This week the FBI and IRS raided the headquarters of one of the country's largest private employers: Pilot Flying J. The chain operates more than 600 gas stations and convenience stores in 44 states. It's owned by billionaire Jimmy Haslam. Haslam also owns the Cleveland Browns and his brother is Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, who owns shares in the company.
Alarmed by a nation that increasingly equates fresh with healthy, the frozen food industry has a message for you.
"What we call fresh in the supermarket is really better termed raw," says Kristin Reimers, a registered dietitian and manager of nutrition for ConAgra Foods. "A lot of times, those vegetables have been transported for days, and then sit. It could be a matter of weeks between when they're picked and consumed."
NPR's business news starts with the tale of two companies.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Google and Microsoft quarterly earnings reports are in and it appears their slugfest continues with Google's earnings up 23 percent and Microsoft up 18 percent. That is even as sales of desktop computers decline.
GREENE: As NPR's Sonari Glinton reports, the future for both companies is on the small screen.
All right. Today's last word in business is be careful what you ask for.
The small Indian city of Motihari is not known for much.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
So when locals discovered a few years ago that the writer George Orwell was born there, they saw a tourism opportunity. Britain's Telegraph newspaper reports locals put up a sign outside the birthplace of the author of "1984," "Animal Farm" and other books, and they asked the state government to turn that modest home into a museum.
A fertilizer plant exploded near Waco, Texas, Wednesday night. The explosion at West Fertilizer in downtown West, a community about 20 miles north of Waco, happened around 7 p.m. and could be heard as far away as Waxahachie, 45 miles to the north.
Two prominent Harvard economists have admitted there are errors in an influential paper they wrote on government debt. This paper was widely cited in recent budget debates. But the economists insist their mistakes do not significantly change their research.
NPR's Jim Zarroli reports.
JIM ZARROLI, BYLINE: In their 2010 paper, Ken Rogoff and Carmen Rinehart argued that economic growth falls significantly when a country's debt level rises above 90 percent of its Gross Domestic Product or GDP.
All right. In recent days, the government has begun sending out checks to about 4 million people whose homes fell into foreclosure during the housing crisis. This is part of a multibillion dollar agreement with banks accused of making serious errors in processing those foreclosures.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Most of these checks are not so big. They average several hundred dollars. But still a check, an effort to make amends, so this is a bit of a problem. When some of the home owners try to cash their checks, the checks bounced.
And we're also reporting on the aftermath of another tragedy. Four months after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, residents in Newtown, Connecticut are still trying to move forward. And the same goes for business owners, especially in Sandy Hook Village, just a mile from the school.
NPR's business news begins with some sky-high prices.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
GREENE: If you travel, you might have noticed airfares are going up sharply in many markets - and the reason is mergers. This could be just the beginning. Prices may keep rising if government regulators approve another merger between American Airlines and U.S. Airways.
To talk more about this, we reached Scott McCartney. He writes an airline's column for "The Wall Street Journal."
Originally published on Wed April 17, 2013 9:53 am
American Airlines has promised passengers that Wednesday's flight schedule will be nothing like the day before, when thousands were stranded due to a glitch in the reservations system that forced hundreds of flights to be canceled or delayed.
American Airlines and American Eagle scuttled 970 flights and delayed more than 1,000 others Tuesday, The Associated Press said, citing flight-tracking service FlightAware.com.
NPR's business news begins with fresh but not easy.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
GREENE: Britain's largest retailer is taking a big loss as it announces it will shut down its West Coast grocery store chain Fresh & Easy. Tesco launched the chain in 2007 with nearly 200 stores throughout California, Nevada and Arizona.
And today's last word in business is: out of this world - which is where the Dutch airline KLM will send two lucky customers at the start of next year -space, the final frontier.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
OK. To win the space journey, contestants have to correctly guess how far up a high-altitude balloon can make it before popping. Piece of cake - I know that's what you're thinking, right? Guesses submitted on KLM's website will be tested on April 22nd, when the company releases a balloon in the Nevada desert.
Google Glass is no longer merely a prototype. The company began delivering its high-tech glasses to a select group of test customers Tuesday.
The gadget looks kind of like a pair of eyeglasses, except it doesn't always have lenses and it has a tiny screen, about the size of the end of my pinkie, perched just above and to the right of the wearer's right eye.
Well, yesterday was not a day that you wanted to be traveling on American Airlines. The carrier cancelled all of its main routes for several hours, and also many of its commuter flights, as well. Almost 2,000 flights were infected in all. American blames computer networking problems.
Originally published on Tue April 16, 2013 2:54 pm
A computer glitch in the reservations system at American Airlines caused all of the carrier's flights to be grounded for at least two hours on Tuesday.
"American's reservation and booking tool, Sabre is offline," American Airlines spokeswoman Mary Frances Fagan told Reuters in an email. "We're working to resolve the issue as quickly as we can. We apologize to our customers for any inconvenience."
NPR's Wade Goodwyn reports that the outage was announced about 2:30 p.m. Eastern time.
Originally published on Tue April 16, 2013 10:30 am
The International Monetary Fund has lowered its projections for global economic growth, including in the United States, citing sharp cuts in government spending and the struggling eurozone.
The Washington, D.C.-based international lender's World Economic Outlook shaved its 2013 forecast to 3.3 percent from 3.5 percent. It also trimmed its projection for 2014 to 4 percent from 4.1 percent.
As The Associated Press notes, the pace of construction — 1.04 million starts, at an annual rate — is the fastest in nearly five years and is another sign that the housing sector continues to recover from its 2007-08 crash.
Retired miners are converging on St. Louis Tuesday for a union rally to protest a proposed cut in health benefits. Patriot Coal is in bankruptcy and has asked a federal judge to allow it to shed most of the health coverage for nearly 10,000 retired miners. But most of those miners never worked a day for Patriot.
NPR's business news begins with gold losing some of its glitter.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
INSKEEP: The explosions in Boston and a report showing China's economy to be slowing caused upheaval in many markets yesterday. But gold took the spotlight when its price dropped by more than 9 percent by the end of trading. This is the sharpest daily decline in the gold price in 30 years. Analysts say it suggests investors are losing faith in the precious metal as a safe haven.
The 2013 Pulitzer Prizes were awarded today in journalism, fiction, poetry, drama and music. Among the winners: many of the most prominent news organizations and some less prominent. NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik joins us now from our bureau in New York. And, David, tell us about some of today's winners.
Imagine for a second what it would be like if you could talk to your radio, and your radio would actually listen. To get an idea of what this might be like, I downloaded an app called Talk to Esquire, from the magazine of the same name.
When I opened it, the app asked me a question: What's your favorite type of liquor? That's a little forward, but it's Esquire so I played along and told the app that I'm more of a beer drinker.
Originally published on Mon April 15, 2013 3:06 pm
Is small-batch hard apple cider the next microbrew? It seems everybody and their brother is experimenting with ways to make the potent stuff profitable. Sales of domestically produced hard cider have more than tripled since 2007, according to beverage industry analysts — and that's not counting Europe, where it has held a steady popularity for centuries.
Bitcoins are a digital currency, attractive to those who prefer not to leave a paper trail when they buy and sell things online. Over the past two years, the Bitcoin community has widely expanded and the value of the currency has fluctuated wildly.