A federal judge in New Orleans has approved a $1 billion civil settlement over its role in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill where 11 men died in April of 2010, the AP reports.
As we reported back in January, federal authorities blamed Transocean "for acting negligently when the rig's crew proceeded with maneuvers to the deep-sea well in the face of clear danger signals that oil and natural gas were flowing."
The Defense Department and other government agencies are preparing for the possible government budget cuts known as sequestration. Host Michel Martin talks with Lieutenant Colonel Elizabeth Robbins of the Defense Department and Washington Post 'Federal Diary' columnist Joe Davidson about who'll be affected.
NPR's business news starts with begins with a corruption case in India.
India has dispatched investigators to Italy to examine allegations of kickbacks, kickbacks involving a $700 million defense deal. The case involves the sale of a dozen helicopters to India from one of Italy's largest industrial groups.
From New Delhi, NPR's Julie McCarthy has more on a case that's rattling the Indian government.
Now, a look at one part of the immigration debate in Congress: a proposed increase in H1-B visas. Those are the visas that allow companies to hire skilled foreign workers. As NPR's Martin Kaste reports in today's "Business Bottom Line," offering more of those visas is controversial, especially among American tech workers of a certain age.
MARTIN KASTE, BYLINE: Here in Seattle, people still have fond memories of the 1990s tech boom.
OK. Let's stay with tablets, the digital kind. The kind we used to download apps. Our last word in business today is: apps aplenty.
LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
With the popularity of tablets and smartphones, people have been downloading about 10 apps per month onto their devices.
MONTAGNE: Great news for businesses, perhaps, except research from the business consulting firm Nuance Enterprise shows that the vast majority of those apps are quickly abandoned, especially those that are free.
One of the country's most famous magazines - the 91-year-old Reader's Digest - is filing for bankruptcy for the second time in less than four years. The digest originally offered just what the title promises - short versions of stories that had appeared in other publications. Now, it's filled with perky consumer news you can use, as well as a long-running advice columns, puzzles and jokes. Reader's Digest claims it still has 26 million readers worldwide, but the magazine's revenue took a big hit last year from falling sales overseas.
Many people think 3-D printing could help spark a manufacturing renaissance in the U.S. — even President Obama highlighted this technology in his State of the Union address last week.
But as 3-D printers and 3-D scanners get cheaper, this nascent industry could be roiled by battles over intellectual property.
Not so long ago, a good 3-D scanner that could create accurate digital models of objects in the real world cost more than $10,000. Then, Microsoft released the Kinect — the video game controller that allows you to play games by just waving your hands.
If you usually wait until April to file your taxes, you might want to hurry up — before identity thieves beat you to it. Using stolen names and Social Security numbers, these criminals file fake tax returns with false wage and withholding information. This generates big — and fraudulent — refunds, before the real taxpayer gets around to filing.
The Internal Revenue Service says it's busy working to combat what prosecutors call a fraud epidemic.
Most taxpayers don't have any idea something is wrong until they hit the send button on their taxes and get an error message.
People read newspaper headlines in Athens. In 2009, there were 39 national dailies, 23 national Sunday papers, 14 national weekly papers and dozens of TV and radio stations for a population of 11 million.
Three years of spiraling economic crisis in Greece have devastated every sector of the economy. The Greek media are among the hardest hit. Many newspapers and TV outlets have closed or are on the verge, and some 4,000 journalists have lost their jobs.
Many people believe the country's news media have failed to cover the crisis — and lost credibility along the way. And many Greek journalists acknowledge that a massive conflict of interest sooner or later had to explode.
Originally published on Mon February 18, 2013 5:22 am
Big in the 90s, the Tamagotchi is a handheld digital device that's a robotic pet. Owners press certain buttons to feed it, to play with it and get it medical attention. If neglected, the digital pet dies. The company is releasing a new breed of pet — a mobile app.
A meeting of finance ministers from the 20 leading industrial and developing nations wrapped up over the weekend in Moscow. The nations agreed to not to target the exchange rates of their respective currencies amid concerns that competitive devaluation could spark a currency war.
Originally published on Sun February 17, 2013 12:08 pm
The White House and congressional Democrats are sounding the alarm bells over the consequences of the sequester, the across-the-board cuts to the budget that are scheduled to go into effect in March.
White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said the cuts would offset "pretty good" economic activity over the past few months. He said President Obama had a plan to cut an addition $1.5 trillion from the deficit.
From the steam engine to visions of a national high-speed rail system, railroads have made their mark on American culture.
In his first term, President Obama promised to create a national system of high-speed rail, though he was scarcely the first politician to have done so. The January 2010 stimulus bill allocated $8 billion for high-speed rail projects, but Congress rejected federal funding for it.
In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, the president reiterated the goal of having passenger rail rise again.
Originally published on Fri February 15, 2013 2:52 pm
People around the world want the same thing from their doctors. First, do no harm. Second, take a look at this weird bump and tell me if I should get worried.
The job is basically the same in many countries around the world. But the pay is wildly different. The median salary for U.S. doctors is about $250,000 a year. In Western Europe, it's less than half that. In developing countries, the salaries are even lower.
Conventional wisdom says fewer airlines mean higher fares and fewer flights. But experts say the American Airlines-U.S. Airways proposed merger is a mixed bag. Past mergers haven't led to significantly higher fares, but will this time be different?
In Youngstown, Ohio, the owner of an oil and natural gas drilling company has been charged with a violating the Federal Clean Water Act. He's accused of dumping tens of thousands of gallons of drilling waste water into a storm sewer that eventually runs into a local river.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne.
With Congress headed for a recess, prospects are dimming for a deal to keep the nation from falling off the next fiscal cliff - sequestration. That's the term for automatic spending cuts that go into effect March 1.
NPR's Mara Liasson explains how the White House and Congress got to this impasse and why it's so hard to get past it.
Originally published on Fri February 15, 2013 6:40 am
This week's debacle on the Carnival Triumph is a setback that may cost the company as much as $80 million and hurt the industry's image. Carnival says passengers who were on the Triumph the last five days without power were miserable, but at least they were safe. Industry watchers say Carnival generally has handled the mishap well, but that the industry may need to rethink how it deal with events like power outages on floating cities than can carry more than 5,000 people.
NPR's business news starts with Europe's rocky economy.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
WERTHEIMER: It was a tough three months for the eurozone at the end of last year. The area fell deeper into recession.
And as NPR's John Ydstie reports, it's expected to remain in recession well into 2013.
JOHN YDSTIE, BYLINE: The output of the eurozone fell six-tenths of a percent in the final three months of last year, according to a report from Eurostat. The decline translates to an economy contracting at a 2.3 percent annual rate.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has put the state on what he calls a "glide path to zero" income tax. But that glide path is far from being clear or smooth.
On the face of it, Brownback seems to enjoy a remarkably strong political position. He's a conservative Republican, flanked by GOP supermajorities in both legislative chambers. His allies helped purge moderate Republicans from the state Senate in last year's election.
"I think the road is open," Brownback says. "I think we do provide an alternative model. I think we do provide a red-state model."
The proposed marriage of American Airlines and US Airways announced Thursday is likely the last in a series of industry mega-mergers, but history suggests combining two big carriers isn't easy.
"The history of airline mergers in the U.S. is good, bad and ugly," says Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst at the consulting firm Hudson Crossing. He and many others point to the 2008 union of Delta and Northwest as the best merger in recent memory.
The boards of US Airways Group and AMR have approved the merger of American Airlines and US Airways. The resulting company will become the world's largest airline. American is in bankruptcy, so its creditors will own a big chunk of the new company and US Airways shareholders will own the rest.