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Politics
10:33 pm
Sun December 30, 2012

After Fruitless Weekend, Congress Still Seeks Fiscal Deal

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, leaves the Senate chamber to caucus in the Capitol on Sunday.
Molly Riley AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 31, 2012 12:46 am

It is almost unimaginable that both the House and Senate would be in session on a Sunday evening on the penultimate day of the year. And yet, they both were, with lawmakers hoping it was not merely a big waste of time and effort.

A bipartisan push by Senate leaders over the weekend has so far failed to forge a deal to spare American wage earners from tax hikes and shield government programs from drastic cutbacks.

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Planet Money
10:32 pm
Sun December 30, 2012

The Fiscal Cliff: A Love Story

Originally published on Mon December 31, 2012 12:46 am

America, if you're scared by all the talk you've been hearing about the fiscal cliff, take heart: There are reasons for people across the political spectrum to love the cliff.

There's a lot for liberals to like in the fiscal cliff, says Matthew Yglesias, who writes wonky articles about economics for Slate.

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Books
10:31 pm
Sun December 30, 2012

Listen Up! Audiobooks For Every Taste

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon December 31, 2012 12:46 am

  • Hear an excerpt of 'Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power'

If you're feeling overwhelmed by the holiday rush — too swamped, even, to spend an afternoon reading those books you got for Christmas, we have some recommendations for you — but these are audiobooks, so you can listen while you multitask.

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Shots - Health News
10:30 pm
Sun December 30, 2012

Research Moratoriums And Recipes For Superbugs: Bird Flu In 2012

Researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wis., use eggs to see if the Asian strain of the H5N1 bird flu virus has entered the U.S. in this photo from 2006.
Andy Manis AP

Originally published on Mon December 31, 2012 12:46 am

For scientists who study a dangerous form of bird flu, 2012 is ending as it began — with uncertainty about what the future holds for their research, but a hope that some contentious issues will soon be resolved.

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The Salt
10:29 pm
Sun December 30, 2012

Cheap Bubbly Or Expensive Sparkling Wine? Look To The Bubbles For Clues

The bubbles in champagne tickle the tongue and transfer wonderful aromas to the nose.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed January 2, 2013 5:03 am

There's nothing like the distinctive "pop" of the uncorking of a bottle of bubbly to create a sense of celebration. Whether it's Dom Perignon or a $10 sparkling wine, bubbles add pizazz.

Sparkling-wine lovers sometimes point to the glittering streams of tiny bubbles as an important attribute. Why? Well, tiny bubbles are a sign of age, explains French chemist Gerard Liger-Belair, author of Uncorked: The Science of Champagne.

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Environment
10:29 pm
Sun December 30, 2012

A Busy And Head-Scratching 2012 Hurricane Season

This satellite image from Oct. 28 shows Hurricane Sandy in the Atlantic Ocean before making landfall.
NASA via Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 31, 2012 12:46 am

Superstorm Sandy is what most people will remember from the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. But Sandy was just one of 10 hurricanes this year — a hurricane season that was both busy and strange.

Late summer is when the hurricane season usually gets busy. But Greg Jenkins, a professor of atmospheric science at Howard University, says this year was different.

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Book Reviews
12:55 pm
Sun December 30, 2012

Author Ben Fountain's Book Picks For 2013

Ben Fountain is the author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk and the short story collection Brief Encounters With Che Guevara.
Thorne Anderson

Originally published on Sun December 30, 2012 1:33 pm

Last spring, weekends on All Things Considered spoke with author Ben Fountain just as he released his widely acclaimed first novel, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk. Later in the year, it was nominated for the National Book Award.

We asked Fountain to share with us what he's looking forward to in the book world next year. He says he's read about 25 books for release in 2013 and tells host Jacki Lyden, "The state of American fiction is really strong, at least from where I'm standing."

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Environment
12:32 pm
Sun December 30, 2012

2013: A Tipping Year For Climate Change?

Cracks form in the bed of a dried lake in Waterloo, Neb. The drought withered crops and dried out lakes across the nation's midsection in 2012.
Nati Harnik AP

Originally published on Sun December 30, 2012 12:55 pm

This year's extreme weather was one for the record books; 2012 is slated to be the hottest summer on record.

The worst drought in 50 years struck the South and Midwest, devastating the U.S. agriculture industry. Deadly floods and superstorms paralyzed the northeast and other parts of the country.

While the public is in shock by extreme weather events that have taken place, environmentalist Bill McKibben and other members of the science community say it is a result of climate change.

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Politics
12:05 pm
Sun December 30, 2012

A Look Foward: Immigration Reform In 2013

Arizona DREAM Act Coalition staff members, other advocacy group representatives and young immigrants line up in Phoenix last August for guidance about the federal program called Deferred Action, that would help illegal immigrants avoid deportation.
Ross D. Franklin AP

Originally published on Sun December 30, 2012 1:39 pm

This year we saw a great divide in the nation on the issue of immigration reform.

Much of the concern surrounds the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country — the majority of whom are from Mexico and Latin American countries, and about 10 percent from Asia.

President Obama won office again with 71 percent of the Latino vote. He has called pledge to reform current immigration law.

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NPR Story
12:00 pm
Sun December 30, 2012

'Fiscal Cliff' Talks Temporarily Stall

Originally published on Sun December 30, 2012 12:55 pm

Transcript

JACKI LYDEN, HOST:

This is WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden.

Time is quickly running out for Congress to strike a deal blocking automatic tax hikes and spending cuts that kick in within the New Year. Despite the presence of Vice President Joe Biden at the White House and a flurry of proposals passed back and forth today between Senate Republicans and Democrats, things seem to have reached an impasse this afternoon. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said that nothing will happen this evening.

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Around the Nation
11:50 am
Sun December 30, 2012

A Tough Year For Unions, With Few Bright Spots Ahead

Despite huge protests at Michigan's state capitol building in Lansing, Republican lawmakers in the state made the union stronghold the 24th right-to-work state in the country.
Rebecca Cook Reuters via Landov

Originally published on Sun December 30, 2012 12:55 pm

This year was a tough one for organized labor.

In June, Scott Walker — the Wisconsin governor who banned collective bargaining for public employee unions — survived a recall election.

And, despite huge protests in Michigan, the union stronghold became the 24th right-to-work state, banning unions from requiring workers to sign up. That came just 10 months after Indiana passed a similar law.

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It's All Politics
10:48 am
Sun December 30, 2012

Fiscal Cliff Debate: Why The (Very) Few Rule The Many In Congress

Originally published on Sun December 30, 2012 1:15 pm

In the final hours of the latest budget crisis in Washington, several salient facts are increasingly clear.

First, the leaders of the two parties in the Senate might still put together a negotiated deal that would avert the combination of tax increases and spending cuts known as the fiscal cliff. The leaders would start with President Obama's top priorities, modify them to accommodate Republican preferences, throw in some measures that are GOP priorities and take the package to the floor.

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It's All Politics
10:10 am
Sun December 30, 2012

McConnell Appeals To Biden To Break Through Fiscal Cliff Logjam

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., walks to a closed-door meeting with fellow Democrats at the Capitol on Sunday.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Sun December 30, 2012 2:36 pm

Senate negotiators failed to reach a deal Sunday on averting the "fiscal cliff," with the chamber adjourning for the night and only one day remaining before a package of spending cuts and tax increases automatically kicks in.

Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Senate will go back in session at 11 a.m. ET Monday. It's at least theoretically possible that negotiators might reach a deal and the Senate will have a package to vote on when it reconvenes Monday, meaning the measure could go to the House — where it may or may not come to the floor for a vote.

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Music
7:03 am
Sun December 30, 2012

It's Never Early To Think About 2013's Best Music

Radiohead's Thom Yorke leads Atoms for Peace, his supergroup with Flea, Nigel Godrich, Joey Waronker and Mauro Refosco.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed January 30, 2013 7:22 am

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It's All Politics
5:58 am
Sun December 30, 2012

Obama 'Modestly Optimistic' On Cliff Deal; 'He Won,' Says Graham

President Obama returned early from his holiday in Hawaii on Thursday for discussions on the "fiscal cliff."
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Sun December 30, 2012 7:48 am

President Obama went on the air to levy pressure on Congress Sunday as Senate leaders worked to negotiate a deal to avert the tax hikes and spending cuts known as the "fiscal cliff."

"I was modestly optimistic yesterday, but we don't yet see an agreement," Obama said in an interview with NBC's Meet the Press taped on Saturday. "Now the pressure's on Congress to produce."

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Kee Facts: A Few Things You Didn't Know
2:50 am
Sun December 30, 2012

Close The Year Out With Some Best-Selling Last Words

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sun December 30, 2012 12:27 pm

People often make lists of the greatest opening lines in fiction, but closing lines really appeal to me. They're your final moments with a book and can help you remember and treasure it forever.

The last weekend of the year seems an appropriate time to consider the final words of our favorite novels and short stories. Here are some that I'm especially fond of:

The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald
"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."

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Business
12:11 am
Sun December 30, 2012

Retail Workers Bear Brunt Of Sluggish Holiday Sales

Pedestrians pass the Dow Jones display ticker in Times Square on Wednesday in New York. U.S. shoppers spent cautiously this holiday season, a disappointment for retailers that slashed prices to lure people into stores and now must hope for a post-Christmas burst of spending.
Frank Franklin II AP

Originally published on Sun December 30, 2012 11:51 am

Several large retailers took a leap of faith on what they thought would be a gangbuster holiday season, hiring more seasonal workers this year than last.

Sales during the two months before Christmas weren't all that stunning, however, and that's meant fewer opportunities for seasonal workers.

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It's All Politics
12:11 am
Sun December 30, 2012

Massachusetts Freshman Brings Kennedys Back To Capitol Hill

Joseph Kennedy III, son of former Rep. Joseph Kennedy II and grandson of the late Robert F. Kennedy, delivers his victory speech on Nov. 6 in Newton, Mass.
Bizuayehu Tesfaye AP

Originally published on Sun December 30, 2012 11:39 am

Last year marked the first time in more than six decades that there was no Kennedy in elected office in the nation's capital.

But that gap ends this week with the inauguration of Rep.-elect Joseph Kennedy III of Massachusetts. The son of former Rep. Joe Kennedy and the grandson of the late Robert F. Kennedy was elected by a 2-1 margin in his first run for office.

There's little denying that Kennedy's election was about more than just him.

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World
12:10 am
Sun December 30, 2012

Street Signs Intended To Give Pakistani City New Direction

Street signs in the city of Lahore, Pakistan, are rare. The few that exist are in disrepair, like the one above. Two entrepreneurs are looking to change that and improve navigation in the city.
Dina Temple-Raston

Originally published on Wed March 20, 2013 5:31 am

Landlords built Lahore in a haphazard way over centuries. They didn't concern themselves with city grids or sensible mapping. As a result, Lahore is renowned in Pakistan for being almost impossible to navigate.

And that's where Asim Fayaz and Khurram Siddiqi come in.

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It's All Politics
12:10 am
Sun December 30, 2012

Conservatives Invoke NAACP Case In Fight For Secret Donors

Republican strategist Karl Rove, shown at the Republican National Convention in August, is arguing for continued secrecy for the new class of million-dollar political donors.
David Goldman AP

Originally published on Sun December 30, 2012 4:27 pm

Here's a question: What do Republican strategist Karl Rove and civil rights icon Rosa Parks have in common?

The answer: a landmark Supreme Court ruling from 1958 protecting the First Amendment rights of dissident groups.

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Europe
12:09 am
Sun December 30, 2012

The Mysterious Disappearance Of The Russian Crown Jewels

This necklace appears in the 1922 album at the USGS library, but not in the 1925 book on the Russian crown jewels.
www.usgs.gov

Originally published on Tue January 1, 2013 9:49 pm

The story of the missing Russian crown jewels begins, as so many great adventures do, in a library.

In this case, it was the U.S. Geological Survey Library in Reston, Va.

Richard Huffine, the director, was looking through the library's rare-book collection when he came upon an oversized volume.

"And there's no markings on the outside, there's no spine label or anything like that," he says. "This one caught our eye, and we pulled it aside to take a further look at it."

Researcher Jenna Nolt was one of those who took a look.

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Politics
12:55 pm
Sat December 29, 2012

'Truth By Repetition': The Evolution Of Political Mudslinging

Opponents demonstrate against the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling at the Lincoln Memorial in October. The decision changed campaigning, but it apparently didn't make ads more fact-based.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Sun December 30, 2012 1:55 pm

There's always name-calling in national elections, but now there are more ways to get the message out, says political opposition researcher Michael Rejebian. During the past election, he says, the dirt was just flying more often.

Rejebian and Alan Huffman — both former investigative reporters — dig up background on their clients' opponents. While their currency is facts, many of the political attacks this election cycle were doling out something different.

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Music
12:38 pm
Sat December 29, 2012

'Prayer Flags,' A Song About Waiting On Heavenly Help

Musician Kristina Olsen says Tibetan prayer flags flying over porches near her home in Venice, Calif., became the inspiration for a song.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sun December 30, 2012 12:37 pm

For some, bringing in the new year means praying for good things to come. Kristina Olsen ponders the reasons for prayer in her song, "Prayer Flags." She tells the story behind it in the latest edition of What's in a Song, a series from the Western Folklife Center.

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News
12:32 pm
Sat December 29, 2012

'Light Doesn't Die': A Sister's Poem For Slain Sandy Hook Teacher

Lauren Rousseau was killed on Dec. 14 when a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Conn., killing 26 children and adults at the school.
Courtesy of Rousseau Family AP

Originally published on Sat December 29, 2012 1:28 pm

The subject line on the email my old friend Bill sent me two days before Christmas said, simply: "here is a poem emily wrote for her murdered sister lauren."

Emily is Bill's daughter. Lauren, his stepdaughter, is one of the teachers gunned down during the Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

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U.S.
12:28 pm
Sat December 29, 2012

In Limbo: Stateless Man Stuck On American Samoa

Mikhail Sebastian lived in Los Angeles before his fateful trip to American Samoa.
Courtesy Mikhail Sebastian

Originally published on Sun December 30, 2012 2:42 am

Last December, Mikhail Sebastian decided to take a New Year's trip to American Samoa, but when he tried to board his flight to return home to Los Angeles, he was barred. U.S. immigration officials said he had self-deported.

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Law
12:28 pm
Sat December 29, 2012

Years Delayed, Detroit Starts Testing Rape Kits For Evidence

Originally published on Sat December 29, 2012 2:00 pm

Detroit is starting to sort through thousands of boxes of potential evidence in rape cases that have been left unprocessed. The 11,000 "rape kits" were discovered in 2009, and Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy has been leading the effort to process them.

In April, she told weekends on All Things Considered that they began with a random sample of 400 kits to get a snapshot of what they were dealing with. That sampling led to two trials, which resulted in convictions.

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Business
12:28 pm
Sat December 29, 2012

Hollywood Writer's Gongs Still Going Strong

Comedy writer Andrew Borakove left California for Lincoln, Neb., to sell gongs.
Guy Raz

Originally published on Sat December 29, 2012 1:33 pm

Andrew Borakove was a television comedy writer in Hollywood when he realized he had to make a life change.

"A vision of a gong appeared before me, and I said a gong? I've never thought of that," he says. "And I started doing research and I said, 'Yep, I could maybe sell gongs for a living.' "

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Music Interviews
11:38 am
Sat December 29, 2012

Beck Explains 'Song Reader,' An Album Fans Perform Themselves

Beck's newest album, Song Reader, is a collection of sheet music intended to be arranged and recorded by his fans.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed January 2, 2013 9:57 am

Few artists have changed the face of music over the past two decades quite like Beck. Wherever his interests took him — through experiments in hip-hop, electronica, Tropicália, blues, funk, folk — Beck Hansen found a ravenous audience awaiting each new departure. For his latest project, however, he hasn't recorded a note.

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The Two-Way
10:10 am
Sat December 29, 2012

Anger Swells As Indians Mourn For Rape Victim

Protesters hold candles during a rally in New Delhi late Saturday following the death of a woman gang-raped on a bus.
Sajjad Hussain AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun December 30, 2012 3:49 pm

By Saturday evening, more than 1,000 candles glowed at a somber scene in a central Delhi park as India mourned the death of the young woman whose gang rape two weeks ago shocked the country.

What began 13 days ago with a handful of well-wishers holding a hospital vigil for the rape victim swelled into thousands as a young generation of Indians demanded an end to the culture of violence that produced more than 24,000 cases of rape last year alone.

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History
1:13 am
Sat December 29, 2012

Virtually Anyone Can See The Dead Sea Scrolls Now

A fragment of the 2,000-year-old Dead Sea Scrolls is laid out at a laboratory in Jerusalem. More than 60 years after their discovery, 5,000 images of the ancient scrolls are now online.
Uriel Sinai Getty Images

Originally published on Sat December 29, 2012 12:38 pm

This week, an ancient and largely inaccessible treasure was opened to everyone. Now, anyone with access to a computer can look at the oldest Bible known to humankind.

Thousands of high-resolution images of the Dead Sea Scrolls were posted online this week in a partnership between Google and the Israel Antiquities Authority. The online archive, dating back to the first century B.C., includes portions of the Ten Commandments and the Book of Genesis.

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