The public corruption saga of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is nearing an end. Earlier this year, he was found guilty of 18 counts of corruption, including trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat once held by President Obama. Today, a federal judge begins a hearing to determine Blagojevich's sentence. NPR's Cheryl Corley reports.
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Let's talk, now, about the reported settlement in last year's deadly coal mine disaster in West Virginia. Details are expected later this morning, but NPR and other news organizations have confirmed some elements of a $200 million settlement that involves civil and criminal penalties levied against the owner of the Upper Big Branch mine.
Originally published on Mon December 5, 2011 5:01 pm
Rep. Ron Paul may not be leading in any of the major presidential polls (though he's in second place in Iowa according to a recent poll.) But he arguably is setting the pace when it comes to the 2012 presidential campaign ads.
Originally published on Mon December 5, 2011 4:40 pm
Protesters headed to the streets and snipers opened fire in Taiz, Yemen today. As The New York Times puts it, the clashes "threatened a day-old cease-fire agreement" and threw into question whether a power transfer agreed to by Yemen's president in November would mean much for the country.
Scientists have discovered a planet not too much bigger than Earth that's circling a distant star that's much like our own Sun. What's more, this planet is in the so-called "Goldilocks zone" around that star â€” a region that's not too hot and not too cold. That's the kind of place that could be home to liquid water and maybe even life.
The planet, known as Kepler-22b, is the first near-Earth-sized planet to be found smack dab in the middle of the habitable zone of a twin to our Sun.
A little-noticed trial in Maryland could affect how many dirty tricks voters will see in the upcoming elections â€” things like anonymous fliers or phone calls telling people to vote on the wrong day, or in the wrong precinct, or that they can't vote at all if they have an outstanding parking ticket.
The tactics are often illegal, but it's rare for anyone to get caught, let alone end up in court.
Today it is widely understood that slavery is a stain on American history â€” indelible and regrettable. But on the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War, a new issue of The Atlantic magazine reaches back to a time when this matter wasn't yet settled, and monumental questions were still up in the air: Would slavery continue? Would America remain united?
Originally published on Wed December 7, 2011 8:49 am
Hidden in the soil of Illinois and Iowa, a new generation of insect larvae appears to be munching happily on the roots of genetically engineered corn, according to scientists. It's bad news for corn farmers, who paid extra money for this line of corn, counting on the power of its inserted genes to kill those pests. It's also bad news for the biotech company Monsanto, which inserted the larvae-killing gene in the first place.
When businessman Herman Cain left the Republican presidential race over the weekend, he said he would endorse one of his former rivals.
One likely recipient of that endorsement: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Like Cain before him, Gingrich is trying to establish himself as the conservative alternative to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. And Cain and Gingrich share a long history of mutual admiration.
In the past two weeks, Russia's president has once again slammed the U.S. for its missile defense plans in Europe. President Dmitry Medvedev told his nation Russia would aim its missiles at U.S. missile interceptors when they are deployed in Europe. He also said Russia might even pull out of the new START agreement, which limits both sides' strategic nuclear warhead deployments. We've heard these complaints and threats before from Moscow. Nevertheless, the tone of the Medvedev's remarks was quite sharp.
Congress returned to Washington Monday with a pile of unfinished business, and no clarity on a path to getting it done. At the top of the congressional to-do list this week is extending a payroll tax holiday that meant about $1,000 in extra take-home pay for the typical family this year. It is set to expire at the end of the month.
Congressional leaders from both parties say the payroll tax cut is a must-pass measure. It's just not entirely clear how it's going to happen.
Using 54,000 feet of toilet paper and the 825-foot long "Infinite Corridor" at MIT as a workspace, students from a small boarding school in Massachusetts say they broke an unofficial record for folding paper on Sunday.
Soul music lost one of its great voices last week. Singer Howard Tate died Friday after a battle with cancer at the age of 72. Tate had made his name with a string of classic records including "Get It While You Can," before sliding into obscurity and addiction. But Tate got sober, found religion and he enjoyed a successful encore career over the past decade.
Tate's first turn at the music business came in 1966, when the single "Ain't Nobody Home" hit the R&B charts.
Originally published on Mon December 5, 2011 1:21 pm
We don't usually share local crime stories, but two of them stuck out today. And one of them provides some hope. We'll start with the sad one:
Fox 8 Cleveland reports that a burglar has "ruined" Christmas for a Painesville, Ohio family. The burglar allegedly broke into the home, took their TV, an Xbox, a laptop and worst of all perhaps, then took all the newly-bought presents underneath the Christmas tree:
After 12 years with his authority virtually unchallenged, Vladimir Putin now appears to be facing an electorate that's showing signs of weariness with his rule.
Putin still seems to have a lock on another presidential term as the country prepares for that election in March. Nevertheless, his party â€“ United Russia â€“ received a clear rebuke in parliamentary elections held Sunday.
Having tried and failed to come up with a way to pay for an extension of the payroll tax cut with a tax on millionaires, Senate Democrats came back with a new idea Monday: pay for it with the anticipated savings from ending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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Thousands of protestors took to the streets tonight in Moscow. They accused the party of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin of stealing votes in Russia's parliamentary elections. The party United Russia won 50 percent of the vote. That's significantly less than it has in the past and less than the party was expected to win this time around. Still, independent monitors and the protestors say the vote was rigged.
Originally published on Mon December 5, 2011 12:28 pm
The head of the Federal Aviation Administration, who among other duties is in charge of the nation's air traffic controllers, was charged with driving while intoxicated Saturday night in Fairfax, Va., a suburb of Washington, D.C.
And Federal News Radio says Jerome "Randy" Babbitt has now been "placed on a leave of absence." The Associated Press reports that the leave was "at Babbitt's request."
Over the weekend, the company that runs the Japanese nuclear plant crippled by the earthquake and tsunami in March said they had detected another leak of radioactive water. This time, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) said, 45 tons of contaminated water had been found outside the cooling system and about 300 liters of it had leaked into the Pacific Ocean.
In between his speakership and his presidential candidacy, Newt Gingrich built a network of organizations to promote his causes â€” and himself.
Informally known as Newt Gingrich Inc., those entities have flourished. But questions linger, especially about two of them: the Gingrich Group, a for-profit consulting firm; and a unit of the Gingrich Group called the Center for Health Transformation.
Five months after the implosion of Enron, Feb. 12, 2002, the company's chief executive, Ken Lay, finally stood in front of Congress and the world, and placed his hand on a Bible.
At that point everyone had questions for Lay. It was clear by then that Enron was the product of a spectacular ethical failure, that there had been massive cheating and lying. The real question was: How many people had been dishonest? Who was in on it?
She'll still get about $50 million a year in taxpayers' money to run her palaces and travel the world, but there's word from the U.K. that Queen Elizabeth II has had her "pay" frozen until at least 2015.