Let's remember a bit of very recent history. Back in August, Congress came close to defaulting on U.S. government debts. Republicans wanted big cuts in spending. They finally got some, but a deal with President Obama pushed more deficit reductions off to the future, to a bipartisan committee which has been meeting this fall, and now has one week left until its deadline to reach a deal.
And our last word in business today is save the tanooki.
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
MONTAGNE: The animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is attacking Nintendo's new video game "Super Mario 3-D Land." In the game, Super Mario sometimes wears the skin of a tanooki, which is a raccoon dog. Steve, you may have to finish...
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Oh no, come, no, no. It's fine. Come on, it's a raccoon dog. It's a nice animal.
Australia is the latest stop on President Obama's tour of the Pacific Rim countries that the president thinks should be the new focus of U.S. foreign policy. It is already the focus of a competition for influence with China.
Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich is rising in the polls, but Rick Perry is back in the spotlight after some proposals he made in Iowa yesterday. The Texas governor wants Congress to take a 50 percent pay cut, as part of a sweeping plan to overhaul the government.
A foreign mining company, protected by hundreds of soldiers, extracts precious resources from a remote tropical forest. The mining enrages indigenous tribes, who resist.
It may sound like a movie script, but it is in fact the story of the world's largest gold mine, located high in the mountains of Indonesia's Papua province and owned by Freeport-McMoRan, an American mining conglomerate.
When Energy Secretary Steven Chu appears on Capitol Hill on Thursday to defend the Obama administration's solar energy subsidy program, he will face questions about the solar panel firm Solyndra, which went belly up this summer.
The Energy Department has drawn stiff criticism over a government loan guarantee program that lent the company half a billion dollars, but the government has a long history of subsidizing many forms of energy.
Just as the Arab uprisings were getting under way, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was warning that the region's foundations were sinking in the sand and that governments needed to respond to the needs of a young, educated and underemployed generation.
Now, she's come up with a new catchphrase.
"As tens of millions of young people enter the job market each year, we recognize that the Arab political awakening must also deliver an economic awakening," Clinton said. "And we are working to help societies create jobs to ensure that it does."
The Village of Hempstead, N.Y., sounds like a posh resort in the Hamptons. But if you ride the train an hour east from Penn Station, what you'll find is a working-class town of about 54,000 people, more than 80 percent of them African-American and Hispanic.
Nearly a third of local residents are underwater on their mortgages, six times the state average. Mayor Wayne Hall says he heard story after story from local residents who tried to get banks to refinance their loans, but couldn't. Finally, Hall got fed up.
Political parties, activists and Islamist groups in Egypt are threatening more mass protests in Cairo and other cities Friday against a document drafted by the interim government that would enshrine the powers of the Egyptian military.
It's the latest clash between Egypt's pro-democracy factions and the ruling military council, which is accused of clinging to power despite its pledge to cede control to an elected government.