Finally, we want to take a few minutes today to remember Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera. She died in a plane crash in Mexico on Sunday, flying from a concert to a show taping. She was 43 years old, a mother and a grandmother, and a major star on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. Here's a bit of a popular song "La Gran Senora," where she tells her man's other woman to back off.
Originally published on Tue December 11, 2012 11:39 am
As weary as many Americans grew of campaign commercials last month, they may be getting even more annoyed this month by endless talk of the fiscal cliff, the massive collection of tax increases and spending cuts set to take effect at year's end.
It's easy to understand the urge to stick fingers in ears and loudly chant "la-la-la-la." The budget problems are indeed complicated, and the negotiations tedious.
But resolving the mess is extremely important: Without a solution, every person who gets a paycheck or has investments will see his or her taxes rise.
If your health insurer pays too much for a claim, you might think that would be a good kind of problem. But it could turn out to be more of a headache than a windfall.
Just ask Lisa Dowden, who had gastric bypass surgery three years ago. In September, the 51-year-old lawyer got a bill from her insurer claiming she owed more than $9,100 because it had overpaid for the services of the surgeon who assisted on her operation.
Originally published on Tue December 11, 2012 6:25 pm
After seeing The Rolling Stones in concert over the weekend, I can confidently say the short answer is "no."
We need to be thinking about age and rock music in a different way. When I was in my 20s, my generation thought 30 was too old for a rocker. Now, in 2012, the brilliant futurist Ray Kurzweil is wondering who the first person to be 150 will be. He told a crowd at the 6th and I Synagogue in Washington, D.C., that he thinks that person is alive today.
Originally published on Tue December 11, 2012 7:06 pm
Update at 6:00 p.m. ET:
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has signed into law two controversial "right-to-work" bills passed earlier Tuesday by the state's House. This officially makes Michigan the 24th right-to-work state in the nation.
The two bills give both public and private employees so-called right-to-work protections — controversial pieces of legislation that have sparked protests in and around the state capitol in Lansing.
Originally published on Tue December 11, 2012 7:38 pm
On Sunday, Weekend All Things Considered aired an interview with Glenfiddich Malt Master Brian Kinsman. He talked about the $94,000 that a buyer recently paid at auction for one bottle of Glenfiddich Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve 55 Year Old whisky.
Originally published on Tue December 11, 2012 10:18 am
As we've said now several times, "the White House and congressional leaders continue to talk about taxes, spending cuts and how to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff that arrives at midnight Dec. 31 — when Bush-era tax cuts are set to expire and automatic spending cuts are set to go into effect."
As NPR and others cover the story, we're pointing to interesting reports and analyses. Here are some of the latest.
Deborah Amos and Renee Montagne on 'Morning Edition'
If Syrian President Bashar Assad gets desperate enough he will use chemical weapons against his own people, the former chief of staff for that country's chemical weapons tells NPR's Deborah Amos.
Maj. Gen. Adnan Sillu, who defected in July and is now in Turkey, is convinced that if rebel forces close in on Damascus, Assad will order the use of mustard gas, sarin or other chemicals in a "last desperate act," Deb reported today on Morning Edition.
Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. The spirit of Hanukah is aglow in the desert. For the seventh straight year, a man in Phoenix is lighting up the tips of a giant cactus to celebrate the holiday. Mel Kline's cactus is called a saguaro. It has a middle trunk and eight arms, perfect for a menorah. And at 30 feet tall, it attracts hundreds of visitors. The Arizona Republic reports that Kline bought the cactus 35 years ago. His wife wanted a maple tree. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.
Originally published on Tue December 11, 2012 6:35 am
Some books paint pictures with words; others use pictures to render us speechless. No matter the method, you'll lose yourself in the best possible way leafing through the volumes in this year's list of recommended gift books. If pages were like musical notes, these titles would produce a pretty great mashup. Envision one of photographer Cindy Sherman's crones in the forest of a Brothers Grimm tale. Set one of graphic novelist Chris Ware's "building stories" inside, say, the curvaceous contours of an architectural masterwork by Frank Gehry.
A right-to-work protester walks past Michigan state police at the capitol in Lansing on Tuesday. The Michigan Legislature is expected to pass legislation Tuesday that would bar contracts requiring employees to pay union dues as a condition of employment.
Credit Carlos Osorio / AP
Thousands rally at the state capitol grounds in Lansing, Mich., on Tuesday. The crowd is protesting right-to-work legislation.
Michigan's Legislature is expected to pass legislation Tuesday that would bar contracts requiring employees to pay union dues as a condition of employment. The proposed right-to-work law has infuriated union leaders in a state considered the heart of the union movement.
Republican leaders pushing the bill closely watched the fights over labor rights going on across the Midwest, but it wasn't Ohio or Wisconsin that prompted them into action. Many leaders in the public and private sector looked to their neighbor to the immediate south.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne.
British banking giant, HSBC, will pay 1.9 billion dollars to the U.S. to settle allegations of money laundering. In a statement released overnight, the bank said it accepts responsibility for past mistakes. U.S. officials will have further details of the settlement later today. NPR's Jim Zarroli has more.
The Federal Trade Commission has released a report taking to task the makers of mobile apps for children. It says apps are not transparent enough about the personal information they collect. It's the latest sign the Obama administration is concerned about children's privacy online.
Let's take that idea of playing out a little further now. The budget standoff has been described in all sorts of dramatic terms. So we decided to look into what the great works of the stage can tell us about this debate over tax hikes and spending cuts, and how it will play out. Think of it as "The Fiscal Cliff for English Majors."
NPR White House correspondent - and English major - Ari Shapiro has this take.
As we head into the holiday season, political leaders are un-merrily locked in a battle over how to cut federal spending and raise revenue - and this could mean meddling with tax deductions that many Americans hold dear.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
So this week and next, we're taking a closer look at individual deductions and tax credits that might be on the chopping block.
A new report out this morning finds women are still not making much progress moving up the corporate ladder. Only a small number of senior executives at Fortune 500 companies are women, and the nonprofit group Catalyst shows the number has not changed much in years. NPR's Wendy Kaufman reports.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne.
The warnings have come from the White House, Western capitals and the U.N. Syria's president, Bashar al Assad, must not use chemical weapons against the rebels and his people.
Publicly, Syrian officials deny having a chemical stockpile. They insist they would never use one if they had one. But U.S. officials have said there are signs that the Syrian army is readying its chemical arsenal for use.
President Obama and House speaker John Boehner have been holding private conversations about how to avoid the fiscal cliff, but still no deal. That has many in Washington talking about how it wasn't always so difficult to get things done. For some insight, we called John Danforth. He's a former Republican senator from Missouri and spent decades forging deals across the aisle, including the 1986 tax reform law under President Reagan. As he sees it, lawmakers aren't approaching the current problem from the right angle.
Lines of communication remain open in an effort to avert the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts known as the "fiscal cliff," according to the White House and House Speaker John Boehner.
If no deal is reached between now and the end of the year, would the consequences be that drastic?
To answer that question, let's imagine it's January and the nation has gone off the "fiscal cliff." You don't really feel any different and things don't look different, either. That's because, according to former congressional budget staffer Stan Collender, the cliff isn't really a cliff.
Earlier this year, Oprah Winfrey announced an updated version of her popular book club, this time called Book Club 2.0. Her first pick, Cheryl Strayed's memoir Wild, experienced best-seller list success thanks to what some people are calling the "Oprah bump." And last week Winfrey announced her second pick, a novel called The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis, a first-time author.
Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe speaks about expanding Medicaid during a speech to the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce in Little Rock, Ark., on Nov. 14. The federal government hasn't set a deadline for states to decide on their Medicaid expansion plans.