Alina Selyukh | KUER 90.1

Alina Selyukh

Alina Selyukh is a business correspondent at NPR, where she follows the path of the retail and tech industries, tracking how America's biggest companies are influencing the way we spend our time, money, and energy.

Before joining NPR in October 2015, Selyukh spent five years at Reuters, where she covered tech, telecom and cybersecurity policy, campaign finance during the 2012 election cycle, health care policy and the Food and Drug Administration, and a bit of financial markets and IPOs.

Selyukh began her career in journalism at age 13, freelancing for a local television station and several newspapers in her home town of Samara in Russia. She has since reported for CNN in Moscow, ABC News in Nebraska, and NationalJournal.com in Washington, D.C. At her alma mater, Selyukh also helped in the production of a documentary for NET Television, Nebraska's PBS station.

She received a bachelor's degree in broadcasting, news-editorial and political science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Black Friday isn't what it used to be. Just ask Chris Ott.

He married into a family that never missed the occasion. And let's just say, he really got into it.

After Thanksgiving dinner, they'd peruse Black Friday ads, developing a "really fun strategic plan — pick the store that we were going to wait outside of, we would divide and conquer," says Ott, 42, a cybersecurity engineer and youth pastor in the Denver area.

McDonald's has agreed to pay $26 million to settle a years-long legal battle with California cooks and cashiers who have accused the company of failing to properly pay them for their work and expenses.

The class-action lawsuit, representing tens of thousands of McDonald's workers, accused the fast-food chain of structuring shifts in a way that denied workers overtime pay. The lawsuit also said the company denied workers timely breaks, which were allowed only at the start and end of a shift instead of the middle when the restaurant got busy.

Working for Instacart — buying and delivering groceries to strangers — at first felt like Michaellita Fortier's childhood dream of starring on the speed-shopping TV show Supermarket Sweep.

"It was fun in the beginning," Fortier says. She felt like she was helping people in need while making as much as $16 or $20 per delivery.

But then the app inundated her with orders worth half that, $7 or $9 per delivery. For that money, she was expected to go to the store, shop, fill a cart and deliver an order, sometimes driving 10 or 15 miles.

Updated at 10:43 a.m. ET

A group of McDonald's cooks and cashiers is suing the fast-food chain over the company's handling of what the lawsuit presents as a "nationwide pattern" of customers attacking and harassing workers.

A former McDonald's employee says a male co-worker at a Michigan restaurant routinely grabbed her breasts and buttocks and propositioned her for sex — allegations laid out in a new class-action lawsuit that accuses McDonald's of a "culture of sexual harassment."

Former McDonald's CEO Stephen Easterbrook is getting an exit package of almost $42 million after his relationship with an employee was found to violate company policy. The size of his compensation puts a new focus on the widening gap between the pay at the top and the bottom of the corporate ladder.

What do goldfish have to do with the global trade balance?

That's a question that has Ken Fischer reeling. He sells rare goldfish. And goldfish — the live pet, not the snack food — are tucked in on page 31 of list three of Chinese imports that face tariffs of 25%.

Walmart says it will stop selling electronic cigarettes, at namesake stores and Sam's Club locations. The nation's largest retailer is responding to growing health concerns around vaping, especially among young people.

Walmart cited "growing federal, state and local regulatory complexity and uncertainty regarding e-cigarettes," saying that its stores will stop selling e-cigarettes once the current inventory is sold.

Amazon is "done being in the middle of the herd" when it comes to climate-focused company policies, CEO Jeff Bezos said Thursday.

The company is pledging to power its global infrastructure with 100% renewable energy by 2030 and to be carbon-neutral by 2040. To help get there, it plans to buy 100,000 electric delivery vans from Michigan-based company Rivian, in which Amazon previously invested.

Shoppers beware. That warning has come from economists ever since the trade war with China began last year. Eventually, they said, the fight between the two economic superpowers will hit regular Americans with higher prices at the cash register. The tariffs will bite.

Already some things are costing more. But the impact of the tariffs is uneven.

Walmart is dramatically cutting back sales of ammunition and asking shoppers to refrain from openly carrying firearms in its stores.

These are a few of the changes Walmart is making to its gun-sales policy following two shootings a month ago at two Walmart stores within one week.

"As a company, we experienced two horrific events in one week, and we will never be the same," Walmart CEO Doug McMillon wrote to employees on Tuesday.

The stock market soared Tuesday on news that the Trump administration is postponing some tariffs on Chinese imports this fall, sparing popular consumer items such as cellphones and laptops until after the Christmas shopping season. It's only a partial reprieve, though. Other Chinese imports will still be hit with a 10% tariff on Sept. 1, as scheduled. The administration reportedly was guided by which products could most easily be obtained outside China. But there were still some head-scratchers on the tariff lists.

The Pentagon is hitting pause on a massive, first-of-its-kind cloud computing contract after President Trump cited critics' accusations of favoritism toward Amazon.

Mark Esper, the new defense secretary, is re-examining the project just weeks before the winner was expected to be announced. Amazon and Microsoft are the finalists for the contract, which is worth as much as $10 billion and will be as long as 10 years. The project is called JEDI, for Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure.

Updated at 6:43 p.m. ET

The Justice Department says it's launching a wide-ranging antitrust review of big tech companies. The DOJ didn't name specific firms in its announcement Tuesday but said its inquiry will consider concerns raised about "search, social media, and some retail services online."

It's a case of animal versus vegetable — and the steaks are high.

A growing number of states have been passing laws saying that only foods made of animal flesh should be allowed to carry labels like "meat," "sausage," "jerky," "burger" or "hot dog."

Updated at 3:07 p.m. ET

Does Amazon hurt competition by exploiting data from other sellers in its marketplace? The European Union has opened a formal antitrust investigation into the giant online retailer to answer that question.

Raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 would increase the pay of at least 17 million people, but also put 1.3 million Americans out of work, according to a study by the Congressional Budget Office released on Monday.

The increased federal minimum could also raise the wages of another 10 million workers and lift 1.3 million Americans out of poverty, according to the nonpartisan CBO. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 and last increased a decade ago.

Updated at 11:04 a.m. ET

For Douglas Clark, the darkest part of working for Nike in the 1980s was watching American shoe manufacturing "evaporate" in the Northeast in a mass exodus to Asia in pursuit of cheaper labor.

"As a true Yankee — and my father was a Colonial historian — you know, it was heartbreaking," he said.

Updated at 5:36 p.m. ET

Target's cash registers are functioning again after stores nationwide were hobbled by a computer crash.

"After an initial but thorough review, we can confirm that this was not a data breach or security-related issue, and no guest information was compromised at any time," Target announced. "We appreciate all of our store team members who worked quickly to assist guests and thank everyone involved for their patience."

For years, a record number of Chinese tourists have flocked to U.S. attractions like Hollywood, Capitol Hill and the Grand Canyon. But their numbers are now falling.

The strong dollar has made U.S. travel more expensive and tourism to the U.S. has matured — just as trade and political tensions have grown between the countries.

In Hawaii, the number of Chinese visitors dropped by a quarter in April and by more than 23% through the first four months of 2019, compared to the same time last year, according to the islands' tourism office.

At 6:30 a.m., four of five Gordon family members are roaming around their suburban Sacramento house — if you count only the humans. There are also four dogs, a bunny, a tortoise, chickens, ducks, goats and a not-so-miniature miniature pig named Squiggy.

Hilary Gordon is discussing the day's schedule with her husband in the middle of wrapping a breakfast sandwich for their 14-year-old, checking on cereal for their 17-year-old and staring down their 11-year-old, who just realized he forgot to finish today's math homework.

One weekend in February, Justin Kelley, 33, made the biggest financial commitment of his life: He paid a friend to start custom-building an airboat. He had dreamed of owning one since an early age.

"That's my level playing ground. It's my freedom," Kelley says. Onshore, he uses a walker to get around and a wheelchair at work, because he has cerebral palsy. But on an airboat on a Florida lake? "To me it's the one place that, when I'm in that seat, you don't see that walker. You don't see the chair. ... It's my escape. It's my happy place."

It was a daunting task. Amid a major renovation, Jani Mussetter needed a lot of appliances: a washer, dryer, refrigerator, freezer, dishwasher and stove. As she visited showrooms in January, a stressful thing kept coming up: warnings of a price increase on Feb. 1.

For Mussetter, who was shopping for higher-end appliances, that potentially meant paying hundreds of dollars more. And why? "They said, because of all the tariffs," the San Francisco resident says.

Updated at 4: 25 p.m. ET

A bill to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour has cleared a legislative hurdle that sets it up for a vote by the House of Representatives in the coming weeks.

This move in Congress is a sign of broader political momentum for the minimum wage issue, long embraced by progressives who were key to the Democrats taking control of the House. The matter is poised to play prominently in the 2020 presidential campaign.

Walmart's U.S. CEO Greg Foran is telling all store managers that they should make "every effort" to provide new job options for greeters with disabilities. Many of these front-door workers remain in limbo as the company plans to eliminate its trademark greeter position in about 1,000 stores in coming months.

Updated at 6:02 p.m. ET

Gap Inc. plans to separate into two publicly traded companies, spinning off Old Navy into a separate firm as it closes about 230 Gap stores over the next two years.

As Old Navy becomes its own company, the other company, which has not been named yet, will consist of the Gap brand, Athleta, Banana Republic, Intermix and Hill City, Gap Inc. said.

Editor's Note: If you're a Walmart greeter — or know someone who is — and would like to share your story with NPR, please reach out to us at tech@npr.org.

If you ask John Combs what his biggest worry is, he'll say: "How will I feed Red?"

Red is actually white. He's a labradoodle rescue, just tall enough for Combs to pet if he reaches over the armrest of his wheelchair. Combs, 42, has cerebral palsy. He has difficulty speaking. But he has no difficulty saying the line most Americans have heard at least once: "Welcome to Walmart!"

Updated at 5:15 p.m. ET

Amazon will no longer build its additional headquarters in New York City.

The decision announced Thursday comes after an outcry from local politicians, union leaders and community organizers who had organized weeks of protests against massive financial breaks promised to Amazon, one of the world's most valuable companies.

Will the bankers be wearing bluejeans on Wall Street?

Levi Strauss & Co., which patented bluejeans in 1873, is planning to go public in one of the most high-profile initial public offerings of the year. The company, which is still controlled by the descendants of its namesake founder, has been private since 1985.

The news confirming the highly anticipated Levi Strauss stock offering sent shares of other apparel-makers on a roller-coaster ride: The stock prices of Urban Outfitters, Abercrombie & Fitch, Gap, American Eagle Outfitters and Buckle all declined.

Almost nine months after the Parkland shooting, Ed Stack — the CEO of Dick's Sporting Goods — stood up in the audience of a New York Times conference. He got up to talk about restricting gun sales at his stores. He had done it many times before, but this time, he got personal.

"I'm not embarrassed to say I'm viewed as a relatively tough guy," Stack said. "I wouldn't characterize myself as a crier. And that weekend, I watched those kids, and I watched those parents, and I hadn't cried as much since my mother passed away."

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