Students leave Miramonte Elementary, in the Clovis Unified School District in Los Angeles. School districts across California have taken out loans requiring payments that far exceed the original loan amounts.
More than 200 school districts across California are taking a second look at the high price of the debt they've taken on using risky financial arrangements. Collectively, the districts have borrowed billions in loans that defer payments for years — leaving many districts owing far more than they borrowed.
In 2010, officials at the West Contra Costa School District, just east of San Francisco, were in a bind. The district needed $2.5 million to help secure a federally subsidized $25 million loan to build a badly needed elementary school.
Delegates attend the last day of the U.N. climate talks in Doha, Qatar, on Friday. U.N. climate negotiators locked horns on the final day of talks in Doha to halt the march of global warming, deeply divided on extending the greenhouse gas-curbing Kyoto Protocol and funding for poor countries.
United Nations climate talks ran into overtime on Friday night, as diplomats pressed for whatever small advantage they could achieve.
As usual, the talks, which are being held in Doha, Qatar, involve closely interwoven issues. They include the usual wrangling over money, as well as early efforts in a multiyear process that is supposed to result in a new climate treaty.
Part of that involves finding a graceful way to phase out the Kyoto treaty, which has not proved to be a successful strategy for dealing with a warming planet.
Hollywood can make any actor look imposing by shooting from a low angle or building sets with short door frames. But the fact is that we want our heroes big and our villains bigger, and the average male actor is about the same size as the average American male — roughly 5 foot 9 1/2. And some very "big" stars have been a good deal less than that.
In the age of text messages, Twitter and Gchat, it's easy to consider the art of letter writing a lost one. But if you've got money to spare, why not lose yourself in the words of someone famous - like artist Vincent Van Gogh?
JOSEPH MADDALENA: (Reading) I myself believe that the annoyances one experiences in the ordinary routine of life do as much good as bad. The thing that makes on fall ill, overcome by discouragement today, that same thing gives us the energy, once the illness is over, to get up and walk to discover the next day.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish.
The nation's unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent in November, that's the lowest it's been in four years. The Labor Department's latest jobs report released this morning showed employers added more jobs than expected.
But as NPR's Jim Zarroli reports, economists warn these new numbers aren't what they appear to be.
The remaining winner of the $587.5 million Powerball jackpot has come forward to claim their share of the prize, according to lottery officials in Arizona, where the winning ticket was sold, according to ABC 15 TV in Phoenix.
The Nov. 28 drawing produced two winning tickets: one in Arizona, and one in Missouri, where Cindy and Mark Hill have already claimed their share of the prize.
Same-sex marriage proponent Kat McGuckin of Oaklyn, N.J., holds a gay marriage pride flag in front of the Supreme Court Nov. 30, 2012. The court says it will review two cases related to same-sex marriage in 2013.
Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 6:05 pm
The Supreme Court has decided to take up cases involving California's Proposition 8, which bans gay marriage, and a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The justices' rulings on the cases are likely to be announced next June, after arguments are heard in the spring. Advocates on both sides of the issue were welcoming the news.
After African-American and Latino voters turned out in record numbers to reelect President Obama, leaders for both groups are turning up the pressure on him to return the favor.
They say that minorities, who put aside their disappointments with Obama's first term to support him again, now expect the president to spend his political capital on policies that will help their communities begin to recover from the recession. In the post-election euphoria, some leaders claim, certain voters are saying, "It's our turn."
Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 1:51 pm
Many African-Americans are buzzing about the latest edition of Jet magazine, which for the first time features a gay male couple in its popular section for wedding announcements.
The magazine's Dec. 10 issue display of Ravi Perry and Paris Prince, who held their wedding ceremony in their backyard in Worcester, Mass., is being praised by LGBT activists and some readers as a societal breakthrough given the magazine's reputation for reflecting traditional black cultural mores for 61 years.
It's that time of year again — the leaves have fallen, the dark comes early, the air brings with it a certain chill — and I've been piling up books on my reading table, books I've culled from the offerings of the past few months, which because of their essential lyric beauty and power stand as special gifts for you and yours.
Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 12:42 pm
As the White House and Congress continue to wrangle over a deal to avoid the "fiscal cliff" and its billions in automatic spending cuts and tax increases, we wanted to take a look at who is spending big to influence the debate behind the scenes.
<strong>Care To Share?</strong> Wireless carriers are launching programs allowing customers to receive rewards based on information their smartphones share — such as their location, app usage and Web surfing data.
Credit AFP / AFP/Getty Images
Verizon targets businesses with a program called Precision Market Insights, which Verizon says can use collected data to boost their sales.
Customer loyalty programs have been around for years. You think nothing of giving the supermarket or pet supply store your personal information. In exchange you get a card or a key ring tag that you present at checkout to get a discount.
Now wireless carriers are taking it a step further, raising alerts from privacy advocates.
Verizon and AT&T recently launched programs allowing customers to receive rewards based on information their smartphones share with the carriers.
Indian leftist activists rally in front of a Best Price store, owned by Wal-Mart and its Indian partner, Bharti, in Hyderabad in November. The rally was organized to protest foreign direct investment in India's retail sector.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Later in the program we'll crack open the mail bag to hear what you have to say about stories we covered this week. That's Backtalk and it's coming up. But first, we want to talk about the latest unemployment numbers which are now out. The Department of Labor says that unemployment is down to its lowest level since December 2008.
Judy Smith, of Dalton, Ga., looks over paperwork as she files for unemployment benefits in August after being laid off from a catering job. More than 2 million people who get extended benefits may lose them if Congress doesn't act soon.
Credit David Goldman / AP
The total number of weeks of benefits available in any particular state depends on the unemployment rate and unemployment insurance laws in the state where the person worked. This map shows the maximum number of weeks of benefits currently available in each state.
Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 11:49 am
The Labor Department's glad tidings Friday about the uptick in job creation last month might morph into bad news next month for many of the long-term unemployed.
That's because the boost in November hiring, with employers adding 146,000 jobs, might make it more difficult for Democrats to argue in favor of having Congress renew the extension of benefits for people out of work more than six months.
Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 1:11 pm
A prank call by two Australian DJs pretending to be Queen Elizabeth has ended in tragedy this morning: The nurse who transferred the call that led to the divulging of information about a pregnant Kate Middleton was found dead in an apartment today.
The Guardian reports that the woman, Jacintha Saldanha, worked at the King Edward VII hospital, where Middleton was admitted, suffering from severe morning sickness.
Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 11:22 am
Bag-in-the-box wine doesn't have the classiest of reputations. It's usually cheap and in the past at least, has been aimed at less sophisticated consumers. But in recent years, boxed wine has tried to buck the stereotype, whether by gussying up the product packaging or simply putting higher-quality wine in the box.
If President Obama and Congress fail to reach a deal on tax and spending changes, the nation would feel a lot of fiscal pain. But it also may benefit from the long-term fiscal restraint that would come from keeping tax hikes and spending cuts in place.
Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 10:11 am
It wouldn't be the worst thing that could happen to the country.
If President Obama and Congress can't come to agreement on new tax and spending policies by the end of year, the U.S. could slip into recession, defense and domestic programs will see damaging cuts, and the American people may become convinced that Washington can't govern the nation.
On the other hand, the lack of a deal would do a lot to help erase the federal deficit.
Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 9:17 am
The bottom line on the fiscal cliff negotiations on Capitol Hill is that things seem far from resolved. As Politico put it, the last we heard is that White House congressional liaison Rob Nabors went to Capitol Hill to tell lawmakers that President Obama is not budging.
If Congress does not come to an agreement, the country is facing steep spending cuts and tax hikes that economist warn could send the economy back into recession.