Darius Rafieyan

Darius Rafieyan joined NPR in 2017 as the founding producer of The Indicator from Planet Money. He has produced stories about infectious disease outbreaks, the world's greatest air salesman, and the economics of Tinder.

Before joining NPR, he was a producer at Bloomberg and Al Jazeera English. Rafieyan also reported from Iran for The Guardian's Tehran Bureau blog. He is a graduate of New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Study.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Could Geoffrey the giraffe be back in business? For decades, a visit to Toys R Us was an indispensable part of holiday shopping for kids. That is, until last year, when the company announced it would be closing its doors for good.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Hey, Ailsa, I want to try a thought exercise with you, OK?

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

OK.

SHAPIRO: When I say the word magenta, what's the first thing that pops into your head?

CHANG: A Crayola crayon.

SHAPIRO: OK. Well, the wireless carrier T-Mobile is claiming in a new lawsuit that the color magenta is so inextricably linked to its brand that other companies...

CHANG: What?

SHAPIRO: ...Should be barred from using it. As Darius Rafieyan reports, that is not sitting well with some people.

The shale oil boom that catapulted the U.S. into being the world's largest oil producer may be going bust. Oil prices are dropping amid weakening demand, bankruptcies and layoffs are up, and drilling is down — signs of a crisis that's quietly roiling the industry.

Some of the most successful companies in the oil business are household names — think Exxon Mobil or Chevron. But the boom in shale drilling has been driven by smaller, independent operators. These companies have pushed the limits of drilling technology and taken big risks on unproven oil fields.

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On a recent morning before work, I found myself fidgeting nervously in a makeup chair at Sephora as beauty director and veteran makeup artist David Razzano schooled me in the proper application of liquid foundation.

"Always start in the center of the face," Razzano said as he gently ran a brush across my face. "A lot of times, women have had their mom or an older sister to teach them this, but guys most of the time have not been taught how to do makeup right."

Stefan Krasowski had a dream to visit every country on Earth before he turned 40. That took him to wondrous places, from the crystal blue crater lakes of Djibouti and the ancient Roman ruins of Tunisia to the foothills of the Himalayas in Bhutan.

And thanks to his considerable stockpile of credit cards, he was able to complete that dream and visit the one that eluded him — Syria. The moment his tourist visa was granted, after a two-year wait, he reached for his credit card.

"On one day's notice, I was able to be on a plane to Beirut and in Damascus by nightfall," he said.

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As cities all over the world grow, they're struggling with crowded streets and polluted air. New York City has decided to try out one possible solution: congestion pricing. Drivers will soon be charged a toll to enter certain crowded neighborhoods. Officials hope it will cut down on traffic and bring in badly needed funds to help repair the city's public transportation system.

Today on the show, Stacey Vanek Smith and Darius Rafieyan venture out into Midtown Manhattan during rush hour to see if congestion pricing is the solution that New York needs.

New York City is grappling with a measles outbreak. There have been 283 reports of measles in Brooklyn alone, compared to more than 500 nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a public health emergency last week, requiring people living in parts of Brooklyn to get vaccinated.

Measles can cause serious long-term harm, to individuals and to the economy. On today's show, we examine how high the costs can go, and where they are incurred.

Global demand for hazelnuts is on the rise, but the industry has a problem. More than 70% of the world's hazelnuts come from just one place: Turkey. And that leaves producers and Nutella lovers everywhere vulnerable.

But lucky for them one scientist in New Jersey has spent the last 23 years on a global quest to reinvent the hazelnut. And now his dream may finally be coming to fruition.

Today on The Indicator: how one man's lifelong obsession could end up revolutionizing an entire industry.