Scott Sanders will be eating lunch at his desk again. Sanders is the general sales manager for the NBC affiliate in Columbia — South Carolina's capital — so all his time is devoted these days to handling ad traffic ahead of Saturday's Republican primary.
"It's been crazy this week," Sanders says. "It will be hard to watch TV, because there are so many ads."
All five major GOP candidates have ads running during the station's nightly news programs. Their messages are also being amplified and augmented by supportive superPACs.
Even if Wikipedia was working, you couldn't use it to locate information about Mitt Romney's most recent tax filings. He has yet to make that tax information public.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Under pressure from his opponents, Romney says he will release information in April.
MONTAGNE: But yesterday, Romney did let slip a provocative tax detail. He acknowledged he's probably paying an effective tax rate of around 15 percent. And that's well below the rate that many middle-class families pay.
Gary Locke is Washington's ambassador to Beijing. He took over the post after Jon Huntsman left. Locke is the first U.S. ambassador to China to have roots in that country — his ancestors hail from a village in southern China. He serves at a time of enormous change, a time when many Americans see China as a threat. Ambassador Locke talks to Steve Inskeep about his impressions of China and its government.
The economy may be improving but state governments are still working to repair the damage to their books. We're keeping track with a series of reports, and we go this morning to the nation's most populous state, which has some of the nation's largest problems.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
Here in California today, Governor Jerry Brown gives the State of the State address. He'll outline more cuts to government programs while asking voters to approve a measure to raise taxes. Here's NPR's Richard Gonzales.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne.
When President Obama met yesterday with the king of Jordan, much of their talk focused on Jordan's neighbor, Syria. Both governments are trying to figure out how to pressure Syria's president to step down. So far, 10 months of protest by Syria's own people hasn't convinced Bashar al-Assad to do that. Instead, he's cracked down.
It's the latest salvo in the two companies' global patent war, according to Bloomberg News. This time Apple is trying to ban sales of 10 Samsung smartphone models, claiming the Korean company copied Apple's design. It's also suing Samsung claiming it copied the iPad.
Let's stay with Internet news for a moment. Yahoo is undergoing another big management shakeup. Yesterday, Jerry Yang, the co-founder and former CEO, said he is stepping down from the company's board of directors.
NPR's Steve Henn has more from Silicon Valley.
STEVE HENN, BYLINE: For months late last year, Yahoo's board of directors was mulling a deal that could have sold the Internet company or broken it apart.
Today's last word in business comes from China, and the word is: Red Pad.
It's a device that looks a lot like an iPad, except it's red in color and in ideological purity.
The Wall Street Journal picked up on the device, which was advertised briefly in China's state media. It offered Web content for the party faithful, like quick access to the Communist Party's mouthpiece, the People's Daily. The device however, was apparently priced at more than $1,500 - good deal more than an iPad.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning.
We should fully explain this next report, because if we miss something, you won't be able to find more information on Wikipedia. The online encyclopedia is blacked-out today, at least on personal computers. It's only available if you take extra steps or use a mobile device.
In his first year as Colorado's secretary of state, Republican Scott Gessler has been sued eight times.
He has outraged Democrats by rewriting the state's campaign finance rules, tangled with counties over which voters they can send mail-in ballots to, and attracted national attention for participating in a fundraiser to pay off a campaign finance fine levied by his office.
"We've definitely shaken up the status quo, and I think that's happened a bit in some other states, too," he says.
President Obama is feeling election-year pressure on the pending decision over the Keystone XL pipeline. Republicans say the Canadian project would provide the U.S. with oil and new jobs, but environmentalists want him to block it. They say Alberta's oil sands generate more greenhouse gases than other kinds of oil, and Americans must not become dependent on such a dirty source of energy. But it may already be too late to change that.
Old mattresses are among the worst kinds of household waste: Most recycling companies won't touch them, and landfills would rather not. But a new business in Nashville that started as a college project hopes to move mattress recycling into the mainstream — and employ former convicts in the process.
France's 35-hour work week has plenty of critics who say it has sapped the country of its competitiveness and is tying companies in knots. And to make their case, a leading example is the current state of overtime at French hospitals.
Along with five weeks of annual leave, French employees get time off if they work more than 35 hours in a week. At the Hopital Vaugirard, a public hospital in central Paris, employees have accumulated more than 2 million days off in the past decade.
Now that Tim Tebow is out of hearts and minds, and we can actually turn our attention to other things, let us go clear to the other side of the world. There, a short while ago, while preparing for the Australian Open, Serena Williams said: "I don't love tennis today, but ... I've actually never liked sports."
While her confession might have surprised some, I suspect that even more were irritated, actually angered, that an athlete — a great champion! — could utter such blasphemy.
There's a controversy brewing in India over an invitation extended to Booker Prize-winning novelist Salman Rushdie by the organizers of the Jaipur Literary Festival.
Rushdie, the author of Midnight's Children, angered Muslims with his 1988 novel Satanic Verses. The novel, which many Muslims say insults the Prophet Muhammad, led to Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini declaring a fatwa against Rushdie. The writer spent much of the next few years in hiding.
Mark told you earlier that Wikipedia is going black for 24 hours beginning at midnight tonight. While Wikipedia's reason for shutting down is to protest anti-piracy legislation making its way through the United States Congress, another interesting question is going to be what happens to all those web surfers seeking answers to can't-wait questions?
As the U.S. economy struggled to get back on its feet over the past few years, a lot of states found themselves contending with big budget deficits. They responded by firing workers, raising taxes and cutting spending. Now the fiscal picture for a lot of states is brightening a bit — but many still face enormous challenges.