University survey shows holiday shoppers expect to spend less An annual University of St. Thomas survey suggests Twin Cities residents expect to spend about 12 percent less on holiday shopping this year. Researchers at the university found the average household anticipates spending $663, about $90 less than last year.6:55 a.m.
Both candidates lose votes as ballots are challenged It is day two of what Republican Senator Norm Coleman's campaign has dubbed the "Great Minnesota Recount." The numbers from the first day of the state-mandated Senate race recount show, of the ballots that are not in dispute, both Coleman and Democrat Al Franken lost votes from the initial count.7:20 a.m.
Minnesota company to test escape system for astronauts Later today, a Minnesota-based company will test an escape system for NASA astronauts in the event of an emergency. The aerospace and defense company Alliant Techsystems is developing what is called a Launch Abort System. That system would sit on the very top of the new space vehicle that is replacing the Shuttle, and whisk the crew to safety in an emergency.7:25 a.m.
Cultural groups focus new money on education and access Some Minnesota cultural organizations are in an enviable position, spending millions of dollars worth of recent grants that are coming from national philanthropic groups. The locally based organizations say they plan to use the money to develop audiences and improve access to art, with little of it actually going to create art.8:25 a.m.
National Public Radio Stories
Economy Continues Downward Spiral
The economic news just keeps getting worse. The stock market is at its lowest level in more than five years. The number of homes being built continues its downward spiral. Retailers are predicting a miserable holiday season. David Wessel, economics editor of The Wall Street Journal, tells Steve Inskeep he's watching for signs of deflation.
Debate Rages Over Those Still At Guantanamo
So far, more than 500 Afghans, Pakistanis, Europeans, Saudis and others have been released. But 101 Yemeni detainees are still held at Guantanamo. They represent the single largest contingent at the camp.
Letters: Rep. Barney Frank Interview Challenged
Listeners disagreed over the way an interview was conducted with Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts. Some thought Frank was being berated, while others thought the back and forth was an intelligent and civil exchange of ideas. There were also comments on Somali pirates, and a correction to a story on foreign actors who play Americans on U.S. TV shows.
'Twilight' Fans' Destination: Forks, Wash.
The teen vampire movie Twilight opens in theaters Friday. The movie follows the best-selling series of romance-thriller novels, set in the small and rainy hamlet of Forks on Washington's Olympic Peninsula. Despite its remoteness, the town has become a pilgrimage destination for readers from around the world.
Underinsured Struggle To Afford Health Care
Improved medicines and treatments are increasing life expectancy for people with cystic fibrosis. But insurance doesn't pay for enough of those medical costs, leaving families affected by the disease to struggle with the financial consequences.
Falling Prices Point To A Struggling Economy
Economists say falling prices are a sign that the economy isn't doing well. Slowing consumer demand is behind the fall in oil prices, which are heading toward $50 a barrel. The government reported Wednesday that prices for consumer goods are eroding at a record pace. A short while ago, inflation seemed to be the danger. Economic policymakers now are fretting about deflation.
Auto Industry Jitters Drive Down Stock Prices
Worry that the U.S. auto industry could collapse has added to recession jitters on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average finished down nearly 430 points Wednesday, falling below the 8,000 mark — levels not seen since 2003.
Companies Looking Everywhere To Cut Costs
As companies try to survive the rough economy, they are cutting costs. The person in charge of deciding where and how deeply to cut is often the chief financial officer. CFO Magazine recently interviewed more than 300 CFOs, and nearly half said they plan to lay off workers. Kate O'Sullivan, a writer with the magazine, tells Steve Inskeep that companies are also looking at hiring freezes and reductions in overtime.
Airlines Looking To Unload Idle Planes
American, Continental and United Airlines are shopping around more than 270 old planes, Bloomberg News reports. These are less fuel-efficient models that have been pulled from their fleets. They're draining money because airlines have to pay hefty storage fees and still have to make lease payments. Credit snags have upended several deals. Continental is hopeful it can sell its old jets to airlines in Russia. Other promising markets include Africa and South America.