In covering this debate, much has been made of income tax rates and where exactly they should be raised. But one fact has gotten far less notice. Starting today, payroll taxes are going up two percentage points for nearly all American workers. NPR's John Ydstie joins us to talk about it. And John, this means lower take-home pay for a lot of workers starting very soon.
Sen.-elect Ted Cruz of Texas is a bright young Hispanic star who will be sworn in this week in Washington. The Republican Party nationally hopes Cruz will be part of the solution to its growing problem luring Hispanic voters.
Almost nobody had heard of Cruz when he began his campaign for the U.S. Senate. But when he stepped in front of a microphone, he could light up a room in a way that made the other Republican candidates seem lifeless.
When you think about the great music of science fiction, a few staples spring to mind — say, the theme from the classic Star Trek series, or John Williams' compositions for the Star Wars movies.
Nathan Johnson, the composer for the new time-travel thriller Looper, wanted to break with tradition. Instead of going for that slick, orchestral sound, he immersed himself in the world of the film to find his source material.
Originally published on Wed January 2, 2013 12:03 pm
Following an already violent year in Pakistan, on the first day of the New Year gunmen shot and killed five teachers and two aid workers as they were driving home from work.
According to The Associated Press, the groups director said they may have been targeted for their anti-polio work, which would follow a pattern of attacks against charity and aid workers in Pakistan in recent weeks.
Waves crash over the Kulluk oil rig, which washed aground on Sitkalidak Island, Alaska. Officials say aircraft have not spotted any signs of a fuel leak from the rig, which reportedly does not contain crude oil.
Credit PA3 Jon Klingenberg / Coast Guard
The drilling rig Kulluk, seen here in 2010, is specially built to work in the Arctic Ocean. Its round shape deflects ice floating in the water.
Originally published on Wed January 2, 2013 5:44 am
An oil drilling rig holding more than 150,000 gallons of diesel, lubricating oil, and hydraulic fluid has run aground near Kodiak Island in the Gulf of Alaska, after it was being towed during a storm. The crew was evacuated before the rig was incapacitated.
"The rig ran aground in a storm, with waves up to 35 feet and wind to 70 miles per hour," reports Jeff Brady, on NPR's Newscast. The Shell Oil rig is "about 250 miles south of Anchorage," Jeff says.
Originally published on Tue January 1, 2013 11:39 am
A compromise deal to stop broad spending cuts and tax increases is headed to the House of Representatives, after receiving strong support in the Senate. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., talks with Steve Inskeep about a possible House vote on the "fiscal cliff" deal.
Cole, the House deputy majority whip who also serves on the Appropriations Committee, says he expects the House to approve the Senate bill, calling it "a pretty big win."
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden make a statement regarding the passage of the fiscal cliff bill in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House late Tuesday evening.
Credit Charles Dharapak / AP
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio arrives on Capitol Hill on Tuesday as legislation to negate a fiscal cliff of across-the-board tax increases and sweeping spending cuts moves to the GOP-dominated House.
Originally published on Wed January 2, 2013 3:23 am
The House of Representatives voted 257-167 late Tuesday to pass a Senate-approved compromise deal that stops large tax increases for 99 percent of Americans, and delays massive spending cuts for two months.
The bill now goes to President Obama, who is expected to sign it into law.
NPR's S.V. Date is reporting on the deal for our Newscast unit. Here's what he says:
"The eventual deal was hammered out by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Vice President Joe Biden. It passed the Senate with overwhelming, bipartisan support.
This New Year could mean a new cost for the craft store chain Hobby Lobby. The federal health care law requires employee insurance plans to cover emergency contraceptives. Hobby Lobby's owners did not want to do that. They say drugs commonly known by names like the morning-after pill are tantamount to abortion.
Now, the Supreme Court has turned aside Hobby Lobby's request to block the mandate. So, starting today, the company could be fined as much as $1.3 million per day for defying the law.
Michigan's Lake Superior State University issued its annual list of annoying expressions to banish. The list includes: trending, bucket list, kick the can down the road and spoiler alert. The top one to ban: fiscal cliff.
Democracy sure works in mysterious ways. In Seguin, Texas, a December city council election ended in a dead tie. Both candidates received 141 votes. So it was up to the mayor to settle things. The law gave him some options: drawing straws or tossing dice. He chose an old coin toss. The silver dollar landed, it was tails, and immediately Jeannette Crabb was sworn into a four-year term. She's coming to office with quite a mandate.
The past year has seen more debate about the best way to find breast cancers.
A recent analysis concluded that regular mammograms haven't reduced the rate of advanced breast cancers — but they have led more than a million women to be diagnosed with tumors that didn't need to be treated.
It has been a busy year in Mexico's war on drugs. The administration of former President Felipe Calderon struck major blows to the country's largest cartels, slowing the violence that has claimed more than 50,000 lives.
But the new president, Enrique Pena Nieto, says he'll change tactics. He wants to go after the crime associated with drug trafficking instead of taking down crime bosses. His new attorney general says this is the right strategy, since the number of crime gangs working in the country has grown significantly.