Business

Shots - Health News
3:18 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

Rural Hospitals Weigh Independence Against Need For Computer Help

Dr. Billy Oley (left) talks with Dr. William George in the Beartooth Billings Clinic in Red Lodge, Mont. The hospital became part of the Billings Clinic system in exchange for help with its digital medical records.
Eric Whitney for NPR

One of the biggest challenges American hospitals face right now is moving to electronic medical records from old-fashioned paper files.

The switch is costing tens of billions of dollars, eating up tons of staff time, and it's especially tough for the country's 2,000 rural and small-town hospitals.

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Business
3:16 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

Recall Woes Push Along GM's Cultural Reinvention

General Motors has yet to explain why it took 10 years to recall a faulty ignition switch. Some blame the culture. GM says it's working on that.
Uli Deck DPA/Landov

General Motors has announced a big hit to first-quarter earnings, largely due to costs for recalls. Profits dropped nearly 90 percent from last year, with the company making a razor-thin profit of $100 million, GM said Thursday.

Meanwhile, GM has yet to explain why it took 10 years to issue one of the recalls for a defective ignition switch. Some critics believe the automaker's dysfunctional culture is to blame.

But the recall crisis could speed up a culture shift that's already underway. 

Customer-Focused

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U.S.
3:03 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

Postal Workers Protest At Staples Over Shift In Jobs

Postal workers take part in a march in Washington, D.C., on Thursday to protest the opening of U.S. Postal Service counters at Staples stores.
Meredith Rizzo NPR

U.S. postal workers took to the streets Thursday to protest in front of Staples office supply stores around the country. At issue is a decision to open Postal Service counters in Staples stores — something they say is siphoning away union jobs.

The postal workers' grievances come as their employer faces pressures to find new avenues of business.

Both the American Postal Workers Union and the leadership of the U.S. Postal Service lay claim to be fighting for the same cause: safeguarding the long-term future of one of the largest employers in the country.

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All Tech Considered
3:03 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

Tech Giants Pony Up Cash To Help Prevent Another Heartbleed

Google is among several companies putting money into a fund to help safeguard the Internet from possibly security flaws in open-source software.
Marcio Jose Sanchez AP

Google, Intel, Facebook and many other tech giants are pooling their money together — for the first time — to fix a glaring hole in cybersecurity. They're launching a multimillion-dollar fund to protect open-source code — the code that anyone can use for free, and that often gets overused and under-protected.

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The Salt
2:37 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

California Farmers Finagle A Fig For All Seasons

Mouth watering yet? As of now, you can only get a pizza like this in the summer and fall. Farmers in California are trying to change that by growing figs at least from April through February.
Courtesy of California Fresh Fig Growers Association

True fig lovers are well-practiced in the art of patience. We watch the calendar, dreaming of summer and the fruit's silky, sappy flesh. The season lasts through June and July, with another crop from August to October. And then we're back to almost eight months of oranges, apples and, if we must, Fig Newtons.

But these figless days may be coming to an end.

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Health
2:15 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

Despite Popularity, Mysteries Of E-Cigarettes Persist

Originally published on Thu April 24, 2014 2:53 pm

E-cigarettes are not new, but there is still much that's unknown about them. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, explains the latest research on e-cigarettes and offers his take on new regulations proposed by the Food and Drug Administration.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

News
2:15 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

With New E-Cigarette Rules, FDA Hopes To Tame A 'Wild, Wild West'

Originally published on Thu April 24, 2014 3:03 pm

The Food and Drug Administration is proposing to expand its regulatory powers to e-cigarettes and other popular products containing nicotine.

All Tech Considered
1:25 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

Using Technology To Fix The Texting-While-Driving Problem

Driving while distracted by your phone is a nationwide problem. A new proposed phone function from Apple could play a big role in helping teens — and adults — avoid accidents.
Nils Kahle iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu April 24, 2014 3:29 pm

On a Wisconsin street, a woman in a white hoodie stands frozen in the act of stepping out of the road and onto the curb, her left hand reaching behind her. As part of a public service announcement, she explains why she's there, as string music slowly plays under her voice.

"I had my brother in my hand, and all of a sudden my hand was empty," Aurie says as a car drives past. Her little brother, 8 years old at the time of the PSA, was left paralyzed after being hit by a car driven by a texting driver.

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The Salt
11:43 am
Thu April 24, 2014

Bracing For A Battle, Vermont Passes GMO Labeling Bill

A customer shops for produce at the Hunger Mountain Co-op in April 2013 in Montpelier, Vt. More than a dozen food cooperatives supported the bill that would require the labeling of genetically modified foods.
Toby Talbot AP

Originally published on Thu April 24, 2014 11:46 am

The Green Mountain State is poised to become the first to require food companies to label products containing genetically modified ingredients.

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin tweeted he will sign a bill state lawmakers passed Wednesday mandating that foods with GMOs be labeled as having been produced with "genetic engineering." The bill would also make it illegal for foods with GMOs to be labeled "all natural" or "natural."

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The Two-Way
11:14 am
Thu April 24, 2014

American Journalist Freed By Kidnappers In Eastern Ukraine

U.S. journalist Simon Ostrovsky in Moscow in 2004. He was reportedly released on Thursday after being held briefly by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Alexander Nemenov AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu April 24, 2014 12:08 pm

Simon Ostrovsky, the Vice News journalist who was reportedly seized by pro-Russian insurgents in eastern Ukraine earlier this week, has been released, according to his employer.

"VICE News is delighted to confirm that our colleague and friend Simon Ostrovsky has been safely released and is in good health," the website reports on Thursday.

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Law
10:06 am
Thu April 24, 2014

Is Drug Testing For Welfare Fair?

Originally published on Thu April 24, 2014 10:20 am

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. We're starting again today as we did yesterday, with an important court decision. Yesterday, we focused on the Supreme Court's decision to let stand Michigan's ban on the use of race in public university admissions. That was passed by the voters a while back. Today, we want to talk about an issue the justices actually decided to bypass.

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The Two-Way
7:03 am
Thu April 24, 2014

Jobless Claims Bounce Up From Earlier Weeks' Low Levels

More than 3,600 people lined up to apply for about 1,000 openings at a job fair earlier this month in New Orleans.
Ted Jackson The Times-Picayune/Landov

Originally published on Thu April 24, 2014 9:57 am

After two straight weeks in which the figures tracked near their lowest levels in seven years, the number of first-time applications for jobless benefits rose more than expected last week.

The Employment and Training Administration says there were 329,000 such claims filed, up by 24,000 from the previous week's slightly revised figure.

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Business
4:38 am
Thu April 24, 2014

FCC Set To Change Net Neutrality Rules

Originally published on Thu April 24, 2014 5:30 am

On Thursday, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission will propose new rules for how broadband providers should treat the Internet traffic flowing through their networks.

Business
4:24 am
Thu April 24, 2014

Competition Watches As Wal-Mart Debuts Money Transfer Service

Originally published on Thu April 24, 2014 5:30 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Wal-Mart is rolling out a new money transfer service today. The company says this will make things much simpler for people seeking to send and receive cash. For years, consumers might otherwise have looked to services like Western Union or Money Gram, and some wonder whether those companies can survive this new competition.

Here's NPR's Allison Keyes.

ALLISON KEYES, BYLINE: Tunoa Hampton was standing in line at a Wal-Mart Money Center in Washington, D.C., but she wasn't waiting to transfer funds.

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Business
3:22 am
Thu April 24, 2014

Mine Dust Rules Could Slow Production, Coal Mining Companies Say

Originally published on Thu April 24, 2014 5:30 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The Labor Department has announced new rules to protect coalminers from black lung. Regulations were supposed to eradicate black lung decades ago. Yet when I went to college in Eastern Kentucky's coal mining region, some of my fellow students had fathers who'd been killed by it. Black lung is blamed for 76,000 deaths over 50 years.

NPR's Howard Berkes reports how the rules are changing now.

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NPR Story
3:22 am
Thu April 24, 2014

Small Businesses Fight Big-Box Stores By Specializing

Originally published on Thu April 24, 2014 5:30 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

OK, we know mom and pop shops have been struggling for some time now, trying to compete against big-box stores and online retailers. Just in the last quarter, online sales jumped by 16 percent. But all is not lost for the shop around the corner. Some small retailers are actually embracing their size by making their businesses very, very specialized.

Here's NPR's Sonari Glinton.

(SOUNDBITE OF A CROWD)

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NPR Story
3:22 am
Thu April 24, 2014

With SuperShoes, Insoles Can Be Your Guide

Originally published on Thu April 24, 2014 5:30 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And today's last word in business is: SuperShoes.

This new high-tech offering is not exactly footwear. SuperShoes are squishy insoles that fit inside your shoes.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And inside those insoles are vibrotactile ticklers that are linked to your mobile device. You enter a destination and apparently these ticklers will guide your way, with a tickle to the left or a tickle to the right.

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Paying For College
1:37 am
Thu April 24, 2014

When Money Trumps Need In College Admissions

For many low-income students, economic trends are making the prospect of getting into the college of their choice, and reaching graduation, even more difficult.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu April 24, 2014 10:51 am

At some schools, the admissions process itself can work against low-income students, according to Georgia Nugent, former president of Kenyon College and a senior fellow at the Council of Independent Colleges.

Nugent says during her tenure at Kenyon, there were low-income students at the bottom of the admissions list who sometimes weren't accepted so the school could make room for more affluent students.

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Asia
1:37 am
Thu April 24, 2014

After Bangladesh Factory Disaster, Efforts Show Mixed Progress

Garment workers and relatives of Rana Plaza victims stage a demonstration on the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh, Dec. 24.
Shariful Islam Xinhua/Landov

Originally published on Thu April 24, 2014 5:30 am

One year ago Thursday, an eight-story factory building in the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka collapsed, killing more than 1,100 workers. The disaster at Rana Plaza brought new attention to safety conditions in the country's booming garment industry.

In the year since then, some of the world's biggest retailers have begun inspecting Bangladesh's factories more aggressively. But in other ways efforts to reform the industry have fallen short.

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Shots - Health News
10:03 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

FDA Moves To Regulate Increasingly Popular E-Cigarettes

A woman tries electronic cigarettes at a store in Miami.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Thu April 24, 2014 1:33 pm

The Food and Drug Administration Thursday proposed regulating e-cigarettes for the first time.

The agency unveiled a long-awaited rule that would give it power to oversee the increasingly popular devices, much in the way that it regulates traditional cigarettes.

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The Two-Way
4:56 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Reports: FCC Poised For Changes To Net Neutrality Policy

Originally published on Wed April 23, 2014 10:09 pm

This post was updated at 12:10 a.m. ET on Thursday. See update below for details.

The Federal Communications Commission is getting ready to propose new rules when it comes to net neutrality, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal are reporting based on unnamed sources.

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Shots - Health News
3:31 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Costly Hepatitis C Pill Shreds Drug Industry Sales Record

Sovaldi, a daily oral treatment for hepatitis C, costs $1,000 a pill.
Courtesy of Gilead Sciences

The launch of Sovaldi, the $1,000-a-day pill for hepatitis C, is shaping up as the most successful ever.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the pill in December. And then Gilead Sciences was off to the races. The company said it sold $2.27 billion worth of Sovaldi in the quarter that ended March 31. $2.27 billion!

The boffo number beat Wall Street's estimate for the quarter by more than $1 billion.

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The Two-Way
3:21 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Brazil Becomes One Of The First To Adopt Internet 'Bill Of Rights'

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff delivers a speech during the opening ceremony of the "NETmundial Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance", on Wednesday in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Nelson Almeida AFP/Getty Images

Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff signed into law a kind of Internet bill of rights on Wednesday.

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Law
2:21 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Under Calif. Law With Teeth, Big-Time Lawsuits Hit Small Businesses

Originally published on Wed April 23, 2014 9:06 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires equal access to stores, offices and public places all over the country. It's a federal law. But more than 40 percent of all ADA lawsuits are filed in California, because in California the law has some extra teeth. People who sue there can get cash damages from a business that is not ADA compliant.

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Business
2:21 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Blockbuster Trades Are Changing The Face Of Pharmaceuticals

Originally published on Wed April 23, 2014 9:06 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The pharmaceutical industry is undergoing some sweeping changes so the past few days, some major deals have been announced. The first involving a trio of big named companies: GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis and Ely Lily. The second is a proposed deal between Quebec-based Valeant Pharmaceuticals and California's Allergan, the maker of Botox. That deal is valued at $45 billion. NPR's Jim Zarroli reports.

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The Salt
2:14 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Slowly And Sweetly, Vietnam's Chocolate Industry Grows

Vincent Mourou, co-founder of Vietnam's first artisan chocolate maker Marou, inspects cacao beans at a farmer's garden in Go Cong Tay district.
Hoang Dinh Nam AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed April 23, 2014 2:51 pm

When you think about Vietnamese food, you might think of savory beef noodle soup, or endless fields of rice paddies. But chocolate?

As the world's demand for chocolate grows, Vietnam is making a bid to become one of the world's newest high quality suppliers.

Samuel Maruta and Vincent Mourou are two players in the country's small but growing cocoa industry. They founded Marou, an artisan chocolate company, three years ago in Ho Chi Minh City.

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All Tech Considered
10:53 am
Wed April 23, 2014

Weekly Innovation: An Inflatable Car Seat That Comes In A Backpack

Volvo's inflatable car seat is a concept and not a marketable product right now.
Courtesy of Volvo

Originally published on Wed April 23, 2014 3:32 pm

Forget wearables, let's talk about inflatables.

Volvo's new child safety seat concept is a fully inflatable device designed to make what's normally a clunky and heavy seat both lighter and more portable.

So compact is this prototype that it goes from a stylish-looking backpack into a rear-facing car seat in less than a minute. You can pump it in the car — the seat comes with its own pump — and it's Bluetooth-connected so you could pump it remotely.

When inflated, the seat weighs just under 11 pounds.

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The Two-Way
9:55 am
Wed April 23, 2014

American Journalist Kidnapped By Ukraine's Pro-Russia Insurgents

In a photo taken earlier this month, U.S. reporter Simon Ostrovsky stands with a pro-Russian gunman at a seized police station in the eastern Ukrainian town of Slovyansk. Ostrovsky has reportedly been seized by the pro-Russian insurgents.
Efrem Lukatsky AP

Originally published on Wed April 23, 2014 5:34 pm

An American journalist operating in eastern Ukraine has been kidnapped by pro-Russian gunmen, the separatists said Wednesday.

Simon Ostrovsky, working for Vice News, was seized at gunpoint early Tuesday by masked men in the restive eastern Ukrainian city of Slovyansk.

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Shots - Health News
5:40 am
Wed April 23, 2014

Dirty Money: A Microbial Jungle Thrives In Your Wallet

Even some euro bank notes may need a good scrubbing. Like dollar bills, these notes are made from cotton and they harbor an array of bacteria.
Thomas Leuthard The Preiser Project/Flickr

Originally published on Thu April 24, 2014 5:23 am

You may have heard that dollar bills harbor trace amounts of drugs.

But those greenbacks in your wallet are hiding far more than cocaine and the flu. They're teeming with life.

Each dollar bill carries about 3,000 types of bacteria on its surface, scientists have found. Most are harmless. But cash also has DNA from drug-resistant microbes. And your wad of dough may even have a smudge of anthrax and diphtheria.

In other words, your wallet is a portable petri dish.

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Law
4:16 am
Wed April 23, 2014

Networks Tell Supreme Court Aereo Steals Their Content

Originally published on Wed April 23, 2014 6:02 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

NPR's business news starts in the cloud.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: Our tech reporting team has its head in the cloud this week. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments yesterday in a case concerning over-the-air television being stored in the cloud. A start-up company called Aereo lets customers access broadcast TV shows through computers, smartphones and tablets. Protesters say they're stealing content.

Here's NPR's Steve Henn.

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