I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. This week, we, like many of our colleagues, have been talking about poverty because this week marks 50 years after President Lyndon Johnson declared a war on poverty. Later this hour, we'll speak with a minister who now preaches from the same pulpit where the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. once stood in Atlanta - Ebenezer Baptist Church. And he's asking whether the black church is still a force for addressing issues like poverty. That's later.
A federal government agency has taken and unusual step. They are suing the founder of a toy company over product safety concerns - and recently, he filed a countersuit. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says Buckyballs - if you're not familiar with them - these are clusters of magnetized balls, are a serious danger to children.
Ilya Marritz from member station WNYC has the story.
ILYA MARRITZ, BYLINE: Call them brainteasers, amusements, or gifts for dad, just don't call these little magnetic beads a toy.
And let's keep talking about international trade here. The American aluminum giant Alcoa and one of its subsidiaries will pay $384 million in fines to the United States government for engaging in corrupt practices overseas.
The payment is part of a settlement in a bribery case involving the royal family of Bahrain.
This year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas includes companies that promise to revolutionize medicine as we know it. They're using sensors and systems like Wi-Fi Internet connections and Bluetooth to monitor the human body on a constant, real-time basis. Critics say this high-tech medicine is leaving security concerns behind.
GREENE: China might have just dislodged the United States from a position it held for decades as the world's top trading nation. The latest Chinese figures put the value of its overall trade at $4.6 trillion last year.
The United States will release its own 2013 data next month. But for the first 11 months of the year, its trade was worth $3.5 trillion. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Our last word in business today is: Anonymous Reviews.
You know, those product reviews people write on Amazon or Yelp. Many customers rely on them and some people have even dramatized them online - like the actor who read this review by Shelley S. from the ratings website Yelp.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The food was sub-par for such a highly-rated restaurant. Overcooked fish, undercooked noodles, and one dish that wasn't labeled spicy was so hot that my father refused to eat it. I won't be going back to this particular PF Chang's.
Supporters of a minimum wage say it can be especially important at a time of relatively high unemployment, when workers have little bargaining power. This morning we'll get a fresh snapshot of unemployment in the U.S. when the government releases new jobs numbers. NPR's Yuki Noguchi came by to talk about what to expect. Yuki, good morning.
YUKI NOGUCHI, BYLINE: Good morning, David.
GREENE: So where does the job market seem to be going right now?
Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 4:05 am
In what's being called one of the largest U.S. anti-corruption settlements on record, Alcoa and an affiliate it controls have agreed to pay millions in fines and criminal and civil penalties. The companies acknowledge paying bribes to royal family members in Bahrain.
Fifty years after President Lyndon Johnson declared his "War on Poverty," President Obama issued his own plan to combat poverty Thursday with the nation's first five "Promise Zones."
All "Promise Zones" will receive a competitive advantage when applying for federal grants, on-site support from federal officials, and, pending congressional approval, tax incentives for businesses hiring and investing in the community.
At the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, a bevy of tax breaks expired in Washington D.C., everything from a tax benefit for people who commute to work using mass transit, to a subsidy for NASCAR racetracks. Some of these are probably less crucial for the national economy, but others are vital to the health of certain industries. At least that's what the businesses that benefit say, as NPR's Chris Arnold has been finding out.
Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 8:50 am
Whatever Friday's monthly jobs report says, it won't change the big picture. There are roughly 137 million jobs in this country. About two-thirds of those jobs are in private-sector services; the remaining third are split between goods-producing jobs (mainly manufacturing and construction) and government work (mostly at the state and local level).
Here's a closer look, drawn from the same data that the government collects for the monthly jobs report. (You can see this data, in glorious detail, here.)
Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 1:37 pm
Thanks to epic problems with HealthCare.gov's rollout, the federal government's out-of-date technology processes have received more attention than most of us could have expected. The main doorway for millions of Americans to get health insurance was unusable for two months, but that screw-up is just one in a long line of government IT failures.
Workers at Boeing were in a difficult spot last week. Their employer offered a new contract cutting back retirement and health benefits. It came with what looked like a threat. The company said it might have to move important operations out of Washington State and hire new workers. Union members approved the contract, barely, and Boeing is staying put.
Journalist Hedricks Smith written about the decline of the middle-class. In an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, he says Boeing just contributed to that.
During the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt put hundreds of thousands of Americans to work in National Parks and forests in the Civilian Conservation Corps. President Obama's Secretary of the Interior wants to bring back that spirit, to create jobs and a new generation of conservationists.
But as NPR's Elizabeth Shogren reports, it's not the easiest thing to do in tight budget times.
This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne.
This week, and in the coming year, we're marking the anniversary of a famous declaration. It's been 50 years since President Lyndon Johnson called for an unconditional war on poverty in his first State of the Union Address after the assassination of President Kennedy.
NPR's business news starts with layoffs at Macy's.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
MONTAGNE: Macy's has announced it's letting go 2,500 employees and closing five stores as part of a major reorganization. The company says it will save $100 million a year with the changes. It will also move hundreds of employees to its other department stores and to the company's online operation.
It was a two-step move for Republicans at the Capitol Wednesday: to both praise the sentiment of the War on Poverty – but also to critique it.
"We are here to mark the 50th anniversary of President Johnson's declaration of the War on Poverty," said Rep. Steve Southerland of Florida. "And while this war may have been launched with the best of intentions, it's clear we're now engaged in a battle for attrition."
Buzzfeed is among a growing number of outlets using native advertising online. The ads mimic the site's look and style, and some link to <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/walgreens/animals-to-cheer-you-up-when-youre-sick">pages almost indiscernible</a> from a typical Buzzfeed page.
New paid content on <em>The New York Times</em> site runs in a similar font as the paper's editorial material, but includes a banner indicating that it's paid for by a corporate sponsor.
The New York Times unveiled a major redesign of its digital offerings Wednesday. With a new scroll feature, readers will never again have to click to read the second half of a story, and the site is crafted to appeal to a mobile audience.
But the redesign has also embraced a controversial shift in journalism: Some posts on the site that look like articles are reported and written by people working for the paper's advertisers.
Cold weather this week has boosted demand for heating fuels across the country. Natural gas prices are up, especially in the Northeast. At one point prices for natural gas into New York City jumped nearly tenfold from an average winter price of $5.68 per million BTU to $55.49, according to Bentek Energy, an analytics company.
Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 6:21 pm
Companies from Sony and Samsung to Netflix and Google's YouTube are putting their money into TVs that pack more pixels. Several models are on display at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. We start the program today with reflections on money, speaking broadly. In a few minutes, we'll talk about some myths and facts about credit. Consumer columnist Sheryl Harris will help us clear up some confusion over what exactly helps and hurts your credit. That's in just a few minutes.
This is the time of year when many people make an effort to get a handle on their credit. But you might be confused about what actions can actually help your credit and those that can harm it. Consumer columnist Sheryl Harris joined Tell Me More host Michel Martin to share some tips and debunk consumer credit myths.
Tip: Understanding your credit report
A credit report shows your credit and loan accounts, the balance owed on each account, and your payment history on each account.