Business & Education

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Aiming to attract and keep top-notch talent, a growing number of companies are dangling family-friendly perks such as lengthy paid leave for new moms and dads, back-up child care and onsite infant vaccines. But the attention-grabbing headlines — such as "IBM plans to ship employees' breast milk home" — obscure the reality that for many workers, basic benefits such as guaranteed parental leave, even unpaid, are unavailable.

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In oral arguments on Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court enters the smartphone wars.

The case, which pits Samsung against Apple, could have major repercussions for tech products across the board.

The two smartphone giants have been battling each other — not just in the marketplace but also in the courts — since 2011, a year after Samsung unveiled a new set of smartphones, including the Galaxy. Like iPhones, the Samsung products, for the first time, had rounded corners and square icons on a touchscreen.

Updated 7 a.m. ET on Oct. 11

Samsung Electronics is permanently ending production of its flagship Galaxy Note 7 smartphone, after trying for more than a month to solve the problem of the device catching fire.

Samsung, the global leader in smartphone production, announced Monday that it is suspending sales of the smartphone after reports that some replacement devices were also spontaneously igniting. On Tuesday, Samsung announced that it is halting production, and a spokesman told NPR's Elise Hu that production will not resume.

Three doctors who have led a task force that evaluates preventive medical services say the group's recommendations shouldn't be tied by law to insurance coverage.

The former chairmen of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force say the link between medical recommendations and insurance coverage leads to financial incentives that can corrupt the process and distort people's health care decisions.

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The Trump Taj Mahal casino took its final bets on Monday, and it's been through bankruptcy more than once in its troubled history.

However, even before the Taj Mahal opened its doors in 1990, there were signs of trouble. One financial analyst predicted — correctly — that the casino would flop. He was promptly fired, under pressure from Donald Trump.

But Marvin Roffman didn't back down.

With her infant son in a sling, Monique Black strolls through a weekend open house in the gentrified Shaw neighborhood of Washington, D.C. There are lots of factors to consider when looking for a home — in this one, Monique notices, the tiny window in the second bedroom doesn't let in enough light. But for parents like Black and her husband, Jonny, there's a more important question: How good are the nearby schools?

The 2016 Nobel Prize in Economics was awarded Monday to Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmström for their work in contract theory — developing a framework to understand agreements like insurance contracts, employer-employee relationships and property rights.

The issues they have worked on are ripped from the headlines — should prisons be privatized? — as well as deeply familiar to anyone who's earned a paycheck or paid for insurance.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit


Thousands of Alabama children are attending private schools thanks to Accountability Act scholarships, but very few of those students transferred out of a failing public school.

The state program provides private school scholarships to help low-income students attend private schools. When lawmakers started the program in 2013, it was touted as a way to help students escape schools with chronically low test scores.

The Decatur Daily reports that, according to state data over the past three years, only 39 students withdrew from failing schools to attend private schools.

Creepy Clown Scare Isn't Funny For The Real Clowns

Oct 9, 2016
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Excerpts from speeches Hillary Clinton was paid to give to big banks suggest a relationship with Wall Street that is a lot more familiar and pragmatic than the fiery rhetoric she has sometimes used on the campaign trail.

"I represented all of you for eight years. I had great relations and worked so close together after 9/11 to rebuild downtown, and a lot of respect for the work you do and the people who do it," she told a Goldman Sachs symposium on Oct. 24, 2013.

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Would you trust your smartphone to guide your drinking habits?

A lot of people are doing just that. With many of us glued to our digital devices for much of the day, web developers and medical researchers are taking note of the potential for harnessing our phones, tablets and laptops as tools to moderate drinking, or stay sober after quitting booze.

Episode 728: The Wells Fargo Hustle

Oct 7, 2016

The third-largest bank in the country, Wells Fargo, is in big trouble. A federal investigation found that Wells Fargo was opening bank accounts without customers' permission. Perhaps as many as two million fraudulent accounts.

After the scandal broke, Wells Fargo's CEO John Stumpf was called to Capitol Hill to testify. He told the senators that the bank's upper management wasn't responsible for the giant scam. He said it was just a bunch of bad apples working at bank branches. Mostly low-level employees.

Add to Volkswagen's woes an auto safety recall. Volkswagen and its Audi brand are recalling nearly 281,500 vehicles owing to fuel leaks.

The recall is massive for VW. The company sold approximately 350,000 vehicles in the last year.

There are actually three separate recalls but all pertain to fuel leaks, though the defects could be different. For many vehicles the suction pump in the fuel tank was improperly assembled, according to Volkswagen.

Shela Bryan, 63, has been comparing prices for individual health insurance plans since May, and she can't believe what she has been seeing.

"They cost a thousand, $1,200 [a month], and they have a deductible of $6,000," she said. "I don't know how they think anyone can afford that."

Most of America's poultry producers have been promising to cut back on the use of antibiotics in recent years. One of them, however, has consistently led the way.

The U.S. economy generated 156,000 new jobs in September, according to the monthly jobs report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The results did not meet expectations: Economists had predicted between 170,000 and 176,000 new jobs for September.

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Add to the list of worrisome economic trends what economists call "NEETs" — young people who are Not in Education, Employment or Training.

Their numbers are growing, now 40 million in the 35 member countries of the OECD — the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. And two-thirds of them are not actively looking for work.

The figures come from the biennial OECD report, Society at a Glance 2016.

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Just two years after the blood-testing company Theranos was valued at $9 billion, the company has announced that it will close its clinical labs and blood-test centers and cut more than 40 percent of its staff.

Theranos says it is shifting its focus to a product it calls the miniLab, with the goal of commercializing "miniaturized, automated laboratories."

The executive director of Alabama’s Commission on Higher Education plans to retire at the end of this year.

The commission announced yesterday that Gregory Fitch will end his 45-year career in education this year. He has led Alabama’s coordinating board for higher education since July 2006.

Fitch says he notified the commission of his retirement plans in June. Vice Chairman Randy McKinney of Gulf Shores has been tapped to lead the search committee to find a replacement director.

When the Labor Department announces the September job-creation numbers on Friday, presidential candidates will pounce, hoping to find data to support their talking points on the economy.

For the last three months, the numbers have been favoring the incumbent Democratic Party. Candidate Hillary Clinton could point to a steady, low unemployment rate of 4.9 percent and average growth of 232,000 jobs per month, a robust pace.

Zero. That's the stated goal of transportation officials in the U.S., no traffic fatalities by 2046. Zero deaths is a movement that began in Sweden. There, it's called Vision Zero. The idea is simple. "No loss of life is acceptable." That is the one sentence motto of Sweden's campaign.

Prepaid cards are a growing segment of electronic payment that often function like debit or credit cards, but currently aren't regulated like them. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says it is changing that, requiring prepaid card providers to conduct some of the same credit checks and disclosures required of credit card providers.

"This rule closes loopholes and protects prepaid consumers," CFPB director Richard Cordray said today in a statement. "And it backs up those protections with important new disclosures to let consumers know before they owe."

The idea behind the company Blue Apron is simple: Each week, it sends customers a box with recipe cards and fresh ingredients to make a handful of meals, each of them in just under 35 minutes.

The company has grown quickly since its founding in 2012: It delivers around 8 million meals per month.