This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep. As listeners to this program know, the Syrian civil war has created a vast refugee crisis. More than two million people have fled the country. Many have fled their homes inside that country. People are overwhelming the countries around Syria where they often live in crowded makeshift camps or fan out among the population.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie gave an epic press conference yesterday. It went on for almost two hours, almost as long as the traffic jams that prompted him to meet with the press in the first place. Governor Christie denied knowing about the plan carried out by members of his staff to deliberately clog traffic going from Fort Lee, New Jersey over a bridge to Manhattan.
This week, we've been looking back at the legacy of the "War on Poverty," launched by Lyndon Johnson 50 years ago. The arsenal included government programs such as Head Start, food stamps and a push to increase the nation's minimum wage.
"We must extend the coverage of our minimum wage laws to more than 2 million workers now lacking this basic protection of purchasing power," Johnson said.
Low-wage workers actually saw their purchasing power peak while Johnson was in office. Adjusting for inflation, minimum wage workers earn less today than they did in the late 1960s.
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?
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.
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.
People don't often think of the news as a source of inspiration — and certainly not a source of daily inspiration. But that's what it's turned into for Maria Fabrizio, an illustrator based in Columbia, S.C.
For about a year, Fabrizio has been working on a project called Wordless News, in which she draws one image a day based on a story she hears or reads that morning. Starting Monday, she'll spend a week creating images inspired by what she hears on Morning Edition.
Human rights officials say the Syrian civil war is creating Europe's biggest refugee crisis in decades, but that countries across the continent are doing little about it.
Most European nations are refusing to take in Syrian refugees, choosing instead to send money to the United Nations and other international agencies. The few EU countries like Germany that are welcoming Syrians only offer refuge to a few thousand out of the more than 2 million Syrians who have fled their homeland.
But the cool reception isn't stopping Syrians from risking their lives to get to Europe.
Leonardo DiCaprio was born in Los Angeles, an only child whose father worked in comics and named him after artist Leonardo da Vinci. DiCaprio began his career as a child actor, appearing in TV commercials and shows before transitioning to films.
After it was revealed that he used his Baseball Hall of Fame voter ballot to pass along the suggestions of readers of the sports site Deadspin, Dan Le Batard has been stripped of his membership in the Baseball Writers Association of America. He is also banned from all future Hall of Fame votes.
Le Batard is a columnist for The Miami Herald who is also on ESPN radio and TV. He said Thursday that he worked with Deadspin to turn his ballot over to sports fans for many reasons, emphasizing a need for reform in Hall of Fame voting.
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.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has found the George Washington Bridge in his way on the road to a potential 2016 presidential run. Right now, it's still an open question whether he'll get over it.
Thursday's marathon news conference was certainly an important moment in that journey. The heretofore 2016 Republican frontrunner apologized and took responsibility for members of Team Christie exacting political revenge on the mayor of Fort Lee, N.J., by closing lanes to the nation's busiest bridge in September, causing major traffic snarls.
To help his struggling family and escape his own status as an outcast, a plucky young boy enters a competition. Yes, The Rocket is a sports movie, with an outcome that's easily foreseen. The cultural specifics of this Laos-set tale, however, are far less predictable.
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.
Jan. 9 marks the 100th birthday of drummer Kenny Clarke. One of the founders of bebop, Clarke is less well-known than allies like Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonious Monk, but his influence is just as deep.
That thing that jazz drummers do — that ching-chinga-ching beat on the ride cymbal, like sleigh bells? It gives the music a light, airy, driving pulse. Clarke came up with that, and that springy shimmer came to epitomize swinging itself.
Midway upon the journey of our life I found myself within a forest dark, For the straightforward pathway had been lost.
Allowing for translation, those are the immortal opening lines of Dante's Divine Comedy. Here, some seven centuries later, are some of Lynn Darling's opening lines from her new memoir, Out of the Woods: "The summer my only child left home for college, I moved from an apartment in New York City, to live alone in a small house at the end of a dirt road in the woods of central Vermont."
Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 4:47 am
FBI Director Jim Comey says he's "confused" by reports that characterize NSA contractor Edward Snowden as a "whistleblower" or a "hero" because, he says, all three branches of America's government have approved the bulk collection of U.S. phone records, one of the most important revelations in Snowden's cascade of leaks.
"I see the government operating the way the founders intended," Comey said, "so I have trouble applying the whistleblower label to someone who basically disagrees with the way our government is structured and operates."
One of America's most important — and controversial — literary figures, Amiri Baraka, died on Thursday from complications after surgery following a long illness, according to his oldest son. Baraka was 79.
Baraka co-founded the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s. His literary legacy is as complicated as the times he lived through, from his childhood — where he recalled not being allowed to enter a segregated library — to the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center. His poem about that attack, "Somebody Blew Up America," quickly became infamous.
With over a billion users worldwide, Facebook is arguably the most popular social media site around. Teens and early 20-somethings are its biggest users. But as NPR's Patti Neighmond reports, there are growing signs of disenchantment with the site.
PATTI NEIGHMOND, BYLINE: Genevieve Brown is 19 years old, a sophomore at New York's Sarah Lawrence College and an avid Facebook user since junior high. It used to be a great joy. But lately, not so much.
It is time to give the humble slow cooker its due.
If you associate this hard-working table-top appliance with the 1970s (along with decorative owls, the color combination of burnt orange and brown, and perhaps chunky pleather boots) ditch the quick dismiss and embrace the vibe. A slow cooker can be a busy person's best friend.
The imagined near future of Chang-Rae Lee's new novel is entirely credible. So much so that one is, for much of the book, lulled into reading the story as merely a warning of the perils of unbridled consumerism and neglect of our environment. And indeed, yes, there is that, but there is so much more besides.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel.
Today, California Governor Jerry Brown announced that the state's healthier finances will mean billions of dollars of new spending. The winners in the governor's proposed record budget include schools and welfare. He also wants millions spent on maintaining roads and parks.
Mike Murphy is a Republican consultant. He's advised several GOP governors, typically moderate-centrist Republicans. And he joins us now from Arizona. Welcome to the program.
MIKE MURPHY: Oh, good to be here, Robert.
SIEGEL: Chris Christie is seen as a contender for the 2016 presidential nomination. Where would you land today on a scale from showed he can weather a crisis to he's damaged goods to nationally he's toast?
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie held a marathon news conference today. This after revelations that top staffers apparently caused massive traffic jams in Fort Lee, New Jersey as political payback against the city's mayor. As of this morning, two members of Christie's team had been let go, and the governor himself had begun answering the many questions raised by the scandal. NPR's Joel Rose begins our coverage.