The Congressional supercommittee, charged with coming up with a plan to cut the national deficit, had been invested with handling so many unrelated tasks that its failure last week has left Congress with a sizeable workload in its remaining weeks this year. Among them: possible extensions of the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits, and a continuation of the entire federal budget. NPR congressional correspondent David Welna joins us to set the stage for December.
A group of human rights activists in Mexico has asked the International Criminal Court in The Hague to investigate President Felipe Calderon in connection with the deadly war on drug cartels. The complaint, spearheaded by human rights lawyer Netzai Sandoval, claims war crimes have occurred. The complaint was filed a day after two dozen bodies were found dumped in Guadalajara. NPR's Jason Beaubien has more.
The spillover effects of Mexico's drug war are taking a grim toll in Central America. The region has the highest homicide rate in the world, according to a new U.N. report, as traffickers move more and more U.S.-bound cocaine through Central America's struggling and weak states.
Nick Miroff has this story from Honduras, with support from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.
NICK MIROFF, BYLINE: Operation Lightning is Honduras's response to the murder problem.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish. In Egypt today, protests are continuing ahead of tomorrow's parliamentary elections, the first since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak and his replacement by a military council. The turmoil is not limited to Cairo. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson is in the city of Alexandria and she joins us now. Welcome, Soraya.
SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON, BYLINE: Good morning, Audie.
Egyptians living abroad are eligible to vote in the upcoming election. Absentee ballots are being accepted at Egyptian embassies around the world, including Washington, D.C. Several of those voting there spoke with NPR about their hopes as well as their frustrations with the process.
Protestors in Egypt's Tahrir Square have called for another massive demonstration in advance of Monday's parliamentary elections, bringing on fears of renewed violence on election day. As turmoil continues, sexual violence and paranoia are on the rise. NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports from Cairo.
When FBI agents arrive at the scene of a shooting or a terrorist attack, there's often someone else standing in the background. It's a representative from the FBI's Office for Victim Assistance, there to help people suffering in the aftermath of a disaster.
The planning for those unfortunate days starts here, in a windowless conference room in the J. Edgar Hoover FBI building, where seven serious-looking people are sitting around a table.
The typical college student today isn't "typical" anymore: Only 1 in 4 lives on campus and studies full time.
But part-timers and commuter students are much less likely to finish — most part-time students are still without a degree or a certificate after eight years. Higher education is desperately looking for strategies that improve those numbers. There might be one in Tennessee.
In this presidential cycle, as in the last, there is no question which Republican candidate has the most ardent supporters: Ron Paul, the 76-year-old Texas congressman whose brand of libertarianism often puts him at odds with all of his rivals. But with less than seven weeks to go for the nation's first primary, there are signs that Paul could surprise people.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is sitting pretty in New Hampshire, where he has been the front-runner all year, so whoever comes in second in the Granite State isn't doing too shabbily.
Pakistan says 25 of its soldiers were killed in a NATO helicopter attack on a checkpoint at the Afghan border. NATO says it is investigating what happened. Host Rachel Martin talks with NPR's Quil Lawrence about the incident, which has further exacerbated U.S.-Pakistan tensions.
With more on this story and the rest of the week's news, we're joined now by Doyle McManus. He's the Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times, and he has graciously agreed to stand in for our regular news analyst, James Fallows. Doyle, thanks so much for being with us.
NASA launched the Mars Science Laboratory from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Saturday. The MSL is five times heavier than the rovers currently on Mars and has twice as many scientific instruments. It will take nine months for the spacecraft to reach the Red Planet, and there's plenty of things for it to do before then.
Andrew Robinson was injured by a roadside bomb during his second deployment to Iraq. Now a quadriplegic, he says he is learning how to use his limited mobility and is proud of having protected his fellow soldiers. He is especially motivated because his wife is expecting twins next month.
If you turn to page 109 of Lindsay McCrum's photo book, you'll see a photo of a woman wearing jeans and a green baseball cap standing in a grassy field. She's looking straight at the camera, clutching a semi-automatic rifle as if it were a water bottle. Standing between her legs is her son, his blond hair peeking out from behind her thigh as he poses with his toy gun, a miniature of his mother's.
Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors, and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:
The Arab League meets today in Cairo to consider imposing sanctions against Syria after Damascus rejected the League's demand that Syria allow an observer mission into the country. As protests there continue and the death toll mounts, neighboring Turkey says it's ready to join the Arab League in levying punitive measures against the government in Damascus. But as NPR's Peter Kenyon reports from Istanbul, Turkey's deep reluctance to endorse a military option underscores the complex risks surrounding any foreign intervention in Syria.
The holiday shopping season started even earlier this year in hopes that consumers would spend more in these economic times. Macy's, Toy R Us, Target, all moved up their opening times - in some cases to Thanksgiving Day. Joining us now to talk about Black Friday is NPR correspondent Yuki Noguchi. You've been reporting the scenes in stores. What can you tell us about the volume of shopping?
Military families across the country celebrated Thanksgiving this week with loved ones who were home after being deployed to Iraq for the last time. Scores of troops are coming home as the war winds down to an end next month, but for one Kentucky National Guardsman, his commitment to family is as strong as his desire to serve. Brenna Angel of member station WUKY in Lexington has his story.
Bill Bratton is the former chief of police in Los Angeles, as well as Boston and New York. He helped introduced the system of predictive policing, and calls it the next era of crime prevention, and an evolution of community policing. Chief Bratton's now chairman of Kroll, a risk consulting company, and he joins us on the phone this morning. Thanks very much for being with us, chief.
BILL BRATTON: It's good to be with you, as always.
As a young reporter, Tom Wicker covered a beaver dam for the Sandhill, North Carolina Citizen. He went on to travel the world as a White House reporter and columnist for the New York Times and was in Dallas on November 22nd, 48 years ago this week when John F. Kennedy was shot. It was in a world before cell phones and text messages.
This year's Christmas Grinch may be Mother Nature. The Associated Press reports that historic droughts in Texas and Oklahoma have killed thousands of evergreen trees in those states, including trees being grown for sale at Christmas. Karen Barfield joins us now. She runs the Tinsel Time Christmas Tree Farm with her husband in New Caney, Texas.
Mrs. Barfield, thanks for being with us.
KAREN BARFIELD: You're welcome.
SIMON: What's your farm look like now after the drought?
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Protesters across Egypt are demanding an end to military rule and they say they no longer want anyone connected to former President Hosni Mubarak's regime in power. But an Egyptian high court recently gave a green light to hundreds of former members of Mr. Mubarak's outlawed ruling party to run for parliament. With elections scheduled to begin next week, critics worry that people connected to that era might have the money and connections to win. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson...
A new name burst onto the top rungs of British pop charts this year with a song called, "My Heart." Well, maybe not a new name; it's actually one of the most famous names in musical history. Host Scott Simon speaks with screen legend Doris Day about her new album.
Wayman Tisdale was that rare human being: a great athlete who had a great second act. But his life ended in tragedy. Wayman Tisdale was a three-time All-American at the University of Oklahoma, and a forward on the U.S. team that won Olympic gold, a great power forward for the Indiana Pacers and Sacramento Kings. But music had been his first love.
WAYMAN TISDALE: OK, ready?
SIMON: And he left the NBA to become a jazz musician, and also, once again, great.