Despite what has been called a status quo election, life is far from static on Capitol Hill. The 113th Congress will bring with it generational and some historic changes, including the first all-female delegation for a state (New Hampshire), and the fewest number of military veterans in the Senate and House since World War II.
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.
Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep. A New Year's tradition will change in Brasstown, North Carolina. Instead of the Times Square Ball, Clay's Corner Store lowered a love possum in a box. Store owner Clay Logan tells the Chattanooga Times Free Press we aren't pessimistic or optimistic. We're opposumistic. But nobody asked the possum. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sued. Now Mr. Logan says he'll drop a stuffed animal, or road kill, depending on what's available. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
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.
For scientists who study a dangerous form of bird flu, 2012 is ending as it began — with uncertainty about what the future holds for their research, but a hope that some contentious issues will soon be resolved.
In June, Scott Walker — the Wisconsin governor who banned collective bargaining for public employee unions — survived a recall election.
And, despite huge protests in Michigan, the union stronghold became the 24th right-to-work state, banning unions from requiring workers to sign up. That came just 10 months after Indiana passed a similar law.
Even before the horrific shooting in Newtown, this was a year in which guns were in the news. There was the mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado. And another story we've followed began in February with a 911 call in Sanford, Florida.
(SOUNDBITE OF 911 CALL)
GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: This guy looks like he's up to no good, or he's on drugs or something. It's raining and he's just walking around looking about.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: OK. And this guy, is he white, black or Hispanic?
One thing 2012 will surely be remembered for is the deadly fungal meningitis outbreak which swept across the country. In total, 39 people died and more than 370 people were sickened after a compounding pharmacy in Massachusetts released tainted drugs. Blake Farmer of member station WPLN reports from Nashville, Tenn., on where the outbreak was first discovered.
Last December, Mikhail Sebastian decided to take a New Year's trip to American Samoa, but when he tried to board his flight to return home to Los Angeles, he was barred. U.S. immigration officials said he had self-deported.