There's a new cop on the money beat: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and it opens its doors Thursday. It was created by the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul, signed by the president one year ago.
The bureau will look out for the financial best interests of American consumers. And while it's popular with the public, it remains controversial.
The idea behind the consumer bureau was simple: If there's an agency to protect consumers from buying an exploding toaster, there should be one that protects them from signing up for an exploding mortgage.
For Ana Isela Martinez Amaya, May 26 began like any other school morning.
Martinez got up at 5:45 a.m. and got her 6-year-old daughter ready for school. At 6:30, the two of them left their house in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, in a tan 2003 Ford Focus. They headed toward the Stanton Street Bridge crossing into Texas.
Martinez is a teacher at a bilingual charter school in El Paso. She had just been named the Teacher of the Year at her school.
The federal government pays oil companies about $6 billion a year to blend ethanol into your gasoline; it's been subsidizing ethanol for 33 years now. But any agreement in Washington to raise the debt ceiling will most likely include a plan to cut that subsidy off. And after all these years, many in the ethanol industry say they don't really care.
The end of the subsidy — and the mixed reaction to that idea — reveals how the world of corn ethanol has changed dramatically.
Elon Musk wants humans to live on other planets one day. But he's worried about the cost of getting there. So in 2002, he took the fortune he made in Internet start-ups and started his own rocket company. He called it SpaceX.
The company is still in its early days. It's had seven launches, four of which made it into orbit. According to the company's website, the price to put stuff in orbit runs around $2,000 to $3,000 per pound.
Musk says SpaceX's latest rocket in development, the Falcon Heavy, will be able to do it for as little as $1,000 a pound.
Two independent teams of researchers have come up with the most accurate genetic maps ever made — a feat that should make the search for genes associated with diseases easier.
To understand why an accurate genetic map is useful, imagine you are trying to locate a house in Topeka, Kan., but the only map you have is one of the Interstate Highway System. You could probably find Topeka, but finding the specific house you want would take a lot of trial and error.
NPR reporters are traveling the far North to report for an upcoming series on the thawing Arctic and what that's going to mean to nations in the region. Click here to see their dispatches. NPR's Moscow correspondent David Greene sent this curious photograph:
At first glance, the presidential candidates' quarterly financial reports reveal three winners.
President Obama's fundraising operation outperformed all of the Republican campaigns combined. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney raised four times as much as the next closest Republican, Rep. Ron Paul. And Rep. Michele Bachmann, despite not announcing officially until mid-June, swept in enough money to startle rivals who had been in the race much longer.
But look deeper, and the picture gets more complicated, especially among the Republicans.