Now, whoever wins the Republican nomination has to face President Obama, who got some meaningful news on Friday, when unemployment figures improved again. For that part of the story, let's turn to NPR's Cokie Roberts, as we do most Monday mornings. Cokie, good morning.
Last night in Tucson, Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords made a rare public appearance at a vigil marking the anniversary of the shooting there last year. Giffords was shot in the head, a dozen others were wounded and six people were killed.
NPR's Ted Robbins attended a weekend of memorial events.
GREENE: A 20-year ban on new mining near the Grand Canyon is expected to be finalized today by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. The ban would protect a million acres close to that American icon. Conservation groups are hailing the decision, but the mining industry and some Republicans say a permanent ban will hurt the nation's energy independence and also Arizona's economy. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
This morning, a lot of NFL football fans are still talking about the first weekend of the playoffs. And what a weekend it was. It looks like Tebow time is back in business. After several weeks of downright awful performances, Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow delivered what his fans are calling the latest miracle in his young NFL career. Tebow's 80-yard pass play with wide receiver Demaryius Thomas on the first play of overtime clinched a stunning playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, 29 to 23, last night.
Credit Hugh Talman / Courtesy of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History
First lady Michelle Obama's inaugural gown.
Credit Hugh Talman / Courtesy of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History
Grover Cleveland's wife, Frances, was a fashion icon during the late 1800s and was considered the Jackie Kennedy of her day. Her inaugural gown was more of a two-piece ensemble — an elegant floral chine skirt and a peach velvet bodice crafted by House of Doucet of Paris.
Every four years in January, Washington, D.C., plays host to the country's biggest "prom." Inaugural balls bring out happy winners, administration bigwigs and a gown — on the first lady — that will become a part of history.
An exhibition at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History displays some of those gowns. NPR Special Correspondent Susan Stamberg took her dance card to the show.
The Labor Department announced Friday that 200,000 jobs were created in December, and the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 8.5 percent. The new hiring came largely in transportation and warehousing. Tens of thousands of other people found jobs in retail and manufacturing.
Unseasonable temperatures and lack of snow have a lot of New Englanders singing the blues. In Maine, snowmobiling, ice fishing, and Nordic skiing are a big part of the winter economy. Downhill ski areas are making due with man-made snow, but those other industries have no choice but to wait for Mother Nature.
We're staying in Norristown, Pennsylvania for a workplace story about Oscar Vance. In two weeks he's retiring from the area district attorney's office where he's worked for nearly half a century. He is leaving as chief detective for Montgomery County, overseeing all investigations that come through the D.A.'s office.
In Tucson, Ariz., this weekend, ceremonies will mark the shooting one year ago that killed six people and wounded 13 others including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Giffords will be in town for the events.
The death of Kim Jong Il in North Korea and the rise of his son Kim Jong Un have threatened to undermine the delicate balance of political forces in northeast Asia. It's a complicated part of the world, involving the interests of a still-divided Korean peninsula along with China, the U.S., as well as Japan and Russia. NPR's Mike Shuster has more from Seoul.
NPR's business news starts with predictions for 2012.
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INSKEEP: Director of the International Monetary Fund says this year will not be the end of the euro currency, despite the debt crisis in Europe. Christine Lagarde said during a visit to South Africa today that sovereign debt is a concern for many European countries, obviously. But the euro currency, she said, is solid.
Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been a favorite in New Hampshire, but Rick Santorum is now getting a second look by conservative voters. Steve Inskeep and Linda Wertheimer talk to NPR's Mara Liasson and Ken Rudin about the GOP presidential race.
Corporations don't lobby Congress for fun. They lobby because it helps their bottom line. Getting a regulation gutted or a tax loophole created means extra cash for the corporation. But getting laws changed can be very expensive. How much money does a corporation get back from investing in a good lobbyist?
It's a messy, secretive system so it was always hard to study. But in 2004, economists found a bill so simple, so lucrative, that they could finally track the return on lobbying investment.
In author Thomas Caplan's new novel, The Spy Who Jumped Off The Screen, the president asks movie star Ty Hunter to return to action as a secret agent.
Caplan himself is personally acquainted with a former commander in chief. President Clinton and he were once roommates.
"I was a student at Georgetown University. When we arrived as heady freshmen in 1964, because of the alphabet, I was assigned a room next to Bill Clinton," Caplan tells Morning Edition host Linda Wertheimer. "And we've remained friends ever since."
You know it because countless magazines have screamed it at you from the checkout line. Because the gym you walk past every morning is waiving its initiation fee. The holidays are over. It's time to get in shape. So pull on your gym shorts and tighten the laces on your running shoes.
Oh yeah, and don't forget your headphones. You're going to need some motivation, and nothing gets the job done like music. Need proof? We just happen to have some, courtesy of neuroscientist Robert Zatorre, who spoke with Morning Edition's Linda Wertheimer.
In 2008, Richard Bennett had been out of the Marines for nearly three years after being injured in Iraq. That's when he caught the attention of Craig Williams, who was looking for a partner to help expand his successful construction business in Norristown, Pa.
"I had developed a pretty solid construction company, and I wanted a partner," says Williams, 44. "As an African-American businessman, I wanted a young African-American soldier coming home. It seemed like a great opportunity to provide an opportunity."
Good morning. I'm Linda Wertheimer. For 35 years, Willis Welch received a pie every Christmas. From whom? He has no idea. Now the Columbus Dispatch reports the sweet streak is over. This Christmas, the last pie came with a note explaining, I am a little too fat to fly anymore. Signed, Pie Fairy. The 87-year-old says whoever it was knew him well enough to always bring his favorite - pecan pie. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
The Green Bay Packers are favored to repeat as Super Bowl champions, according to oddsmakers in Las Vegas. The Denver Broncos are not favorites. Quarterback Tim Tebow's team managed one close victory after another this season. But the odds are 120-1 against Denver winning it all.
President Obama campaigned outside Cleveland, Ohio, Wednesday, where he announced the appointment of a new consumer watchdog. The president used a recess appointment to install Richard Cordray. That might have been routine, but the Senate is not officially in recess.
Residents of Wichita, Kansas, are outraged after Boeing announced Wednesday that it will close a massive defense plant there. More than 2,000 highly skilled jobs will be gone by the end of next year. The announcement sparked considerable frustration among elected officials who had been lead to believe that more Boeing jobs were on the way to Wichita.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning. People have been making campaign stops in New Hampshire for months. But now the campaign intensifies for the nation's first primary. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is favored, but other Republican candidates are looking for a strong showing in next Tuesday's voting, and most are crossing the state this week.
Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour performs at a concert in November in Tunisia paying tribute to Tunisian youth and the revolution that inspired the Arab Spring. The popular international celebrity has announced plans to stand in his country's presidential election in February.
Credit Dai Kurokawa / AFP/Getty Images
N'Dour, who was serving as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador at the time, visits a food distribution center at the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya last fall.
N'Dour gained an international audience in 1994 with his hit song "Seven Seconds," with Neneh Cherry. He went on to earn a Grammy in 2004 for the album Egypt, becoming one of Africa's most influential and popular singers.
Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum finished virtually even in Iowa's caucuses Tuesday, but after Rep. Michele Bachmann's sixth-place finish, she announced Wednesday that she is suspending her campaign. For more on the GOP race and the next contest — Tuesday's New Hampshire primary — Linda Wertheimer talks with NPR's Brian Naylor, who's in the city of Manchester.
Erik McBee, 15, faced a test of his survival skills. He was traveling on Southwest Airlines, and fell asleep. He slept through the landing at his destination, Tulsa. KPHO TV says he woke up in St. Louis with no contacts, no money and no phone.