Business

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The Last Word In Business

Apr 12, 2012

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.

Why Didn't Passengers Panic On The Titanic?

Apr 12, 2012

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."

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."

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Last Word In Business

Apr 11, 2012

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.

Natural Gas Glut Leads To Lower Prices

Apr 11, 2012

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.

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.

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.

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.

Cars Increasingly Outsell Trucks In US

Apr 10, 2012

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.

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.

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.

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.

Machine Evens Sushi-Making Playing Field

Apr 10, 2012

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.

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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.

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.

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

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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.

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.

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.

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.

For more, see our video, Inside The Matzo Factory, and see Adam Davdson's latest NYT Magazine column

The matzo business may be the most heavily regulated business in the world.

Facebook's decision to acquire Instagram for $1 billion set off strong reactions among Instagram users Monday, when the deal was announced. And if any users of Instagram's photo-sharing service were in love with the deal, they seemed to be keeping pretty quiet about it.

When your kids are infested with head lice, a certain amount of panic — even desperation — can spread through the house. But one biologist has made it his mission to find a better way to rid his home of a common household pest.

AOL is selling a trove of patents to Microsoft for about $1.1 billion. The announcement sent AOL's share price soaring. A shareholder group had been complaining that the struggling company hadn't acted to realize the value of its patents. Many tech companies have been moving aggressively to assemble large patent portfolios as they battle over intellectual property.

'Hacking For Sale' A Lucrative Business

Apr 9, 2012

Security firms like Vupen are selling hacking techniques to the highest bidder — typically government agencies — for six-figure price tags. Audie Cornish talks to Forbes reporter Andy Greenberg about the market for security vulnerabilities and who's buying them.

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