This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
So, it looks like the federal government is not going to shut down at midnight tonight. That's good news. Congressional negotiators say they've reached an agreement to move forward on a trillion-dollar-plus spending plan. It would fund the government through October. There are still some end-of-year issues that haven't been resolved.
A $5 billion federal program to pay for the health benefits of early retirees is proving to be more popular than expected. So popular that it's running out of money earlier than planned. The fund, part of the health care overhaul, was to provide a bridge of insurance coverage until 2014 when early retirees would have many more options under the health care law.
This report is part of a collaboration between Minnesota Public Radio, NPR, and Kaiser Health News.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
Joe Arpaio, the man who calls himself America's toughest sheriff, is not backing down. The U.S. Justice Department yesterday accused his sheriff's department in Maricopa County, Arizona of systematically violating the constitutional and civil rights of Latinos. By the end of the day, NPR's Ted Robbins reports, the sheriff was hitting back.
Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich kicked up some dust recently when he opined that poor kids should be able to work as school janitors to develop a work ethic and avoid becoming, in Gingrich's words, a prostitute or a drug dealer.
This week, a tech writer on Forbes.com is causing a stir in the blogosphere with an advice column titled "If I Were a Poor Black Kid." Gene Marks is not a kid, or black. As he put it, he's middle aged, middle class, and white.
Our last word in business today is: Mystery Elves. At Kmart stores around the country, anonymous donors are walking in and paying off the layaway accounts of complete strangers. It seems to have started in Michigan, but the holiday spirit spread. Kmart says the stealth benefactors usually ask for accounts that include toys.
Newt Gingrich stood center state Thursday night in the Sioux City Convention Center. The sharpest elbows did not come from his close rivals, Mitt Romney or Ron Paul. Instead, it was Michele Bachmann who repeatedly went after Gingrich.
Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann once appeared to be the favored Republican presidential candidate in Iowa. But she's been near the bottom of most polls since. Bachmann is making an aggressive push to finish well in next month's Iowa caucuses, and she embarks on a multi-day bus tour of the state Friday.
Charlize Theron is ugly in Young Adult, the new film from the Juno team of director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody — both literally and personally. In parts of the film, she still looks like her knockout movie-star self, but in other parts, she looks like she's aged a year for every day since her character, Mavis Gary, left high school.
A federal judge has unsealed a case against a money launderer accused of working with the Zetas drug cartel in Mexico and with Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group labeled a terror organization by the United States. Fronteras Changing America Desk correspondent Michel Marizco reports.
The federal government plans to announce strict air pollution standards this week. From the Fronteras Changing America Desk, Laurel Morales reports that some power plants in New Mexico and northern Arizona may shut down as a result. Power plants are anxiously awaiting additional standards that would reduce particulate emissions.
Border residents who travel to Mexico frequently try to avoid unnecessary run-ins with the law. Take the case of Shohn Huckabee, a young American from New Mexico. He was arrested in Juarez two years ago and convicted for drug trafficking. As Monica Ortiz Uribe reports for the Fronteras Changing America Desk, Huckabee was later transferred to an American prison. He was released early when authorities determined he had been tortured.
We Americans have Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and the rest but residents of Enfield, North London, can expect a visit from Dobbey the reindeer this time of year. His owner Gordon Elliott takes him everywhere — to the local pub and with him on the subway or bus. On Christmas, Elliott dresses as Father Christmas and walks Dobbey through town.
Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. Drivers near Coventry, England experienced unusual weather conditions yesterday: apples falling from the sky. About 100 rained down in a few minutes. Meteorologists blamed a freak wind, clearly a strong one, since a woman whose car hood was pounded by the fruit said there are no orchards nearby. This isn't the first time strange objects have rained down in Britain. In 2007, fish fell in Norfolk. Frogs rained down in Wales in 1996. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Jackson "Jax" Teller, the antihero at the heart of FX's blockbuster biker gang series Sons of Anarchy, is pretty easy to distinguish from a traditional hero. Just this season, Jax blew away a rival gang with an RPG missile, shot a Russian gangster in the head and got into some serious trouble while selling guns to the scariest gangsters on the planet.
And let's turn now to the latest volley in the ongoing tariff war. American politicians have vowed to fight new Chinese tariffs on U.S. made cars and SUVs. Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton has more.
TRACY SAMILTON, BYLINE: In 2010, the U.S. won a Chinese tire-dumping complaint before the World Trade Organization. Then China complained about U.S. poultry dumping. The U.S. said China subsidizes solar panels. Now the fight's over cars. Republican Congressman Kevin Brady of Texas heads a trade subcommittee.
In 2008, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee was running for the GOP presidential nomination, and won the Iowa caucuses. Wednesday night in Des Moines, he hosted four current GOP contenders at a premiere for an anti-abortion film in which he appears. There was no endorsement from Huckabee. But there was a lot of talk about the need for abortion and other social issues to play a role in selecting a nominee.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne. On what was once one of America's busiest bases in Iraq, the flag of U.S. forces was rolled up this morning, ready to be sent home to America. It's a ceremony known as the casing of the colors. And Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta was there, marking the end of the U.S. combat mission in Iraq. We reached NPR's Kelly McEvers at that ceremony. And, Kelly, describe where you are.
In Alabama, a teacher who takes a Christmas ham as a gift from a student could get jail time. That's because of a new ethics law the governor wants changed. The new law severely restricts gifts to teachers.
President Obama has vowed to stay committed to Iraq. He emphasized that earlier this week when he met at the White House with Iraq's Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki. Yesterday, the president marked the pullout of troops from Iraq in North Carolina. He and the first lady visited Fort Bragg to offer thanks and congratulations to the soldiers there.
Dave DeWitt of North Carolina Public Radio sent this report.
One of the year-end fights going on in Congress is about extending unemployment insurance. Democrats want to extend benefits for people long out of work. Republicans say, wait a minute, it's time to reform the program and lower its cost.
The stakes are high on this one. The Labor Department estimates that if Congress doesn't do something soon, some two-and-a-half million people could stop receiving checks by March. NPR's Andrea Seabrook reports now on the politics and on the realities of unemployment insurance.
Television has always loved heroes who sometimes act a bit like the bad guys — from cheeky gambler Brett Maverick to know-it-all bigot Archie Bunker. But today's TV shows seem addicted to the anti-hero, pushing audiences to fall in love with a meth dealer, murderous biker gang and a serial killer. TV critic Eric Deggans of the "St. Petersburg Times" explains why bad-guy heroes are so popular now.
Hewlett Packard has been under fire for the golden parachutes it awards outgoing CEOs. A chief let go earlier this year received nearly $10 million in severance and bonuses for what was less than a year's work. And the CEO fired before that received nearly $35 million when he left.
And it may be surprising to many outside Los Angeles to hear that it has an art scene that goes back to the middle of the last century - maybe because the '50s and '60s in Southern California was a vast landscape dotted with car culture, beach culture, and a growing aerospace industry. Not necessarily art, one thinks.
It was also, though, the home of an art scene which attracted artists who were rejected in New York. That's something Hunter Drohojowska-Philp writes about in her book "Rebels in Paradise."
Part of an ongoing series on unique holiday dishes
My great-great-grandma Mary Dusek kept alive the Czech heritage of her parents and immigrant husband through food. In the one photo I've seen of her, she's wearing a crisp, white apron. Our signature holiday dish comes from Mary's kitchen.
My mom, Dee Dee — Mary's great-granddaughter — is the keeper of the Dusek kraut tradition.
One day last year, I skipped school to wait for acceptances from colleges. It was the final day that letters or emails were supposed to be sent out.
I sat in front of my laptop by the front door for at least three hours, listening for the mailman while eagerly pressing the refresh button on my inbox. I admit, at one point, I checked my neighbor's mail. Getting my house skipped on the mail route was one of the less crazy hypotheticals I imagined while waiting.
Apprehensions of undocumented immigrants along the Arizona border are at their lowest in 17 years, a statistic that Customs and Border Protection officials touted Monday morning in Tucson. As Michel Marizco reports for the Fronteras Changing America Desk, there’s been a massive reduction in these arrests across the entire southwest border.
Arizona’s immigration law is scheduled to go before the US Supreme Court in April. As Peter O’Dowd reports for the Fronteras Changing America Desk, that’s just in time for a re-energized debate over state rights in the 2012 election.
A national poll shows Latinos are unhappy with both political parties and many aren’t too sure if they’ll vote next year. The poll posed several questions to Latino registered voters about their attitudes toward candidates and the 2012 election. Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez reports for the Fronteras Changing America Desk.
A national poll released this week shows Latinos are UN-happy with both major political parties. The poll posed several questions to Latino registered voters about their attitudes toward candidates and the 2012 election. Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez reports for the Fronteras Changing America Desk.