There's a lot of talk about virtual currencies lately — how they work, economic implications and whether they're safe. But now a Native American tribe is using a bitcoin-like currency to help strengthen its sovereignty.
In South Dakota, the Oglala Lakota Nation has become the first Native American tribe to launch its own form of virtual currency. Payu Harris, its creator, calls it mazacoin.
Originally published on Fri March 7, 2014 12:48 pm
Credit-card rivals Visa and MasterCard said Friday they have formed an industry-wide group aimed at improving payment security in the wake of a number of breaches that compromised customers' data.
"The recent high-profile breaches have served as a catalyst for much needed collaboration between the retail and financial services industry on the issue of payment security," Visa President Ryan McInerney said in the statement.
Now that medical insurers must accept all applicants no matter how sick, what will these new customers cost health plans? And how will their coverage costs affect insurance prices for 2015 and beyond?
Few questions about the Affordable Care Act are more important. How it all plays out will affect consumer pocketbooks, insurance company profits and perhaps the political fortunes of those backing the health law.
A few Denver actuaries, bound to confidentiality, will be the first to glimpse the answers.
NPR's business news starts with a $9 billion grocery sale.
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WERTHEIMER: The no. 2 grocery chain in the U.S., Safeway, is being acquired by the owner of Albertson's, the fifth largest grocer. Cerberus Capital Management is paying just over $40 a share for Safeway, the company said last night. The multi-billion-dollar deal creates a food retailer with more than 2,400 stores and more than 250,000 employees. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
All the polar air this winter has frozen the Great Lakes to an extent not seen in 35 years. Scientists say the record for ice coverage, set in 1979, could soon be broken. That year, nearly 95 percent of the Great Lakes were covered with ice. As of yesterday, ice coverage was at 92 percent.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
Enzyme David Greene.
Let's return to the saga of bitcoin, the digital currency. Yesterday, "Newsweek" announced that it uncovered bitcoins founding father - but the man they named - Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto - denied it. Just last week, the bitcoin world was rocked by a half billion dollar bank robbery.
The recent bout of winter weather that many of us have felt has hit the U.S. economy. Winter storms cooled job growth in February. The only question is by how much. Economists, investors and job seekers are looking to today's employment report from the government for an answer. NPR's John Ydstie says their predictions have been dampened by the weather too.
JOHN YDSTIE, BYLINE: John Sylvia is the top economist for Wells Fargo. His forecast for job growth in February has been pounded down by the weather.
By most measures, David Kesten's hens are living the good life.
"They can act like chickens, they can run around," says Kesten, who's raising hens in an old wooden shed in the open countryside near Concordia, Mo. "They can go out and catch bugs, they can dig in the ground."
But most U.S. hens live crammed into very close quarters, according to Joe Maxwell, with the Humane Society of the U.S. And he says that's just wrong.
Private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management has offered to buy Safeway, Inc., the nation's second-largest grocery chain, for a reported $9.4 billion. Cerberus plans to merge Safeway with another grocer, Albertson's.
"Safeway has been focused on better meeting shoppers' diverse needs through local, relevant assortment, an improved price/value proposition and a great shopping experience that has driven improved sales trends," Safeway CEO Robert Edwards said in a statement. "We are excited about continuing this momentum as a combined organization."
Originally published on Fri March 7, 2014 11:57 am
The big monthly jobs report that came out Friday has tons of numbers describing the American labor force. The numbers are helpful as far as they go, but they skip over a whole dimension of work: What it's really like.
So, over the past few weeks, we asked people over Twitter and Instagram to send us pictures of themselves at work, and to tell us: What's your job title? And what do you really do? What follows are some of the answers.
South by Southwest Interactive is the technology-driven part of the annual Austin-based festival for digital, film and music and it starts on Friday. An expected 30,000 people will take part in the interactive and film week that precedes music, and they love it for the spontaneity and the chaos. They also hate it because of the chaos — parties on every corner, marketing handouts at every turn and a sprawling program of panels, screenings and speakers that span at least a dozen city blocks in the heart of Texas.
An American host for the Kremlin-backed Russia Today television has quit on air, announcing from the channel's Washington, D.C., anchor desk that she doesn't want to be "part of a network ... that whitewashes the actions of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin."
Liz Wahl announced her resignation on Wednesday, saying Moscow's intervention in Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula is wrong and that she feels "very lucky to have grown up in the United States."
And our last word in business is: bars ban glasses.
Patrons at two San Francisco watering holes will have to heed a new rule before they go bellying up to the bar, no Google Glass allowed. Their ban on Google's wearable computer is meant to preserve the privacy of other customers who may worry about sneaky recordings.
NPR's business news begins with a Target executive out.
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GREENE: The highest ranking technology executive is at Target stepped down yesterday. Beth Jacob was the retailer's chief information officer and executive vice president of technology. Her resignation follows that massive data breach that affected about 70 million customers late last year. And it comes just one week after Target reported a deep slump in profits since that hack.
Refineries looking for a place to store an ashy petroleum byproduct called pet coke can cross Chicago off their list. A new, tough city ordinance bans new storage facilities and prevents existing ones from expanding.
NPR's Cheryl Corley reports.
CHERYL CORLEY, BYLINE: Before pet coke is shipped overseas where it's burned as fuel, huge piles of it are often stored in open air facilities. Residents in Detroit complained so much about swirling pet coke dust, it ordered a company to move the piles out.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And I'm David Greene. Good morning.
The oil company Chevron has been blamed for polluting a swath of rainforest in Ecuador. A judge in Ecuador ruled against the company, saying Chevron owed $9.5 billion to indigenous farmers and others who sued the company.
President Obama is hoping lawmakers will raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. Many Republicans call that a potential job killer, and they're blocking the president's efforts in Congress. So as NPR's Tamara Keith reports, the president took his pitch to a place with a more receptive audience.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: It is good to be back in Connecticut.
Google intends to fight a court order to remove a controversial anti-Muslim video from YouTube in the U.S.
The company plans to file for a hearing before a full nine-judge panel of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals after two of three judges on a smaller panel forced the company to take down the film, Innocence of Muslims, which caused uproar in the Islamic world in 2012.
Across the country, communities stranded in food and retail deserts are asking how they can enjoy the bounty afforded to other urban centers. One Washington, D.C., community thinks it might have an answer.
Just a 10-minute drive south of the U.S. Capitol, across the Anacostia River, sits Congress Heights. The Southeast D.C. neighborhood is less than 2 miles long and home to more than 8,000 people, many in single-family houses. But if you're looking for a sit-down meal, options are scarce.
Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 3:01 pm
This post was updated at 10:30 a.m. ET on March 6.
Facebook said Wednesday that it will limit minors' access to pages and posts that offer firearms for sale, along with other measures intended to curtail illegal gun trafficking.
"This is something we've been working on for a while," says Facebook spokesman Matt Steinfeld. "We want to balance the interests of people who come here to express themselves while promoting an environment that is safe and respectful."
You can buy just about anything on Amazon.com — clothes, books, electronics. You can buy answers, too. College students and professors are doing all sorts of research on an Amazon site called Mechanical Turk.
Need 200 smokers for your survey on lung cancer? Have a moral dilemma to pose for your paper on Kierkegaard? Now researchers can log in, offer a few pennies in payment and watch the data roll in.