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The number of doctors who each prescribe millions of dollars of medications annually in Medicare's drug program has soared, driven by expensive hepatitis C treatments and rising drug prices overall, federal data obtained by ProPublica show.

The number of providers who topped the $5 million mark for prescriptions increased more than tenfold, from 41 in 2011 to 514 in 2015. The number of prescribers — mostly physicians but also nurse practitioners — exceeding $10 million in drug costs jumped from two to 70 over the same time period, according to the data.

The U.S. Geological Survey says a deposit in West Texas is the largest continuous oil and gas deposit ever discovered in the United States.

On Tuesday, the USGS announced that an area known as the Wolfcamp shale contains 20 billion barrels of oil and 16 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

That is nearly three times more petroleum than the agency found in North Dakota's Bakken shale in 2013.

During the campaign, Donald Trump characterized himself as a champion of working-class voters who felt left behind and disconnected from more prosperous parts of the country. And Trump's historic upset victory last week was fueled by working-class voters in the Rust Belt and elsewhere who believed in this promise.

Episode 574: The Buffalo Talk-Off

Nov 16, 2016

In today's show, we visit Buffalo, New York, and get a window into a rough business: Debt collection. This is the story of one guy who tried to make something of himself by getting people to pay their debts. He set up shop in an old karate studio, and called up people who owed money. For a while, he made a good living. And he wasn't the only one in the business--this is also the story of a low-level, semi-legal debt-collection economy that sprang up in Buffalo. And, in a small way, it's the story of the last twenty or so years in global finance, a time when the world went wild for debt.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The National Organic Standards Board plans to decide this week whether hydroponically grown foods, a water-based model of cultivation, can be sold under the label "certified organic."

But some organic farmers and advocates are saying no — the organic label should be rooted in soil. The decision at stake for the $40 billion-a-year industry will have impacts that reach from small farms to global corporations.

At a Florida campaign stop in August, presidential candidate Donald Trump made a promise for his first day in office: "I'm going to instruct my treasury secretary to label China a currency manipulator! The greatest in the world!"

Trump told supporters that China keeps its currency artificially low to flood the U.S. with cheap imports, putting Americans out of work.

But is it true?

The Trump transition team is a work in progress, but there are certain things we know. It's being led by Vice President-elect Mike Pence, and it includes an executive committee that includes several members of President-elect Donald Trump's family.

As longtime public radio talk show host Diane Rehm retires, her midday slot will be filled with a new show called 1A, NPR member station WAMU announced Wednesday.

The new live two-hour show — with a name reminiscent of a newspaper front page, as well as the First Amendment — will be hosted by Joshua Johnson, co-creator and host of the radio series Truth Be Told about race in America.

When the Obama administration announced last year that it would overhaul the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, prospective college students (and their parents) cheered.

"Today, we're lending a hand to millions of high school students who want to go to college and who've worked hard," said Arne Duncan, who was at that time U.S. secretary of education. "We're announcing an easier, earlier FAFSA."

And it is both.

It's no secret that Donald Trump campaigned as a champion of gun rights, but a Trump administration poses both welcome relief and an immediate problem for the gun industry.

For Larry Cavener, who recently visited a new gun shop called Tactical Advantage in Overland Park, Kan., this election means he can breathe easier.

"This means that we're not gonna be under siege for a few years, and it seems like it has been," Cavener says.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

"Our time is now." That's the message from Wayne LaPierre, the head of the National Rifle Association, to his group's members and gun owners across America, following last week's election.

With a Republican-held Congress and Donald Trump headed to the White House — helped, in no small part, by the support of the NRA — big changes could be coming to the nation's gun laws.

In Washington, lobbyists, trade association leaders and journalists are passing around names that President-elect Donald Trump may be considering for key economic policy positions.

His choices to lead Treasury, Trade, Commerce, Labor and Housing and other departments will help shape Trumponomics in 2017. So whom will he choose?

President-elect Donald Trump's name will be removed from three apartment buildings on Manhattan's West Side, after almost 600 residents signed a petition demanding it.

Three of the rental buildings now known as Trump Place will be renamed 140, 160 and 180 Riverside Blvd., according to a statement emailed to NPR from the Chicago-based real estate company Equity Residential.

The dating app Tinder has made a change that it hopes will make the experience more inclusive for transgender and gender non-conforming people.

What could the world of medical research look like under a Trump administration?

It's hardly an idle question.

The federal government spends more than $30 billion a year to fund the National Institutes of Health. That's the single largest chunk of federal research funding spent outside the Pentagon's sphere of influence.

Policy insiders confronted that question — albeit with an acute shortage of actual data — Monday at a meeting of health advocates in New York City.

Steve Bannon, the newly named chief strategist for the nascent Trump White House, boasts a resume packed with a series of seeming non sequiturs. He had a stint in the U.S. Navy, worked for a stretch at Goldman Sachs, became a Hollywood investor who made a fortune off Seinfeld reruns, and ran the secretive experimental community Biosphere 2 outside Tucson, Ariz.

Twitter's inability to curb harassment and trolling has long plagued the social platform — by far its biggest criticism. The company is now trying something it hopes will rein in abusive users.

Twitter says it's adding new ways for users to flag or avoid seeing offensive posts in the broadest attempt yet to tackle the problem.

Activists engaged in a national "day of action" Tuesday to protest the controversial Dakota Access oil pipeline. Native American groups' opposition to the project has gotten a lot of attention recently, but it's just one of many pipeline battles going on across the country.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Since Donald Trump's election victory, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has come out not once, but twice, to address the issue of fake news, inaccurate or simply false information that appears on the Web in the guise of journalism.

Mary Jo White, the chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, will step down in January, a move that leaves the future direction of the regulatory agency more uncertain than ever.

"It has been a tremendous honor to work alongside the incredibly talented and dedicated SEC staff members who do so much every day to protect investors and our markets," White said, in a statement released today.

One of the benefits for owners of electric and hybrid cars is that they are quiet. While that is attractive for the driver, it poses a danger to pedestrians. But the U.S. government on Monday finalized new rules requiring so-called "quiet cars" to make alert beeps when traveling at low speeds.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Monday that it needs more information before it can decide whether to allow the Dakota Access Pipeline to be built along its planned route.

In a joint statement by the U.S. Army and Department of the Interior, the Corps announced it had finished a review of the route, and concluded that more study was needed before it could grant the pipeline company the easement it needs to cross under a section of the Missouri River.

Federal law says anyone who works for the executive branch of the government has to avoid conflicts of interest. The Treasury secretary cannot own stock in a big bank, for instance. And Richard Painter, who served as ethics adviser under President George W. Bush, says different administrations have typically been scrupulous about following the law.

"Whenever anyone was even considering a position that would be appointed by the president, I would discuss with that person the need to sell off assets that create conflicts of interest," Painter says.

Donald Trump took direct shots at some of the biggest tech companies during the presidential campaign. When Apple wouldn't help the FBI unlock a phone used by a terrorist, he suggested boycotting the company.

Gwen Ifill, one of the most prominent political journalists in the country, has died, according to PBS. She was 61.

When Amelie Ning Kang opened her restaurant MáLà Project in New York's East Village at the tail-end of 2015, she had only a few rules: She refused to have dragons decking its walls, and there would be no dumbing down of her eatery's signature dish, the Sichuan specialty mala xiangguo, a stir fry heavy on the numbing spice that gives Sichuanese food its bite.

For decades Freedom House has been ranking the world on free speech, political and civil rights. In recent years, this nongovernmental organization has extended its research into the state of the Internet. And for the sixth consecutive year, it has found Internet freedom on a decline.

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