Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. For a Montana woman who lost her Christmas shopping money in J.C. Penney, Black Friday sure looked like a bad deal. Carrie McNeese had stashed $300 in a plain envelope, along with a few receipts and her grandchildren's clothing sizes.
Those few clues, combined with a surveillance tape, helped Penney's loss-prevention supervisor identify the shopper who dropped the envelope, and reunite her with her cash. Now, that is a return policy.
The paper wrote of horse-drawn carriages in New York's Central Park, calling them "hansom cabs." That's wrong, since the carriages have four wheels. Hansom cabs have two. A Times investigation reveals a reader noted this mistake in a letter to the editor in 1985. The paper published the letter but went on to repeat the error for decades.
One hundred years ago Wednesday, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen and his team were the first to reach the South Pole on skis. Veteran traveler Felicity Aston is nearing another first: becoming the first woman to ski across Antarctica alone.
Reached by NPR by satellite phone early Wednesday morning, Aston was about a degree and a half — 100 miles — from the South Pole. For Aston, a degree is about four days skiing. She's been skiing for 20 days. Overall, Aston will travel about 1,000 miles.
In the middle of a debt crisis and with a French presidential election looming, lawmakers from the left and right found something to agree on: prostitution. After years of taking a relaxed approach to prostitution, France may be about to outlaw the practice - not on the seller's part, but on the buyer's. Eleanor Beardsley has the story.
A Nativity scene in Caracas features the traditional baby Jesus born in a manger. But those standing nearby include a figure of President Hugo Chavez. The scene also makes a case that Chavez should qualify as a wise man. It includes a miniature cable car, symbolizing infrastructure improvements for which the president wants to be known.
Tommaso began life as a stray cat on the streets of Rome until he was rescued by a wealthy widow. The 94 year old had no children, according to ABC News. So when she died last month, she left her entire fortune to the cat. That's $13 million.
State and local authorities in Florida are investigating the loss of more than 2,300 beehives in Brevard County. Officials have identified an insecticide that is commonly used to kill roaches, ticks and flees. It was found in a container used to feed the bees in the hives. Now officials need to find the culprit who fed the bees the poison.
A spirited fight is on in Iowa for the evangelical vote in the Republican race for president. So far, Christian conservatives have not coalesced behind one candidate, the way they did four years ago for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
In Egypt, Islamists are once again expected to dominate at the ballot box, in the second round of parliamentary elections. Their anticipated win in a vote that begins tomorrow has many secular Egyptians fearing the new parliament will turn their country into a theocracy. Secular candidates say they will not go down without a fight. Some are even trying to use religion to lure voters away from the Islamists.
NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson has this report from Cairo.
Criticism against the home improvement chain Lowes isn't letting up. It started after Lowes dropped its ads from the reality TV show "All-American Muslim" in response to pressure from a conservative Christian group. Now an online petition has nearly 20,000 signatures calling on the store to reinstate the ads. Lowes, in a statement, says simply, it is committed to diversity. NPR's Elizabeth Blair has the story.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep.
Let's follow up on a weekend of protest in Russia. Allegations of fraud in a parliamentary election sent tens of thousands of people into the streets demonstrating against the party of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Behind that tainted election was an undercurrent of dissatisfaction with Putin himself, who used to be president, remains dominant today, and is preparing to retake the top job.
A disputed election in the Democratic Republic of Congo has returned sitting President Joseph Kabila to power for the next five years. The opposition claims there was election fraud. Congo's influential Catholic church has voiced reservations about the conduct of the elections.
In recent years, China's real estate market has boomed. A three-bedroom apartment in Shanghai overlooking the river would cost more than $3 million. But that's beginning to change. The slide comes as the world's most dynamic economy grapples with other challenges, including massive local government debt and slowing growth.
It was a busy day yesterday for presidential politicking in New Hampshire. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich traded barbs over Romney's proposed ten-thousand dollar bet with Texas Governor Rick Perry, as well as Gingrich's consulting fees earned working for mortgage giant Freddie Mac. New Hampshire Public Radio's Josh Rogers reports.
More than 20 years ago, Congress ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate toxic air pollution. It's done that for most industries, but not the biggest polluters — coal and oil-burning power plants.
The EPA now plans to change that later this week, by setting new rules to limit mercury and other harmful pollution from power plants.
When Congress first told the EPA to regulate toxic air pollution in 1990, pediatrician Lynn Goldman was investigating the impact of mercury from mining operations on Native American families living near a contaminated lake.
Although all works of fiction and narrative nonfiction have characters — be they animals, hobbits, dragons, humans, werewolves or whatever — I've found that there are some books in which these characters are three-dimensional and awfully interesting. (Whether or not they're likable is another question.) These characters become, as the story progresses, more and more real to me. It's as though they've become good friends.
The greased tracks forced the train to slow, and then the robbers used a tow truck with a hook to scoop corn out of the freight cars. It's believed they got away with 55 tons of corn which, given the current prices, should be worth thousands of dollars.
Let's report, next, on a surprise agreement on climate change. United Nations climate talks in South Africa were not expected to produce much, but negotiators for many nations did make a deal, one that could lead to a major new climate treaty at the end of the decade. NPR's Richard Harris is in Durban, South Africa covering the story. Hi, Richard.
NPR's business news starts with Occupy Wall Street and West Coast ports.
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INSKEEP: Occupy protesters in cities up and down the West Coast are attempting to paralyze some of the nation's busiest ports today. Organizers say they expect thousands of demonstrators to turn out for what they're calling Wall Street on the Waterfront.
Let's come back to this country now, where we're expecting a court hearing today in the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal - it comes tomorrow. Among those expected to testify is the man designated by the grand jury as Victim One. His story of alleged abuse prompted a major investigation and brought this case to light.
On the tenth anniversary of the Supreme Court Bush v. Gore decision, Steve Inskeep reports that collectors have bought up those punch-card voting machines that caused the hanging chad confusion of the 2000 election. Jim Dobyns bought 4,500 machines in Palm Beach County and has sold nearly all of them.
And as the president does that, the race for the Republican presidential nomination continues. Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney are the leaders in the race for that nomination. They faced each other in a debate in Des Moines, Iowa Saturday night.