Analysts are predicting a fairly good year for retailers over the holiday season. Those sales are expected to increase 3 percent overall and go up 15 percent for online retailers. Plus, this is the first year tablets like the iPad may make an impact on the retail landscape.

With technocratic governments being formed in Italy and Greece, the euro may get a short-term bounce from the markets. But there is concern the changes afoot may not happen fast enough to end the eurozone debt mess.

Steve Inskeep talks to Shahidul Alam. The former chemist became a photographer because he was tired of seeing images of the developing world through the lens of Western photographers. He now runs an art gallery, a photo agency and a school of photojournalism in Bangladesh. He recently published a book of stunning photographs called, "My Life as a Witness."

After a week of market turmoil over the worsening eurozone crisis, hopes are high that the appointment of economist Mario Monti to head a technocratic government in Italy will reassure lenders that the country can speed economic overhaul. Monti could face obstruction from lawmakers of outgoing Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's party.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And as Ari said just a moment ago, President Obama will be back in Washington just before that supercommittee's deadline. Before the president left for Hawaii, he picked up the phone and made calls to both the Democratic and Republican chairs of the group.

To talk about that and more, let's turn now to NPR's Cokie Roberts. Good morning.

COKIE ROBERTS, BYLINE: Hi, Renee.

MONTAGNE: Let's start with what those phone calls were about.

As the debt crisis in Europe deepens, Americans may be feeling sorry for Germany.

They see that Germans, who generally work hard and spend carefully, are now being pushed to bail out their debt-ridden partners in the eurozone.

But there's another side to the story.

Turns out, sharing a common currency with a group of fiscal losers has its benefits. The German economy gained strength over the past two years in large part because the European debt crisis weakened the euro. That made German exports more attractive to customers around the world.

Part of an ongoing series on obesity in America

OK, so you're overweight. So are two-thirds of all Americans. Maybe you need a nudge to get going on a diet and exercise plan. Maybe you've thought about talking with your doctor about weight-loss strategies. Well, a number of studies suggest you're probably not getting the advice you need.

Here's the problem with watching TV after 50 years of innovation in technology and storytelling: Sometimes, it takes an awful lot to get your attention.

How else to explain NBC's Grimm, which is a typical crime-of-the-week drama with a special twist: The hero cop can see fairy-tale villains disguised as ordinary people. Our hero, Det. Nick Burkhardt, learns about his new talent from his dying aunt, who tells him of "reapers," an organization that's dedicated to killing "Grimms" like him.

Rhode Island Struggles With Pension Overhaul

Nov 14, 2011

Rhode Island has dug its pension system into a big hole: It's $9 billion in the red.

The nation's smallest state doesn't even have half of the money it needs to pay future retirees. Lawmakers are debating a bill to overhaul the entire system. If they do nothing, it's predicted that in seven years, 20 percent of the state budget will be mailed out in pension checks.

There's a slate of reasons why the pension system is in such bad shape.

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