This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. No nuclear power plants have been built in this country since the accident at Three Mile Island more than 30 years ago. The old reactors continue to provide 20 percent of our electrical power, but many of them will start to come offline in the next 10 years or so.
Arab League observers arrived in Syria Monday, prompting a tentative calm between anti-government protestors and security forces. But many Syrians are skeptical that the monitors can permanently quell the unrest.
If you've ever lamented the time and effort it takes to brew or procure a cup of coffee, this might perk you up. "Breathable Energy. Anytime. Anyplace."
That's the campaign slogan for AeroShot, a plastic inhaler, roughly the size of a lipstick tube, filled with a powdery, calorie-free mix of caffeine, B vitamins, and citrus flavors. It's slated to hit stores in January, just in time for the New Year.
But some aren't so sure selling caffeine in pocket-sized tubes — and marketing it to young people — is a great idea.
This month, consumer confidence jumped to its highest level since April, a sign that the U.S. economy is starting to mend. But the housing market isn't going along yet with this cheerier mood: Home prices were down 3.4 percent for the year as of October, according to a new report released Tuesday.
WorkingMother.com recently released its list of the year's most powerful moms. Michel Martin and regular parenting contributors Leslie Morgan Steiner and Jolene Ivey discuss what it takes to be a strong mom, who they admire, and who should not have been on the list. Also joining the conversation is Helen Jonsen, editor of WorkingMother.com.
In 2011, more than 1 million Americans moved their money into credit unions. Customers were tired of the big banks charging new fees, and the credit unions also got a big PR boost from the Occupy protesters.
"Credit unions are nonprofit cooperatives," explains Tell Me More money coach Alvin Hall. "They can't issue shares to people at all, and they are made up of a group of people who come together, basically, to try to use their money in ways that will help that group of people have easier access to credit."
We're going to switch gears now and talk about the intersection of technology and retail. A recent Amazon.com promotion urged customers shopping in so-called brick and mortar stores to use its price check app. By scanning a bar code in the store, Amazon would give the customer a 5 percent discount, up to five dollars. Though only a small savings, the incident left a lot of local retailers, especially bookstore owners, pretty upset.
Congress' approval ratings hit an all-time low in December, according to the polling firm Gallup. Host Michel Martin looks at why many Americans seemed to be frustrated with Congress. She hears from NPR Senior Washington Editor Ron Elving and Mark Eaton of the Capitol Steps, a musical political satire group.
Critics of Syrian President Bashar Assad have been debating whether it would be better to threaten him with prosecution or encourage him to go into exile. Here, Syrians hold a rally supporting Assad in Damascus this month.
The death toll in Syria keeps mounting, as do the calls for the ouster of President Bashar Assad. But in dealing with Assad, should the international community threaten him with prosecution at the International Criminal Court or offer him a comfortable exile?
That question is being widely debated, and came up several times earlier this year with the ouster of other Arab autocrats. Last month, a United Nations commission found that Syrian security forces loyal to Assad had killed hundreds of children and perpetrated other "crimes against humanity."