And our last word in business today is save the tanooki.
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
MONTAGNE: The animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is attacking Nintendo's new video game "Super Mario 3-D Land." In the game, Super Mario sometimes wears the skin of a tanooki, which is a raccoon dog. Steve, you may have to finish...
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Oh no, come, no, no. It's fine. Come on, it's a raccoon dog. It's a nice animal.
Let's remember a bit of very recent history. Back in August, Congress came close to defaulting on U.S. government debts. Republicans wanted big cuts in spending. They finally got some, but a deal with President Obama pushed more deficit reductions off to the future, to a bipartisan committee which has been meeting this fall, and now has one week left until its deadline to reach a deal.
Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich is rising in the polls, but Rick Perry is back in the spotlight after some proposals he made in Iowa yesterday. The Texas governor wants Congress to take a 50 percent pay cut, as part of a sweeping plan to overhaul the government.
Australia is the latest stop on President Obama's tour of the Pacific Rim countries that the president thinks should be the new focus of U.S. foreign policy. It is already the focus of a competition for influence with China.
And here's a follow-up to the dramatic scandal at Olympus, which we've been following on this program. It's one of Japan's most respected corporations - or it was. Now executives Olympus are facing criminal charges and prison sentences. The company may be delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange, and may also go bankrupt. All this after revelations of dubious acquisitions and allegations of massive accounting fraud. From Tokyo, Lucy Craft has more.
Today, Chrysler is expected to announce plans to add more than 1,000 jobs at an assembly plant in Ohio. Local officials there have reportedly signed off on tax incentives for the plant expansion in Toledo. It's where Chrysler makes the Jeep Liberty and Wrangler.
The House Financial Services Committee voted on Wednesday to suspend nearly $13 million in bonuses paid to executives at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The measure would also prohibit future bonuses. The Senate is expected to take up similar legislation.
Police clash with workers of American mining company Freeport-McMoRan during a protest in Timika, Papua province, Indonesia, Oct. 10. Indonesian security forces fired on striking workers at Freeport-McMoRan's Grasberg gold and copper mine after a protest turned deadly.
Credit Environment Ministry, Rasio Ridhosani, HO / AP
The Grasberg mining complex in in Indonesia's remote Papua province is run by a local unit of the Phoenix-based Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. In recent days, thousands of miners have gone on strike for higher pay and several people have died in clashes with police.
Credit Spedy Paereng / EPA /Landov
Tribesmen carrying bows and arrows block a road in Timika to support striking workers from the Freeport-McMoRan mine on Nov. 4.
Credit Environment Ministry, Rasio Ridhosani, HO / AP
Critics accuse Freeport-McMoRan not only of underpaying workers but also of destroying the environment in remote Papua and of decades of complicity in human rights abuses by the Indonesian military. Here, an aerial photograph of the Grasberg mining complex.
A foreign mining company, protected by hundreds of soldiers, extracts precious resources from a remote tropical forest. The mining enrages indigenous tribes, who resist.
It may sound like a movie script, but it is in fact the story of the world's largest gold mine, located high in the mountains of Indonesia's Papua province and owned by Freeport-McMoRan, an American mining conglomerate.
Fishermen and visitors gather at the beach in the village of Popotla, Mexico, some 15 miles south of the U.S.-Mexico border, in July 2010. Illegal immigrants are increasingly looking to the ocean, as they consider crossing overland more risky.
Most mornings George Uraguchi grabs his paddle board and heads down a steep, secluded canyon in Palos Verdes, one of Los Angeles County's wealthier coastal communities. On one recent morning, though, his predawn excursion was interrupted by what he saw in the still water.
"It was more than just debris," Uraguchi says. "I saw some life jackets, and when I looked a little bit closer, then sure enough there was an overturned boat out there."
Uraguchi called 911, then hopped into the water and paddled out through the floating life jackets and bobbing fuel cans.
The 2012 presidential campaign is already being shaped by new rules for political money. The Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling allows corporations to jump into the presidential contest, as lower-court rulings and the Federal Election Commission provide new avenues through which corporate money can flow.
The Village of Hempstead, N.Y., sounds like a posh resort in the Hamptons. But if you ride the train an hour east from Penn Station, what you'll find is a working-class town of about 54,000 people, more than 80 percent of them African-American and Hispanic.
Nearly a third of local residents are underwater on their mortgages, six times the state average. Mayor Wayne Hall says he heard story after story from local residents who tried to get banks to refinance their loans, but couldn't. Finally, Hall got fed up.
Patricia Maisch, one of the people who helped halt the Tucson shooting that killed six and wounded 13, including Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, holds up a photograph of victim John Roll, a federal judge, while testifying before a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday. Maisch testified in support of legislation that would strengthen federal power over the states' handling of background checks.
Dozens of gun violence survivors and family members of victims traveled to Capitol Hill this week to try to convince lawmakers to pass a bill that would tighten loopholes in the background check system for people who buy firearms.
The man said the advances began when he was 10 years old. He was a fourth-grader and an altar boy at a Catholic school in Hudson, Mass. He said the priest would try to touch the altar boys when they were putting on their robes, and he'd invite them to the rectory, one at a time.
"He'd want to show us pornographic magazines, and ask us to take our pants down, and he'd take his pants down and expose himself and things like that," he said.
Political parties, activists and Islamist groups in Egypt are threatening more mass protests in Cairo and other cities Friday against a document drafted by the interim government that would enshrine the powers of the Egyptian military.
It's the latest clash between Egypt's pro-democracy factions and the ruling military council, which is accused of clinging to power despite its pledge to cede control to an elected government.
Egyptians are seen working in a bakery in Cairo. The U.S. has been working on ways to help revive the economies of nations in transition, like Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, while having limited resources available during tough economic times.
Just as the Arab uprisings were getting under way, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was warning that the region's foundations were sinking in the sand and that governments needed to respond to the needs of a young, educated and underemployed generation.
Now, she's come up with a new catchphrase.
"As tens of millions of young people enter the job market each year, we recognize that the Arab political awakening must also deliver an economic awakening," Clinton said. "And we are working to help societies create jobs to ensure that it does."
Windmills and solar panels in Atlantic City, N.J., power a wastewater treatment plant, with surplus energy going to the area power grid. Solar and wind energy companies receive $370 million in federal subsidies annually, which is less than 1 percent of what oil and gas industries receive.
When Energy Secretary Steven Chu appears on Capitol Hill on Thursday to defend the Obama administration's solar energy subsidy program, he will face questions about the solar panel firm Solyndra, which went belly up this summer.
The Energy Department has drawn stiff criticism over a government loan guarantee program that lent the company half a billion dollars, but the government has a long history of subsidizing many forms of energy.
As confounding as was the failure of Penn State officials to act, the consensus explaining the motives for their ignoble behavior is that, first, Joe Paterno didn't want to scar the reputation of himself or his football program; and then, university executives wanted to protect the reputation of the dear old coach and his moneymaking team.
Originally published on Thu November 17, 2011 11:06 am
When it comes to the politics of school lunch programs, the easy part is agreeing that kids should be eating more fruits and vegetables.
The hard part? Determining what counts as a vegetable. Take, for instance, the tomato sauce on pizza. As part of new nutrition standards proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, schools would need to use about one-half cup of tomato paste on pizza in order for the sauce to count as a vegetable serving.
Lawmakers say pizza and french fries deserve to keep their place in school cafeterias. New nutrition standards aimed at putting more fresh and healthy food in front of kids are being revised in a current House agriculture appropriations bill. The latest version says the tomato sauce on a slice of pizza is the equivalent of a vegetable. Critics are likening it to the "ketchup-as-a-vegetable-controversy" during the Reagan administration.
In an interview with NPR, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu vigorously defended the actions of the Department of Energy with regards $528 million in loans it gave the now-bankrupt solar energy company Solyndra.
Chu told All Things Considered's Melissa Block that neither he nor any of his staff working on DOE loans program was swayed by politics and that even in hindsight there was no way to know that Solyndra would fail.
Polls continue to show former House Speaker Newt Gingrich solidly in the top tier of Republican presidential contenders. But at the same time, he is dogged by questions about a job he had after leaving Congress: consulting for the mortgage giant Freddie Mac — but not, he says, lobbying.
The questions began at the candidates' debate in Michigan last Wednesday, when CNBC's John Harwood asked Gingrich what he did for a $300,000 contract with Freddie Mac in 2006.
"I offered them advice on precisely what they didn't do," Gingrich said last week.
Protester Leina Bocar stands outside Zuccotti Park after police removed the Occupy Wall Street protesters from the park early this morning.
Credit Mario Tama / Getty Images
Occupy Wall Street activists protest outside Zuccotti Park after police removed the protesters early in the morning from Zuccotti Park New York City. Later in the afternoon a judge ruled against the protesters, prohibiting them from returning to the privately-owned public space.
A State Supreme Court judge has backed New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the owners of Zuccotti Park, saying police had a right to enforce rules that prohibit camping at the park overnight. In the pre-dawn hours, Bloomberg ordered the removal of protesters from the park.
Earlier, another Supreme Court judge had issued a temporary injunction and ruled the protesters could return to the park with tents and sleeping bags.
When the United States Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear a challenge to the health care reform law, the Court also announced that the parties would have more than the usual one hour to argue the case before the justices. That is not unheard of in particularly important cases — Bush v. Gore was allotted ninety minutes. But at five and a half hours, the length of time given for the health care case is nearly unprecedented in the modern Court.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak (shown here as a young accountant, working for Hyundai's office in Thailand in the early 1960s) overcame a poverty-stricken childhood to become a student activist, successful business executive and, ultimately, leader of his country.
Credit Courtesy of Lee Myung-bak
The son of a poor farmer, Lee says he wore his school uniform all the time because his family didn't have enough money to buy other clothing.
Credit Courtesy of Lee Myung-bak
Lee (photographed here in a traditional Korean house, or hanok) says he has donated most of his money to a charitable foundation he founded; Lee may follow up his presidency with a career in philanthropy.
The federal Centers for Disease Control calls fluoridated water one of the top 10 public health achievements of the 20th century. But many people still aren't convinced.
In Florida, opponents recently persuaded Pinellas County commissioners to stop adding fluoride to the water supply — a practice the county began in 2003. By the end of the year, Pinellas will once again be the largest county in Florida without fluoridated water.
Occupy Wall Street protesters regroup in Foley Square after New York City police in riot gear removed the protesters from Zuccotti Park early Tuesday. The evacuation followed similar moves in Oakland, Calif., and Portland, Ore.
Originally published on Wed November 16, 2011 9:09 am
As pressure mounts in cities across the country to evict Occupy protesters from parks and squares, the movement's supporters face a decision about what to do next.
After months-long sit-ins that have brought international attention to the movement's demand for greater economic equality, as well as occasional clashes between demonstrators and police, cities in recent days have moved in force to end the protests.
Well, here's another twist in the debate over whether birth control is an essential health benefit. More than 1.5 million American women use birth control pills for reasons other than preventing pregnancy, a new analysis finds.