Renee Montagne

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And I'm Renee Montagne. Just before noon yesterday, with much of Washington at home for a snowstorm that never really materialized, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky took the floor of the Senate.

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SENATOR RAND PAUL: I rise today to begin to filibuster John Brennan's nomination for the CIA. I will speak until I can no longer speak.

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Venezuela is in a state of mourning for its late president, Hugo Chavez. The outsized leader died yesterday in the capital, Caracas, after a two-year battle with cancer. He was 58. Hugo Chavez was both a polarizing and charismatic figure, and during his long rule he became an icon, beloved by Venezuela's poor and others in the region who admired his defiant stance toward the U.S.

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We're hearing this morning that Pope Benedict has left the Vatican. NPR's Sylvia Poggioli is covering the first papal retirement in 600 years, and she joins us now from Rome. And Sylvia, describe the scene for us there.

Usually when we come up to the edge of one of these deadlines there are 11th-hour negotiations, and the two parties manage to swerve away from the precipice at the last minute. What about this time?

In Southern California, the week-long manhunt for Christopher Dorner appears to be over. He is the former LAPD officer who is believed to be responsible for four murders.

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Surprising news this morning from the Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI has announced he is resigning at the end of this month. It is an unprecedented departure in modern times. The last time a pope stepped down, it was 1415, the Middle Ages. At 85 years old, Benedict said he was no longer up to the physical demands of the papacy. We've got NPR's Sylvia Poggioli on the line now live from Rome. Good morning.

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And I'm Renee Montagne. More signs today of a slow, slow economic recovery. The Labor Department reports the economy added 157,000 new jobs last month. The unemployment rate ticked up slightly, to 7.9 percent. To tell us what's behind these numbers, we're joined by NPR business correspondent Yuki Noguchi, and also our White House correspondent, Scott Horsley. Good morning to both of you.

YUKI NOGUCHI, BYLINE: Good morning.

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And I'm Renee Montagne. One of the liveliest parts of today's events dates back to the very first Inauguration, and that would be the inaugural parade. After George Washington took his oath of office, he was joined by a procession made up of local militias as he made his way from Mount Vernon to New York City. Today, the parade is a colorful blend of marching bands, floats and different organizations led by ceremonial military regiments.

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President Obama's second inauguration is not expected to have record-setting crowds. Also, the president is not the same man as he was four years ago.

Police and medical examiners offered emotional testimony during the first day in the preliminary hearing for James Holmes. The former graduate student is accused in the mass shooting at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater. The attack left a dozen people dead and injured at least 58 others.

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President Obama wants a Republican to be his next secretary of Defense, and some Republicans really don't like the choice.

Alabama is trying to win its third title in four years Monday night. Notre Dame is trying to cap an undefeated season with a championship win.

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And joining us now, as she does most Monday, is Cokie Roberts. Good morning.

COKIE ROBERTS, BYLINE: Hi, Renee. Happy New Year.

MONTAGNE: Happy New Year to you. So, Cokie, we seem to be getting the next year, or this new year, right back where we ended in the last Congress, and that's bickering over everything. And as we've just heard, that includes, big time, the president's cabinet appointment of a former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel. Tell us more about what's going on there, a little bit more history.

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The contentious fight over labor rights has been unfolding throughout the Midwest in the last couple of years. Michigan is only the latest example.

NPR's national political correspondent Don Gonyea joins us now to explore the broader impact of all this. Good morning, Don.

DON GONYEA, BYLINE: Good morning.

MONTAGNE: So how is what has happened in Michigan different from what we've seen over the past couple of years in Wisconsin and Ohio, where Republican governors also took on labor unions?

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After eight days and billions of dollars in lost business, the shutdown at the nation's busiest port hub is over. Striking clerks at the adjacent ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have reached a tentative agreement with managers. At issue: worries about outsourcing jobs. The clerks, hundreds of them, and ten thousand longshoremen, who refused to cross picket lines, head back to work this morning.

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Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi, who took power last June, is facing a rebellion against his rule. It all started with a set of controversial decrees by the president that put him above the law until a constitution is in place. That move has polarized the country. Judges are on strike and critics say the president is pushing through an illegitimate constitution.

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Let's turn now to the urgent diplomatic efforts underway. Secretary of State Clinton is now in Cairo, meeting with Egyptian leaders in efforts to reach a ceasefire. NPR's Leila Fadel joins us from Cairo to discuss the latest.

Good morning.

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Even as talk grows louder about a possible truce, intense air assaults went back and forth over the Israeli and Gaza border today. More Palestinians were killed overnight, pushing the death toll for days of fighting to over 100 for Palestinians and three Israelis.

There's a new twist to the Gen. David Petraeus scandal. The Pentagon announced the top American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, is under investigation for alleged "inappropriate communications" with a woman who is said to have received threatening emails from Paula Broadwell. That's the woman with whom Petraeus had an extramarital affair.

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Opposition groups working to bring down the regime in Syria are meeting in Doha, Qatar in a furious bid to reorganize and reinvigorate themselves. The aim is to form a legitimate government in exile that would be recognized by the international community. This new effort to bring together the Syrian opposition is strongly backed by the U.S. NPR's Kelly McEvers is in Doha and joins us to talk about it.

And let's start by you telling us exactly who is there.

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The triumph in some parts of the country this morning is that people are able to vote at all. Just over a week after Hurricane Sandy slammed ashore, people are voting today in New Jersey.

And in New York City, NPR's Robert Smith is in the Borough of Queens, part of New York City. He's on the line. Robert, what have you seen today?

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The presidential election is still a day away and already disputes have broken out in Florida.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Chanting) Let us vote. Let us vote. Let us vote. Let us vote.

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A young Bangladeshi man has been charged with conspiring to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank in lower Manhattan. New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly commented on the arrest at a press conference last night.

RAYMOND KELLY: This individual came here for the purpose of doing a terrorist act.

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Two Americans have been awarded this year's Nobel Prize for Economics for work that has to do with matching in business, medicine and marriage. The two, whose work turned out to be a good match, are Alvin Roth of Harvard and Lloyd Shapely of the University of California, Los Angeles. They will share the $1.2 million prize.

Mo Yan was one of three writers favored to win. He is perhaps best known in the West as the author of Red Sorghum, which was made into a film. He is only the second Chinese writer to win the Nobel — the other is poet Gao Xingjian, who won in 2000.

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A judge in Pennsylvania has blocked a key part of that state's new voter ID law, a law that's caused controversy. Now, come Election Day, voters showing up at the polls can still be asked to show a government-issued photo ID, but they will not be prevented from voting if they don't have one. NPR's Pam Fessler has been covering the story and she joins us now. Good morning.

PAM FESSLER, BYLINE: Good morning.

MONTAGNE: So, remind us what this Pennsylvania law is - you know, why it's been making national news.

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