Renee Montagne

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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The biggest players in the video gaming are gathered here in Los Angeles this week for E3, the industry's annual trade show. Gamers have been anticipating the unveiling of new products from Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo and other companies.

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There are no big surprises in this morning's job report from the government. The unemployment rate increased slightly on moderate job growth. It met or slightly exceeded expectations. This is one of the most significant economic indicators we look at every month, and joining us to discuss the Labor Department's report is NPR's Yuki Noguchi. Good morning.

YUKI NOGUCHI, BYLINE: Good morning.

MONTAGNE: What can you tell us about these numbers?

President Obama is expected to name former Justice Department official James Comey as the next director of the FBI, sources tell NPR. Comey is a Republican who has a reputation for bipartisanship and even-handedness.

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All right, through much of this week, we've been hearing from young Afghans on the future of their country after NATO troops withdraw in 2014. Yesterday, our colleague Renee Montagne met with the American general who commands coalition forces in Afghanistan. They traveled to a special forces base where young Afghan men - and a few women - are being trained.

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This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne, in Kabul, Afghanistan.

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And I'm Steve Inskeep, in Washington, with David Greene.

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It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

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It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

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And I'm Renee Montagne.

Venezuela is in a state of mourning for its late president, Hugo Chavez. The outsized leader died yesterday in the capital, Caracas, after a two-year battle with cancer. He was 58. Hugo Chavez was both a polarizing and charismatic figure, and during his long rule he became an icon, beloved by Venezuela's poor and others in the region who admired his defiant stance toward the U.S.

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We're hearing this morning that Pope Benedict has left the Vatican. NPR's Sylvia Poggioli is covering the first papal retirement in 600 years, and she joins us now from Rome. And Sylvia, describe the scene for us there.

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It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm Steve Inskeep.

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And I'm Renee Montagne.

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

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And I'm Renee Montagne.

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And I'm Renee Montagne. More signs today of a slow, slow economic recovery. The Labor Department reports the economy added 157,000 new jobs last month. The unemployment rate ticked up slightly, to 7.9 percent. To tell us what's behind these numbers, we're joined by NPR business correspondent Yuki Noguchi, and also our White House correspondent, Scott Horsley. Good morning to both of you.

YUKI NOGUCHI, BYLINE: Good morning.

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That sharp drop in government spending that put the squeeze on the economy last quarter, as we just heard, is likely to be repeated. This spring, the government is set to make additional cuts to spending, including defense, unless lawmakers agree on a different plan. So far there's little agreement in Washington about the optimum size or shape of government spending.

NPR's Scott Horsley joins us now to talk about this in our Business Bottom Line. Good morning, Scott.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Good morning, Renee.

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Snow, superstars, and cinema. That combination can mean only one thing at this time of year: The Sundance Film Festival. Our movie reviewer, Kenneth Turan, is on the scene in Park City, Utah, as he is every year, to tell us about some of the movies at Sundance. Good morning.

KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: Good morning, Renee.

MONTAGNE: Let's start with dramas. What really stands out for you, Ken?

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Steve, thanks very much. Now let's go just beyond the capital building, into the National Mall. That's where NPR's Ailsa Chang is. And she's between the Capitol, as I understand it, Ailsa, and the Washington Monument, right there in the thick of things.

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And I'm Renee Montagne. One of the liveliest parts of today's events dates back to the very first Inauguration, and that would be the inaugural parade. After George Washington took his oath of office, he was joined by a procession made up of local militias as he made his way from Mount Vernon to New York City. Today, the parade is a colorful blend of marching bands, floats and different organizations led by ceremonial military regiments.

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And I'm Renee Montagne.

President Obama wants a Republican to be his next secretary of Defense, and some Republicans really don't like the choice.

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And joining us now, as she does most Monday, is Cokie Roberts. Good morning.

COKIE ROBERTS, BYLINE: Hi, Renee. Happy New Year.

MONTAGNE: Happy New Year to you. So, Cokie, we seem to be getting the next year, or this new year, right back where we ended in the last Congress, and that's bickering over everything. And as we've just heard, that includes, big time, the president's cabinet appointment of a former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel. Tell us more about what's going on there, a little bit more history.

President Obama returns to Washington Thursday as do members of the U.S. Senate. They're cutting holiday plans short in hopes of coming up with a deal to avoid the tax hikes and budget cuts set to take effect on Jan. 1.

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The contentious fight over labor rights has been unfolding throughout the Midwest in the last couple of years. Michigan is only the latest example.

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And I'm Renee Montagne.

Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi, who took power last June, is facing a rebellion against his rule. It all started with a set of controversial decrees by the president that put him above the law until a constitution is in place. That move has polarized the country. Judges are on strike and critics say the president is pushing through an illegitimate constitution.

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Let's turn now to the urgent diplomatic efforts underway. Secretary of State Clinton is now in Cairo, meeting with Egyptian leaders in efforts to reach a ceasefire. NPR's Leila Fadel joins us from Cairo to discuss the latest.

Good morning.

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This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

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And I'm Renee Montagne.

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