NEW YORK -- The 787 Dreamliner was born in a moment of desperation.
It was 2003 and Boeing -- the company that defined modern air travel -- had just lost its title as the world's largest plane manufacturer to European rival Airbus. Its CEO had resigned in a defense-contract scandal. And its stock had plunged to the lowest price in a decade.
Two years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, financially troubled airlines were reluctant to buy new planes. Boeing needed something revolutionary to win back customers. Salvation had a code name: Yellowstone.
It was a plane that promised to be lighter and more technologically advanced than any other. Half of it would be built with new plastics instead of aluminum. The cabin would be more comfortable for passengers, and airlines could cut their fuel bills by 20 percent.
Picks former prosecutor to head SEC: President Barack Obama sent his strongest signal yet Thursday that he wants the government to get tougher with Wall Street, appointing a former prosecutor to head the Securities and Exchange Commission for the first time in the agency's 79-year history. Mary Jo White, former U.S. attorney in Manhattan, has an extensive record of prosecuting white-collar crime, won convictions in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the 1998 terrorist attacks on two U.S. embassies in Africa, and put crime boss John Gotti away. If confirmed, she will have the job of enforcing complicated regulations written in response to the worst financial crisis since the Depression.
IRS seeks to lift injunction: The IRS wants a federal judge to lift an injunction barring it from imposing new regulations on hundreds of thousands of tax preparers. Last week, Judge James Boasberg ruled against the IRS in a lawsuit brought by three independent tax preparers. They argued the IRS exceeded its authority in implementing the rules. Those rules require tax preparers who are not lawyers or certified public accountants to pass a competency exam, pay a registration fee and complete 15 hours annually of continuing education. The IRS says the regulations are needed to address a growing problem of poorly filed returns. It moved late Wednesday to lift the injunction pending an appeal. The Arlington, Va.-based Institute for Justice, which represented the plaintiffs, says the regulations are an unnecessary burden for mom-and-pop tax preparers.
Sandy aid bill vote on Monday: The Senate is set to vote Monday on a $50.5 billion emergency relief bill to help victims of Superstorm Sandy. Northeast lawmakers from both parties hope to win Senate approval of the measure and send it to President Barack Obama, who has said he would sign it. The House passed it last week. The lawmakers say the money is urgently needed to recover from one of the region's worst storms, especially in the hardest hit states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Fiscal conservatives say the bill would add to the nation's debt unless offsetting spending cuts are made elsewhere to pay for the Sandy aid. Sandy pounded the East Coast and has been blamed for 140 deaths and billions of dollars in residential and business property damage.
NASA testing vintage engine: Like vinyl records and skinny ties, good things eventually come back around. At NASA, that means looking to the Apollo program for ideas on how to develop the next generation of rockets for future missions to the moon and beyond. Young engineers who weren't even born when the last Saturn V rocket took off for the moon are testing a vintage engine from the program. The engine, known to NASA engineers as No. F-6049, was supposed to help propel Apollo 11 into orbit in 1969, when NASA sent Neil Armstrong and two other astronauts to the moon for the first time. The flight went off without a hitch, but no thanks to the engine -- it was grounded because of a glitch during a test in Mississippi and later sent to the Smithsonian Institution, where it sat for years.
Orders National Mall efforts: Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has issued an order requiring preservation efforts for the National Mall aimed at protecting recent improvements. Salazar issued the order Thursday, and it includes protecting major rehabilitation of the Mall between 3rd and 7th Streets. That project included a new drainage and irrigation system, underground cisterns to capture and allow reuse of rainwater and an engineered soil system to help resist compaction. The National Park Service will also replace turf on the Mall between 7th and 14th Streets. The order also requires that organizers of events on the Mall provide proof of sufficient funds to rehabilitate or replace damaged turf.
Warns against spreading flu by cellphone: AT&T's chief medical officer is warning that cellphones can easily spread the flu because they're one of the few devices that regularly come in close contact with the face. Dr. Geeta Nayyar is urging people to clean and disinfect their phones regularly, use hands-free headsets and avoid taking out their phones in restrooms. She says cellphones make a convenient delivery device for viruses because of how often people shake hands, turn doorknobs and use railings before touching their phone. She is also recommending other basics for avoiding the flu: getting a flu shot, washing hands and avoiding anyone who is sick.
Hopes rise for job gains: Employers are laying off fewer workers, a trend that normally suggests hiring is picking up. The January jobs report next week will show whether employers have begun to hire more freely or are still waiting for the economy to strengthen. The number of people seeking unemployment aid has reached a five-year low. Some employers, such as health care companies, restaurants and retailers, are hiring steadily. Yet overall job growth remains modest. And the unemployment rate is the same 7.8 percent it was when Barack Obama became president four years ago.
Could face Whopper shortage: British and Irish burger fans could face a Whopper shortage. Burger King says it has stopped buying beef from an Irish meat processor whose patties were found to contain traces of horsemeat. The fast food chain said in a statement Thursday that it had dropped Silvercrest Foods as a supplier for its U.K. and Ireland restaurants as a "voluntary and precautionary measure." Last week Silvercrest, which is owned by ABP Food Group, shut down its production line and recalled 10 million burgers from supermarket shelves in Britain and Ireland after horse DNA was found in some beef products.