For analysis of the political dynamics at play during the funeral of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, Steve Inskeep talks to Stephen Bosworth, Dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University. From 2009 until October 2011 he was the U.S. Special Envoy to North Korea.
Capping more than a week of public mourning, North Korea staged a dramatic state funeral for its late leader, Kim Jong Il. Leading the ceremonies was Kim's third son and apparent successor, Kim Jong Un.
North Korean media reports portray the younger Kim, who is reportedly in his late 20s, in full control of the impoverished, nuclear-armed country. But while consolidating his political power may be easy, establishing his legitimacy will be tougher.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
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And I'm Linda Wertheimer.
In New England, fishermen are bracing for what may be unprecedented restrictions, or even a shutdown, of cod fishing in the Gulf of Maine. Federal regulators say new data show cod as dangerously overfished. But fishermen say they don't believe that, and say drastic restrictions would be catastrophic. NPR's Tovia Smith reports.
NPR's business news starts with Iran shaking the oil markets.
Oil prices are higher this morning after a top Iranian official threatened to block a considerable part of the world's oil supply, if new economic sanctions are imposed on his country. The official spoke of blocking oil tankers from moving through the Straits of Hormuz; that's the opening from the Persian Gulf, a major transit route for a number of nations, and it goes right past the Iranian shore.
Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich continues his bus tour of Iowa. After leading in the polls, he's had setbacks in recent days. Negative campaign ads by his opponents have hurt him with some voters. And on Tuesday, the former House speaker found his message side tracked by new disclosures involving the divorce from his first wife.
Wendy's is reentering the world's second largest fast food market, Japan. The burger chain left Japan in 2009 in a dispute with its local business partner. Now it's coming back in style. Our last word in business today is fancy fast food.
Instead of a basic burger, Wendy's wants to appeal to Japan's more finicky fast food eaters with a new, luxurious menu, featuring a truffle and forchini-grilled chicken sandwich and a foie gras burger, goose liver pate on top of the beef patty.
<strong>Reason To Smile:</strong> Samuel Palmisano, president and CEO of IBM, walks by an IBM logo at the CeBIT technology fair in Hanover, Germany. Palmisano is set to step down later this month, and Virginia Rometty will take over on Jan. 1.
Far from a relic, IBM has been one of the best stocks on the Dow this year, rising more than perennial tech hotshots Google and Apple. The company may be 100, but it has totally remade its business for the 21st century.
The company sold its PC business 6 years ago, and now, more than 83 percent of its business is services and software. Sign a contract with Big Blue and you get consulting, cloud computing, servers, analytics, even financing.
"There is no such thing as an IBM PC," says IBM managing partner Adam Klaber.
Ah, we still do the town on New Year's Eve, but tearing the goal posts down is now verboten. Deemed too dangerous. In fact, as our new year approaches, it's a good time to look back on several other things in sport that have long since faded away.
Who remembers, for example, that at the end of each inning in the field, baseball players would just chuck their gloves onto the grass behind their position, leaving the field littered with mitts. All game long.
As 2011 winds down, Morning Edition is looking at music we missed over the past 12 months. Gregory Douglass is a pianist and guitarist from a small town in Vermont who blends electronic pop with folk and rock. At 31, he has already recorded eight albums, most of them released on a label he founded.
Douglass creates the sort of textured sound that you'd think comes from a big-budget studio, but he's on his own. His fans pre-order his albums before they're recorded, which helps pay his production costs. His latest is titled Lucid.
NPR's business news starts with Sears closing stores.
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INSKEEP: The holiday shopping season has gone well for some retailers, but apparently not for Sears Holdings, the company that owns Sears and Kmart. It plans to shut down up to 120 stores. Sears operates 4,000 outlets in the U.S. and Canada right now. The company says Kmart sales of clothing and consumer electronics fell, and at Sears there was not much demand for home appliances.
Isaiah Cutler, 18, is in jail accused of burglarizing a market with three friends and taking thousands in cash and merchandise. An hour later, he supposedly posted pictures of the fellows and their stash on Facebook. A relative saw the photos, alerted grandma and she called the cops.
The Arab League is formally launching its monitoring mission in Syria Tuesday. It's not certain they'll get to the central city of Homs, an opposition stronghold under siege by the Syrian army. There, doctors are forced to treat injured anti-government protesters in an underground network.
Nearly three decades ago, Kenny Buchanan decided to drop out of school. Over the last 26 years, he's jumped from job to job and unemployment. He now has a full-time job and for the first time in years, he and his family have health insurance and can enjoy a few luxuries.
In Texas, a private intelligence company has apparently been hacked by the loosely organized activist group Anonymous. Some members claim they obtained personal information about Stratfor's clients, as well as thousands of credit cards numbers which were then used to make donations to charities. But other members have disavowed the hacking job. Freelance journalist Quinn Norton, who has profiled Anonymous for Wired Magazine, talks to Linda Wertheimer about the breach.
As North Korea prepares for the funeral of leader Kim Jong Il, attention is being focused on the country his son, heir apparent Kim Jong Un, will inherit. Like almost everything to do with North Korea, the picture of how the country's economy works is cloudy.
We're nearing the end of an unusual year for movies. No single film has dominated the conversation in Hollywood. Some celebrated films this year refer to the past of the movie industry itself, like the silent film "The Artist," or "Hugo," which becomes a tale of old film preservation.
As 2011 winds down, Morning Edition is looking at music we missed over the past 12 months. R&B singer Anthony Hamilton is one artist that slipped under our noses; we just missed his album Back To Love, which came out earlier this month. Hamilton's been in the music business for two decades, during which he's had a mostly black audience. Now, with Back To Love, he's gaining even wider appeal.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command keeps an eye on Saint Nick's progress from an Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo. NORAD volunteers in elf hats fielded more than 100,000 calls from kids checking on Santa.
The VA hospital in Milwaukee is shortening its residential mental health treatment programs. Doctors there say the shortened stay — from 90 to 45 days — will mean more intense treatment and will make it easier for veterans to transition back into society sooner. Some patients worry about being pushed out too soon.
Perhaps more than any other major professional sports league in this country, the National Basketball Association is star-driven. And yesterday, the stars did not disappoint. A Christmas slate of season-opening games featured the electric play of the league's Most Valuable Player, Derrick Rose, and the NBA's top scorer, Kevin Durant, and this guy named LeBron James as well. NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman monitored as much as he could of 13 hours of NBA action. And he joins me now.