Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 10:55 am
Barring a last-minute deal that at the moment seems unlikely, months of brinkmanship are set to culminate on Friday.
The sequester — $85 billion worth of across-the-board cuts in federal spending — will begin to kick in, with potentially serious economic consequences, including federal furloughs and the slashing of programs.
Here are three stories we've plucked from the ether that should give a good picture of what's going on as we approach sequester D-Day:
There is speculation about a last minute settlement. But if that doesn't happen, a federal judge in New Orleans will today begin hearing arguments about BP's liability for the 2010 oil rig explosion and spill in the Gulf of Mexico that killed 11 men and led to one of the biggest environmental disasters in the nation's history.
At stake: Billions of dollars in potential penalties.
-- Britain's most senior Roman Catholic cleric has resigned and will not be taking part in the conclave of cardinals that will select the next pope. As NPR's Philip Reeves reports from London, "Cardinal Keith O'Brien's decision was announced a day after revelations that he behaved inappropriately with several priests."
The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.
A group of prominent Canadian authors are stripping down for a (mostly) nude calendar. Proceeds from the Bare It For Books project will go to PEN Canada, an organization that promotes freedom of expression. The (actually kind of hunky) Life of Pi author Yann Martel will be Mr. December.
Good morning, I'm Steve Inskeep. Betty LeMaster watched a television program in Smyrna, Tennessee - a show about geology - and it got Ms. LeMaster wondering about the 10-pound rock she'd used as a doorstop for years.
She took it to Middle Tennessee State University and according to the Daily News Journal, testing revealed her doorstop is fossilized coral 450 million years old. Older than the dinosaurs, and still holds the door just fine.
It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Jennifer Lawrence won the Best Actress Oscar for "Silver Linings Playbook." Surely, that will be remembered longer than her performance at the Academy Awards. On the red carpet she used a four-letter word which ABC bleeped. Inside, she fell on her way to accept the award. Later, reporters asked how she'd prepared for the evening. Lawrence said her family had taken over her house and at some point, quote, "I did a shot." It could happen to anybody.
NPR's business news starts with a new economic forecast.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
INSKEEP: The latest survey of economic forecasters by the National Association of Business Economics predicts 2 percent growth this year. That is down from last year's 2.2 percent. The current budget battle in Congress is partly blamed for slowing the economy now.
The survey goes on to say that next year could be better if budget issues are resolved by then. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
And today's last word in business is: pirates beware.
If you download copyrighted material illegally, you might get a warning from your Internet service provider starting as soon as today. That's according to blogs covering file-sharing communities like Bit Torrent, where users share and download movies and music for free. Big copyright holders like the Motion Picture Association of America, have been working with Internet providers on ways to punish online pirates, although we do not yet know what the punishment might be.
Two months after the massacre at an elementary school in Connecticut, letters, cards and gifts continue to arrive in Newtown each day, but the town is not sure what to do with it all.
The outpouring of grief started arriving just days after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School — poetry, stories, banners and posters. Soon the halls of Newtown's Municipal Center and buildings all over town were packed with messages from children and parents, from a soldier in Afghanistan and an inmate at a California prison.
Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 4:36 pm
If you like Argo (which won Best Picture), the movie Chicago (which made a couple of appearances) and jokes about women (which just kept coming), you probably had a substantially better night than the average viewer, who was subjected to Seth MacFarlane's delivery of one of the worst hosting performances in Oscar history.
When Pope Benedict XVI said he was stepping down, he broke a tradition that had been in place since 1415. The pope, who gave his final blessing Sunday, leaves the Catholic Church in the midst of changing social views and demographic shifts among its followers.
Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 12:59 am
A big first for Danica Patrick, but an even bigger second for Jimmie Johnson.
Patrick made history out front at the Daytona 500, only to see five-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson reclaim his spot at the top in the end.
Johnson won his second Daytona 500 with a late push on Sunday, grabbing the spotlight from Patrick as she faded on the final lap. Patrick became the first woman in history to lead laps in "The Great American Race" and was running third on the last lap, but slipped to eighth in the late push for position.
For Terje Isungset, the cold weather in Washington, D.C., this week is no problem. The Norwegian musician was in town to perform as part of the Kennedy Center's "Nordic Cool" series, and he needed low temperatures to keep his instruments in good shape.
He has chimes, drums, a marimba and a "tube-ice" (like a tuba). They're all carved out of shimmering ice, harvested from the frozen lakes of Ottawa, Canada, and shipped to the Kennedy Center for an hour of melting music.
It's worth the effort, Isungset says, to get the perfect sound.
Jimmie Johnson has won the Daytona 500, one day after crash during a race there injured fans. Danica Patrick, who was hoping to make history, finished eighth. Jacki Lyden gets the latest from NPR's Mike Pesca.