Dan Bobkoff

How did Dennis Rodman end up having dinner with Kim Jong Un in North Korea? It was the idea of Vice Media, which has grown from a counterculture magazine into a full-fledged youth media conglomerate. Friday night, it premieres a documentary series on HBO, a kind of coming-out moment into the mainstream. 'I Wish We Were Weirder' Vice Media's contradictions smack you in the face as soon as you step into its Brooklyn headquarters. You're just as likely to see rapper Snoop Lion walking in as you...

While you indulge in some Easter Peeps and chocolates this weekend, you might want to think about all that sugar. No, this isn't a calorie warning. In the U.S., raw sugar can cost twice the world average. Critics say U.S. sugar policy artificially inflates sugar prices to benefit an exclusive group of processors — even though it leads to higher food prices. But this year, prices fell anyway. Now, the government could be poised to use taxpayer dollars to buy up the excess sugar. American sugar...

For years, many have dreamed of so-called smart guns, weapons that know their rightful owner and won't fire in the wrong hands. Think James Bond's gun in Skyfall . A few major gun makers experimented with smart guns in the 1990s, but none came to market. Since then, it's been the domain of entrepreneurs and inventors. Developers And Technologists Jonathan Mossberg's company developed what he calls the iGun . It fires only if it recognizes a ring on a finger. The ring has a black square made...

Most Americans are earning more money than their parents, according to a new study from Pew's Economic Mobility Project . But those gains don't tell the whole picture. Let's start with the good news. The Pew Charitable Trust study looked at actual pairs of children and parents. Around age 40, 83 percent of the children were earning at least a thousand bucks more than their parents were when they were 40. "Economic growth over the last generation really has translated into income increases for...

For Darden Restaurants, the company behind Olive Garden and Red Lobster, its earnings projections out last week were not pretty. Sales will fall, it said, and company CEO Clarence Otis called higher payroll taxes a "headwind." After a two-year tax break, the payroll tax, which funds Social Security payments, went back up to 6.2 percent on Jan. 1. The 2-percentage-point increase is an extra $80 a month in taxes for someone earning $50,000 a year. Other companies, including Family Dollar and...

It's been a busy month for corporate America. American Airlines and U.S. Airways announced plans to merge , Comcast bought the rest of NBCUniversal, Warren Buffett and Brazilian firm 3G are taking Heinz private . And Michael Dell, the founder of the computer company that bears his name, led a group that wants to buy the company back from investors for more than $24 billion. But why would a company want to leave Wall Street and go back to being privately held? For Dell, the computer industry...

If you usually wait until April to file your taxes, you might want to hurry up — before identity thieves beat you to it. Using stolen names and Social Security numbers, these criminals file fake tax returns with false wage and withholding information. This generates big — and fraudulent — refunds, before the real taxpayer gets around to filing. The Internal Revenue Service says it's busy working to combat what prosecutors call a fraud epidemic. Most taxpayers don't have any idea something is...

Transcript STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: We're also tracking a story that federal authorities call one of the biggest credit card fraud rings in U.S. history. Eighteen people are alleged to have created an elaborate web of fake identities and sham companies to steal hundreds of millions of dollars. NPR's Dan Bobkoff has more. DAN BOBKOFF, BYLINE: To give you a sense of the scale of this fraud, let's start with some numbers. The fraud lasted at least six years. The 18 people allegedly created 7,000...

Tech companies like Google, Facebook and Zynga are on a shopping spree. They're buying small startups with innovative products and apps. But, many times, the tech giants don't care about what the small companies were producing. They just want the engineers. There's a new name for these deals: the "acqui-hire," and it could mean the end to your favorite app. I first noticed the phenomenon this summer when Google swallowed my favorite email app. I paid money for it, and now it's headed for a...