Business

The Two-Way
1:43 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Labor Board Rules Northwestern University Players Are Employees

Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter speaks at a January press conference in Chicago.
David Banks Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 26, 2014 4:08 pm

A regional director of the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Northwestern University athletes are employees of the school and are allowed to form a union.

The Associated Press calls the decision "stunning" because it has the potential to completely upend the way college athletics function. The AP adds:

"The Evanston, Ill-based university argued college athletes, as students, don't fit in the same category as factory workers, truck drivers and other unionized workers. The school plans to appeal to labor authorities in Washington, D.C.

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All Tech Considered
11:34 am
Wed March 26, 2014

Getting Your Head Into The Facebook-Oculus Virtual Reality Deal

An attendee wears an Oculus Rift HD virtual reality headset at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Robyn Beck AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 26, 2014 4:02 pm

Author Howard Rheingold has been thinking about virtual reality tech for decades. He spoke to us on Twitter about Facebook's $2 billion purchase of Oculus VR, the company behind the Oculus Rift headset.

Technology
9:46 am
Wed March 26, 2014

The Changing World Of Tech Requires A Woman's Eye

Originally published on Thu March 27, 2014 12:09 pm

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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Business
4:08 am
Wed March 26, 2014

IRS To Treat Bitcoin As Property, Not Currency

Originally published on Wed March 26, 2014 5:39 am

The digital currency will be taxed like stocks. The IRS ruling provides some clarity to Bitcoin users and business owners who accept the virtual currency. But it means lots of record keeping.

Energy
3:13 am
Wed March 26, 2014

German Chemical Giant BASF Benefits From Cheap U.S. Natural Gas

Originally published on Wed March 26, 2014 5:39 am

Thanks to fracking, there is an abundance of natural gas at about a quarter of the European price. This influx of business may be good for the U.S., but it's cause for concern for European leaders.

Business
3:04 am
Wed March 26, 2014

W Hotels Now Offers Social Media Wedding Concierge

Originally published on Wed March 26, 2014 5:52 am

For just $3,000, the concierge will live tweet your wedding and pester your guests to use a dedicated hashtag throughout the day. And afterwards, you get a collage of the best Instagrams.

Business
3:04 am
Wed March 26, 2014

Houston Ship Channel Partially Reopens After Oil Spill

Originally published on Wed March 26, 2014 5:39 am

David Greene talks to Mark Holving, captain of the Dutch freighter Avonberg, which was stalled outside the port of Houston. The ship channel was closed after oil spilled from a barge on Saturday.

Business
3:04 am
Wed March 26, 2014

U.S. Box Office Sales Fall Slightly In 2013

Originally published on Wed March 26, 2014 5:39 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

NPR's business news begins with the incredible shrinking box office.

Americans are not heading to the movies as much as they used to. The Motion Picture Association of America says ticket sales fell off slightly in 2013. To boost audience numbers, theater owners are talking to move the chains and studios about cutting ticket great prices one day a week.

Now, while Americans seem less eager to head to the movies, worldwide box office sales are up by about four percent. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Business
3:04 am
Wed March 26, 2014

Arizona Struggles To Gain Cross-Border Trade With Mexico

Originally published on Wed March 26, 2014 7:00 am

In 2010, Arizona passed laws aimed at undocumented immigrants. As a result, business relations with Mexico — Arizona's biggest trading partner — began to suffer.

The Salt
1:22 am
Wed March 26, 2014

In Mexico And U.S., Lime Lovers Feel Squeezed By High Prices

A worker unloads a truck full of Mexican limes at a citrus packing plant in La Ruana, in the state of Michoacan, Mexico.
Dario Lopez-Mills AP

Originally published on Thu March 27, 2014 12:11 pm

Has the price of your margarita cocktail shot up? Guacamole more expensive? Blame it on limes.

About 98 percent of limes consumed in the U.S. come from Mexico. But our neighbors to the south are feeling seriously squeezed by a shortage of the beloved citrus fruit.

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The Two-Way
5:40 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Facebook Will Acquire Virtual Reality Company For $2 Billion

The Oculus Rift virtual reality goggles make for an immersive experience.
Nan Palmero Flickr

Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 6:27 pm

Facebook announced a pretty big purchase on Tuesday: The social media giant said it was acquiring Oculus VR, a company that makes virtual reality goggles, for $2 billion.

The deal includes $400 million in cash and 23.1 million shares of Facebook, which the company values at $1.6 billion.

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Media
2:55 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Resignation Revives Doubts About Bloomberg China Coverage

Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 5:28 pm

Bloomberg News finds itself under unwelcome scrutiny once again, as its parent company's chairman suggests that reporting on the corruption of China ruling elites isn't part of its core mission. A key China editor also revealed this week that he had quit Bloomberg in protest of a decision not to publish a subsequent investigation.

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News
2:16 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

For Advocates And Telephone Companies, NSA Changes Are Welcome News

Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 5:28 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

NPR's Steve Henn joins us now to talk about how phone companies are already treating customer data and what that means for how the proposed NSA program might operate. Hi, Steve.

STEVE HENN, BYLINE: Hi.

SIEGEL: And what does this mean that under this proposal the NSA would no longer hold calling records, but would have to go to phone companies to access them?

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The Two-Way
1:00 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

IRS Says It Will Treat Bitcoins As Property, Not Currency

A photo of tokens representing bitcoins.
Rick Bowmer AP

Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 1:29 pm

In a new rule released on Tuesday, the Internal Revenue Service says it will treat bitcoin and other virtual currencies as property.

The Wall Street Journal reports this means any profits made on the currency will be taxed at the capital-gains rate and that investors will have to keep extensive records.

The Journal adds:

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Education
3:11 am
Tue March 25, 2014

Maze Of College Costs And Aid Programs Traps Some Families

iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 10:11 am

In the past 20 years, the average burden for a four-year college graduate in the U.S. has gone from about $9,000 to nearly $30,000 today. The percentage of students carrying debt has shot up from less than half to nearly 70 percent these days.

At a large public high school in Freemont, Calif., southeast of San Francisco, Alyssa Tucker and Thao Le sit on a metal table. Both come from families with modest incomes.

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Business
3:06 am
Tue March 25, 2014

Chevron Pizza 'Scandal' Leaves Small Town Divided

Joann Herrington holds up the gift certificate to Bobtown Pizza that she and her husband received from Chevron three days after a natural gas well exploded up the hill from their home in Mount Morris, Pa.
Katie Colaneri WHYY

Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 3:05 pm

More than 12,000 people from the Netherlands to San Francisco have signed a petition demanding that Chevron apologize for insulting Bobtown, Pa., after the energy giant responded to an explosion of one of its natural gas wells by giving nearby residents coupons for free pizza.

The explosion killed a young worker.

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Business
3:06 am
Tue March 25, 2014

Disney To Buy YouTube Video Supplier Maker Studios

Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 5:33 am

Maker is the leading network for YouTube content creation. The Walt Disney Company will acquire it for $500 million.

Business
3:06 am
Tue March 25, 2014

China's E-Commerce Giant Alibaba To Offer U.S.-Listed IPO

Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 5:33 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The Chinese tech company Alibaba let's you buy and sell online - think Amazon or eBay. Now the Internet commerce giant will have something else in common with those U.S. companies. Alibaba plans to go public in New York later this year.

And as NPR's Steve Henn reports, this could be the biggest initial public offering ever.

STEVE HENN, BYLINE: Just how big is Alibaba? It's huge.

KATHLEEN SMITH: It could be one of the top 20 most valuable companies that are trading in U.S. markets.

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Business
3:06 am
Tue March 25, 2014

Jury Convicts 5 Ex-Madoff Employees Of Securities Fraud

Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 5:33 am

A federal court jury in New York found 5 of Bernard Madoff's former employees guilty of fraud. They were accused of enriching themselves by helping the imprisoned financier carry out a Ponzi scheme.

Remembering The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill
1:20 am
Tue March 25, 2014

Why Oil Drilling Is Both Safer And Riskier Since Exxon Valdez

The Ohmsett research facility, which researches oil spill response, was closed just before the Exxon Valdez accident. It was reopened as part of the measures included in the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.
Jeff Brady NPR

Originally published on Thu March 27, 2014 12:59 pm

A lot has changed for the energy industry since the Exxon Valdez hit a reef in 1989 and began spilling oil into Alaska's Prince William Sound. The outcry over images of oil-soaked wildlife and a once-pristine shoreline dirtied by crude ushered in greater scrutiny of oil operations and increased interest in research on how to clean up oil spills.

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Health Care
1:18 am
Tue March 25, 2014

Hobby Lobby Contraceptive Case Goes Before Supreme Court

Hobby Lobby President Steve Green says the company should not have to provide insurance coverage for IUDs and morning-after pills for its 13,000 employees.
Tony Gutierrez AP

Originally published on Wed March 26, 2014 8:23 am

The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Tuesday in the latest challenge to the Obama health care overhaul.

This time the issue is whether for-profit corporations, citing religious objections, may refuse to provide some, or potentially all, contraceptive services in health plans offered to employees. It is a case that touches lots of hot-button issues.

In enacting the ACA, Congress required large employers to provide basic preventive care for employees. That turned out to include all 20 contraceptive methods approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

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The Two-Way
3:26 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

Putin's Out Of The Club For Now: G-8 Is Back To Being The G-7

President Obama and other leaders met in The Hague. Clockwise from bottom left: European Union Council President Herman Van Rompuy, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, French President Francois Hollande, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and EU President Jose Manuel Barroso.
Sean Gallup Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 8:02 am

Russia's 20 years of having a seat at the table when leaders of the world's most powerful industrialized nations meet came to at least a temporary end.

President Obama and his counterparts from six other major nations announced in The Hague that because of Russia's actions in Crimea, "we will suspend our participation in the G-8."

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The Salt
2:33 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

Carp(e) Diem: Kentucky Sends Invasive Fish To China

Commercial fisherman Ronnie Hopkins (left) and his assistant, Armondo, catch Asian carp on Lake Barkley, Ky.
Paul Rister AP

Originally published on Mon March 24, 2014 7:47 pm

The invasive Asian carp has now been found in 12 states and in the Great Lakes watershed, gobbling up native fish, jumping aggressively into boats and reproducing like crazy. Researchers have tried various ways to slow the spread of the fish as it prowls other waterways.

And, so far, efforts to introduce the big, bony fish to American diners haven't caught on. So now a processing plant in Kentucky is trying the latest method of Asian carp disposal: sending them to China.

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News
2:33 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

Madoff Aides Found Guilty For Role In Massive Ponzi Scheme

Originally published on Mon March 24, 2014 4:46 pm

Five of Bernie Madoff's former employees were found guilty of helping him fleece investors of $17 billion. They were convicted on charges of securities fraud, conspiracy and tax evasion.

The Two-Way
1:22 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

5 Ex-Madoff Aides Found Guilty Of Conspiracy, Securities Fraud

Daniel Bonventre was convicted of ginning up phone books and records.
Seth Wenig AP

Originally published on Mon March 24, 2014 6:08 pm

Five former employees of Bernard Madoff's securities firm were found guilty of conspiracy and securities fraud for helping the now imprisoned financier carry out an elaborate scam.

The Associated Press reports:

"The defendants are all former employees of Madoff's securities firm. They were accused of enriching themselves while telling an elaborate web of lies for decades. The fraud cheated investors of billions of dollars and duped government regulators.

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Parallels
1:05 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

A Primer On The Sanctions Against Russia

St. Petersburg-based Bank Rossiya is the only Russian institution to be sanctioned by the Obama administration. The measures are beginning to have an effect on the Russian economy.
Elena Ignatyeva AP

Originally published on Mon March 24, 2014 3:48 pm

(This post was updated at 5:48 p.m. ET)

President Obama announced new punitive measures last week to expand the initial sanctions on Russia for its moves in Crimea. The measures, along with steps outlined by the European Union, impose asset freezes and travel bans on some Russian officials and target a Russian bank.

Here is what the sanctions do and their possible impact:

What Steps Were Taken?

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Business
4:36 am
Mon March 24, 2014

Red Sneaker Effect Signals Authority And Accomplishment

Originally published on Mon March 24, 2014 10:25 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And our last word in business today is: red sneakers.

Some days when getting ready for work, you just want to put on your favorite pair of shoes. They're comfortable, they're familiar, and they just may be a sign of something, as boss man, Jack Donaghy, noted to the creative, Liz Lemon, on the TV show "30 Rock."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "30 ROCK")

ALEC BALDWIN: (As Jack Donaghy) You left me dangling, Lemon. I'm not a creative type like you with your work sneakers and your left-handedness. I can't do what you do.

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Business
4:32 am
Mon March 24, 2014

Apple, Comcast In Talks To Create TV Streaming Service

Originally published on Mon March 24, 2014 10:25 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with the future of streaming TV.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: Apple and Comcast are in preliminary talks about creating a streaming television service, according to The Wall Street Journal. The Journal says a deal between the world's most valuable company and the nation's largest cable provider would mark a new level of collaboration between a tech company and a cable company.

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Business
3:56 am
Mon March 24, 2014

High-Tech Training Programs Try Deferred Payment System

Originally published on Mon March 24, 2014 10:25 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

There are plenty of open jobs in the U.S. tech industry, but companies are struggling to find qualified people, even with so many Americans out of work right now. A number of private job training programs have popped up to capitalize on the opportunity here. The problem is, many of the programs cost tens of thousands of dollars, making it harder to diversify that industry.

Alex Schmidt reports on one man's vision to eliminate that barrier.

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Business
10:02 pm
Sun March 23, 2014

After Winter's Chill, Economists Predict A Warming Trend

A cold, snowy winter in most of the country hurt economic growth, but forecasters see conditions improving for the rest of the year.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sun March 23, 2014 10:09 pm

Somewhere under all of that melting snow, there's a warming economy.

"Adverse weather conditions" have hurt economic growth so far this year, but things are headed in the right direction now, according to a forecast released Monday by the National Association for Business Economics.

"Conditions in a variety of areas — including labor, consumer and housing markets — are expected to improve over the next two years, while inflation remains tame," Jack Kleinhenz, NABE president and chief economist for the National Retail Federation, said in a statement.

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