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The Last Word In Business

Jan 23, 2012

Steve Inskeep has the Last Word in Business.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm David Greene.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning.

Having sent observers to examine protests in Syria, Arab leaders have offered a plan to end the violence there. The proposal comes from the Arab League, a group of Arab nations. And NPR's Kelly McEvers has been following this story. She's in Beirut.

Hi, Kelly.

KELLY MCEVERS, BYLINE: Hello.

INSKEEP: OK. So what do the Arab leaders want to do?

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is campaigning in Florida following a big loss over the weekend to Newt Gingrich in the South Carolina primary. Romney told a crowd that Gingrich resigned in disgrace after four years as speaker of the House.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Announcers also remembered Joe Paterno during yesterday's pro football games. Those two conference championships on Sunday determined the lineup for the Super Bowl. The New York Giants will play the New England Patriots in a rematch of a Super Bowl from four years ago. Neither team made it to the big game easily. Both have great quarterbacks, but on Sunday, both had to rely on defense. Here's NPR's Mike Pesca.

Legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno died Sunday at the age of 85. He was fired by the university last fall following the sexual abuse charges against one of his former coaches.

In the race for the Republican presidential nomination, the tally stands at 1-1-1. Over the weekend, former House speaker Newt Gingrich re-established himself as a presidential contender with a resounding victory in South Carolina's primary.

He beat second-place finisher former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney by more than 12 points. That means Romney, Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum have each won a nominating contest. Now all eyes are on Florida.

The last battle scar of 2011 for the GOP came in December, when House Republicans painted themselves into a corner on extending unemployment benefits and the payroll tax cut. The fight exposed the party's internal rifts and the loose control of its leaders.

One GOP lawmaker called it "a public relations fiasco." They could compromise with the Democrats or allow taxes to go up — neither option palatable to large portions of the majority.

On a recent cold, gray day in Moscow, several dozen reporters and photographers milled about restlessly on the main floor of the Central Election Commission of Russia.

The person they were waiting to see was supposed to be there at 10 a.m. Nearly six hours later, Mikhail Prokhorov, appeared at the front door and smiled for the cameras.

When I was 17 years old, I got so depressed that what felt like an enormous black hole appeared in my chest. Everywhere I went, the black hole went, too.

So to address the black-hole issue, my parents took me to a psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She did an evaluation and then told me this story:

Foreclosure Robo-Signing Deal Worries N.Y. Official

Jan 22, 2012

Some of the biggest banks in the country are reportedly close to a settlement with authorities over the so-called robo-signing scandal in which mortgage company officials signed and notarizeed foreclosure documents without properly reviewing them.

Many lenders and mortgage servicers acknowledged making serious mistakes in foreclosure paperwork.

'Taft 2012': A Presidential Time Warp

Jan 22, 2012

A burly beast of a man bursts into a presidential press conference and is shot in the leg by secret police. Two days later, the White House reveals that the befuddled intruder with a handlebar mustache is really former President William Howard Taft.

So begins Taft 2012, a novel that gives a satirical take on contemporary politics through the eyes of a president who served a century ago. Author Jason Heller places Taft in a 21st-century election campaign, where he is forced to sit in bars on New Year's Eve and master Twitter along the way.

First Aid Kit is two sisters, ages 18 and 21, from Sweden. But their music sounds like a slice of Americana: acoustic guitar, autoharp and lots of vocal harmony.

Klara and Johanna Soderberg wrote the songs for their new album, The Lion's Roar, while on their last tour. Many started with ideas, short riffs, recorded on a cellphone.

Gabrielle Giffords.

The name of the Democratic congresswoman from Arizona will forever be associated with one of the most tragic attacks on a member of Congress, the shootings in Tucson last year that killed six and left 13 wounded, including the congresswoman.

Should The West Intervene In Syria?

Jan 22, 2012

The Arab League sent observers to Syria about a month ago. Their mission: to bear witness to the escalating violence between soldiers loyal to President Bashar Assad and armed opposition fighters.

The presence of the orange-vested observers was supposed to discourage the violent crackdown on protesters, but since they arrived in December, almost 1,000 Syrians have died. Overall, it is estimated that more than 5,400 people have been killed since the protests began last March.

Outside Penn State's football stadium, mourners paid respects to legendary football coach Joe Paterno who died Sunday from lung cancer.

Humans are complicated genetic jigsaw puzzles. Hundreds of genes are involved in determining something as basic as height.

But man's best friend is a different story. New research shows that almost every physical trait in dogs — from a dachshund's stumpy legs to a shar-pei's wrinkles — is controlled by just a few genes.

With Newt Gingrich beating Mitt Romney in South Carolina as soundly as the Johnny Rebels in 1861 thrashed the Billy Yanks at Bull Run (or the First Battle of Manassas, depending on your view), the Republican presidential nomination contest marches southward to Florida.

There in the Sunshine State, the campaign promises to be an even more hard- fought affair than in South Carolina, with both candidates battling for their party's conservative soul by out-righting each other.

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GUY RAZ, HOST:

Let's turn now to the other big story we're following today, and that is, of course, the fallout from last night's primary triumph for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. As you know by now, he crushed his opponents, taking 40 percent of the vote, 12 points above his closest rival, the man hitherto known as the front-runner, Mitt Romney.

For his directorial debut, actor Ralph Fiennes brings William Shakespeare's work to the big screen with a modern adaptation of Coriolanus. Fiennes also stars as the eponymous Roman general, a role he played on the stage 11 years ago.

The original play, Fiennes tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz, is complex.

"I had this feeling that if you were to clear away a lot of the denser passages, and shorten it and edit it, you are left actually with a very visceral, sinewy political thriller," Fiennes says.

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is stepping down from Congress in order to focus on her health. She made the announcement on a YouTube video posted to her Facebook page Sunday.

"I have more work to do on my recovery, so to do what is best for Arizona I will step down this week," she says.

Joe Paterno, the man synonymous with Penn State football, died Sunday after developing complications from lung cancer. He was 85.

Paterno was an iconic figure on the sports landscape. He coached at Penn State for 61 years, though his long tenure ended amid a child sexual abuse scandal.

The morning after a stinging defeat in South Carolina, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said he would release his most recent tax returns this week, ahead of the Florida primary.

Romney said he would release his 2010 tax returns and an estimate of what he'll pay for 2011 on Tuesday. "We made a mistake in holding off as long as we did," he told Fox News Sunday.

Hispanic voters are a key group in the presidential race, and Republican hopeful Mitt Romney has been reaching out to them. Should he tell them that he himself is the son of an immigrant from Mexico?

Romney's father, George, was born in the state of Chihuahua, in a colony of polygamous Mormons.

Romney rarely speaks about the Mexican branch of his family, and he's never visited his numerous cousins south of the border — but the Romneys of Mexico are all rooting for him.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Reporter Joanna Kakissis traveled to the province of Thrace, in northern Greece, to look into a religious controversy. What she found, like so much in Greece these days, was a story about the sad state of the economy.

(SOUNDBITE OF PEOPLE TALKING)

JOANNA KAKISSIS, BYLINE: Recep Pacaman greets friends at his family home in the village of Komotini. The male visitor is wearing a prayer cap; the woman, a dark headscarf.

(SOUNDBITE OF PEOPLE TALKING)

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.

The Republican presidential nominating contest is now in full swing - emphasis on swing. Three states have voted, each anointing a different winner. Yesterday, South Carolinians had their say, and they picked Newt Gingrich. Mitt Romney was a distant second, with Rick Santorum and Ron Paul third and fourth.

We have reports from all four campaigns, starting with NPR's Tamara Keith at Gingrich headquarters last night.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

It wasn't too long ago Mitt Romney looked like he was on a winning streak; that maybe if things kept going his way, he could sweep all the early primary and caucus states. Now, his record is one for three.

NPR's Ari Shapiro reports from Romney's South Carolina election-night headquarters on how things turn so dramatically, so quickly.

NPR's Don Gonyea reports on the also-rans in Saturday's South Carolina primary.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We go now to Egypt, where a group of foreign ministers from the Arab League is meeting today. There are news reports that the group has decided to extend a month-long observer mission in Syria.

NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro has been tracking events there, and she joins us now from Cairo. Welcome to the program, Lulu.

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, BYLINE: Thank you.

MARTIN: First off, can you give us a little more about the decision to extend? What do you know?

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. After a turbulent week of dropouts, reversals and impassioned pleas, in the end, it wasn't even close. Newt Gingrich beat Mitt Romney in the South Carolina GOP primary by 12 percentage points - a decisive win for the former speaker of the House, and a surprise for his rivals. The win scrambles the Republican race for the presidency. Voters have chosen three winners in the first three contests of the primary season.

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