Business & Education

Business & education news

Updated at 12:42 p.m. ET

President Trump, playing salesman-in-chief Friday morning at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, declared, "America is open for business and we are competitive once again."

He also proclaimed, "America first does not mean America alone."

Walmart has a laser-like focus when it comes to finding ways to compete with rival Amazon.com, and the world's largest bricks-and-mortar retailer has announced its latest attempt.

Walmart Stores, Inc. is joining with Japan's largest e-commerce retailer Rakuten to launch an online grocery delivery service in Japan.

Walmart will also work with Rakuten's digital book business, Kobo, to sell e-books and audiobooks in the U.S.

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You know what has happened to the phone over time. You know, years ago - old days - 10 years ago, 15 years ago, it was just a phone.

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Supplies Of Valuable Ginseng Root Dwindling

Jan 25, 2018

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The root ginseng is used to treat all kinds of ailments in traditional Chinese medicine. And some of the most valuable ginseng grows wild in Appalachia. Supplies are dwindling. So as Julia DeWitt from our Planet Money podcast reports, a backup plan is taking shape.

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There's a new study out about the origins of the mafia. It finds that the essential ingredient in the birth of the mafia as we know it isn't the threats or the murders or the other stuff that's great for Hollywood. The detail that matters is lemons.

Music: "Head of The Family".

If you're tempted to join the cryptocurrency bandwagon, regulators say you should take a pause before you click "buy."

Following bitcoin's meteoric price rise in 2017 — from just under $1,000 in January to nearly $20,000 in December — there's been a rush to cash in on cryptocurrencies and the blockchain technology that makes them possible.

Numerous investment vehicles have been created to meet this surge in consumer demand.

A tobacco product that its maker claims to be safer than cigarettes won qualified support from a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel Thursday.

The advisers voted 8-1 to support cigarette giant Philip Morris' claim that its "iQOS" system "significantly reduces your body's exposure to harmful or potentially harmful chemicals." The device heats tobacco but doesn't ignite it.

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Grumpy Cat finally has something to smile about.

The perpetually scowling kitty, whose real name is Tardar Sauce, has been awarded a cool $710,000 in a copyright infringement case. Or at least her human, Tabatha Bundesen, has.

The wheels of a tall, metal cart squeak as Chris Beatty, 26, pulls it through a maze of aisles inside a cosmetics warehouse in Burlington, N.J.

A hand-held scanner helps Beatty find specific items, such as face cream or lipstick — to be sorted, packed and shipped to online customers. In his industry, this is called picking.

Asked if a robot could do his job, Beatty responds with a long pause. "That's a tough one," he says eventually, "but I don't think a robot could do this."

Spotify, the popular music streaming service, will officially take the company public this spring and is planning a very unconventional IPO — short for "initial public offering" — that has investors talking.

Updated at 5:06 p.m. ET Thursday

Bank of America is eliminating eBanking accounts this month, transferring their owners into accounts that charge a maintenance fee if they don't maintain a minimum balance or get direct deposit. The move ends a program introduced in 2010 and completes a phaseout begun several years ago, when the bank stopped offering eBanking as an option to new customers.

In 1992, Douglas Bruce proposed a measure called the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, TABOR for short. TABOR was effectively a tax-limitation measure that said, whenever a government wanted more money — whenever it wanted to increase taxes — it had to put the question on the ballot. Increased taxes for roads? The voters would get to decide. Better schools? Put it on the ballot. But put the price there first.

The new acting director of the National Park Service is a former parks official who was reprimanded 12 years ago for pressuring employees to allow the owner of Washington's NFL team to cut down trees for a better view of the Potomac River.

Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke announced the promotion of Paul Daniel Smith on Wednesday.

From 2004 to 2015, Smith was superintendent of Colonial National Historical Park.

After missing the event for two years, German Chancellor Angela Merkel addressed the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Wednesday, delivering a defense of globalism and a rebuke of isolationist tendencies that have emerged in Europe and Washington.

It marked her return to the world stage following months of political uncertainty at home, where she is still trying to stitch together a new government after her party's weak showing in elections last fall.

Merkel made a plea for multilateral solutions to global challenges.

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Last week, General Electric said it was taking a massive loss — $6.2 billion — related to an obscure corner of the company: long-term-care insurance.

Long-term-care insurance is this kind of insurance that anyone can buy. It covers things like nursing home care, or a home health aide.

But recently, GE came out and said it was having an "adverse claims experience" with these policies. Basically, the company got the math wrong, and lost billions as a result.

A new NPR/Marist poll finds that 1 in 5 jobs in America is held by a worker under contract. Within a decade, contractors and freelancers could make up half of the American workforce. In a weeklong series, NPR explores many aspects of this change.

For Tom Hansen and his family, the past few weeks have been a time of feast or famine.

When 50 Cent agreed to accept bitcoin for purchases of his 2014 album, Animal Ambition, a unit of the cryptocurrency was already worth hundreds of dollars — but the value of those sales has since skyrocketed and the rapper's bitcoin holding is now reportedly worth more than $7.5 million.

Payday lenders appear to have a powerful friend in Washington.

Former Republican Rep. Mick Mulvaney is the interim head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He was appointed by President Trump amid an ongoing a power struggle for control of the bureau.

Research teams spent a decade trying to reach the moon and win the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize. But organizers are declaring an end to this leg of the space race, saying none of the teams are able to launch a lunar rover project by the March 31, 2018, deadline.

"This literal 'moonshot' is hard," X Prize's Peter Diamandis and Marcus Shingles said in a statement about the contest that began in 2007. They said that while they had expected a winner by now, the grand prize "will go unclaimed."

Monday's gas rig explosion in southeast Oklahoma sent plumes of black smoke in the air above the drilling site and left the charred rig crumpled on the ground. Authorities now say five workers were killed in the explosion.

The rig fire near the town of Quinton was extinguished later that night, but emergency workers were not able to look for the missing men until the next day when the site had cooled down enough.

The hospitality chain Motel 6 is facing another lawsuit alleging that it violated the civil rights of Latino immigrants by voluntarily giving guests' personal information to federal immigration authorities.

The Senate approved President Trump's nominee, current Federal Reserve Board Governor Jerome Powell, as the new head of the nation's central bank on Tuesday.

The confirmation came in a vote of 84-13, an unsurprising action given Powell's support among Republicans and Democrats alike who expect that he will follow the policies of the outgoing Chair Janet Yellen.

A new NPR/Marist poll finds that 1 in 5 jobs in America is held by a worker under contract. Within a decade, contractors and freelancers could make up half of the American workforce. In a weeklong series, NPR explores many aspects of this change.

Updated on Feb. 12, 2018:

In addition to your full-time position, do you work side jobs — such as driving for Uber, taking a Saturday shift at your local coffee shop, or selling art on Etsy?

We're curious about your experience in the gig economy. Please fill out this form, and an NPR producer may be in touch for an upcoming story.

This form was closed on Feb. 12, 2018.

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Google Selfies

Jan 23, 2018

Today's show is about Google art selfies, the value of biometric data, and the law.

We talk to a data expert who can't use Google art selfies because his state prohibits it. He makes a case for how to manage the coming boom in biometric data.

Also, we see what famous portraits we look like (according to Google). It's not pretty.

Coca-Cola introduced four new fruit-flavored versions of Diet Coke this week in an effort to entice former soda drinkers and LaCroix-guzzling seltzer lovers.

The new flavors — Feisty Cherry, Twisted Mango, Ginger Lime and Zesty Blood Orange — are sold in slimmer, redesigned cans. They were launched as part of the beverage company's endeavor to offset slumping Diet Coke sales, which have steadily declined since the height of soft-drink consumption in the mid-2000s.

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