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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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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."

Home prices rose in July from June by 1.5 percent in its 10-city index and 1.6 percent in the 20 major cities where it tracks changes, the latest S&P/

The Last Word In Business

Sep 25, 2012

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And today's last word in business comes from Tony the Tiger.

(SOUNDBITE OF COMMERCIAL)

LEE MARSHALL: They're greeeaaat.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: A simple statement. But Tony may have to learn how to say it in Chinese because his parent company, Kellogg, just inked a deal with a firm in Singapore.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Apple Runs Out Of Initial iPhone 5 Stock

Sep 25, 2012

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(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with: somebody restock the shelves.

Apple says it sold more than 5 million of its new iPhone 5s over the weekend. The company says it has now run out of its initial stock. On its debut weekend, the iPhone 5 sold better than the last version of the iPhone. But sales were not quite as strong as many analyst expectations, and there are concerns about Apple's ability to keep up with demand.

Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde says recent actions by the European Central Bank mark a positive turning point in Europe's financial crisis. But she warned that uncertainty elsewhere will continue to slow the pace of the global recovery.

Back in July, the IMF was forecasting world growth of just under 4 percent for next year. The group's economists will issue a new forecast in a couple of weeks. Lagarde said the new projection still foresees a gradual recovery, but it will shave a few tenths of a percent off global growth.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Some other news. Discover Financial Services has agreed to refund $200 million to more than three and a half million credit card customers. A federal investigation found the company used deceptive marketing practices. It's one of the first major enforcement actions by the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

NPR's Ailsa Chang reports that Discover allegedly charged customers for add-on services they never ordered.

The trading pits at the Chicago Board of Trade and the Mercantile Exchange have long been potent symbols of American capitalism. And they used to be as rough and tumble as the city itself, where burly men bought and sold commodities like hogs, cattle, corn and soybeans.

Trading volume has gone up considerably in recent years, but Chicago's trading pits are tamer places today — the result of a revolution futures trading has undergone over the past quarter century. Much of the trading has left the pits and gone electronic.

In recent years, China's status — like its economy — has continued to rise as the economies in America and Europe have struggled.

That shift isn't just reflected in economic numbers, and some American business people in China say they don't feel as respected or as valued as before.

Not long after Michael Fagle arrived in Shanghai in 2005 with DuPont, he went to visit a Chinese customer. Back then, Fagle says, he was treated as a sage from the West.

You know that ad campaign for pork, the one that called it "the other white meat?" There's a fascinating behind-the-scenes story about that slogan, revealed in a new lawsuit that was just filed this morning by the Humane Society of the United States.

Starting a new car company from scratch isn't tried often in the United States. The last time one was truly successful was about 100 years ago. And Tesla Motors, a startup from Silicon Valley, faces some unusual hurdles.

Still, despite the challenges Tesla faces, the electric car company and its CEO, Elon Musk, have gotten further than most automotive entrepreneurs.

Ad Age just unveiled its "top 10 female ad icons of all time" list:

-- Morton Salt's 'umbrella girl"

-- Betty Crocker

-- Miss Chiquita

-- Rosie the Riveter

-- Josephine the Plumber (Comet cleanser)

-- Mrs. Olson (for Folgers coffee)

-- Madge the manicurist (Palmolive soap)

-- Rosie the waitress (Bounty paper towels)

Apple sold more than 5 million iPhones this weekend, the company said in a press release. That surpasses the initial sales of the previous version.

As Bloomberg news reports, demand for the new phone quickly exceeded the initial supply, but some analysts expected bigger sales.

They report:

When it comes to farm raised fish, it doesn't pay to let them be lazy. Fish like wild salmon, tuna and eel are built for the vigorous swimming required during migration.

These fish are "uniquely adapted to a physiology of high levels of exercise performance," says Tony Farrell, who studies fish physiology in the University of British Columbia Zoology department. "Therefore when we put them in constrained environments and remove predators, the consequences are they become a little more like couch potatoes."

At one point overnight as many as 2,000 workers at a Foxconn plant in Taiyuan, China, were involved in a riot that drew 5,000 police officers to the site and has closed the facility that makes parts for Apple's iPhones and hardware for other companies including Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

OK. So, all those political ads are on the air. Last night, the candidates themselves were on the air. They did interviews on the same CBS program, "60 Minutes." NPR's David Schaper was watching.

DAVID SCHAPER, BYLINE: After a week in which his campaign was on the defensive, Romney told "60 Minutes" he remains confident.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "60 MINUTES")

MITT ROMNEY: I'm going to win this thing.

Business News

Sep 24, 2012

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

NPR's business news begins with a media divorce.

Village Voice Media Holdings, the company that publishes the newspaper of the same name, is breaking up with its controversial advertising service. Backpage.com has been accused of facilitating sex trafficking, and activists have been pressuring the Village Voice to shut down its adult classifieds service - so the company is splitting up its portfolio.

The Last Word In Business

Sep 24, 2012

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The Dow Jones industrial average may be the most famous barometer of stock market sentiment. It's not a broad measure. Only 30 stocks are in the Dow and this elite group of big blue chip companies supposedly represents the health of the U.S. economy. So, it is noteworthy when a company is kicked off the Dow or allowed in.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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