Zynga is a company that makes money by selling nothing. Or, to be fair, by selling imaginary things, like tractors that plow farms on Facebook.
A "virtual good" is the term of art for an industry that minted $9 billion last year alone. Zynga is America's first virtual goods company to file an initial public offering. The IPO is expected to go through before Thanksgiving and will test whether the company's modern day alchemy — turning virtual goods into real money — is a game-changer for the gaming industry.
AUDIE CORNISH, host: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish. A political update now, but not about the 2012 presidential race. This Tuesday is election day in some places around the country, so we've invited in NPR's political junkie Ken Rudin to fill us in on who and what's on the ballot, and what the results may say about 2012. Good morning, Ken.
KEN RUDIN: Hi Audie.
CORNISH: So let's start with the two races for governor. Where are they, and what do we need to know about them?
AUDIE CORNISH, host: As this week's Eurozone crisis has unfolded, it seems every hour brings an unexpected twist. But if there's one thing certain about the drama, it's this: everyone in Baltimore's historic Greektown is watching. WYPR's Sarah Richards files this report.
After a week of political turmoil in Greece that threatened the fate of the eurozone, Prime Minister George Papandreou is deadlocked with his major opposition rival in trying to form a coalition government to restore market confidence in the debt-laden nation.
The increasingly unpopular prime minister has not yet announced his promised resignation, keeping the political world on tenterhooks.
Papandreou insists a national unity government would provide broad parliamentary consensus for a crucial $179 billion bailout deal and partial write-off of Greece's debt mountain.
AUDIE CORNISH, host: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.
We posed a question to our listeners on Facebook recently: Are you a parent who is worried your adult children won't have the same chance at a middle-class life as you did? Or are you the child of middle-class parents, and find you're not able to match your parents' lifestyle?
AUDIE CORNISH, host: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish. Organizers say more than 5,000 people signed up online for a protest today at the White House. At issue is the Keystone XL Pipeline, which is proposed as a way to take oil from Alberta, Canada 1,700 miles to refineries on the Gulf Coast. Environmental groups are asking President Obama to kill the project, but labor unions argue the construction would create badly needed jobs. Joining us to talk about the pipeline controversy is NPR's science correspondent, Richard Harris. Richard, welcome.
AUDIE CORNISH, host: Is it still possible to move up the economic ladder in the U.S.? Has the American dream become just that - a dream? As we found out from our social media callout, those questions are on the minds of many families like the Spoerners.
If your U.S. senator or representative is on the super committee, expect your local airwaves to be peppered with oil industry ads in coming weeks. The basic message: Higher taxes on oil companies don't make financial sense.
The super committee in Congress is racing to find places to cut more than a trillion dollars out of the nation's deficit by Thanksgiving. The oil industry fears that ending its tax breaks may be one way the super committee will decide to raise revenue. That's spurred Big Oil's lobbying machine to work overtime.
AUDIE CORNISH, host: Nicaraguans go to the polls today and are expected to reelect President Daniel Ortega, who is running in spite of a constitutional ban on presidents serving consecutive terms. Ortega, a Marxist icon of the 1980s, has become a polarizing figure in the Central American nation. NPR's Jason Beaubien reports from the Nicaraguan capital, Managua.
(SOUNDBITE OF DOG BARKING)
JASON BEAUBIEN: Martha Alicia Alvado loves Daniel Ortega. After all, it's because of him that she has her own house.
For nearly 40 years, voters in Maine have been able to walk into a polling place or town hall on Election Day and register to vote. But the Republican-controlled legislature this year decided to remove the option, citing the stress on municipal clerks and concerns about the potential for voter fraud.
Angry Democrats responded by launching a people's veto campaign, and come Election Day this Tuesday, voters will consider whether to restore same-day registration.
It's afternoon practice for the junior varsity football team at Vasquez High in Acton, Calif. A high desert wind somersaults a discarded paper plate across the line of scrimmage just before it becomes a pile of white jerseys and purple helmets.
"You were offsides," the coach yells after blowing his whistle.
The players dust themselves off and line up for the next play. At center, is Taylor, a lean 15-year-old. His quarterback, Bryan McCauley, is a few yards behind him in shotgun formation.
What goes on inside China's leadership is usually played out behind the closed oxblood doors of the compound where the top leaders live. This year, though, a political debate has sprung out in the open — and it has leaders and constituents considering how to move forward politically.
Federal and state officials are increasingly contracting private companies to run prisons and immigration detention centers.
Critics have long questioned the quality of private prisons and the promises of economic benefits where they are built. But proponents say private prisons not only save taxpayers money, but they also generate income for the surrounding community.
Last June, the city council in Holland, Mich., voted against adding sexual orientation and gender identity to its local anti-discrimination laws. Now an unlikely coalition is pressuring the city council to change that vote.
On Wednesday nights, Pastor Bill Freeman turns the podium of the city council meeting into a pulpit. He wants Holland to adopt local laws that would protect people from getting fired or kicked out of their homes because they are gay, bisexual or transgender.
This past week, All Things Considered has been sharing stories about the Darkhorse Battalion — that's the Marine unit that suffered the highest casualty rate of any Marine unit during the 10-year Afghan war. NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman wraps up the series today, as he tells weekends on All Things Considered guest host Laura Sullivan about some of the people he met — both on the battlefield and on the home front.
SCOTT SIMON, host: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Quite a week for Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain. He came to Washington, D.C. for a series of public events and meetings with members of Congress, but decade-old sexual harassment allegations dogged him all week long, and then late yesterday the story took another turn when the lawyer for one of the accusers made a public statement. NPR's Tamara Keith has the latest.
SCOTT SIMON, host: Now, listening to this news you may come away with an impression of Herman Cain beset by controversy and scandal. But at a Washington, D.C. conference hosted by the Conservative Americans for Prosperity group, Mr. Cain elicited a very different response. NPR's Andrea Seabrook has this report.
ANDREA SEABROOK: Judging by this crowd, Herman Cain has taken conservatives by storm.
FREDERICK MCKINLEY: Mr. Cain is wonderful individual.
SEABROOK: Frederick McKinley from Jackson, Mississippi.
SCOTT SIMON, host: While Herman Cain was wrapping up his week in Washington D.C., five of his fellow Republican presidential contenders were in Iowa last night for the GOP's Ronald Reagan dinner. Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum spoke at the annual fundraiser, but Mr. Cain and Mitt Romney did not attend the Iowa event. In fact, compared to the current crop of Republican presidential candidates, Cain and Romney have spent little time in Iowa.
The Labor Department said Friday that unemployment ticked down last month from 9.1 percent to 9 percent. Overall, job growth was modest, a continuation of a trend that's been with us all year. Host Scott Simon talks with NPR's business correspondent Yuki Noguchi.
SCOTT SIMON, host: President Obama spent the last two days in France wrestling with Europe's financial problems. He's back in the United States this morning where America has its own economic challenges. Home and abroad, Mr. Obama and his fellow leaders are confronted with slow growth, big debts and the political battles over how to deal with them. NPR Scott Horsley reports.
SIMON: Tonight: Alabama, LSU. College footballs two top-ranked teams play for the number one spot, and new crop of baseball free agents are now on the market - and this just in: still no basketball. Maybe ESPN will pick up that big game next week between the (unintelligible) High School Bulldogs and the Von Steuben Panthers. Howard Bryant, from ESPN.com, ESPN the magazine and ESPN the pesto sauce joins us from the studio of WBUR in Boston. Howard, thanks very much for being with us.
SCOTT SIMON, host: Six men in Moscow are readjusting to life on Earth today after enduring a long simulated mission to Mars. They spent 520 days locked inside a fake spaceship. The hatch was opened yesterday.
NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce reports that this pretend trip involved real psychological challenges that may still persist.
SCOTT SIMON, host: Jerry West is the symbol of the National Basketball Association - truly so. The NBA's logo silhouette of a player dribbling the ball down court in perfect form is drawn from a 1969 photo of Jerry West when he played for the Los Angeles Lakers, which he did for 14 years and was an All Star 14 times.
It is always tempting for Americans to look at problems in Europe and ask, "What does that have to do with me?"
Well, U.S. banks hold almost $17 billion in Greek debt and billions more bought through European banks. Billions of dollars that Americans have saved for retirement, college — or the rainy days that may be — are now invested in Greece.
But we also might remind ourselves why the euro and the European Union were created.
The problems of Europe led to two world wars in the 20th century, and America got involved in each.