Right before heading out for its August recess, the U.S. Senate confirmed two Trump administration nominees for open seats on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

For the first time in nearly six months, the commission has enough members to vote on permitting major energy infrastructure projects.

"South Africa's economy is in dire straits" with no short-term fix

Aug 9, 2017

In South Africa, there’s political disquiet this week along with economic discontent. The South African parliament tried and failed to oust President Jacob Zuma in a secret-ballot vote of no confidence. While the failure wasn’t a shock, the final vote was closer than it’s ever been, which has made Zuma’s critics more confident. Zuma is accused of corruption on the order of hundreds of millions of dollars and of mismanagement of the economy. The country’s unemployment rate is above 27 percent, and the sovereign debt is officially junk.

People are "begging" for plus-size fashion

Aug 9, 2017

Retail's woes are well documented, but there's one corner of the market that's doing well: plus-size fashion. According to the NDP Group, a market analyst, the plus-size market grew by 6 percent in 2016, twice that of clothing retail overall. The folks at the front of plus-size fashion aren't the design houses you're used to hearing about, but smaller startups like Premme, founded by designers and social media icons Gabi Gregg and Nicolette Mason.

You may have heard about Disney's announcement that it's going to launch its own streaming service. The company is ending a deal with Netflix and says it wants more control over its destiny. And as for cable, that service that "cord cutters" and "cord nevers" spurn, is another streaming service a problem for them? Maybe not, since cable companies no longer just sell cable TV service. Their real growth is in selling households broadband internet.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

What the bond markets are saying about North Korea

Aug 9, 2017

The headlines today have been a lot about fire and fury and escalation and threats from North Korea. One way to cut through the fear is to look at what financial markets are thinking — bond markets, in particular. They act as sort of a fact check on the news and the economy. And bond markets are telling all of us to take it easy.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

Since World War II, the US has operated a large military base in the central part of Okinawa — a now-crowded island city in Japan's southernmost prefecture. More than half of about 50,000 US service members in Japan are stationed on Okinawa.

Now, the US and Japanese governments are planning to move the Marine base to a more pristine place — the rural fishing village of Henoko. There's already a small base there, but locals are waging a major fight against the expansion.

Federal health officials say a controversial program that allows hospitals to purchase drugs at deep discounts needs some fixing.

08/09/2017: Disney's movie catalog is leaving Netflix

Aug 9, 2017

With threats flying between the U.S. and North Korea, the Eurasia Group's Ian Bremmer joins us to examine diplomatic ties between the two countries. One of his takeaways? We might actually be able to make progress thanks to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Next, we'll look at Walt Disney's decision to part ways with Netflix, and then talk about payment processor Vantiv's $10 billion merger with Worldpay.

In Prince George's County, Md., every first responder carries naloxone, the drug that can reverse an opioid overdose.

"We carry it in our first-in bags," says Bryan Spies, the county's battalion chief in charge of emergency services. "So whenever we arrive at a patient's side, it's in the bag, along with things like glucose, aspirin and oxygen."

This weekend, the U.N. Security Council sanctioned North Korea in a move backed by China. Then came a report that North Korea had made a major step forward in its nuclear ambitions by miniaturizing a nuclear weapon meant to fit inside a missile.

South Africa’s  president, Jacob Zuma, is thanking supporters after surviving a no-confidence vote in the nation’s parliament yesterday. The secret vote was more narrowly in his favor than expected, with some 40 lawmakers from his own African National Congress party supporting the motion. Zuma has been the focus of a series of corruption allegations stretching back more than a decade. How’s this bitter political fighting affecting the nation’s economy?

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

Murcy Jones always wanted to be a teacher. She grew up and attended public school in Detroit, always at the top of her class. She graduated as a member of the National Honors Society and was accepted into Michigan State University. 

"I just went out into the world thinking that I had all the tools I needed in order to succeed," Jones said. "When I got to Michigan State I was in for a rude awakening. I found out that I was behind the curveball. I promptly flunked out, and it kind of scarred me. So I didn't go back to school for another 20 years after that."

Nuclear threats from North Korea have rattled global markets. Amid the escalating rhetoric, we'll talk about how certain stock indices have been reacting, and investors' move toward bonds. Afterwards, we'll step back in time to examine where and when exactly the financial crisis began, and then talk about the problems Detroit's public school system is facing through the eyes of one of the city's teachers.

Maricel Presilla is one of the world’s most respected experts on chile peppers. Her new book, Peppers of the Americas, is an encyclopedia, cookbook and collection of pepper-obsessed photography all in one book. A native of Cuba, Presilla now lives in New Jersey. Host Francis Lam visited home and kitchen for a lesson in dried pepper pastes – incredibly aromatic flavor boosters used to season just about anything from braises and roasts, to pots of rice.

Hatch chile peppers are ubiquitous in New Mexico. This unique variety of green chile is an important ingredient in the spicy stews for which the region is known. However, Hatch chiles aren’t always easy to find. As always, America’s Test Kitchen found a delicious work-around. ATK’s Tucker Shaw talks with managing producer Sally Swift about a satisfying Colorado Green Chili recipe that uses two more readily available peppers as a stand-in for Hatch chiles.

There are foods for which some people are willing to pay a premium price – lobster, aged steak, and truffles come to mind. But you might not expect butter to be on that list. Writer Alex Halberstadt wrote an article for SAVEUR called “Is the World’s Best Butter Worth 50 Dollars a Pound?” where he found the answer to his own question is – yes. He talked with host Francis Lam about Diane St. Clair, the artisan butter maker behind a fascinating and highly sought-after creamy creation.

Stop someone on the street and ask him or her: When would you mark the start of the financial crisis? Some might say when the investment bank Bear Stearns collapsed in March 2008. But probably not too many people would say August 9, 2007 — 10 years ago today.

That’s when French bank BNP Paribas froze three of its U.S. funds, the first in a chain of events which would lead to the biggest recession since the Great Depression. 

Why was that act so significant?

A Google engineer named James Damore recently penned a memo blaming tech's gender gap on biological differences between men and women, which then led to his firing. Nicole Sanchez, CEO and founder of Vaya Consulting, joined us to talk about what Google needs to do to address its diversity issues and how female staffers are feeling about the company. Plus: A look at secretive Amazon brands.

That sexist memo could cost Google employees

Aug 9, 2017

You'd have to be on a desert island with no internet to have missed the efficiency memo — or misogynist manifesto — penned by James Damore, a senior engineer at Google. In the memo, which was first circulated within Google and was later published in full by Gizmodo, Damore complained that the company was focusing too much on diversity and that women weren’t cut out to be engineers.

When I first bought Zoe, my poodle mix, I had high hopes for her future.

I was convinced she’d be an astrophysicist like Mr. Peabody on "The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show." 

But it’s been three years, and while Zoe has had plenty of time to think, she has made zero progress on her time machine.

So now, I'm looking at backup careers for her.

'Act of terrorism' at Minnesota mosque rattles Muslims

Aug 8, 2017
Courtesy of Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center Facebook page

A violent message was delivered to Minnesota’s Muslim population early Saturday morning. At 5:05 a.m. local time, an improvised explosive device went off inside an imam’s office at the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minnesota.

About a dozen worshipers were gathered nearby in the mosque for morning prayers, but no one was injured in the explosion. Congregants called the attack a hate crime, a sentiment echoed by Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton.

Ziynda Kamte says she looked out the bus window the whole way to Cape Town.

She says she never stopped looking back. She was terrified that he would pop into her view, coming to get her and their two kids.

“My husband — he changed,” Kamte explains. “He started being abusive, beating me, treating me like nothing. There were days in which he would come home at 4 a.m. And he just wanted us to jam into it, and make love.”

The White House has until next week to finish reviewing a federal climate report, but someone leaked a draft to the New York Times, possibly out of fear the Trump administration would sit on it. The report states definitively that climate change is happening, that humans are causing it and that there will be dire consequences for the U.S.

President Trump this afternoon acknowledged the epidemic of opioid abuse in the U.S., but took no action on a report by a commission he created to study the crisis. That report urged the president to declare a national emergency to combat the health crisis. In a briefing with his top officials, Trump said there is no choice but to defeat the opioid epidemic, but offered no new policies to address the problem. 

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York has a study out today highlighting problems startups have getting financing. And the reason this matters? The report says startups account for “nearly all net new job creation” in the U.S. economy. For these companies to continue growing, they need to be able to access financing  and some are having trouble finding it. 

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

The decline in laundromats shows how US cities are changing

Aug 8, 2017

Economic indicators come in all shapes, sizes and appliances. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of laundromats has dropped 20 percent since 2005, especially in densely populated urban areas like Chicago and Los Angeles. Our urban landscape is changing, and according to Oakland-based writer Marc Vartabedian, laudromats tell the story of that change.

There has been a common theme in the housing market in recent years: Housing prices are high, and inventory is low. At least that’s the case in most major cities, where job growth remains strong.

This is bad news for young people who are trying to get a toehold in the labor force while also putting a roof over their heads.

Some new research by the real estate firm Trulia points to a possible solution to the problem: baby boomers.

Companies use ads to pitch issues over products

Aug 8, 2017

A new ad from Procter & Gamble shows an African-American mother and daughter sitting in the front seat of a parked car.

“Now, when you get pulled over —” the mother begins. Her daughter interjects, saying she’s a good driver.

“Baby, this is not about you getting a ticket,” the mother replies. “This is about you not coming home.”

Called "The Talk,"the ad, which shows a series of similarly emotional conversations, is part of P&G’s “My Black is Beautiful” campaign, the latest in a string of ads the company describes as "socially conscious."

Treating wastewater at the bottom of the world

Aug 8, 2017

My Economy tells the story of the new economic normal through the eyes of people trying to make it, because we know the only numbers that really matter are the ones in your economy.

Today's installment comes from Jeanne Sabin, a certified wastewater treatment plant operator hailing from Sacramento, California. 

I run wastewater treatment plants. 

Google has fired the engineer who circulated an internal memo criticizing the company's diversity initiatives. The former employee, James Damore, argued that biological differences between men and women are responsible for tech's gender gap.