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Let's talk about fast food — and I bet you have a jingle in your head right now, because according to a new book, on any given day in America, an estimated one third of all American adults is eating something at a fast food restaurant.

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Updated at 2:39 p.m. ET

A massive industrial explosion in northwest Houston early Friday killed two people, left a business in ruins, knocked homes off their foundations and sent debris flying for about half a mile.

The predawn blast at a building belonging to Watson Grinding and Manufacturing, which provides industrial services such as thermal spray coatings, could be felt more than 30 miles away, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said at a news conference.

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Updated at 5:30 p.m. ET

Former billionaire and pharmaceutical executive John Kapoor has been sentenced to five years and six months in prison. His sentencing is the culmination of a months-long criminal trial in Boston's Moakley U.S. Courthouse that resulted in the first successful prosecution of pharmaceutical executives tied to the opioid epidemic.

Updated at 1:26 p.m. ET Friday

If Jeff Bezos can't keep his phone safe, how can the rest of us hope to?

Sure, Bezos, Amazon's CEO and the owner of The Washington Post, is smart and presumably has good security people helping him, says Matthew Green, a computer science professor at Johns Hopkins University. But, Green says, "the bad thing about being Jeff Bezos is that there are a lot of people with huge amounts of money who want to hack you."

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Two United Nations officials say they believe that Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the hack of a smartphone that belongs to Jeff Bezos. They say it happened in May of 2018.

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The U.S. Department of Transportation is considering tightening the rules for taking service animals on planes after increased customer complaints and lobbying from the airlines who think current regulations are too lenient.

New Jersey became the first state in the country to enact a law that guarantees severance pay for mass layoffs, according to the bill's sponsors this week.

The legislation, signed by Gov. Phil Murphy on Tuesday, ensures that businesses with 100 or more full-time employees pay their workers one week of severance pay for every year of service whenever widespread downsizing or plant closures affecting 50 or more employees is on the horizon. The law also requires employers to give workers at least 90 days notice when such changes are imminent. That's up from 60 days.

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Memphis Meats, a Berkeley, Calif.-based startup, says it's one step closer to bringing cell-based meat to consumers' mouths.

The company plans to build a pilot production facility with funds raised from high-profile investors including Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Kimbal Musk, as well as two giant players in the animal protein and feed space, Cargill and Tyson Foods. The company says its latest funding round has brought in $161 million in new investment.

Updated at 1:18 p.m. ET

In 2018, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sent a WhatsApp message to the world's richest man. That message was behind a high-profile hack of Jeff Bezos' phone, according to a report commissioned by the Amazon CEO and reviewed by United Nations human rights experts.

A few years ago, Lauren had a big problem. The Queens, N.Y., resident had graduated from college with an art degree as the Great Recession had hit. She had private student loans with high interest rates. For work, all she could find were retail jobs. And by 2016, her loans had ballooned to about $200,000.

" 'I can't afford to actually pay my bills and eat and pay my rent,' " she remembers thinking. "I was financially handicapped. I mean, my student loan payments were higher than my rent was."

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Harvey Weinstein is on trial for rape and assault in New York City. Today, we expect opening statements in his case. Weinstein's lawyer is a woman named Donna Rotunno. She's made a career defending men accused of sexual misconduct.

Boeing's troubled 737 Max airplane will now remain grounded from passenger service until at least June or July, which is months later than the company had previously suggested.

And that means airlines will likely cancel Max flights through the busy summer travel season.

The three U.S. airlines that fly the 737 Max, American, Southwest, and United, had already removed the planes from their flight schedules into early June.

Chilly winds and hail don't bother Buckshot Cunningham, who lived outside without a shelter for years until he came across Hope Village in southern Oregon.

"This is my umbrella," he says as he shrugs on the hood of his coat while walking into a mid-January winter storm.

Hope Village is run by Rogue Retreat, a nonprofit serving low-income people in Medford, Ore., near the border with California. It's a collection of about a dozen small cottages with a communal kitchen, dining area and bathrooms.

Many people think of the economy as following a set of fairly scientific principles.

We buy more if things are cheap. We buy less if they're expensive. Companies hire more people if it looks like the economy is growing. They cut back if it looks like things are going to tank. Or say you're in charge of the Federal Reserve. Economic indicators help decide whether to raise or lower interest rates.

All of this seems very rational, very mathematical.

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Editor's note: This is an excerpt of Planet Money's newsletter. You can sign up here.

Hackers linked to Iran are probing American companies for vulnerabilities, cybersecurity researchers and U.S. government officials say.

The warnings suggest that the next phase of hostilities between the U.S. and Iran, following the Jan. 3 killing of a top Iranian general in an American drone strike, is likely to play out in cyberspace.

Updated at 7:50 a.m. ET Tuesday

The extradition hearing for Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer for the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, began Monday in Vancouver, British Columbia. American officials want Meng sent to the U.S. to face federal fraud charges.

Sometimes, the approval of a new generic drug offers more hype than hope for patients' wallets, as people with multiple sclerosis know all too well. New research shows just how little the introduction of a generic version of Copaxone — one of the most popular MS drugs — did to lower their medicine costs.

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Trade War's Effect On The Economy

Jan 19, 2020

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