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More Bad News For Coal Mine-Reliant States

Jan 16, 2016
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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

In President Obama's State of the Union address, there was a line you might have missed, but it caught the ear of people in the energy industry.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

On Friday, Wall Street traders got the same treatment as the main character in The Revenant: A big fearsome bear attacked again and again.

By the close, stock prices were badly mauled. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 2.4 percent of its value, tumbling 391 points to close at 15,988.

The S&P 500 index dropped 2.16 percent to 1,880 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index lost 2.7 percent to 4,488.

Wal-Mart will shut down 269 stores to focus on other aspects of the business, including online sales, the company announced Friday. Among the shuttered stores will be 154 in the U.S.

From McDonald's to Costco, Big Food has been declaring a shift to buying only cage-free eggs.

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The company that owns the leaking natural gas well in Los Angeles understated the number of air samples showing higher-than-usual levels of benzene, The Associated Press reports.

Adding to concerns over the disaster, efforts to stop the leak appear to have destabilized the well, the Los Angeles Times reports, raising the risk of a blowout.

This day is starting out really nasty if you happen to be an oil driller — or a baby boomer who would like to retire with a nest egg.

Through the night and into the morning, the price of oil has been falling. You can now buy a barrel for less than $30. (Remember, it was nearly $115 as recently as June 2014.) The market for oil has been thrown into disarray because of worries about possible declining Chinese demand and surging Iranian supplies.

That means U.S. oil producers will continue to see their profits plunge and industry layoffs worsen.

Citing concerns over pricing and pollution, the Obama administration on Friday unveiled a moratorium on new coal leases on federal lands. The change won't affect existing leases, which generated nearly $1.3 billion for the government last year.

The Department of the Interior says it wants to make sure the money it's charging for coal leases takes into account both market prices and what's often called the "social costs" of coal — its impact on climate change and public health.

The agency says federal lands account for roughly 40 percent of all U.S. coal production.

Sales Of 'Most Wanted Shirt' Skyrocket

Jan 15, 2016
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Back in the '70s at auto shows across the country, you could find Anita Mitzel wearing an extravagant gown and reciting scripted monologues in front of a shiny Cadillac that would slowly spin on a turntable. All these years later, she can still recite them.

Money is a big motivator. And the prospect of a cash payoff in any sort of gamble is alluring — just think of the Powerball buzz this week.

So, what happens when financial incentives are tied to weight-loss goals? A growing body of evidence suggests that it's not necessarily a slam dunk.

Goldman Sachs will pay about $5 billion to resolve state and federal investigations into its handling of mortgage-backed securities in the years leading up to the 2008 financial crisis, the bank said today.

The secretive sale late last year of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Nevada's largest news organization, to the family of one of the wealthiest men in the country set off shock waves in that newsroom.

The vast financial and political interests of the billionaire casino magnate and major Republican donor Sheldon Adelson raise nettlesome questions about how the paper can cover him.

In Fort Morgan, Colo., 150 Muslim workers were fired in late 2015 after a dispute over prayer breaks at a Cargill beef processing plant.

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It won't be long until passengers will be able to take a ferry to Cuba from Miami, an idea that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago in a city that's home to Cuban exiles who fled from the Castro regime. The Obama administration approved licenses last year to companies that want to run ferries to Cuba. Several are interested. Still, it came as a surprise last week when the port of Miami said it's considering building a new ferry terminal on land that had been slated for development.

Want to launder $20 million in illicit drug money? Buy a fancy penthouse in Miami with cash. It turns out, secretively purchasing luxury real estate is a popular way for the world's super-criminals to clean their dirty money.

"You can spend a lot of money to buy a house, and then you can sell that house a year later," says Heather Lowe, a lawyer with Global Financial Integrity. "And all of a sudden, all of that money is completely clean money." Her group tracks the transfer of illicit money out of developing countries.

Fair to say this was a brilliant day for Boston.

General Electric Co. announced on Wednesday that it will be moving its headquarters from Fairfield, Conn., to Boston, starting this summer.

That decision makes Boston the winner of an intense competition among dozens of cities — all hoping to become the hometown of one of the world's largest companies.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Markets tumbled today, hard. It's a continuation of a recent rough patch on Wall Street. Already this year, both the Dow and the S&P are down more than 7 percent. NPR's Jim Zarroli joins us now to discuss the sour mood among investors. Hey, Jim

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Al-Jazeera told its staff on Wednesday that it was shutting down its American network in April.

Financed by the ruling family of Qatar, Al-Jazeera America was launched in the summer of 2013 promising thoughtful, serious news coverage.

Lego says it is changing its guidelines for the purchase of large amounts of its iconic toy bricks, a policy that had generated a social media firestorm when used to block sales to Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.

The company said in a statement that it will no longer ask people who want to buy the bricks in bulk what they're using them for:

The Internet had many, many responses to actor Sean Penn's account of meeting Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán, which was published by Rolling Stone on Saturday: shock, anger, derision, astonishment, utter bafflement ...

But from one quarter, at least, there was pure excitement.

"EL CHAPO GUZMAN WEARING BARABAS SHIRT !" was the all-caps announcement from the clothing company Barabas.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

In sunny Nevada, solar panel companies are shutting down operations. It's a protest of sorts because state regulators changed the rules.

Here's NPR's Jeff Brady.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

All right. Now to something else we heard from the president last night. He said the United States has the strongest and most durable economy in the world.

(SOUNDBITE OF STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS)

After months of planning, maneuvering and dealing, NFL team owners have voted 30-2 in favor of relocating the St. Louis Rams to Los Angeles, while leaving open the option for the San Diego Chargers to share the facility.

MetLife says it's planning to break off part of its business that sells life insurance to U.S. households because of stiffer federal regulations regarding the amount of capital the company is expected to hold.

In a statement, MetLife said it is "currently evaluating structural alternatives for such a separation, including a public offering of shares in an independent, publicly traded company, a spin-off, or a sale."

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