NPR's business news begins with a bite out of Apple.
It's still the largest tech company in the world - let's make no mistake about that. But Apple reported yesterday that its profits were flat - despite brisk sales of iPhones and iPads. In after-hours trading, Apple's stock plunged, reflecting fears that interest in Apple products may start waning as consumers seek more affordable options.
Staying in the tech world now, later today Microsoft releases its earnings for the final quarter of 2012. And no matter what the computer software giant announces, it won't mask the fact that last year was a brutal one for the personal computer industry.
Dell - one of the largest computer makers on the planet - is in talks to be taken over by a private equity firm. PC sales are declining globally.
And as NPR's Steve Henn reports, some see a technological shift in the works that could undermine the empire built by Microsoft.
OK. Let's turn to a rivalry between siblings. Today's Last Word In Business is Harbowl - or Harbaugh Bowl. An Indiana man tried to trademark those two phrases last year, according to ESPN.com.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
Roy Fox figured the Harbaugh brothers - both NFL coaches - might someday meet in the Super Bowl. This year, it is happening. Jim Harbaugh's San Francisco 49ers face John Harbaugh's Baltimore Ravens, a week from Sunday.
There's still more to learn about the risks of smoking and the benefits of quitting.
Studies in this week's New England Journal of Medicine show that the risk for women has been under-appreciated for decades. New data also quantify the surprising payoffs of smoking cessation — especially under the age of 40.
A week has passed since the terrorist attack on a natural gas facility in Algeria, but risk analysts and security experts are still undecided about the incident's likely impact in the energy world.
The price of oil, a good indicator of anxiety in the energy market, went up modestly right after the attack, but then it stabilized. No energy company has suspended operations in Algeria, nor has any company announced it will hold off on future investments in North Africa, a key source of oil and gas supplies.
English critic Samuel Johnson once said of William Shakespeare "that his drama is the mirror of life." Now the Bard's words have been translated into life's most basic language. British scientists have stored all 154 of Shakespeare's sonnets on tiny stretches of DNA.
It all started with two men in a pub. Ewan Birney and Nick Goldman, both scientists from the European Bioinformatics Institute, were drinking beer and discussing a problem.
There's a quick, one-word explanation for why the federal government started selling flood insurance: Betsy.
Hurricane Betsy, which struck the Gulf Coast in 1965, became known as billion-dollar Betsy. Homes were ruined. Water up to the roofs. People paddling around streets in boats. Massive damage.
This would be the time when you'd expect people to be pulling out their flood insurance policies. But flood insurance was hard to come by. You could get fire insurance, theft insurance, car insurance, life insurance. Not flood.
National security reporter Fred Kaplan was the first to publicly link Paula Broadwell to Gen. David Petraeus in last fall's affair scandal, but that's not the topic of his new book. In fact, it's barely an addendum. Instead, Kaplan focuses in depth on counterinsurgency — a cornerstone of Petraeus' legacy.
The White House said today that it would move forward with the nomination of Gen. John Allen to become NATO commander.
Allen's nomination was put on hold after he became ensnared in the extramarital affair scandal that led to the resignation of CIA Chief David Petraeus. As we reported, the Pentagon's Inspector General exonerated Allen of any wrong doing yesterday.
NPR's Tom Bowman filed this report for our Newscast unit:
Representatives of the attorney general's office say the VictoryLand casino in Shorter is continuing to operate illegal electronic bingo machines and shouldn't be given a liquor license. Deputy Attorney General Sonny Reagan urged the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board Wednesday to deny the casinos' application. VictoryLand attorney Joe Espy said the machines have been determined to be legal by Macon County Sheriff David Warren and the license should be granted.