So, the news got weird in 2013. Here's a roundup of off-beat stories from United Press International: Germany dropped the longest word in its language, all 63 letters. Maker's Mark had plans to lower the alcohol content in its whiskey. Angry customers talked them out of it. A Canadian dentist bought John Lennon's tooth at auction, hoping to use it to clone the Beatle. And Denny's opened a wedding chapel in Vegas. The wedding package comes with a cake made with pancake mix.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm David Greene.
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Here's one of the many ways that Congress is like high school. Lawmakers tend to do some late night cramming as if for a test and then head home for the holidays. This December, Congress passed a budget and left town. President Obama and his family are vacationing in Hawaii. So let's talk about the shape they left the country in and what they might do in the new year.
Regular listeners to this program know we are using numbers to highlight some of the stories of 2013. And today, we look at the situation in Iraq. The number here is 6,639. That's how many people have been killed in violence in Iraq so far this year, up to December 21st, according to a regular tally kept by Baghdad bureau of the French Press Agency, AFP.
We're joined now by Will Dunlop, an AFP correspondent in Baghdad. Welcome to the program, sir.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And I'm David Greene.
Here's a way to look at the year 2013 for President Barack Obama: He began the year with two-thirds of Americas saying they approved of the job he was doing. He's ending the year with that number around 40 percent.
He began fresh off a hard-fought electoral victory, going into his second term with a pretty ambitious agenda. He's ending the year with many of his priorities stalled.
For Matthew and Brianne Wojtesta, it all started about a week after the birth of their daughter Vera. Matthew was picking up his son from kindergarten when he got a phone call.
It was their pediatrician, with some shocking news. Vera had been flagged by New York's newborn screening program as possibly having a potentially deadly disease, and would need to go see a neurologist the next day.
In 1907, the U.S. economy was in the grip of a financial crisis. Unemployment was up. The stock market was down.
People started panicking. They were lining up overnight to pull their money out of healthy banks. This can be deadly for an economy: Healthy banks have to shut down, businesses can't get credit, they lay people off, and the economy gets worse.
You might think underwear maker Hanes would be worried about competition from Jockey or Fruit of the Loom. In fact, Hanes seems far more concerned about being confused with chickpea dip. The American manufacturer has threatened to sue a Canadian company, Hanes Hummus, for trademark violation.
In San Francisco, the last Monday Night Football game of the NFL season is a significant moment for Bay Area sports fans. The San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons are playing the final regular season game at historic Candlestick Park.
The 49ers are moving south to a plush new home in Santa Clara next season. Candlestick is set to be demolished, leaving behind more than a half-century of memories. It is prompting goodbyes — and, for some, good riddance — to the weather-beaten stadium known as the 'Stick.
The California Public Utilities Commission has called on utilities and private companies to install about $5 billion worth of batteries and other forms of energy storage to help the state power grid cope with the erratic power supplied by wind and solar energy.
The need to store energy has become urgent because the state is planning to get a third of its electricity from renewable sources by the end of the decade. And the shift in strategy could open up some big opportunities for small startups, including one called Stem.
Target is trying to get back in its customers' good graces after a massive data breach affecting some 40 million credit and debit account holders. The giant retail chain offered its customers a 10 percent discount over the weekend as an act of atonement, but business was said to be down anyway.
The breach affected customers who used their credit and debit cards at one of Target's 1,750 stores during a three-week period after Thanksgiving.
Host Arun Rath talks with Los Angeles Times reporter Robert Faturechi about the troubles facing the L.A. County Sheriff's Department. More than a dozen current and former deputies face federal charges stemming from allegations of abuse and corruption.