Morning Edition for Thursday, December 5, 2013

Workers and advocates for higher minimum wages will be staging protests at fast-food restaurants and major retailers on Thursday. They want these companies to significantly raise the wages for their lowest paid workers. So what would happen, if for example, McDonald's raised its lowest wage to $15 an hour? In some cases, that would double the pay workers get now.
David Greene talks to writer Gabriel Thompson about his experiences as a holiday temp worker at a fulfillment center warehouse. Thompson wrote about his experience for the magazine The Nation.
The business that transformed the nation is the product of an obscure but hugely influential trade deal — and a cultural struggle over Korean food.
Probably the best feature of the retooled HealthCare.gov website is that you can actually use it. People are now able to get a customized list of plans and prices, and click through to see an insurer's provider directory. Still, better though it is, it's clearly not 100 percent.
The notoriously short night's sleep that many tired adolescents get isn't all about surging hormones and too much homework, according to a sociologist who looked at shifting sleep patterns from ages 12 to 15. Teens who report good relationships with family and schoolmates tend to sleep better.
With the sharp growth in politically active social welfare groups, there's a booming business in transferring money among them. The IRS wants to stop those transactions but it won't be easy.

Apple Gets Business Boost In China

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 700 million subscribers. That's about seven times more subscribers than Verizon — the largest mobile carrier in the U.S.
Having trouble wrapping your head around southern Europe's staggering unemployment problem? This week, Ikea advertised for 400 jobs in a new megastore on Spain's Mediterranean coast. It got more than 20,000 online applicants in 48 hours, before the retailer's computer servers crashed.
Wal-Mart has opened its first two stores in Northwest Washington D.C., earning cheers from the Mayor and residents who said they'd 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 employees aren't being paid enough.

A Toast To The End Of Prohibition

The 21st Amendment of the Constitution was ratified 80 years ago — ending the prohibition of alcohol as imposed by the 18th Amendment in 1920. There is no denying alcohol does play a big role in our economy. According to the National Beer Wholesalers Association, 1.78 million Americans are employed by the brewing industry alone.
China's leaders hope to be able to fight and win two regional conflicts by 2020, according to the Pentagon in a report that highlights the East China Sea, site of recent tensions with the U.S. and Japan. The showdown over air space is the latest example of what the Pentagon sees as a resurgent Chinese military.

Biden Visits China Amid Tension With Japan

Vice President Joe Biden holds a second day of talks with Chinese leaders in Beijing on Thursday amid increasing tensions over the East China Sea. While he was visiting Japan earlier in the week, Biden criticized China's actions in declaring an Air Defense Identification Zone over disputed islands in the area. The issue has cast a pall over Biden's visit to Beijing, with official Chinese media accusing the vice president of taking Japan's side in the territorial dispute.

Banks Fill In The Payday Loan Gap

Federal regulators are cracking down on banks that are offering services called deposit advances. Many argue that the service is the same as payday loans and could lead consumers into a cycle of debt.
Wildlife groups will be back on the scene Thursday off the coast of Southwest Florida where more than three dozen pilot whales are stranded in shallow water. At least 10 of the whales have beached and died. Officials are not optimistic about the outlook for a rescue.

Calif. Cold Snap Threatens Orchards

An unusually cold night in California threatens citrus growers' crops. Renee Montagne talks to Jim Churchill about measures being taken to save oranges and avocados.
A Mexican truck carrying radioactive material was hijacked and couldn't be located for two days. The truck was found empty on Wednesday and later the radioactive material was located separately. It's unclear if the thieves knew what they were stealing.

FDA Set To Approve Hepatitis Drug

The Food and Drug Administration is expected soon to approve the first in a new class of drugs that can cure the leading cause of liver failure and liver cancer. The disease is hepatitis C, and more than 3 million Americans have it but most of them don't know it.

Make The Punch Bowl Your Holiday Party Centerpiece

Renee Montagne talks to Julia Reed, a contributor to the southern-lifestyle magazine Garden & Gun about how to keep spirits up at your holiday party by putting the right stuff in your punch bowl.

Reviewers On Amazon Poke Fun At $40,000 TV

About Samsung's HD TV, one reviewer wrote, "I was going to send my kids to college but I had to do what was best for my family." Another reviewer added, glad it has "low energy costs, as I am on a very tight budget."
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