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The Tax Man Cometh! But For Whom?

Apr 15, 2012

It's that time of year again – tax week.

With the deadline for Americans to file their income taxes looming, there's a good chance you've heard or will hear from politicians, on cable news and on talk radio about those who pay little or no taxes.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has said that we "have a situation in this country where you're nearing 50 percent of people who don't even pay income taxes." There are even those who say that there are nearly 50 percent of Americans who pay no taxes at all.

Redefining 'Hacker' In Technology Hotbed

Apr 15, 2012

Palo Alto, Calif., recently hosted a 12-hour bonanza for software developers, artists and families. The "Super Happy Block Party Hackathon" was a marathon for coders to make new software in a short amount of time. It also featured food trucks, music and homemade robots. Corey Takahashi reports.

What America Pays In Taxes

Apr 13, 2012

Why Tax Day Falls On April 17 This Year

Apr 13, 2012

Every year, millions of Americans scramble to file their income taxes before the filing deadline — ordinarily April 15.

But procrastinators get a reprieve this year: The 2012 deadline falls on Tuesday, April 17.

This year, April 15 falls on a Sunday. One might expect that would make Monday, April 16, the 2012 filing deadline.

But not so this year. Monday is the District of Columbia's Emancipation Day — a local holiday unfamiliar to most Americans.

Google Announces Stock Split

Apr 13, 2012

Google Inc. plans to split its stock 2-for-1 to preserve its leadership's control over the company. The online search leader also announced a 61 percent jump in profits for the first quarter.

J.K. Rowling's publisher has announced her book will be set in an English town, where the death of a councilman sets off "the biggest war the town has yet seen." The publisher is also likely hoping this title can conjure up Harry Potter-sized sales. The children's series has sold a record 450 million copies.

It's been a week since a coalition of liberal and civil rights groups went public with a campaign to undermine the American Legislative Exchange Council, which has advocated stringent voter-identification and "stand your ground" laws around the U.S.

Seven corporations — Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Mars, Kraft Foods, McDonalds, Wendy's and the software maker Intuit — say they have dropped their memberships in ALEC. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said it won't give ALEC any more grants, though one already under way will continue.

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.

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.

Business News

Apr 12, 2012

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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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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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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.

The Last Word In Business

Apr 12, 2012

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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 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.

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.

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

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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.

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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.

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