All the instability in the global economy this year has been good for the United States Mint. People in search of a safe place to put their money have been buying gold and silver coins in record numbers.
"Precious metal coins were up $800 million dollars last year and that's approximately thirty some percent," says Richard Peterson, deputy director of the Mint.
According the the Mint's annual report, they sold 45.2 million ounces of gold and silver coins in 2011.
Just a few hours ago, bells rang across Tucson in remembrance of the first anniversary of the shootings there, which left six people dead and wounded 13 others, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. That day, a gunman fired more than 30 shots at a constituent event hosted by Giffords outside a Safeway supermarket. NPR's Ted Robbins joins me now from in front of that Safeway. Ted, it's hard to believe it's already been a year.
So tomorrow night for the first time in the history of the Bowl Championship Series, two teams from the same conference, the Southeastern Conference, the two best teams in college football, Louisiana State University and the University of Alabama, will face off in the BCS National Championship in New Orleans. Who's going to win? Well, to help us answer that question, Mike Pesca joins me now.
The city plans to revitalize its once-glitzy downtown shopping district. New Jersey News Service reporter Nancy Solomon tours Broad Street with Newark's head of economic development, and reports on plans to lure back high-end shoppers.
The six remaining Republican presidential candidates held two debates over the past 24 hours — one Saturday night, another Sunday morning. Guy Raz talks to NPR National Political Correspondent Mara Liasson about what transpired in those debate.
Best-selling e-author Amanda Hocking grew up in the small town of Austin, Minn., which, she says, is known for Spam. Spam as in the food, not the e-mail spam.
"We invented Spam," the 27-year-old novelist tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz.
Hocking's dad was a truck driver. Her mom was a waitress. Even as a very young child, she had always been a kind of natural storyteller — especially when it came to fantasy stories. Stories about dragons, unicorns, pirates and more.
When it comes to last words, there's a kind of poetry in even the oddest ones. Oscar Wilde hated the wallpaper in the room where he died: "One of us has to go," he muttered. Salvador Dali: "Where is my clock?" Steve Jobs: "Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow," according to his sister, who was in the room.
Tim Goeglein worked in the George W. Bush White House for eight years, and it was in the Oval Office that the president forgave him.
While working as an aide to Bush, Goeglein repeatedly plagiarized columns he sent to his hometown newspaper under his byline. When his actions were discovered, he went to Bush to apologize, fully expecting to be fired.
"Before I could get barely a few words out," he says, "he looked at me, and he said, 'Tim, grace and mercy are real. I have known grace and mercy in my life, and I'm extending it to you. You're forgiven.' "
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum nearly won the Iowa caucuses on the strength of his retail campaigning across all of the state's counties — and his connection with Christian conservative voters. Now he's in New Hampshire, with just days to go before the first-in-the-nation primary. Santorum is trying to connect with independent-minded voters in a very secular state.
This is the season of the presidential superPACs: They flooded Iowa with attack ads, and now they are looking ahead to primaries in South Carolina and Florida.
SuperPACs (political action committees) can solicit big, corporate contributions — something candidates can't do. And, according to the law, superPACs are barred from coordinating their ads with the candidates they support. But it's not nearly that simple.
The NFL kicks off an exciting weekend of games Saturday when it starts its playoffs. Meanwhile, there's big news in the sport that most of the rest of the world calls football. Fox television is making a major play to air more soccer games in this country, including an English Premier League game before the Super Bowl. Sportswriter Stefan Fatsis talks with Robert Siegel about the news in both kinds of football.
Melissa Block speaks with our regular political commentators, E.J. Dionne, of the Washington Post and Brookings Institution, and David Brooks, of the New York Times. They discuss the jobs numbers, Obama's recess appointments and presidential campaign developments.
Four years ago, Melissa Block traveled several times to Milford, N.H., to talk with voters. Friday, she talks to two of the people she met there: Noreen O'Connell and Steve O'Keefe. They discuss the current GOP presidential field.
Syrian officials are vowing to respond with an iron fist to a suicide bombing in Damascus today, 25 people were killed. It was the second deadly bomb attack in the Syrian capital in recent weeks. The government and opposition activists traded accusations as to who was responsible. And the bombing raised fears of escalating violence, as the Arab League presses Syria to implement a peace plan.
NPR's Peter Kenyon is monitoring developments in Syria from Istanbul.
The Justice Department is redefining the criminal definition of "rape" for the first time since the 1920s. It will now include same-sex assaults and a definition beyond actual intercourse. This will change the way local police departments report crime statistics.
Now, a story with this you-can't-make-it-up headline: Americans Rescue Iranian's From Pirates. According to the U.S. Navy, yesterday in the North Arabian Sea, a Navy battle group came across a fishing vessel in distress. The crew was Iranian and they'd been held hostage for weeks by pirates. And here's the irony: The American battle group included the same aircraft carrier that Iran's government threatened earlier this week.
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
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And I'm Robert Siegel.
Today, new evidence that the pace of job growth is picking up. The government's employment report for December showed 200,000 jobs added to payrolls. The unemployment rate continued its downward trend falling to 8.5 percent.
And while that may be welcome news, as NPR's John Ydstie explains, the December report could be overstating job growth.
Rick Santorum has been upsetting elections from the beginning.
He was only 32 years old when he toppled a seven-term incumbent in a majority Democratic district in western Pennsylvania.
Just four years later, Santorum rode the Republican wave of 1994 into the Senate representing Pennsylvania. And from the beginning, Santorum has stood for unwavering social conservatism, especially on the issue of abortion.
"Give the baby a chance to live," said Santorum while delivering a speech on the Senate floor in 1997.
Photographer Eve Arnold died Wednesday, just a few months shy of her 100th birthday. Arnold is best known for her intimate portraits of both the rich and famous — including Marilyn Monroe, Malcolm X and Joan Crawford — and of the down and out.
As Robert Capa, one of the founders of the agency Magnum Photos, once put it: Arnold's work "falls metaphorically between Marlene Dietrich's legs and the bitter lives of migratory potato pickers."
Thursday, the Pentagon announced its new strategy for dealing with threats around the world. The goal is to use the new blueprint to guide difficult budget choices in the coming years. The new document is released as the U.S. winds down two long wars — in Iraq and Afghanistan — and embarks on a period of defense budget cuts.