The NFL playoffs are down to four teams. The 49ers, Patriots, Falcons and Ravens remain alive. Four other teams are gone, including the Denver Broncos, who seemed to have a great shot at a championship until this past weekend when Baltimore scored a last-minute touchdown to tie the game and then won in overtime.
These playoffs, of course, lead up to the Super Bowl, the biggest game in football and surely among the biggest commercial events in all of sports.
When students at the University of Vermont resume classes on the snow-covered Burlington campus Monday, something will be missing: bottled water. UVM is the latest university to ban on-campus sales of bottled water.
At one of UVM's recently retrofitted refill stations, students fill up their reusable bottles with tap water. For many of the 14,000 students and staff on this campus, topping off their refillable bottles is an old habit.
Of course, this last week has been kind of a nightmare for Boeing and its new 787 Dreamliner. In three separate incidents in as many days, airline carriers reported problems with brakes, with fuel leaks and a battery fire. The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced a comprehensive review of the new plane. Joining us now to talk about Boeing's new 787 is Joe Nocera, op-ed columnist for The New York Times, and our man on finance and other matters. Joe, thanks very much for being with us.
A pair of prominent hedge fund managers have taken opposing positions on the nutritional-supplement company Herbalife. Bill Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management says the multilevel-marketing company is a pyramid scheme and a bad investment. He's shorting the stock. Dan Loeb of hedge fund Third Point says Herbalife is a good investment. He's taken an 8.2 percent stake in the company and is betting that its shares will rise. Melissa Block talks with David Kestenbaum of the Planet Money team.
Originally published on Fri January 11, 2013 3:43 pm
Millions of computer users who run the most recent versions of Oracle's Java software should disable the product owing to security flaws, says the cybersecurity section of the Department of Homeland Security. The agency says, "Web browsers using the Java 7 plug-in are at high risk."
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released new rules for mortgages this week. But neither the banking industry, nor consumer groups are completely happy. Host Michel Martin gets a sense of the current state of mortgages and foreclosures with real estate columnist Ilyce Glink and Keli Goff, political correspondent for The Root.
Originally published on Fri January 11, 2013 9:29 am
Drugmaker Merck just stuck a fork in a vitamin-based drug to prevent heart disease and stroke.
The company is withdrawing Tredaptive, a long-acting pill combining niacin (No. 3 in the long list of B vitamins) and laropiprant, a chemical that reduces the unpleasant skin flushing caused by high doses of niacin.
Originally published on Fri January 11, 2013 11:05 am
Update at 9:42 a.m. ET. Review Ordered:
Saying that "we are confident about the safety of this aircraft, but we are concerned about these incidents," Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Michael Huerta confirmed Friday morning that his agency has ordered a review of Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner after a series of problems in recent days, including fuel leaks and an electrical fire.
The planes are not being grounded. Boeing says it welcomes the review and is confident in the aircraft's safety.
And today's last word in business is being set to music. Truth really is stranger than fiction, which is how a TV interview with President Richard Nixon could become a famous play, and how The New Yorker writer Lawrence Wright could create a forthcoming play on the Camp David accords. Now, an international Twitter war is becoming an opera.
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Last summer, The New York Times columnist Paul Krugman criticized the economic austerity of Estonia.
One of Spain's most troubled banks announced, this week, that it's laying off half of its staff - after being sold to a competitor for just one euro. Crippled by the housing market's collapse, Spanish banks are living off bailout loans from Europe. Those loans come with strings attached, including massive layoffs and strict new regulatory measures by Spain's central bank.
Ford announced today, that it plans to hire more than 2,200 white collar workers here in the U.S. The jobs will center around product development, manufacturing and IT. This continues an upswing in hiring at Ford. It added over 8,000 U.S. jobs last year. And yesterday, the automaker doubled its quarterly dividend to the highest level in seven years. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.
That big consumer electronics show in Las Vegas ends today. And while big tech firms like Google and Apple did not attend, an increasingly diverse range of companies took their place. With more and more devices connecting to the Internet, many companies are flocking to this festival of gadgets, hoping to bring all the appliances in your home online. NPR's Steve Henn reports.
Five years ago today, Bank of America announced it was buying the troubled subprime mortgage lender Countrywide Financial for $40 billion. At the time, the financial crisis had not fully revealed itself, and many people thought Bank of America was getting a good deal. Instead, the acquisition has turned into a never-ending legal and financial nightmare. NPR's Jim Zarroli reports.
An apparent feud between two black market pharmacies has shed light on a shady global industry.
"Rx-Promotion and SpamIt probably are responsible for upward of 50 or 60 percent of spam that you and I got in our inboxes over the last five years," said Brian Krebs, a cyber-security reporter who chronicled the alleged feud on his website. "It's just a ridiculous amount of problems that these two guys cause for everybody."
As businesses face more complex regulations and heightened scrutiny by prosecutors, companies are turning to investigative firms to help keep watch over their employees.
The idea behind the "corporate monitoring" business is to nip misconduct in the bud before law enforcement catches a whiff of it. These corporate detectives-for-hire are seeing good business these days, and finding new ways to snoop.
We all know our employers have access to tons of data about us. They can see every person we email from our company email account, every phone number we dial from our desk.
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Jan. 2. Financial market participants will be keeping a close eye on upcoming deadlines affecting the U.S. debt ceiling, scheduled automatic budget cuts and federal funding.
Originally published on Fri January 11, 2013 1:39 pm
Maybe you were hoping you'd never hear the phrase "fiscal cliff" again after Congress passed legislation Jan. 1 to address that tax-break-expiration deadline.
Three more cliff-type deadlines are fast approaching. They involve: 1) raising the federal debt ceiling 2) modifying automatic, across-the-board spending cuts and 3) funding the government to avert a shutdown.
The deadlines all hit between Valentine's Day and Easter, which means new rounds of chaotic congressional negotiations may start up just after the Jan. 21 presidential inauguration parade ends.
Barges last month crowded an area on the Mississippi River south of St. Louis where barges are stored, loaded and unloaded. Shippers worry that the drought-shrunken river could shut to barge traffic entirely this month.
Credit Alan Greenblatt / NPR
George Foster, president of JB Marine, says he hasn't had to lay off any of his 110 employees but wonders when he'll see enough barge traffic to keep all of his workers busy. Along the affected stretch of the Mississippi River, some 8,000 jobs are thought to be at risk.
Credit Alan Greenblatt / NPR
The offices of JB Marine, a barge cleaning and repair business that is located atop an empty barge just south of St. Louis, now lean at a 30-degree angle because the Mississippi River levels are so low.
Credit Alan Greenblatt / NPR
The river has fallen fast enough that barges have been beached along its banks outside St. Louis.
Credit Alan Greenblatt / NPR
"We're at the mercy of Mother Nature," says Larry Rowe, captain of a JB Marine boat. People along the Mississippi are hoping for significant snowmelt to raise the water levels.
Originally published on Thu January 10, 2013 10:53 am
The Mississippi River has provided George Foster with a living all his life. Now, with the river dropping to historically low levels, it's threatening to take his business down with it.
Foster's office sits atop an empty barge on the river, just south of St. Louis. His building tilts at a 30-degree angle because the water is so low. Visitors may want to stick out their fingertips for balance walking down his narrow hallway.
You practically can't visit a news site these days without seeing a story about why President Obama should or should not order the Treasury Department to strike a platinum coin "worth" $1 trillion and deposit it with the Federal Reserve.
Good morning, I'm Renee Montagne. A travel group in Britain is advertising a six-month job with an intriguing set of qualifications: comfortable in swimwear, happy to get wet at work. And this is key: mad about water parks. The job is water slide tester at the company's Splash World Resorts in places like Majorca and Turkey. It pays just okay, but the gig does promise plenty of thrills before the water slide tester retires that swimwear. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Television makers are trying to find the next big thing that will get you to throw out your current TV and buy a new one. They thought it might be 3D TV. That didn't work out. So now they've come up with something new. They're showing it off this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which is where we found Rich Jaroslovsky. He writes about technology for Bloomberg News, and he told us about the newest new viewing experience.
And today's last word in business goes out by special request to people listening in their cars. A new study finds that the music you listen to can affect how safely you drive.
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Researchers at London Metropolitan University studied how drivers reacted to different playlists over 500 miles. Some of the safest music, we're told, included tunes by Norah Jones and Elton John. They're soft and slow-paced.
And there's more trouble for Foxconn, the electronics giant which makes Apple products in China. The company is acknowledging that Chinese police are looking into allegations that Foxconn employees took bribes from parts suppliers.