NASA is testing supercomputers to send to Mars

Aug 14, 2017

Scientists in space have computers, but they don't exactly look like the one you might be reading this on. Computers in space have highly specific functions. There is no consumer-grade Mac or PC up in space. A lot of that has the do with the fact that laptops in space degrade quickly out there.

But NASA wants to fix that problem by creating new supercomputers, developed in partnership with Hewlett Packard Enterprise. The technology is being tested on the International Space Station in hopes that the computer can withstand trips to Mars. 

08/14/2017: Countering domestic terrorism

Aug 14, 2017

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has called Saturday's deadly car attack in Charlottesville an act of domestic terrorism. On today's show, we'll chat with Faiza Patel from NYU's Brennan Center for Justice about how the government tries to combat violent extremism. Afterwards, we'll discuss Uruguay's attempt to draft a measure that would provide transgender people with reparations.

NEW YORK (AP) — The CEO of the nation's third largest pharmaceutical company resigned from a manufacturing council that advises President Donald Trump days after racially tinged clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, citing "a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.''

The conversation is continuing into this week over what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia. There are now questions about the future of one set of federal programs established under the Obama administration to target homegrown extremism called Countering Violent Extremism (CVE).

Sandra Valin, who is transgender, was born in 1974 and said growing up in Uruguay, her mom wouldn't allow her to leave home alone.

"When I was a kid I was a target because I was flamboyant and feminine, it was horrible, and it didn't end with the dictatorship - the persecution continued into the 1990s," Valin said.

Effectively cut out of Uruguay's formal economy, Valin relied on sex work to survive.

Who owns the seeds bought by farmers and gardeners?

Aug 14, 2017

The seeds planted by farmers and gardeners used to be in the public domain. But then, in the 1980s, new laws and court rulings made it easier to patent them.

A survey on Americans and their workplaces by RAND, the nonprofit think tank, shows a lot of us work in high-pressure, stressful environments and don’t have enough time to get the job done, so we have to take it home with us.

08/14/2017: Weaponized audio technology

Aug 14, 2017

Hewlett Packard Enterprise has developed a Spaceborne computer that'll be tested at the International Space Station to see if it can withstand trips to Mars. Mark Fernandez, lead developer for the NASA project, joined us to talk about the technology and why a private company like HP is getting involved. Afterwards, we'll look at news that State Department workers in Cuba may have suffered from an "acoustic attack." 

A rally planned by white nationalist groups ultimately led to violent clashes and the death of an anti-racist protestor, Heather Heyer, this weekend. One federal effort to target domestic terrorism, the Countering Violent Extremism program, had been set up by the Obama administration. But recent changes under the Trump administration have raised questions about the program's future. On today's show, we'll take a look at what the program does and what might change.

Back-to-school supplies are a little more expensive — and complicated

Aug 11, 2017

You’re not imagining it — you are paying more for back-to-school supplies than last year.

Parents on average will spend about $500 per child this year, according to a yearly survey by Deloitte. That's up from $488 last year. This year's back-to-school shopping season is expected to pull in $27 billion in sales, the survey said.

John Hockenberry gives us his takeaway

Aug 11, 2017

So, what do you say about nearly 10 years of your life measured out in radio programs?

For me, it's that long, though not for most of you, because this show was birthed in the shadows of a long-forgotten mission to become a public radio alternative in morning drive time. That goal, which was written into grant proposals and pitches, launched The Takeaway. Then two of the biggest stories of the century — the election of Barack Obama and the financial debacle that almost took down the global economy — lifted us steadily as a place where people could hear ideas mixed with the news.

Online audio platform SoundCloud, a favorite of indie musicians, has been struggling to stay afloat financially. Last month, it laid off 40 percent of its staff, and the company has been urgently seeking a reported $170 million cash injection to keep going. Today it got that emergency investment approved by shareholders. As part of that deal, the CEO of video streaming service Vimeo will now lead SoundCloud. So it lives to see another day. But why is it that a company with more than 175 million monthly users can’t make money?

We want your eclipse plans, stories and photos

Aug 11, 2017

On Aug. 21, the contiguous United States will see its first eclipse in nearly 40 years. It will span coast to coast, from Oregon to South Carolina. About 200 million people live within a day’s drive of the “path of totality,” meaning this eclipse will be among the most viewed and photographed of all time.

We want you to be part of our coverage of the big event.

Shouldn't the person telling you what to do with your retirement accounts be legally required to act in your best interest? Sounds simple enough, but regulation to that affect has long been resisted by the financial industry. The Obama administration pushed for the so-called Fiduciary Duty Rule, but this week the Labor Department sought to delay implementation of the rule by 18 months. As it turns out, this rule might actually help brokers instead of hurting them.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

Nela Richardson of Redfin and Sheelah Kolhatkar of The New Yorker join us to discuss the week's business and economics news. We’ll get into inflation at the consumer level and how Trump's threats of nuclear war aren't having much effect on Wall Street. Plus, with Trump singling out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, we look at what’s next for the president’s agenda. 

With a new class of freshmen heading off to college over the next few weeks, parents, friends and relatives are scrambling to get their students situated and send them off with a memorable gift. Marketplace Weekend spoke to Emma McAnaw, market writer on BuzzFeed's shopping team, about her picks for goodbye gifts for college students. 

A post shared by Top Ramen (@originaltopramen) on Feb 18, 2017 at 1:03pm PST

Dealing with identity theft can cost you — but should it?

Aug 11, 2017

We often talk about cyber security as a way to prevent other people from accessing your personal information, but what can you do if the worst actually happens? That's what David Lazarus had to find out after someone used his social security number. Lazarus, who writes the Consumer Confidential column for the LA Times (and is a guest host at Marketplace), first reported on Derrick Davis, the man who took his identity, back in 2007.

Lunch shaming is on its way out of schools

Aug 11, 2017

Have you heard of lunch shaming? Even experienced it, perhaps?

It's what happens when a kid can't pay for their school lunch, and the lunch service staff, or other students or teachers, make them feel bad about it. There have reportedly been instances where a student was obliged to help clean up the lunchroom to pay off their debt, or when a school stamped "I need lunch money" on a child's arm. Sometimes, it's just embarrassing for a student to have to go get the "courtesy meal" at the salad bar instead of the hot lunch offered to all the other students.

President Trump has made it clear that he wants to put America first. Globalization and free trade, he suggests, have gone too far. Trump’s threat to slap tariffs on cheap Chinese steel is a prime example. In July, Trump told reporters he might impose both tariffs and quotas to protect the American steel industry.

The year 2016 was the warmest on record for the planet as a whole, surpassing temperature records that date back 137 years, according to an annual report compiled by scientists around the globe.

For global temperatures, last year surpassed the previous record-holder: 2015.

Teachers spend hundreds of dollars on back to school supplies

Aug 11, 2017

Parents aren't the only ones who spend big getting ready for the school year. Teachers, it turns out, fork over about $500 of their own money each year for school supplies, according to a survey by Scholastic.

Study: Fines for illegal pollution plummet under Trump

Aug 11, 2017

WASHINGTON (AP) —Fines for illegal pollution have plummeted under President Donald Trump, according to analysis by an environmental advocacy group.

The Environmental Integrity Project looked at that civil penalties paid by polluters during the first six months under Trump. The group published an analysis Thursday that found penalties were less than half their levels under each of the past three presidents.

More of your bitcoin questions, answered

Aug 11, 2017

We only had so much time on Make Me Smart this week to answer your questions about bitcoin. Molly can talk cryptocurrencies forever, and there was a lot more to say! So here's everything (else) you've wanted to know about bitcoin, but were too afraid to ask.

Who created bitcoin?

08/11/2017: "The McDonaldization of culture"

Aug 11, 2017

President Donald Trump said his administration is preparing to declare the epidemic of opioid abuse a national emergency. On today's show, we'll look at how resources might be distributed toward combating the issue. Afterwards, we'll look at fears in Britain over a free trade agreement between the U.S. and the U.K. Some say the influx of American food products will lead to lower food standards in the country.

President Trump says he is ready to declare the nation's opioid crisis "a national emergency," saying it is a "serious problem the likes of which we have never had." Speaking to reporters at the entrance to his Bedminster, N.J., golf club, where he is on a working vacation, Trump promised "to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis."

The idea of saving 20 percent for a downpayment has dashed many homeownership dreams. The thought of saving that much money while home prices and rents are increasing and wages are stagnant can be daunting.

But don’t give up on that dream of a white picket fence just yet. It turns out that the average downpayment for a first time homebuyer is much lower than you think.

Food is at the center of US-UK trade concerns

Aug 11, 2017

President Trump has promised a “big, big” free trade agreement with the U.K. once that country leaves the European Union in 2019. The British cabinet is, however, split over the prospect. Some ministers believe that Britain should clinch a deal with the U.S. at any cost. But others fear that a free trade deal would lift the existing European ban on the importation of some controversial American farm products and that could undermine British food standards.

The U.S. Postal Service wants more freedom to raise the price of stamps. After a 10-year review, regulators at the Postal Regulatory Commission could give a decision on that request as soon as next month. This comes as USPS has lost money for the past 10 years straight.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 


Airbnb closes accounts linked to white supremacy rally

Aug 11, 2017

Airbnb has canceled accounts of users who planned to attend a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday. Gizmodo first reported the story and confirmed it with Airbnb.

Tech companies have had to grapple with some big moral issues as of late. Recently, Airbnb reportedly deactivated the accounts of users planning to attend a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. Virginia. On today's show, we'll chat with University of Maryland professor Dana Fisher about whether the company is allowed to do something like this, and whether it's good for a business' bottom line to make a big political stand. Afterwards, we'll play this week's Silicon Tally with Saron Yitbarek, founder of the Code Newbie podcast.