Economy & Business

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Federal workers stay mum on Trump and turn to unions

Feb 9, 2017
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Nancy Marshall-Genzer

The election of Donald Trump is bringing lots of changes to Washington — many federal workers are contending with a hiring freeze and limits on what they say to the public. 

It’s very hard to interview federal workers right now, because they’re afraid of getting reprimanded – even fired. The Environmental Protection Agency told employees to send press inquiries to management, and it froze social media activity. The White House said there’s no official gag order. Still, there’s a lot of fear.

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Marketplace

Zenefits, a health insurance broker, is laying off 45 percent of its staff. Buzzfeed's William Alden stopped by to explain the problems plaguing the startup, once valued at over $4.5 billion. Next, we'll play this week's "Silicon Tally" with Spencer Soper, an ecommerce reporter for Bloomberg News. Plus: A few days ago, we asked you to send us sounds from where you live and whether you think they should raise or lower your property value. We'll hear what one Colorado resident had to say.

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Marketplace

Markets are back up because of a statement from Trump reaffirming a campaign promise: tax reform. We'll look at why something like this matters so much to the markets. Next, we'll discuss the president's relationship with public employee unions and then talk about the boost in Saturday Night Live's ratings post-election.

Kristen Hotopp stands in the front yard of her well-worn East Austin home, where she has lived for the past 17 years. She points across the street at an attractive, nearly new, two-story home — by far the nicest on the block.

"There are two units on this lot," Hotopp says. "There's a house in the back that's smaller and a house upfront. We're getting investors descending upon the area and buying up a lot of these properties."

It's hard to find a place in Mexico more transformed by the North American Free Trade Agreement than Tijuana. The border city has exploded in growth since the trade pact was signed in 1993, when about 100 international manufacturing plants dotted the hilly dry landscape. Today, according to Luis Hernández, the current head of INDEX, Tijuana's Maquiladora Association, there are now about 700 multi-national factories making everything from flat screen TVs to trucks to pacemakers

Ask anyone about his or her health care and you are likely to hear about doctors, hospitals, maybe costs and insurance hassles. Most people don't go straight from "my health" to a political debate, and yet that is what our country has been embroiled in for almost a decade.

A study published Thursday tries to set aside the politics to look at what makes or breaks health insurance markets in five states.

Updated at 8 p.m. ET

Kellyanne Conway, a top adviser to President Trump, may have violated federal ethics rules Thursday when she urged shoppers to buy Ivanka Trump's retail brand, following the decision by several retail companies to drop the line because of poor sales.

"Go buy Ivanka's stuff, is what I was [saying] — I hate shopping and I'm going to go get some myself today," Conway said in an interview on Fox & Friends.

IMF issues warning over Greek debt

Feb 9, 2017

The IMF said Greece's debt load has reached unsustainable levels and said it will cut off funding. It's a headache for the European Union, but because Europe has so much else on its mind right now, the Greeks will probably get a pass this time round.

Click the audio player above for the full story.

Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Getting people to change what they eat is tough. Changing a whole farming system is even tougher. The southern Indian state of Karnataka is quietly trying to do both, with a group of cereals that was once a staple in the state: millet.

Until about 40 years ago, like most of India, the people of Karnataka regularly ate a variety of millets, from finger millet (or ragi) to foxtail millet. They made rotis with it, ate it with rice, and slurped it up at breakfast as porridge.

'Lego Batman' producer wants to make everything awesome (again)

Feb 9, 2017
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Kai Ryssdal and Bridget Bodnar

When Dan Lin produced "The Lego Movie" in 2014, he had no idea it would be a surprise super hit that would go on to make almost half a billion dollars worldwide. If his company’s follow-up, "The Lego Batman Movie," does well at the box office like it’s projected to, Warner Brothers could have a lucrative new franchise on its hands. No pressure though. Lin recently spoke with Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal. Below is an edited transcript of their conversation.

With the Dakota Access Pipeline now cleared to cross under a reservoir in the Missouri River, one of the two Native American tribes fighting the pipeline has filed a legal challenge to the plan, according to the Associated Press.

President Trump met with airline executives on Thursday morning and had a message they were happy to hear, vowing to roll back regulations, lower corporate taxes and modernize the air traffic control system.

Trump said his private pilot, "a real expert" and a "smart guy," has told him that the government has been buying the wrong type of equipment in its years-long effort to upgrade the current control system. He said U.S. airports "used to be the best, now they're at the bottom of the rung."

U.S. appeals court refuses to reinstate Trump travel ban

Feb 9, 2017
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Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal appeals court refused Thursday to reinstate President Donald Trump's ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations.

The panel of three judges from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declined to block a lower-court ruling that suspended the ban and allowed previously barred travelers to enter the U.S. An appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is possible.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives Thursday in Washington for talks on Friday with Donald Trump, an effort by this longtime Asian ally to get a better read on the way forward with the unpredictable new U.S. president.

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