The death of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Il and the elevation of his son Kim Jong Un could create new strategic policies in the region. China and the U.S. have vital interests in the Korean peninsula, but they are trying to compete and cooperate at the same time — all while worried about North Korea's nuclear weapons program.
NPR's business news starts with predictions for 2012.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
INSKEEP: Director of the International Monetary Fund says this year will not be the end of the euro currency, despite the debt crisis in Europe. Christine Lagarde said during a visit to South Africa today that sovereign debt is a concern for many European countries, obviously. But the euro currency, she said, is solid.
Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been a favorite in New Hampshire, but Rick Santorum is now getting a second look by conservative voters. Steve Inskeep and Linda Wertheimer talk to NPR's Mara Liasson and Ken Rudin about the GOP presidential race.
Rick Santorum receives a call at his campaign headquarters during his Senate re-election bid in 2006. The former senator was attempting to keep his Pennsylvania Senate seat, which he later lost to Democrat Bob Casey, Jr.
Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum is campaigning in New Hampshire after finishing a very close second in the Iowa caucuses. His success in the Hawkeye State was a surprise because Santorum was polling in the single digits there just a few weeks back.
For Santorum, surprising the political establishment is nothing new. Since he was first elected to Congress in 1990 — at 32 years old — Santorum has made a career out of being the underdog and usually winning.
Originally published on Fri January 6, 2012 12:53 am
Corporations don't lobby Congress for fun. They lobby because it helps their bottom line. Getting a regulation gutted or a tax loophole created means extra cash for the corporation. But getting laws changed can be very expensive. How much money does a corporation get back from investing in a good lobbyist?
It's a messy, secretive system so it was always hard to study. But in 2004, economists found a bill so simple, so lucrative, that they could finally track the return on lobbying investment.
In author Thomas Caplan's new novel, The Spy Who Jumped Off The Screen, the president asks movie star Ty Hunter to return to action as a secret agent.
Caplan himself is personally acquainted with a former commander in chief. President Clinton and he were once roommates.
"I was a student at Georgetown University. When we arrived as heady freshmen in 1964, because of the alphabet, I was assigned a room next to Bill Clinton," Caplan tells Morning Edition host Linda Wertheimer. "And we've remained friends ever since."
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (right) has been enthusiastically received by Arab Spring countries that look to Turkey as a potential model. Here, Erdogan hosts Mustafa Abdul Jalil, chairman of the National Transitional Council of Libya, in Istanbul, last month.
Credit Mustafa Ozer / AFP/Getty Images
Many Arabs admire Turkey as an Islamic state with a modern economy and a democratic political system. Here, Turks break their fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on a bridge in Istanbul in August.
In the Arab states that have ousted dictators and begun building new political and economic systems, many are looking to Turkey as an example of a modern, moderate Muslim state that works. Perhaps no country has seen its image in the Arab world soar as quickly as Turkey, a secular state that's run by a party with roots in political Islam. As part of our series on the Arab Spring and where it stands today, NPR's Peter Kenyon examines whether the "Turkish model" can be exported.
You know it because countless magazines have screamed it at you from the checkout line. Because the gym you walk past every morning is waiving its initiation fee. The holidays are over. It's time to get in shape. So pull on your gym shorts and tighten the laces on your running shoes.
Oh yeah, and don't forget your headphones. You're going to need some motivation, and nothing gets the job done like music. Need proof? We just happen to have some, courtesy of neuroscientist Robert Zatorre, who spoke with Morning Edition's Linda Wertheimer.
In 2008, Richard Bennett had been out of the Marines for nearly three years after being injured in Iraq. That's when he caught the attention of Craig Williams, who was looking for a partner to help expand his successful construction business in Norristown, Pa.
"I had developed a pretty solid construction company, and I wanted a partner," says Williams, 44. "As an African-American businessman, I wanted a young African-American soldier coming home. It seemed like a great opportunity to provide an opportunity."
Richard Cordray, the new head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, defended his appointment in an interview with All Things Considered today.
"This is a valid appointment," he told NPR's Robert Siegel. "But, again, I'm not going to be distracted by the details of that. My job is to be the director of this consumer bureau, to look out for consumers across the country and I'm going to focus 100 percent on that job."
Robert asked if he was just going to "ignore whatever litigation might develop from that" and Cordray said, "that's correct."
It's flat. It's slimy. And it hides under rocks on the river bottom. It's the Ozark hellbender, and at up to two feet in length, it's one of the world's largest salamanders.
But Ozark hellbenders are disappearing: Fewer than 600 are left in the rivers of southern Missouri and northern Arkansas. Scientists have been making a huge effort to get them to breed in captivity. And now, thanks to a major effort at the Saint Louis Zoo, 2012 could be the year of new hope for hellbenders.
Rick Santorum has been upsetting elections from the beginning.
He was only 32 years old when he toppled a seven-term incumbent in a majority Democratic district in western Pennsylvania.
Just four years later, Santorum rode the Republican wave of 1994 into the Senate representing Pennsylvania. And from the beginning, Santorum has stood for unwavering social conservatism, especially on the issue of abortion.
"Give the baby a chance to live," said Santorum while delivering a speech on the Senate floor in 1997.
French-made breast implants produced by Poly Implant Prothese company (shown here in a photo taken Jan. 1 in Saint Raphael, southeastern France) have been found to be faulty and are at the heart of a growing health scandal.
A scandal involving French-made breast implants continues to widen.
The implants contain industrial-grade silicone that cause abnormally high rupture rates, according to critics. They have been sold in many countries in Europe and beyond, though not in the United States. Now, the French government has opened a criminal investigation into the company.
French television showed footage on Thursday of investigators and a judge searching the factory of the Poly Implant Prothese company, or PIP, in southern France.
Photographer Eve Arnold died Wednesday, just a few months shy of her 100th birthday. Arnold is best known for her intimate portraits of both the rich and famous — including Marilyn Monroe, Malcolm X and Joan Crawford — and of the down and out.
As Robert Capa, one of the founders of the agency Magnum Photos, once put it: Arnold's work "falls metaphorically between Marlene Dietrich's legs and the bitter lives of migratory potato pickers."
On The Tea Party's Facebook page, bassist Stuart Chatwood, guitarist Jeff Martin and drummer Jeff Burrows describe their music as having "blues, progressive rock, Indian and Middle Eastern influences."
If you direct your browser to TeaParty.com, you will not find a site devoted to the political movement of the same name. What you will find is the Internet home of The Tea Party, a Canadian rock band that has owned the domain name since the early '90s.
Now, with seemingly no shortage of would-be buyers, the band is hoping to cash in.
Facing the prospect of a recall election in June, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker came to Washington on Thursday to talk up the merits of the anti-union legislation that has landed him in hot water — and to raise funds to save his job.
Walker said he's certain his opponents will gather the 540,000 signatures they need in time for the Jan. 17 deadline, setting up a recall election in June.
How much lead does it take to ruin a brain? Not much, according to a new standard proposed for lead poisoning in children.
The amount of lead in a child's blood that determines dangerous lead exposure should be cut in half, from the current standard of 10 micrograms per deciliter of blood to 5 micrograms for ages 5 and below, a federal advisory committee said Wednesday.
That in itself would be a big step, and would double the number of young children in the United States officially considered to have lead poisoning to almost 500,000.
Robert Siegel talks to Brigitte Lardinois, associate director photography at the University of the Arts in London, about the late photographer Eve Arnold whose work captured the lives of the rich and famous — and the down and out. Arnold died Wednesday at 99.
When Heather Peters of Los Angeles bought a 2006 Civic Hybrid, she was told the car would get 50 miles per gallon. But, the car never got more than 42 miles per gallon on its best day, she says — and only 30 miles per gallon after a system upgrade. She declined an offer to join a class-action suit brought by similarly frustrated Civic Hybrid owners, and she is now suing the automaker Honda in a California small claims court — asking for $10,000. Melissa Block speaks with Andrea Chang of the Los Angeles Times, who's been covering the story.
For lovers of Camembert, the downy white rind is the tart bite that balances out the fat-laden, oozing, pungent layer inside.
For a group of Swiss bioengineers, that moldy rind is one of nature's greatest living surfaces, doing double duty as a shield and a cleaner. The rind allows the cheese's deep flavor and aroma to mature, but also defends it against microorganisms that could spoil it. The cheese repays the fungi on the rind by supplying it with nutrients.