth in 2012 health care spending remained at record low

Total public and private spending for health care in the United States increased to nearly $2.8 trillion in 2012, or nearly $9,000 per person, according to a government report released Monday. | 01/07/14 05:49:09 By - By Tony Pugh

Senate confirms Yellen, 1st woman to head Federal Reserve

The Senate voted 56-26 to confirm Yellen, who’s been the vice chair of the Fed since 2010. Yellen, 67, will take the helm after Chairman Ben Bernanke’s second four-year term ends Jan. 31. | 01/06/14 18:46:08 By - By Kevin G. Hall

Mel Watt becomes new chief overseeing Fannie, Freddie

Mel Watt was sworn into a top housing finance post Monday afternoon while simultaneously bringing to an end a career in Congress spanning more than two decades. | 01/06/14 16:10:42 By - By Franco Ordonez

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