Gary Locke is Washington's ambassador to Beijing. He took over the post after Jon Huntsman left. Locke is the first U.S. ambassador to China to have roots in that country — his ancestors hail from a village in southern China. He serves at a time of enormous change, a time when many Americans see China as a threat. Ambassador Locke talks to Steve Inskeep about his impressions of China and its government.
The economy may be improving but state governments are still working to repair the damage to their books. We're keeping track with a series of reports, and we go this morning to the nation's most populous state, which has some of the nation's largest problems.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
Here in California today, Governor Jerry Brown gives the State of the State address. He'll outline more cuts to government programs while asking voters to approve a measure to raise taxes. Here's NPR's Richard Gonzales.
Even if Wikipedia was working, you couldn't use it to locate information about Mitt Romney's most recent tax filings. He has yet to make that tax information public.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Under pressure from his opponents, Romney says he will release information in April.
MONTAGNE: But yesterday, Romney did let slip a provocative tax detail. He acknowledged he's probably paying an effective tax rate of around 15 percent. And that's well below the rate that many middle-class families pay.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne.
When President Obama met yesterday with the king of Jordan, much of their talk focused on Jordan's neighbor, Syria. Both governments are trying to figure out how to pressure Syria's president to step down. So far, 10 months of protest by Syria's own people hasn't convinced Bashar al-Assad to do that. Instead, he's cracked down.
It's the latest salvo in the two companies' global patent war, according to Bloomberg News. This time Apple is trying to ban sales of 10 Samsung smartphone models, claiming the Korean company copied Apple's design. It's also suing Samsung claiming it copied the iPad.
Let's stay with Internet news for a moment. Yahoo is undergoing another big management shakeup. Yesterday, Jerry Yang, the co-founder and former CEO, said he is stepping down from the company's board of directors.
NPR's Steve Henn has more from Silicon Valley.
STEVE HENN, BYLINE: For months late last year, Yahoo's board of directors was mulling a deal that could have sold the Internet company or broken it apart.
Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. Remember life before Wikipedia? Well, I don't, but tomorrow, we'll all get to revisit those days. The English-language version of the online encyclopedia will shut down for 24 hours, protesting an anti-piracy bill in Congress. Visitors to Wikipedia will be encouraged to call Congress. The site's co-founder, Jimmy Wales, tweeted he hopes visitors will melt the phone systems in Washington. He also warned students: Do your homework early. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Alexis Rodriguez was treated for pneumonia, and received a bill for nearly $45 million. Grateful as he was for the care, the unemployed doorman complained. The Daily News reports the billing firm printed the invoice number instead of the price: $300.
Under heavy pressure from his rivals, front-runner Mitt Romney defended his record as a venture capitalist. He also insisted he bears no responsibility for attack ads aired by his allies, and grudgingly said he might release his income tax returns this spring.
Small business owners say they're getting more optimistic about the economy, and about their own prospects. That's according to a survey by the National Federation of Independent Businesses, an influential business group. And this is among several recent reports suggesting the economy is continuing to improve.
NPR's Chris Arnold has more.
CHRIS ARNOLD, BYLINE: Small businesses are getting more confident. And that's a good sign, says John Silvia, the chief economist at Wells Fargo.
There is no law against walking out the door during intermission, but it can be a dilemma. You're at a concert or a play and for whatever reason decide you don't really want to go back for the second half of the performance. If enough people think the same thing, it can mean a lot of empty seats after the break. It's something audience members do think about. And as NPR's Elizabeth Blair tells us, so do theaters and orchestras, some of which are tightening up their act.
The European company Airbus reports it took a record number of orders in 2011 — more than 1,400. The surge was driven by demand for its revamped A-320 aircraft which is supposed to be more fuel efficient. Meanwhile Boeing sold only about 800 aircraft last year.
Let's report next on the food supply in this country. With so many Americans out of work, people feel the change in prices at the grocery store. So it's at least a potential relief to learn what the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported about the nation's crop supply the other day. The supply of corn, used in many kinds of food and fuel, is not as tight as expected, so the price of corn quickly fell 50 cents a bushel. But Harvest Public Media's Eric Durban reports it may take time to see a difference.
The Republican presidential candidates gathered last night In Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for a debate. Myrtle Beach is also the site for the first convention of the South Carolina Tea Party Coalition.
Egyptian cyber activist and former Google executive Wael Ghonim talks to Steve Inskeep about his new book Revolution 2.0, which chronicles his role, and that of social media, in the toppling the regime of Hosni Mubarak.
As they air their disagreements, the Republican presidential candidates agree on one thing: They want to repeal President Obama's health care law.
RENEE MONTAGNE, BYLINE: The biggest part of that law - a requirement that almost everybody must have insurance - does not take effect until well after the election. But any repeal effort would be complicated, because some of the law is already in effect.
INSKEEP: NPR's Julie Rovner is here to talk about how the law is changing the health care landscape. Hi, Julie.
The brewer of Yuengling based in Pottsville, Pa., is now the largest American beermaker. Other popular beers like Bud are now owned by foreign companies. Yuengling shipments grew last year to about 2.5 million barrels, edging out the maker of Samuel Adams.
In 1947, Vogue magazine sent Rosamond Bernier to Paris to cover European cultural life as it recovered after World War II. She met everyone who was anybody — Pablo Picasso befriended her, Henri Matisse gave her fashion tips, Alice B. Toklas baked for her. Bernier's memoir Some of My Lives is a lively compendium of this movable feast of art and genius — and of the author's own considerable charm.
Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. Americans honor Martin Luther King, Jr. today. And those visiting his new 30-foot tall memorial in Washington, D.C. will find a quote that reads: I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness. Well, it may be carved in granite, but it's not actually what the civil rights leader said. Fixing a quote embedded in three feet of stone presents quite a challenge, but it will be changed to more accurately honor Dr. King's memory. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Football fans were again glued to their TVs over the weekend, and the latest round of the NFL playoffs did not disappoint. The team with the best record in the regular season, the Green Bay Packers, lost to the New York Giants. And the New England Patriots beat the Denver Broncos, tamping down Tebow mania.
Here to discuss it all is NPR's Mike Pesca. Good morning.
You may have seen the dramatic images over the weekend: a luxury liner that ran aground off the coast of Italy and then turned on its side. At least six people died. And of the 4,200 people on board, more than a dozen are still unaccounted for. Rough weather today has forced officials to suspend rescue operations, and the focus now is on the captain, who is under arrest. NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning.
The civilian government of Pakistan has been under absurd amounts of pressure ever since it won election about four years ago. It's squeezed by the army - which reluctantly surrendered power - by the United States, by a host of insurgents and also by Pakistan's Supreme Court.
And our last word in business today is the doctor is out. Over the summer we told you about a soft drink called Dublin Dr. Pepper. It's a slightly different version of the popular Dr. Pepper soda, made with pure cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. It was produced by Dr. Pepper Bottling Company in Dublin, Texas, which had been a family-owned business for more than 110 years.
To talk more about those opponents and what's happening on the campaign trail, we turn now to NPR's Cokie Roberts, who joins us most Mondays. Good morning, Cokie.
COKIE ROBERTS, BYLINE: Hi, Renee.
MONTAGNE: So let's - it looks like there's one less rival in the Republican contest, now that former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman is expected to drop out today and throw his support to Mitt Romney. Let's talk about the likely effect on the rest of the contenders.
European financial markets started this week with a new reality. They had the weekend to absorb news that Standard & Poor's downgraded the credit ratings of nine European countries - including France, which lost its triple-A status. These countries face exposure to financial trouble in Greece, among other places.
We're going to talk about this with Zanny Minton-Beddoes, the economics editor of The Economist and regular guest on our program. Zanny, welcome once again.