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Planet Money
1:38 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

From Cell Phones To Cigarettes: The Long Arm Of The Chinese Government

How many government-owned businesses do you see in this picture?
Ed Jones AFP/Getty Images

The streets of Beijing and Shanghai feel like an entrepreneurial free-for-all, full of mom-and-pop stores and street vendors selling snacks and cheap toys.

But when you pull back the curtain, you see a different picture: a country where the government still controls huge swaths of the economy.

When you're in China, there's a good chance you're doing business with the government every time you:

  • make a call on your cellphone (the government owns the country's biggest cellphone network)
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Crisis In The Housing Market
1:24 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

Cash Buyers Squeezing Out Traditional Home-Seekers

Dan Grohs (left) with real estate agent Pat Paulson in front of a foreclosed Minneapolis home. Grohs hopes to buy the house with cash.
Annie Baxter NPR

Not everyone wants to buy a mold-infested foreclosure, but Dan Grohs does.

He and his Realtor are walking through a three-bedroom house in Minneapolis. The copper pipes have been stolen by vandals and the heat doesn't work, but Grohs recently bid on the house — and he sees potential.

"It's got a nice flow to it," Grohs says as he moves through the home. "You walk in — living room, dining room, kitchen. Good spacious rooms."

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Architecture
1:15 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

Chinese Architect Wang Shu Wins The Pritzker Prize

Wang Shu's design for the Ningbo History Museum came to him at 3 in the morning. He realized his job was to show people what their city used to look like, and the design recalls an ancient Chinese fortress.
Lv Hengzhong

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 9:00 am

For the first time, the Pritzker Architecture Prize has been awarded to an architect based in China. Wang Shu, 49, is interested in preservation, working slowly and tradition — ideals that sometimes seem forgotten in today's booming China. Wang says in the 1990s he had to get away from China's architectural "system" of demolition, megastructures and get-rich-quick — so he spent the decade working with common craftspeople building simple constructions.

"I go out of system," Wang says, "Because, finally I think, this system is too strong."

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It's All Politics
1:06 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

Romney's Wealth 'Gaffes' Seem Less About Money, More About Him

Mitt Romney walks with driver Brian Vickers at the Daytona International Speedway in Florida on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012.
Rainier Ehrhardt AP

Originally published on Mon February 27, 2012 2:34 pm

By this point, as virtually everyone knows, Mitt Romney has fed a stereotype of himself as an out-of-touch plutocrat through a series of comments the news media have labeled "gaffes."

The word gaffe, of course, as Michael Kinsley once observed, has at least two meanings: the generally used one of something that's a social faux pas, and the Washington one, which the journalist said was "someone telling the truth by accident."

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The Two-Way
12:55 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

Colombia's FARC Says It Will Halt Kidnappings

Miriam Lasso, sister of police sergeant Cesar Augusto Lasso who was kidnapped by the FARC in Nov. of 1998, holds a candle next to pictures of several police and military hostages of the FARC, in January in Cali.
AFP AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 27, 2012 1:05 pm

The rebel group that has made kidnapping a central part of its operating procedure in Colombia says it is halting the practice and releasing 10 security force members it has held for as long as 14 years.

"From this day on we are halting the practice in our revolutionary activity," the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) said in a statement released on its website.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos issued a cautious message on Twitter.

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