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Proposed trade deals with Asia and Europe have suffered setbacks recently. But Treasury Secretary Jack Lew says he isn't ready to write off the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

In an interview with NPR's Robert Siegel before Lew departs for a Group of 20 meeting in China, Lew acknowledged the anxiety among workers who have felt the impacts of the globalized economy but said the benefits of the trade deals need to be made "more clear."

It's been four years since scientists first started accusing a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids, or neonics for short, of killing bees. These pesticides are used as seed coatings on most corn and soybean seeds.

Inside a sprawling warehouse just outside downtown Los Angeles, a line of seamstresses sew high-end blouses.

This city is still the garment capital of the U.S. even though it employs a fraction of the workers it once did. Since 1990, the number of U.S. apparel manufacturing jobs has fallen by 80 percent.

"The charts and the statistics are really frightening," says Ilse Metchek, head of the California Fashion Association.

"I'm not comfortable eating a watch battery." That's how researcher Christopher Bettinger describes one of the biggest obstacles for sending tiny medical robots into the human body for diagnosing and treating diseases.

These devices run on batteries (like those in watches) and they are usually made of toxic materials such as lithium.

The first commercial flight from the U.S. to Cuba in more than half a century landed in the Cuban city of Santa Clara, marking another milestone in the thawing relationship between the two countries.

The inaugural trip was a JetBlue flight from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that took off Wednesday morning bound for Abel Santamaria International Airport in central Cuba. And as NPR's Scott Horsley tells our Newscast unit, two Cuban-American pilots were at the controls.

The extended drought in California has farmers looking for ways to use less water. Among them: growing feed indoors using hydroponics. The new diet is making some Central Valley sheep very happy.

On Golden Valley Farm an hour north of Fresno, Mario Daccarett's employees milk 500 sheep every day, in rounds of 12. This creamy milk eventually is turned into cheese and sold at places like Whole Foods.

"They tell me that our Golden Ewe cheese is the best for grilled cheese sandwich ever," Daccarett says. (I bought some and it was really tasty.)

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Maria Diaz sorts green bell peppers along an outdoor conveyor belt on a farm 25 miles west of Sacramento, discarding leaves and stems quickly before peppers are swept away by a mini-roller coaster onto a tractor-trailer.

Diaz, a single parent of three, is one of roughly 800,000 farmworkers in California. Under a bill recently passed by the California Legislature, Diaz could collect overtime pay.

Diaz says growers should pay overtime after eight hours. She adds that those extra earnings would help her cover child care.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The idea of black capitalism goes back many decades. Civil rights activists Booker T. Washington and Marcus Garvey advocated African-Americans creating and doing business with their own to build wealth in their community.

This summer, the killings of black men and the Black Lives Matter movement rekindled campaigns to #BuyBlack and #BankBlack — but it's a call some supporters find difficult to heed.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The European Union's executive branch has found that Ireland granted unfair and illegal tax breaks to the tech giant Apple, and ruled that Apple now owes more than $14.5 billion in back taxes.

The commissioner in charge of competition policy, Margrethe Vestager, says that under EU rules, "Member states cannot give tax benefits to selected companies."

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The battle of the Joes isn't over yet.

On one hand, you have Trader Joe's — the U.S. grocery chain with a bit of a cult following for its quirky, exclusive products.

On the other hand, you have Pirate Joe's — the Canadian "gray market" grocery shop that sells Trader Joe's goods picked up in America and trucked across the border to Vancouver. There, at a significant markup, they're sold to Trader Joe's enthusiasts who don't fancy the thought of a border-crossing grocery run.

We are in "one of the most dramatic periods of change in the history of transportation," says Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

He was talking about all of it: the self-driving cars, the smart-city movement, the maritime innovations. But the staggering prediction of the day goes to the drone industry:

The Federal Aviation Administration expects some 600,000 drones to be used commercially within a year.

Donald Trump's presidential campaign is going into five more states with a new $10 million television ad buy. It's the largest for the Trump campaign so far, which has been relatively slow to invest in TV ads, relying instead on free media coverage and the Republican nominee's large social media following.

Treatment for life-threatening allergic reactions is about to get a little cheaper.

Mylan, the maker of the EpiPen, said Monday that it will launch a generic version of the device for half the price of the brand-name product.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Talks aimed at setting up a U.S.-European free trade zone have run aground because of intransigence on Washington's part, a top German politician said Sunday.

"In my opinion the negotiations with the United States have de facto failed even though nobody is really admitting it," said Sigmar Gabriel, German vice chancellor and economy minister, in an interview with the broadcaster ZDF on Sunday.

A year ago, as Germany opened its borders to a surge of migrants and refugees, Chancellor Angela Merkel said,"Wir schaffen das" -- "We can do it." More than a million asylum seekers arrived in Germany last year, and they're eligible to start working after three months.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

Ah, 2012. You seem so long ago.

Back then, the economy was the star of the presidential election season, with more than 9 in 10 voters ranking it as Issue No. 1.

Voters worried about scarce jobs, expensive gasoline and a huge federal deficit.

You Think You Know Me, Facebook, But You Don't Know Anything

Aug 28, 2016

How well does Facebook know you? To the amusement — and possibly relief — of many, the answer seems to be not as well as it might hope.

A recent New York Times article highlighted a new feature on the social media network that allows users to see what interests Facebook thinks they have, and what advertisements might be generated to target those preferences.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

What's in a name?

The Chicago White Sox, mired in in the middle of the American League Central division, announced this week they've signed a 13 year deal to rename the park where they play Guaranteed Rate Field.

Guaranteed Rate is a home loan company, headquartered in Chicago.

But as Rick Morrisey wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times, "Guaranteed Rate Field. You're kidding, right? Was Year End Clearance Sale Stadium already taken?"

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

It has 13 decks, eight restaurants, a casino and a spa. Staterooms start at about $20,000 and run as high as $120,000.

And it's about to journey through the Northwest Passage.

The Crystal Serenity is the largest cruise ship to navigate from Alaska to New York City, by way of the Arctic Ocean. And as climate change opens up the top of the world, it may be just the first taste of what's to come.

Episode 721: Unbuilding A City

Aug 26, 2016

Shrinking cities have a problem: Millions of abandoned, falling-apart houses. Often, knocking them down is the best solution. But it can be remarkably hard to do that.

On today's show, we visit a single block in Baltimore and figure out why it's so hard to knock down buildings — even when everybody wants them gone.

When the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau looked into the Mississippi-based regional bank BancorpSouth, it didn't just review thousands of loan applications. It sent in undercover operatives — some white, some black — who pretended to be customers applying for loans.

"They had similar credit scores and similar background and situations," says CFPB Director Richard Cordray. "Our investigation had found that BancorpSouth had engaged in illegal redlining in Memphis, meaning refusing to lend into specific areas of the city."

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