From NPR News in Washington, I'm Barbara Klein.
Michigan lawmakers have given final approval to two right-to-work measures that will likely weaken unions in what has been a labor stronghold. The bills prohibit unions from demanding dues from non-union members who benefit from collective bargaining. Governor Rick Snyder says he'll sign them as soon as tomorrow. But as Rick Pluta of Michigan Public Radio tells us, union advocates aren't giving up.
Union leaders, Democrats say they are talking about possibly filing an equal protection lawsuit, saying that you can't carve out just two unions but make them apply to all the others. And then they are also talking about just plain old political activism. They say that Republicans who voted for this, some of them, at least differ in vulnerable districts. They could be targeted for recall.
Michigan Public Radio's Rick Pluta.
The US trade deficit widened in October. NPR's Elsa Chang reports it was the biggest drop for exports in about four years.
The wider the trade deficit is, the more it can slow down growth here. And in October the trade gap increased about 4.9%. But some economists, like Tim Quinlan of Wells Fargo, say the numbers may have been artificially affected by Superstorm Sandy. New York closed its port during the last few days of October, and that port sees about 1/10 of all exports and imports.
"It is not going to be huge, but, you know, if you lose, you know, three or four days worth of trading in the port, it does, you know, round numbers about 10% of your trade in both directions. That's enough to move the needle."
The largest category of exports that slowed down was industrial supplies and raw materials. Elsa Chang, NPR News, New York.
Activists in Syria say they've seized full control of a major military base near Aleppo following a two-day battle. Among the opposition fighters, members of Jabhatal-Nusra, which the State Department today designated as a terrorist organization.
Two major international tests show US students in several states are among the highest performers in math, science and reading when compared to students in top-performing countries. NPR's Claudio Sanchez has details.
As a nation, US fourth and eighth graders still lag behind Asian students, but American students have been making gains since 1995, especially if you break down their scores by state and compare them to kids in other countries. In reading, for example, Florida's fourth graders rank among the top five, Finland, Russia, Singapore and Hong Kong. In math, North Carolina is among the top eight. Eighth graders in Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina and Indiana also compare favorably in math right up there with the top Asian countries. Colorado, Massachusetts and Minnesota place in the top 12 internationally in fourth grade science. The results were released by the National Center for Education Statistics. Claudio Sanchez, NPR News.
On Wall Street at this hour, the Dow was up 108 points, the NASDAQ up 53.
This is NPR.
A former police officer in Florida is due to be executed this evening. Manuel Pardo is convicted of murdering nine people during the 1986 rampage. Yesterday a federal judge denied Pardo's request for a stay.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says intelligence agencies have detected no new movement of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime. But on the visit to Kuwait, Panetta says he's still concerned that President Bashar al-Assad is considering using chemical weapons.
The number of journalists imprisoned around the world this year is at a record high. The Committee to Protect Journalists says arrests are climbing as governments increasingly accuse reporters of terrorism and anti-state activities. The group says Turkey, Iran and China are the three leading jailers.
Famed Russian soprano Galina Vishnevskaya died today. She was 86. As NPR's Neda Ulaby reports, the star turned political dissident had a dramatic life.
It's hard to imagine any opera with a plot equal to her life. Galina Vishnevskaya was abandoned as a baby, plucked from thousands of hopefuls to study opera, became the Bolshoi Theater's greatest star and married world-famous cellist Mstislav Rostropovich four days after meeting him. Vishnevskaya made her American debut in 1960, the same year she recorded this aria for Madama Butterfly. She was stripped of Soviet citizenship soon after with her husband for their friendship with dissidents. She later returned to help other Russian artists and in 2007 starred in a movie nominated for a Palme d'Or. Neda Ulaby, NPR News.
And I'm Barbara Klein, NPR News in Washington.