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NPR 2014-03-21
03-22-2014, 11:32 AM
Post: #1
NPR 2014-03-21






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From NPR News in Washington, I’m Jack Speer.

The U.S. is warning Russia that it is on what officials are calling “a dark path” to isolation because of the country’s involvement in the annexation of Crimea. However, President Obama during a local TV interview also says the U.S. has no intention of intervening militarily, while the president told KNSD, the NBC affiliate in Santiago, the U.S. intends to continue to signal its opposition.

“Russia right now is violating international law and the sovereignty of another country. Might doesn’t make right. And we are going to continue to ratchet up the pressure on Russia as it continues down its current course.”

U.N. President Ban Ki-moon meets in Moscow this week with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He’s expected to echo international concerns. The Obama administration has already imposed sanctions on 11 Russian and Ukrainian officials.

The Justice Department says Toyota has agreed to pay $1.2 billion to settle a criminal probe involving a problem with its vehicles that prompted recalls starting five years ago. Michigan Radio’s Tracy Samilton reports it’s the largest criminal penalty for an automaker in U.S. history.

Toyota was investigated for concealing a risk of unintended acceleration in millions of cars. The company finally recalled the cars in 2009. Independent auto-analyst Michelle Krebs says the penalty will sting.

“Ah, $1.2 billion even for Toyota with its deep pocket is a substantial amount of change.”

The Justice Department has also begun a criminal investigation of General Motors. The company is accused of delaying a recall of cars with the faulty ignition switch that could stall the cars at high speed. That problem is linked to at least 12 deaths. For NPR News, I’m Tracy Samilton.

The investment bank JPMorgan Chase announced a major deal today to sell its commodities business to trader Mercuria Energy Group. NPR’s Zoe Chace reports JPMorgan is the latest in a string of big investment banks investing themselves in metals and oil holdings.

Remember when big banks spent a lot of money investing in financial products that went under during the financial crisis? When those went away, lots of these banks invested big in commodities -- Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley; JPMorgan alone spent more than $2 billion on metals, oil, natural gas. In fact, it once owned so much aluminum that it even bought out an aluminum storage unit by the railroad tracks in Baltimore. But now new rules are coming in that might prohibit some of that activity and also require banks to hold on to more cash as a safety net. Managing all that aluminum stuff was expensive. The bank sold off its commodities for $3.5 billion. Zoe Chace, NPR News.

Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee wrapped up its two-day meeting in Washington today, saying it’ll keep interest rates low for an unspecified period of time, but it apparently did not give Wall Street much to be confident about. The Dow was down 114 points.

This is NPR.

Airplane builder Boeing says the design and manufacture of its new 787 jetliner is safe despite a number of problems the planes have experienced since being rolled out. A new report by the FAA says the plane is soundly designed and safe. The review did find room for improvement in the manufacturing process though and government oversight of contracts. The FAA initiated the review after several of next-generation jets experienced problems including fires due to leaks of lithium-ion batteries.

Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law has taken the witness stand in a federal court in New York to defend himself against charges of providing support to al-Qaeda and conspiring with the terrorist group to kill Americans. NPR’s Joel Rose reports the testimony by Sulaiman Abu Ghaith came as a surprise.

Testifying through an Arabic interpreter, Abu Ghaith said he knew that Osama bin Laden was a suspected terrorist in June of 2001 when he traveled to Afghanistan, but Abu Ghaith said he still wanted to “get to know that person”. Prosecutors say Abu Ghaith became a spokesman for al-Qaeda in the days after September 11th, 2001, warning that there would be more attacks on Americans and trying to inspire others to join al-Qaeda’s cause. Abu Ghaith has pleaded not guilty and denies helping to plan later attacks as prosecutors allege. The Kuwaiti-born cleric was captured a year ago in Jordan and flown to the U.S. to face trial. Abu Ghaith is married to bin Laden’s eldest daughter. Joel Rose, NPR News, New York.

You failed to file a tax return in 2010, the IRS may have a refund waiting for you. April 15th is the deadline to file a return for the 2010 tax year to obtain a refund. Some people were not required to file returns because they made too little money, but in some cases they still had income taxes withheld from their pay, which is why the government says it has $760 million in unclaimed refund money.

I’m Jack Speer, NPR News in Washington.
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