Browsing articles from "July, 2019"

Kentucky Miners Block Railroad In Demand For Pay After Blackjewel Coal Bankruptcy

Jul 31, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Kentucky Miners Block Railroad In Demand For Pay After Blackjewel Coal Bankruptcy

In Kentucky, a group of miners is staging a protest: blocking a railroad. The miners haven’t been paid since Blackjewel filed for bankruptcy, so they’re preventing a coal train from leaving the plant.

Turning The Tables: 8 Women Who Were Fundamental To America’s Sound

Jul 31, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Turning The Tables: 8 Women Who Were Fundamental To America’s Sound

The NPR Music series Turning the Tables enters its third season this week with a new concept: Which eight women were the pillars upon which American popular music was built?

Turning The Tables: 8 Women Who Invented American Popular Music

And Now, In Stray Animal News …

Jul 31, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on And Now, In Stray Animal News …

A New Hampshire cop mistook a bobcat for a stray cat. In Brooklyn, baby ducks fell down a storm grate and had to be rescued. And then there’s the South Carolina package theft with a hairy surprise.

Shark Bites Man; Man Shows Off

Jul 31, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Shark Bites Man; Man Shows Off

Frank O’Rourke was surfing in Jacksonville Beach, Fla., when a shark bit his arm, leaving teeth marks. He made the best of a bloody situation, heading to the bar where folks kept buying him drinks.

A Window Into How We Are Invisibly Connected To One Another

Jul 30, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on A Window Into How We Are Invisibly Connected To One Another

Can a bad mood be contagious? Lulu Miller, from NPR’s Invisibilia podcast, examines one of the ways in which we’re all connected –- whether we realize it or not.

Your Guide To Tonight’s Democratic Presidential Debate

Jul 30, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Your Guide To Tonight’s Democratic Presidential Debate

The Fox Theatre displays signs for the Democratic presidential debates in Detroit this week.

Paul Sancya/AP


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Paul Sancya/AP

The Fox Theatre displays signs for the Democratic presidential debates in Detroit this week.

Paul Sancya/AP

The Democratic presidential candidates take the stage for the second round of debates Tuesday and Wednesday in Detroit. A lot is on the line for the candidates, who have been engaged in back-and-forths over race and health care coming into this round of debates.

On Tuesday, progressives Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren face off for the first time in this campaign. And several other candidates will be scrambling for a breakout night to get back on voters’ minds.

Viewers will also see an odd dynamic onstage — by luck of the draw, all the candidates onstage on Night 1 are white.

So what will people be talking about when it’s all said and done? Here’s a guide to how to watch and what we’re watching.

First, key questions (and answers):

When is the debate?

Tuesday night’s debate begins at 8 p.m. ET. It’s slated to last two hours.

Which candidates are onstage Tuesday night?

In order of their placement onstage, left to right: Spiritualist and author Marianne Williamson; Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio; Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg; Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.; Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.; former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas; former Gov. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo.; former Rep. John Delaney, D-Md.; and Gov. Steve Bullock, D-Mont.

How can I watch?

Tune in to CNN, or listen on Westwood One radio.

Now, here are five questions about what we might see in the debate:

1. Will there be any distinctions drawn between Sanders and Warren?

Warren and Sanders are vying for similar voters interested in taking the U.S. in a more boldly progressive direction on everything from income inequality and social justice to health care and student debt. And Warren has been gaining on Sanders in national polls and has even overtaken him on some state surveys.

The Sanders camp has been clear that Sanders will not go after Warren, because he sees her as an ally in implementing progressive change. But they are competing for the same job, so at some point, that stance will likely have to change if Sanders continues to stagnate in the polls. Whenever he’s asked to critique Warren, Sanders dismisses the question and points to his long friendship and working relationship with her. Asked on CNN to say something nice about her, his response was somewhat muted:

Will the moderators try to get them to draw distinctions on their polices? There are some differences between them, namely on just how far each wants to go in reshaping the country. Warren wants big structural change but not socialism. Sanders is fine embracing that word. There are also some foreign policy differences that have not been exploited yet in this campaign. Warren talks about how defense-industry moneyed interests shouldn’t “own the table”; Sanders has deeper misgivings about how U.S. foreign policy has been conducted over the years and has been hotly critical of Israel, which he has said is being run by a “right wing” and “racist” government.

2. Will some of the air be taken out of Sanders’ sails because Biden isn’t onstage?

Much of Sanders’ criticism in recent weeks has been trained on Biden, who has continued to lead in polls despite a lackluster first debate performance. Sanders has, in fact, likened Biden’s health care plan — centered on the existing Affordable Care Act rather than on a national single-payer health insurance program — to President Trump’s.

Biden Promises No More Mr. Nice Guy In 2nd Democratic Debate

With Biden not on the stage, Sanders is deprived of the chance to swat at Biden face-to-face on that health care plan. His campaign contends that’s not a disappointment. “The truth is, these debates are watched by millions of voters and a great opportunity for every candidate to talk to the American people,” Jeff Weaver, a senior adviser to Sanders, told NPR’s Scott Detrow. “It really doesn’t matter” who debates what night, he added. “The lineup’s not that important.”

Weaver added: “Will he be talking about the important issues that affect people’s lives? Yes, I expect he will be talking about that again. … It’s not as easy to write a news story about the n-e-w-s,” he noted, mocking post-debate analysis, “but the issues he talks about are issues that affect real people’s lives.”

Biden may not be onstage, but several others who back similarly moderate health care overhauls will be, including Klobuchar and Hickenlooper. That’s a dynamic worth watching, especially since both those candidates need boosts.

3. How is race raised?

Though health care may be a prime issue, race has also dominated the run-up to the debates. The odd dynamic, by luck of the draw, is that all the candidates onstage on Night 1 are white. So how does race come up on an all-white stage?

It’s certainly possible, as Buttigieg has been dealing with a controversy over race and police in his hometown, where he’s the mayor. And Warren has certainly put forward a comprehensive plan on racial equality and reducing racial differences in maternal mortality rates, for example.

4. Who breaks out?

Looking at who’s onstage — Klobuchar, Buttigieg and O’Rourke certainly need breakout moments. Klobuchar, who has a quick wit, admitted after the first round of debates that she held back.

“I had to sit back and say, ‘This is the first debate,’ ” the Minnesota senator said afterward on MSNBC. She noted that she would have liked to have talked more about farm policy and Russian election interference.

In A Bitterly Divided Nation, Will Robert Mueller's Testimony Change Any Minds?

After former special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony, perhaps there will be opportunities to talk about what the Trump administration is — or isn’t — doing to stop current and future foreign interference in elections. Either way, these three need to establish themselves for a national audience.

No two candidates saw faster rises and more mediocre weeks and months after those rises than Buttigieg and O’Rourke. The last round of debates really did nothing to help either of them. That’s going to have to change if they want to be seen as serious contenders for the nomination again.

Candidates Kamala Harris and Julián Castro made the most of their first debate performances in Miami, putting them back on the lips of voters in early campaign states. Klobuchar, Buttigieg and O’Rourke need to do the same after these Detroit debates.

Then there’s Montana Gov. Steve Bullock. He was left off the stage in the first round of debates, causing controversy. Bullock has made the case that he has been able to win in a red state where Trump did well — and that those rural, right-leaning voters should not be ignored.

So how does Bullock present that message now that he will be onstage? And does it resonate with a Democratic primary base that has been itching for big, bold change with Trump in office, rather than moving rightward in any way?

5. Without hand-raising, will we get answers that are as clear?

The candidates and Democratic National Committee have mandated that after the first round of debates, there will be no hand-raising questions. That may be because some of the topics that candidates raised their hands to favor have been revealed to not be very popular, according to an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll conducted after the first debates.

The poll tested some of those policies and found, for example, that being in favor of “Medicare for All” as a replacement to the current private health insurance system might be popular with the Democratic base but is unpopular with a general-election electorate — just 41% overall said it is a good idea. Compare that with the 70% who said Medicare as an option while maintaining private health insurance is a good idea.

Being in favor of giving health insurance to immigrants in the U.S. illegally and decriminalizing border crossings are also popular with the base but unpopular with the general-election electorate. So how will the candidates talk about those things? Watch for hedging and equivocation.

Scott Detrow contributed to this report.

LA Jury: Katy Perry’s ‘Dark Horse’ Copied Christian Rapper’s Song

Jul 30, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on LA Jury: Katy Perry’s ‘Dark Horse’ Copied Christian Rapper’s Song

In a unanimous decision Monday, the jury in Los Angeles said Katy Perry’s 2013 hit “Dark Horse” improperly copied the 2009 Christian rap song “Joyful Noise.”

75 Years Ago The U.S. Dollar Became The World’s Currency. Will That Last?

Jul 30, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on 75 Years Ago The U.S. Dollar Became The World’s Currency. Will That Last?

UNITED STATES - AUGUST 08: The Mount Washington Hotel resort, and its reflection, in New Hampshire White Mountains (Photo by Carol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge/Getty Images)

UNITED STATES - AUGUST 08: The Mount Washington Hotel resort, and its reflection, in New Hampshire White Mountains (Photo by Carol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge/Getty Images)

Editor’s note: This is an excerpt of Planet Money’s newsletter. You can sign up here.

In 1944, almost exactly 75 years ago, over 700 representatives from 44 nations traveled to the Mount Washington Hotel, a secluded resort in the mountains of Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. With World War II coming to an end, they arrived to hammer out a new financial system for the global economy.

Last week former U.S. Treasury secretaries, central bankers, economists, and other nerds traveled to it for a conference that took stock of their legacy — the so-called “Bretton Woods” system — and debated its future. We went too.

The Mount Washington hotel is old school, with ornate chandeliers and a moose head hanging in the lobby. Classical music reminds you it’s classy. There are awesome mountain views and a musty, sort of wet-carpet smell. It was grand and luxurious, but it also felt like it was straight out of The Shining.

The Mount Washington hotel is old school, with ornate chandeliers and a moose head hanging in the lobby. Classical music reminds you it’s classy. There are awesome mountain views and a musty, sort of wet-carpet smell. It was grand and luxurious, but it also felt like it was straight out of The Shining.

The Dollar Takes Center Stage

Out of Bretton Woods came the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and, most importantly, a new role for the U.S. dollar: “international reserve currency.” It became the main currency the world uses to trade and save.

Planet Money did a whole episode on the drama at Bretton Woods, and you should totally listen to it.

The United States, which then controlled most of the world’s gold, pledged at Bretton Woods to fix the value of the dollar to gold at $35 an ounce. Other countries then fixed their exchange rate to the dollar, making it the central spoke of the system.

As the U.S. started racking up huge deficits and running out of its gold reserves in the 1960s, the government found it too expensive to maintain the promise. And, so, in 1971, President Nixon arranged a divorce between the dollar and gold. The dollar’s value is now set by a mishmash of political and economic forces, ranging from central bank decisions to the frenetic buying and selling of traders around the world. The original arrangement set at Bretton Woods is long dead, but the dollar still remains the international reserve currency.

The “Exorbitant Privilege”

This special role for the dollar has long made other countries jealous. In the 1960s, the French Minister of Finance Valéry Giscard d’Estaing coined a special term for their contempt: The dollar, he said, had an “exorbitant privilege.”

The United States is privileged in a few important ways under this system. Dollars and dollar-backed securities like U.S. Treasury bonds — which is how the government issues debt — are much more attractive. Many countries, for instance, save by buying U.S. debt. China holds over a trillion dollars of it!

“Now if another country really really wants to hold your debt, that means it’s very easy for you to issue debt,” Greg Kaplan, an economist at the University of Chicago, told us on the South Veranda of the hotel, which has a scenic view of a mountain pass known as Crawford Notch. “Here in the U.S. we have this privilege of being able to issue debt at much lower rates than other countries,” he says. This reduces the pain of deficit spending.

The United States also has the privilege of borrowing in its own currency. If the United States devalues its currency, that means it devalues its debt. There are many reasons we would not want to do this, and it’s not as easy as flipping a switch, but Kaplan says theoretically we could. And though the U.S. does not abuse this position, other countries have a harder time paying their bills than we do. When Argentina, for example, borrows in dollars, it is at the mercy of whichever direction dollars are moving in. Like the federal government, American companies benefit from this system, doing transactions in dollars without having to pay the costs of converting into another currency.

The current arrangement also gives the U.S. government power over the financial system. And, we’ve increasingly used that power to sanction adversaries, like Iran and Russia. Is it any wonder Vladimir Putin has been working to end Russia’s reliance on dollars?

But the “exorbitant privilege” also has a cost, according to Meg Lundsager, the former U.S. executive director at the IMF, who also was at the hotel. She stressed that the U.S. has less power to devalue its currency than it otherwise would. “When there’s a big international role for your currency you lose control over it,” she says. A prime example is during global economic crises, when scared investors come scrambling for U.S. assets in a “flight to safety.” and the dollar, as a result, appreciates. With so much demand for dollars, she says, the dollar is stronger than it would otherwise be. And a stronger dollar means foreign imports are cheaper to US consumers and U.S. exports are more expensive to foreign consumers, which is not great for American manufacturing or our trade deficit.

A New Bretton Woods… In China?

Benn Steil, director of international economics at the Council of Foreign Relations, wrote a book called The Battle of Bretton Woods, which takes you into the drama at the hotel back in 1944. He was also, naturally, at the conference, and he told us his book has sold more copies in Chinese than in English.

“The Chinese love the Bretton Woods story,” Steil says. “They see us here in the United States as being the British of the 1940s,” a declining imperial power facing economic and political problems that threaten its global position. “And they see themselves as being the Americans of the 1940s.”

It’s possible that within the next 50 years, delegates from around the world will convene in a grand hotel in a rural province of China and hammer out a new system that governs the global economy. But, despite fears about China, Steil believes there’s still a lot standing in their way to displace the top dog. At least for now, faith in U.S. institutions, a (relatively) independent Federal Reserve, and sheer inertia make the dollar very hard to dethrone.

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Why Democratic Presidential Candidates Are Eager To Talk About Health Care

Jul 29, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Why Democratic Presidential Candidates Are Eager To Talk About Health Care

Democratic candidates are offering competing visions for how to tweak or overhaul the nation’s health care system ahead of this week’s presidential debate.

Senate Will Try To Override Trump Vetoes On Saudi Arms Deal

Jul 29, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Senate Will Try To Override Trump Vetoes On Saudi Arms Deal

NPR’s Steve Inskeep talks to Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware about the Senate, which will try again to override President Trump’s veto of resolutions blocking his arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

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