An economic war of words has broken out between France and Britain as both nations try to hang on to their coveted AAA ratings. There is speculation that France will be downgraded soon. Meanwhile, the head of France's central bank suggested that rating agencies might want to take a closer look at Britain.
Just days after the final withdrawal of U.S. troops, Iraq is in the midst of a growing political crisis. Aides to Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki say one of his main rivals, ordered attacks on Shiite politicians.
It's winter and the Great Plains has gotten walloped:
"From northern New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle through Oklahoma and northwestern Kansas," The Associated Press writes, "blizzard conditions [on Monday and into today] put state road crews on alert and had motorists taking refuge and early exits off major roads."
Morning Edition asked listeners to write in about a dish they only make during the holiday season. Monica Bencomo of Albuquerque, New Mexico, wrote in to tell us about her favorite holiday dish: menudo, a red chili-based soup.
During the holidays, beer manufacturers roll out seasonal brews. And now, in addition to Ebenezer Ale and Santa's Private Reserve, there's a relative newcomer for Chanukah: a chocolate rye porter from a micro-brewer in Portland, Oregon.
New York Time columnist Gail Collins has written extensively about the idiosyncrasies of presidential families. But her fascination with Mitt Romney may take the cake. Dozens of her columns have cited the tale of Mitt Romney tying his dog in a crate to the roof of his station wagon and driving the family on vacation.
As residents of the Chinese village of Wukan continue their rebellion against local government land seizures, NPR is uncovering evidence of the scale of the problem. Many villages around Wukan — which has been sealed off by police and paramilitary troops — also accuse corrupt officials of selling off their land.
In North Korea, streams of mourners are paying their last respects to the country's longtime leader who died over the weekend. In the three days since Kim Jong Il's death, little has emerged about what's next in North Korea other than a state funeral has been set for next week.
NPR's business news starts with a mobile phone patent wars.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
WERTHEIMER: Smartphone makers have filed dozens of lawsuits against one another for patent infringement. Yesterday, a federal agency handed Apple a limited victory in a closely watched case. It's one of the first of many mobile patent disputes to be decided.
GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is accusing his Republican opponents of what he says is reprehensible behavior — running attack ads in Iowa against the former House Speaker. Before a crowd of supporters in Hiawatha, Iowa, Gingrich stressed that the negative GOP attack ads are bad for the party and bad for voters.
Metropolitan State Hospital employees and supporters gathered outside the hospital in Norwalk, Calif., this summer to protest repeated assaults at the hands of mental patients, and what they called dangerous working conditions.
Workers dig at a mine in Chudja, near Bunia, north eastern Congo. The conflict in the Congo, a nation rich in mineral resources such as gold, diamonds, tin, and cobalt, has often been linked to a struggle for control over its minerals resources.
Delly Mawazo Sesete wants American consumers to know what is in their smart phones, computers and other electronics and where U.S. companies like Apple are getting those rare metals.
Sesete says that, without knowing, consumers in the U.S. could be fueling conflicts in Eastern Congo. The human rights activist is from a remote part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where armed groups are wreaking havoc and get much of their funding from mining rare metals.
Jake Finkbonner, shown with his father, Donny, and mother, Elsa, nearly died after contracting a flesh-eating bacterium. His family and friends prayed for a miracle, and now the Vatican has declared that his recovery was considered a miracle by the church.
In February 2006, 5-year-old Jake Finkbonner fell and hit his head while playing basketball at his school in Ferndale, Wash. Soon, he developed a fever and his head swelled. His mother, Elsa, rushed him to Seattle Children's Hospital, where the doctors realized Jake was battling a flesh-eating bacterium called Strep A.
"It traveled all around his face, his scalp, his neck, his chest," she recalls, "and why it didn't travel to his brain or his eyeballs or his heart? He was protected."
Mikael Blomkvist, the investigative journalist who teams up with the title character in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, is the second iconic character that actor Daniel Craig (right, with Christopher Plummer) has tackled in the space of a half-decade.
Credit MGM/United Artists / The Kobal Collection
The smooth, daring James Bond — Craig's other franchise-icon role — is the polar opposite of Blomkvist, the average guy. Craig says Blomkvist's appeal is his honest nature, driven by a sense of injustice.
Actor Daniel Craig is used to taking on iconic characters. In 2006, he famously shook up the 007 franchise as a new, blond James Bond. And his latest on-screen character, though he has somewhat less swagger and not nearly as much style, is almost as well-known.
In David Fincher's film of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Craig plays investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist, the leading man in a trio of thrillers by Swedish author Stieg Larsson that has sold 65 million copies worldwide.
Newt Gingrich has seen his once-sizable lead in Iowa collapse over the past couple of weeks. One of Gingrich's rivals, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, has taken to the airwaves with very tough ads targeting the former House speaker. And a pro-Mitt Romney super PAC has also run ads criticizing Gingrich. All this raises a question: Does traditional, on-the-airwaves negative advertising still work?
Today, Syria signed an agreement that would allow Arab League observers into the country. It's all in a bid to end its isolation and the nine-month standoff between the government of President Bashar Assad and protesters who are demanding his ouster.
Margaret Thatcher's policies as British prime minister earned her the nickname "The Iron Lady," and now that's also the title of a new film about her life.
Thatcher was famously tough on British labor unions, IRA hunger strikers, the Soviet Union and the war with Argentina over the Falkland Islands. So in the film, when visiting U.S. Secretary of State Alexander Haig questions Thatcher's knowledge of war, the then-prime minister's response is predictably unyielding.
After the federal regulators raised questions about AT&T's bid to buy T-Mobile USA, the telecommunications company said it was scrapping its $39 billion bid. The merger would have made AT&T the largest wireless carrier in the United States.
The Salvation Army bell ringers and their iconic red kettles have been a familiar sight during the holidays for more than 120 years. Although in the past bell ringers were primarily volunteers, for many behind the kettle today, the temporary job has become a life saver.
For first-time bell ringers Lynn and Rusty Smith, it's helping keep them afloat during tough economic times. They work 8 hours a day ringing a Salvation Army bell for minimum wage.
In this age of bland romantic comedy leads, when the feminine ideal seems to mix two parts sweetly smiling Jennifer Aniston with three parts saucer-eyed Rapunzel, nothing can bring more satisfaction than the antiheroine.
Kim Jong Un, who is expected to become North Korea's next leader, claps after inspecting the construction site of a power station. This undated photo was released by the Korean Central News Agency on Nov. 4, 2010.
North Korea has yet to formally name its new leader and it may take a while before it does. But there's a clear favorite. Kim Jong Un was anointed back in 2009 to succeed his father Kim Jong Il, the country's longtime leader, whose death was announced on Monday.
If Kim does follow his father and grandfather as ruler of the secretive nation, he will face huge challenges. He's not yet 30 years old and yet would be running a society that inherently favors leaders seen as experienced and wise, rather than young and untested.
Originally published on Thu January 5, 2012 3:40 pm
The year 2011, it seems, was a good one for celebrity booze. The famous fellows who launched their own labels this year weren't your run-of-the-mill rappers touting trendy liquors or champagnes, though. (I'm looking at you, Diddy.) Instead, several aging rockers, a professional athlete, and an actor decided the time had come to hawk wine, spirits or beer.
The changing of the guard in North Korea poses clear risks for the United States.
Kim Jong Il's son, Kim Jong Un, looks to be the likely successor. But he's still in his 20s and has had little time to prepare to take over the country. Analysts say that because he's weak, he won't be in any position to get back to nuclear disarmament talks and make concessions.
Kim Jong Un may also be tempted to take provocative actions to establish his leadership credentials, and the Obama administration has to take all this into account as it decides on next steps.
It's here. The cholesterol-fighter Liptor, the biggest hit in the history of the pharmaceutical industry, is now widely available in generic form.
The Pfizer drug finally lost its U.S. patent protection at the end of November, opening the door for cheaper substitutes (atorvastatin, generically) and ending the monopoly for one of the most profitable brand-name products of any kind.