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China moves to tighten control of the internet

Mar 12, 2018

In China, the internet is censored. You can't get access to Google, or Facebook or Twitter unless you have a workaround known as a virtual private network. VPN technology lets users jump over the so-called Great Firewall of China. But now those jumping days could be ending. By month's end, Beijing plans to block all VPN services not authorized by the government. And among others, the multinational business community from around the world is crying foul.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

A guide to Russian ‘demotivator’ memes

Mar 12, 2018

Long before Russia ever launched social media campaigns in the US, Kremlin-backed trolling was alive and well at home. In this online underworld of paid seeders, twitterati and trolls, “demotivators” — Russian internet picture memes — play a special bottom-feeder role.

From targeted content to Facebook ads, we've all experienced personalization on the web — and now tech companies are offering similar technology in schools. Software designers say it can help kids learn at their own pace. But it’s not yet clear whether personalized tech will help students.

Why the U.S. might be the original startup story

Mar 12, 2018

When you think about the first startup, what comes to mind? Google? Amazon? But according to John Butman, co-author of the upcoming book "New World, Inc.: The Making of American by England's Merchant Adventurers," the first American startup may have been several hundred years ago, when merchants from England settled in the United States. According to Butman, you could say these merchants founded the colonies, like Jamestown and Plymouth, that became the country we live in today. 

Unemployment is low across the board now: in February, the rate was 4.1 percent for all workers. Unemployment was 6.9 percent for African-Americans, just 0.1 percent above the all-time low reached in December 2017. (The Bureau of Labor Statistics has been tracking unemployment by race since the early 197os.)

(Markets Edition) One potential consequence of Trump's planned trade tariffs: America's infrastructure. We'll look how pricier steel could mean pricier projects. Afterwards, we'll hear from Rick Lockett as part of our "Divided Decade" series on how he struggled to find work, after graduating law school, in the midst of the financial crisis. 

How William Perkin’s search for a malaria cure led to the color mauve

Mar 12, 2018

In her new book, "The Secret Lives of Color," Kassia St. Clair chronicles the origin stories of a rainbow of colors, dyes and shades. In this occasional series, we'll highlight some of the hues featured in her book and the unusual stories behind them. Today, she tells the story of mauve and how it began not as the dusky shade of purple we know now but as something much more vivid and bright.

(U.S. Edition) With President Trump pushing to impose tariffs on imported aluminum and steel, we'll discuss the latest updates coming out of Brussels, where the European Union, Japan and the U.S. met to discuss the issue. Afterwards, we'll look back at Bear Stearns' struggles during the financial crisis, and JPMorgan Chase's decision to snap the investment bank up.

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service … When Saudi Aramco floats on public markets, it’s likely to be the world's biggest-ever stock listing. Officials at the oil firm were expected to announce which exchanges it would be traded on fairly soon, but now, it seems that investors will have to wait until next year. We hear more from the BBC's Philip Hampsheir. Next: over 30,000 farmers have spent days walking across India in protest at their economic situation, calling on the government for help.

How the Bear Stearns deal looks 10 years later

Mar 12, 2018

By mid-March, 2008, Bear Stearns investment bank had been fielding questions about its financial health for months. The previous summer it had seen dramatic losses from a pair of its hedge funds that had bet heavily on subprime loans. But those questions morphed into powerful rumors of a liquidity crunch during the week of March 10. By Wednesday March 12, Bear Stearns CEO Alan Schwartz was compelled to go on CNBC to try to quash reports that Bear was running out of money and that other firms didn’t want to do business with it anymore.

The Japanese multinational SoftBank Group launched its $98 billion VisionFund last year. Since then, it's dramatically changed the landscape in tech and venture capital. The fund has taken a majority stake in Uber, poured billions into WeWork, Nvidia, DoorDash, Slack and the dog walking startup Wag. SoftBank's influence is so big, it's pushing other venture capital companies to raise more money. Sequoia Capital, one of Silicon Valley's best-known firms, is reportedly trying to raise more than $12 billion in new capital just to keep up.

My dad, Danilo, got a contract at White Memorial Hospital in Los Angeles, California just after my brother Chris was born. My two younger brothers and I didn't see him again for almost 10 years.

During the school year, we lived in a small, two-bedroom apartment in Quezon City in Metro Manila, sharing the space with my uncle, an accountant for an American company, and two aunts, a librarian and a nursing student.

In the summer, they shipped my brothers and I to my grandparents’ home in the rural province of Isabela.

Can single-use plastics really be eliminated?

Mar 9, 2018

Cities and countries are banning or charging fees for single-use plastic items like bags and straws. This week, the wealthy beach community of Malibu, California, voted to ban restaurants from giving out plastic straws, utensils and stirrers. Overseas, Scotland wants to ban plastic straws by 2019; Taiwan is banning single-use plastics by 2030. So is it possible to entirely get rid of these "throwaway" plastic items? Eric Goldstein, senior attorney and New York City environment director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, joined Marketplace Weekend to discuss.

Black Panther misses merchandise bonanza

Mar 9, 2018

The Black Panther phenomenon continues. The Marvel — really, the Disney — blockbuster opened in China today, bringing its estimated box office to $920 million worldwide. It's the perfect time for retailers to cash in on the movie’s success with a slew of Panther-themed merchandise: toys, t-shirts, tote bags and more. Turns out, though, that the merchandise is in short supply.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

Yesterday's surprise announcement that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will meet with President Donald Trump for denuclearization talks raises a lot of questions. Most importantly: Why now? The Trump administration, along with the international community, has recently ratcheted up economic sanctions against North Korea. While it's clear those sanctions have done some damage to North Korea's economy, it's hard to know if that is what has pushed North Korea to the negotiating table.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

One of the big questions after today’s blockbuster jobs report is where are more new workers gonna come from?  Unemployment is down near 4 percent, and labor shortages are emerging in sectors including manufacturing, construction, IT and healthcare. Meanwhile, the number of people still waiting in the wings — because they're either discouraged about looking for work or long-term unemployed — is dwindling. 

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

Lyudmila Pavlichenko, history’s deadliest female sniper, is considered to be a Soviet propaganda myth by some, including some people in Russia. The divorced teenage mother from the tiny Ukrainian town of Bila Tserkva is credited with killing at least 309 Nazis — she simply sounds too good to be true.

Pavlichenko was certainly used in the Soviet propaganda effort to get the United States involved in the war effort in Europe in 1942. While on a tour of the States, she frequently surprised American reporters by not attempting to be traditionally feminine or smartly dressed.

For the first time, North Korea has sent athletes to compete in the Winter Paralympics.  


The North’s team received a warm welcome as they entered Pyeongchang’s Olympic stadium on Friday. Thousands of LEDs placed throughout the stands glowed red, blue and white to form the shape of the country’s flag — a display that if for any other occasion, would be illegal in South Korea. 

Related: Ice Warriors: USA sled hockey team prepares for the 2014 Paralympics

(Markets Edition) The U.S. economy added 313,000 jobs last month, and the markets seem to be pretty happy about this. Chris Low, chief economist at FTN Financial, explains why the markets aren't too worried about the possibility of interest rate hikes from the Fed. Afterwards, amid reports that Toys R Us is planning to shut down all of its U.S. stores, we'll look at how the toy retailer got to this point. Plus: What might North Korea ask for this time in its upcoming talks with the U.S.? 

Harassment can have lasting effects on women's career prospects — and on their earning potential.

Nilofer Merchant started her tech career in the early '80s when Silicon Valley was even more male-dominated than it is now. Sexual harassment, Merchant said, was a constant at the high-profile companies where she worked. So she changed jobs a lot.

“It meant I didn't get to build up the momentum that essentially a guy would be able to build up because they weren't facing the same obstacles,” she said.

Tariffs may impact U.S. employment figures

Mar 9, 2018

President Donald Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs will take effect in two weeks. But it will probably be months before there’s any evidence of how the tariffs will impact the job market.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

Hiring surge adds 313,000 jobs in February

Mar 9, 2018

This story was updated at 8:03 a.m. CT.

U.S. employers went on a hiring binge in February, adding 313,000 jobs, the most in any month since July 2016, and drawing hundreds of thousands of people into the job market.

The Labor Department said wage gains, meanwhile, fell from January to 2.6 percent year-over-year. Strong hourly wage growth had spooked markets last month because it raised the specter of inflation. But January's figure was revised one-tenth of a point lower to 2.8 percent.

(U.S. Edition) With President Trump's announcement that he'll meet with the leader of North Korea (a first for an American president), Asian markets rallied. We'll look at how a conflict on the Korean peninsula would affect East Asian economiesAfterwards, we'll discuss why Trump's steel tariffs might not be very effective, and then examine why workers are seeing bigger paychecks these days.

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service … Markets in Asia are reacting positively to news President Trump will sit down with North Korea’s leader to talk denuclearization. We’ll bring you the very latest about what the warmer relationship could mean for global geopolitics. Then, China this morning described Trump’s aluminium tariffs as a serious attack on the world’s international trade system. We’ll explain how international players are reacting to America’s new policy.

Low-wage workers seeing higher paychecks

Mar 9, 2018

The economy is strong, the labor market is tighter, and that’s giving all workers a bigger paycheck.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

Health insurance giant Cigna announced its intent Thursday to buy Express Scripts, a company that negotiates prescription drug deals on behalf of insurers and large employers. This merger comes on the heels of the CVS-Aetna deal late last year, which is also, in part, a marriage between an insurer and a pharmacy benefit manager – or PBM.

President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter that a trade war might be something the U.S. could easily win. While he did not specifically name any country, it is believed  concern about China is driving many of the current trade investigations in Washington.

Reaction in China was subdued.

State-run CCTV did not cover Trump’s demand for tariffs on steel and aluminum imports in its main evening newscast. Other Chinese media have not covered much on U.S.-China trade frictions either.

... At least not Canada, Mexico or China. The first two countries were exempted from the steel and aluminum tariffs President Donald Trump signed today. Meanwhile, for all Trump's talk about China's unfair practices and a "good" trade war, reaction from the world's second-largest economy has been subdued. That's where we're starting today's show, with updates from our trade reporter and China corespondent. Then, we'll look ahead to the bigger trade fight brewing: intellectual property theft.

For the past three weeks, Maram, a young Syrian mother, has been living in an underground shelter with her 3-year-old son, Ahmad, and his 8-month-old brother, Omar.

Like other underground shelters around their neighborhood in Eastern Ghouta, a suburb of the Syrian capital Damascus, this one is filled to capacity. They eat and sleep and wait out the days alongside 150 people as bombs fall overhead, reducing everything to rubble. They hardly see daylight and can’t get enough food. When they get a chance to peek outside, they can hardly recognize their own homes and streets.

Trump grants tariff exemptions for Mexico and Canada

Mar 8, 2018

The White House will follow through on its plan to levy tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum, President Donald Trump said during a cabinet meeting today – but it will grant temporary exemptions for imports from Canada and Mexico.

The carveouts for Mexico and Canada will be dependent on progress in negotiations to update the North American Free Trade Agreement. 

“If we reach a [NAFTA] deal, it's most likely that we won't be charging those two countries the tariffs,” he said. The White House is expected to formally announce the measures later today.