NPR's business news starts with Boeing's battery problem.
Boeing's new fleet of Dreamliner 787 aircraft is grounded. But there is one in the air right now. The FAA cleared the plane's flight this morning from Fort Worth, Texas to Seattle. Engineers at the Boeing factory there will study the plane's lithium ion batteries and look for ways to reduce fire risk. Regulators around the world grounded the Dreamliner last month after batteries overheated on two planes. Only crew are aboard the 787 currently on its way to Seattle.
And we have news of another fire sale. Our last word in business today is the buy of a lifetime.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
That's what some are calling the sale of a 20-acre estate outside Cedar Falls, Iowa, which sold for a winning bid of around $600,000. The precise amount was not disclosed. One expert says to build something like that estate today would cost $1.5 million.
In exchange for multibillion-euro bailouts, Greece was required to sell state-owned assets. But the sweeping privatization process is behind schedule. In addition, European governments are nervous that Chinese, Russian and Arab companies are lining up to take advantage of the Greek fire sale.
Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 5:12 pm
What do the Kansas City Royals, C. Everett Koop, Jack Nicholson and the United Methodist Church all have in common?
Turns out the Major League Baseball team, the former surgeon general, the actor and the denomination's general board and church society are all enemies of firearms, and as such have made it onto the National Rifle Association's list of "National Organizations With Anti-Gun Policies."
Epic water battles are the stuff of history and legend, especially in the West. And as a severe drought drags on in the Midwest, a water war is being waged over a river that irrigates agriculture in Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas.
It's that last border crossing where this water war is under way. Kansas has gone to the Supreme Court to argue that Nebraska uses too much water from the Republican River, and that there's not enough left for Kansas farmers.
The economy may be on the rebound, but life is getting tougher for some people in the middle class. With rising gas prices, insurance costs, and higher payroll taxes, people are feeling squeezed. Host Michel Martin asks if there's any financial relief in sight.
Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 12:29 pm
Update at 2:25 p.m. ET. It's Official:
Praising Sally Jewell as an executive who turned outdoors equipment retailer REI into one of the nation's most successful and environmentally conscious companies, President Obama just said he is nominating her to be his next interior secretary.
Noting that Jewell, who in a previous job worked as an engineer for Mobil, has also climbed mountains in Antarctica, the president joked about that being "just not something I think of doing."
Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 11:30 am
Business leaders involved in homebuilding, oil drilling or automaking are happy about the way 2013 has kicked off. Lower- and middle-income consumers, on the other hand, are feeling like the year has kicked them in the head.
"Consumers have not rebounded with the arrival of the new year," says Ed Farrell, director of consumer insight at the Consumer Reports National Research Center. "Middle-income Americans were particularly hard hit this month and appear to be losing ground."
Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 4:07 pm
Wednesday, Hasbro announced that it was welcoming a new member of the Monopoly-token family. And because it asked the Internet, it wound up with a cat. (For whatever reason, the Internet was not offered Gotye or a bacon cupcake.)
GREENE: The U.S. Postal Service has just announced the end of first class mail deliveries on Saturday. It is part of an effort to slow enormous financial losses. And NPR's Yuki Noguchi has come into the studio to tell us what all this means for customers and the Postal Service. And Yuki, so when will my Saturday deliveries stop?
Monopoly players, your game will never be the same. Hasbro, which has been making the for some 80 years, is retiring a game piece. The iron will no longer be passing Go or stopping at Park Place. The company ran a Save Your Token campaign, and only eight percent of respondents fought for the iron. The winner? That little Scottie dog, who may prefer the old iron to the token replacing it - a cat - though players using the cat may get nine chances to win.
NPR's business news starts with a big cable buyout.
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GREENE: Liberty Global is the cable company owned by American media mogul John Malone. Malone is about to have a much broader reach. His company already operates in 14 countries. And now Liberty Global has reached a deal to buy the British cable company Virgin Media for about $16 billion.
We're also tracking a story that federal authorities call one of the biggest credit card fraud rings in U.S. history. Eighteen people are alleged to have created an elaborate web of fake identities and sham companies to steal hundreds of millions of dollars.
With no government ties, Bitcoin is used to buy everything from blogging services to Brooklyn-made cupcakes. Theoretically, millions of dollars are being kept in the digital currency, and it's increasingly being used by specialized online gambling websites. But is Bitcoin gambling legal?
Purely in the interests of journalism, I decided to get my hands on some of the currency. When I did so, Bitcoin, which has been around for a few years now, was fetching around $17 on most exchange sites. It has since risen to more than $20.
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.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
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.
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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.
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.
I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, people often talk about the struggle to get into college but for many students, finishing is really the big challenge. Our next guest has some practical tips for students, to help them make it to the finish line.
Originally published on Tue February 5, 2013 10:56 am
"Slumping personal computer maker Dell is selling itself for $24.4 billion to its founder and a group of investors that includes Microsoft," The Associated Press writes, in "the largest deal of its kind since the Great Recession dried up financing for risky maneuvers like this."
The wire service adds that "the complex agreement announced Tuesday will end Dell Inc.'s nearly 25-year history as a publicly traded company. Shareholders are receiving $13.65 per share for their stock. ... Founder Michael Dell will remain the company's CEO and largest shareholder."
A $24.4 billion buyout that would take computer maker Dell private was announced Tuesday. The group negotiating to buy the company includes private equity firm Silver Lake, Microsoft and Dell's founder Michael Dell.
The U.S. Justice Department plans to file a civil suit this week accusing the credit rating company Standard and Poor's of fraud. Standard and Poor's is the company that famously downgraded U.S. debt in 2011. This investigation focuses on S and P's actions before the financial crisis. The civil action accuses S and P of fraudulently inflating the ratings of mortgage investments, setting them up for the crash that lead to the great recession. The investigation is the focus of today's Business Bottom Line, and here's NPR's Jim Zarroli.