Money in a Minute: Headlines for March 23, 2011

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In today's news: Japan's earthquake shakes up semiconductor production, Americans are living longer, the economy may really be getting better, and Sprint appeals to Congress, bosses, and parents of teenagers.

JAPAN: 25 percent of world’s chip wafer production stopped after quake

Many semiconductors, which power today’s consumer electronic products – from cell phones to PCs – are made in Japan. The bad news: “There may be consequences to the world’s electronic supply chain,” PC World reports. But there’s good news for iPad 2 fans: The plant that makes the popular tablet’s components was not damaged.

HEALTH: New health statistics show Americans living longer

The economy may be hurting, but life expectancy in the United States is at an all-time high. “In 2009, life expectancy increased to 78.2 years, up from 78 years in 2008,” Reuters reports. “For women, life expectancy was 80.6 years, up one-tenth of a year. The life expectancy for men rose to 75.7 years, an increase of two-tenths of a year.”

ECONOMY: Fed officials see U.S. recovery taking hold

Lots of experts have touted an economic recovery, but when two top Federal Reserve officials say it, maybe it’s true. “Cleveland Fed President Sandra Pianalto said she expects the U.S. recovery to continue at a moderate pace,” MSNBC reports. “Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher, speaking in Frankfurt, Germany, said the U.S. recovery was gathering momentum and needs no further Fed support.”

COMMUNICATION: Sprint plans appeal to Congress to halt AT&T-T-Mobile deal

AT&T’s $39 billion takeover of T-Mobile 5o become the nation’s largest cell phone provider has a new enemy. Sprint has protested to Congress, saying “the deal hurts the wireless industry,” Bloomberg reports.

TECH: Sprint app would lock most phone functions when driving

Speaking of Sprint, the company released a new app that prevents Android phones from being used while you drive. It costs $2 per month. So who’s it for? “Your boss and parents of teenagers,” USA Today says.

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