Business & Education

Business & education news

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The nation just got an update on the gig economy — a major survey of independent, informal, and temporary work just got updated for the first time in almost 13 years. On today's Indicator, we look at how this kind of alternative work arrangement has changed the economy in the last decade or so... and how it hasn't.

The U.S. Senate is set to vote as early as next week on whether to reinstate crippling trade sanctions against Chinese telecommunications company ZTE. With that move in sight, a number of U.S. senators are taking aim at a much bigger Chinese target: Huawei — the world's third-largest seller of smartphones, behind Samsung and Apple.

The Environmental Protection Agency intends to block an Obama-era proposal and effectively shield companies from scrutiny about how they prevent and respond to chemical disasters. At a hearing Thursday, agency officials got an earful from dozens of people who live and work near refineries and chemical facilities across the country.

McDonald's says it will start using paper straws instead of plastic at all its locations across the United Kingdom and Ireland. And it plans to test sustainable alternatives to plastic straws in some restaurants in the U.S. and elsewhere around the globe later this year.

Updated at 3:57 a.m. ET Saturday

President Trump is enacting a 25 percent tariff on $50 billion of Chinese goods "that contain industrially significant technologies," after months of exchanging threats amid concerns over a potential trade war.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection will begin to collect tariffs on the first $34 billion worth of Chinese imports on July 6. A second set of imports subject to tariffs is still under review.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Kentucky's Attorney General announced on Thursday that the state is suing the pharmacy chain Walgreens for allegedly exacerbating the "man-made" opioid crisis, by playing a dual role in in the supply chain as both the distributor and dispenser.

The lawsuit also asserts the company willfully ignored its own safeguard systems that are designed to protect consumers and monitor their drug consumption.

The New York Stock Exchange got its start more than 200 years ago, with an agreement, signed by 24 men under a buttonwood tree on Wall Street.

Up to that point trading was a chaotic operation, conducted on street corners and in coffee houses, with basically no rules. So when America's young government declined to write its own regulations, a group of traders took it upon themselves to enter into a gentlemen's agreement that would lay the groundwork for the Wall Street we know today.

Facebook has apologized in recent months for becoming a tool of foreign interference in elections, disinformation and hate speech in some of the world's most mature democracies. But critics are concerned that there's potential for even greater chaos elsewhere, especially in places where Facebook is the dominant social media platform.

Chicago has selected Elon Musk's Boring Company to build and operate an "express service to transport people to O'Hare Airport from downtown in 12 minutes on electric vehicles in underground tunnels," Mayor Rahm Emanuel says.

The United States is among the notable no-shows for the month-long World Cup tournament. It's the first time since 1986 the U.S. men haven't qualified for their sport's biggest event.

Soccer officials say they are moving on from criticism and controversy to get the men's national team back on track. But some wonder whether they're focusing on what really needs to be fixed — from improving coaching to broadening the appeal of the sport at the youth level — to put the American team back on the world stage.

Still stings

A powerful banking regulator appointed by President Trump could face tough questions in a Senate hearing Thursday about his efforts to allow big banks to make small, high-interest, short-term loans to consumers.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Updated at 5:02 p.m. ET

The power plays for Hollywood's biggest studios are coming fast and furious.

Comcast on Wednesday made a $65 billion offer for some of the biggest Hollywood holdings of 21st Century Fox, the global television and entertainment conglomerate controlled by Rupert Murdoch and his family. The deal would not include Fox News.

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It seems like new sports bar concepts are popping up every month. One of the latest involves hurling a hatchet at a wall. Ax throwing is sort of like darts, you know, but on steroids. Ann-Elise Henzl of member station WUWM in Milwaukee reports.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Now a story with sole.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LOUBOUTINS")

JENNIFER LOPEZ: (Singing) I'm throwing on my Louboutins. I'm throwing on my Louboutins.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BODAK YELLOW")

One way to think of President Trump's trade policy as a sort of soap opera. There are multiple plotlines, there's high drama, and plot twists abound. And on top of all that, you can walk away for a while, come back, and still know the general thrust of the plot — in this case, the thrust being that President Trump has a penchant for blowing up trade agreements (or at least, saying that he will). Today, we catch you up on the latest dramatic developments and answer a big, looming question: are we in a trade war?

The state of Massachusetts is taking a new step in the fight against the opioid epidemic, filing a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma that also names the OxyContin maker's executives. The suit alleges the company and 16 of its current and former directors misled doctors and patients about the risks of its opioid-based pain medications.

A federal judge has approved the merger of AT&T and Time Warner.

NPR’s David Folkenflik and Yuki Noguchi report:

Judge Richard Leon rejected arguments by Justice Department lawyers that the combined company would be too large and too powerful and that the $85 billion deal would harm competition and hurt consumers.

Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia's state oil company, is often described as the kingdom's crown jewel.

It produces more oil than any other company in the world, supplying the world with a steady supply of crude and providing the kingdom with revenues that make up more than 80 percent of the national budget.

Updated at 2:21 p.m. ET

The Federal Reserve increased a key interest rate again Wednesday, which will trigger higher rates on credit cards, home equity lines and other kinds of borrowing.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

In a victory for Amazon, the Seattle City Council voted to repeal a tax on the city's biggest businesses Tuesday, a measure designed to fund efforts to combat Seattle's large homeless population.

In a meeting punctured with shouting from activists, council members voted 7-2 to repeal the so-called "head tax," which would have raised about $47 million per year to fund affordable housing projects and to help the city's homeless population.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Here's a promise President Trump made on the campaign trail in 2016.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Tesla Lays Off 9 Percent Of Workforce

Jun 13, 2018

Tesla will lay off about 3,500 workers in an effort to boost profitability, CEO Elon Musk wrote in a company email.

"What drives us is our mission to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable, clean energy, but we will never achieve that mission unless we eventually demonstrate that we can be sustainably profitable," Musk wrote.

Updated at 6:02 p.m. ET

A federal judge on Tuesday gave his blessing to telecom giant AT&T's drive to take over the Time Warner media conglomerate. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon rejected arguments by Justice Department lawyers that the combined company would be too large and too powerful and that the $85 billion deal would harm competition and hurt consumers.

The Trump administration's mixed signals on implementing tariffs is causing uncertainty for many businesses whose costs could rise if tariffs are imposed. Delaying decisions about hiring and signing contracts could hurt not only the individual businesses, but the economy as a whole.

Update: On June 15, Lucerne International CEO Mary Buchzeiger said she had been notified that the auto door hinges manufactured by her company had been removed from the Trump administration's list of goods that would be subject to a 25 percent tariff.

CBO vs. POTUS

Jun 12, 2018

The Congressional Budget Office has a long history of disputes with the White House, including the current administration. It has withstood them all.

On this episode of The Indicator, we speak with Alice Rivlin, the first-ever director of the CBO. She explains the origins of the CBO, why it matters, and why the complaints about it from the Trump administration are different from those of the past.

In Kerala, a tropical slice of a state that runs along India's southwestern coast, people use every part of the coconut tree. The bark is used as firewood. The leaves and husks become mats and rope. The fruit, of course, features heavily in curries, chutneys and stews. The sweet sap can be used to make palm sugar. Or, left to ferment, it can be transformed into a special, mildly alcoholic brew called toddy.

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