Let's look now at another side of the economy: manufacturing. The Federal Reserve yesterday said American manufacturing had a very strong finish last year. To find out if that's likely to last and what it means for the big issue of jobs, we turn, as we so often do, to David Wessel. He's economics editor of The Wall Street Journal.
DAVID WESSEL: Good morning, Renee.
MONTAGNE: So after all the handwringing about the death of U.S. manufacturing, are American factories B-A-C-K?
A candidate forum was held in Greenville, S.C., Wednesday night, sponsored by the anti-abortion rights group Personhood USA. Participating in the event were Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, and Rick Perry. Front-runner Mitt Romney did not attend. South Carolina holds its primary on Saturday.
State and local governments have finally slowed their mass elimination of jobs in recent years. They have repeatedly cut back on services as tax revenues fell.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
Many still have cuts to make, but as the economy slowly improves, city governments are looking again to grow their economies. Many of the nation's mayors have been meeting this week in Washington, D.C., and economic growth is on their minds.
After a 20-year absence, Aseel Albanna returned to her native Iraq and found a very different country. Here, she poses with the statue of King Shahryar, a character in <em>The Thousand and One Nights</em>, near the Tigris River in Baghdad. The area used to be extremely popular, but many of the fish restaurants that once lined the streets have been torn down.
In September 1991, Aseel Albanna was about to finish her last year of architecture school in Baghdad. Wanting a break from the years of war and hardship, she took a trip to the U.S. But a planned four-week visit turned into a 20-year stay.
Family members in Kentucky arranged for her to complete her architecture degree at the University of Kentucky. She then lived and worked in Louisville until she moved to Washington, D.C., in 2005.
Contractors with SunEdison install more than 1,000 Chinese-made solar panels on top of a Kohl's Department Store in Hamilton Township, N.J., in 2010. Energy generated by the solar system will cut the store's usage, on average, by 25 to 30 percent.
There's a solar trade war going on inside the U.S., sparked by an invasion of inexpensive imports from China.
The U.S. solar industry is divided over these imports: Panel-makers say their business is suffering and want a tariff slapped on the imports. But other parts of the industry say these cheap panels are driving a solar boom in the U.S.
James Witt stands next to the foundation of a house he is building in Palo Alto. Witt has built a successful business by tearing down and rebuilding houses in Silicon Valley. His business has survived four recessions, including the most recent one.
Credit Cindy Carpien / NPR
Two donkeys, cared for by the community, live on Witt's property. The donkeys attract daily visits from children, in part because one of the animals was the model for the Donkey character in the <em>Shrek</em> movies.
The U.S. housing market may be singing the blues, but there are pockets where home sales are rising. James Witt, a homebuilder in California's Silicon Valley is surviving and thriving thanks to his luck, location, and knowledge of the local market.
Witt is a tall lanky man whose graying long hair suggests an actor in a Western movie. He's standing on his 3-acre property in Palo Alto, which includes an updated old farmhouse and a yard with a pair of donkeys. One, named Perry, has an interesting pedigree.
Angelina Jolie was just 16 when the war in Bosnia began, and she acknowledges now that she paid little heed to it at the time. But as her awareness of international issues later took shape, her attention was drawn back to that Balkan conflict.
"I wanted to understand," she says. "I was so young, and I felt that this was my generation; how do I not know more?" Now, that war is the subject of In the Land of Blood and Honey, her debut film as a writer and director.
President Obama rejected an application to build the 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast on Wednesday. He blamed congressional Republicans, who had set a 60-day deadline for his administration to complete its review of the project.
Just minutes after Obama issued a statement denying the permit, Republican members of Congress lined up before TV cameras.
"I'm deeply, deeply disappointed that our president decided to put his politics above the nation," said Rep. Lee Terry of Nebraska.
Language Advisory: The songs linked to in this article contain lyrics that some listeners may find offensive.
As many people head back to the gym this month, we're doing our part to help with The Ultimate NPR Workout Mix.
We're asking people what songs make them move, and it turns out music is just as important for motivating professional athletes as it is for the rest of us. We caught up with Los Angeles Lakers forward Matt Barnes after a recent practice --he says that before games, it's all about one rapper.