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4:00 am
Fri December 16, 2011

Negotiators Reach Deal To Keep Government Open

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 3:23 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

So, it looks like the federal government is not going to shut down at midnight tonight. That's good news. Congressional negotiators say they've reached an agreement to move forward on a trillion-dollar-plus spending plan. It would fund the government through October. There are still some end-of-year issues that haven't been resolved.

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Election 2012
4:00 am
Fri December 16, 2011

Bachmann Tries To Regain Early Iowa Lead

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann once appeared to be the favored Republican presidential candidate in Iowa. But she's been near the bottom of most polls since. Bachmann is making an aggressive push to finish well in next month's Iowa caucuses, and she embarks on a multi-day bus tour of the state Friday.

Law
4:00 am
Fri December 16, 2011

DOJ Probe Finds Ariz. Sheriff Violated Civil Rights

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 3:23 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

Joe Arpaio, the man who calls himself America's toughest sheriff, is not backing down. The U.S. Justice Department yesterday accused his sheriff's department in Maricopa County, Arizona of systematically violating the constitutional and civil rights of Latinos. By the end of the day, NPR's Ted Robbins reports, the sheriff was hitting back.

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Around the Nation
4:00 am
Fri December 16, 2011

Fort Hood Soldiers Return From Iraq

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 3:23 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Congress has already OK'ed a bill authorizing more than $660 billion to be spent on defense. Senate approval came yesterday, the same day the Pentagon declared an official end to the war in Iraq. Among the troops coming home from Iraq are the soldiers of the 112th Cavalry 3rd Brigade 1st Cavalry Division.

NPR's Wade Goodwyn was there for their return to Fort Hood, Texas.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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Remembrances
4:00 am
Fri December 16, 2011

Writer Christopher Hitchens Dies At 62

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 3:23 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

We're going to remember now the acerbic, controversial and always compelling writer and cultural critic Christopher Hitchens. Vanity Fair, where he was a contributing editor, announced last night that he had died from complications of cancer. He was 62 years old.

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Economy
4:00 am
Fri December 16, 2011

Popularity Bankrupts Early Retiree Program

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 3:23 pm

A $5 billion federal program to pay for the health benefits of early retirees is proving to be more popular than expected. So popular that it's running out of money earlier than planned. The fund, part of the health care overhaul, was to provide a bridge of insurance coverage until 2014 when early retirees would have many more options under the health care law.

This report is part of a collaboration between Minnesota Public Radio, NPR, and Kaiser Health News.

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Planet Money
3:28 am
Fri December 16, 2011

A Technocrat In Trouble

Andreas Georgiou, technocrat
Chana Joffe-Walt NPR

Andreas Georgiou is the technocrat charged with running the Greek statistics office — the same office that, in the years leading up to the financial crisis, produced wildly distorted reports of Greece's finances.

"My goal is to make this a competent, boring institution and not to be in the limelight," Georgiou told me recently. "Not to have to give an interview like this one."

So far, though, his efforts have been met with resistance, strikes and a criminal investigation that could lead to life in prison for Georgiou.

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It's All Politics
12:27 am
Fri December 16, 2011

Romney Regains Stride; Gingrich Shows Old Newt At Sioux City Debate

Mitt Romney returned to form in the final Republican presidential debate before the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses.

Romney, who had perhaps his shakiest debate performance in Des Moines over the weekend, appeared to regain his composure in Thursday night's debate in Sioux City, Iowa.

He managed to once again convey the sense that he was the one GOP candidate of the seven remaining who could credibly stand on the same stage with President Obama next fall, the most electable of the candidates running for the Republican presidential nomination.

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Monkey See
12:01 am
Fri December 16, 2011

Diablo Cody Explores The Ugly Side Of Pretty In 'Young Adult'

Charlize Theron plays Mavis Gary in Young Adult.
Phillip V. Caruso Paramount Pictures

Charlize Theron is ugly in Young Adult, the new film from the Juno team of director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody — both literally and personally. In parts of the film, she still looks like her knockout movie-star self, but in other parts, she looks like she's aged a year for every day since her character, Mavis Gary, left high school.

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National Security
12:01 am
Fri December 16, 2011

Bradley Manning To Appear In Court In Leaks Case

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 3:23 pm

Supporters say Army Pfc. Bradley Manning doesn't belong in a courtroom at all. They think he's a whistle-blower — and a hero.

Eighteen months after his arrest on suspicion of leaking national secrets, Manning will finally make his first appearance in court Friday at Fort Meade, Md., just north of Washington, D.C.

When he worked in Iraq, Manning allegedly downloaded thousands of war logs and diplomatic cables and shared them with the website WikiLeaks. He faces 22 criminal charges that could keep him behind bars for life.

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StoryCorps
12:01 am
Fri December 16, 2011

Homeless At 60: 'A Bullet I Didn't See Coming'

Queen Jackson, right, and her case manager, Debra MacKillop, visited StoryCorps in Denver, Colorado.
StoryCorps

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 3:23 pm

Queen Jackson has been homeless for about a year. As she recently told her case manager, Debra MacKillop, it all started in 2009, when she was laid off from her job as an administrative assistant.

"I was working for the state of Colorado," says Jackson, 60. "I had all these great ideas of retiring and sitting back and enjoying my life. But, as the budget was becoming very strained, I was one of the first to be laid off."

At the time, Jackson wasn't worried. She had saved some money, and she was sure she'd be able to find another job quickly.

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Your Money
12:01 am
Fri December 16, 2011

Ways To Cut Your Tax Bill Before 2011 Ends

Taxes might not be due until April, but there are a few things you can do before the new year to lower your bill.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 5:33 pm

Federal income tax time is still a few months away, but there are some things you can do before Dec. 31 to save money on April 15.

"The biggest thing is, if you have a 401(k) retirement plan at work and you have not yet maxed it out, that is a great way to kick some extra dollars into your retirement account," Mary Beth Franklin, a senior editor at Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine, tells NPR's Renee Montagne.

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Remembrances
12:00 am
Fri December 16, 2011

Writer Christopher Hitchens Dies At 62

Writer and commentator Christopher Hitchens died Thursday. He was 62.
Amanda Edwards Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 3:06 pm

The influential writer and cultural critic Christopher Hitchens died on Thursday at the age of 62 from complications of cancer of the esophagus. Hitchens confronted his disease in part by writing, bringing the same unsparing insight to his mortality that he had directed at so many other subjects.

Over the years, Hitchens' caustic attention was directed at a broad range of subjects, including Henry Kissinger, Prince Charles, Bob Hope, Michael Moore, the Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa.

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The Two-Way
6:17 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

Puerto Rican Mayor Causes A Stir With Wild Christmas Card

A Santini family portrait.
Jorge Santini

We are late to this news, but because it's just now picking up steam in the mainland United States, we'll share it. This was the official Christmas card of Jorge Santini, the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, this year:

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It's All Politics
5:59 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

Iowa Gov. Branstad On GOP White House Contest: 'It's A Wide Open Race'

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad.
Charlie Neibergall AP

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 9:14 am

Iowa's popular Gov. Terry Branstad hasn't endorsed any of the Republican presidential candidates crisscrossing his state yet.

Which means he can at least claim to be above the intramural GOP fray scheduled to end in a few weeks when his state's Republican voters attend caucuses to choose their preference for their party's White House nominee.

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Europe
5:58 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

After Protests, Russia's Putin Takes To The Airwaves

Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (L) speaks during a phone-in TV program in Moscow on Thursday. With widespread fraud alleged in recent parliamentary voting, Putin faced much more critical questioning than usual.
Alexey Druzhinin AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 6:10 pm

For the first time in more than a decade running Russia, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is facing serious opposition to his rule. And that meant he faced tougher than usual questions Thursday at his annual question-and-answer session that lasted more than four hours on Russian television.

"Do you think the elections are honest and their results are fair?" the TV moderator asked him, reading an emailed question.

"The election results absolutely reflect the balance of power in the country," Putin said.

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Leaving Iraq
5:28 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

U.S. Flag Comes Down, And Iraq War Is Officially Over

A U.S. convoy departs from Contingency Operating Station Kalsu, a U.S. base about 60 miles south of Baghdad. For many U.S. troops, it is the last stop in Iraq on the way out of the country.
Sean Carberry NPR

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 8:22 pm

After nearly nine years of war in Iraq, a subdued flag-lowering ceremony in Baghdad on Thursday marked the official end of one of the longest U.S. military missions in American history.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta watched over what's known as the casing of the colors — when the U.S. military flag is put away and sent back to the United States. The flag will then be retired and perhaps later go on display at the Pentagon.

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World
5:21 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

New Iran Sanctions, And Fears They Could Backfire

Reporters interview Iranian Minister of Petroleum Rostam Ghasemi before the start of the 160th meeting of the OPEC Conference in Vienna, Dec. 14. The global market for oil complicates the issue of U.S. sanctions against Iran.
Xu Liang Xinhua /Landov

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 7:40 pm

The U.S. Congress has approved legislation that targets the Central Bank of Iran and is intended to make it more difficult for that country to sell its oil abroad.

But the latest sanctions could backfire. Reduced oil supplies on the world market could mean higher prices, and therefore Iran could actually make more money from its oil even if it sells fewer barrels.

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The Salt
5:10 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

When The Formerly Rich Need Help Buying Food

Food stamps aren't "stamps" anymore — they're debit cards. But they won't get you a trip to Hawaii.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 6:27 pm

The image of rich folks using food stamps to buy filet mignon is becoming the 21st-century version of the Reagan-era "Welfare Queen."

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NPR Story
5:01 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

Iowa Gov. Discusses GOP Presidential Field

It's a big night in Iowa: The Republican presidential candidates are holding their final big debate prior to the Iowa caucuses, which take place on Jan. 3. Melissa Block talks with Iowa Republican Gov. Terry Branstad about various candidates' strengths and weaknesses. In short, he says there's a lot of excitement, and he's reserving judgment on who the winner will be.

NPR Story
4:57 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

Tracking An Order In Real-Life Santa's Workshops

Javier Polendo, an employee at a largely automated Target.com fulfillment center in Tucson, Ariz., scans items to be shipped to online customers.
Ted Robbins NPR

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 8:23 pm

There's a world of activity between the time online shoppers click the "place order" button and when a holiday package is delivered to their doorsteps. The National Retail Federation estimates that 38 percent of holiday purchases will be made online this year, which is keeping fulfillment centers large and small very busy.

Target.com runs five fulfillment centers. One of them, in Tucson, Ariz., stretches the length of 16 football fields.

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The Two-Way
4:55 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

Chemists Unveil Future Self-Cleaning Clothes

In the future, cleaning your clothes could be as easy as hanging it in sunlight.
Rodrigo Buendia AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 5:04 pm

A group of chemists have presented what they say is self-cleaning fabric that could one day lead to jeans, shirts and other clothing that dissolves stains and kills bacteria when exposed to sunlight.

The scientists announced their findings in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, which is peer-reviewed and published by the American Chemical Society.

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Still No Job: Over A Year Without Enough Work
4:44 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

Changes In The Economy Leave Workers Scrambling

A counselor (right) talks with a man about training programs at a nonprofit training and job placement center in Menlo Park, Calif. Seventy percent of the long-term unemployed and underemployed would like the government to offer more job training services, an NPR/Kaiser Family Foundation poll found.
Paul Sakuma AP

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 7:34 pm

If you're unemployed, it can be painfully clear when you don't have the right skills to land a good job.

With unemployment at 8.6 percent, upwards of 13 million Americans are without a job and looking for work. A recent NPR/Kaiser Family Foundation poll surveyed hundreds of long-term unemployed and underemployed people, asking whether they thought they had the skills required to find a job.

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Rick Perry
4:43 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

Perry Tries To Ride Back Into Iowans' Hearts

Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry walks with former Marine officer Dan Moran during a campaign stop Wednesday in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Eric Gay AP

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 6:10 pm

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Education
4:41 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

Military Tuition Assistance Rules May Limit Options

Military advocates have warned that some schools see service men and women as walking dollar signs.
Dave Herriman iStockPhoto.com

Federal money for active duty students is particularly attractive to for-profit schools, which have been signing up members of the services in record numbers.

So, the Pentagon has developed new rules to ensure that service members are treated fairly when they use government money to attend college. Those rules are set to go into effect Jan. 1, but many of the nation's best-known schools say they cannot accept those requirements.

The dispute puts at risk millions of dollars in federal assistance.

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