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10/23/2017: Hasbro goes Hollywood

Oct 23, 2017

(Markets Edition) On today's show, we're recapping the latest 401(k) controversy. Reports said Republicans were thinking about reducing the annual contributions you can make to this retirement account, but Trump has refuted this on Twitter. Afterwards, we'll discuss Tesla's plans to build a factory in China and then check out Hasbro's plans to start its own movie studio. Plus: We visit Oxford to talk with residents who say they're feeling overwhelmed by the number of tourists visiting the region.


Toy giant Hasbro has partnered with Hollywood companies to produce films based on its brands like Transformers, G.I. Joe and Battleship. Now it wants to take that business in-house, and finance the movies itself. With toy retailers in trouble, including the recent bankruptcy filing of Toys R Us, movie profits look like a more attractive bet for the toy company.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

How confidentiality agreements keep sexual harassment hidden

Oct 23, 2017

Last week staff at the Weinstein Company issued a statement in which they called for all employees of that company to be let out of agreements they’d signed that forced them to keep misconduct under wraps.  These confidentiality agreements have been a key reason why stories about sexual harassment aren’t publicized. Whether you sign them when you join a company or after you’ve settled a harassment case, the effect is the same: the details don’t get out.

It can pay to have a checking account. But a new survey out this morning from Bankrate shows low-income consumers end up paying more in monthly bank fees than other customers. The survey found that consumers with annual household incomes under $30,000 pay an average of $31 in monthly fees compared to $9 for people in higher income brackets. Bankrate analyst Amanda Dixon points out more than a third of all financial institutions offer free checking options, and urges customers to shop around. On average, checking account holders stay with the same bank for 16 years.

(U.S. Edition) Amid the U.S. Senate's approval of a $4 trillion budget plan, House Speaker Paul Ryan says the GOP will add another tax bracket to its tax plan for the highest-income earners (upping the number to four). We'll look at why we're seeing an extra bracket, and then discuss other changes Republicans are thinking about making to their tax plan, including a huge reduction in the amount of money you can put in your 401(k). Afterwards, we'll talk about a new study from Bankrate that shows low-income consumers end up paying more money in monthly bank fees than other customers.

Too many tourists amid Oxford's dreaming spires?

Oct 23, 2017

This summer, there have been clear signs of a backlash against mass tourism in some of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations. The residents of  Venice, Majorca and Barcelona have been protesting against the impact of ever-increasing visitor numbers. Now we can add the U.K. city of Oxford to the list. 

City councilor and former Lord Mayor of Oxford, Mary Clarkson has described the ancient university town as a “tourist hell.”

New York City-based makeup artist T. Cooper is doing makeup for model Mickala Mcfarlane, who has chocolate brown skin, and she’s using a sort of putty-knife tool and palette to mix colors.

"Women that are of Afro-Latino, African-American, Afro-Caribbean, when I get Indian and Middle Eastern women … you know, the brown girls. Usually have to mix when I get the brown girls," said Cooper, who works in fashion and entertainment.

(Global edition) From the BBC World Service … Japan’s prime minister secured his coalition party’s parliamentary super majority in a snap election this weekend, but even as investors cheer the victory, can Shinzo Abe win the ongoing fight against deflation and mounting debt? Afterwards, the air quality in London regularly breaks legal air pollution limits. Now the city’s mayor is taking matters into his own hands with a new charge to drivers of the most polluting diesel vehicles.  Then, we’ll take you to South Korea where an international air show displaying U.S.

In praise of boredom: Researchers dish on the brain benefits of idle time

Oct 22, 2017

When’s the last time you were really, truly bored?

In an age of smartphones, social media and a 24-hour news cycle, it might be tough to recall the last time you found yourself turning your attention to absolutely nothing. But that mental downtime, it turns out, is when a very important part of your brain gets to work.

The Health Risks That Follow A Wildfire

Oct 21, 2017

Science Goes To The Movies: Blade Runner 2049

Oct 21, 2017

Can The Latest Wi-Fi Security Bug Be Patched?

Oct 21, 2017

10/20/2017: Macroeconomics' big mystery

Oct 20, 2017

Seeking answers on why inflation won't do what everyone expects it to, Kai Ryssdal interviews a former Fed governor. In the world of health care, we investigate why rates of uninsured Americans are up for the first time since 2014 and what type of emergency President Donald Trump will declare the opioid epidemic. Plus, we'll run through this week's steps forward (and backward) in NAFTA renegotiations, tax reform and Trump's impending appointment of the next Fed chair.

Wait times for Social Security benefit appeals leave people in limbo

Oct 20, 2017

Americans seeking Social Security disability benefits face massive administrative backlogs and long wait times. Over 1 million people are currently waiting on a decision for a disability hearing request. The average processing time for an appeal is 602 days, almost two years.

Joyce Otteng filed for disability benefits in 2014. Her lawyers cited severe osteoarthritis, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression as reasons she couldn't work and deserved benefits.

The Spanish government is threatening to revoke the autonomy of the region of Catalonia, in the northeast of the country. The Catalans, for their part, are threatening to declare independence unilaterally.

But what are the roots of the tensions between the national government in Madrid and the Catalan leaders in Barcelona?

The Czech Republic's Trump is in the lead for prime minister

Oct 20, 2017
David W Cerny/Reuters

Dubbed the "Czech version of Trump" by Forbes, the wiry, gray-haired, Slovak-born farming, media and chemicals mogul is the Czech Republic's second-richest man.

Andrej Babis set up the populist ANO (Yes) party in 2011 as a political outsider determined to lure voters with promises of clean politics in the EU country of 10.6 million ranked more corrupt than Botswana by Transparency International.

ANO entered parliament two years later, but Babis himself has since been dogged by allegations of wrongdoing, something he flatly denies.

How a Salvadoran theater is giving women a second chance at life

Oct 20, 2017

It’s a Thursday evening at a theater in El Salvador's capital, San Salvador. As the performers of La Cachada Teatro prepare to take the stage, the audience is told to keep an open mind — and an open heart. 

"Welcome to Applebee's."

That's the first thing I hear. The words ring out, even before the large glass door closes behind me. A young hostess in a black shirt, with an earpiece on, eagerly flashes me a smile.

I approach.

And, as I would soon learn, that small, initial interaction is what this Applebee's hopes will keep it alive.

10/20/2017: Money, mouths and method acting

Oct 20, 2017

Do you put your money where your mouth is? That's the question we're digging into this week. As businesses embrace activism and causes, does it actually help? Or is promoting a cause just a way for a company to boost its reputation? Plus, a look at the money around actual mouths — and how Netflix could partially be to blame for the decline of suburban restaurant chains like TGI Fridays and Applebee's. Also, we speak with a former Social Security Administration commissioner about the Americans stuck on waiting lists for hearings to receive disability benefits.

10/20/2017: Tech innovation in Ciudad Juarez

Oct 20, 2017

(Markets Edition) The GOP is getting closer to tax reform following the Senate's approval of a budget resolution, which could mean $1.5 trillion in tax cuts. Chris Low from FTN Financial joined us to talk about how interest rates will play a role in making up that lost revenue, a crucial point going forward given that Trump has to select the next Fed chair soon. Afterwards, we'll discuss Japan's upcoming snap election, in which the current prime minister, Shinzo Abe, is expected to retain power.

"All voices are welcome in this world, you know. All experiments. I can't criticize anyone's voice, 'cuz people's voices are their soul. So how can you criticize one's soul?" 

That's what French singer Camille has to say about the unique voice of Yoko Ono. And you could say the same thing to describe Camille's. Hers is a subdued voice that can soon break out into a guttural cry, especially in the song "Twix." And yes, the song is about the candy bar. 

With North Korea looming, Japan heads to the polls

Oct 20, 2017

Japan is holding a snap election on Sunday. Prime Minister Shinzō Abe is widely expected to retain power, with his party maybe losing a few seats from its huge majority. In many ways, the election is a referendum on the prime minister’s economic reforms, known as Abenomics. It’s also a vote about national security.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

Pressure from Amazon has looking for new kinds of customers. According to the Wall Street Journal, the giant discount store is close to landing a deal with Lord & Taylor, one of the oldest luxury department stores in the country. 

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

10/20/2017: Congress moves closer to tax reform

Oct 20, 2017

(U.S. Edition) The Senate has approved a $4 trillion budget, checking one of the boxes the GOP needs before it pushes a tax overhaul. We'll look at how this will help Republicans' tax efforts, and whether the budget provides anymore clues about the party's plans for tax reform. Afterwards, we'll discuss Walmart's courtship of Lord & Taylor, one of the country's oldest department stores, and then report on the emerging demand for "greener" aluminum. 

The emerging demand for "greener" aluminum

Oct 20, 2017

Sales of aluminum are on the rise, and that’s in part because using it in products can have environmental benefits. But there’s a dirtier side to aluminum — producing it is energy intensive. So, now demand is growing for “greener” aluminum.

10/19/2017: Tax reform's brain drain

Oct 19, 2017

Kai Ryssdal promised we weren't going to talk about tax reform today, but it kept coming up: Rep. Pat Tiberi's resignation from Congress signals a brain drain of tax code experts in the Ways and Means Committee, which could make tax reform a lot messier. And we checked in with a union leader in Erie, Pennsylvania, who wasn't exactly moved by President Donald Trump's big announcement that tax reform would lead to the rebirth of American industry.

One month ago, on the afternoon of Sept. 19, a massive quake struck Mexico City and surrounding areas. That day, The World's Monica Campbell was in the Boston newsroom, far from her home and family in Mexico City. She watched footage of buildings collapse and waited as death tolls rose.

"I couldn't believe it," she says. "The quake struck 32 years to the day since the massive 1985 quake."

A day in the life, surrounded by federal regulations

Oct 19, 2017

Can you name a single federal regulation? Probably not, but they're all around you, from the second you open your eyes in the morning.