National News

The Last Word In Business

Apr 17, 2012

Transcript

LYNN NEARY, HOST:

They say the only things that are certain in life are death and taxes. But half that statement appears to be under challenge by one late rap star and some special effects, which brings us to today's last word in business - virtual comeback.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CALIFORNIA LOVE")

TUPAC SHAKUR: (Singing) California love.

Transcript

LYNN NEARY, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Lynn Neary.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep, good morning.

The day that many dread is here: It's Tax Day. Of the 143 million federal tax returns filed last year, more than 80 percent qualified for a refund. Steve Inskeep talks to David Wessel, economics editor of The Wall Street Journal, about the economics of tax refunds.

Business News

Apr 17, 2012

Apple share prices dropped more than 4 percent on the NASDAQ Monday — continuing a five-day decline for the maker of iPads and iPhones. In that span, the company's market value has dropped by almost $60 billion. Analysts say this may just be a price correction but warn that it could drag the markets down with it.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We're going to hear now from a religious leader revered by Tibetan Buddhists and admired by countless others - the 14th Dalai Lama. A year ago he stepped down as the political leader of Tibet's government in exile to devote himself to spreading a spiritual message of compassion and peace. Still, he's been drawn into talking about violence since a wave of deadly protests swept through the Tibetan areas of China.

Zach Houston runs his Poem Store (on any given sidewalk) with these items: a manual typewriter, a wooden folding chair, scraps of paper, and a white poster board that reads: "POEMS — Your Topic, Your Price."

Houston usually gets from $2 to $20 for a poem, he says. He's received a $100 bill more than once. The Oakland, Calif., resident has been composing spontaneous street poems in the San Francisco Bay Area since 2005. Five years ago, it became his main source of income.

The 2012 presidential election is approaching, and President Obama's fate may hinge on how well the economy fares over the coming months.

On the campaign trail, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been highlighting the economy's weaknesses. The former Massachusetts governor has made a similar claim about the president, and the recession, at almost every campaign stop.

"I don't blame the president for the downturn," Romney told a crowd in New Hampshire earlier this year. "He didn't cause it. But he made it worse and made it last longer."

There's a boom in natural gas production in the United States, a boom so big the market is having trouble absorbing it all.

The unusually warm weather this winter is one reason for the excess, since it reduced the need for people to burn gas to heat their homes. A bigger reason, however, is the huge increase in gas production made possible by new methods of coaxing gas out of shale rock formations.

This week, NATO Cabinet ministers, including U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, will try to tackle the problem of Afghan security. The basic plan for bringing American troops home from Afghanistan is to let Afghan security forces fight for their own country. But there's a hitch — finding a way to pay for the Afghan army.

Former Nebraska Gov. and two-term Sen. Bob Kerrey, who faces long odds in reclaiming the seat left open by retiring Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson, is in his home state trying to get his old job back.

After a full of morning of shaking hands, smiling and trying to win over voters, Kerrey settles on lunch at the Taqueria Tijuana in south Omaha.

After lunch, he takes off walking down 24th Street, telling his staffers to catch up with him. He says things are different now from when he first sought public office in 1982.

Part of the Family Matters series

The Great Recession slammed into all age groups, flattening the career dreams of young people and squeezing the retirement accounts of middle-aged savers. It financially crippled many elderly people who had thought they could stand on their own.

As we've reminded everyone, April 17 (Tuesday) is the deadline for filing federal income tax returns. It's also the deadline for filing income tax returns in most states. Our friend Alan Greenblatt tells about something he finds surprising:

A new study out of UCLA suggests that when people wield a gun, they don't just feel bigger and stronger — it makes others think they are bigger and stronger.

Lottery officials in Illinois say the third of the three winning tickets in last month's record $656 million Mega Millions jackpot has been turned in.

We'll learn who the winner is on Wednesday, The Associated Press says.

The man driving the investigation into the General Services Administration, California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, took the top seat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee after the GOP won a majority in 2010.

Issa has led several splashy investigations since. But he's also been dogged by allegations of his own.

Issa has made news in recent months by threatening to subpoena Attorney General Eric Holder, and by calling a panel of only men to talk about women's contraception.

The Car Alarm Voice

For those who will be in the Washington, D.C., area Tuesday morning and would like to see space shuttle Discovery on the "fly-in" to its retirement home outside the nation's capital, the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum recommends being in one of these seven "great locations" before 10 a.m. ET:

District of Columbia

To White House outsiders and maybe even more than a few insiders, the life of a first lady would seem to be a fairly anxiety-inducing one. After all, there is no greater fish bowl than 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

So NPR's Michel Martin, host of Tell Me More, asked First Lady Michelle Obama during an interview scheduled to air Tuesday how she deals with the pressures of being both the president's wife and the mother of school-age children.

Another Tech Bubble? Maybe Not

Apr 16, 2012

It's beginning to feel frothy in Silicon Valley. Here are a few numbers:

The Central American nation of Panama is booming. Fueled by a multibillion-dollar expansion of the Panama Canal, a thriving banking industry and capital flight from Venezuela, the tiny nation has the highest economic growth rate in the hemisphere.

But even as the government builds a subway system and markets the country as a tropical paradise for multinational corporations, not everyone is sharing in the prosperity.

Thank goodness he doesn't know what's going on inside.

Candice Ludlow of member station WKNO today helps All Things Considered ketchup ... er catch up ... on a story that's been cooking for a week or so in Tennessee.

It seems that a big red rooster has been hanging out in front of a restaurant in Collierville, Tenn., for the past few months.

But it's not just any restaurant.

On Tuesday morning, space shuttle Discovery will become the first of NASA's three shuttles — plus a shuttle prototype — to travel to its new retirement home.

NASA flew its last shuttle flight in July. Since then, it's been prepping the spaceships to become museum displays. And even though the shuttles are headed to places like Los Angeles and New York rather than the space station, figuring out how to get them there has still been a major undertaking.

First lady Michelle Obama wears many hats in the White House. In addition to being President Obama's closest confidante, she's also a mother whose two daughters are growing up in one of the most public homes in America.

And as first lady, Mrs. Obama has taken on her own signature public issues, as well.

Her Let's Move campaign has brought attention to the growing epidemic of childhood obesity. She has encouraged children to eat right and get plenty of exercise.

Chin up. Literally.

A big group of plastic surgeons say that chin enhancement was the fastest growing surgical procedure they performed for cosmetic purposes in the U.S. last year — up 71 percent to 20,680 operations.

Now, it's still a small number, overall, compared with breast augmentation, the No. 1 procedure at 307,180. But those surgeries rose only 4 percent in 2011 compared with 2010.

Chin work was most popular out west, which is true for most cosmetic procedures. The Northeast came in second.

The Secret Service, which has been offering protection to presidents since 1902, has long enjoyed one of the most sterling reputations of any government agency.

That reputation has been tarnished by allegations that agents hired prostitutes in Colombia in advance of President Obama's trip there.

Saxophonist Andrew Love of the Memphis Horns has died. Love, who had Alzheimer's disease, died on April 12 at his home in Memphis. He was 70 years old.

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