Among the donations that poured into the American Red Cross building after the earthquake in Haiti three years ago was a box of Frisbees. In a flood of well-intentioned but unneeded donations, this box stuck out to Meghan O'Hara, who oversees in-kind donations for the organization.
O'Hara says someone clearly wanted to help — the person mailed the box from Germany — but all she could think was, "Wow. That $60 or $70 could have been sent to so many different organizations to help out in so many different ways, and now we have a box of Frisbees."
Just a few years ago, Georgia Power generated nearly three-fourths of its electricity with coal. Last year, for the first time, natural gas edged out coal, and just this week the company announced plans to close 10 coal-fired power generators within the next few years.
"We do recognize this is a historic event for our company. We've never announced this many closings at one time," says Mark Williams, a company spokesperson.
It's been only a few years since Congress granted the federal government the power to approve how tobacco products are made and sold in the U.S.
The Food and Drug Administration's new Center for Tobacco Products, established under a 2009 law that gives the agency jurisdiction over tobacco, must review all new cigarettes or smokeless tobacco, as well as any changes to existing brands.
But the agency has yet to clear any products under the new system, and some cigarette makers are frustrated by the backlog of applications.
For years, I've taken issue with depictions of mentally ill characters in books and movies. Irrational behavior is easily explained away: They're crazy! No need to elaborate further.
So when I picked up Too Bright to Hear Too Loud to See, I was apprehensive that the main character, an untreated bipolar Hollywood studio executive who leaves his wife and child for an international adventure, might be a kooky manic cliche.
Eurozone finance ministers reportedly won't approve a final bailout deal for Cyprus until after February elections there. The vote is expected to bring to power a conservative who will do everything that the current communist president is refusing: cut public sector jobs, slash wages and, above all, privatize public services. Everyone in the Cypriot government but president Demetrios Christofias agreed in November to austerity measures proposed by the European Union and International Monetary Fund.
A pair of prominent hedge fund managers have taken opposing positions on the nutritional-supplement company Herbalife. Bill Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management says the multilevel-marketing company is a pyramid scheme and a bad investment. He's shorting the stock. Dan Loeb of hedge fund Third Point says Herbalife is a good investment. He's taken an 8.2 percent stake in the company and is betting that its shares will rise. Melissa Block talks with David Kestenbaum of the Planet Money team.