National Partners

Stories from our program partners, including NPR, APM, and PRI.

The race to fill Jeff Sessions’ Senate seat is about to come to an end. Sessions was sworn in as the new attorney general at the beginning of February. Today Alabama voters will choose his replacement. The two candidates — Democrat Doug Jones and Republicans Roy Moore — have spent the last few months on the campaign trail and have remained tied in the polls till the very end.

Alejandra Hilbert is spending a Saturday morning in November applying for CalFresh, the California program that used to be called “food stamps.” She is one of 8,000 students at the University of California, Berkeley who have been notified that they may be eligible for government assistance of up to $192 each month to help pay for groceries.

It's striking just how unpopular the tax overhaul has become.

Taxes aren’t the only topic under debate in Congress right now. Today a committee in the House takes up a comprehensive bill to rewrite the federal Higher Education Act. The process is expected to take months … and could affect everything from how students pay for college to campus free speech.   

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(U.S. Edition) Not many people are on board with the GOP's plan to overhaul the tax system. Less than a third of Americans like it, according to several polls —  including one from Reuters. But there is one group that's excited about it: small businesses. Juanita Duggan, president and CEO of the National Federation of Independent Business, explains why. Afterwards, we'll look at how countries outside of the U.S. are reacting to the plan. Germany, the U.K., France, Spain and Italy say parts of the emerging tax plan could violate World Trade Organization rules.

Holiday catalogs boost online sales

6 hours ago

Most of us do our holiday shopping online, but those catalogs keep coming. That’s because stores see a role for the glossy catalogs.

Click the above audio player to hear the full story.

(Global Edition) From BBC World Service … Two years after the Paris climate accord was signed, how much progress has been made? French President Emmanuel Macron thinks President Trump will bring the U.S. back into the deal. Influential think-thank The Rand Corporation is predicting any break with the European Union will hurt the British economy. But they say there is one outlying scenario which could bring benefits to the U.K., EU and the U.S. Plus: Would you like to receive $665 per month for doing absolutely nothing?

The FCC is poised to overturn net neutrality this week. One possible alternative to get online? Municipal broadband. San Francisco, Seattle, and Boston are all looking into it as an alternative to traditional internet providers. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talked with Christopher Mitchell, director of Community Broadband Networks for the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a nonprofit that advocates for sustainable community development, about how city-provided internet would work. Below is an edited portion of their conversation.

The FCC is poised to overturn net neutrality this week. Part of that conversation is about competition – what if an internet provider becomes too expensive or provides poor service? San Francisco, Seattle, and Boston are promising municipal broadband as an alternative. What would that look like and how much would it cost? On this episode of Marketplace Tech, Molly Wood talks with Christopher Mitchell, director of Community Broadband Networks for the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a nonprofit that advocates for sustainable community development.

First-ever bitcoin futures trading is now underway

18 hours ago
Dado Ruvic/Illustration

The virtual currency bitcoin is now trading on a major global exchange for the first time.

The first-ever bitcoin futures started trading on the Chicago Board Options Exchange on Sunday.

The price of the virtual currency has soared in recent weeks. And so far, it appears investors believe bitcoin will continue to rise in value, the BBC reports.

Some also see futures trading as a sign that bitcoin is creeping into the mainstream.

Can kids recognize fake news? Sort of.

18 hours ago
Thomas White/Reuters

Sometimes a story is so outrageous that it’s easy to recognize as fake news.

But it can also be much more subtle: It can be hard to flag a story with just one incorrect statement or opinion masquerading as a fact.

And if it’s hard for adults to spot fake news, can children do it?

The University of Salford teamed up with the BBC Newsround for one year to study how well children ages 9 to 14 can spot false information.

For most people, the top of the mine shaft at the Prosper-Haniel coal mine in Bottrop, Germany, just looks like a big black hole. But Andre Niemann looked into that hole and saw the future.

Part 1: No regrets from this soon-to-be-ex-miner

In the late 1970s, Ireland’s economy was struggling. So they decided to cut business taxes dramatically while also increasing individual taxes including on the middle class. The idea was that stronger businesses would benefit everyone.

It worked.

How hate and debate came to a Connecticut mosque

19 hours ago

The night of Nov. 14, 2015, was not the first time Ted Hakey, 50, went into his backyard in Meriden, Connecticut, and fired guns to let off some steam. It was the night after a deadly terror attack in Paris, and Hakey was furious.

So he shot his Springfield Armory M1A .308-caliber rifle into the air. Some of those shots hit the Baitul Aman Mosque next door. Luckily, no one was in the building at the time.

Poland's ruling party has used the term "fake news" to attack its critics in the media. Monday, the government took its attack a step further. It levied a $415,000 fine on TVN24, a US-owned independent Polish news channel, saying the broadcaster's coverage of anti-government street protests had encouraged illegal activities.

Last week, German media reported that some pilots have refused to carry out deportations of Afghan refugees.

"Following an information request from the Left party," reported Deutsche Welle, "the government said that 222 planned expulsions were stopped by pilots."

While it may seem the pilots are refusing to fly Afghan refugees back to Afghanistan out of sympathy, that's not the only reason.

12/11/17: Such a bubblicious economy

20 hours ago

We’ve all heard bitcoin is volatile, risky, quite possibly a bubble. So why then the demand for bitcoin futures? We take a look at what happened during yesterday’s bitcoin futures trading launch. And in Saudi Arabia, a ban on movie theaters has been lifted, ushering in what is predicted to be a $24 billion cinema industry to offset the economy’s dependence on oil.

The Environmental Protection Agency has announced 21 new places to be deemed Superfund sites, areas with toxic pollution around the country. Being added to the Superfund list means federal officials oversee the cleanup. Yet the White House budget proposal includes a 30 percent cut for the Superfund program.

Roland Williams isn’t like other 11-year-old boys. He has stage 4 lung cancer, and he is bedridden most days. 

“My son doesn’t get to do anything,” says his mother, Myra Gregory. “He’s at home in bed in pain right now.”

Gregory and Roland live in St. Louis, Missouri. Roland and his two brothers rely on the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, for access to medical care. Nearly 9 million children across America depend on CHIP for everything from annual checkups and vaccinations to treatment for serious illnesses.

Saudi Arabia lifts ban on movie theaters

21 hours ago

The announcement, made today, ends a ban that dates back to the 1980s. Saudis will be able to go out to the movies as soon as next year. It’s all part of a push by the Saudi royal family to diversify the economy away from oil.

President Donald Trump is killing regulations with a caveat — many are already dead. In a meeting with House Republicans last month, the president said: “In the history of our country, no president, during their entire term, has cut more regulations than we’ve cut." But according to Alan Levin of Bloomberg, the president is exaggerating.

Bringing regulation to cryptocurrency

22 hours ago

Bitcoin’s wild ride is getting even wilder. Yesterday saw the launch of bitcoin futures, trading on the Chicago Board Options Exchange. Interest was so high it nearly crashed the CBOE website and the exchange briefly halted trading a couple of times after the price jumped erratically. So, we’ve all heard bitcoin is volatile, risky, maybe a bubble. So why then the demand for bitcoin futures? 

Medical school students today are trained to diagnose complicated diseases, but they are rarely trained to engineer the solutions themselves. To change that, soon Texas A&M University will start training doctors and nurses to also be engineers.

Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters

President Vladimir Putin, during a surprise visit to Russia's Hmeymim air base in Syria, ordered "a significant part" of Russia's military contingent in Syria to start withdrawing.

Putin made the announcement adding that Moscow and Damascus had achieved their mission of destroying ISIS in just over two years.

The Russian president was in Syria to hold talks with President Bashar al-Assad and to address Russian forces.

A recent ribbon cutting in downtown Denver gave a snapshot of electric vehicle charging in the U.S.

The event, dubbed “Ride into the Future,” brought in several car companies with EVs for people to test drive around the block. There were electric bikes too. But, the real highlight was the unveiling of the first electric car fast charger in Denver’s LoDo neighborhood.

While there are already more than 150 charges citywide, Cindy Patton, who runs parking and mobility services for the City of Denver, said the new installation is a win against climate change. 

Another 228,000 jobs were added to the U.S. economy last month. The unemployment rate stayed steady at 4.1 percent — a 17-year low. Nearly a decade after the Great Recession, the U.S. economy is almost where it was before the 2008 economic crisis. Almost.

Hourly wages are still low — growing at just 2.5 percent over the last year. And more than 4.8 million people work part-time jobs, despite wanting and being able to work full-time.

12/11/2017: Janet Yellen's last Fed meeting

Dec 11, 2017

(Markets Edition) The Fed will likely raise interest rates before the end of 2017, the third increase this year. Julia Coronado, founder of MacroPolicy Perspectives, stopped by to discuss what else we should expect from the upcoming Fed meeting, given that it'll be Janet Yellen's last as the chair. Afterwards, we'll talk about Volkswagen's surprising statement that Germany should phase out diesel subsidies, then look at how one rural Alaska village is establishing a reindeer herd to improve the community's diet and boost its economy.

'Tis the season for ugly sweaters, festive lights, and presents — at least, when you're home. Things can get a little confusing when all that holiday stuff makes the jump to your workplace. Is it appropriate to get your co-workers holiday gifts, even if you're not sure they celebrate the holidays? Or what about the infamous office party — should you really let loose, or maybe go light on the spiked eggnog?

Most credit card users these days want something back – like points, miles or money.

“People of all shapes and sizes, all income levels, they all prefer cash back for their credit card rewards,” said Matt Schulz, with Creditcards.com. He said store cards can’t compete with perks from cards like Visa and American Express, which are in an arms race of rewards.

A big date on the economic calendar this week: the Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee meeting Dec. 12 and 13. We’ll find out Wednesday whether it’s raising short-term interest rates again. An important piece of the economic puzzle landed on today with the November jobs report. It showed unemployment at a low 4.1 percent and middling wage growth — just 2.5 percent year-over-year.

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