National News

This week brings two new high-profile drama series. One is The Americans, premiering Jan. 30 on the FX network; it's about sleeper KGB agents living in the U.S. during the Reagan era. The other is House of Cards, a new series premiering Feb. 1.

In culling through albums released late last year that I still play with pleasure, Paloma Faith's Fall to Grace was a real keeper. In contrast to my joy, Faith was singing about her agony: her broken heart, her wracked sobs about ruined affairs, her choked goodbyes to lovers who'd left her. She made all this sound tremendously intense and exciting. Not for nothing did she title her previous album Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful?

The dispute between Japan and China over small islands in the East China Sea is escalating. The two nations first dispatched unarmed vessels to stake their claims, then patrol boats, and then, unarmed aircraft.

Most recently, both countries sent fighter jets to the islands — known as the Senkaku in Japan, and the Diaoyu in China. The islands are uninhabited, but sit in a strategic location between Japan and Taiwan.

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NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. An African-American governor appoints an African-American senator; immigration moves to the front burner, and Bobby Jindal scolds the GOP. It's Wednesday and time for a...

GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL: The stupid party...

CONAN: Edition of the Political Junkie.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDINGS)

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: There you go again.

VICE PRESIDENT WALTER MONDALE: When I hear your new ideas, I'm reminded of that ad: Where's the beef?

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep, with Renee Montagne. Good morning.

Let's try again, shall we, to explain what it means when we hear that the U.S. economy shrank in the fourth quarter of 2012. As we've discussed elsewhere in the program, the decline was slight - just one-tenth of a percentage point - but it is the first contraction of the economy since the Great Recession officially ended in 2009. NPR's Jim Zarroli is with us once again in New York. Jim, good morning.

JIM ZARROLI, BYLINE: Good morning.

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