Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep. The holiday season will apparently be a good one for pets. A survey finds most pet owners plan to buy their pets a gift. We're not sure what this means for the economy, but people are spending more. They're budgeting $46 - up $5 from last year. Hopefully, a dog named Echo in Hawaii is not listening, since the owner says her dog is getting a toy for Christmas, and her husband is getting a shirt from the dog.
The Penn State Board of Trustees says it will appoint a special committee to investigate a child sex abuse scandal. This is the case that engulfed the university, its football program and coach Joe Paterno. Former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky is accused of repeatedly sexually abusing young boys over a 15-year period, sometimes in the Penn State locker room.
Regulators in Florida recently gave two utilities permission to begin charging customers for nuclear plants that won't be completed for at least a decade. To encourage development of nuclear power, Florida allows utilities to charge customers upfront for the costs. Now here's a movement there to rethink that policy.
Conservative activists in the Tea Party want Congress to cut government budget deficits. At the same time, liberal protesters in the Occupy Wall Street movement want lawmakers to reduce wealth inequality.
Both goals could be achieved by doing one thing: reducing Social Security payments to retirees, the wealthiest demographic group in the country.
A study by the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project reveals what teens think about the online experience. While bullying on social media sites like Facebook gets a lot of news coverage, most teens think social networks are a friendly place for them.
In 1962, President John Kennedy (center) and Vice President Lyndon Johnson visited Dr. Wernher von Braun (left), who designed the Saturn rocket in Huntsville, Ala.
This model of the Saturn V rocket adorns Huntsville's skyline. The city's early role in the race to the moon propelled it to a high-tech center for space, aviation and defense jobs.
Credit Debbie Elliott / NPR
Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle says the city is "the only place in the world that still has expertise about going into deep space."
Credit Debbie Elliott / NPR
Huntsville space engineer Greg Allison says that since the Constellation human spaceflight program was canceled, his office is like a ghost town.
Credit Debbie Elliott / NPR
Huntsville's Cummings Research Park is home to 285 companies specializing in software design, engineering, aerospace and defense, computers and electronics and biotechnology. In the background is the Saturn V rocket model at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.
Credit Courtesy of the Chamber of Commerce of Huntsville/Madison County
Driving into Huntsville, Ala., it's clear what this city is all about: A giant Saturn V rocket looms ahead in the skyline. This is the city that made the Saturn rockets that took the Apollo astronauts to the moon.
Counting down, it is now exactly two weeks before the clock runs out for Congress's supercommittee. If its six Democrats and six Republicans fail to reduce deficits by more than a trillion dollars, automatic spending cuts will kick in. Under this process, known as sequestration, the law would require half the cuts to come from defense spending. NPR's David Welna reports.
Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain responded to accusations of sexual harassment at a news conference in Scotsdale, Ariz., Tuesday. Cain say he has "never acted inappropriately with anyone."
Mississippi voters on Tuesday rejected an amendment to their state constitution that would have declared that life begins at fertilization.
The result was somewhat unexpected: As recently as a few weeks ago, the so-called personhood amendment was considered almost certain to pass. Voters in Colorado have twice rejected similar amendments to declare that life begins legally at fertilization, in 2008 and 2010. But Mississippi, with its far more conservative bent, was considered much friendlier territory.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne. Good morning. We're at the point of the election cycle sometimes called the off-off year. Not many offices were up for grabs but yesterday, some high-profile measures were on state ballots.
Employees load bags onto a Boeing 737-800 running on algae-based biofuel in Houston. Continental (owned by United Continental Holdings Inc.) flew the nation's first passenger jet powered by biofuels on Monday.
This week, two U.S. airlines will be flying passengers on flights powered by biofuels for the first time. On Monday a Continental flight from Houston to Chicago used a biofuel blend made in part from algae, and Wednesday Alaska Airlines is set to fly passengers using a fuel made in part from cooking oil.
If all goes well, more airlines may start to use alternative jet fuels. But the shift is not without its challenges.
In Pakistan, several high-profile kidnappings reveal the cunning of the captors and confusion among police.
American aid expert Warren Weinstein was seized from his home in Lahore in mid-August. Two weeks later, publishing scion Shahbaz Taseer was snatched from his Mercedes at gunpoint, also in an upscale neighborhood of the Punjab capital.
The trail is leading investigators to Pakistan's militant-dominated tribal areas. North Waziristan, on the lawless Pakistan-Afghanistan border, is now believed to be a destination of choice for militant kidnappers.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unveils a sample of the third generation centrifuge for uranium enrichment during a ceremony in Tehran on April 9, 2010. Iran says its nuclear ambitions are peaceful.
The International Atomic Energy Agency released its much-anticipated report on Iran's nuclear program, but failed to conclude definitively that the Islamic republic is engaged in a full-scale weapons program.
Still, the U.N. nuclear watchdog's report raised some serious questions about what Iran is really doing in connection with nuclear weapons.
The man accused of orchestrating the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000 will be arraigned Wednesday at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. He is the first Guantanamo detainee to have his case tried under the Obama administration's revamped rules for military commissions, and he could be put to death if he is found guilty.
This abandoned village outside the city of Zintan was populated by pro-Gadhafi families from the Mushashya, a nomadic tribe from southern Libya. Fighters from Zintan, which rebelled against Gadhafi forces, are hoping they won't come back.
Credit Sean Carberry / NPR
A sign in the abandoned village near Zintan reads, "Mushashya: Gadhafi dogs."
In Libya's Nafusa mountains southwest of Tripoli, the sight of abandoned villages and idle fighters hanging onto their weapons gives bleak testament to the fact that not everyone in the country is ready for the violence that overthrew former dictator Moammar Gadhafi to end.
In one windswept mountain village outside the city of Zintan, the only sound is the lonely clatter of a door against the gate of an abandoned house. Burned-out cars and a foam mattress soaked from the rain litter the street; most of the houses look as if they've been looted.
Updated at 2:52 p.m. ET: Wal-Mart issued a statement Wednesday saying its request for partners to provide primary care services was "overwritten and incorrect." The firm is "not building a national, integrated low-cost primary health care platform," according to the statement by Dr. John Agwunobi, a senior vice president for health and wellness at the retailer.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Guy Raz.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel.
This was election day, and voters in Ohio rejected a referendum that would have limited the collective bargaining rights of state and local employee unions. Today's result is a blow to the state's Republican Governor, John Kasich, who had championed the measure.
Florida players (from left) Taurean Green, Corey Brewer, Walter Hodge, Joakim Noah and Marreese Speights hold up the Southeastern Conference sign after defeating Arkansas in the SEC basketball tournament championship game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta in 2007.
OK, here's the idea: Greece leaves the EU and jumps to the SEC.
Bingo! With all the television and bowl money it would get, Greece would be solvent again, and the Southeastern Conference would get that big Athens TV market.
You see, everybody talks about how colleges are all switching conferences, but essentially, they all just want to jump to the SEC or whatever best emulates the SEC. It's the Solid South of college football. Once, the South used to control Congress. Now, y'all: the gridiron.
Originally published on Tue November 8, 2011 8:15 pm
GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain gave a press conference to address allegations that he made unwanted sexual advances toward female employees and a woman seeking job advice in the 1990s. Cain emphasized that the accusations were false. NPR's Tamara Keith joins Robert Siegel to explain.
Originally published on Tue November 8, 2011 6:55 pm
Former Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke came forward Tuesday to take responsibility for his role in leaking a memo used to cast aspersions on a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent who had blown the whistle to Congress about a botched gun-trafficking operation.
Originally published on Wed November 9, 2011 8:34 am
Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain stood his ground, repeating that the accusations of sexual harassment made against him while he was the head of the National Restaurant Association are "false, anonymous, incorrect accusations."
In a press conference in Arizona, Cain repeated twice, "I have never acted inappropriately with anyone. Period." The former Godfather's Pizza CEO added that the scandal and the media feeding frenzy were not going to push him to quit the GOP presidential race.
In Clint Eastwood's new film J. Edgar, Leonardo DiCaprio plays J. Edgar Hoover, the controversial longtime FBI director, from youth through old age. And when you play a man for that long, you might expect to sympathize with him somewhat. But DiCaprio tells Guy Raz on today's All Things Considered that he doesn't have sympathy or empathy for Hoover.
Originally published on Sat June 23, 2012 10:14 am
Former Penn State defensive coordinator Gerald "Jerry" Sandusky was found guilty of sexual abuse, convicted of 45 out of 48 counts on Friday, June 22. He was accused of sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period in a scandal that has rocked the university's community. Several alleged victims have testified in the trial, which began on June 11.
President Obama greets diners in Los Angeles last month. He faces long odds in his quest for re-election. Among them: unemployment, eroding support among independent voters and approval ratings that are well below those of previous presidents who won a second term.
Credit Jewel Samad / AFP/Getty Images
In 2008, Obama won the support of young and minority voters with his message of hope and change. Here, supporters of the then-presidential candidate cheer as they watch results from the Louisiana presidential primary in February 2008.
Three years ago, the state of Virginia flipped. It had voted for George W. Bush in 2004, but in 2008, it went for Barack Obama, with the help of independent voters like Emily Perri. But as Perri cast her ballot in local elections in Fairfax on Tuesday morning, she wasn't so sure she would vote for the president again.
"I'm not entirely positive, you know, another four years will help improve things or not under Obama," Perri said.
Syria's brutal repression of an anti-government movement that began in March continues — even outside its borders. In neighboring Lebanon, the disappearance of an elderly government critic underscores the long reach of the Syrian regime.
Until recently, 89-year-old Shibli al-Aisamy spent most of his time in the United States. As a founder of the pan-Arab Ba'ath Party in the 1960s, Aisamy had once served as a vice president of Syria. He later broke with then-Syrian President Hafez Assad, the father of the current president, Bashar Assad.
After two years of record payouts, Wall Street bonuses will take a hit this year, a new report says. The report finds that on average Wall Street workers will get an end-of-year bonus check worth 20 to 30 percent less than last year.