And undoubtedly, the president and Governor Romney were up early Friday morning reading and eagerly awaiting the unemployment numbers. Almost immediately after they were announced, theories began to circulate that maybe, just maybe, the Bureau of Labor Statistics was cooking the books to help the president's re-election.
Back in August, Caitlin Kenney of NPR's Planet Money team went to investigate just why those numbers are such a closely held secret.
The Labor Department announced on Friday the lowest unemployment rate since January 2009. Most big companies use software to screen resumes and ultimately move that unemployment number. These programs can be a big help for hiring departments, but a hindrance for job searches everywhere.
President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney squared off in their first debate this week. Some pundits say the debates don't really matter in the final outcome of the election, and yet polls show Romney got a big bounce following his performance. Host Guy Raz talks to Jim Fallows, of The Atlantic, about what, if any, effect debates may have on undecided voters.
Moderator Jim Lehrer sits at his desk before last Wednesday's debate between President Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in Denver. For third-party candidates, getting into a presidential debate is practically impossible.
What's it like to be a third-party candidate running for president? Ralph Nader can tell us.
"You're excluded from the debates," he says. "You spend an exhausting amount of time, until Labor Day, trying to get over the ballot access barriers. Your petitioners are harassed in the streets; you're subjected to baseless lawsuits by one party or another."
Nader has run for president three times – four if you count the time he ran unofficially. In 2000, he managed to win almost 3 percent of the national vote.
Air Force F-22 Raptors, made by Lockheed Martin, are prepared for flight operations at Langley Air Force Base. Despite the looming defense spending cuts that would go into effect in January if Congress does not pass a deficit reduction plan, Lockheed Martin and other defense contractors announced this week they would not issue layoff notices.
Major defense companies said this week they will not send out layoff notices to warn of big job cuts in January, taking away the prospect of embarrassing layoff notices right before the November elections.
That's led to charges that the White House overstepped when it told the industry the notices are not needed.
At the beginning of 1997, Nigel Godrich was a relatively unknown recording engineer. He'd been looking for a band that would trust his instincts as a producer, and he'd finally gotten his chance — with the band Radiohead. By the end of 1997, Godrich was one of the most talked-about names in music.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. The jobless rate fell sharply to 7.8 percent in September, which happens to be exactly where it was when President Obama took office. That's according to the U.S. Labor Department's latest monthly jobs report. But even though the unemployment rate dropped, the Labor Department's payroll survey reveals that businesses did not significantly hire new people. NPR's Yuki Noguchi has this report on how experts are interpreting the numbers.
Nearly two-dozen states are watching for new cases of a rare kind of meningitis, caused by fungal contamination in injections for back pain. Officials say the shots were custom made by a Massachusetts pharmacy that shipped about 17,000 doses to states from New York to California. While the disease cannot spread from person-to-person, at least five people have died and dozens more are sick. The outbreak first showed up in Tennessee as we hear from Daniel Potter of member station WPLN.
Nov. 6 is 32 days away, but for millions of Americans, there is no longer an Election Day.
Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia now have early voting, which is under way even now in eight states. Hundreds of thousands of votes have already been cast, most before this week's presidential debates or Friday's jobs report, and all ahead of the three future debates and any unforeseen October event that might test the mettle of a candidate.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Time for sports.
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SIMON: Major League Baseball premiered its new high-stakes, single game wild-card playoff round last night. But a controversial call involving a famously vague old rule is at the center of attention today. The - eh-eh - defending world champion St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Atlanta Braves in that game. The Baltimore Orioles put away the Texas Rangers. NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman joins us now. Morning, Tom.
Among the 23 recipients of the MacArthur "genius" grants this past week: an economist, a mathematician, a photographer, a neuroscientist, and a Boston-based stringed instrument bow maker.
Benoit Rolland acknowledges that the violin reigns supreme as the star of the strings, capable of fetching millions of dollars at auction. But what about the bow? "A violin with no bow is not a violin, that's clear," says Rolland.
When we get an early glimpse of Harry Copeland, he's falling in love in an instant, with a girl he sees on the Staten Island Ferry. Her hair "trapped the sun and seemed to radiate light," he writes, "and with New York in 1947, when it brimmed with color, light, drama and a babble of voices that reminded him of the world he fought to save as a paratrooper in World War II."
An unmanned U.S. Predator drone sits on the tarmac of Kandahar military airport in southern Afghanistan in 2010. The U.S. has been using drones in Pakistan for years. The Pakistanis initially claimed the drone attacks as the work of their own military, but the strikes have become a source of friction.
The U.S. has been carrying out drone strikes in Pakistan for some eight years, but it's done so under a policy that has emerged piecemeal over that time.
"It started in 2004, when drones were really an oddity," says Daniel Markey, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He was on the State Department's policy planning staff when it all started during the Bush administration.