KRWG

Business

Please note: Sometimes, NPR publishes headlines before the story and/or audio is ready; check back for content later if this occurs. We also publish national/world news on our home page from AP, BBC, and others.

The U.S. Treasury Department has modified sanctions against Russia, allowing U.S. companies to interact with Russia's domestic intelligence agency, the FSB.

The sanctions were imposed by the Obama administration on Dec. 29 in the wake of Russia's meddling in the U.S. presidential campaign, and were meant to deprive the FSB of access to some technologies.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

For some users, the platform is more important than having a driver's license. They use Facebook to make a living, but they find the rules change often, and the company boots people out without a clear reason or appeals process. As CEO Mark Zuckerberg undertakes his Middle America tour this year, he may have the opportunity to confront the realities of Facebook's economic impact on others.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Just how bad is the state of the nation's highway infrastructure? So bad, tires on FedEx trucks last only half as long as they did 20 years ago, as they deteriorate rapidly from crumbling pavement and get more flats from gaping potholes.

"We're using almost 100 percent more tires to produce the same mileage of transportation," FedEx Chairman and CEO Fred Smith told the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Wednesday. "Why is that? Because the road infrastructure has so many potholes in it, it's tearing up tires faster than before."

They are just three little words — "health savings accounts" — but they are generating a lot of buzz as Republicans contemplate plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Expanding the use of these accounts, based on a long-held conservative view that consumers should be more responsible for their health care spending, is a part of almost every GOP replacement plan under consideration on Capitol Hill.

More than 70 people were arrested on Wednesday afternoon near the proposed route of the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota, as Western lawmakers expressed opposing views on the future of the $3.8 billion project.

America's corporate tax is a mess. Republicans have a plan to fix it. But it will be a tough sell.

The new plan would lower the corporate tax rate, currently one of the highest in the world. And it would change how the tax works on a fundamental level. It's called a border adjustment tax, and it would be a huge tax break to American exporters.

Of course every tax change has winners and losers. The losers under the new tax plan would be any business that imports products. Businesses like Walmart and Target would likely pay more in taxes.

Since taking office, President Trump has stepped away from running his business empire. But in Florida, a federal judge has handed a legal defeat to the organization that bears his name. He ruled that Trump National Jupiter Golf Club must refund members nearly $6 million.

It's a case that began in 2012 when Trump bought the struggling golf club from Marriott Vacations Worldwide. He paid just $5 million, a bargain price. But as part of the deal, he had to assume some $50 million in debt, money owed to members who put down refundable deposits and now wanted out of the club.

Last month, the British Supreme Court dealt Prime Minister Theresa May a small setback in the U.K.'s relentless march toward Brexit, ruling that she would need to seek Parliament's approval before triggering a formal divorce from the European Union.

On Wednesday, Parliament set that march back on course.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

President Trump has gotten his man at the State Department.

Rex Tillerson was approved by a 56-43 vote Wednesday in the Senate. Four senators who caucus with the Democrats crossed the aisle and joined all of the Republicans in voting for Tillerson. They were Democrats Mark Warner of Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, as well as independent Angus King of Maine.

Updated 1:15 p.m. ET

A day after Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee boycotted votes to advance the nominations for President Trump's nominees to lead the departments of the Treasury and Health and Human Services, the panel's Republicans met in a surprise meeting Wednesday morning and voted to suspend committee rules to vote on those nominees without Democrats present.

It's been a tense week for immigrants and people of color throughout the country, but there was some good news in California: a new study by the advocacy group National Council of La Raza points out that the state's Latinos, as a group, are doing much better in many areas.

In the second large consumer settlement related to its diesel emissions scandal, Volkswagen says it will pay around $1.2 billion to help people who bought its vehicles with the larger 3.0-liter diesel engine. The plan includes a buyback as well as a repair program.

Many travelers were detained in airports after President Trump signed an executive order that temporarily prohibits people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. The order caused widespread chaos and confusion at airports as protesters crowded terminals and agencies struggled to interpret the new rules.

Caught in the middle were the airlines, which were not only dealing with passengers denied entry, but with their employees who might violate the travel ban, too.

It was a dramatic market entry for the iPhone 7 last year. Many Apple customers grumbled when Apple took away the headphone jack and gave everyone an adapter to plug earbuds into the Lightning, or charging, connector.

But everyone seems to have adjusted. Apple sold 78 million iPhones over the holiday season.

Updated at 12:15 p.m. ET on Feb. 1

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said Tuesday that the acting secretary of the Army had directed the Corps of Engineers to "proceed with the easement" necessary for construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Imagine that one day you're kicked off Facebook. It happens, regularly. You may not know why exactly. It looks like an algorithm may have done it — and now you need to reach a human being at the company to get back on. NPR has interviewed more than two dozen users in that situation — all people who rely on Facebook to do their work, make their living.

Their stories, which we'll share in a separate article, made us wonder: If you needed to reach Facebook, what would you do?

Many people would go online and search for "Facebook customer service."

President Trump may be breaking many of the rules in Washington, but the tradition of secret-money politics shows no sign of ending anytime soon.

A half-dozen of Trump's campaign aides have formed a nonprofit group called America First Policies to support and promote the president's agenda, The Associated Press reported Monday.

Updated at 1:50 p.m. ET.

Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee boycotted planned votes on Tuesday morning to advance the nominations of two Trump Cabinet nominees.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

An executive order protecting gays and lesbians who work for federal contractors "will remain intact" at President Trump's direction, the White House says. The move could allay concerns that Trump might end recently adopted protections against an anti-LGBTQ workplace.

The White House announced the move in a relatively short statement early Tuesday, saying that the president "is determined to protect the rights of all Americans, including the LGBTQ community."

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now let's hear some American companies that are responding to Friday's temporary ban on immigrants from seven mostly Muslim nations. Here's NPR's Yuki Noguchi.

It's the last day to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

And at Whitman-Walker Health, a community health center near downtown Washington, D.C., people have been streaming in looking for help choosing an insurance plan.

Katie Nicol is a senior manager who oversees the five so-called navigators whose sole job is to help people sign up for insurance coverage.

Short-term health plans have been around for decades, bridging coverage gaps for people who are between jobs or have recently graduated from school, among other things.

After the Affordable Care Act was enacted, some people gravitated toward the short-term plans because they were willing to trade comprehensive coverage for a cheaper sticker price — even if it meant paying a tax penalty for not having the comprehensive coverage required in the law. Sales increased sharply.

Alphabet, the parent company of Google, is among the tech firms that are critical of the Trump administration's executive order barring Muslim immigrants from certain countries. This weekend, Google co-founder Sergey Brin took part in protests at the San Francisco International Airport.

One consequence of Republican gains in the 2016 elections is playing out at the state level where organized labor appears likely to face big setbacks in the coming months.

Within days of convening this month, Kentucky lawmakers passed "right-to-work" legislation that prohibit labor unions from forcing non-union members to pay fees to the union.

It's the 27th state with such laws. State legislatures in Missouri and New Hampshire are also actively debating similar bills that could become law by February.

This is a guest post from WNYC's Note to Self podcast, which explores the effects of technology on our lives. Its week-long Privacy Paradox Project starts on Feb. 6 and you can sign up below or on the WNYC website.

You know how you should behave online. You should have strong passwords. You should think carefully before you post. And you should read the privacy policy before you click "Agree."

Pages