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(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service … Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, has given his annual state of the nation address, putting economic issues such as growth and poverty center stage. But how will conditions improve amid a slump in energy prices and western sanctions? We hear from Chris Weafer, of Moscow based consultants, Macro-Advisory. Also in this edition, WPP — the world's largest advertiser — says that 2017 "wasn't pretty." We examine why conditions are tough in advertising sales.

In the summer of 2008, nearly 10 years ago, a certain junior senator from Illinois arrived in Berlin to a rock star reception. Barack Obama — still early in his bid for the White House — was seemingly as surprised as anyone by the crowd of nearly a quarter million that turned out to hear him speak.

Somewhere among the throngs that day was Vitali Shkliarov, a native of Belarus who had moved to Germany to study.

In May 2017, Julia called her mom in Florida. She told her she and a cousin had been mugged while walking home from work in their hometown in Honduras.

“I knew it wasn’t going to resolve anything, but she is the one I call when I want to talk,” Julia says.

Julia confessed to her mom that a few weeks earlier her younger brother was also robbed and beaten at 6 a.m. on his way to work.

Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal's full interview with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, along with the audience Q&A session, conducted at the UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations in Los Angeles on Feb. 26.

There are a whole lot of threads to pull from the national conversation we're having about gun violence. President Donald Trump did one of those televised meetings with congressional leaders at the White House today. Dick's Sporting Goods said it'll stop selling assault-style rifles in its stores. But in some cases, the political and economic threads get crossed. Delta Airlines and the state of Georgia is one of those cases. The lieutenant governor and other politicians there are offering the airline a tax break to cut ties with the NRA. That's where we're starting today.

There’s this old home movie you can find online. Shot on grainy film in the 1970s, it shows a group of young men and women working with cameras and miniature space ships while doing a lot of goofing around in front of the camera.

They’re working on the special effects for a film the world doesn’t know a thing about yet — a film called “Star Wars.”

Many on the visual effects crew thought it was going to be a box-office dud.

Putin's Cold War mentality explains a lot

Feb 28, 2018

When demonstrators poured into the streets of Moscow to protest parliamentary election results in late 2011, the Kremlin had a quick explanation of what was really going on. 

"The answer, of course, was Hillary Clinton, then secretary of state, must be fomenting disarray and confusion," says author Michael Idov, who covered the protests. "The problem with that is, of course, that the United States, the State Department and the CIA have in fact over the course of history been instrumental in regime change."

In a bid to lower prices, these hospitals are starting their own drug company

Feb 28, 2018

In a unique deal, a handful of hospitals and clinics around the country are working together on something new: making their own pharmaceuticals. Their plan is to manufacture generic drugs that they say pharmaceutical companies charge too much for. Dr. Marc Harrison is the CEO of Intermountain Healthcare, one of the health systems involved. He talks to Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal about what convinced him to join the group, what he hopes the partnership will look like in five years and why he's watching what Jeff Bezos at Amazon is doing with health care, too. 

(Markets Edition) Fed Chair Jerome Powell briefed Congress about the economy yesterday — a day that ended with the Dow dipping almost 300 points. Can we draw a connection between the two events? We'll hear some perspective from Seth Carpenter, chief U.S. economist at UBS Securities and someone who's gotten the chance to work closely with Powell. Plus: We look at the state of Italy's economy as the country prepares to elect a new government.

Intermountain Healthcare is the largest health care provider in Utah and Idaho. Recently, it announced a plan to partner with a handful of other health systems to create a nonprofit drug company. Dr. Marc Harrison is the CEO of Intermountain Healthcare, and he talked about the plan with Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal. Below is an edited transcript of their conversation.

On a chilly November day, Sebastian Khan is kneeling on the floor of his home. He has short, dark hair and brown eyes. His tiny, soft hands grips the top of a yellow toy truck as he swipes it side to side.

Sebastian is 3 and curious about everything around him. He especially loves flying.

“When we’re going through the clouds,” he says, jumping up and opening his arms like wings, “I’m like, ‘Where am I?' Everything starts to look like toys."

Dick’s ends sales of assault-style rifles in stores

Feb 28, 2018

Dick’s Sporting Goods will immediately end sales of assault-style rifles and high-capacity magazines at all of its stores and ban the sale of all guns to anyone under 21.

The announcement Wednesday comes two weeks after the school massacre in Parkland, Florida.

“When we saw what the kids were going through and the grief of the parents and the kids who were killed in Parkland, we felt we needed to do something,” Chairman and CEO Edward Stack said on “”Good Morning America.”

A suburb of Damascus, Syria, is going through some of the worst fighting since the war began some seven years ago.

Eastern Ghouta is one of the last strongholds of Syria's anti-government rebels, and right now it's being described as "hell on earth." Syrian and Russian warplanes — targeting rebels and extremists — have been dropping bombs relentlessly on Eastern Ghouta.

Related: Syria's war enters a dangerous new phase

(U.S. Edition) President Trump's budget proposal had called for millions in cuts to school safety programs, but in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, shooting, federal officials are calling for an expansion of these programs. On today's show, we'll look at some of the options Congress is exploring. Afterwards, we'll discuss China's fight with the U.S. over aluminum foil, and then talk to Gillian Thomas, a senior staff attorney at the ACLU, about how pregnant employees still face workplace discrimination despite the passage of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act 40 years ago.

Uncertain mood as Italy prepares to vote

Feb 28, 2018

Italians go to the polls this Sunday to elect a new government. Given Italy’s indebtedness and the shakiness of many of its banks, the outcome of the election could send ripples across financial markets. But the precise outcome is very difficult to predict.

One thing does seem certain. The ruling center-left party – Partito Democratico or PD – appears to be headed out of office, even though the economy has improved under the party’s watch.

The conversation around women's rights at work has been very focused on harassment lately with the #MeToo and #Timesup movements, but this year also represents a very significant anniversary for women in the workplace. It's been 40 years since the passage of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. 

President Donald Trump's budget proposal called for cutting millions in funding to school safety programs like violence prevention and school counselors. Now, in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, state and federal officials have called for expanding such programs, and Congress is starting to explore funding for things like fences and security cameras, as well as staff training.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

The story behind the skull found in a London pub

Feb 27, 2018

It’s not every day somebody brings you a skull. But for historian Kim Wagner this is exactly what happened one day in 2014.

“I received an email from a family who had a skull,” he says, “and didn’t know really what to do with it.”

The family had inherited the skull from parents who found it when they took over a the London pub, the Lord Clyde. That was back in 1963 and it made a local news story largely because of the note that was found with it.

In France, most people retire at around 62 years old. But it wasn’t until he turned 100 that Robert Marchand set his first world record in competitive cycling.

In 2012, Marchand became the fastest long-distance cyclist over the age of 100 after he pedaled 15 miles in an hour.

Then in 2017, he set a world record in the 105-and-up category — a category created just for him — by riding 14 miles in the same amount of time. He says it was one of the happiest days of his life.

Investors are hot on student housing

Feb 27, 2018

When you think of commercial real estate, big urban skyscrapers or suburban office parks might come to mind. But college towns and university-adjacent apartment buildings are magnets for U.S. investors and many from abroad.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

Quiz: Who said it? Powell versus Yellen

Feb 27, 2018

Newly minted Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell testified before Congress for the first time today.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin faced a boisterous crowd while in conversation with Kai on stage at the Burkle Center for International Relations at UCLA last night. We're bringing you that chat in two parts on today's show, and we cover a lot of ground: Russian sanctions, trade deals, Dodd-Frank and more. Plus: Student real estate is hot right now: investment nearly tripled from 2014 to 2016 and it's still going strong. We'll take a closer look.

Amidst a boisterous crowd, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin briefly lectured students and visitors at the UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations in Los Angeles before settling in for an interview with Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal.

(Markets Edition) Jay Powell is set to deliver his first report on the economy to Congress. We'll discuss some of his planned remarks, which include comments on a strong economy and the state of inflation. Afterwards, we'll talk about news that Comcast has made a $31 billion bid to buy Sky broadcasting group, and then look at how Stockton, California, is experimenting with Universal Basic Income by giving several dozen families $500  — no strings attached. 

New Fed Chair to Congress: Steady ahead

Feb 27, 2018

Jerome Powell will offer his insights to both the House and Senate this week. Stock traders are hoping for some calming words.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

When the Supreme Court has decided about the fairness of mandatory union dues in the past, unions have historically prevailed. In the current case before the court, Janus v. AFSCME, however, the makeup of the court is different. A ruling against the unions could have far reaching political implications on the power of teachers unions in national politics.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

Wage stagnation. Rising housing prices. Loss of middle-class jobs. The looming threat of automation. These are some of the problems facing Stockton's residents. Stockton's mayor, Michael Tubbs, said the city's problems are far from unique.

“I think Stockton is absolutely ground zero for a lot of the issues we are facing as a nation,” Tubbs said.

(U.S. Edition) The Supreme Court will soon hear a Microsoft privacy case about digital data — can the U.S. government look at data stored overseas without going through a foreign government? On today's show, we'll dive into the details of the debate. Afterwards, we'll discuss another case that the Supreme Court heard yesterday: Janus vs. AFSCME. The case looked at the fairness of mandatory union fees for public-sector workers. The outcome of this could have far-reaching political implications for teachers' unions.

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service … Comcast sparked a bidding war this morning when it offered $31 billion to buy Sky – the European broadcaster that Twenty-First Century Fox has its takeover sights set on. We’ll explain the tangled web now being weaved in the telecom sector.  Then, in a country where whites make up less than 9 percent of the population, South Africa’s parliament today is discussing a proposal from the opposition to seize white-owned land without compensation. So, why does the new president say land reform needs to happen “immediately?”

Why Pepperoni Rules Pizza Commercials

Feb 26, 2018

Pepperoni has been the main character for pizza commercial for decades. Why?

Danielle Sepulveres, a freelance writer, explained in an interview with Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal

"Pepperoni does look great on camera, and it does look good on commercials even if you don't want pepperoni," Sepulveres said.

You can read Sepulvere's article here.

Click the audio player above to hear the full interview.