Business & Education

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What Is Driving The 'Unbanking Of America'?

Jan 10, 2017

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The online classified website Backpage.com said it has suspended its adult ad pages, citing government pressure about the content being shared there.

A 2016 Senate report called the website the "largest commercial sex services advertising platform in the United States" and said that "Backpage officials have publicly acknowledged that criminals use the website for sex trafficking, including trafficking of minors."

Marketplace officials calculate a customer's subsidy, so why is the customer held responsible for repayments? Why are so many of my prescriptions held up for authorization by my Medicare drug plan? Here are answers to some recent questions from readers.

It's still unclear whether Verizon will follow through on a $4.8 billion deal to buy Yahoo's core internet business, but if the sale is finalized, there's a name for what will be left behind.

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We've got a Mexican perspective this morning of President-elect Donald Trump. The incoming president will soon translate his rhetoric about Mexico into reality.

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Donald Trump has named his son-in-law to a top White House job. Jared Kushner will serve as a senior adviser to the president, and the transition team says he will work with incoming Chief of staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Stephen Bannon "to execute President-elect Trump's agenda."

The announcement also says Kushner will not receive a salary while serving in the Trump administration, which could help alleviate legal problems stemming from federal anti-nepotism law.

Seven years ago, the Navajo tribal council in southeastern Utah started mapping the secret sites where medicine men and women forage for healing plants and Native people source wild foods. They wanted to make a case for protecting the landscape known as Bears Ears, a place sacred not only to their tribe but to many other tribes in the region, going back thousands of years.

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Chances are your doctor has stopped taking notes with pen and paper and moved to computer records. That is supposed to help coordinate your care.

Increasingly, researchers are also exploring these computerized records for medical studies and gleaning facts that help individual patients get better care.

Outgoing Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro's office overlooks a stretch of the Washington, D.C., waterfront where several high-rent apartment buildings are being built, in a city where affordable housing is in short supply and homelessness is a big problem.

These are some of the same issues his successor will have to deal with as head of an agency that provides housing aid to 10 million low-income families.

In Georgia, lawmakers are set to pass a more than $20 billion budget this year and grapple with a failing hospital system.

But Georgia, like many other states, faces a serious human resource problem in its Legislature: Salaries are often low and many would-be politicians can't afford to be lawmakers.

Former Georgia state Rep. LaDawn Jones loved serving in the General Assembly even as she juggled raising two kids and running a law practice. But she left after one term because the job didn't pay enough.

Last October, Matt Herich was listening to the news while he drove door to door delivering pizzas. A story came on the radio about a technology that sends an electric current through your brain to possibly make you better at some things — moving, remembering, learning. He was fascinated.

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If you've never laid eyes on a dogfish — or tasted one — you're not alone.

Yep, it's in the shark family. (See those telltale fins?) And fisherman Jamie Eldredge is now making a living catching dogfish off the shores of Cape Cod, Mass.

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The final chapter of the Obama economy drew that much closer to its end on Friday, with the final jobs report of the 44th president's time in office. That report showed the 75th straight month of job growth, with employers adding 156,000 jobs.

Solid, but nothing flashy.

In the kitchen at Oakland Avenue Urban Farm, just north of downtown Detroit, Linda Carter and Shawnetta Hudson are in the final stages of making their newest jam creation: cranberry-apple preserves. Carter is meticulously wiping down tables while Hudson seals the lids on jars. Then comes the logo — a beautiful graphic of a black woman with afro hair made of strawberries. The kitchen is small and basic, but for the past year it has served as the hub of a community-based product called Afro Jam.

The U.S. added 156,000 jobs last month and hourly wages rose by 10 cents, according to the monthly jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The unemployment rate was little changed; it ticked up slightly to 4.7 percent, compared to November's 4.6 percent.

Economists had been watching closely to see if the jobs report reflected a rise in wages.

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Six years ago, federal health officials were confident they could save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars annually by auditing private Medicare Advantage insurance plans that allegedly overcharged the government for medical services.

An initial round of audits found that Medicare had potentially overpaid five of the health plans $128 million in 2007 alone, according to confidential government documents released recently in response to a public records request and lawsuit.

President-elect Donald Trump has promised to step back from his business interests when he takes office. He says he'll let his two adult sons take the helm and that he won't make any new deals while he's president.

While he's unwinding some of his roughly 500 business deals involving about 20 countries as Inauguration Day approaches, many others are moving forward, causing concern about conflicts of interest.

The U.S. could become a net exporter of energy in coming years, according to the federal government's Annual Energy Outlook 2017. This continues a trend the Energy Information Administration has highlighted before in its annual report.

President-elect Donald Trump sat for a deposition on Thursday in a civil lawsuit related to his hotel in the Old Post Office building in Washington, D.C., Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks confirmed to NPR via email. Even as Trump prepares to assume the presidency, he continues to have entanglements related to his wide-ranging business dealings.

Former MF Global Chief Executive Jon Corzine will pay a $5 million penalty for his role in the company's collapse, according to the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

MF Global collapsed in 2011, and hundreds of millions of dollars in customer money disappeared, as we reported.

Just before dawn Thursday, at Tokyo's historic Tsukiji market, a familiar face walked away with the biggest fish in town. Kiyoshi Kimura won the first auction of the year at the market, just as he has for six years running.

And to the winner go the spoils: a 466-pound Pacific bluefin tuna, which ultimately cost Kimura 74.2 million yen — or about $632,000. That comes out to more than $1,300 a pound for Kimura, whose Kimura Corp. owns a restaurant chain called Sushi Zanmai.

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When people want to get in a jab at Wall Street, they sometimes call what bankers do casino capitalism. Today, Keith Romer from our Planet Money podcast has a story of what happened when one Wall Street firm actually tried to get into the casino business.

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