Morning Edition for Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Kerry Urges Lawmakers To Hold Off On Iran Sanctions

Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on lawmakers not to impose further sanctions in Iran as negotiations on reining in Tehran's nuclear program continue. Iranian officials have said new sanctions would kill off any hope of a final deal between Iran and world powers.

What's The Interim Iran Nuclear Deal Really Worth?

Renee Montage talks to David Cohen, the U.S. undersecretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, about the sanctions against Iran and their role in curtailing the Iranian nuclear program.
Nationwide elections in Venezuela have provided some breathing room for President Nicolas Maduro, who has been struggling with skyrocketing inflation and shortages of basic goods. Opposition parties had hoped to deal a stinging blow to Maduro, but instead he proclaimed victory and pledged to deepen the socialist revolution, including more government measures to control the economy.

Venezuelan Hip-Hop Takes On Police Corruption

The song by Venezuelan rappers Apache y Canserbero tackles the rampant police corruption plaguing their country — but with a light touch.

South Africans Line The Streets For Mandela Procession

Renee Montagne talks with Ofeibea Quist-Arcton about South Africa's 10-day goodbye to Nelson Mandela. His body will lie in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, the scene of his presidential inauguration in 1994.
Once the Cold War ended, much of Russia's surplus uranium from thousands of decommissioned weapons wound up in crumbling military facilities. In 1993, the U.S. Department of Energy made a deal to have the material converted to fuel for U.S. power plants. The last shipment arrives today.
In a new poll, parents of girls were more likely to say no when asked if schools were sufficiently preparing students for the world of work. And with many well-paying trades still dominated by men, girls may have a harder time succeeding in the workplace without some kind of higher education.

GM Plans To Leave Australia

General Motors says high costs and a small market were behind its decision to stop making cars in Australia by 2017. This is fueling fears Toyota will follow suit, effectively killing Australia's auto industry. The GM move could see up to 40,000 auto workers lose their jobs.

GM's New CEO Marks A Return To Tradition

Mary Barra has broken through the glass ceiling of the auto industry to become the first female CEO of General Motors. She'll take the helm of GM in January. But Barra is actually a return to tradition in other ways: GM will be led by an insider, and an engineer, for the first time in many years.

It's The End Of The Road For VW's Iconic Van

The iconic Volkswagen van goes out of production this month in Brazil because of new government-imposed safety requirements. Some of the last of the hippy buses are now rolling off the line.

NYC Subway's Tardy Notes Take Off

New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority says it provided over 8,000 subway delay verifications to commuters in October.

Budget Proposal Is No 'Grand Bargain'

For years, there's been talk in Washington, D.C., about the "grand bargain" — a big deficit-reducing budget deal that rewrites the tax code and trims from the long-term costs of Medicare and Social Security. Tuesday night, Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Paul Ryan announced what can only be described as a small bargain. But if it's approved by the House and Senate, it would avoid another government shutdown in January.

Does Obama-Castro Handshake Signify Shifting Relations?

Shortly before eulogizing Nelson Mandela in South Africa on Tuesday, President Obama shook hands with Cuban leader Raul Castro and set off much discussion about a possible shift in U.S.-Cuba relations. David Greene talks to Dan Restrepo, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and former adviser to Obama on Latin America.
Veterans with "other than honorable" discharges lose benefits like the GI Bill for school or a VA home loan. But they also can't get VA health care and disability compensation, even for the PTSD that may have caused the bad discharge. Such veterans have a few avenues of appeal, but none are simple.

Police Move In As Protests Continue In Kiev

The ongoing anti-government protests in Kiev, Ukraine, seem to be cresting toward new confrontations between police and demonstrators as the numbers of both are increasing.
The Affordable Care Act has produced a surge in the number of people signing up for Medicaid. The ACA offers billions of federal dollars to states to expand Medicaid coverage for the poor. But only 25 states have accepted the federal government's offer, and those that haven't could face economic and budget losses.
Some say South African President Jacob Zuma embodies all that is wrong in the nation. He achieved the presidency after charges of corruption were dropped, and he was acquitted of rape charges. More recently there have been calls for his impeachment over a $20 million security upgrade at his rural home. At Nelson Mandela's memorial service Tuesday, the theme was forgiveness, but Zuma was booed.

Should Character Count In Sports Awards?

When it comes to awards in theater or television or dance or literature, Frank Deford observes, candidates don't worry about losing out because of a personal flaw. Only sports applies that off-the-field standard.

Remembering Jim Hall, A Different Sort Of Guitar God

The guitarist said he didn't "really have all that much technique anyway," but it was clearly enough to influence half a century of jazz musicians. Peers and proteges like Sonny Rollins, Julian Lage and John Scofield reflect on one of the finest ever on his instrument.
Democratic Sen. Patty Murray and Republican Rep. Paul Ryan announced a bipartisan budget proposal Tuesday. For more details on the plan, Steve Inskeep speaks with Murray, who led her party in the negotiations.
Rachel Garcia turned 32 dead mice into a chess set. The bishop mice have little bishop hats. The knights hold plastic swords like you'd find in a lemon slice. They're the perfect chess set — if you're willing to touch them.

Toy-Gun-Toting Sock Puppet Can't Get Past The TSA

In an abundance of caution (presumably), the TSA at the St. Louis airport disarmed the little True Grit character that was in the carry-on bag of the woman who made it.
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