Originally published on Sun July 20, 2014 12:01 pm
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., the nation's second-largest cigarette maker, is vowing to fight a verdict of $23.6 billion in punitive damages to the widow of a smoker who died of lung cancer.
Calling the massive award "grossly excessive and impermissible under state and constitutional law," the tobacco company's CEO, J. Jefferey Raborn, said the verdict was "beyond the realm of reasonableness and fairness, and is completely inconsistent with the evidence presented."
Originally published on Fri August 1, 2014 10:24 am
New data released by the Department of Labor shows that raising the minimum wage in some states does not appear to have had a negative impact on job growth, contrary to what critics said would happen.
In a report on Friday, the 13 states that raised their minimum wages on Jan. 1 have added jobs at a faster pace than those that did not. The data run counter to a Congressional Budget Office report in February that said raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, as the White House supports, could cost as many as 500,000 jobs.
NPR's Business News starts with a downsized Microsoft. Microsoft announced the biggest layoffs in its history yesterday. It's cutting 18,000 jobs worldwide over the next year - that's 14% of its workforce. The company's new CEO wants to adapt to a society and an industry increasingly dependent on mobile devices. From member station KPLU, Bellamy Pailthorp reports.
Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 10:32 am
Discrimination against female workers who might get pregnant in the future, or have been pregnant in the past, is against the law, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said this week. For the first time in 30 years, the agency has updated its rules against pregnancy discrimination.
The agency clarified several policies, including one that spells out when businesses may have to provide pregnant workers light duty and another that bans employers from forcing a pregnant worker to take leave even in cases when she's able to continue on the job.
Originally published on Thu July 17, 2014 11:11 am
Installing solar panels on a house to generate electricity often costs $20,000 or more, and many homeowners have turned to leasing programs to avoid those upfront costs. But most leases are for 20 years, and that can present problems if someone wants to sell the house before the lease is completed.
Peter Auditore of El Granada, Calif., was happy with the leased solar panels he installed a few years back. When he decided to sell, he found a buyer who also appreciated the environmental benefits of solar panels. But then there was a hitch just as the sale was about to go through.
By Commonwealth as submitted by Chornyak & Associates
As people age, their financial needs change and they may need advice. Here's a useful checklist of issues to consider in working with aging family members regarding financial decisions, provided by Commonwealth Financial Network.
Each day between 2011 and 2030, 10,000 baby boomers will celebrate their 65th birthdays. As the boomers grow older, their middle-aged children may find themselves in a challenging situation: providing financial assistance to their parents as well as their own kids.
It makes some sense that young people might work less than their older counterparts. They are figuring out their lives, going in and out of school and making more short-term plans.
But a whopping 5.8 million young people are neither in school nor working. It is "a completely different situation than we've seen in the past," says Elisabeth Jacobs, the senior director for policy and academic programs at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth.
Chicago is practically giving away land: vacant lots for just $1 each. The catch? To buy one, you must already own a home on the same block.
Like many U.S. cities, Chicago has struggled with what to do with a growing number of empty lots in the wake of the foreclosure crisis. Efforts to develop affordable housing or urban farms have had some mixed results.
So Chicago officials and community development advocates hope the vacant lot program can help spark a renewal in some of the city's most blighted areas.
A year ago, the housing market looked like it was finally recovering. Sales and prices were picking up. But then home sales fizzled. Currently, they are down about 7 percent from last spring.
A big part of why housing remains so stunted is that there are more than 2 million "missing households" in the U.S. That's how economists describe the fact that fewer people are striking out on their own to find places to live.
Suppose you spent five years in prison for a crime you didn't commit. How much does the government owe you?
Over the past few decades, the rise of DNA exonerations has made this a more pressing question. And many states have created explicit policies to answer it.
But those policies vary wildly from state to state.
Twenty-one states provide no money — though people who are exonerated can sue for damages. Twelve states and the District of Columbia award damages on a case-by-case basis. Another 17 states pay a fixed amount per year of imprisonment.
If you leave Los Angeles, Calif., on Interstate 10 and head east for about 40 miles, you'll run into a quintessentially suburban phenomenon: the opening of a subdivision.
At one such development called College Park in Chino, Calif., the lawns are bright green, the D.J. is spinning classic rock and a lot of the conversations are in Mandarin. Among those looking for a house is Eddie Yung. He lives in China now, but he's moving to California.
Butlers in American pop culturetend to provide comic relief — think The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air or The Birdcage. Or, like Batman's Alfred, the butler is more of a friend than an employee.
But one show has brought back the classic butler, with a vengeance. Since the British period drama Downton Abbey made its debut on PBS in 2010, the demand for butlers in some parts of the world has surged.
A day after General Motors admitted it failed customers who owned cars with a defective ignition switch, the automaker issued a recall for 105,000 more vehicles, bringing the total number of GM recalls so far this year to 34, involving 14 million vehicles, Michigan Public Radio's Tracy Samilton reports.
Uber and Lyft car services have said they will continue to operate in Virginia, despite a cease-and-desist letter from the state saying the service is illegal because it hasn't received authorization from the Department of Motor Vehicles.
It comes a day after Colorado became the first state to pass a law regulating such companies, which use smartphone apps to connect passengers with drivers of vehicles for hire and ridesharing services and have seen fast growth in recent years in some parts of the country.
No one really thinks 12-year-old Chloe Stirling presents a menace to public health.
The Illinois girl has a knack for baking cupcakes and has done pretty well selling them. So well, in fact, that her local newspaper published a story about her earlier this year. That drew the attention of the county health department — which shut her down for selling baked goods without a license or a state-certified kitchen.
By COMMONWEALTH AS SUBMITTED BY CHORNYAK & ASSOCIATES
If a summer getaway is on your agenda, doing some online research is a great way to find deals. But is it better to book through a third-party travel website, like Expedia or Orbitz, or directly with the airline, hotel, or car rental agency?