Any new member of Congress faces a steep climb to get up to speed on the economic challenges facing the U.S. over the next 12 months. Some of the loudest demands for congressional attention will no doubt come from America's CEOs and business leaders because while the recovery has been trudging along in the right direction, some of America's largest companies and corporations have not distinguished themselves over the last year.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer. And it's time now for sports.
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WERTHEIMER: The year is almost over and so is pro football's regular season. There are just two unclaimed playoff spots left and a handful of teams that are scrambling to make sure they are still playing when the ball drops on 2012. For a look at this weekend's stakes and a little philosophical waxing on the waning year, I'm joined by NPR's Tom Goldman. Good morning, Tom.
France is known as a tolerant country on many social issues, yet the country is embroiled in a debate about same-sex marriage and adoption.
President Francois Hollande is following through on a campaign promise to bring full rights to gay couples. France legalized civil unions more than a decade ago, though same-sex couples must still go abroad to marry or adopt.
But opposition to Hollande's measure has been unexpectedly fierce, something the Socialist government wasn't expecting.
Even though the top four congressional leaders left their White House meeting with the president separately and silently on Friday, they cast the hourlong encounter in a positive light back at the Capitol.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi described the tone of the discussion to head off across-the-board tax hikes and spending cuts as "candid." An aide to House Speaker John Boehner put out a statement that noted that the group agreed the next step should be the Senate's — a tacit acknowledgement that Boehner is no longer the lead negotiator with President Obama.
All good things must come to an end, and so it is with Marvel Comics' web-slinging, wise-cracking superhero. Spider-Man is no more. Well, to be more precise, Peter Parker is no more.
In the 700th and final issue of The Amazing Spider-Man, writer Dan Slott's controversial story saw Spider-Man's mind switched with that of his dying arch-foe Dr. Otto Octavius, aka Doctor Octopus. The twist is that with his final effort, Spidey was able to give all of his memories and morals to his body-stealing enemy.
National Intelligence Director James Clapper leaves the Capitol after briefing members of Congress earlier this month. The Senate voted Friday to extend the FISA Amendments Act to 2017, granting federal agencies wide surveillance powers.
Credit J. Scott Applewhite / AP
The FISA Amendments Act has been approved for another five years, as the Senate voted to renew the law that grants the government wide surveillance authority. President Obama has said he intends to sign the measure, which senators approved by a 73-23 margin Friday morning. It had already won approval in the House.
Update at 6:10 p.m. Dec. 31: Obama signs FISA extension.
The president signed the FISA extension Sunday. Our original post continues:
A woman who survived a brutal gang-rape on a bus in India has died, according to reports. Earlier Friday, hospital officials in Singapore, where the 23-year-old student was being treated, had warned that her condition was worsening.