If you're a senior on Medicare — or an adult child responsible for a senior on Medicare — here's something you should know: The annual "open enrollment" period for joining or changing prescription drug or private health plans is already under way.
"It's much earlier this year. It started on Oct. 15, and it's going to stop on Dec. 7," says Nancy Metcalf, a senior editor and health expert at Consumer Reports. "So you have your window right now."
<p>Farmer Scott Allgood, front, of Allgood, Ala., listens during a meeting of farmers and state officials to discuss the impact of the Alabama Immigration law on their livelihoods in Oneonta, Ala.</p>
Credit Dave Martin / AP
<p>Farmer Guiseppe Peturis says he's tried to hire workers through the state unemployment office before, but the workers didn't stay for more than a day.</p>
Credit Debbie Elliot / NPR
<p>Migrant worker Felipe Chacoa of Mexico talks about his desire to continue to harvest produce during a meeting of farmers and state officials to discuss the impact of the Alabama Immigration law on their livelihoods in Oneonta, Ala.</p>
Alabama farmers are facing a labor crisis because of the state's new immigration law as both legal and undocumented migrant workers have fled the state since the strict new rules went into effect last month.
So far, piecemeal efforts to match the unemployed or work release inmates to farm jobs are not panning out, and farmers are asking state lawmakers to do something before the spring planting season.
<p>Lance Cpl. Dakota Hicks, from Laharpe, Ill., connects a radio battery to a portable solar panel system in Sangin District, Afghanistan.</p>
Credit William Price Small / AP
<p>A tanker bringing fuel to U.S. and NATO forces burns after being attacked by militants in Afghanistan's Logar province in August. Military officials say fuel convoys are a significant vulnerability for U.S. forces.</p>
With a bill of about $15 billion a year the U.S. military is the largest energy user in the country by far, so the Defense Department has been finding alternative ways to meet its energy needs with help from Silicon Valley.
But this partnership between the military and clean tech companies is taking some heat in the midst of discussions about Solyndra, the failed solar panel manufacturer, and the riskiness of green startups.
<p>Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, businessman Herman Cain, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann participate in a Republican presidential debate last week in Las Vegas.</p>
Home prices across the U.S. have dropped 30 percent from their peaks, a downturn that has sapped trillions of dollars in wealth from Americans. Not surprisingly, it's a hot topic for presidential candidates this campaign season. But so far, new ideas about how to fix the crisis have been scarce.
On Monday, President Obama is visiting Nevada, where he's expected to announce his administration's latest proposals on housing. The state is at the epicenter of the downturn, with the latest reports showing home prices and sales numbers continuing to slip.
<p>President Obama, seen here in North Chesterfield, Va., last week, is on a campaign swing through the West this week, making stops in California, Nevada and Colorado — states with significant Hispanic populations. </p>