Business

All Tech Considered
1:07 am
Tue April 30, 2013

When It Comes To Productivity, Technology Can Hurt And Help

With instant messages buzzing, emails pinging and texts ringing, how can employers increase productivity in the workplace? Software companies are tackling the problem, tracking employees' computer time to find ways to improve their efficiency.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 1:27 pm

Even when people think they're buckling down, studies show the average office worker wastes over a third of the day. There's Facebook, of course, and the email from a friend with a YouTube link. After all that, is it time to go get coffee?

Worker pay is the most expensive line item in the budget for most businesses, which means billions of dollars are going to waste.

But here's the silver lining: It turns out lack of productivity presents a big business opportunity.

Joe Hruska is pretty blunt about how much work anyone does in a typical day.

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Business
4:22 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

As Health Law Changes Loom, A Shift To Part-Time Workers

Originally published on Tue April 30, 2013 1:21 pm

Nearly all of the remaining provisions of the new health care law go into effect next January, including one that requires businesses with 50 or more full-time employees to pay for their health care or pay a penalty.

Some businesses may already be making personnel changes to save money when that provision of the Affordable Care Act kicks in. One option on the table: shifting full-time workers to part time.

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All Tech Considered
3:32 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

A Real-World Connection Between Video Games And Guns

Medal of Honor's authentic action is a selling point for its publisher, Electronic Arts.
Courtesy of Electronic Arts

Originally published on Wed May 8, 2013 11:43 am

In the aftermath of last year's Newtown, Conn., school shootings, the Entertainment Software Association, which serves computer and video game publishers, issued a statement saying that years of research has shown no connection between entertainment and real-world violence.

But there's still a connection between video game makers and real-world gun makers.

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Technology
3:00 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

Tech Week Ahead: Touch Screen Keyboards

Originally published on Mon April 29, 2013 3:48 pm

Steve Henn looks ahead to a new touch screen keyboard developed by researchers at the University of St. Andrews. Melissa Block and Audie Cornish have more.

The Two-Way
2:40 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

Europe Bans Pesticides In Move To Protect Honey Bees

Beekeepers demonstrate at the EU headquarters in Brussels Monday, as lawmakers vote on whether to ban pesticides blamed for killing bees.
Georges Gobet AFP/Getty Images

Three popular pesticides will soon be illegal in the European Union, where officials hope the change helps restore populations of honey bees, vital to crop production, to healthy levels. The new ban will be enacted in December.

"I pledge to do my utmost to ensure that our bees, which are so vital to our ecosystem and contribute over €22 billion ($28.8 billion) annually to European agriculture, are protected," said EU Health and Consumer Commissioner Tonio Borg.

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The Salt
2:01 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

If TV's Your Cup Of Tea, Try A Character-Infused Blend

What is a "tea blend?"
Sasha Courtesy of Adagio Teas

Originally published on Mon April 29, 2013 4:27 pm

Apparently, fan fiction and fan art aren't the only options for expressing your love of Sherlock, Doctor Who and The Hunger Games. There's also tea.

If you visit the online tea store of Adagio Teas, you'll find a collection of "Fandom Blends." They're the teas that customers have mixed and named after characters in favorite TV shows, books, movies and comics.

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The Salt
11:57 am
Mon April 29, 2013

Pork Producers Root Out Market Niche With Berkshire Pigs

Berkshire pigs on Happy Hula Farm, a member of the Eden Farms collective.
Amy Mayer Iowa Public Radio

Originally published on Mon April 29, 2013 1:08 pm

Raising pork can be a tough business for producers, who've lately been watching feed prices rise along with the cost of corn. That's one reason why a small but growing number of former commodity pork producers are trying their luck with specialty breeds instead. These premium pigs, raised on small farms with methods that appeal to consumers, can also fetch a premium price.

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Around the Nation
3:10 am
Mon April 29, 2013

FEMA-Subsidized Housing To End For Some Sandy Victims

Originally published on Mon April 29, 2013 11:41 am

Six months after Hurricane Sandy, hundreds of low-income New Yorkers are facing homelessness. They've been living in subsidized hotel rooms since the storm, but that funding is about to run out. Advocates say there isn't enough public and low-income housing to accommodate them all.

Business
3:07 am
Mon April 29, 2013

Shoppers Should Avoid Sandy-Damaged Vehicles

Originally published on Mon April 29, 2013 6:00 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The Atlantic Coast of the U.S. took an economic hit six months ago from Hurricane Sandy. It left behind damaged businesses, homes and hundreds of thousands of waterlogged vehicles.

NPR's Sonari Glinton reports that it's still affecting the auto industry.

SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: Much of the physical damage of Sandy has been cleaned up, but if you didn't live in the storm's path, it's hard to contemplate the scope of destruction - especially when it comes to cars.

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Movies
2:56 am
Mon April 29, 2013

Hollywood Pushes To Beak Into Chinese Film Market

Originally published on Mon April 29, 2013 6:00 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

One place American moviemakers are pushing to get into is China, which is why it's a big deal that the first summer blockbuster, "Iron Man 3" will hit theaters in China this Friday, the very same day it opens here at home. Hollywood studios covet a same-day release in China. The Chinese government allows just 34 foreign films into their country each year, at a time when Hollywood is under increasing pressure to break into China's fast-growing movie market, which is now the world's second-largest.

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Around the Nation
2:56 am
Mon April 29, 2013

States Question What To Do With Surging Tax Revenue

Originally published on Mon April 29, 2013 11:07 am

Across the country, state budgets are back in the black after years of belt-tightening and spending cuts. From California to Florida, in nearly every state, the economic recovery has produced a surge in tax revenue.

For governors and state legislators, that's produced a new question: how to spend the money.

The past three years have not been easy ones for elected officials. Nearly every state requires them to produce a balanced budget. And with declining revenue from sales, property and income taxes, that has meant big spending cuts.

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Business
2:56 am
Mon April 29, 2013

Business News

Originally published on Mon April 29, 2013 6:00 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with massive layoffs in Greece.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: Greek lawmakers approved emergency plans to cut 15,000 government jobs by the end of next year. They have to do that in order to receive more European Union bailout funds.

The Greek parliament approved a measure in a vote on Sunday. Their new law will overturn what had been a constitutional guarantee for public sector workers to have a permanent position for life.

Business
2:56 am
Mon April 29, 2013

The Last Word In Business

Originally published on Mon April 29, 2013 6:00 am

Attorneys, visitors, employees and inmates have been reviewing jails on the website Yelp. They offer opinions on everything from cleanliness to guard uniforms to abuse and corruption.

All Tech Considered
1:29 am
Mon April 29, 2013

After Sandy, Questions Linger Over Cellphone Reliability

Residents of the East Village in New York City look for cellphone reception Nov. 1 after Hurricane Sandy wiped out power and some cell towers.
Timothy A. Clary AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon April 29, 2013 11:07 am

Roughly one in four cellphone towers in the path of Hurricane Sandy went out of service. It was a frustrating and potentially dangerous experience for customers without a landline to fall back on. Now, local officials and communications experts are pushing providers to improve their performance during natural disasters.

Lori McCaskill lives in Brooklyn, and when Sandy hit last October, her Verizon cell service went out. She couldn't work. She couldn't check in with family and friends. Her sister was due to have a baby any day.

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All Tech Considered
1:25 am
Mon April 29, 2013

Blazing The Trail For Female Programmers

Sarah Allen works with interns Lori Hsu (left) and Fito von Zastrow at the Blazing Cloud offices in San Francisco.
Ramin Rahimian for NPR

Originally published on Tue April 30, 2013 3:35 pm

This story is part of our series, The Changing Lives of Women.

Sarah Allen has been the only woman on a team of computer programmers a few times in the more than two decades she has worked in the field. Most notably, she led the team — as the lone female programmer — that created Flash video, the dominant technology for streaming video on the Web.

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U.S.
1:23 am
Mon April 29, 2013

Colorado's New Gun Laws Send Businesses Packing

Workers assemble 30-round capacity magazines at the Magpul Industries plant in Erie, Colo. The company, which employs 200 people, says it plans to move its entire operation out of the state.
Brennan Linsley AP

Originally published on Wed May 1, 2013 7:11 am

Colorado responded to the mass shootings in Aurora, Colo., and Newtown, Conn., by passing new gun control measures last month. That's not sitting well with several gun-related businesses in the Centennial State, where four companies have announced plans to relocate all or some of their operations.

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Business
3:27 pm
Sat April 27, 2013

E-Cigarettes Bring Smokers Back Inside, For Now

Actor Stephen Dorff smokes an e-cigarette in a commercial for Blu E-Cigs.
YouTube

Originally published on Sat April 27, 2013 5:07 pm

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The Two-Way
12:20 pm
Sat April 27, 2013

Boylston Street Businesses Get Patrons, Loan Offer In Boston

People walk and eat along Boylston Street, near the site of the Boston Marathon bombings, on Wednesday. Businesses in the area have reported strong customer support; they also have an option for federal loans to help them cope with losses.
Mario Tama Getty Images

Originally published on Sat April 27, 2013 3:55 pm

Faced with sharp financial losses stemming from the Boston Marathon bombing attack and the days of forced closure that followed, businesses in the affected Copley Square area can apply for federal help, the Small Business Administration announced Friday.

The news comes as people continue to flock to Boylston Street, to pay their respects to victims of the April 15 attacks and to support stores and restaurants that were open for the first Saturday since the bombings and the ensuing manhunt.

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It's All Politics
9:07 am
Sat April 27, 2013

Plan Would Force Public Companies To Reveal Political Giving

iStockphoto.com

The 2012 election was the most expensive in history, but there remain some gaping holes in our knowledge about who paid for what. The Securities and Exchange Commission is considering a proposal to add more transparency in future elections, but it won't happen without a fight.

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The Two-Way
8:23 am
Sat April 27, 2013

$600K For A Cup Of Coffee: Apple's Cook Is A Hit At Auction

A Lot Of Beans: A charity auction of a cup of coffee with Apple CEO Tim Cook has garnered bids topping $600,000. In this file photo, a pot of beans sits in a Starbucks store.
Sajjad Hussain AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat April 27, 2013 1:21 pm

The bidding hasn't closed yet, but a charity auction of a cup of coffee shared with Apple CEO Tim Cook has already attracted offers of more than $600,000 — more than 10 times its estimated value of $50,000. Cook is one of several celebrities taking part in the auction, which benefits the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights.

The coffee klatch, currently valued at $605,000, will take place at Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. And the price may rise even higher — the auction closes on Tues., May 14.

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Africa
3:06 pm
Fri April 26, 2013

787 Dreamliner Could Mean Big Things For Africa's 'Air Wars'

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. The Dreamliner is coming back. FAA regulators have approved a fix for the Boeing Dreamliner 787, which was grounded around the world out of safety concerns. The first redesigned plane could retake to the skies as soon as this weekend out of Ethiopia. NPR's Gregory Warner explains what the world's most modern aircraft means to the cradle of humanity.

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Explosions At Boston Marathon
2:47 pm
Fri April 26, 2013

Damage To Boston Businesses May Not Be Covered By Insurance

Businesses around Copley Square are hoping the Boston Marathon bombings won't be officially declared an act of terrorism. That's because they stand to lose insurance money. Many have business interruption insurance to pay for lost income — but that doesn't apply to terrorism and few businesses pay extra to cover it.

Around the Nation
2:47 pm
Fri April 26, 2013

Drought To Heavy Rains Complicate Planting In Midwest

Audie Cornish talks with Jeff Miller a corn and soybean farmer in Lewiston, Ill., near Peoria, about the flooding in the Midwest that's come on the heels of a historic drought. Miller's farm, located right along the Illinois and Spooner Rivers, is already partially flooded, preventing him from planting corn so far this spring.

The Sequester: Cuts And Consequences
11:53 am
Fri April 26, 2013

Flight Delays Push Congress To End Controller Furloughs

Travelers stand in line at Los Angeles International Airport on Monday. Congress moved quickly this week to give the Federal Aviation Administration flexibility to end air traffic controller furloughs that resulted in flight delays at several airports.
Damian Dovarganes AP

The U.S. Congress — a body not exactly known for its swift feet — raced Friday to complete legislation to help travelers avoid delays at airports.

The House voted 361-41 to approve legislation that the Senate passed without objection late Thursday. The bill gives the Federal Aviation Administration more spending flexibility to cut its budget while avoiding furloughs of air traffic controllers.

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The Two-Way
11:37 am
Fri April 26, 2013

On-The-Job Deaths Continue At Steady, Grim Pace

A construction site in San Mateo, Calif., earlier this month. There were 738 deaths of construction workers in the U.S. during 2011, the most of any single industry. The fatality rate per workers was higher, when taken together, in agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Dying on the job continues at a steady pace according to the latest statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The fatal injury rate for American workers dropped slightly in 2011 — the most recent year with reported numbers — from 3.6 to 3.5 deaths per 100,000 workers.

But 4,693 men, women and teenagers died at work. That's three more than the total number of lives lost on the job in 2010.

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Economy
8:06 am
Fri April 26, 2013

U.S. Economic Growth Regained Speed In First Quarter

Originally published on Fri April 26, 2013 4:59 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Accelerating economic growth is at the top of NPR's business news.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: U.S. economic growth regained speed in the first quarter of this year, although not as much as economists had hoped. The Gross Domestic Product grew at an annual rate of 2.5 percent. Consumer spending is up and home construction rose, but government spending fell and tax increases, as well as federal budget cuts, are expected to slow economic growth later in the year. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

The Two-Way
7:25 am
Fri April 26, 2013

Rescuers Still Hope For Survivors In Bangladesh Collapse

Bangladeshi volunteers and rescue workers at the site of the factory on Friday.
AFP AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri April 26, 2013 8:20 am

Rescue workers are still hoping to find survivors from the collapse of an eight-story garment factory in Bangladesh that has killed more than 300 people and left hundreds missing.

Meanwhile, angry relatives of the missing have clashed with police, blaming authorities for the catastrophe at Rana Plaza in Savar, an industrial suburb of the capital, Dhaka.

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The Two-Way
6:47 am
Fri April 26, 2013

Economy Picked Up In First Quarter: Grew At 2.5 Percent Pace

Shoppers came out in the first quarter, pushing up economic growth.
Robyn Beck AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat April 27, 2013 11:20 am

The U.S. economy grew at a 2.5 percent annual rate in the first quarter of 2013, the Bureau of Economic Analysis estimated Friday morning.

That's modest growth, and was below the 3.2 percent pace economists had expected to hear about. But growth was up substantially from fourth-quarter 2012, when the economy expanded at a scant 0.4 percent annual rate.

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Business
3:17 am
Fri April 26, 2013

Senate Moves To Update Federal Online Privacy Laws

Originally published on Fri April 26, 2013 4:59 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Yesterday, the Senate took a step toward updating the federal online privacy law. It's a law that dates back to a time when most people had never heard of the Internet.

NPR's Martin Kaste reports.

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Politics
3:17 am
Fri April 26, 2013

Koch Brothers' Newspaper Takeover Could Spark 'Culture Clash'

The Tribune Co. is considering the sale of all of its daily newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun and the Los Angeles Times, whose building is pictured above.
David McNew Getty Images

Originally published on Fri April 26, 2013 4:59 pm

The Tribune Co., emerging from bankruptcy and looking to reshape itself, is now considering the sale of all its newspapers — including the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, The Baltimore Sun and five other regional newspapers. It's still very early in the sale process; although the newspaper unit has been valued at $623 million, significant debts are also attached, and Tribune has signaled that it reserves the right not to sell if there isn't a worthy bid.

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