NPR's business news starts with new charges against China.
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GREENE: The United States charged a Chinese wind turbine maker, yesterday, with stealing trade secrets from a U.S. company. The Department of Justice says China's Sinovel stole more than $800 million worth of intellectual property from U.S. company AMSC.
AMSC is seeking more than $1 billion in damages. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
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And I'm David Greene. Good morning. Well, now that summer is officially here, we thought this might be a good time to check in with some of our colleagues to find out how the federal budget cuts known as sequestration are playing out. These cuts went into effect in the spring, and it is becoming clear that some federal agencies and programs are feeling the brunt, while others have largely escaped.
Federal regulators have filed civil charges against former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine in connection with the failure of his commodities firm, MF Global. The government says Corzine failed to stop the firm from dipping into customer funds during a financial crisis in October 2011.
Anyone who's seen a North Carolina license plate knows the state proudly claims itself as the site of the first airplane flight. But this week, Connecticut said not so fast. The state passed a law declaring it was home to the first flight.
Last week was a wild one for China's economy. Overnight borrowing rates spiked, lending between banks began to freeze up and the Shanghai stock market took a nose-dive. Things have calmed down since then, but the underlying problems that triggered the panic remain. Among them, the explosive growth of the country's so-called shadow banking sector.
Climate change seems like this complicated problem with a million pieces. But Henry Jacoby, an economist at MIT's business school, says there's really just one thing you need to do to solve the problem: Tax carbon emissions.
"If you let the economists write the legislation," Jacoby says, "it could be quite simple." He says he could fit the whole bill on one page.
Basically, Jacoby would tax fossil fuels in proportion to the amount of carbon they release. That would make coal, oil and natural gas more expensive. That's it; that's the whole plan.
The interest rate on government-backed student loans is going to jump from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent Monday.
Republicans, Democrats and the Obama administration could not agree on a plan to keep it from happening. Lawmakers say a deal is still possible after the July 4 recess. But if they don't agree on a plan soon, 7 million students expected to take out new Stafford loans could be stuck with a much bigger bill when they start paying the money back.
It has been one of the more heated debates in Washington this year.
Developers in Phoenix are scrambling to keep up with another frenzied demand for housing. During the Great Recession, homebuilders in the suburbs abandoned neighborhoods that were only half-built. These so-called zombie subdivisions left a ring of unfinished construction around the city.
Federal regulators are suing former MF Global Holdings CEO Jon Corzine, accusing him of not properly supervising the company that filed for bankruptcy back in 2011. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission says Corzine failed to keep money that belonged to the brokerage's customers from being used to cover MF Global's obligations.
Kid Rock is tired of scalpers taking tickets away from his biggest fans.
One way to stop that: Raise ticket prices. If Kid Rock charged more for his tickets, scalpers wouldn't be able to sell them at such a big markup.
But Kid Rock doesn't want to raise prices.
"I don't want to break you by coming to see me, " he says. "I want to make as much money as I can, but I don't need to drive around in a tinted down Rolls-Royce or Maybach and hide from people because I felt like I ripped them off."
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
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And I'm Robert Siegel.
Farmers work at the mercy of three forces that are largely outside their control: weather, markets, and government. The weather has been good in many parts of the country and the markets are up. But government remains the wild card. Congress failed to pass the Farm Bill, the huge package of legislation that lays out years of food policy. And that leaves farmers in limbo.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
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And I'm Audie Cornish.
He was a governor, a senator and a Wall Street success story. Now, Jon Corzine faces federal civil charges. Regulators filed them today in connection with the collapse of Corzine's commodities firm, MF Global. The government says he failed to stop the firm from misusing customer funds during the financial crisis in October 2011.
The U.S. suspended some trade benefits to Bangladesh on Thursday, citing unsafe working conditions. But in the near term it appears unlikely to have a major impact on the country's crucial garment industry.
Here's why: Bangladesh was suspended from the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program, so U.S. duties will rise on a range of items from tobacco to plastic. But this program doesn't cover garments — Bangladesh's main export to America.
In case you missed it Monday, we're rebooting our technology blog to focus on the intersection of innovation and culture. The updated approach both widens our view of technology — for example, two-ply toilet paper was innovative at one point — and sharpens our gaze. You won't find general tech business news in this space anymore.
Originally published on Thu June 27, 2013 12:49 pm
American businessman Chip Starnes finally left his factory in China on Thursday after he and a union negotiator worked out severance payments for Chinese employees.
Starnes had been stuck inside his medical supply parts factory since last Friday. That's when workers, fearing they were all going to be laid off and that the company wasn't going to compensate them fairly, blocked all of the exits out of the plant. Starnes couldn't get out.
Moonshine is trendy these days, with distillers large and small throughout the country offering up their own variety. But in eastern Tennessee, locals will tell you they've got the real "white lightning." Everyone seems to boast a family connection, and everyone has his or her own recipe.
"It's a local point of pride, a big part of eastern Tennessee family tradition," says Robert Cremins, a college student from Knoxville. Many in the region identify themselves with moonshine, Cremins tells The Salt. "I grew up hearing stories about moonshine."
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.
NPR's Uri Berliner is taking $5,000 of his own savings and putting it to work. Though he's no financial whiz or guru, he's exploring different types of investments — alternatives that may fare better than staying in a savings account that's not keeping up with inflation.
Like most airlines, Delta overbooks its flights. The Department of Transportation fined Delta $750,00 for violating rules on overbooking — specifically for complaints that it bumped passengers without first asking for volunteers, and also failed to offer compensation for those who got bumped.
New York City became the most populous place in the United States to require businesses to give employees paid sick leave. Mayor Michael Bloomberg had previously vetoed this requirement, but has now been overruled by the City Council.
No Free Doughnuts, Even In Space: PayPal is announcing a project with SETI, aiming to solve issues around taking regular people — and commerce — into space. Here, an artist's rendering of a space hotel, from the Space Tourism Society.
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.
American Chip Starnes, co-owner of Specialty Medical Supplies, waves Monday from a window where he is being held by angry workers inside his plant at the Jinyurui Science and Technology Park on the outskirts of Beijing. He remained confined to the plant on Wednesday.
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.