Ken Harbaugh is a former Navy pilot and an NPR commentator.
When I was five, my father made a promise he never intended to keep. He had returned from a long trip, with presents. I got a fossilized shark tooth, and spent the next month asking about fossils.
At some point, my father made the mistake of describing a massive fossil bed somewhere in Germany. I begged him to take me. There were good reasons that could never happen. Dad knew nothing about fossils; Germany was far away; I was five. But I would not be deterred.
The U.S. economy is experiencing its strongest across-the-board growth of the year, as private companies hire more people, some manufacturers expand and the stock market surges on a plan to ease Europe's financial crisis. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 490 points Wednesday, an increase of more than 4 percent.
But analysts say the economy isn't growing robustly enough to lower unemployment, stem government layoffs or revive a housing market that remains extremely weak.
Newt Gingrich traveled across South Carolina this week appearing at a number of town-hall-style meetings where he talked to voters and answered questions — mostly the same questions at every stop. He talked about the improving the economy, creating a new immigration policy, repealing President Obama's health care reform plan and transforming Washington.
This is a pretty heartbreaking story: An 80-year-old man donated a suit to a Goodwill store in western Illinois. The problem is that he didn't realize until it was too late that his $13,000 life savings were in the suit's pocket.
The major central banks of the world moved Wednesday to prevent a banking crisis in Europe. They're providing more liquidity to the European banking system in hopes that big banks there will remain solvent and continue to make loans. The coordinated move by the central banks sent stock markets soaring. But it will not even begin to fix Europe's fundamental economic problems.
Melissa Block and Guy Raz read emails from listeners about a report on Kentucky's Berea College, about Melissa's remembrance of Vermont poet Ruth Stone, and about the other person responsible for that mega-hit earworm "Moves Like Jagger."
Pennsylvania lawmakers are about to restrict local governments' ability to zone and regulate hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Advocates of the new bill say it will help grow the state's natural gas drilling industry, but many local officials say they should have control over what happens within their own borders. StateImpact Pennsylvania's Scott Detrow reports.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Guy Raz.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block.
President Obama took his call for payroll tax relief to Scranton, Pennsylvania today. It was his ninth visit to the state this year, underscoring the role that Pennsylvania will play in the 2012 election. The president told a crowd at Scranton High School that extending the payroll tax cut should trump partisan politics.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Send your senators a message. Tell them - don't be a Grinch.