News and features from American Public Media and Public Radio International.

Ways to Connect

Tesla is synonymous with Elon Musk. Is that a problem?

Jul 19, 2018

Tesla CEO Elon Musk apologized this week not only to the cave diver involved in the recent rescue in Thailand, who Musk insulted, but also to the people who work for Musk. After months of erratic behavior swinging Tesla’s stock price, investors are worried about the visionary founder’s temperament.

(U.S. Edition) The Senate is voting today on Trump's pick to head the IRS (Charles Rettig), which comes during a week when the agency is getting blowback for a new policy. We'll discuss the rule, which says that certain types of nonprofits will no longer have to disclose their big donors. Afterwards, we'll look at how Tesla investors are getting worried about CEO Elon Musk's temperament, and then we'll talk to MIT economics professor David Autor about current trade tensions.

How the American brand is faring on the global stage

Jul 19, 2018

The U.S. has a certain brand image globally. That brand will be different to each person, but the way that brand appears is important for businesses abroad. 

Is Watson enough to carry IBM?

Jul 19, 2018

IBM reported earnings Wednesday. Most revenue came from cloud services, security and data analytics. Less impressive was its Cognitive Solutions department, which includes artificial intelligence, mostly under the brand of the "Jeopardy"-winning supercomputer Watson. Brandon Purcell, an analyst with Forrester, said IBM is selling artificial intelligence as a service through what’s called an API — application programming interface — which lets companies license the power of Watson and build their own tools on top of it, like digital assistants or in-house analysis tools.

Is Watson enough to carry IBM?

Jul 19, 2018

IBM reported earnings Wednesday. The company has been on a long turnaround path, focusing its business on cloud services, security and data analytics. It’s also investing in artificial intelligence, mostly under the brand of the "Jeopardy"-winning supercomputer Watson. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talks to Brandon Purcell, an analyst with Forrester, about the profit potential of artificial intelligence for IBM and other tech companies. (07/19/2018)

Is Kathy Kraninger qualified to run the CFPB?

Jul 18, 2018

The Senate Banking Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing Thursday on Kathleen Kraninger, President Donald Trump's nominee to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The nomination is controversial because Kraninger has no consumer finance experience. Her work has been at the Office of Management and Budget, helping oversee homeland security. And her tenure there raises other questions.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

You know the old saying "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"? About a decade ago, the Obama administration tried applying that to the fight against climate change. Federal agencies were required to assess the future damages of carbon emissions as part of cost-benefit calculations — the kind they need to do before passing new regulations.

President Donald Trump has mostly rolled back the requirement, but researchers are even now working on a better way to calculate what’s known as the social cost of carbon.

In recent years, the model for US recycling has been to send it overseas to China. China gets a raw material worth money; the US gets rid of its rubbish. 

But since the start of this year, China has been refusing to take contaminated recycling, forcing communities across the US, like Lynn, Massachusetts, to quickly take action.

The European Commission on Wednesday fined Google $5 billion over charges that prepackaging apps on its Android operating system for phones and other devices had stifled competition. Google denies the claim and plans to appeal, but the fine may have larger implications for the tech industry beyond Google. The move is the latest example of the European Union taking action to rein in a sector that has been largely free of regulations in the U.S. and elsewhere, analysts tell Marketplace.

It took a long time for Andrea Valobra to realize something basic about her culture. She grew up knowing that women were expected to do certain duties that men didn’t have to do, like cleaning and cooking. But she didn’t understand the full extent of the machismo culture until she was in her teens.

Her first boyfriend raped her. Another hit and choked her.

She says her family explained it away.

"'He likes you, so he will rape you,'" she says. "'He loves you too much and that is why he has to control your phone.'"

Data out today from the Department of Commerce gives us our latest indication that the housing market may be slowing. Housing starts, a statistic that charts when construction begins on the foundation of a new building intended primarily for residential use, declined in June from the month before. Residential building permits also dropped last month.

Got a cold or the flu? Think twice about antibiotics

Jul 18, 2018

A new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine has found urgent care centers are prescribing antibiotics to nearly half of patients with colds or the flu. Generally antibiotics are effective against bacterial infections like pneumonia. Antibiotics do not work to treat viral infections, like the flu and colds.

When antibiotics can become a problem

Jul 18, 2018

(Markets Edition) The construction of new homes in the U.S. plunged in June, according to data out today. We'll chat with Susan Schmidt, senior vice president at Westwood Holdings Group, about how much of a cause for concern this is. Afterwards, we'll discuss a new study that finds urgent care centers are prescribing antiobiotics to nearly half of patients with colds or the flu, which could actually end up harming patients.

The California Lottery is breaking sales records. This year, revenues will soar to an estimated $6.9 billion. The recent boom has been fueled by a wave of gigantic jackpots. Newer games like Powerball and a $30 scratch ticket offer huge prizes, and California's lottery players have responded by gambling more and more. Surging revenue should be good news for the state's schools, the lottery's only beneficiary.

Last week, comedian Mohammad “Mo” Amer sat next to Eric Trump on a flight. He told him: "I’m not going to get a Muslim ID number. Bullshit. I’m not doing it."

Perhaps, for some Muslims in America, his response provided some relief. According to Amer, President-elect Donald Trump's third child said:

“That’s not gonna happen. Come on man, you can’t believe everything that you read.”

The order you were born can have an impact on how successful you are in life, according to Sandra Black, an economics professor at the University of Texas at Austin.

In her research, Black has found that first-born children tend to do better than their younger siblings when it comes to education and earnings. After the first-born, there's a declining pattern by birth order, with the second-born doing "a little bit worse than the first-born" and so on, she says. 

(U.S. Edition) The European Commission is set to fine Google a record $5 billion over antitrust practices related to its Android system. We'll explore what this ruling could mean for the way Google operates. Afterwards, we'll discuss why MGM is planning to sue some of the victims in last October's mass shooting in Las Vegas. Plus: We'll explore the economics of birth order with economics professor Sandra Black. She talked to us about evidence that shows first-born children tend to better when it comes to earnings and education.

The European Union’s antitrust chief has fined Google a record $5 billion for abusing the market dominance of its Android mobile phone operating system.

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service … European regulators have accused the internet search giant of abusing the dominant position of its Android smartphone system. We explain the implications of the European Union's move. Then, it’s a golden moment for a couple of regions in Africa. Until a few days ago, you couldn’t even make a phone call between Ethiopia and Eritrea. But after two decades of tensions, passenger flights are resuming between the two countries. Finally, where in Africa can you get faster internet speeds than London or Toronto? We reveal all.

Your birth order could have an effect on your future earnings

Jul 18, 2018

We’re sorry, younger siblings: there's a good chance your older brother or sister will end up making more than you and perform better in school.

An article by economics professor Sandra Black in the National Bureau of Economic Research highlights the effects that birth order can have on someone's outcome in life. 

How to be a social media star for a living

Jul 18, 2018

Research from Google says 70 percent of teenage YouTube subscribers say they relate more to online creators than traditional celebrities. According to the research firm L2, 70 percent of companies use social media influencers to market products. As part of our series on the creator economy, Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talked to Troy Solomon, who has more than 45,000 Instagram followers for his verified account A Bear Named Troy. (07/18/2018)

How to be a social media star for a living

Jul 18, 2018

According to numbers from Google Research, 70 percent of teenage YouTube subscribers say they relate to online creators more than traditional celebrities. The research firm L2 says 70 percent of companies use influencers for marketing. That often means deals with social media stars, who fill their fun-looking social feeds with brokered brand placements.

U.S. risks isolation as other countries sign trade pacts

Jul 17, 2018

Tuesday in Tokyo, the European Union and Japan inked a fresh trade pact that will eliminate most of the tariffs between them. The EU has been a busy bee on the trade front. It recently agreed to a new deal with Mexico, and a new one with Canada is now up and running. It’s in talks with Australia and New Zealand. Lots of countries are forging new trade agreements with each other, with one notable exception: the United States.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

73: Bitcoin IRL

Jul 17, 2018

We've told you about other wild uses for blockchain technology besides bitcoin: mortgages, weddings and more. Now it's time to go down the cryptocurrency rabbit hole — or maybe the bitcoin mineshaft? Joon Ian Wong is managing editor at cryptocurrency news site CoinDesk. He takes us back to his reporting for Quartz on a bitcoin mine in Inner Mongolia, which is both a  very real place and yet very unlike other types of mines. Then, all of you tell us where you've seen bitcoin (and bitcoin scams?) in the real world.

"Generation Wealth" is about more than money

Jul 17, 2018

For 25 years, Lauren Greenfield has been taking pictures and making movies about extremes. In “Thin,” she chronicled women with anorexia.

What's carbon really cost?

Jul 17, 2018

Under the Trump administration, federal agencies are no longer required to determine the financial costs of climate change, so a group of scientists have stepped up to the plate. We'll talk about that project and what it can tell us about the real-world cost of carbon. Plus: Amid rising tensions with the United States, Japan and the European Union have struck a new trade deal with each other. Then: We'll talk with Lauren Greenfield about her new film “Generation Wealth."

Giulnara Asanova and her husband remember when they decided to leave Crimea. 

"We sat down at the table and decided what to do," she says, speaking Russian through a translator. "We decided to save our children, save our grandchildren. We saw the tanks, we saw weapons and military.” 

That was in 2014.

Meet Goldman Sachs' new CEO: DJ D-Sol

Jul 17, 2018

(Markets Edition) Fed Chair Jerome Powell is set to begin two days of testimony on Capitol Hill, and investors are watching closely. We'll talk to Gabriela Santos — global market strategist with JP Morgan Funds — about what we should expect. Afterwards, we'll discuss Goldman Sachs' new CEO, David Solomon, and why the news is so significant, and then we'll explore the growing problems restaurants have in finding enough staffing.

On Wednesday, we get second-quarter earnings from Alcoa, the major aluminum manufacturer. And that may offer clues about how the escalating trade battle is playing out for domestic manufacturers and workers now that tariffs on aluminum and steel are a reality. The United States is now charging 10 percent tariffs on imported aluminum from Canada, the European Union and other countries. This puts Alcoa’s U.S.-made aluminum at a competitive advantage in the domestic market. But it may not help reopen aluminum plants that were already shuttered, thanks in part to low-cost foreign competition.

The National Restaurant association projects that sales will grow by 4 percent this year. Celebrity chefs and Instagram foodie streams all point to an industry on the upswing. But staffing restaurants isn’t easy these days. Susan Spicer runs three restaurants in New Orleans, and says this is in part because her industry gets a bad rap — long hours, little pay, substance abuse, harassment. She spends a lot of time fighting that image, but still has trouble finding people to work for her.