Best Books Of 2011
6:16 am
Thu December 15, 2011

Fired Up: The Year's Best Science Fiction, Fantasy

Priscilla Nielsen for NPR

2011 was a good year to be a reader of science fiction and fantasy, although lately every year has been a good year: Not only are the books getting more popular — thank you, Game of Thrones — they're getting more interesting, evolving and morphing in weird, fascinating ways.

They're also interbreeding with other genres to produce wild new hybrid forms, like historical science fiction romances and hard-boiled fantasy detective novels. They're commenting on current events and swapping DNA with literary novels.

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The Two-Way
5:50 am
Thu December 15, 2011

Republicans Unveil $1 Trillion Spending Bill, Possible Shutdown Still Looms

The political wrangling continues in Washington as Republicans and Democrats try to get their priorities enacted even as several key deadlines fast approach.

Overnight, as The Associated Press reports, Republicans in the House "unveiled a massive $1 trillion-plus year-end spending package despite a plea from the White House for additional talks over a handful of provisions opposed by President Barack Obama."

The wire service adds that:

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The Two-Way
5:25 am
Thu December 15, 2011

As Flag Is Put Away, America's Mission In Iraq Symbolically Ends

America's colors have been cased in Iraq — the flag was just symbolically put away at a ceremony marking the end of a war that lasted nearly nine years.

At the Baghdad airport a short time ago, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other officials were there to mark the occasion, NPR's Kelly McEvers reports. It was, she said on Morning Edition, a "quiet, small ceremony."

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Laura Sullivan is a NPR News investigative correspondent whose work has cast a light on some of the country's most disadvantaged people.

Sullivan is one of NPR's most decorated journalists, with three Peabody Awards and two Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Batons. She joined NPR in 2004 as a correspondent on the National Desk. For six years she covered crime and punishment issues, with reports airing regularly on Morning Edition, All Things Considered and other NPR programs before joining NPR's investigations unit.

It's All Politics
10:01 pm
Wed December 14, 2011

State Of The GOP Race: Are We In For A Protracted Primary Season?

Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich face off at the ABC News GOP Presidential Debate on Dec. 10.
Kevork Djansezian Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 9:53 am

The mitts are off, so to speak, in the Republican presidential primary. Mitt Romney, the former front-runner, and his current and most serious rival, Newt Gingrich, are now engaged in an all-out war.

With only a few short weeks until voters in Iowa go to the caucuses, Romney is doing everything he can to stop Gingrich's sudden and surprising rise.

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Still No Job: Over A Year Without Enough Work
10:01 pm
Wed December 14, 2011

Willing To Sacrifice After A Long Time Out Of Work

According to a survey by NPR and the Kaiser Family Foundation, 44 percent of the long-term unemployed and 35 percent of the underemployed are willing to move to another state for a new job.
Tony Tremblay iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 2:08 pm

In the past three years, the ability and willingness of Americans to move across town or to another state have fallen to their lowest level in more than half a century.

An NPR/Kaiser Family Foundation survey examined mobility among the long-term unemployed and underemployed. Of those two groups combined, 40 percent said they would be willing to move to another state to find a job.

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Business
10:01 pm
Wed December 14, 2011

With New Toys, Lego Hopes To Build Girls Market

The new Lego Friends toys are not yet public, but the company gave a sneak peek at its "Olivia" minifigure from the set.
Courtesy of Bloomberg Businessweek. Photographed by Nick Ferrari

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 4:45 am

Lego doesn't call itself a toy company for boys. But look at the company's website, and its products are clearly geared towards boys' love of combat and action. There's Lego Star Wars, Lego Indiana Jones, Alien Conquest, Racers and Superheroes. One lonely set, called Belleville, is clearly for girls. It's pink-themed and features a horse.

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Law
10:01 pm
Wed December 14, 2011

Death Sentences Drop To Historic Lows In 2011

The high-profile case of Troy Davis sparked national debate on the death penalty. Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, says there's growing discontent among Americans about capital punishment.
David Tulis AP

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 9:05 am

Death sentences dropped dramatically this year, marking the first time in more than three decades that judges and juries sent fewer than 100 people to death row, according to a new report from the Death Penalty Information Center.

Just 78 offenders were handed capital sentences, and only 43 inmates were executed — almost half as many as 10 years ago.

American Reaction

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Regional
6:58 pm
Wed December 14, 2011

Heavy Damage In Las Cruces Apartment Fire

Las Cruces – The Las Cruces Fire Department responded to the 1700 block of West Picacho Avenue for a structure fire.

Las Cruces Firefighters were dispatched before 10 a.m. Wednesday to an apartment fire. The first arriving fire crew witnessed heavy black smoke and flames coming from the eaves of the roof and from a vacant bedroom. Fire crews immediately made entry and brought the fire under control within minutes. Crews were able to extinguish fire that extended into the walls and ceiling within 20 minutes from dispatch time.

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Regional
6:19 pm
Wed December 14, 2011

A Different Kind Of Hot Chocolate In Las Cruces

Las Cruces – Got a sweet tooth? New Mexico State University's Chile Pepper Institute has unveiled its latest creation, Dr. B's Bhut-Kickin' Brownies - a brownie baking mix spiced with Bhut Jolokia chile powder. All brownie mix proceeds will go to fund future chile pepper research at NMSU.

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