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The news that the cost of personal genome sequencing will soon drop as low as $1,000 has generated a quite a bit of interest and concern — from medical researchers, biotech companies, bioethicists and the average consumer alike.

NPR's Rob Stein explored many of the implications of this technology in his four-part series "The $1,000 Genome." They're complicated, to say the least.

Gas prices spiked overnight Thursday by as much as 20 cents per gallon in parts of California, causing some stations to close and shocking many customers.

According to The Associated Press, the average price of regular gas across the state was nearly $4.49 a gallon. In other parts of the country, gas prices have fallen. South Carolina has the lowest average gas prices in the continental U.S. at $3.49 a gallon.

Here's a little math problem for you: How many calories go into the ethanol that's in your tank of gas?

Enough to feed 22 people, if you're talking the bare minimum calories needed in a single day, according to researchers at the New England Complex Sciences Institute.

The news that the nation's jobless rate fell to 7.8 percent in September from 8.1 percent in August immediately led some of President Obama's critics to charge the the books had been cooked to help his reelection campaign.

The nation's unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent in September from 8.1 percent in August even though just 114,000 jobs were added to private and public payrolls, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.

Those hard-to-reconcile figures — a decline in the jobless rate even though job growth was relatively weak — appear to be at least partly explained by a sharp increase in the number of Americans who found part-time jobs and counted themselves as employed.

Dubai To Build Replica Of Taj Mahal

Oct 5, 2012



Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. The emirate of Dubai has created many wonders - a snowy ski hill in the desert, the world's tallest building. Its latest mega-project could be called a labor of love. The luxury hotel Taj Arabia will be a replica of the Taj Mahal, only four times the size. The 17th original in India was built by an emperor as a shrine to his beloved late wife. Dubai is pitching its faux Taj Mahal as a destination for weddings. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ken Rensink's path to special education teaching began when he was 19, just one day after he completed his training for the U.S. Army Reserves. He fell asleep at the wheel of his car, hit a telephone pole and nearly lost his life.

"I was paralyzed from the waist down," Ken told friend Laurel Hill-Ward, a Chico State University professor who trains special education teachers. "My left arm was so weak, I could barely hold a plastic cup of water."

calsidyrose / Flickr

Agriculture experts are predicting a bountiful year for northern Alabama's cotton crop. Heavy rain this week forced some farmers to delay harvesting another week or two. However, planters say the fall rain has been welcome after a scorching summer that featured consistent heat and little rain. Eric Schavey, regional extension agent for northwest Alabama, predicts a solid cotton crop this year. He said less rain over the coming days would be more beneficial to the cotton crops. More rain could lead to boll rot, some of which he's seen in some plants.

Andy Arthur / Flickr

A small cell phone company has won a more than $10 million federal grant to expand wireless service in one of Alabama's most isolated regions. The Federal Communications Commission says Pine Belt Cellular was the only company that sought the money to build new cell phone infrastructure along almost 1,600 miles of roads in five west Alabama counties. The president of the company, John Nettles, says Pine Belt will use the funding to construct and connect towers and antennas in parts of Choctaw, Dallas, Marengo, Perry and Wilcox counties.

Broke, the documentary that brings ESPN's outstanding "30 For 30" back tonight, begins with this pair of statistics, courtesy of Sports Illustrated: "By the time they have been retired for two years, 78 percent of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress; within five years of retirement, an estimated 60 percent of former NBA players are broke."

Can Saving Money Cost Money?

Oct 2, 2012



I'm Celeste Headlee and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, style maven Stacy London tells us about the psychology of fashion and what messages you're sending with your choice of clothing. That's in a few minutes.

When French peasants stormed the Bastille on July 14, 1789, they weren't just revolting against the monarchy's policies. They were also hungry.

From the French Revolution to the Arab Spring, high food prices have been cited as a factor behind mass protest movements. But can food prices actually help predict when social unrest is likely to break out?

Click through Swedish furniture giant IKEA's U.S. (online here) and Saudi (online here) catalogs.

You'll find all the same stuff.

But you won't find women in the Saudi catalog.

Birmingham News file

A new superintendent could be picked for Jefferson County next week.

The county's Board of Education plans to meet Monday morning to discuss which person it should select among the five candidates who were recently interviewed.

The Birmingham News ( ) reports that the board received a total of 24 applicants from 15 states. Officials have aimed to have the new superintendent in place by Jan. 2. The current superintendent, Phil Hammonds, will retire early next year.

An automotive parts manufacturing company is officially opening its newly expanded facility in Cullman and has created 250 new jobs.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley will take part in the ribbon cutting and dedication at 2 p.m. Friday of the newly expanded Topre America Corp. facility in Cullman. Bentley will be joined by Cullman area-leaders and Topre America officials at the ceremony.

Topre America supplies parts to Honda, Toyota and Nissan. This is the company's fourth expansion since it located in Cullman in 2004.

Pat Henneberry is an airline's dream customer. She flies all week, every week, and buying an $800 ticket so that she can have full flexibility is standard operating procedure. She's an American Airlines platinum customer. But she is fed up with the endless delays and cancellations.

The Last Word In Business

Sep 25, 2012



And today's last word in business comes from Tony the Tiger.


LEE MARSHALL: They're greeeaaat.


INSKEEP: A simple statement. But Tony may have to learn how to say it in Chinese because his parent company, Kellogg, just inked a deal with a firm in Singapore.


Alabama education officials say the state is No. 1 in the nation for the growth in high school students making qualifying scores on Advanced Placement exams for the last five years and for the growth in minority students taking AP courses.

Gov. Robert Bentley, state school Superintendent Tommy Bice and supporters of the A Plus College Ready program announced Monday in Millbrook that qualifying scores have gone up 102 percent and minority participation 318 percent over the last five years.

At one point overnight as many as 2,000 workers at a Foxconn plant in Taiyuan, China, were involved in a riot that drew 5,000 police officers to the site and has closed the facility that makes parts for Apple's iPhones and hardware for other companies including Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard.

The Last Word In Business

Sep 24, 2012



The Dow Jones industrial average may be the most famous barometer of stock market sentiment. It's not a broad measure. Only 30 stocks are in the Dow and this elite group of big blue chip companies supposedly represents the health of the U.S. economy. So, it is noteworthy when a company is kicked off the Dow or allowed in.


An unusual parliamentary meeting is due to open Tuesday in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, amid speculation of sweeping changes ahead. In the first such confirmation from within the country, farmers told The Associated Press they would be given more control over their crops under new agricultural rules. Long seen as an economic basket case, North Korea now could be on the cusp of economic change.

Business News

Sep 24, 2012




NPR's business news begins with a media divorce.

Village Voice Media Holdings, the company that publishes the newspaper of the same name, is breaking up with its controversial advertising service. has been accused of facilitating sex trafficking, and activists have been pressuring the Village Voice to shut down its adult classifieds service - so the company is splitting up its portfolio.

Tech companies like Google, Facebook and Zynga are on a shopping spree. They're buying small startups with innovative products and apps. But, many times, the tech giants don't care about what the small companies were producing. They just want the engineers.

There's a new name for these deals: the "acqui-hire," and it could mean the end to your favorite app.

Automaker Fiat announced its commitment to remain in Italy after a meeting Saturday between the company's CEO and the country's president.

Fiat had threatened to shut down its operations in Italy unless it received additional state assistance. The crisis came at a time the entire country is undergoing a steep decline across all industrial sectors.

When you walk into a McDonald's in India, it doesn't feel that much different from one in the U.S. That is, until you try to order.

When McDonald's first came to India 15 years ago, it ditched the Big Macs and Quarter Pounders to try to fit in in a country where cows are sacred and most people frown on eating beef. The chain tried re-creating its American classics with lamb, but it was a flop.



This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Chicago teachers voted to end their strike this week, the first in 25 years, and came back to class. It brought an end to a heated confrontation between leaders of the Chicago teachers union and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who repeated this phrase time and again during the strike.

MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL: This was a strike of choice and it's a wrong choice for the children. Really, it was a choice.

Labor Unrest In S. African Mines Spreads

Sep 22, 2012

In South Africa, thousands of mineworkers have embarked on industrial action that began with a deadly pay strike by platinum workers. They've agreed a wage deal with their management, this week, but the labor unrest is spreading to other platinum and gold mines in an industry that's the engine of South Africa's economy. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton discusses the repercussions with host Scott Simon.

After saving money for years, Lola Sanchez was finally able to buy a car refitted with a ramp and space for a wheelchair in the back for her teenage son, who has cerebral palsy.

A nurse used to come each day to help with her son's care. That service was cut amid government austerity measures, though Sanchez still gets a small check every month.

"What I need is physical help, even more than financial assistance," Sanchez says, "because I can't physically lift him on my own."

And then there were three — record labels, that is. Regulators in the United States and Europe have approved the acquisition of EMI Music by Univeral Music Group. The combined label will own close to 40 percent of the world music market with a trove of acts that includes The Beatles.

Even as it has received praise for bringing innovative ideas to life, Kickstarter has been criticized for allowing creators to be a little fuzzy about their plans — and for providing little recourse to investors who become unsatisfied with the project they've supported. The site has now announced changes that it hopes will ease those troubles.

The biggest change is a new section called "Risks and Challenges," which requires potential entrepreneurs to list the obstacles they face, and how they plan to deal with them.