Russia has been drawing criticism for its handling of gay rights as that country prepares to host the Winter Olympics. A recent Russian law criminalizes what it calls gay propaganda. It's so broadly written, many gay people fear they could face charges for just living their lives. This week, Russia addressed some human rights issues. It granted amnesty for thousands of prisoners, including two women in the band Pussy Riot.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.
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And I'm Steve Inskeep. On Thursday the United Methodist Church defrocked a Pennsylvania pastor who's presided at the wedding of his gay son. That wedding was back in 2007. The pastor is appealing the decision in his church trial, which has become a parable for the divisions in a church with more than eight million members across the United States. From member-station WHYY in Philadelphia, Emma Jacobs reports.
Fans of "Duck Dynasty" know this. It is a popular reality TV show about a family that found success selling products to hunters. Well, now the patriarch of the family has been suspended indefinitely from the show; this is after he made remarks about homosexuality to GQ magazine. The show is a huge hit for the A&E cable channel, spawning a multimillion dollar industry of related products and books. NPR's Lynn Neary has this look at the family and where they might be headed.
NPR's business news begins with Target customers who are being targeted.
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GREENE: OK. If you did any holiday shopping at Target recently, you might want to take a careful look at your credit and debit card statements. The company has confirmed that up to 40 million customers could be affected by a major credit card data breach. NPR's Elise Hu has been following the story, and joins us in the studio. And, Elise, who's affected by this?
Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep. A Miami man tried to join the barter economy. He captured a small alligator, took it to a store, offered to trade it for a 12-pack. His attempt made news on Chicago TV, where the anchor tried to tell the story.
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UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: He tried to trade it for beer.
In Elk City, Oklahoma, you have the right to remain silent or make a proposal of marriage. A man being arrested for allegedly writing bad checks asked the officer if he could have a moment because he had been just about to propose to his girlfriend. The cop said he couldn't remove the man's handcuffs, but he did help him out by getting the ring from his coat pocket. Police Chiefs Eddie Holland called the incident, quote, policing with a heart. And in case you were wondering, the woman said yes.
The American ambassador to the United Nations is visiting Central African Republic today. Before becoming a diplomat, Samantha Power was a journalist who wrote about stopping genocide. And now she is visiting a country where there's fear of one. Fighting between Muslims and Christians has killed nearly 1,000 people. NPR's Michele Kelemen is traveling with Ambassador Power. She's on the line. Hi, Michele.
MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: Hi, Steve.
INSKEEP: Where are you now, and what have you seen?
NPR's business news starts with Target customers targeted.
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INSKEEP: This is the story of a recent cyber-attack on Target customers around the country, which is now under investigation by the giant retailer. Over 1,500 stores may have been compromised, and at least one million customers. It's being described as one of the largest retail breaches to date. The credit card data was apparently stolen with software installed on the machines customers use to swipe their cards.
If you ever fly, you've heard it countless times: You cannot use your cellphone while en route to your destination. Federal rules will not allow it. That could change now, as the FCC considers relaxing those rules. But in advance of that decision yesterday, Delta Airlines said it plans to remain committed to high altitude quiet time.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And I'm David Greene. Despite some very loud grumbling, both chambers of Congress have approved a two-year federal budget plan. This drops the odds of a federal government shutdown early next year, but it certainly does not end the debate over federal spending.
INSKEEP: NPR's Tamara Keith is on the line this morning to talk about one figure from the agreement, which suggests the scale of budget fights ahead. And Tamara, what's the figure?
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Jennifer Ludden. A scandal at a Baltimore jail this year prompted Maryland to review procedures that all of its state and local detention centers. Dozens of correction officers and others are accused of conspiring with gang members in the jail, smuggling in drugs, even having sex with inmates.
GOVERNOR MARTIN O'MALLEY: I share the public's revulsion at these allegations and we have a zero tolerance policy towards corruption of any kind.
Financial Times New Delhi correspondent Amy Kazmin speaks with NPR's Linda Wertheimer about the case of an Indian diplomat arrested in New York for allegedly paying her maid below minimum wage. The diplomat was strip-searched and jailed, touching off an angry reaction in India.
Good morning. I'm Linda Wertheimer. So a new boss comes in and wants to clean house. For Jersey City's new mayor that meant cracking some dusty old safes in City Hall. What would he find? Ill gotten gains? Sepia photos? Local pols were guessing a stash of cash. New mayor Steven Fulop hired a locksmith. The city spent about 1,000 bucks to open the safe to reveal - drum roll, please - an extension cord. At least it's useful. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Here's why most New York Mets avoid standing-in for Santa at the team holiday party. According to The Wall Street Journal, the Santa suit is cursed. Consider these former Santa Mets: Center-fielder Mike Cameron got badly injured, right-fielder Jeff Francoeur was traded, pitcher John Maine, career tanked. The list stretches back a decade.
A school board in Jacksonville, Fla., has decided that one of its schools should no longer be named after Ku Klux Klan grand wizard Nathan Bedford Forrest. He was also a general in the Civil War. Nathan Bedford Forrest High School received its name in the 1950s, and for decades the decision has been debated.
Yesterday, Ukraine got a big holiday present from its neighbor, Russia, in the form of a multi-billion dollar bailout. And now everyone is trying to figure out what strings Russia attached, and whether this could be a sign that Ukraine, a country of some 45 million people, is aligning itself more closely with the East than the West.
A coalition of churches and religious groups are trying to overturn a California law that aims to accommodate transgender students.
The law, slated to go into effect next year, allows students to use the restrooms and participate on the sports teams of their gender identity rather than their biological sex. But those who oppose the law see it as a threat to students' privacy.
Federal Reserve officials end a two-day meeting on Wednesday amid signs that the U.S. economy is slowly mending. David Greene talks to David Wessel, economics editor of The Wall Street Journal, about the Fed's last meeting of the year.
Germans are serious about their beer. Serious enough for the European country's main brewers association to urge the United Nations to recognize that fact.
The brewers association wants a five-century-old law governing how German beer is made to become part of the UNESCO World Heritage list. It would join the Argentinian tango, Iranian carpet weaving and French gastronomy, among other famous traditions, that are considered unique and worth protecting.
The Seahawks 23-to-nothing victory over the New York Giants is great news for Seattle, except for the folks at Jet Chevrolet. The Seattle-area dealership pledged to give 12 people $35,000 apiece if the Seahawks shut out the Giants. The car guys never expected to pay up. What are the odds? But just in case, they insured the bet, so they're only out about seven grand.
It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Some Steinway company representatives and employees — like Wally Boot, pictured here — have been working for the company for decades. Boot is the last person to touch every piano that leaves the factory in Queens, N.Y.
For 160 years, the pianos made by Steinway & Sons have been considered the finest in the world. So when hedge fund billionaire John Paulson recently bought the company, it struck fear in the hearts of musicians: Would the famously handcrafted pianos be changed, for the sake of efficiency? Paulson, who owns several Steinways himself, says nothing will change.
Six states will soon be chosen as commercial drone test sites. So major companies like Amazon say they're hoping to use drones to ship products. But first, the Federal Aviation Administration has to figure out how to fly them safely in civilian airspace. Nevada is one of the states that wants to give commercial drones a try, as Will Stone from member station KUNR reports.
And today's last word in business is a Christmas con.
Just when we want to be thinking about generosity around the holidays, a story of extortion.
LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
Police in Italy have arrested four alleged mafia gangsters for forcing shop owners to buy poinsettias for as much as $140 each. Owners who refused to partake in the Christmas special would have their shops vandalized.