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The US has a worldwide advantage in "fracking" to extract natural gas from shale rock. China's one of the countries investing in US projects to learn the technology. Are the benefits worth the risks? We hear how it works and look at the pros and cons. Also, unemployment drops again, and Latin American immigration is changing direction.

Banner image: Opponents and supporters of gas-drilling, or fracking, walk into the last of four public hearings on proposed fracking regulations in upstate New York on November 30, 2011 in New York City. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Making News Unemployment Drops Again, Is the Economy Finally Warming Up? 7 MIN, 17 SEC

America's unemployment rate has dropped to its lowest level in almost two years, 8.5 percent, and this time it's not because more people gave up on looking for work. It appears tens of thousands actually got new jobs. Sudeep Reddy reports for the Wall Street Journal and blogs for Real Time Economics.

Sudeep Reddy, Wall Street Journal (@Reddy)

Main Topic Does 'Fracking' Have a Future? 36 MIN, 29 SEC

In the past ten years, gas trapped in shale rock deep under Earth's surface has leaped from two percent to 30 percent of America's natural gas production. The reason is development of hydraulic fracturing, a horizontal drilling technique that allows rock to be broken up so the gas can be extracted. Advocates of "fracking" claim it could make the US energy independent in five or ten years. American technology is so advanced that foreign companies are investing in US projects in order to learn it. Small landholders have become instant millionaires. But there are tradeoffs: water pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and even earthquakes. We hear what it's like to live near a "fracking" project. How does it work?  Is it time for Congress to weigh the risks and the benefits of a technology so new that it's almost unregulated?

Ed Crooks, Financial Times (@Ed_Crooks)
Janice Crompton, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Robert Howarth, Cornell University
Stephen Holditch, Texas A&M University

Reporter's Notebook Shifting Immigration Patterns Change Latin American Landscape 6 MIN, 27 SEC

American towns and cities are used to seeing the new faces of people from Latin America. Now that the US is not the magnet it once was, immigration is moving in a very different direction. In today's New York Times, Damien Cave describes a town full of new arrivals, a once tranquil place now more complicated by immigrants who want to improve their lot. The town is Santa María Atzompa in the Mexican state of Oaxaca.

Damien Cave, New York Times (@damiencave)

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