National/International

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.

With tensions rising between the U.S. and North Korea, we'll talk with Leon Sigal — director of the Northeast Asia Cooperative Security Project — about whether sanctions actually work, and then look at growing support in Congress for greater missile defense spending. Afterwards, we'll discuss the U.S. Postal Service's push to gain more freedom to raise the price of stamps.

It's been a little over a year since Auschwitz survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel died.

He was celebrated around the globe as an activist and a writer, and for his lifelong efforts to keep the world from forgetting the horrors of the Holocaust.

But for his only child, Elisha Wiesel, coming to terms with who his father was and what he represented was a difficult road.

Last month President Trump announced a deal with Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn to bring as many as 13,000 jobs to southeastern Wisconsin in exchange for $3 billion in tax breaks. Now legislative analysts are projecting the state won't break even on that investment for more than 25 years. These sorts of mega-incentives to lure employers have been on the rise in many states since the recession. But do these deals really pay off for local economies?

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

Koch brothers are silent investors in "Wonder Woman"

Aug 10, 2017

One hears a lot that in its politics, Hollywood tends toward the liberal. The Kansas-based Koch brothers (whose company is an on-again, off-again underwriter of this program) tend toward conservative politics. And one would imagine that the twain would never meet. But movies are expensive to make, so producers need money. And movies can be profitable, and people with money like profit, which is where the Koch brothers come in.

Why your next landlord might be based on Wall Street

Aug 10, 2017

Two of the country’s largest institutional landlords are joining forces. Starwood Waypoint Homes and Blackstone’s Invitation Homes are merging, becoming a mega landlord with 82,000 homes in metropolitan areas across the country. The merger tells us a lot about the housing and single-family home rental markets.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

Uber, amidst its many troubles, will be winding down one chunk of its business. The Wall Street Journal reports that Uber will end it’s car leasing program by the end of the year. You may remember from 2015 that Uber started an auto leasing division as a way to attract new drivers. The idea being, if you wanted to drive for Uber but maybe didn’t qualify for your own car loan, Uber would give you one! Well those borrowers were what we call subprime and the subprime auto market gets a lot of attention these days. 

The Trump-Russia investigation: A timeline

Aug 10, 2017
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Carlos Barria/Reuters 

Possible ties between the Kremlin and President Donald Trump have dominated headlines for months. Here's everything you need to know about the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and the Kremlin's alleged collusion with the Trump campaign.

A little-known aspect of deportations: foreclosures

Aug 10, 2017

President Donald Trump campaigned on a promise to ramp up immigration enforcement.

From February through June, an average of 13,085 undocumented immigrants were arrested each month, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. That compares to an average of 9,134 arrests per month during the last three months of 2016.

The economic ripple effects of arrests – and eventual deportations – are wide-ranging. But one little noticed consequence is their effect on the housing market.

The meal-kit delivery service, Blue Apron, filed its first quarterly results Thursday morning, revealing greater than expected losses and sending their stock price plummeting by 15 percent. 

Blue Apron's stock went down 15 percent after its first earnings report, a disappointment to some who saw the company as a promising investment. Not every IPO does well, but there were some key things that Blue Apron should have disclosed, argues Marketplace regular Erik Gordon. He joined us to discuss some of the financial figures that the company failed to reveal before going public. Plus: Economist Diane Swonk is here to talk about data that indicates the opioid addiction has gotten to the point where it's squeezing America's labor supply — especially in rural areas. 

Update 3:35 pm August 10: Two days after making a few general remarks about the opioid crisis, President Trump on Thursday called it "a national emergency" and said his administration would be drawing up papers to make it official.

"We're going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis," Trump told reporters at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J.

Five openly transgender members of the U.S. military are suing President Trump and other leaders of the U.S. government over Trump's declaration, over Twitter, that trans people will no longer be allowed to serve in the U.S. military. The suit alleges that Trump's directive is "arbitrary and capricious," unconstitutionally depriving the service members of due process.

5 Quotes From The Head Of USAID On His First Day On The Job

Aug 10, 2017

Mark Andrew Green, the new head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, kicked off his first day on the job with a speech to hundreds of employees. In his speech on Monday, he focused on what they can expect from him and his vision for USAID.

"I can't tell you what an honor and a relief it is to finally be here with you," said Green, a former Republican congressman from Wisconsin. "Let's get at it. We got work to do."

Earnings for Nordstrom are expected later today. The retailer announced back in June that it was considering becoming a private company again. Buying out shareholders takes a lot of financing, and the company appears to be having a tough time getting formal talks going with potential investors. But that may not be such a bad thing for the retailer. 

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

Relations between the U.S. and North Korea have seldom been more strained. President Trump has threatened to bring, “fire and fury like the world has never seen,” if North Korea continues to threaten the U.S. with military action. Pyongyang responded by saying it’s considering an attack on the U.S. territory of Guam. If it came to military conflict, the biggest cost would be in terms of human lives, but the global economy would take a hit too.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

It might be a good time to ask for a raise

Aug 10, 2017

At last, the outlook for the long-suffering American worker is starting to improve. The economy added more than 200,000 jobs in both June and July, the unemployment rate is just 4.3 percent, and wages are slowly ticking up, increasing about 2.5 percent from a year ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That’s not as fast as many of us would like, but there may be something we can do about it, according to Mark Zandi, the chief economist of Moody’s Analytics.

In Detroit, a battle over the right to literacy

Aug 10, 2017

"I feel like I've been cheated."

This 17-year-old hacked the Air Force

Aug 10, 2017

It seems like we're hearing about hacking problems more and more now, from government hacks to the recent HBO hack. And since the internet isn't going anywhere soon, all we can do is find ways to patch the security holes that allow predators to get in.

That's the goal of bug bounty programs. They're projects that companies and organizations start to get people to find and report website vulnerabilities. Think of these hackers as the good guys — hackers in white hats. Plenty of big companies run bug bounty programs, including Facebook, Google and Uber.

Facebook and Instagram have replicated many of Snap's features, from face filters to disappearing messages, and that hasn't been great for business on Snap's end. Does it still have some creative power going for it right now? Business Insider senior reporter Alex Heath takes a look at the company's future with us. Afterwards, we'll talk to 17-year-old Jack Cable about that time he hacked the Air Force.

08/10/2017: Get ready to negotiate that raise

Aug 10, 2017

Deep into this slow economic recovery, American workers might finally be gaining the leverage to ask for more money (or they'll find work elsewhere.) On today's show, we'll discuss why their prospects are looking good. Afterwards, we'll discuss how military conflict between the U.S. and North Korea would affect the global economy, and then look at Nordstrom's (unsuccessful) attempts at going private.

A cookbook devoted entirely to onions may seem too specialized, but Kate Winslow, author of Onions, Etcetera doesn't think so. She talks to The Splendid Table contributor Joe Yonan about the versatility of the allium family.

Michael Brown, Philando Castile, Walter Scott — these names have entered the public lexicon as attention and outrage continue to mount over officer-involved shootings. But there’s another name on that list you may not be so familiar with: Mario Woods.

In December 2015, Woods died after he was shot 21 times by San Francisco Police officers. He was 26.

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