It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne.
With Congress headed for a recess, prospects are dimming for a deal to keep the nation from falling off the next fiscal cliff - sequestration. That's the term for automatic spending cuts that go into effect March 1.
NPR's Mara Liasson explains how the White House and Congress got to this impasse and why it's so hard to get past it.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has put the state on what he calls a "glide path to zero" income tax. But that glide path is far from being clear or smooth.
On the face of it, Brownback seems to enjoy a remarkably strong political position. He's a conservative Republican, flanked by GOP supermajorities in both legislative chambers. His allies helped purge moderate Republicans from the state Senate in last year's election.
"I think the road is open," Brownback says. "I think we do provide an alternative model. I think we do provide a red-state model."
The proposed marriage of American Airlines and US Airways announced Thursday is likely the last in a series of industry mega-mergers, but history suggests combining two big carriers isn't easy.
"The history of airline mergers in the U.S. is good, bad and ugly," says Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst at the consulting firm Hudson Crossing. He and many others point to the 2008 union of Delta and Northwest as the best merger in recent memory.
The boards of US Airways Group and AMR have approved the merger of American Airlines and US Airways. The resulting company will become the world's largest airline. American is in bankruptcy, so its creditors will own a big chunk of the new company and US Airways shareholders will own the rest.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. You can soon add US Airways to a long list that includes TWA, Pan Am, Eastern, Western, Braniff and so many others. US Airways will merge with American. The new American Airlines will be the world's largest, and after decades of consolidation, one of just four major airlines in the U.S.
Originally published on Thu February 14, 2013 12:08 pm
A future without weeds would be a kind of farmer utopia, but currently, herbicide-resistant "superweeds" are part of today's reality. Some researchers, though, are looking for a solution that seems ripped from science fiction: weed-seeking robots.
Originally published on Fri February 15, 2013 12:21 am
The Carnival cruise ship Triumph docked in Mobile, Ala., late Thursday night, as the job of towing the stricken 100,000-ton ship hundreds of miles across the Gulf of Mexico took longer than expected. The ship's 3,143 passengers had coped with sewage problems and a lack of ventilation since Sunday, when the Triumph was crippled by an engine room fire.
Updated 2:15 a.m. ET Friday: All Passengers Disembarked
A spokesman for Carnival says all passengers have left the cruise ship that was stranded for days without power and running water.
A US Airways plane rests near two American Airlines jets at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport last year. The combined carrier would be named American Airlines.
Credit Jim Watson / AFP/Getty Images
An American Airlines 737-800 aircraft featuring the company's new logo sits at a gate at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport in January. American's merger with US Airways would create the largest U.S. airline.
Originally published on Thu February 14, 2013 3:24 pm
American Airlines and US Airways on Thursday announced they plan to merge to create the country's largest airline, with a route network stretching from coast to coast, and covering large swaths of Latin America, Europe, Canada, the Caribbean and Africa.
Warren Buffett is teaming up with another big investor in the $28 billion deal. Berkshire Hathaway has been looking for places to invest, with other recent deals involving consumer icons Coca-Cola and Mars.
This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
And I'm Linda Wertheimer.
More now on this morning's merger announcement by American Airlines and U.S. Airways. The deal would create the biggest air carrier in the U.S., with an estimated value of $11 billion. The merger must still be approved by regulators. And since American Airlines is working its way out of bankruptcy, a federal bankruptcy judge will also have to OK the deal.
NPR business news starts with healthier retirement accounts.
The nation's largest administrator of 401(k) accounts says the average account balance grew by 12 percent last year. Two-thirds of that growth is attributed to the surging stock market. The other factor is increased contributions from workers and their companies. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Our last word in business today is love, marriage and taxes. Just in time for Valentine's Day and tax filing season, the independent Tax Policy Center has updated its online marriage bonus and penalty calculator.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
The new numbers reflect the latest changes in the tax code. Couples considering a walk down the aisle might want to take a look at this before saying I do.
The boards of American Airlines and US Airways just approved a merger of the two airlines. But the deal still has to win the approval of antitrust regulators at the Justice Department — regulators who last month sued to stop a merger between the beer giants Anheuser-Busch InBev and Grupo Modelo, which brews Corona.
The antitrust division has dozens of economists on staff. Their job, essentially, is to figure out whether a merger would reduce competition so much that a company could raise prices without losing business to competitors.
Thursday is the last day of New York Fashion Week, and some cutting-edge design will be presented in the tents at Lincoln Center — literally. Standing on the runway will be computer programmer types rather than models. This follows an event that kicked off Fashion Week — something called a "hackathon."
A hackathon, explains Liz Bacelar, is a "fast-paced competition in which graphic designers, software developers and people with ideas, they come together to build an app in 24 hours. "
Now to the nation's capitol, where senators are considering the president's nominee to manage the country's finances. Jacob Jack Lew is slated to replace Timothy Geithner as secretary of Treasury, and the Senate Finance Committee posed questions to him today. As NPR's John Ydstie reports, everyone was on their best behavior. It was nothing like the slugfest Geithner had at his confirmation four years ago.
For convicted felons, it can be hard to land a job regardless of how much it pays. But there's an employment agency in Maine that's focused on putting felons into the workforce. Get an ex-con a job, the idea goes, and it might keep them from going back to prison.
Tom Porter introduces us to the founder of Maine Works.
TOM PORTER, BYLINE: For Margo Walsh, a typical day starts well before dawn.
After more than five years of recession and painfully slow recovery, President Obama has sent a powerful signal that he thinks the U.S. economy is now in much better shape — good enough, at least, to provide workers with raises.
In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, Obama called upon Congress to boost the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour by 2015, up from the current $7.25. The wage would rise in steps, and after hitting the maximum in two years, would thereafter be indexed to inflation.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. First of all, you might be noticing that the program sounds a little bit different today. We are having some technical difficulties that are not allowing us to play some of the music and other elements you're used to hearing. But we're still going to have great conversations.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, we will talk about why the government doesn't want to send you a Social Security or veterans' benefits check anymore. Don't panic. They're going to send you the money. They just don't want to send you a check. We'll tell you why in just a few minutes.
Beginning March 1st, many people who receive social security and other federal benefits will no longer receive paper checks. The Treasury Department says sending payments electronically will save nearly a billion dollars. But some experts say it could affect the "un-banked." Host Michel Martin talks with The Wall Street Journal's Sudeep Reddy.
Originally published on Fri February 15, 2013 10:32 am
Cans of the popular flavored malt beverage Four Loko will soon sport an "Alcohol Facts" label to make it plain they pack a potent punch.
The changes are part of a final settlement announced Tuesday between the Federal Trade Commission and Phusion Projects, whose products have been blamed for hospitalizations and deaths among young people.
Airlines have found another way to make money on top of the base ticket price. Linda Wertheimer talks to Scott McCartney, the airline columnist for The Wall Street Journal, about a new trend in the airline industry.
Comcast Corp. said Tuesday it will complete its buyout of NBCUniversal from GE for about $16.7 billion, ahead of schedule. Comcast, the nation's largest cable company, has owned 51 percent of NBCUniversal since their $28 billion merger in 2011.