NPR News

The Two-Way
7:53 am
Fri December 21, 2012

Boehner: 'We'll Continue To Work' On Avoiding Fiscal Cliff

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, at the Capitol on Wednesday.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 8:14 am

On this morning after he couldn't get fellow Republicans to support his "Plan B" for avoiding the year end "fiscal cliff" of automatic tax increases and spending cuts, House Speaker John Boehner took some questions from reporters.

We listened in and posted updates. Hit your "refresh" button to see our latest additions:

-- Update at 10:12 a.m. ET. House Will Come Back "If We're Needed":

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U.S.
7:41 am
Fri December 21, 2012

A Moment Of Silence To Remember Newtown Victims

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 9:16 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It is raining in Newtown, Connecticut, where people observed a moment of silence seven days to the minute after a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School. NPR's Kirk Siegler is in Newtown; he's on the line. And Kirk, what do you see this morning?

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Shootings In Newtown, Conn.
7:12 am
Fri December 21, 2012

The NRA Isn't The Only Opponent Of Gun Control

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 11:20 am

Entering into the discussion about how to respond to last week's school shootings in Newtown, Conn., the National Rifle Association on Friday called for putting "qualified armed security" in all schools.

It's a message that echoes calls from some state lawmakers and other gun groups that haven't been as silent as the NRA over the past week.

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Shots - Health News
7:07 am
Fri December 21, 2012

Phew! You Survived The Mayan Apocalypse. Now What?

Photographer David Blackwell and his wife prepared for the apocalypse. Cats and cat food? Check. Toilet paper? Check. Exploding volcanoes and hurtling asteroids? Not so much.
David Blackwell Flickr

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 7:45 am

Good morning! If you can read this, then we offer our congratulations on surviving the Mayan Apocalypse!

You've evidently made it through the initial cataclysm caused by the collision of Earth with an unknown comet, a massive solar storm, a burst of radiation from the center of the galaxy, the mysterious Planet X (aka Nibiru), or some other catastrophe that scientists assured us wouldn't happen.

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The Two-Way
6:30 am
Fri December 21, 2012

Everybody Over The Cliff?

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, on Thursday in the Capitol.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 7:25 am

House Speaker John Boehner's "major defeat" Thursday night — when he had to pull his "Plan B" to extend Bush-era tax cuts for nearly all American taxpayers because he couldn't get enough support from his fellow Republicans — means negotiations about avoiding the so-called fiscal cliff remain at an impasse.

So now what?

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The Two-Way
5:58 am
Fri December 21, 2012

#MomentForSandyHook In Memory Of Newtown Victims

Stuffed animals and flowers at a makeshift memorial near the entrance to the grounds of Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Brendan Smialowski AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 7:38 am

Update at 9:36 a.m. ET: In Newtown and across the nation, bells rang starting at 9:30 a.m. ET, to honor the 20 children and six adults killed one week ago at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. And on the Web, it appears many did take part in #MomentForSandyHook — judging from the sharp slowdown in our Twitter feed.

Our original post:

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Around the Nation
5:26 am
Fri December 21, 2012

Seattle House Is Too Small For Christmas Tree

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 9:16 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Around the Nation
5:21 am
Fri December 21, 2012

Holiday Lights Flip Neighbors 'The Bird'

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 9:16 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The Two-Way
5:14 am
Fri December 21, 2012

Apocalypse Not? Seems Like It

This morning on a beach in Brazil, some celebrated summer's first day — and the news that the world didn't end.
Antonio Scorza AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 7:24 am

So, it looks like all that talk about the Mayan calendar and the end of the world coming today was just ... talk.

But the fun continues. NASA's Voyager 2 Twitter feed, for instance, has this:

"END MAYACAL BTUN 12.19.19.17.19 SHUTDOWN:UNIV(12) BEGIN BTUN 13.0.0.0.0 BOOT:UNIV(13)."

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Politics
2:56 am
Fri December 21, 2012

Obama Focuses On Newtown, 'Fiscal Cliff'

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 9:16 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene. Good morning. Action last night in the House of Representatives suggests just how hard it could be to pass a solution to the tax increases and spending cuts due at the end of the year.

INSKEEP: House Speaker John Boehner has yet to reach a deal with President Obama, so he sought to put his own plan before the House last night.

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Research News
1:52 am
Fri December 21, 2012

Why Some Kids Have An Inflated Sense Of Their Science Skills

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 6:49 pm

If you're a student at the halfway point of the academic year, and you've just taken stock of your performance, perhaps you have reason to feel proud of yourself.

But a recent study suggests some of the pride you feel at having done well — especially in science — may be unfounded. Or at least your sense of your performance may not be a very accurate picture of how good you actually are.

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Shots - Health News
1:50 am
Fri December 21, 2012

Medicare Starts To Reward Quality, Not Quantity, Of Care

In a push to improve quality, Medicare will pay some hospitals more and others, including Boston's Massachusetts General, less.
Steven Senne AP

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 9:16 am

It's no longer enough for hospitals to just send a bill to Medicare and get paid.

The nation's biggest insurer is starting to dole out bonuses and penalties to nearly 3,000 hospitals as it ties almost $1 billion in payments to the quality of care provided to patients.

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U.S.
1:23 am
Fri December 21, 2012

New TSA Standards: Carry On Small Snow Globes and Pies, Keep Checking Jam

One of these snow globes doesn't belong onboard. The one on the left, which is about the size of a tennis ball, is permitted in your carry-on luggage. The one on the right is not.
Ryan Smith NPR

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 9:16 am

The airline industry predicts some 42 million of us will be flying this holiday season, and that this weekend before Christmas will be one of the busiest periods.

For tips on how to get through what's expected to be some long security lines, we turn to the Transportation Security Administration's Lisa Farbstein. She says there's a useful guide on the TSA's homepage that allows you to type in an item to see if it's allowed in your carry-on, as well as a mobile app.

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Politics
8:18 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

House Pulls 'Plan B' Tax Measure From The Floor

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

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World Cafe
5:32 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Minus The Bear On World Cafe

Minus The Bear.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed January 2, 2013 7:59 am

The majority of Minus The Bear's records have been iterations of the intricate, melodic rock the Seattle band has been playing since it formed in 2001. In 2010 the band made a slight departure with Omni, an album that relied much more heavily on synthesizers and keyboards.

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Shots - Health News
4:32 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

YouTube-Inspired Food Dares: Don't Try This At Home, Kids

GloZell demonstrates the chubby bunny challenge.
YouTube

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 9:20 am

Back in March, we told you about the "cinnamon challenge" — a game of dubious origin that involves eating a tablespoon of cinnamon powder without any liquid to wash it down. Experts at the nation's network of poison centers were warning parents about the game after the number of calls related to teens ages 13 to 19 increased dramatically from 2011. Their symptoms included choking, gagging, vomiting and other respiratory problems.

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The Two-Way
4:31 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

In Christmas Message, Queen Elizabeth Returns To 3-D After 59 Years

Queen Elizabeth II wears 3-D glasses during a visit to the University of Sheffield, in 2010. This year, the queen's annual Christmas message will broadcast in 3-D.
WPA Pool Getty Images

It's been 80 years since Britain's royal family began broadcasting a Christmas message — and 60 years since Queen Elizabeth took up the duty. Now, the monarch will deliver her 2012 holiday address in 3-D.

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It's All Politics
4:05 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Financial Ties Bind NRA, Gun Industry

In this photo illustration, a Rock River Arms AR-15 rifle is seen with ammunition.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 8:51 am

Leaders of the National Rifle Association plan to break their weeklong silence Friday and make their first public comments on the mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.

They say they will be speaking for the NRA's 4 million members. But they will also be speaking for the gun industry, which has close financial ties to the association.

The NRA and the gun industry are reeling after last week's massacre. The primary weapon used — an AR-15-style rifle — is one of the most popular guns in America.

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U.S.
3:53 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Is The Border Secure Enough To Tackle The Immigration System?

A hilltop view of the 18-foot fence along the U.S.-Mexico border west of Nogales, Ariz.
Ted Robbins NPR

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 6:10 pm

Since the mid-1980s, the U.S. Border Patrol has quintupled in size — growing from about 4,000 to more than 20,000 agents.

The government has constructed some 700 miles of fencing and vehicle barriers. It has placed thousands of ground sensors, lights, radar towers and cameras along the border. And Customs and Border Protection is now flying drones and helicopters to locate smuggles and rescue stranded immigrants.

So here's the question: Is the Southwest border secure?

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It's All Politics
3:27 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

House Republicans Face Threat Of Primary Challenges In 'Plan B' Vote

Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., shown in 2010, has said he would deserve a primary challenge if he voted for House Speaker John Boehner's "fiscal cliff" proposal, which would extend the Bush-era tax cuts only on income of less than $1 million.
John Hanna AP

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 8:18 pm

House Republicans are under a lot of pressure.

House Speaker John Boehner and his leadership team are urging them to support his "Plan B" to avoid the automatic tax hikes of the "fiscal cliff." But they're also facing pressure from outside groups that could mount primary challenges against them if they do.

Boehner argues his plan — which would allow the Bush-era tax cuts to stay in place for income under $1 million a year — isn't a tax increase. But a number of conservative groups have come to a very different conclusion.

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Energy
3:03 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Next In Line For A Fracking Boom, California Looks At The Rules

Most hydraulic fracturing in California is done to extract to oil in areas like this field in Kern County. The state is drafting fracking regulations for the first time.
Craig Miller KQED

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 8:18 pm

The controversial drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing has created an oil and gas boom around the country. In states like Texas, Pennsylvania and Colorado, there's been heated debate about rules that protect groundwater and public health.

California is now wading into that arena with the release of the state's first fracking regulations. The state's earthquake-prone geology, however, could bring particular concerns.

Fracking itself isn't new. The technology behind it, though, has changed.

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Latin America
2:36 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

'Lost Jews' Of Colombia Say They've Found Their Roots

Baruj Cano, 4, watches as his father and other men from Bello's Jewish community read from the Torah.
Paul Smith for NPR

Originally published on Sun December 23, 2012 10:38 am

They are called "crypto-Jews" or "lost Jews," and in recent years they have emerged in remote places as scattered as India, Brazil, the American Southwest and here in Colombia.

They were raised as Christians but believe they have discovered hidden Jewish roots, prompting many to return to Judaism. Many say their ancestors were Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain more than 500 years ago, as the Spanish crown embarked on a systematic persecution of Jews.

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Space
2:34 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

In Calif. Gold Country, A Rush That's Out Of This World

A section of the Sutter's Mill meteorite, dubbed "Darth Vader," is studied at a lab at the University of California, Davis. The meteorite is made of carbonaceous chondrite, which contains materials that formed the planets of the solar system.
UC Davis

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 8:18 pm

On the crisp, clear morning of April 22, a 50-ton asteroid slammed into the Earth's atmosphere and shattered into countless pieces. Remarkably, they rained down onto Sutter's Mill, Calif., the exact spot where gold was discovered back in 1848, triggering the gold rush. And so follows a story of serendipity and scientific discovery.

"I was out on my hillside burning some branches and so forth, and I heard this sonic boom," says Gold Country resident Ed Allen. "It wasn't just one boom. It was a series of booms, literally right over my head."

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The Salt
2:02 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Big Food And The Big, Silent Salt Experiment

Food companies have begun quietly reducing salt in regular foods because low-salt items like these don't sell as well.
Mel Evans AP

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 8:18 pm

Have you noticed, perhaps, that some of your store-bought salad dressings or spaghetti sauces taste a little less salty lately?

Probably not. The companies that make those products are doing their best to keep you from noticing. Yet many of them are, in fact, carrying out a giant salt-reduction experiment, either because they want to improve their customers' health or because they're worried that if they don't, the government might impose regulations that would compel more onerous salt reductions.

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It's All Politics
1:05 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Cory Booker Eyes (Chris Christie-Free) Path To His Political Future

Newark Mayor Cory Booker greets a 13-year-old at a relief center for those affected by Superstorm Sandy, in November.
Julio Cortez AP

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 1:25 pm

Here was the choice facing Newark Mayor Cory Booker: Run next year against New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, whose popularity would have made the Republican exceedingly difficult to beat; or fix his gaze on the Senate seat now occupied by an 88-year-old fellow Democrat, Sen.

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The Two-Way
12:56 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Gun Control: 'Only Modest Change' In Opinion Since Newtown Shootings

A Sig Sauer handgun on sale at a shop in Tucker, Ga.
Erik S. Lesser EPA /LANDOV

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 7:25 am

"The public's attitudes toward gun control have shown only modest change in the wake of last week's deadly shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.," the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press reported Thursday afternoon.

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Commentary
12:35 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Geoff Nunberg's Word Of The Year: Big Data

Adam Gryko iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 2:18 pm

"Big Data" hasn't made any of the words-of-the-year lists I've seen so far. That's probably because it didn't get the wide public exposure given to items like "frankenstorm," "fiscal cliff" and YOLO.

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The Two-Way
12:29 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Former Official Sentenced To 35 Years For Role In Rwanda's Genocide

An international criminal court has found a former Rwandan government official guilty of genocide and other crimes, sentencing him to 35 years in prison for his role in the Hutu-led government's murder of ethnic Tutsis on an epic scale. The trial is the last stemming from events 18 years ago.

As Gregory Warner reports for NPR's Newscast unit:

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Politics
12:10 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Assault-Style Weapons In The Civilian Market

According to Tom Diaz of the Violence Policy Center, more people in the United States die every year from gun-related incidents than have been killed in all terrorist attacks worldwide since the 1960s.
iStockPhoto

As the country reels after Friday's massacre in Newtown, Conn., the question of how assault rifles like the one used at Sandy Hook Elementary School entered the civilian market is front and center.

The semi-automatic weapon found at the site where Adam Lanza shot to death 20 children and six adults, for example, is a variant of a type of gun developed for troops during Vietnam.

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The Two-Way
11:54 am
Thu December 20, 2012

At Benghazi Hearing, Sen. Kerry Urges More Diplomatic Resources

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., led a Senate hearing Thursday on the Sept. 11 attacks in Benghazi, Libya.
Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 12:28 pm

Sen. John Kerry is considered the leading candidate to become the next secretary of state, and that gave added weight to his remarks Thursday as he oversaw testimony on the most volatile foreign policy issue in recent months: the deadly Sept. 11 attacks in Benghazi.

The two top deputies of the current secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, acknowledged that the State Department failed to provide adequate security in Benghazi, which has remained extremely volatile following last year's ouster of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

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