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Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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DON GONYEA, HOST:

On a recent snowy afternoon on a farm in central Illinois, Dan Byers parked his pickup at the end of a dirt road and looked over some of his fertile land. A few years ago, high grain prices earned farmers here about $400 per acre for their corn and soybean crops. This year, it's possible that every acre Byers farms will cost him $50.

"It just takes a certain amount of fixed money to put a crop in and raise it," says Byers. "At today's prices, not much of anything works right now until there's a rebound."

Anti-capitalist demonstrators and police battled Wednesday outside the European Central Bank's new headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany. Police cars were set on fire and nearby streets were blockaded with burning tires while a ceremony got underway inside to inaugurate the $1 billion-plus building.

Updated at 2:47 p.m. ET

The Federal Reserve moved a step closer toward ending its zero interest rate policy. In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, the Fed dropped a pledge to be "patient" before raising rates. But, the Fed's Open Market Committee said, it is unlikely to raise rates in April.

Sarah_Ackerman / Flickr

Lake Effect’s wine contributor Ray Fister has been racking up the frequent flyer miles in the past few weeks.

Between trips to California and wine events closer to home, he made time to speak with Lake Effect's Bonnie North while in Milwaukee. 

"’13 was another great one, followed by ’14 – everybody’s sitting on the edge of their chair to see what’s gonna happen in ’15," he says. "Three in a row is pretty unusual – certainly for Napa and Sonoma, they’re very happy."

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's not just Benjamin Netanyahu and other world leaders who are scrutinizing the Iran negotiations. Oil traders are, too. That's because there's already an oil glut, and an Iran deal could lift sanctions and mean even more oil.

"Even the thought that Iranian oil could be unleashed on the global market is, you know, getting people to sell first and ask questions later," says Phil Flynn, a senior market analyst and oil trader at The Price Group in Chicago.

This past January, the Republican-led Kentucky Senate did what it does just about every year: It passed a statewide right-to-work bill.

Keeping with tradition, when the bill arrived at the Democratic-controlled House, it died.

For decades, Democrats have rejected efforts to allow employees in unionized companies the freedom to choose whether to join a union.

Now, the battle has shifted from the statehouse to individual counties.

Four key European allies have broken ranks with the U.S. to join a major new development bank created by China. Germany, France, and Italy today agreed to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Last week, the U.K., one of America's staunchest allies, became the first Western nation to join the new bank.

The Obama administration opposes the AIIB, due to open later this year, and has pressured allies such as South Korea, Japan and Australia not to join the new bank. The administration says there's no need for another international lending institution.

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