This week we're looking back at the year in music with a peek at NPR Music's 50 Favorite Albums of 2013. It's the annual list assembled by our in-house experts, including NPR music writer and editor Stephen Thompson. He tells Audie Cornish about his picks in the world of indie pop.
The cold snap that hammered Dallas five days ago is still creating problems. Thousands of people remain without power. Some truckers remain trapped at rest stops. And an unusual phenomenon called "cobblestone ice" is hampering crews from de-icing interstate bridges, overpasses and off-ramps.
President Hasan Rouhani has presented a draft budget for the coming Iranian fiscal year, which begins in March. It stands in stark contrast to the rosy revenue estimates and big-spending budgets of his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Economists say in real terms, accounting for Iran's still-high inflation rate, the Rouhani budget is a whopping 70 percent smaller on the spending side. And despite the optimistic talk from Iran's oil minister, the budget does not assume any significant rise in oil and gas revenues. Analysts say Rouhani's clear-eyed fiscal approach is a welcome change. But it puts even more pressure on nuclear negotiators to reach a comprehensive agreement with six world powers that will lead to the lifting of oil and banking sanctions, so the private sector can begin to fill the void left by the shrinking public spending.
Thousands gathered to remember and celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela Tuesday despite a downpour of rain. As one attendee said, "Mandela endured 27 years in prison. I can suffer through a day of rain."
The 2014 Winter Olympics will unfold in a resort town on the relatively warm Black Sea — a testament to how far man-made snow has come in recent years. The strategy to supply snow includes a massive system of more than 550 machines — plus insulated blankets to protect piles of already-made white stuff.
Since Hurricane Katrina, the hated rodents have flourished in piles of trash and blighted buildings. But when simply setting traps didn't work, city officials decided to take a more methodical approach to rat control. They're attacking the problems that invite the rats — and they're winning.
Inflation in Venezuela — which has hit 54 percent this year — is among the world's highest. Basic goods like toilet paper and milk are out of reach for the average consumer. Presidential orders for business owners to empty their warehouses and slash prices are delighting shoppers, but dismaying shop owners.
Federal regulators moved to tighten banking rules to curb risky trading on Wall Street Thursday. The so-called Volcker rule, part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank regulatory overhaul, would preclude banks from making risky bets on their own accounts. Audie Cornish talks to Simon Johnson, a professor at MIT's Sloan School of Management, for more on what the rules will mean.
Officials at the Federal Reserve, the FDIC and the SEC signed off on new banking rules Tuesday. Under the so-called Volcker rule, banks will be barred from trading in their own accounts, but will still be able to buy and sell on behalf of clients. Big investment banks will no longer be able to own hedge funds or private equity firms. The new regulations took more than three years to complete.