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Episode 747: The Man Who Sued Iran

Jan 13, 2017

Steve Flatow's daughter, twenty-year-old Alisa Flatow, was studying abroad in Israel. One day she was on a bus in the Gaza Strip, and a suicide bomber blew the bus up. Alisa died in the attack.

The bomber was part of a group called Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which the U.S. State Department believed was funded by Iran. Flatow decided to sue Iran for monetary damages. But under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, U.S. citizens couldn't sue countries.

The Japanese air bag manufacturer Takata has reached a $1 billion settlement with the U.S. Justice Department over a deadly defect in its air bags that led to a massive recall.

At least 16 deaths, 11 of them in the U.S., have been linked to the defect.

Nuclear power plants are typically hulking structures made using billions of dollars of concrete and steel. But one company thinks that by going smaller, they could actually make nuclear power more affordable.

Little white chips fly off in every direction with each blow of master ivory carver Li Chunke's chisel.

Gradually, the folds of a robe, tassels and hands of an ancient Chinese woman begin to emerge from a rough piece of ivory in front of him in his Beijing workshop.

Li says nothing looks as smooth, nothing can be carved as intricately or expressively as ivory. Wood and jade are too brittle.

"Whether I'm carving animal or human figures, I try to express their feelings," he says. "That's what Chinese consider most important."

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Capitol Hill is abuzz with activity these days. Inauguration is just a week away. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is not in a celebratory mood. In fact, she's still a little bit in denial.

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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released a survey today that it says shows widespread tactics used by debt collectors to threaten consumers. The watchdog agency, which is considering strengthening regulations of the industry and its conduct, says more than a quarter of the consumers it surveyed felt threatened by the debt collectors.

Donald Trump's plan to shift management of his businesses to his sons doesn't go nearly far enough to address conflict-of-interest concerns, former presidential ethics lawyers say.

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President-elect Donald Trump took to Twitter again Thursday morning, this time to urge his followers to "Buy L.L.Bean," and support one of his campaign backers.

"Thank you to Linda Bean of L.L.Bean for your great support and courage," he tweeted Thursday. "People will support you even more now. Buy L.L.Bean."

After years of hints, shots across the bow and a few gentle suggestions, the Chargers have finally done it: Owner Dean Spanos announced that the NFL team will be leaving San Diego for Los Angeles, starting nex

The Environmental Protection Agency said Fiat Chrysler violated the Clean Air Act by allegedly installing and failing to disclose software in some 104,000 cars and trucks that alters emissions.

The automaker was required by law to disclose the software to regulators during the certification process but did not do so, the EPA announced Thursday. While the agency is still investigating the nature of these devices, it said the software results in increased emissions of nitrogen oxides.

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Going into yesterday's press conference with Donald Trump, there were all kinds of questions about the president-elect's potential conflicts of interest. This morning, there are still questions.

At about 1:30 a.m. on Thursday, Republicans moved one step closer to repealing a law they have railed against since the moment it was passed nearly seven years ago.

By a final vote of 51-48, the Senate approved a budget resolution that sets the stage for broad swaths of the Affordable Care Act to be repealed through a process known as budget reconciliation. The resolution now goes to the House, where leaders are hoping to approve it by the end of the week.

Episode 577: The Kansas Experiment

Jan 11, 2017

Note: Today's show originally ran in October 2014.

Sam Brownback cut taxes dramatically in Kansas. As a Republican governor of a Republican state, he was going to enact the dream. Taxes on small businesses went down to zero. Personal income taxes went down. The tax rate on the highest income bracket went down about 25 percent. Brownback promised prosperous times for the state once government got out of the way.

Let's say you're a farmer in the Midwest, growing conventional corn and soybeans. Times are tough right now. Prices are in the toilet.

If only you were selling organic soybeans and corn. They're worth almost twice as much, per bushel, as your conventional crops.

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For more now, we're joined by law professor Kathleen Clark of Washington University in St. Louis. She studies ethics for government officials. Thanks for coming in.

KATHLEEN CLARK: Thank you for having me.

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Volkswagen has agreed to pay $4.3 billion to settle civil and criminal allegations over its diesel emissions cheating scheme involving some 590,000 vehicles in the U.S.

The company has also agreed to plead guilty to three criminal felony counts.

In Weathersfield, Vt., a town once dotted with small milking farms, about 60 cows peacefully chew hay at their home on Fuller Farm. They are the last remaining dairy herd in Weathersfield, and they'll be auctioned off this week. This is a growing trend in the changing dairy industry — in the state and beyond.

Facebook is unveiling a new journalism project Wednesday. No, the Silicon Valley giant isn't hiring a team of reporters. Facebook says it wants engineers — the tech talent at local and global publishers — to tag-team earlier on to develop technologies that make Facebook a more powerful platform to distribute news and discuss it.

Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson had a tense confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday, clashing even with Republican members over his views on Russia, international human rights violations and the lobbying and deal-making of Exxon Mobil when he was CEO.

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In late October, just weeks ahead of the election, President-elect Donald Trump made a quick detour to Washington for the official opening of his new five-star hotel, just a few blocks from the White House.

After years of planning, negotiations and speculation, filmmaker George Lucas has chosen Los Angeles to be the home for his museum honoring visual storytelling. It will display his personal collection of fine and popular art, including Norman Rockwell paintings, Mad Magazine covers, photography, children's art, as well as Hollywood props and visual effects from his famous movie franchise Star Wars.

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