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Sep 28, 2012

PNC Bank says its website is the latest victim of a denial of service attack. Users who tried to access the bank's websites had trouble loading the pages, or couldn't get into their accounts. But officials say the accounts were not compromised.

The Last Word In Business

Sep 28, 2012

The convenience store chain is allowing customers to choose: coffee in a blue cup for President Obama, or a red cup for Mitt Romney. And for the undecided, or those just indifferent to politics, they can request a plain cup. The company tabulates the choices at the register and results are posted daily on its 7-Election website.

We set up our shell companies. Then we wondered: What do people actually do with shell companies?

One popular use, it turns out, is what professionals call "asset protection." Ordinary people call this "hiding money."

Maybe you're a surgeon worried a patient might sue you and take everything you have. Or you want to hide money from your ex (or your soon-to-be ex).

The world's central banks are pumping cash into their economies, pushing down interest rates in hopes the ready cash and lower rates will boost borrowing and economic activity. Everyone agrees the action is dramatic and unprecedented, but there's disagreement over whether they will do more harm than good.

Economists know very well the trillions of dollars being added by the central banks to the global economy can be risky.

"These are risks about long-term rises in inflation, housing bubbles potentially building up," says Jacob Kirkegaard of the Peterson Institute.

After one of the driest summers on record, recent rains have helped in some parts of the country. But overall, the drought has still intensified. The latest tracking classifies more than a fifth of the contiguous United States in "extreme or exceptional" drought, the worst ratings.

In some parts of the Lower Midwest, water-starved crops have collapsed, but the farmers have not. Farmers across the country are surviving, and many are even thriving. This year, despite the dismal season, farmers stand to make exceptionally good money, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This soundtrack has accompanied untold wasted hours around the globe. It is the music from "Angry Birds," the addictive mobile game that surpassed one billion downloads in May.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

Pat Henneberry is an airline's dream customer. She flies all week, every week, and buying an $800 ticket so that she can have full flexibility is standard operating procedure. She's an American Airlines platinum customer. But she is fed up with the endless delays and cancellations.

Surprise! There Are 386,000 More Jobs Than We Thought

Sep 27, 2012

We thought the U.S. economy added just under 2 million jobs between March, 2011 and March, 2012. Turns out, the actual number was more like 2.4 million — a big difference!

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CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee. Michel Martin is away. Coming up, Eric LeGrand was a star college football player until a tackle left him paralyzed. We'll speak with him about his new memoir and his new life. That's in a moment.

But, first, let's turn to housing. The Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller Home Price Index is one of the top measures of the U.S. housing market and the latest report just out this week says prices are on the rise.

A huge drop in demand for cars, aircraft and other transportation equipment pulled down orders for so-called durable goods in August, the Census Bureau says.

Orders fell 13.2 percent, "the largest decrease since January 2009."

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We are pleased to announce this morning that NPR has ended its lockout of Mike Pesca. The network reached a deal with our sports correspondent after his replacement repeatedly confused adjectives with adverbs. OK, that's a joke, but in reality the NFL reached a deal with referees after the replacements made a series of brutally criticized calls. Mike Pesca has been following developments.

Mike, good morning.

MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: And that was a goodly decision. Oh, wait a minute. I've done it too.

(LAUGHTER)

The Last Word In Business

Sep 27, 2012

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

There is at least one group of musicians out there who don't seem to have any money problems. Our last word in business is: Kiss. They know what their fans want.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ROCK N' ROLL ALL NIGHT" )

KISS: (Singing) I wanna rock and roll all night and party every day. I, wanna rock and roll...

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

You know you're moving your head as if you're playing a guitar onstage right now.

Business News

Sep 27, 2012

Kareem Serageldin is accused of hiding mortgage security losses during the financial crisis. He faces extradition to the U.S. A former senior trader for Credit Suisse, Serageldin is the highest level Wall Street executive to be charged in a case related to the 2008 financial meltdown.

Has Apple's Fued With Google Hurt Its iPhone 5?

Sep 27, 2012

The fallout from Apple's controversial decision to drop Google Maps from the iPhone 5 continues. Customers aren't giving Apple Maps any love, and analysts say Apple made an uncharacteristic blunder in dumping Google.

A small solar power company hopes to become a winner in a market littered with losers.

San Jose, Calif.-based SoloPower is opening a $60 million manufacturing facility in Portland, Ore., Thursday as it works toward receiving a major government loan — like the one given to now-bankrupt Solyndra. SoloPower thinks it has a strategy to succeed where Solyndra failed.

When the economic crisis erupted in Greece and the bottom fell out of the domestic wine market, the Kir-Yianni vineyard outside picturesque Naoussa decided to adapt. Like other wineries in Greece, it has increasingly tapped the export market, successfully marketing and selling wine in Europe, the United States and even China.

"If you ask me, this crisis has been good for us," says Stellios Boutaris, the son of the company's founder. "It's going to make us stronger."

In January, NPR and ProPublica reported on a potential conflict of interest at Freddie Mac, a mortgage giant sponsored by the federal government. The stories noted that even as Freddie Mac was writing rules making it harder for homeowners to refinance their mortgages, it also was stepping up investments in securities that gain when homeowners remain stuck in high-rate loans.

The badger, a stalwart of BBC nature programs, is one of Britain's most beloved animals and is a protected species.

To many English dairy farmers, though, this timid omnivore with the black and white stripes is a mobile biological weapon, exposing their cows to bovine tuberculosis through its urine and saliva.

And they've persuaded the British government to sanction extreme measures.

This month, the government issued licenses allowing trained marksmen to wipe out 70 percent of the badger populations in two pilot areas.

In the fairy-tale world, a shiny red apple can lead to a poisonous end. But some see two genetically engineered green apple varieties, poised to become the first to gain U.S. Department of Agriculture approval, as similar harbingers of doom.

While the number of new homes sold in August was barely changed from July, the median sales price was up sharply, the Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development report. So the news adds to other recent signs, including Tuesday's report about higher home prices in major cities, of a recovering housing sector.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Good news this morning from the NFL. There were no bad calls by replacement officials last night. OK, there were no games last night. The much-maligned replacement refs don't take the field again until tomorrow night in Baltimore. They'll be officiating the Ravens/Cleveland Browns' game and you can probably expect a lot more scrutiny. The real refs and NFL owners did meet yesterday, but a settlement remains elusive.

NPR's sports correspondent Tom Goldman has been following developments. Tom, good morning.

Ford Announes Job Cuts In Europe

Sep 26, 2012

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

NPR's business news business with some bad news for automakers.

Ford is cutting jobs in Europe. Sales in the European Union are down 12 percent this year; that's what a financial crisis will do for you. Bloomberg reports a few hundred workers, mostly in Germany and the United Kingdom, will be getting the axe. And the pioneering electric car maker Tesla Motors has announced that it is selling five million shares to raise much needed cash.

The Last Word In Business

Sep 26, 2012

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Our last word today in business today is poison, as in box office poison. That's what John Crawford was once called by theater owners.

But she showed them, with her comeback movie, "Mildred Pierce."

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

When she was nominated for Best Actress, Crawford was so nervous, she skipped the Academy Award ceremony. Last night her Oscar from "Mildred Pierce" sold at auction for $426,732.

GREENE: And here's what John Crawford said about that Oscar: I deserved it.

INSKEEP: As do you, David.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

People aren't getting much work done in parts of Europe, treading water there. Greek workers called a nationwide strike for today, protesting austerity measures. Last night, there were violent protests in Spain. Demonstrators launched a new movement dubbed Occupy Congress, surrounding the Spanish Parliament with a human chain before clashing with police.

Lauren Frayer was in the crowd in Madrid.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHANTING PROTESTERS)

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Speed limits will be broken along the east coast this week. The culprit is Amtrak. Right now, the company's Acela express trains stay under 135 miles an hour between Philadelphia and New York. But this week, Amtrak is testing speeds of up to 165 miles an hour. It could be a sign that true high-speed rail service is coming to the U.S. - though it's not coming all that fast. NPR's Jeff Brady reports.

Lesser-Known IPOs Fare Better Than Facebook

Sep 26, 2012

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Facebook share price have lost almost half of its value since the social networking company had its initial public offering, or IPO, in the spring. Hundreds of millions of followers apparently will not guarantee you success in the stock market - at least not in the short-term.

Many lesser-known companies have also plunged into the stock market this year in the hopes of raising lots of capital, but their prices have not plunged - they're doing better than Facebook.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Warning. It's only September and we have a story about holiday shopping. Large retailers like Wal-Mart and Toys 'R' Us are hiring tens of thousands of people for the upcoming holiday shopping season.

But NPR's Ailsa Chang reports that this seasonal hiring is not the best measure of how well the economy is doing.

Cooks and servers, scientists and sales reps — those are some of the workers who say they do better after drinking coffee, according to a new study. Nurses, journalists, teachers, and business executives also said they're more effective at work if they have coffee, in a survey commissioned by Dunkin Donuts and CareerBuilder.

Greece is in the fifth year of a painful recession, and it doesn't look like it's going to end anytime soon. One big problem the country faces is a shortage of strong companies that know how to compete on the world market. And nowhere is this more painfully apparent than in the challenges faced by the country's olive oil business.

As this presidential election year was kicking off, strategists were saying the focus would be on the economy. But now — even as absentee ballots are being filled in — the candidates are still dodging details about how to improve growth.

"President Obama doesn't have a plan," says Kevin Hassett, an economic adviser to Republican candidate Mitt Romney.

Jeffrey Liebman, an economic adviser to President Obama, says Romney has revealed no plan other than "going back to the failed policies of the past decade."

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