Our last word in business today is: Mystery Elves. At Kmart stores around the country, anonymous donors are walking in and paying off the layaway accounts of complete strangers. It seems to have started in Michigan, but the holiday spirit spread. Kmart says the stealth benefactors usually ask for accounts that include toys.
Newt Gingrich stood center state Thursday night in the Sioux City Convention Center. The sharpest elbows did not come from his close rivals, Mitt Romney or Ron Paul. Instead, it was Michele Bachmann who repeatedly went after Gingrich.
This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
So, it looks like the federal government is not going to shut down at midnight tonight. That's good news. Congressional negotiators say they've reached an agreement to move forward on a trillion-dollar-plus spending plan. It would fund the government through October. There are still some end-of-year issues that haven't been resolved.
A $5 billion federal program to pay for the health benefits of early retirees is proving to be more popular than expected. So popular that it's running out of money earlier than planned. The fund, part of the health care overhaul, was to provide a bridge of insurance coverage until 2014 when early retirees would have many more options under the health care law.
This report is part of a collaboration between Minnesota Public Radio, NPR, and Kaiser Health News.
Andreas Georgiou is the technocrat charged with running the Greek statistics office — the same office that, in the years leading up to the financial crisis, produced wildly distorted reports of Greece's finances.
"My goal is to make this a competent, boring institution and not to be in the limelight," Georgiou told me recently. "Not to have to give an interview like this one."
So far, though, his efforts have been met with resistance, strikes and a criminal investigation that could lead to life in prison for Georgiou.
Mitt Romney returned to form in the final Republican presidential debate before the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses.
Romney, who had perhaps his shakiest debate performance in Des Moines over the weekend, appeared to regain his composure in Thursday night's debate in Sioux City, Iowa.
He managed to once again convey the sense that he was the one GOP candidate of the seven remaining who could credibly stand on the same stage with President Obama next fall, the most electable of the candidates running for the Republican presidential nomination.
Charlize Theron is ugly in Young Adult, the new film from the Juno team of director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody — both literally and personally. In parts of the film, she still looks like her knockout movie-star self, but in other parts, she looks like she's aged a year for every day since her character, Mavis Gary, left high school.
Federal income tax time is still a few months away, but there are some things you can do before Dec. 31 to save money on April 15.
"The biggest thing is, if you have a 401(k) retirement plan at work and you have not yet maxed it out, that is a great way to kick some extra dollars into your retirement account," Mary Beth Franklin, a senior editor at Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine, tells NPR's Renee Montagne.
Queen Jackson has been homeless for about a year. As she recently told her case manager, Debra MacKillop, it all started in 2009, when she was laid off from her job as an administrative assistant.
"I was working for the state of Colorado," says Jackson, 60. "I had all these great ideas of retiring and sitting back and enjoying my life. But, as the budget was becoming very strained, I was one of the first to be laid off."
At the time, Jackson wasn't worried. She had saved some money, and she was sure she'd be able to find another job quickly.
Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 2:23 pm
Supporters say Army Pfc. Bradley Manning doesn't belong in a courtroom at all. They think he's a whistle-blower — and a hero.
Eighteen months after his arrest on suspicion of leaking national secrets, Manning will finally make his first appearance in court Friday at Fort Meade, Md., just north of Washington, D.C.
When he worked in Iraq, Manning allegedly downloaded thousands of war logs and diplomatic cables and shared them with the website WikiLeaks. He faces 22 criminal charges that could keep him behind bars for life.