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AT&T's $85.4-billion bid to buy Time Warner is now official, facing what's expected to be a tough regulatory review, given the reach and impact of the telecom and the media behemoths.

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Updated at 10 p.m.

AT&T has announced it's buying Time-Warner in a cash-and-stock deal worth more than $85 billion, uniting one of the country's largest communications companies with a major content provider.

The deal was formally approved by the boards of both companies on Saturday.

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If you're a video game aficionado of sorts, or even if you simply missed the memo entirely, it's no secret that actress Jennifer Hale has an extensive resume within the gaming industry.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Episode 731: How Venezuela Imploded

Oct 21, 2016

Things are pretty bad right now in Venezuela. Grocery stores don't have enough food. Hospitals don't have basic supplies, like gauze. Child mortality is spiking. Businesses are shuttering.

It's one of the epic economic collapses of our time. And it was totally avoidable.

Venezuela used to be a relatively rich country. It has just about all the economic advantages a country could ask for: beautiful beaches and mountains ready for tourism, fertile land good for farming, an educated population, and oil, lots and lots of oil.

Hackers have attacked a major Internet infrastructure company, causing intermittent disruptions Friday to websites and services including Twitter, Reddit, Spotify and Airbnb.

The victim of the attack is a New Hampshire-based company called Dyn (pronounced "dine"). It might not be a household name, but Dyn is one of the companies that sit between you and some of the biggest websites and services — and help make sure that when you type in a Web address, your traffic is properly routed.

Cybersecurity has plagued this presidential election like no other in U.S. history. Earlier this week, the Obama administration indicated its plans to retaliate against Russia, in some way, for cyberattacks. Hacking came up, again, in the final presidential debate. Yet neither candidate is offering a roadmap for what to do on aggression, or how to handle foreign hackers.

A group of teenage girls in school uniforms giggle as they share crepes topped with candy and chocolate sauce and oozing hazelnut Nutella. It's a Saturday afternoon and the girls are at the new Nutella shop in Jerusalem's Shuafat Palestinian refugee camp.

The scene is rare in this densely populated and impoverished urban camp. The potholed street outside the café is tense and crowded, as a group of little Palestinian schoolboys fight alongside zigzagging traffic.

Former Wells Fargo employees tell NPR that managers at the bank retaliated against them for calling the company's ethics line and pushing back against reckless sales practices. They say the bank fired them or pushed them to resign and then, in effect, put a scarlet letter on their permanent record that has damaged their careers and prevented them from getting hired by other banks.

Another pharmaceutical company is coming under fire for boosting the price of one of its drugs. Two lawmakers are demanding to know the justification for a more than $80,000 price hike for a year's supply of a drug that treats leukemia patients.

As NPR's Alison Kodjak reports:

"The drug is called Iclusig and it was approved in 2012 to treat a subset of patients with chronic myeloid leukemia.

Tesla has begun equipping all its new cars with self-driving hardware. Elon Musk, Tesla's CEO, tweeted Wednesday night that the new Tesla drives itself with no human input, using eight cameras, 12 ultrasonars, and radar. All this hardware is mounted so the technology is not visible to drivers.

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Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, you may have seen ads urging you to vote "no" on a grocery tax. "Don't Tax Our Groceries" is the tagline of the $9.5 million campaign, which is funded by the American Beverage Association.

In one ad, the camera pans to images of tomatoes and beans, as a local business owner says, "The grocery tax is going to hurt my customers."

But here's the thing. There's no grocery tax on the ballot.

As Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton shook hands with moderator Chris Wallace and greeted their families after the end of Wednesday night's presidential debate, the broadcast hosts delivered their verdict.

"All six of the 15-minute segments — total home runs for him," said Cliff Sims. "I think this was really the performance that Donald Trump needed to grab that momentum going toward the election."

His co-host, Boris Epshteyn, agreed: "He prosecuted the case against Hillary Clinton perfectly."

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Episode 730: Self Checkout

Oct 19, 2016

Howard Schneider was a doctor treating psychiatric patients in the ER when he decided to transform the grocery store experience. He set out to invent the self checkout machine.

Some parts of the design were pretty straightforward, like reading barcodes and taking payments. Other things, it turned out, were not so easy. Like figuring out when people are stealing. Schneider solves these problems. Or at least makes a machine that's good enough to use. In 1992, he eventually convinces a grocery store to install the machines. The result? Angry shoppers.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris has launched an investigation into allegations that Wells Fargo & Co. engaged in criminal identity theft when the bank created millions of accounts without customer consent, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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Generic drugs generally cost 80 percent less than brand-name drugs, so hopes were high when a law enacted in 2010 paved the way for competition among the highest-priced drugs of all, known as biologics.

But, as these competing drugs start to appear on the market, consumers aren't reaping a windfall.

Saudi Arabia has raised more than $17 billion in its first foray into the global bond markets, according to news reports, as the kingdom struggles to close a budget deficit caused by declining oil prices.

The sale is the largest-ever bond offering by an emerging-market country, topping Argentina's $16.5 billion offering in August.

"Saudi's multi-part debt offering drew heavy investor demand as the world's top oil exporter sought to borrow at historic low yields," Reuters reported.

Many travelers have resigned themselves to paying $25 or more to check a bag when flying. But that fee becomes especially onerous when the bag doesn't show up on the carousel at baggage claim.

The White House is proposing a new rule that would require airlines to refund the checked baggage fee if luggage is "substantially delayed," though it does not define "substantially."

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The unemployment rate for transgender people is double that of the general population. Now, California has set up the nation's first ever large-scale program to help transgender people find jobs.

And it's all because of Michaela Mendelsohn, a trans woman who's employed trans people at her restaurants for years.

'I'm A Trans Owner Supporting Trans People'

The U.S Advisory Council on Human Trafficking issued its first-ever report on Tuesday. This group was founded last year when President Obama appointed 11 people, all of whom are survivors of human trafficking themselves, to run the council.

Like most farmers, Mark Nelson, who grows corn, soybeans and wheat near Louisburg, Kan., is getting squeezed. He's paying three times more for seed than he used to, while his corn sells for less than half what it brought four years ago.

"It's a – that's a challenge," Nelson says. "You're not going to be in the black, let's put it that way."

Low commodity prices are rippling up and down the farm-economy food chain — from the farm to the boardroom — and it has many of the huge companies that control farm inputs looking to a new future.