All week, NPR is looking at people, events and ideas that fared well in 2011. Host Michel Martin explores how it was a good year for grassroots protests, both as part of the Arab Spring and the 'Occupy' movements. She speaks with NPR Cairo Correspondent Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson and Arun Venugopal, a reporter for member station WNYC.
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.
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.
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."
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.
Guest host Allison Keyes looks back at the victories gays and lesbians scored in 2011. Same-sex marriage was legalized in New York. And "don't ask, don't tell," the controversial ban that barred gays from serving openly in the military, was repealed. Keyes speaks with writer Kai Wright.
If you're reminiscing over all of the great albums released in 2011, keep in mind, there's plenty to look forward to next year. Guest host Allison Keyes finds out what to keep an ear out for. She talks with two of the biggest music fans on the Tell Me More team: freelance producer, Veronica Miller, and Sarah Ventre, a freelance music journalist.
Nearly 50 Americans million now live below the poverty line, according to the Census Bureau. Many food banks are not only reporting an increase in the number of people they're serving, but also a drop in food and cash donations — as much as 30 percent in some areas. Guest host Allison Keyes talks with two people working on the front lines of hunger relief.
Dr. Norman Spack at Boston's Children's Hospital has worked with 30 transgender youth and their families to get through the difficult phases of adolescence. One treatment includes a controversial medication that blocks puberty until he or she decides whether or not to transition to the other gender. Dr. Spack talks with guest host Allison Keyes.
After receiving an earful from Democrats and Senate Republicans, House GOP members agreed to a deal to extend unemployment benefits and a payroll tax holiday. The Republican race is also heating up in Iowa and New Hampshire. Guest host Allison Keyes speaks with former GOP National Committee chairman Michael Steele, and Joy-Ann Reid of TheGrio.com.