Business & Education

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Most Los Angeles residents only know the Veterans Affairs medical center in West Los Angeles as something they glimpse from their cars when they're on traffic-choked Wilshire Boulevard. From the road it looks like a park, but within the grounds is the largest medical facility in the VA's health care system.

University of Alabama

The new president of the University of Alabama is receiving a salary and benefits package worth as much as $652,000 annually. Guy Bailey began work last week as president of the campus in Tuscaloosa. Responding to an open records request by The Associated Press, the university says Bailey's annual salary will be $535,000. Alabama native will be eligible to receive a performance incentive of $105,000 a year based on meeting certain goals. But those benchmarks have yet to be established.

If you're one of those people who covet the latest, greatest thing (assuming you can afford it), life's been pretty tough for you lately. The announcements of new handheld electronic gadgets — and rumors of those to come (Apple fans are standing by) — have come so rapidly that it's been hard to keep up with them all.



This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. More dismal economic news this week. The U.S. economy created slightly fewer than 100,000 new jobs - worse than what many economists expected and what millions of Americans had hoped for. The unemployment rate dropped slightly, but possibly because half a million Americans just gave up and stopped looking for work. NPR's Steve Henn reports on whether the jobs lost during the great recession will ever come back.

Public schools in Macon, Ga., and surrounding Bibb County have a lot of problems. Most of the 25,000 students are poor enough to qualify for free and reduced lunch, and about half don't graduate.

Bibb County's Haitian-born superintendent Romain Dallemand came into the job last year with a bag of changes he calls "The Macon Miracle." There are now longer schools days, year-round instruction, and one mandate nobody saw coming: Mandarin Chinese for every student, pre-K through 12th grade.

5 Alabama Schools Named Blue Ribbon Schools

Sep 7, 2012

State and federal education officials are recognizing five Alabama schools which have been designated Blue Ribbon Schools this year. Officials say the schools earned the distinction based on their overall academic excellence or for making progress in improving student academic achievement levels. U.S.

Amazon Rolls Out Its New Kindle E-Readers

Sep 7, 2012
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A new line of tablet readers is at the top of NPR's business news.


The concept of "pay what you want" for goods and services is a nostalgic throwback to the days when people trusted one another just a little bit more, and it's something you expect to see at the occasional farm stand or at a hip, independent coffee shop.

The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index rose to levels it hasn't hit in more than four years today, bolstered by the European Central Bank's plan to buy bonds of struggling countries to help support the euro. Strong U.S. jobs data also contributed to the gains.

As the political conventions wrap up, talking points concerning the economy may seem locked into place: Growth is continuing, but at a slow pace.

Don't be fooled.

There's still plenty of time for big surprises, and Thursday provided a stunning example. Stock prices shot to highs not seen in years.

Your cellphone is a tracking device collecting a lot more information about you than you may think, says ProPublica investigative reporter Peter Maass.

"They are collecting where we are — not just at one particular moment in the day, but at virtually every moment of the day," Maass tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies. "They are also taking note of what we are buying, how we're purchasing it, how often we're purchasing it."

Reducing greenhouse gases and saving the polar bears tend to dominate discussions on climate change. But to the booming world population, one climate change issue may be even more pressing – hunger.

A new report by a leading international relief agency warns that climate change will increase the risk of large spikes in global food prices in the future, and lead to more hungry people in the world. That's because extreme weather like droughts, floods and heat waves are predicted to become much more frequent as the planet heats up.

Three bits of good news about jobs were just released.

"Private-sector employment increased by 201,000 from July to August on a seasonally adjusted basis," according to the latest ADP National Employment Report.

And ADP revised up its estimate of the job growth in July — to 173,000 from the 163,000 it previously reported.



When the European Central Bank holds its monthly meeting today, investors around the world will be watching nervously to see what the bank's head, Mario Draghi, says about interest rates. Draghi was recently quoted as saying he would do whatever it takes to keep Europe's debt crisis from growing out of control, and that could go beyond just cutting borrowing rates.

As NPR's Jim Zarroli reports, any European Central Bank plan to use its resources to prop up Europe's weaker economies will face strong opposition from the Germans.

California Candidate Drops Out Of Alabama Search

Sep 5, 2012

One of the three finalists to be Alabama's two-year college chancellor has withdrawn his name. Gregory Gray announced that he has decided to stay in California as chancellor of the Riverside Community College District. His decision came after district board members and others asked him to stay. A spokeswoman for Alabama's two-year college system says the State Board of Education will go ahead with plans to interview the other two finalists on Sept. 13 in Montgomery.

The newspaper boy and the milkman might not come around as often as they used to, but the days of subscription and delivery aren't over. The Internet and overnight delivery have combined to make a new type of subscription business possible. The sales pitch is part convenience, part price and part cool factor.

Making Razors Cheap, And Cool

When you talk to car people about General Motors, they all say the company has gotten better.

"I think General Motors, productwise, is in a better position than it's been in a decade or so," says Jack Nerad of Kelley Blue Book. "The new products, we feel ... are all quite good."

Like many people, however, Nerad adds an important caveat. He says GM's improvement doesn't mean the company is completely out of the woods, because the competition is very good as well.

Schools have been open for a couple of weeks across much of Florida, but not all of the students know who their teachers are yet. There's typically a lot of teacher turnover during the summer break, and schools can't always get vacant teaching positions filled by the time school starts.

Russia has been facing troubling demographics ever since the Soviet breakup two decades ago. The population has contracted by several million people over this period. The birth rate is low. Life expectancy for men is still less than 65 years.

And there is also a sense that many educated, talented people are leaving the country.

To take one example, the world of science lit up in July, when a billionaire Internet investor named Yuri Milner announced nine prizes for some of the world's most innovative thinkers in physics.

Automakers Report Strong August Sales

Sep 4, 2012



NPR's business news starts with auto sales on a fast track.


"All three Detroit automakers saw double-digit sales increases in August compared with the same month last year," the Detroit Free Press writes. The gains "show that the automotive industry remains one of the economy's few bright spots," it adds.



Today's last word in business is really written by Steve Inskeep.


And really written by David Greene. We feel obliged to mention that because a British author is in trouble for writing under a pseudonym.

GREENE: Amazon, the bookselling site, allows people to write short reviews of books. And the best-selling novelist R.J. Ellroy was caught anonymously writing glowing reviews of his own work.

INSKEEP: Mr. Ellroy praised himself for his, quote, "magnificent genius."

Business News

Sep 4, 2012



NPR's business news starts with iPhones and Kindles and Droids - oh, my.


GREENE: Tech giants Nokia, Motorola and Amazon are all expected to announce new hand-held devices this week. It may be an attempt to keep pace with Apple, now the largest U.S. company ever. Apple's rumored to be unveiling its new iPhone at a news conference next week.

A child's success can't be measured in IQ scores, standardized tests or vocabulary quizzes, says author Paul Tough. Success, he argues, is about how young people build character. Tough explores this idea in his new book, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character.

Crowd funding began as a way to support the arts on the Internet. Artists could go online to pitch a new album, for example, in the hope that thousands would give small amounts. But now it's expanded to entrepreneurs, and the rules aren't quite as clear.

In Afghanistan, girls are required by law to go to school. However, many of them never do.

Death threats, acid attacks and bombings by Taliban militants and other extremists lead many parents who support female education to keep their daughters at home.

Sometimes, it's the families themselves who stand in the way. School officials in conservative communities say relatives are often more interested in marrying off their daughters or sisters than in helping them get an education.

But some girls, like 18-year-old Rahmaniya, are fighting back.

Melissa Block looks ahead to the week's tech news with Laura Sydell. They cover a big upcoming announcement from Amazon.

European leaders have vowed to do all they can to keep the eurozone intact, but U.S. companies are making contingency plans in case Greece is forced to leave the currency union.

The New York Times said major U.S. banks and corporations are "preparing for what was once unthinkable" — Greece's exit from the eurozone:

Defensive Back Struggles to Hold a Job

Sep 2, 2012

Ross Ventrone has been hired, promoted, or fired by the New England Patriots no fewer than 29 times in two years. The transition the defensive back from Villanova made into the world of professional football has been different from what most people would assume, he tells Guy Raz, host of weekends of All Things Considered.

Two hundred years ago this week, Napoleon Bonaparte fought a battle in Russia that may have begun his undoing. He led his Grand Army against the Imperial Russian Army near a village called Borodino, about 70 miles from Moscow.

It was the single bloodiest day of the Napoleonic Wars, and it's remembered by Russians as a symbol of national courage. An army of re-enactors relived that Sunday.