Sonari Glinton

Sonari Glinton is a NPR Business Desk reporter based at our NPR West bureau. He covers the auto industry, consumer goods and consumer behavior, as well as marketing and advertising.

In this position, which he has held since late 2010, Glinton has tackled big stories including GM's road back to profitability and Toyota's continuing struggles. Glinton has traveled throughout the Midwest covering important stories such as the tornado in Joplin, Missouri, and the 2012 presidential race. He has also covered the U.S. Senate and House for NPR.

Glinton came to NPR in August 2007 and worked as a producer for All Things Considered. During that time he produced interviews with everyone from UN Ambassador Susan Rice to Joan Rivers. The highlight for Glinton came when he produced Robert Siegel's 50 Great Voices piece on Nat King Cole.

Glinton began his public radio career as an intern at member station WBEZ in Chicago. He went on to produce and report for WBEZ. While in Chicago he focused on juvenile justice and the Cook County Board of Commissioners. Prior to journalism Glinton had a career in finance.

Glinton attended Boston University.

"Buying a car sucks," Scott Painter says. "It's something that most consumers fear."

Back in the '90s, Painter started a company to try to change this. "The name of the company was Cars Direct," he says. "The mission was to sell cars directly."

Painter wanted his company to build virtual dealerships that would let people go online and buy cars. But after talking with a few car execs, he realized nobody would even consider his idea.

The car market in the U.S. is at its most competitive. Not only are big companies like General Motors and Toyota slugging it out, but in order to survive, small-niche players like Subaru also are trying to push into the mainstream.

The Japanese carmaker is popular in Denver, the Pacific Northwest and the Northeast. Now Subaru has its sights on Texas and Tennessee.

For President Obama's first inauguration, Rep. Danny Davis of Illinois organized a group of more than 700 people — on 10 buses — to make the journey from Chicago to Washington, D.C.

Last time, one of those buses broke down. This time, however, the group decided to take an 18-hour Amtrak ride to see the second presidential inauguration of their hometown hero.

Davis staffer Tumia Romero, who organized the trip, says she did not want to deal with the nightmare of a bus having issues again.

When you watch science fiction movies, you notice there are two things that seem like we will get in the future — a silver jumpsuit and driverless cars.

This week, the sleek, speedy Chevy Corvette turns 60 years old. In the increasingly competitive auto business, where few cars make it past their teens, that makes it nearly ancient.

General Motors, however, is not retiring one of America's oldest sports cars just yet, and is embarking on the perilous path of updating the beloved brand. The auto company unveiled the new 2014 Corvette at the Detroit Auto Show on Sunday, a model that also revives the long-dormant Stingray name.

GM, Ford and Chrysler are turning their focus to selling luxury cars — something they haven't succeeded at in decades. They're hoping that success in the competitive but lucrative luxury sector will signal that the U.S. auto industry's comeback is complete.

In some of the most potent cultural images we have of cool cars, they are being driven by young men — Ron Howard cruising in American Graffiti, cousins Bo and Luke from The Dukes of Hazzard sliding over the hood of the General Lee, James Dean behind the wheel of his Porsche.

Michigan's Legislature is expected to pass legislation Tuesday that would bar contracts requiring employees to pay union dues as a condition of employment. The proposed right-to-work law has infuriated union leaders in a state considered the heart of the union movement.

Republican leaders pushing the bill closely watched the fights over labor rights going on across the Midwest, but it wasn't Ohio or Wisconsin that prompted them into action. Many leaders in the public and private sector looked to their neighbor to the immediate south.

AAA has warned against potential damage that a new blend of gasoline could do to some engines. And the warning has started a fight over renewable fuels and the future of what we put in our gas tanks.

The fuel is called E15 — named for the percentage of ethanol in the blend. Most of the gas that's sold in the U.S. has about 10 percent ethanol in it.

Once upon a time when a car company introduced a new car, it was a new new car.

But at this year's L.A. Auto Show, you won't see any revolutionary new rides — at least not on the outside. You'll find the same sameness in your grocery store parking lot. A lot of cars look alike. Why is that?

"What they're relying on to distinguish these cars from one another is not so much the mechanical pieces of them or the design," says Brian Moody of Autotrader.com. "They're selling sort of a lifestyle or an experience or a philosophy."

Jammed between Gray Thursday, Black Friday and Cyber Monday is yet another day devoted to shopping: Small Business Saturday.

Wallets are expected to open yet again on Saturday — this time for mom-and-pop stores. Main Street in Littleton, Colo., is filled with them. The street is lined with small bars and restaurants along with other businesses, including a spice store and a men's clothing boutique.

Dave Drake owns Colorado Frame and Savvy Stuff, the "savvy stuff" being women's accessories, purses, scarves and decorations.

Gray Thursday may become the new Black Friday. Many big retailers have moved up the beginning of their shopping season, traditionally the Friday after Thanksgiving, to Thursday evening.

Brick-and-mortar retailers are feeling pressure from online retailers, which have given consumers an earlier shopping option.

"In the past, online retailers have had Thanksgiving Day all to themselves," says Marshal Cohen, retail analyst with the NPD Group. "And what that means is by the time Black Friday comes around, a lot of consumers have already spent a bunch of money."

The American auto industry has a new darling, but it doesn't come from the Big Three or even Motor City. Instead, it comes from the West Coast — Silicon Valley, to be precise.

One of the most dangerous things you can do behind the wheel of your car is text or check your email. Texting and driving is illegal in 39 states, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands and Guam.

Despite the danger, millions of us continue to do it. I am ashamed to say that I was one of them.

During the recent presidential campaign, I was on the road — a lot. I was mainly driving on rural roads in places such as Iowa, Indiana and, of course, Ohio. On several occasions I checked my email while driving, and like many people I rationalized my behavior.

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Now, four years ago, the most surprising state on the electoral map was Indiana. That Republican-leaning state went for President Obama. Last night, Indiana returned to the Republican column for Mitt Romney, also elected a new Republican Governor, Mike Pence. But Indiana did not vote Republican for U.S. Senate. Richard Lugar, the longtime incumbent, lost a primary earlier this year, and his replacement on the Republican ticket lost last night.

NPR's Sonari Glinton reports from Indianapolis.

Republicans are hoping to gain control of the U.S. Senate. The path toward victory had Indiana solidly on their side. That was, until Indiana's treasurer Richard Mourdock beat longtime Sen. Richard Lugar in the primary.

Then, during a debate on Oct. 23, Mourdock and his Democratic opponent, Congressman Joe Donnelly, were asked about abortion and contraception. Like Donnelly, Mourdock said he was against abortion.

As the presidential race zeroes in on Ohio, and the auto industry gets renewed focus in the all-important swing state, Mitt Romney's campaign is touting the backing of former Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca and the company's former president, Hal Sperlich.

"In our opinion, Mitt Romney is the leader we need to help turn our economy around and ensure that the American auto industry is once again a dominant force in the world," Iacocca and Sperlich write on Romney's website.

Catholic voters are an important constituency in the battleground state of Ohio, where they represent about one-fourth of voters.

They went for President Bush in 2004, but for candidate Barack Obama in 2008. This year, for the first time, they'll be choosing between two tickets that both feature a practicing Catholic.

If there is a boogey man in the Ohio presidential sweepstakes, it's China. According to Bloomberg, the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates have aired nearly 30,000 ads that mention trade with China, many airing in the key swing state of Ohio.

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According to Bloomberg, President Obama and Mitt Romney have aired nearly 30,000 TV spots addressing the issue of trade with China, and that's just in the past month. Many of those ads aired in Ohio where both candidates are spending a lot of time. NPR's Sonari Glinton explains the Ohio-China nexus.

SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: If there's a boogeyman in the Ohio presidential sweepstakes, it's China.

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Undecided voters in Ohio got a lot of attention this week from President Obama and GOP rival Mitt Romney. Coal may be the key to many swing voters in the Buckeye State, which remains a top coal producer.

It's an issue weighing on coal miner Rick Carpenter's mind at the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival in southeastern Ohio.

"Save coal — fire Obama. Yeah, I've got one of those signs in my yard," he says.

The trading pits at the Chicago Board of Trade and the Mercantile Exchange have long been potent symbols of American capitalism. And they used to be as rough and tumble as the city itself, where burly men bought and sold commodities like hogs, cattle, corn and soybeans.

Trading volume has gone up considerably in recent years, but Chicago's trading pits are tamer places today — the result of a revolution futures trading has undergone over the past quarter century. Much of the trading has left the pits and gone electronic.

Starting a new car company from scratch isn't tried often in the United States. The last time one was truly successful was about 100 years ago. And Tesla Motors, a startup from Silicon Valley, faces some unusual hurdles.

Still, despite the challenges Tesla faces, the electric car company and its CEO, Elon Musk, have gotten further than most automotive entrepreneurs.

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It's the third day of the teachers' strike in Chicago. For the first time in 25 years, teachers are on the picket line and 350,000 students are out of class. The strike poses a unique challenge for Chicago's Mayor Rahm Emanuel. That's because he's also one of President Obama's top fund-raisers and surrogates.

From Chicago, NPR's Sonari Glinton reports.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

I'm Melissa Block. And we begin this hour with day two of the Chicago teachers' strike. Some 350,000 students are affected by the walkout in the nation's third-largest school district. We'll have a report on how the strike is playing out in the presidential race.

CORNISH: But, first, NPR's Sonari Glinton reports on how parents, churches and local charities are scrambling to figure out what to do with so many kids with nowhere to go.

When you talk to car people about General Motors, they all say the company has gotten better.

"I think General Motors, productwise, is in a better position than it's been in a decade or so," says Jack Nerad of Kelley Blue Book. "The new products, we feel ... are all quite good."

Like many people, however, Nerad adds an important caveat. He says GM's improvement doesn't mean the company is completely out of the woods, because the competition is very good as well.

Delegates, journalists and protesters are beginning to fill the streets of Charlotte, N.C. The city has a lot riding on the Democratic National Convention, which gets under way Tuesday.

Hundreds of protesters paraded around the downtown area of Charlotte — which residents call Uptown — gathering in front of Bank of America headquarters.

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And our last word in business today is Happy Birthday.

Turns out when you're a billionaire investor you can celebrate any way you want. Warren Buffett turned 82 yesterday and his wish was to give away billions, so he did, in the form of millions of dollars worth of his company stock. All told, those shares will eventually be worth about $3 billion. That gift was divided between his three children's charitable foundations.

NPR's Sonari Glinton has more.

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The airline industry is having a better than expected summer. Airline stocks have been on the rise and customer service is improving. These days, airlines are less likely to lose your luggage. They're also seeing the highest percent of on-time arrivals since the government started keeping track in the late 1980s.

NPR's Sonari Glinton reports the industry is getting some help from an unlikely source.

Hundreds gathered in Flint, Mich., Tuesday, to celebrate the return home of Olympian Claressa Shields. At 17, Shields became the first U.S. woman ever — and the only American this summer — to win a gold medal in boxing.

In a rare moment of joy, Flint greeted the high school student with a marching band and a motorcycle escort.

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