Renee Montagne

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Oscar nominations are in. They were announced this morning in Beverly Hills. And "American Hustle" and "Gravity" are the early front-runners. Each of them got 10 Academy Award nominations, including best picture. "12 Years a Slave" was close behind with nine nominations. For more, we're joined now by Linda Holmes, who writes and edits NPR's entertainment and pop culture blog Monkey See. Good morning.

LINDA HOLMES, BYLINE: Good morning to you.

A very cold winter storm is engulfing much of the Northeast, dumping more than 20 inches of snow in some areas and bringing strong winds along with it. Schools are closed in Boston and New York City. Thousands of flights have been canceled. Officials around the region are asking people to stay home and let road crews do their work.

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On a Friday it's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.

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And I'm Renee Montagne. And a very cold Friday in the northeast - a winter storm still hammering there this morning. In parts of Massachusetts, over 20 inches of snow have already fallen. In upstate New York there's lots of snow and temperatures are hovering around zero.

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Turkey's government is defending itself against a corruption scandal. That scandal has shaken a nation often described as the model for moderate Islamic democracy. The scandal reaches the highest levels of the government, and has sparked a strong backlash by Turkey's ruling party.

We reached NPR's correspondent in Istanbul, Peter Kenyon, to learn more about what's going on.

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Looking back as a new year approaches is something of a tradition at the Supreme Court. And yesterday the High Court released an annual report by the Chief Justice offering insights into both the year gone by and the one ahead. This year, Chief Justice John Roberts highlighted a woeful lack of funding for the federal judiciary. For more we turn to NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson. Welcome, Carrie.

CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: Thanks, Renee.

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New York City ushered in the New Year last night with its famous crystal ball, and also the swearing in of a new mayor. Just after midnight, Bill de Blasio was sworn into office in a private ceremony in the yard of his row house in Brooklyn. He's the first Democratic mayor in 20 years. His vision of the city could hardly be more different than that of his predecessor, billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who presided over what many will remember as a kind of gilded age.

It's more than likely that overhauling immigration will not happen this year. Congress has only nine working days left in 2013. And it appears, the issue will not be resolved next year either.

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An NFL season filled with surprise and controversy is heading into its 11th weekend. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the season so far is the last remaining undefeated team. It's the Kansas City Chiefs, one of two teams with the WORST record in the league last season. Sunday, the Chiefs play the Denver Broncos in a game fans have been anticipating for weeks.

Employers added 204,000 jobs to payrolls in October. The jobless rate edged up a bit, but that was likely a temporary phenomenon caused by the partial shutdown of the federal government. For more, Renee Montagne talks with NPR's John Ydstie.

Roy Choi ushered in a food truck "new wave" in Los Angeles, making street fare edgier, tastier. Five years ago, he and a partner launched Kogi — Korean for meat — with a small fleet of trucks offering up a Korean-Mexican fusion that inspired food entrepreneurs in cities across America where the trend caught fire. His signature creation? The short rib taco: warm tortillas, Korean barbecue beef, cilantro-onion-and lime, topped with a spicy-soy slaw.

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And with some perspective on why the two sides are so dug in, and what options Speaker Boehner and President Obama may be weighing, we turn as we do most Mondays to Cokie Roberts. Good morning.

COKIE ROBERTS, BYLINE: Hi. How are you, Renee?

MONTAGNE: And Cokie, given what Tamara just reported, that a small but very key group of Republicans are unlikely to go along with a possible solution to the next crisis that's looming - that's a possible default on the national debt - what does Speaker Boehner do?

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And I'm Renee Montagne. Let's focus for a moment on the mental state of Aaron Alexis. He's the man identified as the shooter who killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday, and then was killed himself. We now know some things; among them he'd been a Navy Reservist, he had a history with guns, and he seemed to be having mental problems.

Heavy rains continue to pound areas near Boulder. Hundreds are still waiting to return to their homes. Rescuers continued their search for people who may be stranded in cars or trapped in buildings.

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There is, of course, a lot of attention being paid about what's happening in Richmond because millions of other American homeowners around the country are also underwater - again, homes that are worth less than their mortgages. We're joined now by NPR correspondent Chris Arnold, who's been following all of this. Good morning.

CHRIS ARNOLD, BYLINE: Good morning, Renee.

MONTAGNE: How many homeowners are still underwater? I gather with the housing market coming back, this is changing - for the better.

The National Security Agency violated special court restrictions on the use of a database of telephone calls, but the NSA says it fixed those problems. That's the bottom line from more documents declassified by the director of National Intelligence. The document dump is part of an effort to share more details about NSA surveillance activities that were uncovered by former government contractor Edward Snowden.

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A judge in New Delhi has just delivered his guilty verdict for four men who raped and murdered a young woman on a city bus back in December. It was one of the most high profile cases in Indian history. The horrific crime stirred a national debate over the country's lax prosecution of crimes against women and became an international issue as well. We talk to NPR's Julie McCarthy who was at the courthouse. Good morning.

JULIE MCCARTHY, BYLINE: Good morning, Renee.

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Coming into this brand new NFL season, the Denver Broncos were considered bona fide championship contenders and it appears all the title talk has merit. In last night's season opener in Denver, the Broncos clobbered the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. The final score was 49-27 and the game featured a record-tying performance by Denver quarterback Peyton Manning.

Joining us now is NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman. Good morning.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Hello.

In London, Prime Minister David Cameron had planned to get backing from Parliament Thursday – approving a possible military intervention. Instead, he's been forced to back down. The Labour Party announced it would vote against military action in Syria.

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The Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant is back in the news more than two years after an earthquake and tsunami triggered a series of meltdowns. New leaks found this week prompted regulators to consider raising the alert level there in Japan. NPR's science correspondent Geoff Brumfiel joined us to explain. Geoff, good morning.

GEOFF BRUMFIEL, BYLINE: Good morning.

MONTAGNE: Why raise the alert level?

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There are alarming reports from Syria this morning of a chemical weapons attack near the capital. Syrian opposition activists say government forces have killed hundreds of people in air raids and shelling on rebel neighborhoods close to Damascus and a sizeable number of people, they claim, have died from poison gas. Those claims have not been confirmed and the Syrian government has strongly denied the accusations.

A UPS cargo plane crashed near the airport in Birmingham, Ala., Wednesday morning. The pilot and co-pilot were both killed.

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The Justice Department is bringing civil charges against one of the nation's largest banks. The government alleges that Bank of America made false statements about the quality of home loans it sold off to investors, $850 million worth of loads. The Justice Department move is the latest in a series of cases being brought against financial firms.

NPR's Chris Arnold has been following all of this and joins us now. Good morning.

CHRIS ARNOLD, BYLINE: Good morning, Renee.

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So now the challenge for Major League Baseball: Winning back the trust of fans. The suspensions themselves were a start but there is a wrinkle because, as we've heard, Alex Rodriguez is appealing his 211-game ban. It means the narrative in baseball will continue to be about suspicions rather than the play on the field.

Joining us now to talk about the league and its efforts is NPR's Mike Pesca. Good morning, Mike.

MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Hello.

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Major League Baseball appears set to hand down suspensions to several players implicated in performance enhancing drug use. New York Yankees All-Star Alex Rodriguez is the biggest name by far on that list and he also faces the longest suspension. NPR's Mike Pesca joins us now for an update. Good morning.

MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Hello.

MONTAGNE: So what length of penalty does Alex Rodriguez face?

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It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

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And I'm Renee Montagne.

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Ben Bernanke's latest comments are at the top of NPR's business news.

Stock and bond markets reacted positively to the Federal Reserve chairman's latest remarks on the economy this morning. Ben Bernanke is on Capitol Hill delivering the Fed's twice-yearly update on the economy and Fed policy before the House Financial Services Committee. NPR's John Ydstie joins us now to talk about it. And John, what was it that Bernanke said that impressed the market?

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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In many ways, the trial of George Zimmerman has been a Rorschach test for America. What people saw and heard about the case was often colored by their own life circumstances, and there are lots of opinions out there, many expressed quite loudly.

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The best players in major league baseball take the field tonight in New York. Fans voted for their favorites in the American and National Leagues. The All-Star game is an exhibition - or mostly an exhibition - and there is a real prize. The winner gets home-field advantage during the World Series. The game also offers a chance to check on how teams are doing midway through the season.

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Here to talk all things baseball is NPR's Mike Pesca. Good morning.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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