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.
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?
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.
Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 5:05 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.
Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 9:50 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.)
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 Thu January 9, 2014 2:37 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.