National / International News
The Swiss Franc is the sixth most-traded currency on the planet, and it exploded in value this morning by 15 percent.
That's because the Swiss National Bank surprised just about everyone when it stopped trying to control the currency. It had been holding the currency down in value starting in 2011 during the eurozone crisis. Investors at the time, fleeing the instability of the euro, sought to put their money in Switzerland. That bid up the price of Swiss francs, hurting exporters.
The Swiss National Bank had printed nearly half a trillion Swiss francs in its effort to buy up other currencies and devalue the franc. The bank called it quits without explaining its decision. Perhaps it was concerns over inflation or public pressure, or fears that all the investments it was making were exposing it to undue risk. Whatever the reason, the effect was immediate.
California is seen as an Obamacare success story. But tens of thousands of people in the northern part of the state have only one insurer available on the health plan exchange.
Is the U.S. gaining or losing ground in its bombing campaign against ISIS? Audie Cornish puts the question to Jennifer Cafarella, a fellow at the Institute for the Study of War.
A new study finds that the academic disciplines most associated with "geniuses" are also the fields in which women are under-represented.
President Obama is scheduled to deliver his sixth State of the Union address on Tuesday. He's been on something of a publicity tour, unveiling policies he plans to promote in that speech. Thursday's stop: Baltimore, where the president talked about paid sick leave, and the fact that some forty million workers in this country don't have it.
The president is calling on Congress, as well as states and cities, to make it possible for workers to earn up to seven paid sick days a year. So how much would that cost businesses? One study of a law in Connecticut found that nearly two-thirds of business owners said they saw little or no increase in costs. Eleven percent said their payroll costs increased by 3 percent or more.
"Three percent is terrible in this environment," says Bill Dunkelberg, chief economist of the National Federation of Independent Business.
Advocates of paid leave say it reduces turnover and makes for happier, healthier workers.
"You end up with a more loyal employee base," says Amanda Rotschild, co-owner of Charmington's, a cafe in Baltimore that offers paid sick leave to its workers. "Your employees really want to work for you."
Americans for Prosperity set out its own agenda for congressional Republicans, including a call to build the Keystone XL pipeline and repeal the Affordable Care Act.
On Thursday, the World Health Organization released a 14-chapter analysis of the Ebola epidemic.
Melissa Block speaks with French lawyer Aurélien Hamelle about the limits on free speech in France.
Angry mobs that targeted health workers. A single funeral that infected 365 people. No isolation wards in Liberia. These are some of the striking points in WHO's new analysis.
Caesars — the giant gambling company — put its largest unit into bankruptcy on Thursday. The company was acquired by private equity firms Apollo and TPG in 2008 just as the financial crisis was pushing the economy into recession. It never recovered and has more than $20 billion in debt.
In Dakar, Senegal, two rappers going by the names Keyti and Xuman offer a summary of the week's news in hip-hop format. Journal Rappé is a short TV show distributed on YouTube with a huge following, especially in West Africa where a majority of the population is under 25.
The Obama administration is following through on its pledge to ease travel and trade restrictions on Cuba. The Treasury and Commerce Departments say the new rules they have just issued go into effect on Friday. Critics of the administration, though, are questioning the legality of the moves.
They are expected to head to Iraq in the coming weeks to build up an Iraqi Army that has all but fallen apart. The additional American soldiers and Marines will work out of an ever-expanding number of training sites around the country. U.S. officials expect ground operations sometime in the spring to take back territory seized by the so-called Islamic State.
Zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh pumped $350 million into downtrodden downtown Las Vegas to make it a home for startups and a place young people want to live again. Three years in, is it working?
Climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson finished their historic first free climb on El Capitan's Dawn Wall in Yosemite National Park. Melissa Block talks with the duo about their 19-day effort.
As part of a renewed push by the Obama administration to empty the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the transfer of five more detainees to other countries was announced on Wednesday night. All five are citizens of Yemen, where the local branch of al-Qaida is claiming responsibility for last week's attacks in Paris. Senior Republican senators introduced legislation this week blocking such transfers. They say releasing the prisoners lets them return to the battlefield.
Badawi is being publicly flogged 50 times each week over 20 weeks for insulting Islam. He is set to receive 50 lashes Friday in the Saudi port city of Jeddah.