Business

The Record
10:01 pm
Thu April 12, 2012

Hearing In Megaupload Case To Determine Fate Of Users' Data

Megaupload boss Kim Dotcom in February as he is granted bail in a New Zealand court. Dotcom is in New Zealand waiting on a U.S. bid to extradite him on online piracy charges.
Michael Bradley AFP/Getty Images

On Friday morning a hearing scheduled in the criminal copyright case of Megaupload may have implications for all kinds of companies that sell storage space in the cloud — storage space used for anything from music files to family photos, research data to movie collections. The hearing will focus on what happens when the federal government blocks access to allegedly illegal files along with clearly legal ones.

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U.S.
8:24 am
Thu April 12, 2012

Where Does America Get Oil? You May Be Surprised

The U.S. now imports far more oil from Canada than from any other country. Persian Gulf imports now account for less than 15 percent of the oil consumed in the U.S. This photo shows the Syncrude oil sands extraction facility near Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, in 2009.
Mark Ralston AFP/Getty Images

Since the Arab oil embargoes of the 1960s and 70s, it's been conventional wisdom to talk about American dependence on oil from the Persian Gulf. But the global oil market has changed dramatically since then.

Today, the U.S. actually gets most of its imported oil from Canada and Latin America.

And many Americans might be surprised to learn that the U.S. now imports roughly the same amount of oil from Africa as it does from the Persian Gulf. African imports were a bit higher in 2010, while Persian Gulf oil accounted for a bit more last year.

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Business
2:00 am
Thu April 12, 2012

Business News

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with a big fine for Johnson & Johnson.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: So much for no more tears. A judge in Arkansas ordered the company most famous for its baby shampoo to by more than a billion dollars in fines yesterday over its marketing for a very different product. That would be an antipsychotic drug, Risperdal.

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Business
2:00 am
Thu April 12, 2012

Losing Its Edge, Sony CEO Tries To Turn Company Around

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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Business
2:00 am
Thu April 12, 2012

Taxes Lead To Stress, Leads To Fatal Car Wrecks

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Some other news: Tax day is rapidly approaching, and it turns out that day can hazardous to your heath.

As NPR's Wendy Kaufman reports, researchers found a rise in fatal auto accidents on the day taxes are due.

WENDY KAUFMAN, BYLINE: Back in 1789, Ben Franklin wrote: Nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes. He couldn't possibly have foreseen the linkage reported in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association: 6 percent more people than usual are killed on the roads on tax day.

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Business
2:00 am
Thu April 12, 2012

The Last Word In Business

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Our last word in business is about another driving hazard, DWD: driving with dogs.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Mitt Romney has taken a lot of heat this political season over a decades-old story in which his dog was strapped to the roof of his car while going on a family vacation.

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Planet Money
1:22 am
Thu April 12, 2012

Why Didn't Passengers Panic On The Titanic?

via Foreign Policy

As the Titanic was sinking and women and children climbed into lifeboats, the cellist and violinist from the ship's band stood and played. They died when the ship went down. Men stood on the deck and smoked cigars. They died, too.

This behavior is puzzling to economists, who like to believe that people tend to act in their own self interest.

"There was no pushing and shoving," says David Savage, an economist at Queensland University in Australia who has studied testimony from the survivors. It was "very, very orderly behavior."

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Media
1:17 am
Thu April 12, 2012

Huckabee Pledges More Civil Alternative To Limbaugh

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee says his new radio show will be more "conversation and less confrontation."
Gary Kline

Originally published on Fri April 13, 2012 8:22 am

Mike Huckabee fell short four years ago in his quest to become the Republican presidential nominee. As of this week, the former Arkansas governor has a new job: national radio talk show host.

The Mike Huckabee Show started Monday with an anticipatory flourish.

"Welcome to the community of conversation. You've just made a right turn, and you've arrived at the corner of conservatism and common sense," he said. "In this show, we're going to be confronting the issues — not the listeners."

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Latin America
1:15 am
Thu April 12, 2012

After Taint Of Drugs, Colombia Reinvents Itself

A woman looks over vegetables in Carulla Supermarket in Bogota, Colombia. The country, which plays host this weekend to the Summit of the Americas, is a rising star in the region. Foreign investment has quadrupled over the past decade, and it has a new free-trade agreement with the U.S.
Javier Galeano AP

Originally published on Fri April 13, 2012 8:22 am

Colombia was once associated with cocaine trafficking and powerful drug lords, but today's reality is different: It's stable, a magnet for foreign investment and diplomatically engaged — and this weekend hosts the Summit of the Americas. Increasingly, Colombia is seen as South America's rising star.

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The Salt
1:39 pm
Wed April 11, 2012

Fishermen Net Gold In Silvery Eels Sold To Asia

A fisherman uses a lantern while dip-netting for elvers on a river in southern Maine. Elvers are young, translucent eels that are born in the Sargasso Sea and swim to freshwater lakes and ponds, where they grow to adults before returning to the sea.
Robert F. Bukaty AP

There's a gold rush under way on the East Coast of the U.S. for tiny baby eels known as elvers. Fishermen in Maine and South Carolina are reaping profits upward of $2,000 per pound for the fish that are considered a delicacy in Japan.

Elvers have an almost ghostly appearance in the water — their bodies are a cloudy white, skinny as a cocktail straw and no longer than your finger. They look like tiny snakes as they squiggle through the water.

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Shots - Health Blog
12:14 pm
Wed April 11, 2012

Ark. Judge Socks Johnson & Johnson With $1.1 Billion Penalty

A state judge in Arkansas ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a $1.1 billion fine after a jury found the company had minimized the risks of its antipsychotic drug Risperdal.

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The Two-Way
10:17 am
Wed April 11, 2012

Fed Won't Raise Rates Soon, Reserve Bank President Says

The Federal Reserve's policymakers seem to be reluctant to consider any more efforts to inject a monetary stimulus into the U.S. economy — but that doesn't mean you should expect the central bank to raise interest rates any time soon.

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Your Money
10:00 am
Wed April 11, 2012

Recreate A Habit Of Saving, Says Finance Expert

The economy is officially in recovery. But a lot of people are still feeling squeezed, and many used their savings to ride out the financial storm. Guest host Viviana Hurtado talks with personal finance expert Louis Barajas about rebuilding your finances during the economic recovery.

Business
2:00 am
Wed April 11, 2012

Wireless Industry Tries To Thwart Smartphone Thefts

The wireless phone industry has a plan to take the profit out of the market for stolen smartphones. At the urging of police chiefs across the country and federal regulators, the industry is developing a database of stolen devices.

Business
2:00 am
Wed April 11, 2012

The Last Word In Business

Officials in San Gabriel Valley set up a quarantine zone after a lemon tree was found infected with citrus disease. That disease almost wiped out Florida's citrus crop a few years back.

Energy
2:00 am
Wed April 11, 2012

Natural Gas Glut Leads To Lower Prices

The U.S. is facing a growing surplus in natural gas. Renee Montagne talks to Amy Myers Jaffe, of the Energy Forum at the Baker Institute at Rice University, about the glut. She expects some consolidation in the industry.

Politics
2:00 am
Wed April 11, 2012

Campaign Season Revives Buffett Rule Debate

The general election campaign between President Obama and presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney is heating up. In Florida Tuesday, Obama highlighted what Democrats consider a major vulnerability for Romney — the relatively low taxes he's paid on a multimillion dollar income.

Business
2:00 am
Wed April 11, 2012

What Would The Buffett Rule Mean For The U.S. Economy

President Obama makes a case for the tax proposal dubbed the "Buffett rule" Tuesday at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Fla.
Marc Serota Getty Images

A tax-the-rich proposal named after Warren Buffett has little chance of passing this year, but that hasn't stopped the debate over what impact it would have.

Some economists are skeptical that a 30 percent minimum tax on people with million-dollar incomes — known as the "Buffett rule" — would do much to reduce the deficit or boost the economy. But the Obama administration says the proposal is necessary to make the tax code more equitable.

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Crisis In The Housing Market
12:53 am
Wed April 11, 2012

Fannie, Freddie Weigh Mortgage Write-Downs

A pre-foreclosure sign is seen in front of a home in Miami. Supporters of a plan to reduce the principals owed by many homeowners facing foreclosure say it would prevent larger losses and keep people in their homes.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Hundreds of thousands of homeowners facing foreclosure might get help by having the amount they owe reduced by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

This is a hot topic in Washington, D.C., with many Democrats pushing for these so-called "principal reductions" to try to help the housing market. On Tuesday, a top federal regulator came a step closer to allowing the move.

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Business
1:00 pm
Tue April 10, 2012

Cars Increasingly Outsell Trucks In US

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Now the return of the car. March was a good month for the auto industry. Almost all the major companies - foreign and domestic - saw their sales go up. And it was an especially good month for the car - the regular old sedan or coupe. In the U.S., cars outsold trucks by 54 to 46 percent. That's a trend that keeps going up, and it's very different from the middle of the last decade, when trucks outsold cars. To find out what's behind this trend, we turn to NPR's Sonari Glinton. Hi, Sonari.

SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: Hi, Robert.

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The Two-Way
12:04 pm
Tue April 10, 2012

U.S. Coal Exports Soar To 1991 Heights

As U.S. coal consumption has fallen, its exports of coal have risen. Pictured, Midwest Generation's Crawford Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant in Chicago. The city's two coal-fired plants are closing under a deal with city officials and environmental groups.
M. Spencer Green AP

Originally published on Tue April 10, 2012 12:05 pm

America's reliance on coal to produce electricity has declined by more than 20 percent in recent years — but in 2011, the U.S. exported coal at a rate not seen in 20 years, according to the AP. And much of the new surge in coal exports comes from Asia and Europe.

Here's a rough guide to who's buying America's coal, based on the AP story:

  • South Korea: Up 81 percent to more than 10 million tons.
  • India: Up 65 percent, to 4.5 million tons.
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The Two-Way
10:37 am
Tue April 10, 2012

State Approves Bill To Ban Employers From Seeking Facebook Login Info

A woman uses her smartphone to access Facebook. Several states are close to banning employers from asking job applicants for their social media login information.
Juan Mabromata AFP/Getty Images

The practice of employers asking job applicants for their account login information for Facebook and other social media sites is meeting its backlash, as Maryland is poised to be among the first states to ban the practice. The state's General Assembly has passed the bill, which now awaits the signature of Gov. Martin O'Malley, reports The Baltimore Sun.

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Business
2:00 am
Tue April 10, 2012

Microsoft To Buy Patents From AOL For $1.1 Billion

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Moving on to another billion dollar tech deal, Microsoft has agreed to pay AOL over $1 billion for hundreds of patents. Microsoft outbid several rivals, including Amazon and eBay, in a deal which saw AOL's stock price jump by over 40 percent. The over 800 patents include internet search, email and customized advertising and are seen as a push by Microsoft into the lucrative smartphone and tablet market.

Business
2:00 am
Tue April 10, 2012

Machine Evens Sushi-Making Playing Field

Originally published on Tue April 10, 2012 5:18 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And our last word in business today: sushi bot.

It's where raw fish and robots meet up. More specifically, it's a cutting-edge, sushi-making machine. A company called Suzumo introduced a prototype at a food expo in Tokyo last week.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: It is true that a skilled chef has trained for a long time. However, with Suzumo sushi-making machines, everyone can make stable-quality sushi very easily.

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Technology
2:00 am
Tue April 10, 2012

'Do Not Track' Web Browser Option Gains Steam

Several Web browsers, including Mozilla's Firefox, enable users to request additional privacy online via a "do not track" button. But there's no consensus on how much privacy the button should offer users.
Leon Neal AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue April 10, 2012 9:10 am

Government regulators in the U.S. and Europe are putting pressure on the online advertising industry to adopt a new Web browser option called "do not track." The option is designed to let people request more privacy from the websites they visit.

But there's no consensus yet on how much privacy users should expect. An Internet industry task force convenes Tuesday in Washington to try to hash that out.

Some browsers, like Internet Explorer, Safari and Firefox, already come with a "do not track" button. Other browsers are expected to add the feature soon.

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Business
2:00 am
Tue April 10, 2012

For $1.1 Billion, Facebook Snaps Up Instagram

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Facebook likes Instagram. That's the top of our business news.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: And they did more than just click the little thumbs up. Facebook is buying the photo application Instagram and the price is higher than it has ever paid for an acquisition - $1 billion; this for a company with only around a dozen employees. As somebody joked yesterday, why didn't they just download it?

As NPR's Laura Sydell reports, some analysts say the purchase is a defensive move.

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Shots - Health Blog
1:43 am
Tue April 10, 2012

Calif.'s Prescription-Drug Monitoring System Feels Pain From Budget Cuts

At Universal Pain Management, Dr. Francis Riegler confers with Trudy Roberts, the clinic's nurse practitioner, over a patient's record of prescription drug purchases.
Sarah Varney KQED

This is a story about what can happen when no one is looking. For the patients at Universal Pain Management, a medical clinic in northern Los Angeles County, Dr. Francis Riegler is always looking.

Riegler huddles with the clinic's nurse practitioner over a computer printout. The one-page report from the state's drug-tracking system shows that a patient was on the hunt for more Vicodin, a powerful pain reliever that he was already getting from Riegler's clinic.

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Business
1:42 am
Tue April 10, 2012

For Freelancers, Landing A Workspace Gets Harder

Workers share office space at Grind, a co-working company in New York City. Those who want to use Grind's facilities are vetted through a competitive application process.
JaegerSloan

The recession brought widespread unemployment across the U.S., but it also prompted a spike in the number of freelance or independent workers.

More than 30 percent of the nation's workers now work on their own, and the research firm IDC projects the number of nontraditional office workers — telecommuters, freelancers and contractors — will reach 1.3 billion worldwide by 2015.

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Europe
1:39 am
Tue April 10, 2012

Unemployed Greeks Look To Create Their Own Jobs

Panos Papadopoulos, 28, is the co-founder of BugSense, which makes a service to track bugs in mobile phone applications. He also mentors other young entrepreneurs at CoLab, a business incubator in Greece.
Joanna Kakissis NPR

In Greece, more than 21 percent of the working-age population is jobless. For Greeks under age 25, the rate is more than double that.

Some young Greeks are frightened that the economy, now in free fall, will take years to recover, so they're leaving for jobs abroad. A few entrepreneurs, however, are trying to start businesses during the worst recession in decades.

A magnet for these young entrepreneurs is CoLab, a business incubator in a weathered building near the Athens Cathedral in the city center. CoLab opened in 2009, with just one occupant — a Spanish travel writer.

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Law
1:38 am
Tue April 10, 2012

Federal Court To Weigh Graphic Cigarette Labels

This image provided by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration shows one of nine new warning labels it wants cigarette makers to use. Tobacco companies have sued, claiming the mandate is unconstitutional.
AP

Originally published on Tue April 10, 2012 6:09 am

The question of how far the government can go in forcing a business — in this case cigarette makers — to warn consumers about its product is before a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.

The Food and Drug Administration wants large, graphic warning labels to scare smokers, but tobacco companies say that violates their right to free speech.

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