Wal-Mart opened its first two stores in Washington, D.C. yesterday, earning cheers from the district's mayor and some residents who say they'll be happy to shop in the city and not in the suburbs. But there have been months of debate over the wages the big box store pays its employees. Some activists and lawmakers say Wal-Mart does not pay workers enough to live on.
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Protests are planned at fast-food chain restaurants 100 American cities today. Unions are staging these protests as part of a campaign to press the industry to pay more than the minimum wage. In fact, organizers are calling for $15 per hour. In some cases, that would double the pay that workers get now, and the industry appears unlikely to do that voluntarily.
It is freezing here in Southern California. Overnight, temperatures plunged into the 20s and that cold front is threatening citrus and avocado orchards through Central and Southern California. Citrus alone is a $20 billion industry here. So growers are scrambling to protect their crops.
We reached one of them - Jim Churchill - who grows Pixie tangerines in the Ojai valley north of Los Angeles. He was spending the night in his orchard. And Jim Churchill, good morning. And this is probably the first of a few nights, right?
Let's take a closer look at people working for much less than $15 an hour. For one week this fall, writer Gabriel Thompson did temp work in a busy warehouse in Southern California's Inland Empire region, which he describes as the belly of the online shopping beast. The warehouse where he packed merchandise for 9 bucks an hour is owned by Ingram Micro, the world's largest technology distributor.
NPR's business news starts with an Asian breakthrough for Apple.
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INSKEEP: Wireless phone carrier China Mobile has signed a deal with Apple to offer iPhones on its network. According to The Wall Street Journal, the deal would give Apple access to China Mobile's many subscribers - around 700 million of them. That's about seven times more subscribers than Verizon - which is the largest mobile carrier in the United States.
A payday loan is a costly form of credit operating on the fringes of the economy. That's why the target of a new crackdown by federal regulators may surprise you: Instead of a forlorn-looking storefront with a garish neon sign, it's your familiar neighborhood bank.
A small but growing number of banks, including some major players, have been offering the equivalent of payday loans, calling them "deposit advances."
That is, at least, until bank regulators stepped in Nov. 21 and put new restrictions on the loans.
The oil boom in the United States is creating another boom — for the railroad industry.
So far this year, in North Dakota alone, 140 million barrels of oil have left on trains. Shipments of crude oil by rail are up almost 50 percent over last year — and this upward trend is expected to continue.
A visit to the world-famous Tehachapi Loop, part of a winding mountain pass in Southern California, demonstrates the scale and reach of the oil boom in the middle of the country. As a train full of oil tanker cars rumbles past, it's hard not to think of it as a pipeline on wheels.
MSNBC host Martin Bashir has resigned from the network following controversial remarks he made about former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
Some three weeks ago, Bashir referred to Palin as a "world-class idiot" for suggesting that U.S. indebtedness to China was akin to slavery. The television host quoted from plantation owner Thomas Thistlewood's diary describing a punishment for slaves that involved having others defecate in their mouths.