Well, here we are. It's New Year's Eve and with just hours to go before the end of the year and the arrival of the so-called fiscal cliff, Democrats and Republicans in Washington are still trying to strike a deal that heads off automatic increases in taxes, automatic deep spending cuts in a variety of programs and the automatic expiration of some jobless benefits.
As American make contributions to various charities at the end of the year, there is increasing evidence that politics is playing a role in their decisions. Research suggests that the way the charity presses certain ideological buttons predicts whether liberals or conservatives will pony up a donation.
We are in a great season to buy a car. Automakers and dealers are offering lots of incentives. And those incentives are just one of the factors in what may end up as the best year for the auto industry since 2007, before the height of the financial crisis. So why has it been a good year? Well, when millions of people hold off on their car purchases for years, that pent up demand, along with cheap credit, will eventually drive stronger sales.
And let's turn to some other developments we're following very closely. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in a New York City hospital this morning. She is being treated for a blood clot. Now, a State Department spokesman said this stems from a concussion Clinton sustained earlier this month. The blood clot was discovered during a follow-up exam yesterday.
We're joined in the studio by two of our colleagues, NPR foreign affairs correspondent Jackie Northam and NPR science editor Rob Stein. Good morning to both of you.
The U.S. economy grew at a steady though not very strong pace this year. But Europe slipped back into recession because of the ongoing debt crisis. European leaders took steps to stimulate growth, but it wasn't enough to reverse course.
The economic crisis that got under way five years ago was felt all over the world. But Mohammed El-Erian, CEO of the investment firm PIMCO, says different regions have healed at much different rates.
The year "2012 was another multispeed world globally, in the sense that different parts did different things," he says.
It is almost unimaginable that both the House and Senate would be in session on a Sunday evening on the penultimate day of the year. And yet, they both were, with lawmakers hoping it was not merely a big waste of time and effort.
A bipartisan push by Senate leaders over the weekend has so far failed to forge a deal to spare American wage earners from tax hikes and shield government programs from drastic cutbacks.
Hear an excerpt of 'Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power'
If you're feeling overwhelmed by the holiday rush — too swamped, even, to spend an afternoon reading those books you got for Christmas, we have some recommendations for you — but these are audiobooks, so you can listen while you multitask.