Somewhere in Paris, railways executives must be cursing in French. They ordered $4 billion worth of new trains. Turns out the trains are be too big to fit in many French train stations around the countries. Sacre bleu.
NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports.
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ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: Gleaming trains from across France pull into this Paris station. The decade-long modernization and expansion program is designed to handle the huge rise in passenger traffic across France.
One year ago, President Obama called to reshape the fight against terrorism and for more privacy protections as the government intercepts new types of information. Just days later, the extent of data collection by the NSA would be revealed by Edward Snowden. Yesterday, the House passed legislation reining in government surveillance.
As hundreds of protesters loudly demanded higher wages outside McDonald's headquarters in suburban Chicago, the company's CEO told an audience inside that the fast-food giant has a heritage of providing opportunities that lead to "real careers."
"We believe we pay fair and competitive wages," Donald Thompson said at the company's annual meeting on Thursday.
The world of health care, like any, is full of haves and have-nots.
It's not hard to the haves at Sherwin-Williams' corporate headquarters in downtown Cleveland where some 2,500 employees have access to an in-house health and wellness center.
The huge paint company offers comprehensive health coverage to its employees and encourages them to take a break from work for an exercise class, a workout on the elliptical trainer or a run on the treadmill.
We turn now to an unexpected consequence of getting caught up in the justice system. By now, many people know that getting involved in a criminal proceeding can be expensive. But they're probably thinking about attorneys' fees. What you might not know about - unless you've been there - are the other fees that are increasingly being charged to defendants when they go through court or to prison or receive probation or parole.
I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Now we'd like to talk about an overlooked economic force. We are talking about women. In recent years, a lot of advocates and activists have talked about the global economic importance of educating girls and women. But there's an aspect of this that seems to have been overlooked, and that is the financial education of women.
Rolling pastures dotted with grazing cows, fields of corn and classic buggies driven by Amish in hats and bonnets — these are the images that attract visitors to Lancaster County, home to more than 30,000 of the Pennsylvania Dutch.
And our last word in business news today is a request from the CEO of Fiat Chrysler: Don't buy the Fiat 500e.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Chief executive Sergio Marchionne says he loses $14,000 every time his company sells that electric car. Even federal tax credits do not make it profitable. Demand simply has not pushed the price of the car high enough to recover the cost.
NPR's business news begins with a setback for online gambling.
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INSKEEP: It's a multi-billion-dollar enterprise around the world. It's easy, addictive. You can do it anywhere. But Internet gambling is just getting started in the United States. It is only legal in a few states. Now the group representing the country's casino industry says it will no longer seek to expand online gambling here.
Our Planet Money team this week is taking a look at the lowly penny. People discard pennies in bowls by cash registers. They walk by them on the street without a thought of picking them up. In fact, a lot of us don't even pick them up when we drop them. NPR's David Kestenbaum reports that there is one place where people think pennies could really cause some change.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep. Each spring Russian president Vladimir Putin welcomes international business and political leaders to an economic forum in St. Petersburg. It started today and Putin told those who arrived that Russia is ready to do business, although it expects to be treated as an equal.
The air in Richwood, W.Va., is saturated with the smell of ramps — a pungent, garlicky, peppery smell so strong that it eclipses almost everything else in the room. Under this smell there's the faint aroma of bacon grease, in which the ramps have been fried. They're served with brown beans and ham.
As hundreds of people wait in line for their meal, local songwriter John Wyatt plays his Richwood Ramp Song, including this verse:
The Internet is coming to your car. Later this year, General Motors will put Internet connectivity directly into its vehicles. It's the largest auto company to do so.
Of course, safety advocates have some concerns about more distractions for drivers.
The promise of technology is always the same one — that it's going to make our life easier. But anyone who's tried to make a hands-free call in the car knows that's not always true. A task as simple as asking your device to call your mom can be an exasperating experience.
Online marketplace eBay says it was the target of a cyberattack in which hackers accessed a database of its encrypted passwords. The auction site says no financial data were revealed — but it's urging its users to update the passwords on their accounts.
EBay says that it hasn't seen any sign of fraudulent activity since the problem was first detected "about two weeks ago." It also said that it stores financial data and customer records in different places and that accounts of its direct-payment subsidiary, PayPal, were not affected by the data breach.
Michigan lawmakers are debating a big aid package for Detroit, nearly $200 million. The city has been in bankruptcy court for almost a year. And until now, the state hasn't been willing to help it with anything that could be called a bailout.
While Michigan Governor Rick Snyder supports the current deal, many of his fellow Republicans appear to be balking, especially after a threat of political retribution from the Koch Brothers political network.
And let's go from billions to pennies. The penny occupies a strange spot on the economic landscape: It's worth almost nothing, but not quite. Tomorrow and today, our Planet Money team will be reporting on the penny, starting with this report from Robert Smith and Jacob Goldstein, who set out on the streets of Manhattan with a simple question: Can you buy anything for a penny?
ROBERT SMITH, BYLINE: We started with the guy who runs the fruit stand outside our office.
From the shoreline at North Avenue Beach in Chicago, the blue water of Lake Michigan stretches as far as the eye can see. But beneath that pristine image, there's a barely visible threat, says Jennifer Caddick of the Alliance for the Great Lakes: microbeads.
These tiny bits of plastic, small scrubbing components used in hundreds of personal care products like skin exfoliants and soap, can slip through most water treatment systems when they wash down the drain.
If you're drinking a cup of coffee right now, treasure it. The global supply of coffee beans may soon shrink because of problems in coffee-growing areas of Brazil and Central America.
With supply threatened and demand strong, prices are taking flight. Wholesale coffee prices are up more than 60 percent since January — from $1.25 per pound of bulk Coffea arabica beans to $1.85 this week.
Royal Caribbean says it's offering a 53-day voyage from the U.S. to China to inaugurate its newest giant luxury liner, the Quantum of the Seas, which is scheduled to begin cruises out of Shanghai next year.
Lately, there have been so many billion-dollar tech acquisitions in the headlines that it's hard to keep them straight. We await Apple's buyout of Dr. Dre's Beats for $3.2 billion. YouTube is reportedly close to a purchase of the video game streaming service Twitch, for $1 billion.