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.
It really wasn't that many years ago, the 1990s, when a power struggle waged by warlords in Afghanistan ended up bringing the Taliban to power in that country. Journalist Mujib Mashal was just a boy when the Taliban marched into Kabul. And in the January issue of Harpers he writes about one of the more memorable characters in that repressive regime: The Minister of Intelligence.
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.
Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates has been making news all week with his forthcoming memoir. Gates recounts his years leading the Pentagon under both Presidents Bush and Obama during a time of two wars. Yesterday, Gates sat down with Steve. It was his first interview since his book exploded in the headlines, and he's arguing that the book is being misconstrued. We will be broadcasting the interview Monday, but thought we'd take a chance to preview it with Steve here in the studio.
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.
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.
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.
Good morning. I'm David Greene. You want to know why Pittsburgh Steelers fans are angry these days? Well, referees blew a call that may have let San Diego into the playoffs instead of the Steelers. In this litigious society, Steelers fan Daniel Spuck decided to act. He filed a motion asking for an injunction to keep San Diego out of the playoffs. Spuck has his own legal problems - he filed suit from a corrections facility. I'm giving him long odds.
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.