The world's largest retailer Wal-Mart is joining the list of companies severing ties with southern food star Paula Deen. The Savannah, Georgia-based cook and restaurateur has been on the front burner since an admission she used a racial slur in the past.
Sony and Microsoft are preparing to launch their latest gaming consoles this fall with price tags from $400 for the PlayStation 4 and $500 for the Xbox One. But this week, a $99 game console went on sale and sold out at Target and Amazon.
Originally published on Thu June 27, 2013 10:48 am
Many people know how to buy things in cyberspace. But what about doing business in outer space? That's the question PayPal says it wants to answer. Citing the looming era of space tourism, the company is creating the PayPal Galactic project along with the SETI Institute, "to help make universal space payments a reality."
From manufacturing to cupcake sales, companies are finding that machines can often do the job just as well, or better, than humans. But some tasks – like picking and tending to fruit and vegetable crops – have remained the territory of low-wage laborers.
But labor-starved growers are now eying machines with increasing interest.
Some 90 percent of the strawberries and 80 percent of the salad greens grown in the U.S. come from California. These crops and a lot of others have always been picked by hand because they don't ripen all at once and can bruise easily.
When Chinese workers have a grievance, they are increasingly taking dramatic and direct action.
As we've reported, an American executive at a Chinese factory has been prevented by workers from leaving the plant since Friday. Chip Starnes of Specialty Medical Supplies says it's a misunderstanding following a decision to shut down part of his medical-supply business and move some jobs to India where wages are lower.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
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And I'm David Greene. Good morning. In the midst of the housing crisis in 2008, the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were brought into government hands. And today, over 90 percent of mortgages are guaranteed by the U.S. government. That's a potential burden for taxpayers if mortgages fail. Yesterday, a bipartisan Senate bill was introduced to try to unwind the government takeover, as well as Fannie and Freddie. NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports.
And before leaving on his trip to Africa, President Obama had some other words on another subject. He announced a wide-ranging plan to address climate change. Rather than taking that plan to Congress and fighting it out, Obama is using his executive powers to implement it without new laws. The president wants the Environmental Protection Agency to restrict carbon-dioxide emissions from power plants. The biggest source of those emissions is coal-fired facilities.
And that brings us to today's last word in business - which is: Courtesy Seating.
Jessie Frank was a distraught mom who was going to be late picking up her daughter at camp.
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She was on stand-by in Washington, D.C. for an over-booked Delta Flight to New York, when a man offered up his seat. Turns out it was Delta CEO Richard Anderson. His kindness helped the mom and earned some good PR for the company.
High-paying investors have helped Las Vegas' real estate prices to bloom in a place that once ranked as the country's foreclosure capital.
Thanks to these big-money investors as well as a shortage of supply, the median price for a single-family home in Vegas is up 32.8 percent from a year ago, according to the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors.
Lawmakers continue to wrangle over a bill that would overhaul the nation's immigration system. One provision in this bill would allow companies to import a lot more skilled workers. The tech industry has lobbied hard for this, despite fears among some American workers about the extra competition.
Illinois Senator Dick Durbin says the bill has American workers covered. "Employers will be given a chance to hire a temporary foreign worker when truly needed. But first, they'll be required to recruit Americans. No exceptions, no excuses," he said.
And our last word in business today is: Weekend Shift.
The weekend - as we know it in the West - takes place on Saturday and Sunday. That's not true in many Muslim countries, though. In Saudi Arabia, the weekend is Thursday and Friday - Friday being the holy day in Islam.
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But that was out of sync with most other Muslim countries - which go with a Friday/Saturday weekend.
The Erie Canal was cut through upstate New York almost 200 years ago. It opened up new shipping routes to the West and proved to be an economic lifeline for the Great Lakes region. The canal fell out of favor as faster transportation methods, like the railway, became available. But lately, it's been getting a second life.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm Renee Montagne.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And I'm David Greene.
The scandal at the Internal Revenue Service is becoming more of a muddle. We're learning more this morning about which groups were targeted for extra scrutiny. Turns out both conservative groups and progressive groups were on the so-called Be on the Lookout List at the IRS. Meanwhile, the man currently leading the agency says an internal investigation has found no evidence of intentional wrong doing.
Seventy-five years ago today, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act. That law established the federal minimum wage. So we're going to spend some time this morning in the state that has the highest proportion of workers who are paid this lowest legal hourly wage, which is now $7.25 an hour.
From Boise State Public Radio, Emilie Ritter Saunders reports on why Idaho is seeing low-wage work increase.
And the Supreme Court was actually already having a busy week. Yesterday it handed down rulings in two other notable cases, both dealing with worker's rights. The justices split five to four along ideological lines to make it harder for employees to win discrimination lawsuits. The court raised new hurdles for plaintiffs who say they were victims of bias and then faced retaliation for raising the issue. NPR's Carrie Johnson has more.
NPR's business news begins with a Google deal that's under scrutiny.
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GREENE: The Federal Trade Commission is looking into Google's recent deal to acquire the map company Waze. The question is whether Google was trying to buy up a potential competitor. Waze, based in Israel, makes an app that uses crowd sourcing to provide real-time traffic data.
When the blood pressure drug Bystolic hit the market in 2008, it faced a crowded field of cheap generics.
So its maker, Forest Laboratories, launched a promotional assault on the group in the best position to determine Bystolic's success: those in control of prescription pads. It flooded the offices of health professionals with drug reps, and it hired doctors to persuade their peers to choose Bystolic — even though the drug hadn't proved more effective than competitors.
And now, time for the Opinion Page. There's a new kind of labor movement in the United States led by those who are not in unions, primarily retail and fast-food workers. These workers are protesting before they unionize. And in a column for the Chicago Tribune, columnist Clarence Page compares this new labor movement to Occupy Wall Street.
It's no great secret that Republicans are behind in applying digital technology to politics. They admitted as much after the last presidential election. And in an effort to catch up, over the weekend, political conservatives staged an event called the Liberty Hackathon in San Francisco. The sponsor of the app building competition was the Charles Koch Institute, named for its benefactor the billionaire backer of the Tea Party Movement.
NPR's Nathan Rott went to the event and sent us this report.
The leaks this month by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed just how widespread government surveillance of phone and online information actually is. The revelations of the government's PRISM program have been raising the concerns about privacy, but also have boom to companies that promise greater privacy online.
Emma Jacobs of member station WHYY in Philadelphia has this report.