NPR News

The Record
3:31 am
Sat December 29, 2012

Reflecting On EMI, An Industry Giant Felled In 2012

The London headquarters of EMI, whose sale this year brought the number of major labels from four to three.
Simon Dawson Bloomberg via Getty Images

Originally published on Sat December 29, 2012 3:38 pm

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Europe
3:22 am
Sat December 29, 2012

Same-Sex Marriage And Adoption: Unresolved Issues In France

A man wears a costume reading "Dad" and "Mom" during a demonstration against gay marriage and adoption by same-sex couples in Nice, France, in October.
Valery Hache AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat December 29, 2012 6:14 pm

France is known as a tolerant country on many social issues, yet the country is embroiled in a debate about same-sex marriage and adoption.

President Francois Hollande is following through on a campaign promise to bring full rights to gay couples. France legalized civil unions more than a decade ago, though same-sex couples must still go abroad to marry or adopt.

But opposition to Hollande's measure has been unexpectedly fierce, something the Socialist government wasn't expecting.

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It's All Politics
3:22 am
Sat December 29, 2012

Congressional Leaders Hopeful As Fiscal Cliff Deadline Nears

House Speaker John Boehner arrives at the White House on Friday for talks with President Obama and congressional leaders aimed at avoiding the "fiscal cliff."
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat December 29, 2012 3:38 pm

Even though the top four congressional leaders left their White House meeting with the president separately and silently on Friday, they cast the hourlong encounter in a positive light back at the Capitol.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi described the tone of the discussion to head off across-the-board tax hikes and spending cuts as "candid." An aide to House Speaker John Boehner put out a statement that noted that the group agreed the next step should be the Senate's — a tacit acknowledgement that Boehner is no longer the lead negotiator with President Obama.

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It's All Politics
3:21 am
Sat December 29, 2012

Obama: 'The American People Are Watching What We Do Here'

"I'm optimistic we may still be able to reach an agreement that can pass both houses in time," the president said after meeting with congressional leaders at the White House on Friday.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Sat December 29, 2012 3:38 pm

We have reached the last weekend of the year, and Washington still has not reached a deal to avert the big tax hikes and spending cuts known as the fiscal cliff.

President Obama met with top congressional leaders at the White House on Friday afternoon: John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi from the House, and Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell from the Senate.

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Music Interviews
12:03 am
Sat December 29, 2012

Johnny Cash's Boyhood Home Tells The Story Of A Town

The Cash family house today.
Michael Hibblen

Originally published on Sat December 29, 2012 3:38 pm

It's been almost a decade since Johnny Cash died, but fans still travel from around the world to see the place the music legend often described as key to his development: his boyhood home in the eastern Arkansas town of Dyess. The small house will soon serve as a museum — not only as a tribute to Johnny Cash, but also to tell the history of the town.

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It's All Politics
4:50 pm
Fri December 28, 2012

New Immigration Battle: Driver's Licenses

Originally published on Fri December 28, 2012 5:19 pm

In a sign of growing opposition to President Obama's immigration policy, Iowa has become the latest state to deny driver's licenses to young illegal immigrants who receive deferments from deportation.

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The Two-Way
3:45 pm
Fri December 28, 2012

President And Congress Extend FISA Wiretapping Act To 2017 [Updated]

National Intelligence Director James Clapper leaves the Capitol after briefing members of Congress earlier this month. The Senate voted Friday to extend the FISA Amendments Act to 2017, granting federal agencies wide surveillance powers.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Mon December 31, 2012 4:16 pm

The FISA Amendments Act has been approved for another five years, as the Senate voted to renew the law that grants the government wide surveillance authority. President Obama has said he intends to sign the measure, which senators approved by a 73-23 margin Friday morning. It had already won approval in the House.

Update at 6:10 p.m. Dec. 31: Obama signs FISA extension.

The president signed the FISA extension Sunday. Our original post continues:

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The Two-Way
3:38 pm
Fri December 28, 2012

Victim Of Brutal Rape In India Dies In Singapore Hospital

Originally published on Sun December 30, 2012 6:51 pm

A woman who survived a brutal gang-rape on a bus in India has died, according to reports. Earlier Friday, hospital officials in Singapore, where the 23-year-old student was being treated, had warned that her condition was worsening.

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Superstorm Sandy: Before, During And Beyond
2:45 pm
Fri December 28, 2012

Storm Refugees Struggle To Rebound In Times Square

Natisha Laws near her hotel in the middle of Times Square. She and her family were placed at the DoubleTree in mid-November by FEMA. They lost their rental apartment during Superstorm Sandy and have been struggling to recover.
Cindy Rodriguez for NPR

Originally published on Fri December 28, 2012 3:06 pm

The DoubleTree Hotel sits on one of the loudest and glitziest corners of Times Square. It's where enamored 9-year-old Isaiah Douglas has been staying with his mom, dad and little sister.

"It has been a great experience," Isaiah says. But the family isn't there on vacation.

Their story emerges in an elevator as a hotel guest strikes up a friendly conversation with Isaiah's mom, Natisha Laws.

"Where are you from?" the tourist asks.

"I'm from here. I'm from New York. We're with FEMA because of the Hurricane Sandy."

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Around the Nation
2:44 pm
Fri December 28, 2012

California Missions Undergo Upgrades To Resist Quakes

Scaffolding is seen at the basilica at a mission in Carmel, Calif., a sign of its multimillion-dollar seismic retrofit.
Krista Almanzan for NPR

Originally published on Fri December 28, 2012 3:06 pm

At California's nearly two dozen Spanish missions, conversion these days isn't just about religion; it's also about seismic retrofitting. That's because the missions — which date to the late 1700s, when Spain's king sent Franciscan missionaries to convert natives to Christianity — would not withstand a major earthquake.

At a mission in Carmel, a 220-year-old basilica is in the middle of an earthquake retrofit. Workers removed the structure's red tile roof and replaced it with scaffolding and a protective plastic.

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Economy
2:38 pm
Fri December 28, 2012

Reading The Economic Tea Leaves For 2013

A housing revival will be key to an economic recovery in 2013, analysts say.
Jonathan Ernst Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Fri December 28, 2012 3:06 pm

The U.S. economy was a bit of a disappointment in 2012. During the early months of the year, job creation was surprisingly strong, but by the end of the year, uncertainty about the election and the "fiscal cliff" slowed the economy's forward motion. So will 2013 look any better?

Mark Zandi of Moody's Analytics says that while Washington likely will steer us away from the fiscal cliff at the last minute, some elements of the deal will be a drag on the economy early in 2013.

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Music
2:18 pm
Fri December 28, 2012

Remembering Fontella Bass, Voice Of A Soul Classic

Originally published on Fri December 28, 2012 3:06 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The voice of a great soul classic has died. Fontella Bass sang the 1965 hit "Rescue Me." She was 72 years old and died from complications caused by a recent heart attack. NPR's Elizabeth Blair has this appreciation.

ELIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: It's a perfect song with a perfect voice.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RESCUE ME")

FONTELLA BASS: (Singing) Rescue me. Take me in your arms. Rescue me. I love your tender charms. I'm rather lonely and I'm blue. I need you and your love, too. Come on and rescue me.

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Books
2:07 pm
Fri December 28, 2012

'Fifty Shades' Is The One That Got Away. At Least From Me

Vintage Books

Originally published on Fri December 28, 2012 3:06 pm

Sometimes "the one that got away" is a book that was easy to overlook. A little gem of a first novel, or a memoir by an unknown writer that unexpectedly captured everyone's imagination.

But sometimes, it's the elephant in the room that you just haven't looked at yet. Everyone knows about it. It's one of the biggest sellers of all time. It's a cultural phenomenon — it's Fifty Shades of Grey. And I ignored it until I couldn't anymore.

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NPR Story
2:06 pm
Fri December 28, 2012

International Adoptions On Downward Trend

Originally published on Fri December 28, 2012 3:06 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill today banning Americans from adopting Russian children. It's a move that will add significantly to a downward trend in international adoptions. American adoptions from Russia were already falling from a high of nearly 6,000 eight years ago to less than 1,000 last year. That's according to the State Department.

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The Impact of War
12:32 pm
Fri December 28, 2012

Suicide Hotline Fights To Keep Vets And Troops Alive

David Easterling, manager of the Suicide Prevention Program at Fort Riley in Kansas spray-paints Army boots white in 2009 as part of an on-base display to commemorate the six Fort Riley soldiers who committed suicide in 2008.
Chris Hondros Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 28, 2012 3:06 pm

At a suicide prevention center in upstate New York, America's troops and veterans are calling in for help.

And that help is needed more than ever. This past year witnessed a terrible death toll from suicide. For the first time in a decade of war, more active-duty troops have taken their own lives this year than have died fighting in Afghanistan.

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The Two-Way
12:00 pm
Fri December 28, 2012

Obama, Congressional Leaders To Discuss Deal To Avoid 'Fiscal Cliff'

"The hour for immediate action is here. It is now," President Barack Obama said of a potential budget deal, after meeting with congressional leaders Friday.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 28, 2012 4:50 pm

Days before a budget crisis deadline will hit the U.S. economy, President Obama says, "I'm optimistic we may still be able to reach an agreement that can pass both houses in time."

The details of that agreement, which could avert automatic spending cuts and tax increases that are set to take effect on Jan. 1, would likely come from discussions between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

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The Two-Way
11:36 am
Fri December 28, 2012

Tracking Gun-related Deaths, One Tweet At A Time

A makeshift shrine to the victims of the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. Slate and a citizen journalist are trying to track gun deaths across the nation since that Dec. 14 mass shooting.
Emmanuel Dunand AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 2, 2013 6:36 am

How many Americans died on Christmas Day from a gun shot? How many have been shot and killed since the Dec. 14 mass shooting at a school in Newtown, Conn.?

No one knows for sure. Authorities pull together annual figures, but not daily reports on gun-related murders, suicides and accidental deaths.

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Barbershop
10:56 am
Fri December 28, 2012

Is 'Django Unchained' The 'Blackest Film Ever'?

Originally published on Mon December 31, 2012 8:08 am

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE, from NPR News. Coming up, all kinds of folks made their debut on Twitter this year, including His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI. We decided we wanted to talk about the best and worst of 2012 on Twitter. That's coming up later in the program.

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Technology
10:56 am
Fri December 28, 2012

The Year In Tweets

Originally published on Fri December 28, 2012 11:02 am

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE, from NPR News. Coming up, are you invited to any parties for Kwanzaa, which is going on now? If the answer is yes, you're not alone. If the answer is no, you're not alone, either. We'll ask just how widely observed is this inspired-by-Africa, made-in-America celebration.

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Planet Money
10:28 am
Fri December 28, 2012

What A Former FBI Hostage Negotiator Can Teach Us About The Fiscal Cliff

Drew Angerer Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 28, 2012 11:27 am

The tortuous negotiations involved in the "fiscal cliff" talks are like a chess game.

To shed some light on the kinds of negotiation techniques that members of Congress might be using during the talks, we asked two negotiators to walk us through their tactics with examples from their everyday lives.

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World
10:11 am
Fri December 28, 2012

Out Of Desperation, North Korean Women Become Breadwinners

Women shop and trade at a market in Razon city, northeast of Pyongyang, in September. Most private trading, which is the only source of income for almost half of North Korean families, is done by women.
Carlos Barria Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri December 28, 2012 3:06 pm

Imagine going to work every day and not getting paid. Then, one day, you're told there's no work to do — so you must pay the company for the privilege of not working.

This is the daily reality facing Mrs. Kim, a petite 52-year-old North Korean. Her husband's job in a state-run steel factory requires him to build roads. She can't remember the last time he received a monthly salary. When there are no roads to build, he has to pay his company around 20 times his paltry monthly salary, she says.

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The Two-Way
8:46 am
Fri December 28, 2012

As Water Level Falls, Concerns About Mississippi River's Barge Traffic Rise

This WWII-era minesweeper once was a floating museum in St. Louis. Swept away in a 1993 flood, it has been under water in the river for most of the years since. But the ship has been exposed as the river's water level has fallen. (Photo taken on Dec. 14.)
Army Corps of Engineers

With a gauge at the tricky section of the Mississippi River near Thebes, Ill., already registering a remarkably low water level — and projections that it will fall further in coming days and weeks — trade groups are warning that barge traffic through that part of the river may have to halt completely as soon as next week.

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The Salt
7:56 am
Fri December 28, 2012

An Evolutionary Whodunit: How Did Humans Develop Lactose Tolerance?

Thousands of years ago, a mutation in the human genome allowed many adults to digest lactose and drink milk.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri December 28, 2012 10:41 am

Got milk? Ancient European farmers who made cheese thousands of years ago certainly had it. But at that time, they lacked a genetic mutation that would have allowed them to digest raw milk's dominant sugar, lactose, after childhood.

Today, however, 35 percent of the global population — mostly people with European ancestry — can digest lactose in adulthood without a hitch.

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The Two-Way
7:34 am
Fri December 28, 2012

Little Hope, Low Expectations, Lots Of Gloom: 'Fiscal Cliff' Talk Is Dreary

Leaders will meet at the White House this afternoon.
Michael Reynolds EPA /LANDOV

Originally published on Fri December 28, 2012 10:10 am

  • David Welna on 'Morning Edition'

Yes, President Obama and congressional leaders are scheduled to meet at 3 p.m. ET to discuss how to avoid going over the so-called fiscal cliff of automatic tax increases and spending cuts.

But, no, that isn't inspiring much talk this morning of a breakthrough before the midnight New Year's Eve deadline:

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The Two-Way
6:51 am
Fri December 28, 2012

Top Stories: 'Fiscal Cliff' Talks Resume; Russia Bans U.S. Adoptions

Eric Waite and his 8-year-old daughter Emerson went sliding Thursday in Greenfield, Mass.
Matthew Cavanaugh Getty Images
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The Two-Way
6:33 am
Fri December 28, 2012

Remembering Gen. Schwarzkopf, 'Military Hero Of His Generation'

Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf in 1990.
Kevin Larkin AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 28, 2012 7:37 am

The death Thursday of retired Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf — "Stormin' Norman" — has prompted many looks at the legacy of the American commander who led coalition forces during Operation Desert Storm in 1991, which pushed Saddam Hussein's Iraqi Army out of Kuwait.

Schwarzkopf was 78. He:

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The Two-Way
5:56 am
Fri December 28, 2012

Secretary Clinton Due Back At Work Next Week, 'Foreign Policy' Reports

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Dec. 6 in Dublin.
Kevin Lamarque AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 28, 2012 7:38 am

"Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will return to the State Department next week after three weeks of recovery from a stomach virus and a related concussion," Foreign Policy's The Cable blog reports.

Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines tells The Cable that:

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Europe
5:40 am
Fri December 28, 2012

Present Thief Nabbed In France

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Shots - Health News
5:39 am
Fri December 28, 2012

Americans Support Physician-Assisted Suicide For Terminally Ill

John Kelly and Dr. Marcia Angell were advocates on opposing sides of a Massachusetts measure to legalize physician-assisted suicide.
Jesse Costa Jesse Costa/WBUR

Originally published on Wed January 2, 2013 8:07 am

Voters in Massachusetts were the latest to weigh in on whether it should be legal for doctors to prescribe drugs to help terminally ill patients end their lives.

The measure was controversial, and on Election Day it fell just short.

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Around the Nation
5:31 am
Fri December 28, 2012

Author Offers Unique Reward To Finder Of His Dog

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Pages