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01/05/2018: The final jobs report for 2017

Jan 5, 2018

(Markets Edition) The December jobs report has just been released,  revealing that the economy added 148,000 jobs and the unemployment rate held steady at 4.1 percent. We'll evaluate these numbers with Jay Bryson, managing director for Wells Fargo Securities, and then take a closer look at the report's data on the retail sector and wages. Afterwards, we'll discuss the Trump administration's proposal to give leases for offshore oil and gas exploration in places where it's currently banned, and then talk about the rise of natural gas prices following the East Coast's winter storm.

How much would it cost to learn to stand on your head?

Jan 5, 2018

We have almost made it through the first week of the new year, which means most resolutions have already kicked into gear. David Cooper from New York was among the listeners who shared their resolutions with us. Cooper said that his New Year’s resolution is “learn how to stand on my head via yoga.” We decided to figure out what that resolution might cost him.

U.S. employers add 148,000 jobs, unemployment rate stays at 4.1 percent

Jan 5, 2018

This story was last updated at 8:39 a.m. CT.

U.S. employers added 148,000 jobs in December, a modest gain but still enough to suggest that the economy entered the new year with solid momentum.

The unemployment rate remained 4.1 percent for a third straight month, the lowest level since 2000, the Labor Department said Friday.

Hospitals across the country are seeing a sharp spike in the number of hospitalizations this flu season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It seems the strain of the virus that’s circulating is particularly vicious. That means higher costs for patients – and headaches for hospitals.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

The latest unemployment number for December comes out today (Friday, Jan. 5th). With the ranks of the unemployed declining in 2017, it’s getting harder for employers to add jobs and find qualified candidates to fill them. So some employers are starting to settle for candidates they might have overlooked in the past. Maybe employers are willing to settle for employees who don’t have all the skills they need and require training. Or maybe they’re willing to hire people without doing a rigorous background check.

(U.S. Edition) More than 200,000 jobs were added to the economy in both October and November, but that streak might not continue in 2018. On today's show, we'll discuss what job growth might look like in the upcoming year. Afterwards, we'll look at the the high costs of flu care as hospitals across the country see a spike in the number of flu hospitalizations, and then examine why the skills that workers pick up in retail might not translate to fulfillment centers.

Bomb cyclone. Weather bomb. Snow bomb.

What’s with all the weapons analogies for the storm dumping snow on the East Coast today? 

The bomb references may seem to have popped up out of nowhere this week, but the word has actually been used to describe powerful, rapidly intensifying winter storms for decades. 

S02-6: Who's regulating whom?

Jan 4, 2018

The U.S. Constitution doesn't mention corporations once. But if you want to talk about federal regulations, you have to talk about private enterprise, too. They're yin and yang, intertwined over centuries, locked in an eternal struggle. This week, we're tracing that history back to the 13 colonies, when corporations helped to create the basic framework of our democracy. And we hear how railroad companies, the country's first big homegrown corporations, regulated the people before the people regulated them.

The United States on Tuesday urged Iran to stop blocking online social media and advised its citizens to set up virtual private networks, or VPNs, to circumvent censorship.

Since the protests erupted, Iran has restricted some social media services like Instagram and Telegram that authorities fear will be used to spread news about the unrest.

Venezuela was once Latin America’s richest economy, with the largest proven oil reserves in the world. Now, the oil infrastructure is crumbling and oil production has plummeted, severely limiting the amount of money the government can spend importing food and medicine.

How did Venezuela get here?

Related: Photos: A year of protests and crisis in volatile Venezuela

Not long ago, Saveur Magazine dubbed New Jersey the most “edible state” in the country, with a food culture more rich and diverse than California or New York. A nice feather in the cap for the state. But going beyond accolades for dishes served up in restaurants, New Jersey is also working to distinguish itself as the nation’s center for the import and export of food.

More than three months after Hurricanes Maria and Irma slammed their island, over a million Puerto Ricans are still without reliable power. But one recent day, Rosa López and José Quiñones finally left those ranks.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration on Thursday moved to vastly expand offshore drilling from the Atlantic to the Arctic oceans with a plan that would open up federal waters off California for the first time in more than three decades.

The new five-year drilling plan also could open new areas of oil and gas exploration in areas off the East Coast from Georgia to Maine, where drilling has been blocked for decades. Many lawmakers in those states support offshore drilling, though the Democratic governors of North Carolina and Virginia oppose drilling off their coasts.

Well, it was great while it lasted. And boy did it last. The U.S. auto industry enjoyed a record, seven-year run of new car sales on top of sales. But in 2017, the party seemed to end. The key word here is “seemed.” Yes, sales did fall off by 1.8 percent. But in a number of ways the auto industry is still awfully healthy.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions today rescinded an Obama-era policy that helped legal marijuana thrive in parts of the United States. Sessions, a longtime critic of marijuana legalization, says it causes spikes in violence and crime. He has likened marijuana to heroin. What Sessions repealed today is known as the “Cole memo.” It discouraged federal prosecutors from bringing marijuana-related charges in states where the drug is legal. How will the change in policy affect the multibillion-dollar marijuana industry?

With just a month to go before the start of the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics in South Korea, there’s still no decision from North Korea if it will send its athletes to the games.

After months of giving South Korea the cold shoulder, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said in his New Year's speech that he was willing to send a delegation to the 2018 Olympics in the south.

Oil is king in Iran's economy. 

So when unrest broke out in recent days in the country's key western oil-producing areas — including Khuzestan province — it sent a deep shudder through the Iranian regime. More than 80 percent of Iran's oil and gas reserves originate in Khuzestan.

The risks of war with North Korea in 2018

Jan 4, 2018

One of the most serious issues of 2017 has been what to do about North Korea.

In September, the regime of Kim Jong-un tested a large nuclear weapon underground, claiming it was a hydrogen bomb.

North Korea has also demonstrated this year that it has the missile technology to deliver its warheads pretty much anywhere in the world.

What do we really know about Russia and the 2016 election?

Jan 4, 2018

The end of the year seems like a good time to review what is really known about Russian interference in the 2016 election, and the nature of the contacts between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

The World's Marco Werman spoke with Mark Mazzetti, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist with The New York Times.

Marco Werman: How do we know that Russia actually attempted to influence the election?

On a typical weekday morning, most of the tables and booths are full at Cup & Saucer Café in the Hawthorne neighborhood of Portland, Oregon. There are three local locations of the restaurant, which serves eggs, sandwiches, burgers and burritos in a diner type setting.

Manager Aimee Drake said she is always looking to hire. She said that finding wait staff “is relatively easy — we have anywhere from five to 10 people a week that walk in wanting a serving job.”

There's news security researchers have been scrambling for months to fix flaws in the microprocessors inside almost all the computers in the world. What's more, there are apparently two of these vulnerabilities. No. 1 is called Meltdown, and it affects many generations of Intel processors. It's a software issue. No. 2 is called Spectre, and it's how most computers are wired, not just software, but hardware, that could be exploited by hackers. From remote big computers in the cloud to some smartphones, what is private could be seen.

(Markets Edition) With news that there are two vulnerabilities affecting nearly all of the world's computers, we'll talk to a security expert about possible remedies. Afterwards, we'll look at what the December jobs report — set to be released tomorrow — might look like, and then discuss how states as far south as Florida and Texas have been dealing with the icy, snowy weather.

U.S. to end lenient policy that let legal pot flourish

Jan 4, 2018

WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Jeff Sessions is rescinding an Obama-era policy that paved the way for legalized marijuana to flourish in states across the country, creating new confusion about enforcement and use just three days after a new legalization law went into effect in California.

With a sweeping tax overhaul out of the way, trade could be the next big item on President Donald Trump’s agenda. In the next few weeks, he’ll be making decisions about protecting U.S. industries from global competition. But he’s facing pressure from those who say tariffs will only hurt the U.S. economy. 

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

A powerful winter storm — or bomb cyclone — is expected to engulf the East Coast today, dumping feet of snow in New England and carrying winds up to 50 miles an hour. But it’s not just the usual suspects in the Northeast who are feeling the effects of this winter weather — Southern states as far down as Florida, Georgia and Texas have been dealing with ice and snow, too. And because it’s such a rare event, those states are left scrambling to deal with the consequences. 

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

(U.S. Edition) Security researchers have been scrambling for months to fix flaws in microprocessors inside almost every computer you touch. We'll discuss why the two bugs— Meltdown and Spectre — are vulnerable to hackers. Afterwards, we'll look at whether Americans really want to know how the products they purchase are made, and then explore what's known as "Fat Cat Day" in the U.K. — the point in time when the average British CEO has already earned what the average worker makes in a year.

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service...Meltdown and Spectre — those are the two bugs you need to know about today. Intel confirmed that its chips are vulnerable to the security flaw, and security experts have said firms using cloud computing services might be particularly hard hit. We tell you what you need to know to protect yourself. Afterwards, the U.S. and Turkey finally reinstated travel visas this week, but the diplomatic standoff continues after a Turkish banker was convicted in New York in connection with a massive scheme to help Iran evade U.S. sanctions.

On Tuesday night, President Donald Trump tauntingly tweeted a response to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's recent speech where Kim warned the US that he has a "nuclear button" on his desk at all times. Trump tweeted that his button is "much bigger" and "more powerful" than Kim's.

Migrants stuck in Serbia play a desperate 'game' to reach the EU

Jan 3, 2018

The town of Sid, in western Serbia, is surrounded by vast acres of farmland that stretch for miles in all directions and into neighboring Croatia.

At the height of the migrant crisis in the summer of 2015, hundreds of thousands filed through tall cornfields and crossed the border, sometimes without knowing exactly when.  

Reaching the other side marked the beginning of the end of their journey — no more hard borders, just a few buses and trains between them and western Europe.

The White House was busy while you weren't looking

Jan 3, 2018

If you took a break from the news over the holidays, you may have missed some announcements out of the White House. Specifically, rollbacks on certain regulations pertaining to things from oil and gas to migratory birds.