President Obama paid a historic visit to Myanmar today. The southeast Asian country, also known as Burma, is tiptoeing towards democracy after almost 50 years in military rule. Mr. Obama met with the former leader who is now the president of Burma and with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is not a member of parliament after years of house arrest. The visit is the centerpiece of the president's three-day Asian tour, which is meant to underscore the United States' growing involvement in the region.
Emergency managers around the nation have been paying close attention to the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. From California, NPR's Richard Gonzales a look at what lessons disaster planners there say they've learned.
RICHARD GONZALES, BYLINE: Superstorm Sandy didn't sneak up on anybody.
CHRISTOPHER GODLEY: They had days of warning before it made landfall, before the damage really started to occur, so people could prepare themselves, their families, their neighborhoods.
This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.
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The day had started with more intense air attacks between Israel and the militant Hamas rulers of Gaza. Overnight air raids pushed the Palestinian death toll to more than 90, with more than 700 wounded. The numbers on the Israeli side are dramatically lower, with three dead so far.
NPR's business news begins with credit card debt rising.
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MONTAGNE: Americans are running up more debt on their credit cards, and that could be a good sign. The average American had almost $5,000 of credit card debt in the third quarter of 2012, up almost 5 percent over the previous quarter.
And in Austin, Texas, after a five-year absence, Formula One racing returned to the U.S. A Formula One track called the Circuit of the Americas, was inaugurated over the weekend in a race won by Lewis Hamilton. Formula One is immensely popular in Europe and much of the world, but it's failed to win a big audience in the U.S., dwarfed by the homegrown culture of NASCAR and the Indy circuit.
Hostess Brands today begins the process of selling off its assets in a bankruptcy court in New York. That process has struck fear in the hearts of lovers of the sugary-sweet Hostess products, like Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Ho Hos. Sensing a Twinkie panic and a possible shortage, over the weekend some entrepreneurs took to eBay, offering up many Hostess brands at some very exorbitant prices.
It's an anniversary that most Americans can celebrate — the birthday of the big-box store. Discount shopping as we know it began 50 years ago. In 1962, enterprising retailers invented Wal-Mart, Target and Kmart.
Sierra Leone's "blood diamonds" helped fuel atrocities in the impoverished West African nation in the 1990s. The war has now been over for a decade, and the country's most valuable resource is no longer known as the product of a conflict. But it remains a contentious issue.
For those who want to buy Nintendo's new video game console, you may have to wait a while. The Wii U goes on sale Sunday, but many stores have already sold out pre-orders. On Amazon, you can find the new console, but for much more than Nintendo's $350 price.
To find out what's the big deal for gamers and for Nintendo is, we've called Daisuke Wakabayashi. He covers Japanese video game companies for The Wall Street Journal, and joins us from Tokyo.
Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep. People trying to help victims of Hurricane Sandy have hit bottom. People sent clothes but did not think to send underwear. Apparently this is a regular problem for people in need. Enough so that a Colorado nonprofit called Underwearness exists to send underpants to the needy. They raise money with an annual race, which people run without any pants. This nonprofit is sending 2,500 pairs of kids' underwear to storm-soaked Staten Island. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Good morning. I'm Linda Wertheimer. A Japanese spa resort made quite a splash yesterday in a pool spiked with Beaujolais Nouveau, the first vintage of the season from the famous French wine region. The fresh and fruity drink was released yesterday. The spa near Mt. Fuji celebrated with wine in glasses, as well: sips and dips for spa customers. The spa also promised beautiful, smooth skin. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
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And I'm Linda Wertheimer. Former CIA Director David Petraeus is testifying before two congressional committees today. He's been called to discuss the CIA's role in the attack at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, back in September; an attack that took the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens. This also happens to be General Petraeus' first public appearance on Capitol Hill since he resigned over an extramarital affair.
Originally published on Sun November 18, 2012 7:25 am
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As Israel and Hamas continue launching attacks, residents of the Israeli city of Tel Aviv and communities to its south remain on alert for missile strikes. Sheera Frenkel reports that many fear the current round of violence is nowhere close to being over.
Listen carefully to both President Obama and Republican leaders, and you hear hints of room for compromise. They're talking of taxes and spending as a deadline approaches, December 31st, when higher taxes and spending cuts would take effect. That would reduce the federal deficit, but also damage the economy, according to forecasters.
President Obama returned yesterday to the scene of Hurricane Sandy's devastation; this time, visiting hard-hit areas of New York. He promised to stick with residents until the rebuilding effort is complete. Here's NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson.
NPR's business news starts with more mortgage problems.
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INSKEEP: Independent auditors released a report this morning, showing that the Federal Housing Administration is facing a shortfall from losses on the mortgages it insures. The Obama administration says it's going to take steps to prevent a taxpayer bailout.
As NPR's Ailsa Chang reports, the FHA has been struggling since the foreclosure crisis hit four years ago.
Israel's neighbor Jordan had largely avoided the unrest sparked by the Arab Spring until now. Jordan's king has outlasted protests that have been much smaller than in other nations, but a government move to raise fuel prices sparked fresh protests and even calls for King Abdullah to step down. A protester who died in a clash with police has become a symbol of protesters' fury. NPR's Leila Fadel has the story.
Originally published on Fri November 16, 2012 4:49 am
The two biggest fears of the fiscal cliff are defense cuts and tax hikes. The nation's mayors say the devastating effects of automatic cuts reach further than the Defense Department — right into their own cities. Steve Inskeep talks to the Democratic Mayor of Charleston, S.C., Jospeh Riley and Republican Mayor Scott Smith of Mesa, Ariz., about the impact sequestration could have in their cities.
Honda, which has long aspired to launch off the road and into the skies, is one step closer to that goal. It has started production on its HondaJet. It's a twin jet engine aircraft, being assembled in North Carolina, aimed at the business market. Industry insiders call it the "Honda Civic of the skies."
Voters in Washington and Colorado just approved measures legalizing marijuana for recreational use. But businesses that want to sell marijuana in those states will face a problem: No bank wants to do business with them.
I called several banks in Washington. I called a local credit union, a tiny bank in the San Juan islands. Everybody said basically the same thing. Even if selling marijuana is legal under state law, it's still illegal under federal law. And banks and credit unions worry that this could get them in trouble.
Whenever there's a disaster, people want to give, and Hurricane Sandy is no exception. According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, U.S. charities collected more than $174 million in donations as of Nov. 9 to help respond to the storm.
But it's not only money that has been pouring in. Relief programs have also received mountains of clothes, food and other supplies, not all of which are needed.
Leo Tolstoy's epic novel Anna Karenina has captivated readers since the 1800s — and movie directors have been among the intrigued, adapting the story over and over.
The latest is from director Joe Wright, who with Pride and Prejudice and Atonement to his credit certainly knows his way around a literary adaptation. Those films starred Keira Knightley, who has worked with Wright once again as the story's tragic heroine.
Every so often, people at an NPR station discover a song they can't get enough of. On those occasions, we ask them to share their obsession with the nation. Ben Famous is the music director at KCEP Power88 in Las Vegas. He spoke to Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep about a new cut from R&B heavyweight Avant. It's called "You and I," and it features Keke Wyatt. "The first time we played it," says Famous, "the phone lines lit up, and people were like, 'Who was that?' 'What was that?'"
Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep. First, they taxed the rich, and the people said nothing. Then they went after the Nutella. The French Senate approved a measure tripling the tax on palm oil and other vegetable oils. It would sharply raise the cost of making Nutella, a popular chocolate and hazelnut spread. The tax is meant to cut down on obesity, but has prompted an outcry from Nutella lovers. And the maker of the spread promises the recipe will not change. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.