On the face of it, the teacher's strike in Chicago is about money, job security and how teachers are evaluated. But it's also about the political pressure on teachers' unions to make concessions that not long ago would've been unheard of. Teachers' collective bargaining rights these days have taken a backseat to bare-bones budgets and to claims that unions are an obstacle to efforts aimed at improving the quality of schools. As NPR's Claudio Sanchez reports, all these elements have come together in Chicago.
The rumor mills in China are in overdrive this week, with speculation about the health and whereabouts of the heir to China's top leader. Just weeks before Vice President Xi Jinping is expected to be elevated to head of the party, he seems to have disappeared. He's been mysteriously out of sight since last week when he missed an important meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and also the Prime Ministers of Denmark and Singapore.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep, with Renee Montagne. Let's get the latest, now, from North Africa, in the wake of attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in both Libya and Egypt. In Cairo, as we saw yesterday, protesters went over a wall and took down an American flag. The far more serious attack was against a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, where we now know four Americans were killed, including the United States ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
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And I'm Renee Montagne.
Here's some troubling news. Ice covering the Arctic Ocean has melted more dramatically this year than ever before. This year's loss of ice has exceeded the previous record by an area the size of Texas. NPR's Richard Harris reports.
After a scandal, somebody finally gets rich for doing the right thing. It's NPR's business news.
A former banker, Bradley Birkenfeld, has just been awarded $104 million by the IRS. That is believed to be the largest amount ever paid to an individual whistle-blower. Birkenfeld told the IRS how a Swiss bank was helping thousands of Americans evade taxes, and was then thrown in jail.
It's shaping up to be an important day for the European Union and the future of its currency. In the Netherlands, there is a parliamentary election that's expected to be a barometer of Dutch support for staying in the eurozone. Also this morning, a plan was unveiled to give the European Central Bank the power to supervise the big financial institutions in Europe. And, Germany's high court ruled that the European bailout fund is legal.
NPR's Jim Zarroli joins us now from Berlin to talk about this.
Military commanders, government officials and members of Congress have long wrangled over which weapon systems are needed. Now, there's an argument over what computer software should be provided to soldiers in Afghanistan. It's a defense dispute for the digital age.
In recent years, the ability to analyze data has become almost as important to U.S. war-fighters as the guns they use.
Tina Brown, editor of The Daily Beast and Newsweek, tells us what she's been reading in a feature that Morning Edition likes to call "Word of Mouth."
This month, Brown shares reading recommendations related to the changing role of women, including a book about when the women of Newsweek sued their bosses, an article about a wife becoming the primary breadwinner and another about how a woman's Facebook photo reflects her sense of identity.
The United States' southern border bristles with technology and manpower designed to catch illegal immigrants and drug smugglers. Since 1986, the government has spent hundreds of billions of dollars on fences, aircraft, detention centers and agents.
But even as federal budgets shrink and illegal immigration ebbs, experts say that there's no end in sight for the growth of the border-industrial complex.