A New York-based debt settlement agency has been charged with fraud. Yesterday, the company's owner and three employees were arrested. Federal prosecutors say the company cheated already cash-strapped customers out of millions.
As NPR's Dan Bobkoff reports, this case is notable for another reason: it's the first criminal case based on work by the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau - an agency created under the law known as the Dodd-Frank Act.
Now it's a rare thing for Americans to get a glimpse of Ben Franklin's face on a hundred dollar bill. Even if they have a hundred bucks most people do not carry a hundred dollar bill in their wallets. Many stores don't even accept bills that large because they fear counterfeits. So here's a surprise contained in a recent report from the Federal Reserve: Three-quarters of all American currency in circulation is in the form of hundreds.
The Senate is considering legislation to prevent a global helium shortage from worsening in October. That's when one huge supply of helium in the U.S. is set to terminate. The House overwhelmingly passed its own bill last month to keep the Federal Helium Program going.
That was a relief to industries that can't get along without helium. The gas is used in MRI machines, semiconductors, aerospace equipment, lasers and of course balloons.
Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system was criticized when it was released last year for features some said didn't mesh with a desktop PC environment. The company has indicated that it will address some of those issues in an upcoming update.
When Microsoft introduced Windows 8 last year, the software giant billed the new operating system as one of the most critical releases in its history. The system would bridge the gap between personal computers and the fast-growing mobile world of tablets and smartphones.
But this week, the company sent signals that it might soon alter Windows 8 to address some early criticism of the operating system.
The work of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the federal oversight agency established by Dodd-Frank three years ago, has resulted in its first criminal referral — a case against a debt-settlement company it says defrauded thousands of people.
If you are up at 5 in the morning in Honolulu and are wondering what to do, I have a suggestion: Head over to Pier 38 and watch the Honolulu Fish Auction. It's quite a scene.
Getting up at 5 may seem a bit extreme, but for recent arrivals to Hawaii from the East Coast of the mainland — as I was last Friday — the six-hour time difference makes waking up early easy, if not inevitable.
That big immigration bill working its way through the Senate would let in lots more highly skilled workers on temporary visas. But there's a catch.
The bill says all employers who want to hire workers on these H-1B visas:
... would be required to advertise on an Internet website maintained by the Department of Labor and offer the job to any U.S. worker who applies and is equally or better qualified than the immigrants ... sought...
Europe is debating whether austerity - with its deep budget cuts and tax hikes - is the right cure for the continent's debt crisis. But in Portugal, one of the first countries bailed out by the European Union, the austerity drive goes on. The government there is struggling to repay its loans, and has announced more steep job and benefit cuts, as the country struggles to avoid what was Greece's fate - a second bailout.
Here's a sign of economic recovery: Americans are gambling again. People apparently have enough money to throw some of it away. After a drop during the slowdown, casino revenues are up nationwide. In fact, up to pre-recession levels.
Chinese cyber-espionage is threatening U.S. economic competitiveness.
Credit Peter Parks / AFP/Getty Images
This 12-story building in Shanghai's northern suburb of Gaoqiao allegedly houses a Chinese military-led hacking group.
Credit Jason Lee / Reuters /Landov
Robert Hormats, U.S. undersecretary of state for economic growth, energy and the environment, delivers a speech at the 6th U.S.-China Internet Industry Forum in Beijing on April 9. He warns that theft of intellectual property has become a major source of mistrust.
American companies that do business with China make good money. They also lose a lot of money there to cyberthieves, who routinely hack into the computers of the U.S. firms and steal their trade and technology secrets.
The Senate on Monday approved a bill to allow states to collect sales taxes from online retailers. Proponents say sellers will get help navigating tax collection, but many retailers says complying will be burdensome and opens the door for unforeseen problems.
Congress is considering a bill that would allow states to collect sales taxes from online retailers. Proponents say a law is necessary to level the playing field with brick-and-mortar stores and to raise revenue for states.
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
I'm Audie Cornish. And it's time now for All Tech Considered.
(SOUNDBITE OF THEME MUSIC)
CORNISH: YouTube, the website that made its name as the place where you can broadcast yourself, is on the verge of launching a subscription service. NPR's Laura Sydell joins us now to talk more about it. And, Laura, what is YouTube up to?
Medical marijuana has been legal in Colorado for more than a decade. Coloradans voted to legalize recreational use in November, but lawmakers say the industry can be properly regulated only if voters approve a new tax.
This week, Colorado lawmakers hope to pass the first comprehensive set of recreational pot regulations in the country. The proposed rules involve who can sell it, where and to whom, and also include a big new tax — one that voters must go back to the polls to approve.
The Senate has passed the Marketplace Fairness Act by a vote of 69 to 27, The Associated Press reports.
Here's our original post:
The Senate is expected to approve a measure on Monday that would end tax-free shopping for online purchases, a move that concerns many e-retailers but has the support of the states that stand to collect billions in previously lost revenues.
Men still need a prescription for the diamond-shaped blue pills. But instead of going to the pharmacy in person, or taking their chances buying from an online pharmacy of unknown repute, men will be able to buy Viagra from the maker of the drug itself and have it shipped to their homes.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. We're talking about the effects of those across the board budget cuts caused by the sequester. We've been particularly interested in education, and today we're going to hear about the effect on Head Start. That's a program that helps low income kids get ready for school. That conversation is later in the program.
The topics discussed during a five-hour question-and-answer session Saturday included: Berkshire Hathaway's increased size and who will take over as CEO when Buffett, 82, steps down. While admitting the company's expansion has changed things, Buffet demurred when it came to succession specifics.
The economic crisis in 2008 led to a massive overhaul of financial regulations. Journalist Robert Kaiser was given behind-the-scenes access to congressional reaction to the crisis. He saw that even with the threat of another Great Depression, Capitol Hill remained mired in dysfunction. NPR's Linda Wertheimer talks to Kaiser about his book, Act of Congress: How America's Essential Institution Works, And How It Doesn't.
The world's largest tunnel boring machine in a few months will begin digging a new double-decker highway tunnel under downtown Seattle. If all goes according to plan, Bertha will start digging this summer. It'll emerge again late next year on the other side of downtown, not far from the Space Needle.
David Greene talks to eBay CEO John Donahoe about the political battle over online sales tax. On Monday, the Senate is expected to vote on a bill that would end the free ride that consumers have enjoyed when shopping online. The Marketplace Fairness Act would require online retailers to collect sales tax from customers, and pay them to states where customers live — just like brick and mortar stores.