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Ways to Connect

Much of the physical makeup of the internet lies on the ocean floor in the form of fiber optic cables that snake between continents. They’re what allow you to send email or Facebook messages to friends around the world. But just like roads get clogged with traffic, these information highways are starting to get clogged, too. An ambitious initiative out of Finland is underway to solve the problem by laying a new route through the one body of water still largely untouched by sea cables: the Arctic Ocean. (09/26/18)

A melting Arctic could be key to faster global internet

Sep 26, 2018

Ever wonder how an email gets from a friend in Europe to your inbox? Or a Facebook message gets to you from a cousin in Asia?

How Michael Ovitz shifted Hollywood's balance of power

Sep 25, 2018

"Jurassic Park," "Shindler’s List," "Rain Man" and "Ghostbusters" are all movies that might never have been made were it not for a guy named Michael Ovitz. He grew up over the hills from Hollywood in the San Fernando Valley, started working in the entertainment business giving studio tours on Universal's back lot while he was still in high school and eventually became one of the most powerful people in Hollywood. CAA, the talent agency he co-founded and ran for 20 years is still a force in the industry, representing Hollywood A-listers like Meryl Streep, George Clooney and Tom Hanks.

Novartis moves away from mass-market drugs

Sep 25, 2018

Drugmaker Novartis announced it's cutting more than 2,000 jobs — most of them in Europe — as part of a global restructuring. The company plans to focus on producing and selling more innovative drugs, but these specified medicines require lots of research and carry higher price tags.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

You don’t have to travel Washington, D.C. or peruse some 838 miles of shelves to visit the Library of Congress.

Among the library’s 167 million items are rare books, photographs, historical recordings, baseball cards and even some human hair. Thousands of elements are added every day and millions of entries can be viewed online. 

“It’s a treasure chest,” said Carla Hayden, the current librarian of Congress,  on this week’s Make Me Smart. “It’s the ultimate in terms of a library.”

83: The Sanctuary of Smart

Sep 25, 2018

This is a really special episode, folks. We're talking with Carla Hayden, the Librarian of Congress. She's the first woman and the first African-American to hold the job, presiding over some 167 million items in the Library. It  may just be the least-partisan part of Congress, an invaluable public resource that endures in an age of polarization and misinformation. We'll talk with Hayden about some of the important, obscure and wild stuff held in that building, and online, and how she's working to keep the Library relevant and useful for a new generation.

Jane Faye was early in her transition from male to female when she was accosted before entering the women's changing area. It was a Saturday morning, and she was getting ready to step into the pool with her then 5-year-old son. A man appeared out of nowhere and threatened her.

“This man just hogged the way. And said, 'You're not going in there.' And I said, "Why not?" And he just said, 'Well, I'm going to hit you if you do,'” said Faye, who lives north of London. 

Kids shriek with oblivion as they play the “Big Bad Wolf” in one of the many migrant shelters in the dusty border city of Tapachula, Mexico, which has become a hub for Central Americans fleeing their countries. Their parents watch on with concerned faces, trying to map out their next steps.

Maciel García, 25, stands off to the side with her 3-year-old daughter, Kayssee. She’s a shy girl with chubby cheeks who’s grabbing onto her mother’s leg with one hand and holding a small video player with the other, watching cartoons.

She was 23 and not allowed to work in 2005 when she first came to the United States. Now 36, Archana Vaidyanathan is interviewing with major technology firms in Northern California to see if her expertise is still in demand.

Vaidyanathan holds an H-4 visa, given to family of those who come to the US with H-1B visas, sponsored by employers. The Department of Homeland Security filed an update in federal court on Aug. 20 that a new rule to rescind the right to work for spouses of H-1B visa holders is in its final stages of “clearance review.”

Running for office? Perfect the art of the ask

Sep 25, 2018

The midterms are just weeks away and for many first-time candidates, the election will signal not only the end of the campaign, but the end of a crash course in how to run for office. And how to ask for money.

(Markets Edition) The European Union announced a system that lets companies buy things from Iran, a payments-through-bartering system that’s called the “Special Purpose Vehicle.” We ask how this fits in with talk surrounding economic sanctions. Also, the Federal Reserve is meeting Tuesday and Wednesday to talk about the economy and the cost of borrowing.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is scheduled to meet Tuesday in New York with trade officials from the European Union and Japan. It’s the fourth meeting they’ve held in the past year, all in an effort to join forces against Chinese trade practices they say are unfair.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

(U.S. Edition) Trade officials from the European Union and Japan are slated to meet up with U.S. trade rep Robert Lighthizer in an effort to band together against what they call unfair Chinese trade practices. Also, while the numbers show a strong overall economy, data is also showing that housing sales could be slowing down.

European Union helps Iran evade U.S. sanctions

Sep 25, 2018

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service ... The EU is setting up a payment system that will allow businesses to continue trading with Iran, after U.S. sanctions are reintroduced. A 48-hour general strike has started in Argentina, as people protest huge cuts in public spending – which the government agreed to in exchange for a $50 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund to help out with the country's economic woes. Finally, India has rolled out a multi-billion dollar health insurance system that will provide cover for almost half of its population.

Ray Dalio discusses the anatomy of the debt cycle

Sep 25, 2018

Ray Dalio is the founder of Bridgewater Associates, the world's largest hedge fund. He predicted the 2008 financial crisis a year earlier and Bridgewater can be counted as one of the survivors of that crisis. He recently released a new book, titled "A Template for Understanding Big Debt Crises," in which he touches upon the symptomatic and historic nature of debt cycles and explains how a better understanding of how these cycles function can work in our favor.

Searching the web is one of the most revealing things you can do. It shows what you're looking to buy, where you want to go and if you're worried about a weird rash. When you search Google, those searches help power its huge digital advertising networks, which is why you might see skin cream ads for that rash days later on a totally different website. But do people know how much information they're giving up? And do they care? Recently, a privacy-oriented search engine called DuckDuckGo raised $10 million from a Canadian pension fund. It's trying to establish itself as the anti-Google. 

Searching the web is one of the most revealing things you can do. It shows what you're looking to buy, where you want to go and if you're worried about a weird rash. When you search Google, those searches help power its huge digital advertising networks, which is why you might see skin cream ads for that rash days later, on a totally different website. But do people know how much information they're giving up? And do they care? Molly Wood looks at search engine DuckDuckGo - the “anti-Google” - and growing investment in it. (09/24/18)

Fatoumata Diawara is on a mission with her music. In a newly released video for her song “Bonya,” the Malian-born musician says we all need and deserve respect.

The video, featured above, was directed by Juan Gomez at Montuno. “Bonya” features a range of influences from 1960s R&B and is laced with sounds from the West African kora.

When Dave McNeer opened Sunday’s Des Moines Register and saw a four-page advertising supplement paid for by the Chinese government, he shrugged it off. The ad provided China’s perspective about the ongoing trade war between the US and China.

Iowa farmers' trade war reality

Sep 24, 2018

Farmers in Iowa are caught in the crossfire of the trade war. China and Canada were once two of the best customers of the state, a large exporter of soybeans, corn, eggs and pork. But, with retaliatory tariffs from the Chinese on pork and soybeans, farmers are having a hard time financing next year’s harvest. And with no Canadian trade deal in sight, competition with Mexico could be tough. Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal spoke with Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig about the toughest challenges facing Iowan farmers. The following an edited transcript of their conversation.

What happens when politics takes a starring role

Sep 24, 2018

Michael Moore’s latest documentary, "Fahrenheit 11/9" opened over the weekend at about 1,700 theaters nationwide. The film, chronicling the rise of President Donald Trump, brought in $3.1 million at the box office, far below expectations.

Barranquitas, a rural region of 30,000 people in central Puerto Rico, gets its name from the terrain. Barranca roughly translates to ravine or gully, and the steep slopes here meant the area was especially hard-hit by Hurricane Maria.

Countless landslides blocked roads for weeks. Streets weren’t completely cleared of mud and debris until long after green returned to the lush valleys, three months after the hurricane.

Mergers Monday

Sep 24, 2018

We're starting the week with two big mergers in the headlines: SiriusXM is buying the streaming music pioneer Pandora, and American fashion company Michael Kors is expected to buy Versace, the Italian fashion house. Those deals have more in common than you might think. Then, speaking of bilateral deals, Iowa's agriculture secretary wants the United States to "re-engage" in trade talks with China, Canada and Mexico, which are some of farmers' biggest customers. We talked with him about how his state is feeling the trade war. Plus: Why you should buy art from women.

The need for SNAP is moving to the countryside

Sep 24, 2018

(Markets Edition) The Trump Administration announced that it wants to make it tougher for legal immigrants to get permanent residency, which includes wanting non-cash programs to weigh against granting green cards. Also in public assistance, Congress is working on the massive farm bill, which includes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). We look at how the need for SNAP is actually moving to more rural areas. Then, OPEC members met over the weekend and decided not to boost oil pumping. What does that mean going forward?

Food aid need shifts from cities to countryside

Sep 24, 2018

Congress is working on the farm bill, a huge piece of legislation renewed every five years. The largest part of it — 80 percent — is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, what we used to call food stamps. Since the late 1970s, lawmakers have placed the nutrition program into the farm package hoping to get both urban and rural support. But that thinking might be outdated: Government data show a higher percentage of people in rural areas and small towns used SNAP than the rate in cities.

Alberto Rodríguez has designed an impressive power system for his home in Puerto Rico. A wind turbine and solar panels lead to batteries that are then converted to power for the home.

But Rodríguez isn't trying merely to keep the lights on — he's trying to keep his wife, Mirella, alive. Mirella suffered a stroke about a month after Hurricane Maria came ashore last year. Maria knocked out power to their home, and so if Mirella was to come home from the hospital, Rodríguez had to find a way to generate a stable power supply.

So he did.

A new IPO signals the rise of the hot pot industry

Sep 24, 2018

(U.S. Edition) Congress and the White House are nearing the Oct. 1 deadline for an agreement on a budget for the new fiscal year. But Congress is putting off some of the more contentious decisions, which include money for a border wall. Could a government shutdown be coming? Also, Airbnb has asked the SEC to let it pay people who rent out their places using Airbnb stock. Then, we move to food, where hot pot eateries are rising in popularity to the point where a Chinese chain is going public on the Hong Kong exchange.

Anti-U.S. sentiment in China rises with tariffs

Sep 24, 2018

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service … Taxes on Chinese imports into the U.S. are implemented Monday. We hear from China, where young peoples' anti-U.S. sentiment is fueled by fears of what the tariffs mean for China's U.S.-reliant industries. Randgold and Barrick – two of the biggest names in gold mining – have merged to create a multibillion dollar company. The World Health Organization (WHO) has advertised its first paid internship after a long campaign by one of its alumni, now 29 years old.

It used to be that stories of tech companies breaking all the rules and fighting city hall were considered sexy. But right now we’re having conversations with more suspicion about things like unproven driverless technology, online advertising, unstoppable data collection and automation. Yet, here with a defense of tech’s disruptive mentality is Bradley Tusk. He's a political operative turned tech consultant who has a new book called “The Fixer.” It’s full of pirate stories of him helping heroic startups like Uber work around innovation-killing politicians and their rules.

It used to be that stories of tech companies breaking all the rules and fighting city hall were considered sexy. But right now we’re having conversations with more suspicion about things like unproven driverless technology, online advertising, unstoppable data collection and automation. Here with a defense of tech’s disruptive mentality is Bradley Tusk, a political operative turned tech consultant who has a new book called “The Fixer.” It’s full of pirate stories of him helping heroic startups, like Uber, work around innovation-killing politicians and their rules.

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