This week, al-Qaida militants made a rare appearance at an anti-government protest in Yemen, proclaiming that they were at war with the United States. This might sound like jihadi boilerplate, except that it came only days after reports of U.S. missiles struck suspected al Qaida sites in the small country on the tip of the Arabian peninsula. Details are still murky, but if true, those strikes would mark a major escalation in the United States’ approach to Yemen. This leads us to ask: is the U.S. fighting a secret war in Yemen? Robert Worth, Middle East correspondent for The New York Times, helps us answer that question. Gregory Johnsen also joins us; he's a Yemen expert at Princeton University
What's behind the unique relationship that Jewish people have with Chinese food? Jennifer 8 Lee, author of "The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food," says there's an long cultural history involving both of these immigrant groups, including similar immigration patterns and non-Christian schedules.
There are new clashes in Iran this morning between opposition supporters and government forces in the city of Isfahan. Opposition supporters had gathered for a memorial service for the dissident cleric Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, who died over the weekend. The cleric's death has re-ignited the opposition movement in Iran and there are more big demonstrations expected in the coming days. The BBC's Tehran correspondent Jon Leyne has been following the story and joins us from London.
With only two days until Christmas, holiday shopping has reached a fever pitch. New York Times business and finance reporter Louise Story says a new trend is sweeping holiday giving this year: customized gifts. Whether itss designing the shoes you buy for your daughter or having your old family recipes printed as a cookbook, retailers are betting that consumers will pay extra for that personalized touch. But Joel Waldfogel isn't sure. Waldfogel is the Ehrenkranz Family Professor in the Department of Business and Public Policy at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He's also the author of "Scroogenomics: Why You Shouldn't Buy Presents for the Holidays." Waldfogel says we should put an end to buying gifts for certain kinds of friends and family: those we don't see often or know very well. His research shows that far-flung friends and family often won't enjoy your gift as much as things they simply buy for themselves.
The rate of federal prosecutions is at an all-time high, showing an increase of nine percent since last year. According to a new study by Syracuse University's TRAC project, this increase is primarily related to an increase in arrests of immigration violators. We talk with John Schwartz of The New York Times and Valeria Fernández of the Feet in 2 Worlds Program about the increase, and what it signifies for the Obama administration's stance towards immigration reform.
Read John Schwartz's article in The New York Times.
Mexico City lawmakers Monday voted to legalize same-sex marriage in the capitol – a move that would also give same-sex couples the ability to adopt children. It was a stunning move in a conservative Catholic nation. Ioan Grillo is Mexico Correspondent for Time Magazine; he reports on the reaction in Mexico City and throughout the nation.
President Obama is expected to sign an executive order before the year is over to create a new National Declassification Center in order to aggressively clear a backlog of classified documents. But, the creation of the center will actually delay the declassification of 400 million pages of Cold War-era documents. We talk with Bryan Bender from the Boston Globe and Jim Harper from the CATO Institute about how this plan fits with the president’s promises for government transparency.
One week after meeting with the heads of major banks, President Obama is scheduled to meet with the leaders of small and community banks today. He is likely to make the same request to them as he did the big banks: 'Please lend more.' With major banks taking up most of the headlines all year long, we wanted to take a look at how community banks are doing, and the answer may surprise you. Mike Menzies is the president and CEO of a small community bank, Easton Bank and Trust in Easton, M.D. – he says his bank will finish the year with a profit, but fears the next couple of years will be rough. David Gillen is finance editor for The New York Times, and says that community banks have actually done well despite the constant reports of bank closings.
A 13-year-old boy from a slum in Zambia is on his way to learning how to fly thanks to help from BBC radio listeners who heard his story. Freelance BBC reporter Jo Fidgen tells us about meeting the boy, Joseph Banda, and how she went along for the ride on his very first flight.
Since the disputed presidential elections in Iran this past summer, the government has cracked down on protesters, the opposition movement and the media. In the last several days (and since the death of noted cleric Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, who had frequently spoken out against the government), protestors have again been taking to the streets. For an update on the political environment in Iran, we call Beirut to talk with Borzou Daragahi, the Middle East correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, who has managed to continue reporting from Tehran.
Headlines; The Toyota Backlash
Toyota, as recently as a year ago, looked like it could escape the economic downturn unscathed and remain the auto giant it has been for decades. But recent bad press, including announcements of multiple recalls, may be hurting the Japanese auto maker and its times of dominance may soon be over. Paul Eisenstein is the publisher of The Detroit Bureau, and believes Toyota may be in big trouble. Steven Pecha thinks differently; he says the dealership he works at, Scott Clark's Toyota City in Matthews, N.C., has been doing well and all the bad news about recalls are a thing of the past.
The Twin Peaks cast sings "The Twelve Days of Christmas," Charlie Brown gets remixed...and more! We kick off our week-long "Remixing the Holidays" series with the best and worst Christmas music as selected by Jon Solomon, a DJ who's hosted a 24-hour Christmas show for each of the last 20 years.
Advertisements for extended auto warranties are everywhere on television and in mailboxes, but some customers have been complaining that when the repair bills come due, the warranty guarantors are nowhere to be found. Consumer watchdogs are looking sharply at some of the warranty companies, and reporter Scott Graf, from WFAE in Charlotte, NC, says it looks like the boom times for bogus insurance may be ending.
The military has spent a year looking for non-American citizens to boost the number of service members with diverse language skills, in the "Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest" (MAVNI) program. As the program wraps up, Army recruiter Staff Sgt. Khori Grant discusses how the recruitment campaign has gone and introduces one of his new international recruits, Srinivasa Dandu.