National & International News

We follow stories about America and the world, with help from NPR.

On a day when we're in the final countdown for sequestration, Washington is still abuzz over whether or not White House economic adviser Gene Sperling threatened journalist Bob Woodward.

Shakes on a plane aren't all that funny to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Colorado College's ultimate frisbee team last month convinced the crew aboard a Frontier Airlines fight to let them do the "Harlem Shake."

Update at 2:30 p.m. ET. Rescue Hopes Dim Further:

"Hopes for the rescue of a man sucked into a sinkhole were dimming Friday as authorities tried to determine whether the ground nearby was stable enough for a rescue operation," the Tampa Bay Times writes.

The Times also has a harrowing account from Jeremy Bush, who survived, of his brother Jeffrey's disappearance into the sinkhole:

Update at 11:55 a.m. ET. As Expected, No Deal:

President Obama and Congressional leaders met at the White House Friday morning and, just as pundits predicted, they could not reach a deal to avert the $85 billion in automatic spending cuts set to begin at the end of the day. We've posted on that news:

Decrying 'Dumb, Arbitrary Cuts,' Obama Says 'We Will Get Through This'

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

Hear Laura Sydell's report for Morning Edition by clicking the audio link.

Groupon co-founder Andrew Mason has been fired as the daily-deal company's CEO, one day after Groupon posted financial results that showed it lost $67.4 million during 2012. Board chairmen Eric Lefkofsky and Ted Leonsis will jointly fill the CEO post on an interim basis.

File this one under Sisyphean tasks: The government of Iceland is drafting plans to ban pornography both online and in print.

Supporters of the ban, proposed by Interior Minister Ogmundur Jonasson, says it will shield children from harm.

Writing in the Guardian, Halla Gunnarsdottir, political adviser to Jonasson, said:

Update at 6:44 p.m. ET. Limited Gay Marriage Right:

The Obama administration is asking the Supreme Court to end a ban on gay marriage in California.

But NPR's Nina Totenberg tells our Newscast unit that the government is arguing for limited gay marriage rights.

As Pope Benedict XVI left the Vatican and his papacy, he slipped out of his trademark red shoes and put on a pair of Mexican leather loafers. The shoes, actually three pairs, two burgundy and one brown, were a gift to the Pope during his trip last year to Mexico.

After a weekend that saw journalists on the Oscars red carpet struggling to pronounce the name of 9-year-old Best Actress nominee Quvenzhané Wallis, we decided to ask the Twitter masses for their funniest or most annoying stories about people mispronouncing their "unconventional" or "ethnic" names.

Here's a few of the best:

Do you have any similar stories? We'd love to hear them in the comments.

A relatively routine plea hearing in Beckley, W.Va, Thursday, took an unexpected and dramatic turn when a former Massey Energy executive implicated former CEO Don Blankenship in a criminal conspiracy.

It's the first time Blankenship has been publicly named as an alleged conspirator in the ongoing federal criminal investigation of the 2010 explosion at Massey's Upper Big Branch coal mine.

Update at 5:52 p.m. ET. Judge Accepts Plea:

A military judge in Fort Meade, Md. accepted 10 guilty pleas from Army Pfc. Bradley Manning on Thursday.

Manning pleaded guilty to lesser charges, but he is still facing a court martial over the charge of aiding the enemy.

NPR's Carrie Johnson filed this report for our Newscast unit:

"Manning says he misused classified information when he leaked thousands of war reports and diplomatic cables to the web site Wikileaks.

Fancy some free cash? Don't even bother to insert your ATM card.

People in Spain thought it was a joke — or a fraud — when a video popped up on YouTube showing what looks like a normal ATM, offering 100 euros ($131) for free — without a bank card. It seemed too good to be true.

Update at 7:45 a.m. ET, March 1. Kims Are "Great Leaders," Rodman Says:

On his way home Friday from North Korea, former NBA star Dennis Rodman said Kim Jong Un, his father and grandfather have been "great leaders." According to The Associated Press, Rodman also said of the young North Korean leader that "he's proud, his country likes him — not like him, love him, love him. ... Guess what, I love him. The guy's really awesome."

Our original post — Dennis Rodman To Kim Jong Un: 'You Have A Friend For Life':

A roaming chicken's close inspection of a transformer caused a power outage and brief delays at Maui's Kahului Airport this week. The incident occurred Tuesday afternoon, when the bird wandered into a transformer at the airport's rental car area, leaving parts of the facility without power for more than an hour.

Marco McMillian, thought to be one of the first openly gay men to seek political office in Mississippi, was found dead near a levee, yesterday.

McMillian was running for mayor of the town of Clarksdale, a town known for its rich artistic history. (At one point or another it was home to the likes of Sam Cooke and Tennessee Williams.) The AP reports that McMillian was considered to be "a man on the rise."

There's major business news in Indiana today:

"Chrysler will hire 1,250 new workers and spend $374 million to upgrade transmission plants in central Indiana — the only place in North America where the automaker makes transmissions," the Detroit Free Press reports from Kokomo.

China's answer to accusations of cyber-espionage against the U.S.? The Americans are doing it to us, too.

Barely a week after a report from security firm Mandiant that an arm of the People's Liberation Army was behind the theft of "hundreds of terabytes" of data from U.S. companies, China's Defense Ministry said Thursday that U.S. hackers were penetrating Chinese military websites.

After much handwringing from GOP House members, the Democratic minority and some Republicans joined forces to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.

The vote was 286 to 138. Eighty-seven Republicans voted in favor of the bill; no Democrats voted against it.

Bruce Reynolds, the brains behind the Great Train Robbery of 1963, has died at the age of 81, nearly five decades after he and his partners in crime made off with 2.6 million pounds at Ledburn, Buckinghamshire, England.

Reynolds was part of the gang that executed an elaborate scheme to swipe the cash from the Glasgow-to-Euston mail train. The clockwork nature of the crime, along with the fact that the bulk of the loot was never recovered and some of the robbers never captured, has made it a favorite subject of television and films, as well as popular music.

Team mascots across the nation are heaving exaggerated sighs of relief this morning.

The front-page news in Milwaukee is that "Guido, the Klement's racing Italian sausage costume last seen a couple weeks ago adorning a bar hopper in Cedarburg, was returned Wednesday night."

According to the Journal Sentinel:

It all depends on how you interpret the phrase "you will regret doing this." That piece of advice coming from a parent might be taken far differently than it would as a line from a Joe Pesci movie.

Where it falls on a spectrum from friendly advice to outright threat is apparently a matter of opinion. Bob Woodward, The Washington Post reporter of Watergate fame, and the Obama White House disagree on more than just the sequester story.

It's not much of a change, but at least it's in the right direction.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Thursday morning that it now thinks the economy grew at a 0.1 percent annual rate in fourth-quarter 2012. A month ago, BEA thought GDP shrank at a 0.1 percent annual rate in those last three months of the year.

Obviously, in an economy that now produces nearly $16 trillion worth of goods and services annually, a 0.2 percentage point revision is basically a blip.

Friday's deadline looms, and as we heard earlier today on Morning Edition: "Oh, it's gonna happen."

The "it" is sequestration — $85 billion worth of across-the-board federal spending cuts that are due to start kicking in at the end of Friday unless Republican and Democratic leaders somehow bridge their differences.

Pennsylvania's Year In Review

Dec 31, 2012

Happy Valley was not a happy place in 2012. And yet it was hard to stay away.

The child molestation scandal that engulfed Penn State dominated state news this year, from the stunning death of longtime football coach Joe Paterno to the gut-wrenching court testimony that sent his former assistant, Jerry Sandusky, to prison for sexually abusing boys.

Other big stories included Superstorm Sandy, which cut power to more than 1.5 million customers in eastern Pennsylvania in late October. It took nine days to restore service in some places.

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