Business

U.S. Commutes: The Way We Get To Work
1:21 am
Wed November 13, 2013

Forget The Car Keys — This Commute Requires A Paddle

Stephen Linaweaver has been kayaking from Oakland, Calif., to work in San Francisco for four years.
Courtesy of Dan Suyeyasu

Originally published on Wed November 13, 2013 11:41 am

This story is part of a project on commuting in America.

We all know what it's like to be stuck in traffic. But what about paddling under it?

For kayak commuter Stephen Linaweaver, there is no rush hour or gnarly gridlock. His biggest commute worry is a really big ship.

Linaweaver kayaks from Oakland, Calif., to his job as a sustainability consultant in San Francisco. His hourlong commute begins at the Port of Oakland each morning at 7.

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The Sharing Economy: A Shift Away From Ownership?
1:16 am
Wed November 13, 2013

What's Mine Is Yours (For A Price) In The Sharing Economy

Diners take part in the Herbal Remedy Picnic event, a meal arranged through food sharing site Feastly, in Washington, D.C.
Jeff Wilkes

Originally published on Wed November 13, 2013 1:32 pm

This week on-air and online, the tech team is exploring the sharing economy. You'll find the stories on this blog and aggregated at this link, and we would love to hear your questions about the topic. Just email, leave a comment or tweet.

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Business
3:31 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Justice Department Approves American, U.S. Airlines Merger

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 3:56 pm

The Justice Department approved an airline merger Tuesday that will create the world's largest carrier. AMR, the parent of American Airlines, and U.S. Airways agreed to divest a number of slots and gates at key airports in order to enhance competition.

Energy
3:31 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Ethanol Is Center Stage In Fight Over American Fuel Tanks

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 3:56 pm

Two large industries — agriculture and oil — are fighting a pitched battle over access to your car's fuel tank. Americans are buying less gasoline, but a federal law requires the country to include an increasing amount of corn-based ethanol in the country's fuel supply. Facing billions of dollars in lost sales, the oil industry wants the government to reverse course on ethanol.

Business
3:16 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Airline Antitrust Deal Seen Boosting Competition At Airports

An American Airlines jet passes the Washington Monument as it lands at Ronald Reagan National Airport. That's one of seven airports where American and US Airways must now make room for low-cost competitors under a settlement with the Justice Department.
Mark Lennihan AP

Originally published on Wed November 13, 2013 2:21 pm

From the start, airline analysts had been predicting that an antitrust lawsuit would not stop the $11 billion deal to combine US Airways and American Airlines.

They saw the suit, filed in August, as a government negotiating tactic, not a deal-breaker.

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NPR Story
2:46 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Obama Taps Treasury's Bailout Lawyer To Lead Derivatives Watchdog

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 3:56 pm

Timothy Massad is nominated to head the Commodities Futures Trading Commission. He would replace Gary Gensler, whose four-year tenure was marred by questions of his professional ties to Jon Corzine and the downfall of MF Global.

Parallels
12:22 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Do For-Profit Schools Give Poor Kenyans A Real Choice?

Young students in a Bridge International Academy school in Nairobi, in September. On the surface, there's little to distinguish these schools from others in the developing world. But Bridge's model relies on teachers reading lessons from tablets.
Frederic Courbet for NPR

Originally published on Tue April 22, 2014 11:54 am

Bridge International Academies has set up more than 200 schools in Kenya over the past four years, and plans to open 50 more in January.

Using a school-in-a-box model, Bridge's founders say it gives primary schoolkids a quality education for roughly $5 a month.

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The Two-Way
10:12 am
Tue November 12, 2013

Justice Reaches Deal To Allow American, US Airways Merger

A US Airways plane rests near two American Airlines jets at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport last year. The combined carrier would be named American Airlines.
Jim Watson AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 10:57 am

The Justice Department has reached a deal that will allow for the merger of American and US Airways, opening the door to the creation of the world's largest airline.

The merger still needs final approval from a bankruptcy court.

The U.S. had hoped to block the merger arguing that it would result in less competition and higher prices for consumers.

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The Salt
9:12 am
Tue November 12, 2013

Have Bitcoin To Burn? Next Stop Could Be The Farm

Economists say small-business owners — especially farmers dealing in high volume and low profit margins — are more likely to accept a volatile currency like Bitcoin than bigger businesses.
Allen Sheffield Flickr

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 12:54 pm

For food producers who sell directly to consumers, credit cards are both a blessing and a curse.

They're a way to do business with cashless customers, but 3 percent of every credit card sale is usually charged to the farmer as a transaction fee. That adds up in a high-volume, low-profit business like agriculture.

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The Two-Way
8:21 am
Tue November 12, 2013

Bailout Chief Tapped For Tougher Job: Regulating Derivatives

Meet the new boss? Timothy Massad, left, is to be nominated to replace Gary Gensler, right, as chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
Official portraits from the Treasury Dept. and CFTC

Originally published on Wed November 13, 2013 8:33 am

The news, as Bloomberg Businessweek writes, is that:

"Timothy Massad, the Treasury Department official responsible for overseeing the U.S. rescue of banks and automakers after the credit crisis, will be nominated to head the country's top derivatives regulator."

But leave it to The Wall Street Journal to neatly sum things up in a headline:

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Business
3:14 am
Tue November 12, 2013

Millions Will Be Lost If Mexico Doesn't Go To World Cup

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 6:15 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Tomorrow in Mexico, the unthinkable may occur. The nation's beloved soccer team may fail to qualify for next year's World Cup in Brazil. OK, this may not be the grimmest news to come out of Mexico in recent years, but it will be a blow.

And it's a business story because as NPR's Carrie Kahn reports from Mexico City, the team's failure could cost broadcasters, sponsors and sports teams hundreds of millions of dollars.

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Business
3:14 am
Tue November 12, 2013

Apple And Samsung Resume Courtroom Battle

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 6:15 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with tech giants back in court.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

WERTHEIMER: Apple and Samsung resumed their legal battles today. Last year, Samsung was found guilty of patent infringement. A judge ordered that Apple be paid a billion dollars in damages. Earlier this year, another judge reduced that amount to $450 million. Now a new trial, where a jury will reconsider both the allegations and the damages awarded. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Politics
3:14 am
Tue November 12, 2013

Affordable Care Act's Website Reflects Law's Complexity

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 6:15 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Its MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

And I'm Linda Wertheimer. We'll get a look this week at how many people have signed up for health insurance on the new government exchanges. According to the Wall Street Journal, fewer than 50,000 people have obtained coverage so far through the federal website. That's well below the government's original forecasts.

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Business
3:14 am
Tue November 12, 2013

China Celebrates Singles Day By Buying Stuff

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 6:15 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And today's last word in business is: singles sales.

Yesterday, as Americans mark Veterans Day, China celebrated Singles Day. The holiday is a Chinese twist on Valentine's Day, a day to focus not on couples but on yourself.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

And apparently the concept is good for business. It has led to an unprecedented online shopping spree. Internet sales in China yesterday beat out last year's U.S. Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales combined.

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Business
3:14 am
Tue November 12, 2013

Detroit Billionaire Goes On Real Estate Buying Binge

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 6:47 am

Despite the bankruptcy, parts of downtown Detroit are going gangbusters, and that's in large part because of one guy. Online mortgage mogul Dan Gilbert has bought up 40 buildings and counting. He's filling those buildings — some of which used to be vacant — with new businesses. But some residents are wary of his expanding reach in the city.

Parallels
12:58 am
Tue November 12, 2013

Will Colombia's Gamble On Medical Tourism Pay Off?

A billboard announces discounts on cosmetic treatments in a street of Cali, Valle del Cauca department, Colombia. In recent years the country has been building facilities specifically designed for medical tourists.
Luis Robayo AFP/Getty Images

International medical tourism is big business worldwide. Countries like India and Thailand lead the way as top destinations for people looking for high quality care at a fraction of the cost back home.

Lately, countries closer to the U.S. are also trying to break into the market — such as Colombia — which until recently was better known for drug trafficking than nose jobs.

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Shots - Health News
2:57 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

$4.2 Billion Deal Highlights Drug Profits From Rare Diseases

Flemming Ornskov, CEO of Shire, says the company's offer for ViroPharma is part of a broader push into orphan drugs.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 6:14 am

Two drugmakers you may have never heard of just agreed to a big deal.

Ireland's Shire says it's paying $4.2 billion for ViroPharma, which makes a drug to treat a rare condition called hereditary angioedema. People with the inherited condition are prone to swelling that can be life-threatening. About 1 in 50,000 people have the genetic mutation that causes the problem.

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Business
2:51 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

Race For Same-Day Delivery Could Be Boon For Cash-Strapped USPS

Originally published on Mon November 11, 2013 3:52 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

While large-scale government IT contracts have a terrible track record, Amazon is a company that has made its reputation for delivering on time. And it's always looking for more ways to shorten the time between online ordering and delivery. Well, today, Amazon announced it's partnering with U.S. Postal Service to expand Sunday delivery options.

NPR's Jim Zarroli reports that for the financially strapped Postal Service it's an opportunity to take a bigger role in the lucrative online retailing market.

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Business
2:51 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

It's A New Orleans Mantra, But Using 'Who Dat' May Cost You

The phrase "Who Dat" is ubiquitous in New Orleans. A Texas-based company says it owns the rights to the phrase, and while homemade signs don't run afoul of its trademark, it says merchandise like T-shirts is another matter.
David J. Phillip AP

Originally published on Mon November 11, 2013 4:46 pm

During pro football season, New Orleans becomes " 'Who Dat' Nation." Fans open New Orleans Saints games with the signature chant and use it to rattle the eardrums of opponents during play.

Since the Saints' Super Bowl win in 2010, the phrase has popped up everywhere, from T-shirts to business names. Even people who don't watch football call themselves "Who Dats." But a messy legal question keeps rearing its head here: Who owns "Who Dat"?

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All Tech Considered
2:51 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

Share And Share Alike: A Time Of Collaborative Consumption

Renting out your couches — or your entire place — is powered by San Francisco–based Airbnb, which has now connected more than half a million willing hosts and travelers in more than 34,000 cities.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon November 11, 2013 6:17 pm

This week on-air and online, the tech team is exploring the sharing economy. You'll find the stories on this blog, aggregated here and we would love to hear your questions about the topic. Just email, leave a comment or tweet.

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Planet Money
2:00 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

$18 Billion Of Unclaimed Cash, In 1 Graph

Quoctrung Bui

The federal government is sitting on $18 billion in unclaimed money — money that's owed to ordinary people and businesses who never swung by to pick it up. This is a tiny fraction of the federal budget. But it's still, you know, a lot of money.

A few notes on some of the key agencies:

Treasury

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All Tech Considered
1:15 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

This Week, Exploring The Sharing Economy

Citi Bike is the bike sharing program that launched this May in New York City. Bike sharing is part of the sharing economy.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 2:19 pm

As often as we can, your tech team is focusing our reporting into themes over the course of a week, and this week, we're all about the sharing economy, or collaborative consumption. (Check out the series page where we'll archive all the stories from the week.)

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It's All Politics
12:03 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

When Lobbyists Literally Write The Bill

Lobbyists for Citigroup, one of the country's largest banks, offered lawmakers draft language for a bill that was obtained by New York Times and Mother Jones reporters. And 70 of the 85 lines in the final House bill reflected Citigroup's recommendations.
Mark Lennihan AP

Originally published on Mon November 11, 2013 3:52 pm

It's taken for granted that lobbyists influence legislation. But perhaps less obvious is that they often write the actual bills — even word for word.

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The Salt
10:54 am
Mon November 11, 2013

Prince Charles: Organic Innovator, Biscuit Maker

The first product Duchy Originals launched was the Oaten Biscuit, and it's still a top seller today.
April Fulton for NPR

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 3:23 pm

Who knew Prince Charles started one of the first organic and locally sourced food companies in the world over 21 years ago?

Not us, until we got a pitch from his public relations outfit, inviting us to "entertain like the Royals" this holiday season with "Duchy Originals from Waitrose."

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Economy
8:49 am
Mon November 11, 2013

Why It's So Difficult To Predict The Job Numbers

Originally published on Mon November 11, 2013 10:16 am

Transcript

CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

I'm Celeste Headlee. This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Michel Martin is away. Coming up, we'll take a look at how the housing market is doing all across the country.

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Economy
8:49 am
Mon November 11, 2013

Home Ownership At Lowest Level In Nearly Two Decades

Originally published on Mon November 11, 2013 10:16 am

Transcript

CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

Let's focus on the state of the housing market next, where there have been mixed signals lately. It's been reported that we've had a rip-roaring recovery in real estate accompanied by a long stretch of record-low mortgage interest rates. Housing prices are up and new home supply seems tight across the map. But on the other hand, analysts say this isn't all good news for would-be homeowners. Joining us to talk about what's going on in housing Roben Farzad, contributor to Bloomsburg BusinessWeek. Welcome, Roben.

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Business
2:04 am
Mon November 11, 2013

Amazon Offers Sunday Delivery In Selected Cities

Originally published on Mon November 11, 2013 3:52 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Let's begin NPR's business news starts with Amazon Sundays.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GREENE: The U.S. Postal Service is breaking new ground, teaming up with the online retail giant Amazon in an exclusive deal to deliver Amazon packages on Sundays. Residents of Los Angeles and New York can now take advantage of the additional delivery day at no extra charge. The Sunday service is expected to expand to more cities next year.

Television
2:04 am
Mon November 11, 2013

Are Flesh-Eating Zombies The Future Of Television?

Originally published on Mon November 11, 2013 3:52 am

AMC's The Walking Dead has key ratings better than network dramas. The show gets desirable young viewers by not skimping on explicit action, gore or storytelling. So why haven't the networks tried to imitate the show? Blame the FCC, which cracks down on explicit network broadcast content but overlooks cable.

Business
2:04 am
Mon November 11, 2013

Disposable Underwear Courtesy Of 3D Printer

Originally published on Mon November 11, 2013 4:07 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

And our last word in business is: underprints.

Shopping anywhere could take a hit if 3D printing really takes off, by allowing users to print products at home.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Yes, products like disposable underwear. It's the brain-child of an Israeli couple, whose 3D technology also enables them to print items like bandages or sportswear. Currently, the fabric printers run about $3 million, so maybe too steep for home use just now.

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Business
2:04 am
Mon November 11, 2013

Greek Shop Owners Resist Opening On Sundays

Originally published on Mon November 11, 2013 3:52 am

The Greek government is pushing stores to open on Sundays, just like the tourist shops around the Acropolis. But mom-and-pop shops that are participating in a pilot program to open seven Sundays a year, say they lost money last weekend — the first Sunday the program was effect.

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