Business

The Two-Way
4:26 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Federal Reserve To Markets: Nothing To See Here; Move Along

Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen.
Susan Walsh AP

The Federal Reserve's policy makers just eyeballed the economy, and saw nothing new.

On Wednesday, they announced wage-and-price hikes remain low and growth continues at a moderate pace. That means interest rates can stay super low for a "considerable time," while the Fed's bond-buying program can wrap up next month, as expected.

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Economy
3:20 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Fed Pledges To Keep Interest Rates Low For A While

Originally published on Wed September 17, 2014 4:03 pm

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

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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All Tech Considered
1:12 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

3.7 Million Comments Later, Here's Where Net Neutrality Stands

Nuala O'Connor, president and CEO of the Center for Democracy and Technology, testifies on net neutrality issues before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Wed September 17, 2014 4:17 pm

Now, we wait.

The window for the public to weigh in on how federal rule-makers should treat Internet traffic is closed, after a record 3.7 million comments arrived at the FCC. The Sunlight Foundation analyzed the first 800,000 and found that fewer than 1 percent were opposed to net neutrality enforcement.

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Shots - Health News
10:02 am
Wed September 17, 2014

How Catholic Insurance Companies Outsource Contraceptive Coverage

Contraceptive coverage has long been required by state laws or sought by nonreligious employers the religious health plans serve.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed September 17, 2014 1:16 pm

Catholic and other religious hospitals and universities have been arguing in federal court for much of the past two years that they shouldn't have to offer or facilitate birth control as part of their employee health plans because it violates their religious beliefs.

But what happens when the insurance company is itself Catholic? It turns out that Catholic health plans have for years been arranging for outside firms to provide contraceptive coverage to their enrollees.

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NPR Ed
7:14 am
Wed September 17, 2014

These People Can Make Student Loans Disappear

LA Johnson/NPR

Originally published on Wed September 17, 2014 10:54 am

It was an ordinary Friday. Courtney Brown, 24, of Kalamazoo, Mich., was busy looking for a job. "I've applied all kinds of places," she says. "Wal-Mart, Target, Verizon Wireless."

Then she got a strange letter in the mail. " 'We are writing you with good news,' " she reads to me over the phone. " 'We got rid of some of your Everest College debt. ... No one should be forced to mortgage their future for an education.' "

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NPR Story
4:25 am
Wed September 17, 2014

Netropolitan: Facebook For Rich People

Originally published on Wed September 17, 2014 5:46 am

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

Business
3:10 am
Wed September 17, 2014

United Airlines Offers Buyout Packages To Flight Attendants

Originally published on Wed September 17, 2014 5:46 am

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

NPR Story
3:02 am
Wed September 17, 2014

Congressional Panels Chastise NHTSA Over GM Ignition Problems

Originally published on Wed September 17, 2014 5:46 am

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

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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Sweetness And Light
2:19 am
Wed September 17, 2014

Is The NFL Too Big To Fail?

The NFL has had a lot of bad press lately. But it doesn't seem to have any impact on sponsors or fans.
AJ Mast AP

Originally published on Wed September 17, 2014 7:27 am

There has been a crowded docket in our preeminent sport. Let's take just three cases. The defendants: the NFL, Roger Goodell and football itself.

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Energy
2:16 am
Wed September 17, 2014

When The Power's Out, Solar Panels May Not Keep The Lights On

In Del Norte, Colo., Public Works Supervisor Kevin Larimore shows off solar panels that provide electricity for the town's water supply. Despite generating its own solar energy, the town is still at risk of a blackout if its main power line goes down.
Dan Boyce Inside Energy

Originally published on Wed September 17, 2014 9:26 am

The cost of solar panels is falling rapidly in the United States. And as the panels become more affordable, they're popping up on rooftops around the country.

Meanwhile, the U.S. is trying to find better ways to back up its power system against blackouts. And while it may seem counterintuitive, more solar power does not mean fewer blackouts — at least not yet.

The tiny town of Del Norte, in southwestern Colorado, is a perfect example. Despite being covered in solar panels, Del Norte is still at risk of losing power if its main power line goes down.

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The Two-Way
4:03 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Boeing And SpaceX Win $6.8 Billion In NASA Contracts

In an image provided by NASA, astronaut Randy Bresnik prepares to enter Boeing's CST-100 spacecraft for an evaluation at the company's Houston Product Support Center. NASA awarded Boeing with a $4.2 billion contract Tuesday.
AP

Originally published on Tue September 16, 2014 5:29 pm

NASA has chosen Boeing and SpaceX to build the vehicles that will transport its astronauts to the International Space Station, putting the two American companies on a course to take over a job that NASA has recently relied upon Russia to perform: carrying out manned space flights.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden says vehicles from the two companies are expected to be ready for service by 2017.

Announcing its decision Tuesday, the space agency included these details:

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The Salt
3:00 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Edible Packaging? Retailers Not Quite Ready To Ditch The Wrapper

A strawberry vanilla WikiPearl made with Stonyfield frozen yogurt.
Stonyfield and WikiPearl, Inc.

Originally published on Wed September 17, 2014 4:48 am

A handful of companies are trying to take an idea straight out of Willy Wonka and turn it into reality: edible packaging. I mean, why dump tons of waste into landfills when the container your food comes in could be a part of the snack?

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Around the Nation
2:42 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Calpers Pulls Public Employee Pensions Out Of Hedge Funds

Originally published on Tue September 16, 2014 3:33 pm

California's public employee pension is divesting its entire $4 billion stake in hedge funds. Calpers says the investment proved to be too complex and not worth the expenses. Many public pensions turned to hedge funds in hopes of boosting returns and gaining protection from market crashes, but most have lagged behind market indexes in recent years.

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The Two-Way
12:09 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

In Germany, A Magazine For The Dog-Tired

Not everyone's a dog lover. A new magazine in Germany caters to the haters.
Aaron Kohr iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue September 16, 2014 4:57 pm

Here's something to chew over:

With such magazine titles as Mein Hund & Ich ("My Dog and Me") and SitzPlatzFuss ("SitStayHeel"), Germany's newsstands have been basically a canine lovefest.

No more.

The recent launch of Kot & Köter (Poop & Pooches) is already taking a bite out of the admittedly small but vastly underserved niche market of dog haters.

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The Two-Way
9:18 am
Tue September 16, 2014

Marriott's New Envelope For Room Tips Stirs Debate

Marriott is putting envelopes like this one in thousands of rooms at its hotels, hoping to boost the number of guests who tip the housekeeping staff.
Marriott

Originally published on Tue September 16, 2014 1:07 pm

A new program to encourage guests to tip the housekeeping staff at Marriott hotels is meant to make it easier for people to show their gratitude to workers. But the plan, part of an initiative from Maria Shriver's group A Woman's Nation, is raising questions over how the company pays its staff — and whether guests should be expected to tip.

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Parallels
8:37 am
Tue September 16, 2014

Like It Or Not, Scotland's Drama May Hit Your Wallet

The Saltire, the flag of Scotland, flies near the Union Jack in Gretna in Scotland. Some economists say Thursday's vote on Scotland's independence could have wide-ranging economic impacts.
Andy Buchanan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue September 16, 2014 2:37 pm

Does news of Scotland's independence vote make your eyelids feel heavy?

Americans may feel a yawn coming on when told of a political squabble playing out in a distant land less populated than metro Atlanta.

But economists say this Thursday's vote is no snoozer. You may wake up to find its outcome has triggered another global financial upheaval.

To understand the risks to your economic health, let's first review a couple of basics:

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Business
4:39 am
Tue September 16, 2014

Hachette Authors Take Their Case To Amazon's Board Of Directors

Originally published on Tue September 16, 2014 5:59 am

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

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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Your Money
3:17 am
Tue September 16, 2014

With Debt Collection, Your Bank Account Could Be At Risk

Conrad Goetzinger and Cassandra Rose struggle to pay their bills as $760 is garnished from their paychecks every two weeks by debt collectors. Twice, Goetzinger's bank account has been emptied by collectors after he failed to payoff a loan for a laptop.
Eric Francis AP for ProPublica

Originally published on Tue September 16, 2014 6:36 am

Kari Fiotti moved back to Omaha, Neb., in 2009 after a decade living in Italy. She had divorced her husband and returned to the U.S. to start a new life.

Then, Fiotti, 44, took a pricey fall.

"When I came back, I fell and I broke my wrist without insurance," she says.

Her doctor, she says, rejected her offer to make partial payments. So, like millions of Americans, her debt — which had grown to $1,640 with interest and fees — was turned over to collectors.

Fiotti soon learned how hard they would try to collect her unpaid bills.

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NPR Story
3:16 am
Tue September 16, 2014

Coca-Cola Revives Surge, A Citrus-Flavored Soda

Originally published on Tue September 16, 2014 5:59 am

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

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And today's last word in Business is a surge of nostalgia. Yesterday Coca Cola revived Surge, its 1990s-era citrus-flavored soda.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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Energy
1:43 am
Tue September 16, 2014

With U.S. Oil Supply Climbing, Some Call For End To Export Ban

Pump jacks are seen in an oil field over the Monterey Shale formation near Lost Hills, Calif. Much of the U.S. oil industry wants to lift an export ban that followed the 1970s energy crisis.
David McNew Getty Images

Originally published on Tue September 16, 2014 8:37 am

An oil drilling boom that has made the U.S. the world's leading oil and petroleum product producer has some people urging an end to the four-decade ban on exporting domestic crude.

Some in the oil industry are launching a campaign to lift the ban, and they hope to win over a skeptical public.

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Planet Money
1:41 am
Tue September 16, 2014

Minecraft's Business Model: A Video Game That Leaves You Alone

Will Davidson and his Minecraft creation, modeled off the Santa Cruz Mission
Steve Henn

Originally published on Tue September 16, 2014 1:32 pm

Minecraft is deceptively simple video game. You're dropped into a virtual world, and you get to build things. It's like a digital Lego set, but with infinite pieces.

It's simplicity makes it a big hit with kids, like 10-year old Will Davidson. Last year, Will built a Spanish mission for a school report. He modeled his off the Santa Cruz Mission. "I made a chapel over here," Davidson says. "I also have a bell tower."

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Business
1:40 am
Tue September 16, 2014

GM Ignition-Switch Defect Now Linked To 19 Deaths

Kenneth Feinberg, who is administrating a crash victims fund, testified before a Senate commerce subcommittee hearing in July that was examining accountability and corporate culture following GM recalls.
Lauren Victoria Burke AP

Originally published on Tue September 16, 2014 9:03 am

A special compensation fund for victims of GM's faulty ignition switch has issued its first report, and it makes clear that GM will pay claims for more than the 13 deaths the automaker says were linked to the defect.

GM established the voluntary compensation fund as part of its ongoing mea culpa for delaying an ignition switch recall for a decade.

The program is only for Cobalts, HHRs, Saturn Ions and a few other GM models, all no longer in production, and only for those killed or injured when their airbags did not deploy because the ignition switch had turned off.

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All Tech Considered
3:32 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

With Minecraft, Microsoft Buys A Doorway To Millions Of Players

Two youngsters play in a Minecraft tournament Aug. 9 in Ascot, England.
Miles Willis Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse

Originally published on Tue September 16, 2014 7:46 am

The video game world saw a massive acquisition Monday when Microsoft confirmed it was buying Mojang, the company behind the immense world-building game Minecraft, for $2.5 billion.

Now let's be clear: While the ink on the deal might say Microsoft bought Mojang, they really just bought the game franchise Minecraft. The company has created and published a few other small games, but nothing in its portfolio is on the level of Minecraft.

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Business
3:11 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

With Turmoil Roiling Abroad, Why Aren't Oil Prices Bubbling Up?

A soldier guards a pipe en route to the Kawergosk Refinery near Irbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, in July. Fighting in northern Iraq forced the closure of the country's largest oil refinery, Baiji, and cut production from the Kirkuk oil field this summer.
Safin Hamed AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue September 16, 2014 6:32 am

The price of oil has been falling — a drop that you may already have noticed at the pump. Gasoline prices have dropped noticeably since June, and oil is now well below $100 a barrel.

That decline has happened even as conflicts have flared in or near oil-producing regions. Normally, oil prices are expected to spike higher amid turmoil — so why have they been trending lower?

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Technology
2:34 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

Minecraft Purchase Gives Microsoft New Foothold

Originally published on Mon September 15, 2014 8:59 pm

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

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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Business
4:01 am
Mon September 15, 2014

Apple's U2 Album Promotion Backfires

Originally published on Mon September 15, 2014 7:25 am

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

Television
3:58 am
Mon September 15, 2014

Competition Highlights Importance Of Fall TV Season

Originally published on Mon September 15, 2014 6:08 am

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

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Television critics are slogging through hour after hour of new shows to help guide our eyeballs through the busy fall season. And that includes NPR's own Eric Deggans, who's gotten off the couch long enough to talk with us. Thanks, Eric.

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NPR Story
2:52 am
Mon September 15, 2014

Netflix Expands Into France

Originally published on Mon September 15, 2014 6:08 am

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

Your Money
2:52 am
Mon September 15, 2014

Millions Of Americans' Wages Seized Over Credit Card And Medical Debt

Kevin Evans relaxes in his small apartment after arriving home from work. Evans, who lost income and his home in the recession, is now having his wages garnished after falling behind on his credit card payments.
Colin E. Braley AP for ProPublica

Originally published on Tue September 16, 2014 8:52 am

Millions of Americans are still grappling with debt they've accumulated since the recession hit. And new numbers out Monday show many are having a tougher time than you might think.

One in 10 working Americans between the ages of 35 and 44 are getting their wages garnished. That means their pay is being docked — often over an old credit card debt, medical bill or student loan.

That striking figure comes out of a collaboration between NPR and ProPublica. The reporting offers the first available national numbers on wage garnishment.

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Goats and Soda
2:52 am
Mon September 15, 2014

Philip Morris Sues Uruguay Over Graphic Cigarette Packaging

Smoking has declined by about 4 percent annually in Uruguay since the country required graphic warnings on cigarette packages.
Matilde Campodonico AP

Originally published on Mon September 15, 2014 6:08 am

Shopping for cigarettes in Uruguay isn't a pleasant experience. Photos of decaying teeth, premature babies and gruesome hospital scenes wrap around every pack. In fact, the country requires manufacturers to cover at least 80 percent of the packaging with medical warnings and graphic images.

Cigarette giant Philip Morris International sees this requirement as a violation of a treaty law. So it's suing the country of Uruguay for $25 million.

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