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Banks count their blessings in recovery

3 hours ago

Three big banks posted their quarterly results Friday. And they were good. When you hear that profits at a bank like JPMorgan Chase were up almost 25 percent, you have to wonder: Why? Well, one reason is banks are making a lot more from you and me.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

For the first time since the Affordable Care Act became law in 2010, premiums are going down for most policies sold in the federally run exchanges. 

One reason 2019 premiums will be 1.5 percent lower? It has to do with how high they were in 2018. They increased by an average of 36.9 percent for 2018, said Larry Levitt, senior vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation. 

"These premium decreases are really about returning excess profits," he said. 

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Aric Toler isn't exactly sure what to call himself.

"Digital researcher, digital investigator, digital something probably works," Toler says.

Toler, 30, is part of an Internet research organization known as Bellingcat. Formed in 2014, the group first got attention for its meticulous documentation of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Toler used posts to Russia's equivalent of Facebook, VK, to track Russian soldiers as they slipped in and out of eastern Ukraine — where they covertly aided local rebels.

The government of Nauru, a tiny island nation in the South Pacific, and the charity Doctors Without Borders are in a bitter dispute over mental health care for asylum seekers and refugees.

The controversy revolves around approximately 900 individuals sent to Nauru by the Australian government since 2013. They arrived in Australia by boat, coming from such countries as Iran, Somalia, Sri Lanka and Syria; the government sent them to Nauru and Papua New Guinea. Most of them have been there four years.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

In the penguin habitat at an aquarium in Sydney, love is in the air.

The newest penguin couple here are named Sphen and Magic, and the two males are about to take the leap into parenthood.

At this time last year Riyadh was gearing up to host a raft of leading figures from the world of business and banking at its inaugural Future Investment Initiative. Dubbed "Davos in the Desert" — in a nod to the yearly global economic forum and the kingdom's own lofty ambitions — the conference in the Saudi capital suggested a new era of openness and innovation under the young crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

When mortgages hit the roof

6 hours ago

It’s become more expensive to borrow money for a house or condo.

The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has climbed to 4.9 percent — the highest rate in seven years, according to data from Freddie Mac. However, over the past several decades, rates below 5 percent haven’t been the norm. They started dipping below that figure in the late 2000s, eventually bottoming out at 3.31 percent in November 2012. 

As Ebola continues to spread through the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the government has been issuing daily updates. These press releases are mainly a recitation of facts and figures: The total number of confirmed cases since the outbreak was declared August 1 — 165 as of Friday. The death toll – 90 people. The number of individuals who've been given an experimental vaccine – 15,807. And a summary of the latest efforts by responders to reach affected communities.

After Hurricane Michael blasted through the Florida coastal towns of Eastpoint and Apalachicola, some residents are beginning the long process of cleaning up.

This area, just 30 miles east of where the powerful storm's eye made landfall on Wednesday, was expected to – and did – receive the worst of the storm surge.

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