Economy & Business

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Even though it's crept up in the past couple of months, the price of a gallon of gasoline is still about $1 less than it was a year ago. That's saving drivers $15 to $20 every time they fill up.

Economists were quite convinced late last year that would boost growth because consumers would go out and spend that extra money. But things have not unfolded exactly as forecast.

There's no doubt the plunge in oil prices and the lower costs for gasoline, heating oil and natural gas gave consumers a big windfall.

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Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Is Sir Topham Hatt a robber baron or a paternalistic CEO? Are Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends part of a union? How does anyone make money on the Island of Sodor?

Turns out, these are some of the serious issues that have perplexed more than one grown-up forced to read or watch Thomas & Friends for the umpteenth time with their kids. On the 70th anniversary of the Railway Series, the books by Reverend Wilbert Awdry that spawned the shiny engines, we explore this elaborate train of thought.

Democrats in the Senate have blocked — for now — a vote on the fast-track trade authority that President Obama had sought and Republicans had supported.

The tally was 52 to 45 in favor, eight short of the 60-vote threshold needed to take up the bill.

It's a rebuke to Obama, who has made the trade bill a key part of his second-term agenda, from his fellow Democrats.

Just like flared jeans, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and thighs without a gap, matcha tea powder is in fashion in America.

You can grab a matcha latte at Starbucks. Whole Foods stocks the green tea powder on its shelves. Or now that warm weather is here, maybe you'll order a Matcha Green Tea Blast smoothie from Jamba Juice.

Missing out on sleep pretty much guarantees feeling crummy the next day. But it can also lead to dangerous or even disastrous decision-making. Sleep-deprived operators failed to prevent the Chernobyl nuclear power plant meltdown and the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

And during the Civil War, some historians think that Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson's confused command during the battles of June 1862 was due to sleep deprivation.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Verizon Communications has agreed to pay $4.4 billion to buy AOL Inc.

In a press release, Verizon said the all-cash acquisition will help build its digital and video platforms.

The Wall Street Journal explains:

IKEA Offers Breakfast In Bed

May 12, 2015
Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The Senate could begin debate Tuesday on a bill that would give President Obama fast-track authority to complete a Pacific Rim trade agreement.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership has become the president's signature trade initiative, but it is also very unpopular with Democrats.

Leading the charge from the left against the deal in Congress is Sen. Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts. She says the TPP could result in the watering down of Wall Street regulations put in place by the Dodd-Frank Act, after the 2008 financial crisis.

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