Fifteen years ago, Denis Gagnon bought a company that made a product nobody really liked: hand dryers. But he quickly managed to turn Massachusetts-based Excel Dryer into an innovator with the Xlerator — a high-speed dryer that cut drying time from more than 30 seconds to less than 15.
Computer maker Dell is going private in a $24 billion deal that highlights the changing fortunes of the PC industry. The buyout is being led by company founder Michael Dell, software giant Microsoft and the private equity firm Silver Lake Partners.
The Justice Department may seek as much as $5 billion from Standard and Poor's. In a lawsuit filed Monday night, prosecutors accuse the firm of misleading investors with fraudulent credit ratings on dozens of different mortgage bonds. It's not yet clear whether federal officials plan to file a similar suit against the other big rating firms, Moody's and Fitch. Regulators would like to see the industry be more competitive and less dependent on the firms whose securities they are rating.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
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And I'm Robert Siegel.
President Obama met with business and labor leaders today at the White House. He's trying to build a broad coalition in support of revamping immigration laws. The two sides haven't always seen eye to eye on immigration. But this year, on this issue, they're mostly working together on the issue. We'll hear more in a moment about the evolution of organized labor's position.
From a death in the music world, now to something of a rebirth.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
SIEGEL: Muzak, best known for its inoffensive, unobtrusive, ultra-bland music is changing its brand name. The company announced today that it will now be known as Mood, after Muzak's owner, Mood Media. It's chairman and CEO said in a statement that this marked the end of an iconic American brand, or as fast company put it, the musical equivalent of white bread.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel. For skier Lindsey Vonn, the racing season is over. Today, at the World Championships, the American Alpine skiing star crashed. She injured her right knee. Still, as we hear from NPR's Tom Goldman, U.S. ski officials expect Vonn will be ready for next year's Winter Olympics.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
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I'm Audie Cornish.
And we begin this hour with new details about one of President Obama's most controversial programs to fight terrorism. A leaked Justice Department memo says the U.S. has the right to kill Americans who are al-Qaida operatives, even if they're not actively working on a specific plot.
As NPR's Carrie Johnson reports, that legal justification isn't going over well with the civil liberties community.
In communities around Florida, vigils and other events marked what would've been Trayvon Martin's 18th birthday on Tuesday. Neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman has been charged in the teen's death and a judge ruled Tuesday that a June trial will go forward as scheduled.
Marcos Valle wasn't identified with Brazil's influential Tropicalia movement during the 1960s and 1970s. But, like his peers Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, he made ambitious and subversive pop music during those years, mixing American soul and rock with samba, bossa nova and other Brazilian styles.
In Egypt, tensions have risen in recent weeks as government security forces have clashed with street protestors. For more, Robert Siegel talks with Abdul Mawgoud Dardery about the political situation in Egypt. He's a member of the Freedom and Justice Party, the political party of the Muslim Brotherhood.
A Somali court on Tuesday handed down one year sentences to a woman who claimed she was raped and to a journalist who interviewed her about the alleged sexual abuse. The Mogadishu judges decided the woman had lied. The journalist was accused of insulting the government, even though he never published anything from the interview. Rights groups have decried the case as politically motivated because the woman had accused security forces of the assault.
Now to Mali, where the French are winding down their mission. As they do, librarians and scholars in the city of Timbuktu are breathing a sigh of relief. Timbuktu is home to an untold number of manuscripts and antiquities from Qurans to texts on medicine and mathematics, invaluable to Islamic history. But recently, Malian rebels and Islamic militants set the city's largest library on fire as they fled town. As it turns out, the scholars were one step ahead of the vandals. Only a very small percentage of the items were destroyed.
Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 8:39 am
Guys, it may be time to get off the couch and hit the treadmill — especially if you want to have kids.
Okay, we all know that exercise is good for us. It can reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease, to name a few benefits. Now researchers say physical activity may also help keep sperm healthy and happy.
Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 4:48 am
A confidential Justice Department memo obtained by NBC News outlines legal theories the Obama administration has used to justify killing American citizens abroad. Here are five key questions and answers about the document:
Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 10:02 am
Chocolate is like sex or pizza: Even when it's bad, it's still pretty good. There are those who prefer light, refreshing desserts after a big meal, but I think those people are crazy. I always gravitate to the most decadent dessert on the menu, which is usually laden with chocolate. And while I love the stuff, there is nothing sadder than giving or receiving a box of boring chocolates on Valentine's Day. Each year, men and women shamefully duck into grocery stores and pharmacies to grab a box of assorted chocolates. Because nothing says "I love you" quite like chocolate from a gas station.
Originally published on Tue February 5, 2013 1:52 pm
The Department of Justice said today that it was sticking by its decision not to pursue any charges against cyclist Lance Armstrong.
"We made a decision on that case a little over a year ago. Obviously, we've been well aware of the statements that have been made by Mr. Armstrong in other media reports. That does not change my view at this time," André Birotte, a U.S. attorney based in Los Angeles, said according to Reuters.
Originally published on Tue February 5, 2013 2:45 pm
Ann Harada is that rare Asian-American musical theater actress who's never starred in The King and I or Miss Saigon. After a few summer stock stints as Bloody Mary in South Pacific, Harada realized if she was going to make it in theater, it would be as a character actor. In 2003, she originated the role of Christmas Eve in the irreverent puppet musical Avenue Q, a part she played on and off for six years.
Rape has long been a weapon of war, but documenting sexual violence usually happens after a conflict is over. Researchers are taking a new path with the Syrian conflict: tracking the incidents of rape as they occur.
Originally published on Tue February 5, 2013 1:42 pm
Florida voters in 2010 approved constitutional amendments by nearly 2-to-1 margins that forbade state legislators from coordinating with political parties or favoring incumbents when drawing new congressional districts.
So what did lawmakers in Tallahassee do? The Republican leaders in charge of drawing new maps coordinated with Republican Party consultants to protect Republican incumbents.
While the economy will benefit from continued improvement in "underlying" conditions, the federal government's push to tighten its spending will slow overall growth in 2013, the Congressional Budget Office projects.
In an updated "Budget and Economic Outlook" reported released Tuesday afternoon, the agency forecasts:
-- 1.4 percent growth in gross domestic product this year, vs. 2.3 percent in 2012.
Originally published on Tue February 5, 2013 3:07 pm
It happens all the time: The government announces some giant settlement with a company that's been accused of doing something wrong. The company agrees to pay some massive fine. Then, in the fine print, there's something along the lines of: "The company neither admits nor denies any wrongdoing."
Recently, though, some powerful people have been pushing back, rejecting deals that include this kind of fine print.
And now, a look beyond Baltimore and Beyonce to the enduring possibilities of an ephemeral event. When the lights went out at Superdome on Sunday, Twitter lit up. Advertising teams from several companies tried to capitalize with instant ads. Like many of the regular ads, almost of these flopped, but one produced an idea that people are still buzzing about, Oreo cookies. If you work in the ad business, how does social media changed the game? Give us a call, 800-989-8255. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. For most of this hour, we'll focus on the experiences of mixed-status families and the complications of navigating the gray areas in the shadows of immigration, when one or some are citizens and others are here illegally.
Originally published on Fri February 15, 2013 10:11 am
The Pez dispenser is a cultural icon that has withstood the test of time, with Mickey Mouse, Yoda, even George Washington doling out little candy bricks through their plastic necks.
So applying the hot new technology of 3-D printing to make personalized Pez dispensers makes sense, in a weird way. It's just one of a growing number of efforts under way to print customized food products.