North Carolina is expected to host one of the nation's toughest U.S. Senate races next year. First-term Democrat Kay Hagan is seeking re-election, but recent polls show that even though her GOP opponent won't be known until the spring, her support for President Obama and the Affordable Care Act have already hurt her standing with state voters. She's also being targeted by outside groups, who are spending millions of dollars in hopes of unseating her.
The Senate is back from vacation and trying to get a budget deal completed. The House plans to leave town for the year at the end of the week, which means the heat is on to settle on spending levels for 2014 and 2015. Democrats would also like to insert money for extended unemployment benefits, which expire at the end of December. If nothing else, negotiators want to agree on a "topline" spending amount to avoid another government shutdown when the current stopgap spending measure expires Jan. 15.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has dismissed his uncle — who was considered the number two power in the country — from a key defense post. Jang Song Thaek was accused of a long list of criminal and counter-revolutionary acts. He was stripped of all power, and was seen on state television being forcibly removed from a party meeting. Melissa Block talks with Korea-watcher Victor Cha, a senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Tensions are high in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, as huge crowds of protesters vent their anger at President Viktor Yanukovych. He has rejected a plan to strengthen ties between Ukraine and the European Union. The demonstrators fear that Yanukovych will instead strengthen ties with Russia and some former Soviet republics. There have been angry face-offs between protesters and police. In one incident on Monday, a line of demonstrators pushed right up against the shields of a line of police. Tempers were flaring until a group of parliamentarians walked between the two lines and separated them.
When it comes to report cards, most people think of grades like A, B, C or maybe F. But more and more parents around the country are seeing their kids come home with grades like E, M, IP or LP. It's part of a growing trend to make grades more reflective of the specific skills students have actually mastered, and its getting a boost from the move to Common Core standards.
The world has joined South Africans in mourning and memorializing Nelson Mandela, who died Thursday at age 95. The life of the man known as the '"father of the nation" — the anti-apartheid hero, Nobel Laureate laureate and South Africa's first black president — will be celebrated on Tuesday in Johannesburg, a ceremony that will be attended by many world leaders.
Audie Cornish talks with Doug Parker, CEO of the newly formed American Airlines Group. As of Monday, it's the largest airline in the world. It came about through the merger of American Airlines and US Airways. Parker worked more than two years for the merger to finally be completed.
The heads of eight major technology companies — including Google, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft — have published an open letter to President Obama calling for reforms to government surveillance programs. Audie Cornish speaks with David Drummond, chief legal officer for Google.
Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in 2007. Heraldo Munoz, who led the United Nations investigation into her death, portrays the tense political climate that surrounded Bhutto's return to politics and the circumstances of the killing in his new book.
With an unstable host, a reluctant sidekick and a house band oblivious to its surroundings, The Eric Andre Show has been described as "the weirdest show on TV." For all its inappropriateness, the show has generated a rabid fan base and has been renewed for a third season.
When the U.S., Canadian, and Mexican governments were negotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement back in the 1990s, environmentalists warned that it would create a race to the bottom: Countries would compete to gut environmental rules to attract businesses. But by and large, those fears were not realized. Still, the trade deal had other unforeseen environmental consequences.
This week, Hassan al-Laqis, a senior commander of Hezbollah, was assassinated in Beirut, Lebanon. Hezbollah has blamed Israel for the killing, but Israel has denied that it had any involvement. Host Arun Rath speaks with Mitchell Prothero, who reports from Beirut for McClatchy, and Matthew Levitt, author of Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon's Army of God, about who al-Laqis was, and what the assassination means.
The plan to dispose of Syria's chemical weapons is swiftly moving ahead. But the plan to get the materials out to sea to dispose of them is easier said than done, when it means transporting them through a war zone. Arun Rath talks to Amy Smithson of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies about what lies ahead.