Each week, we take a look back at the headlines at the intersection of technology, business and culture. ICYMI features NPR reporting, the Big Conversation includes the larger conversations in the space and Curiosities are any links we thought you should see.
Lots of people, of course, are on the road this Memorial Day weekend. The big news for many drivers is there's been more GM recalls. General Motors has recalled some 15 million cars, trucks, and SUVs around the world this year. The spokesman for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, also known as NHTSA, told Reuters that faulty ignition switches may have led to more than 13 deaths previously reported.
French economist Thomas Piketty became a publishing superstar this year by putting two and two together and concluding that the rich are getting richer.
His best-seller, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, uses mountains of data to calculate Western wealth over the past two centuries. He says the historical statistics, drawn from many sources, show unrestrained capitalism inevitably leads to immense income inequality.
The National Transportation Safety Board is calling on the FAA to take another look at the safety of the battery used in its Dreamliners. The recommendations issued by the NTSB on Thursday call on the FAA to evaluate whether additional requirements and independent testing outside the aviation industry are needed on the lithium ion batteries used in the Boeing 787s. Incidents involving the batteries' failure caused the fleet to be grounded last year.
I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. We'd like to start the program today talking about a term you may or may not have heard; the bamboo ceiling, like the so-called glass ceiling, which refers to women who, despite their qualifications, don't seem to get to the top ranks of their fields. Bamboo ceiling refers to the barriers some Asian-American professionals believe that they face when trying to reach leadership roles in the workplace.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning. Last month the Obama administration put off a decision on whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. The project has been enormously controversial. It would carry crude oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. This morning we examine what's at stake for the oil industry and for energy production. Here's NPR's Jim Zarroli.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.