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Following the money in soccer's biggest scandal

Jun 15, 2018

The World Cup began on Thursday. It is arguably the biggest sporting event in the world. It's also a multibillion-dollar business with TV distribution deals, sponsorships — and corruption. Lots of corruption. The story of FIFA, the international soccer governing body, is also a story of bribery, international intrigue, a former spy who compiled a dossier on President Donald Trump and a guy who walked around with a parrot on his shoulder. All of this is real.

Since Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico in September 2017, thousands of people have fled the island to come to the mainland. Many of them — some 1,600 families — have been staying at hotels paid for by the Transitional Shelter Assistance program from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. But the program will expire at the end of June. In Florida, about 600 families are in the program.

It has been almost four years since I came to the United States. The year before I arrived, “A Moonlit Night on the Spring River” (a piece of Chinese traditional music) woke me up every weekend.

It was my mom playing a guzheng, a Chinese plucked-string instrument with more than 2,500 years of history.

My mom was always enchanted by the beauty of Chinese traditional music but, for much of her life, she never had the chance to learn an instrument. In 2009, she got a guzheng from a friend and has been playing and performing ever since.

Should newlyweds combine bank accounts?

Jun 15, 2018

It's wedding season, and while personal finance isn't the most romantic thing, it's important to talk about this time of year.

To get some tips on nuptials and money, we spoke with Beth Kobliner, a personal finance writer and author of the book "Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties." This transcript has condensed and edited for clarity.

If you've heard of Donald Glover, the multihyphenate actor-comedian-producer-writer-musician who also goes by the stage name Childish Gambino, then you're also familiar with the work of filmmaker Hiro Murai. They've collaborated on numerous projects over the last five years starring Glover, including creating the FX show "Atlanta" and the music video for "This Is America." 

Voting for the next president of Colombia looks deceivingly festive outside the Colombian consulate in Coral Gables, a city in Miami-Dade County, Florida.

Colombians usually have notoriously low voter participation rates, both in Colombia and in the US, but this election has seen a rise in turnout. About 53 percent of voters participated in the first round of presidential elections, according to the National Civil Registry.

China’s government responded quickly to U.S. President Donald Trump’s tariff hike on Chinese goods by announcing Friday it will immediately impose penalties of “equal strength” on U.S. products.

The Commerce Ministry said it also was scrapping deals to buy more American farm goods and other exports as part of efforts to defuse a sprawling dispute over its trade surplus and technology policy.

America's 1998 World Cup disaster

Jun 15, 2018

(U.S. Edition) That's soccer, if you were wondering which one. But first: China is threatening quick retaliation against U.S. tariffs on $50 billion worth of goods. Our Shanghai correspondent will bring us the latest before we shift our focus up north, our relationship with Canadian agriculture. Plus: History seems to be repeating itself for the American soccer team in this year's World Cup.

After the 1994 World Cup, being a soccer player in the U.S. became recognized as a real profession.

The U.S. team had a respectable finish that year, making it to the knockout stage of the tournament despite its defeat by Brazil on the Fourth of July. 

Seattle fought Amazon ... and Amazon won

Jun 15, 2018

The Seattle City Council voted this week to undo a new tax that would have made big businesses pay per employee to generate money for public housing and help for the homeless. Seattle's housing costs and homeless population have both exploded in recent years as the tech industry, mainly Amazon, has brought higher salaries and lots more jobs. But Seattle businesses, including Amazon, pushed back hard on the new tax. One month after it passed, the city council flipped the reset button.

The International Monetary Fund warned this week U.S. tariffs could dent global growth, but according to reports, President Trump is preparing to unveil $50 billion worth of new tariffs on another batch of Chinese imports. If you’ve lost track of what’s covered and what’s not, we’ll take a step back and bring you up to speed. Then, China’s ride-hailing app Didi is the world’s most valuable startup, and it’s now expanding into Melbourne, Australia. Plus, the world’s most expensive movie poster ever sold fetched half a million dollars at auction, but what makes a poster so valuable?

Gas prices are on the rise just in time for summer travel. But will that give drivers second thoughts about hitting the road during the summer vacation season?

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

In order to afford a modest one-bedroom rental, an American would, on average, have to make $17.90 an hour. This is according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. There’s just one problem — $17.90 is far above the federal minimum wage. It means there are a lot of people who can’t really afford their rent. The question is, what other essentials are they giving up?

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

ECB to end stimulus. Is Europe's economy out of the woods?

Jun 14, 2018

The European Central Bank announced today it is doing something the Federal Reserve has been doing for several years now: It's taking its foot off the gas pedal of the economy — in this case, the eurozone economy. Specifically, it's ending its practice of buying up bonds. So is the eurozone back on track?

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

What reporters couldn't see when they toured a Texas shelter for child migrants

Jun 14, 2018

Life for children inside a privately run facility for migrant children at the Southern border is a cross between living in a detention center and temporary shelter.  

That’s according to people who got a brief glimpse inside. This week, a small group of reporters toured Casa Padre, a converted former Walmart in Brownsville, Texas, that houses nearly 1,500 boys ranging in age from 10 to 17 who were caught crossing the border between checkpoints. Most come from Central America.

On a hilltop in eastern Puerto Rico’s Humacao municipality, a handful of women bustled around pans of sizzling oil and fragrant pots of stew. They spooned heaping piles of rice, chicken, chickpeas, fried plantains and salad into Styrofoam containers. At a serving window, one of the women slid the food to waiting customers.

“This is like therapy for us,” said María Laboy.

In September, Hurricane Maria made landfall just south of this community, called Mariana. The storm blew out the power grid, leaving people without electricity and damaging many homes in the region.

Back in 2010, President Vladimir Putin helped secure Russia’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup with guarantees the world would see a Russia both open and welcoming.

This week, the Russian leader said his country had made good on that promise. 

“We’ve done everything to ensure our guests — sportsmen, experts and, of course, fans feel at home in Russia,” said Putin in a video address released by the Kremlin. “We have opened our country and our hearts to the world.” 

In the potential tariff war between China and the United States, each state is choosing to protect different sectors. Which is right? And is there a way for a country to engage in “good” protectionism for its own interests?

First off, economists in general agree that tariffs should be avoided because they bring costly trade-offs. If a country taxes imported sneakers, for instance, it helps domestic shoemakers but deprives shoe buyers of the best, low-price kicks.

Pa’lante, meaning “onwards” or “forward,” was the title of a newspaper published by the Young Lords, a Puerto Rican leftist group advocating for social change in the '70s. Now the newspaper and Pedro Pietri’s poem, "Puerto Rican Obituary," are leading inspirations for a new song by the band Hurray for the Riff Raff — and also for a new music video that captures life in post-storm Puerto Rico.

Sedans; we write songs about them, from the 1964 Impala to a little deuce coupe (OK, that’s a two-door but you get the drift). But it seems we’re changing our tune.

The Centro Mercado Latino in Phoenix is a giant warehouse filled with vendors peddling everything from cell phone accessories to quinceñera dresses to parakeets. On Sundays, there are lucha libre wrestling matches in the corner.  

But there’s something unexpected tucked next to a kiosk selling alarm systems: a campaign booth promoting a presidential candidate — for Mexico.

Residents of the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah have been anticipating a Saudi-led invasion for weeks. It may have just begun.

Naval warships from the Saudi-led coalition began firing on Hodeidah Tuesday night in what could be the first shots of a battle to drive out Houthi rebels that have held the city since 2014. Early reports indicate that rebels returned fire and that the warships retreated.

New York attorney general sues Trump Foundation

Jun 14, 2018

President Donald Trump’s charitable foundation served as a personal piggy bank for his businesses, legal bills and presidential campaign, New York’s attorney general said Wednesday as she sued the charity, Trump and three of his children.

The Donald J. Trump Foundation “was little more than a checkbook for payments from Mr. Trump or his businesses to nonprofits, regardless of their purpose or legality,” Democratic Attorney General Barbara Underwood said as she sued to dissolve the foundation and seek $2.8 million in restitution.

The Centro Mercado Latino in Phoenix is a giant warehouse filled with vendors peddling everything from cell phone accessories to quinceñera dresses to parakeets. On Sundays, there are lucha libre wrestling matches in the corner.  

But there’s something unexpected tucked next to a kiosk selling alarm systems: a campaign booth promoting a presidential candidate — for Mexico.

The Fed is getting interest rates closer to "just right"

Jun 14, 2018

The Federal Reserve has raised interest rates and set the stage for two more increases in the cost of borrowing this year. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said the economy is getting close to what he considers a "normal level," where the Fed won't have to do as much fussing and tinkering. Marketplace senior reporter Nancy Marshall-Genzer was at the Fed briefing yesterday and spoke about it with David Brancaccio. Below is an edited transcript of their conversation. 

What's the "perfect" U.S. economy?

Jun 14, 2018

(Markets Edition) The perfect U.S. and EU economies are growing in tandem, but America is a bit further along. The European central bank is backing off its stimulus program, while Federal Reserve Chair Jay Powell says the American economy nearing a Goldilocks-esque "just right" level where the bank can stop tinkering. But what's that actually look like? Surely, wages would have to come up, right? Then: A new study says you'd need to make $17.90 an hour to afford a modest one bedroom rental in the U.S. Trouble is, the minimum wage in most of the country is much lower.

This year, the FIFA World Cup soccer tournament is taking place in Russia and more than 3 billion people are expected to watch. Those numbers mean a lot for a pair of brands that have come to dominate marketing in the World Cup: Nike and Adidas. 

With the World Cup, most folks just root for their favorite team, but if you work for either of these sports apparel juggernauts, you’re probably hoping one of the soccer teams your company sponsors makes the final. Denise Lee Yohn, author of "What Great Brands Do," said there's an irony here.

Taking America's temperature on unions

Jun 14, 2018

(U.S. edition) We might hear from the Supreme Court this morning on Janus v. AFSCME, the largest public employee union in the country. At issue: whether workers covered under a union contract should have to pay some dues, even if they're not in the union. While we wait for the decision we'll talk with Craig Helmstetter from APM Research Lab, which just released a surveyed Americans' opinions on the case.

After Fed rate rise, all eyes shift to the ECB

Jun 14, 2018

(Global Edition) The Federal Reserve delivered on its expected rate rise yesterday, now it’s the European Central Bank’s turn to announce whether it will begin scaling back its financial-crisis era monetary policy efforts. But how much will weaker-than-expected growth in region and political uncertainty threaten that decision? Then, the World Cup kicks off today with Russia taking on Saudi Arabia in the inaugural match. While it’s a big opportunity to grab millions of eyeballs, some of the world’s biggest global brands are sitting on the sidelines.

Tesla gets a reality check

Jun 14, 2018

Earlier this week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that the electric car company would lay off about 3,000 people and work much harder to become profitable. On Wednesday, perhaps in a show of confidence to investors, Musk bought about $25 million worth of Tesla stock. The past few months have been tough for the company. There have been crashes involving Tesla's semi-autonomous mode, battles with investors and attacks on the media over negative coverage. But at the end of the day, Tesla has one thing it needs to accomplish: Make the Model 3 a success.

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