Business & Education

Business & education news

A First As A Public Company, Microsoft Reports Quarterly Loss

Jul 19, 2012

Microsoft made a $6.2 billion accounting adjustment this quarter that threw it into negative territory for the first time as a public company, the AP reports.

Microsoft took the charge mostly based on the acquisition of aQuantive, an online advertising company Microsoft acquired in 2007.

As MSNBC reports, the "charge was an acknowledgement that the company's struggling online services division — which lost about half a billion dollars in the previous quarter — is a significant financial drag on the company." Microsoft, remember, is the owner of the search engine Bing.

On Wednesday, investors paid Germany to hold on to their money for a couple years.

That's right: Germany got to borrow more than 4 billion euros (about $5 billion), and instead of Germany paying interest to its lenders, the lenders are paying Germany. This a lot like Citibank paying you a smidgen to carry a balance on your credit card or to take out a loan (without also charging you interest).

There was a 34,000-increase in the number of Americans filing first-time claims for jobless benefits last week, the Employment and Training Administration reports.

It says 386,000 people filed claims, up from 352,000 the week before. "The 4-week moving average was 375,500, a decrease of 1,500 from the previous week's revised average of 377,000."

Birmingham Schools to Consider Layoffs, Demotions

Jul 16, 2012

Birmingham's school board is set to consider proposals by a state intervention team to lay off or demote about 200 people and delay the start of school by three days.

The items are on the agenda for the board's Tuesday meeting.

The layoffs have been considered in the past, but the board rejected them June 26, leading to the Alabama Department of Education taking over the city school district the following day.

How A Bloated Wall Street Can Hurt Growth

Jul 16, 2012

We all know an out-of-control financial sector can cause acute and long-lasting problems, thanks to the recent financial crisis. But is there also a more chronic drag on the economy when the finance crowd gets too thick?

One recent paper (PDF) suggests so, and tries to quantify just how much a bloated financial sector can hurt economic growth.

Yahoo! Confirms Data Breach; 400,000 Passwords At Risk

Jul 12, 2012

Yahoo said today that hackers had stolen and posted a file that contained 400,000 usernames and passwords.

The New York Times reports that those credentials were used not only for Yahoo! services but to services such as Gmail, AOL, Hotmail, Comcast, MSN, SBC Global, Verizon, Bellsouth and

The Times' Bits blog reports:

Alabama court reconsiders prepaid tuition ruling

Jul 11, 2012
BOC / Alabama State Treasury

The Alabama Supreme Court has reopened a lawsuit over whether Alabama's prepaid college tuition program can pay less than full tuition for students.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday told a lower court to look at whether state officials can retroactively apply a new law passed by the Legislature to allow reduced tuition payments. A plan to provide reduced payments was struck down by the Supreme Court in March and then the Legislature passed a law in April to try to save it.

Alabama Public radio news director Pat Duggins reports on today's vote by the University of Alabama board of trustees to name Dr. Guy Bailey, of Texas Tech, as UA's new president. The appointment is a homecoming for Dr. Bailey, who earned a bachelors degree in Tuscaloosa, and then a masters in 1974.

University of Alabama Hires Texas Tech President

Jul 11, 2012

Texas Tech University president Guy Bailey is the new president of the University of Alabama.
   Trustees unanimously approved Bailey's hiring during a meeting in Tuscaloosa on Wednesday. The Montgomery native says he's honored to be returning to his alma mater.
   Search committee chairwoman Karen Brooks says it's a ``bonus'' that Bailey is an Alabama graduate.
   Bailey has been president at Texas Tech since 2008. At Alabama he replaces Robert Witt, who is now chancellor of the three-campus University of Alabama System.

All week long on Alabama Public Radio, the news department is revisiting the people we heard from in the hours and days following the April 27th tornadoes that struck the state a year ago. Last night, the Tuscaloosa city council approved rezoning in the areas hit hard by the storm. Pending a final vote, this will set the city's rebuilding plan into full motion. APR's Pat Duggins takes us to the small town in Kansas which helped pioneer the "green" rebuilding ideas that may take root here.

This week marks one year since the tornadoes that tore through Alabama, killing over two hundred people and disrupting the lives of thousands of families. All week long on Alabama Public Radio, we'll revisit many of the people and places you heard from in the hours and days following the storm. APR news director Pat Duggins has this preview...  

New Republic: The Exile Of John Maynard Keynes

Jul 9, 2012

Robert Skidelsky is John Maynard Keynes's biographer and a member of the British House of Lords.

What ever happened to the TED spread?

Jul 9, 2012

Over the last week or so, we've been watching the scandal over manipulation of LIBOR, perhaps the single most important global interest rate: See Robert Smith's piece on Morning Edition, and Tuesday's podcast.

Raising Minimum Wage: A Help Or Harm?

Jul 8, 2012

Back in 1912, Massachusetts became the first place in America to introduce a minimum wage, but it would take another quarter century before a national minimum wage was set.

President Franklin Roosevelt made it law in 1938, that any hourly worker had to be paid at least 25 cents an hour. It was revolutionary, and very few countries had anything like it.

How Unemployment Has Dragged On, In Three Charts

Jul 6, 2012

Losing your job is rarely good. Not being able to find one for months can be disastrous for individuals, and bad for society as well. Yet during the recent recession and the current anemic recovery, more people in the U.S. have been unemployed for longer than at any time since 1948.

Of all Americans who were unemployed in June, almost half had been without a job for 27 weeks or longer. In other words, 5.4 million people have been jobless for more than half a year.

Airbus, the European aviation giant, announced that it was opening its first assembly plant in the United States.

The AP reports this is a significant and symbolic step in its rivalry with the American Boeing.

The AP adds:

"The French-based company said the Alabama plant is expected to cost $600 million to build and will employ 1,000 people when it reaches full production, likely to be four planes a month by 2017.

The Weekly Standard: The Economy And The Courts

Jul 2, 2012

Irwin M. Stelzer is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard, director of economic policy studies at the Hudson Institute, and a columnist for the Sunday Times.

State Superintendent of Education Tommy Bice says he intends for the state takeover of the Birmingham school system to end its reputation for being top heavy with administrators, and he will do that with or without with cooperation of the Birmingham school board.

The state Department of Education took over the system Wednesday after the Birmingham board failed to agree on a cost-cutting plan. The state Board of Education met Thursday to implement Bice's management plan.

More Quit Ala. Public TV Boards After Firings

Jun 19, 2012

Montgomery, AL – Two more leaders have quit Alabama Public Television following last week's firings of two top executives with the network.

Montgomery attorney and former federal judge Vanzetta McPherson has resigned from the Alabama Educational Television Foundation Authority, which lost three members last week. Also, Blue Cross Blue Shield President Terry Kellogg has resigned from the board of the APT foundation.

Tuscaloosa, AL – A project may shed new light on Alabama's Black Belt region. "The Black Belt 100 Lenses Project" showcases the culture of the region through the eyes of high school students. The exhibition at the University of Alabama uses photography and interviews of residents of the Black Belt to document what their culture means to them.

Doctor Heather Pleasants is Director of Educational Development at UA's Center for Community-Based Partnerships.

Tuscaloosa, AL – While 2011 will be memorable for many Alabamian's due to what happened on April 27th, it wasn't the only disaster that took place last year. Tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires you name it struck the United States last year cutting the available disaster funding pie into ever slimmer pieces. As Alabama Public Radio's Ryan Vasquez reports, finding the necessary funds to rebuild post disaster is a little harder than it used to be.

Tuscaloosa – Close to 300 people crowded a ballroom in Tuscaloosa to offer ideas on how the city should look after the rebuilding process following the April 27th tornado. APR's Pat Duggins reports how residents of the Alberta neighborhood want things like more greenspace, affordable housing, and better shopping--while preserving things that give the community its "flavor"--like the 60 year old neon sign outside the "Moon Winx" Lodge.

Tuscaloosa, AL – There's only a few days left for Alabama tornado survivors to apply for disaster assistance with FEMA. The deadline is June 27th. Tim Tyson of FEMA stopped by the APR studio to talk about the nuts and bolts of the application process. He says If you were impacted by the tornadoes, you should apply for help.

Birmingham, AL – When the April 27th storms swept through Alabama, there were basic needs to be met like food, water and shelter for tornado survivors. Things are slowly getting back to normal but, that doesn't mean every need has been met for those still picking up the pieces. The University of Alabama Birmingham hopes to step in to fill some of that void with a new loan program. In the process, business students are gaining valuable experience. Alabama Public Radio's Ryan Vasquez has more

Tuscaloosa, Alabama – Alabama Public Radio news director Pat Duggins reports on the economic "benefit" from the April tornadoes, and how some industries may be helped more than others. Alabama has an estimated four billion dollars worth of insured damage, and that could mean a lot of cash flowing into the State. Pat examines how natural disasters can help boost business in construction, but maybe not agriculture, including Alabama's poultry industry.

Tuscaloosa, AL – 238 Alabamians died in April's storms. Many more were injured. But, unlike other states in "tornado alley," Alabama doesn't have as many storm shelters and basements for people to take cover. Alabama Public Radio's Ryan Vasquez takes a look at why that is, and how the recent storms will change that.

Tuscaloosa, AL – Cities across Alabama are beginning to pick up the pieces to start and rebuild after April's tornados wiped out neighborhoods and left hundreds homeless. One of the hardest hit city's was Tuscaloosa, home of the University of Alabama. Mayor Walt Maddox has already created a task force to head up reconstruction of the city, but many are concerned about the changes ahead. Alabama Public Radio's Maggie Martin takes a look at the concerns local residents have.

Tuscaloosa, AL – Nearly two weeks after storms ripped through the state of Alabama, many residents are still picking up the pieces. According to the state Department of Insurance, Alabamians have filed 65,000 insurance claims related to the April 27th outbreak of tornados and they expect a second wave this week. Alabama Public Radio's Ryan Vasquez has more on how residents can find and get help for their damaged property.

For more insurance information:

Tuscaloosa, AL – Recovery continues in one of the hardest hit parts of Alabama following last week's historic outbreak of tornadoes. In the city of Tuscaloosa, the neighborhood of Alberta seemed to catch the brunt of an EF 4 tornado. Area businesses are leveled and many people are without homes. Alabama Public Radio's Ryan Vasquez has more on the state of affairs in Alberta.