Good morning, I'm Steve Inskeep with a case of product placement. Corporations pay millions to have their products turn up in the hands of famous people but somehow, they were not thrilled when a photo showed a smartphone on a table next to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. This set off fevered speculation about which brand it was.
We've heard that necessity breeds invention. Well, so does discomfort. This weekend, 200 million Chinese are traveling home for the Chinese New Year. And for some this means entire days on standing room only trains.
One gadget being sold to travelers is a padded metal pole. It's to lean your head on so you don't fall over when you doze off. Or how about a luggage cart that doubles as a seat, with cup holders? Many people, though, are going old school with a simple upside down bucket.
Let's get a glimpse of the troops now fighting Islamist insurgents in Somalia. Forces from multiple African nations have been battling a group called al-Shabaab for years. They're being closely watched now because the international community is considering how to intervene in future months and years against an insurgency in Mali. NPR's Gregory Warner is traveling with a force in Somalia. Gregory, welcome back to the program.
GREGORY WARNER, BYLINE: Thanks, Steve.
INSKEEP: So where are you, and what have you been doing?
NPR's business news starts with Boeing's battery problem.
Boeing's new fleet of Dreamliner 787 aircraft is grounded. But there is one in the air right now. The FAA cleared the plane's flight this morning from Fort Worth, Texas to Seattle. Engineers at the Boeing factory there will study the plane's lithium ion batteries and look for ways to reduce fire risk. Regulators around the world grounded the Dreamliner last month after batteries overheated on two planes. Only crew are aboard the 787 currently on its way to Seattle.
And we have news of another fire sale. Our last word in business today is the buy of a lifetime.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
That's what some are calling the sale of a 20-acre estate outside Cedar Falls, Iowa, which sold for a winning bid of around $600,000. The precise amount was not disclosed. One expert says to build something like that estate today would cost $1.5 million.
In exchange for multibillion-euro bailouts, Greece was required to sell state-owned assets. But the sweeping privatization process is behind schedule. In addition, European governments are nervous that Chinese, Russian and Arab companies are lining up to take advantage of the Greek fire sale.
A worker makes a cut in the side of a sandstone block at the Cleveland Quarries facility in Vermilion, Ohio, earlier this month. The legal limit on the amount of silica that workers can inhale was set decades ago.
Credit Ty Wright / Bloomberg via Getty Images
An employee uses a wet saw to cut a slab of sandstone at a Lang Stone Co. facility in Columbus, Ohio, in January. Using water while cutting helps keep dust out of the air.
John Brennan, President Obama's choice to lead the CIA, can look forward to a grilling Thursday on Capitol Hill. As Obama's chief counterterrorism adviser, he has been associated with some controversial policies, including the use of armed drones. Brennan's nomination comes before the Senate Intelligence Committee, and members from both parties have their questions ready.