A Nativity scene in Caracas features the traditional baby Jesus born in a manger. But those standing nearby include a figure of President Hugo Chavez. The scene also makes a case that Chavez should qualify as a wise man. It includes a miniature cable car, symbolizing infrastructure improvements for which the president wants to be known.
Tommaso began life as a stray cat on the streets of Rome until he was rescued by a wealthy widow. The 94 year old had no children, according to ABC News. So when she died last month, she left her entire fortune to the cat. That's $13 million.
Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 9:49 am
Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach who faces more than 50 charges of sexually abusing at least 10 young boys over more than a decade, this morning waived his right to a preliminary hearing about the case against him.
The decision was a surprise. Before the court proceeding, it had been widely anticipated that at least some of Sandusky's accusers would be in court today and have to testify about what he allegedly did.
State and local authorities in Florida are investigating the loss of more than 2,300 beehives in Brevard County. Officials have identified an insecticide that is commonly used to kill roaches, ticks and flees. It was found in a container used to feed the bees in the hives. Now officials need to find the culprit who fed the bees the poison.
It was a busy day yesterday for presidential politicking in New Hampshire. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich traded barbs over Romney's proposed ten-thousand dollar bet with Texas Governor Rick Perry, as well as Gingrich's consulting fees earned working for mortgage giant Freddie Mac. New Hampshire Public Radio's Josh Rogers reports.
A spirited fight is on in Iowa for the evangelical vote in the Republican race for president. So far, Christian conservatives have not coalesced behind one candidate, the way they did four years ago for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
Criticism against the home improvement chain Lowes isn't letting up. It started after Lowes dropped its ads from the reality TV show "All-American Muslim" in response to pressure from a conservative Christian group. Now an online petition has nearly 20,000 signatures calling on the store to reinstate the ads. Lowes, in a statement, says simply, it is committed to diversity. NPR's Elizabeth Blair has the story.
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Let's follow up on a weekend of protest in Russia. Allegations of fraud in a parliamentary election sent tens of thousands of people into the streets demonstrating against the party of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Behind that tainted election was an undercurrent of dissatisfaction with Putin himself, who used to be president, remains dominant today, and is preparing to retake the top job.
A disputed election in the Democratic Republic of Congo has returned sitting President Joseph Kabila to power for the next five years. The opposition claims there was election fraud. Congo's influential Catholic church has voiced reservations about the conduct of the elections.
In recent years, China's real estate market has boomed. A three-bedroom apartment in Shanghai overlooking the river would cost more than $3 million. But that's beginning to change. The slide comes as the world's most dynamic economy grapples with other challenges, including massive local government debt and slowing growth.
Police in Seattle arrested more than a dozen Occupy protesters Monday night after marchers briefly blocked traffic coming into the city's busy port. The Seattle protest was the culmination of a day of coordinated protests at ports up and down the West Coast.
Soon after hundreds of Occupy protesters marched to Seattle's Harbor Island, some of them started dragging wooden pallets and scrap metal into the roadway, and traffic in and out of the port came to a halt. The protesters were trying to shut down Terminal 18.
More than 20 years ago, Congress ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate toxic air pollution. It's done that for most industries, but not the biggest polluters — coal and oil-burning power plants.
The EPA now plans to change that later this week, by setting new rules to limit mercury and other harmful pollution from power plants.
When Congress first told the EPA to regulate toxic air pollution in 1990, pediatrician Lynn Goldman was investigating the impact of mercury from mining operations on Native American families living near a contaminated lake.
Tablet computers are on a lot of people's wish lists this year.
A recent Nielsen survey found the Apple iPad is the most wanted gift for kids ages 6 to 12. Some have even taken their appeals to YouTube. But if an iPad isn't in the budget, there are some 30 other tablets out there to choose from.
Talk of jobs — or lack of them — dominates the national conversation right now. But there are places in the economy where willing, qualified workers are hard to come by.
One such place is AAR Aircraft Services Corp., an aircraft maintenance facility in Oklahoma City. There, American capitalism is on display with all its strengths and weaknesses. AAR services jet aircraft, including passenger planes from carriers like Alaska Airlines, Mesa Air and Allegiant Air.
Congress is supposed to head home for the holidays at the end of this week, but there's a whole lot of work to do before then. And for now at least, the parties remain divided over a number of other must-pass measures.
This is the part of the tango of Congress where the Republican House offers a plan.
"The House is going to do its job, and it's time for the Senate then to do its job," said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, at a press conference Monday.
Although all works of fiction and narrative nonfiction have characters — be they animals, hobbits, dragons, humans, werewolves or whatever — I've found that there are some books in which these characters are three-dimensional and awfully interesting. (Whether or not they're likable is another question.) These characters become, as the story progresses, more and more real to me. It's as though they've become good friends.
Honey is the most natural of sweeteners, coming to us directly from bees and flowers.
Well, maybe not so directly. These days, a long supply chain often links beehives half a world away with the jar of honey in your kitchen. And there's suspicion in that supply chain: global trade disputes; accusations of unfair competition; even honey identity-switching.
Originally published on Mon December 12, 2011 6:18 pm
Mike Naumes thinks Oregon schoolchildren should be eating more Oregon pears. And not just the D'Anjou, Bartlett and Bosc pears approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's School Lunch Program, but the lesser-known Comice pears of southern Oregon's Rogue Valley.
Anyone who's ever tasted a Comice pear would have a hard time arguing with that. They're fat and green, extraordinarily sweet and juicy — a world apart from your typical supermarket pear.
Sharon Jordan (lower left) and her family (clockwise from top left: Rydell, Nikera and Anisha) are working with Bank of America and a Boston nonprofit to repurchase their duplex at its current market price — about half of the original value.
Credit Aarti Shahani / NPR
Elyse Cherry is chief executive officer of Boston Community Capital, a nonprofit that is buying homes at market value and reselling them to current homeowners at a slight mark-up, so the homeowners can actually afford payments.
There's an unfamiliar trend emerging in America's troubled housing market. Big banks are volunteering to lose money — hundreds of millions for themselves and investors — in order to save homes at risk of foreclosure. And they're doing it in record numbers.
The year closed with a new trend: In 30 percent of private loan modifications, banks are doing a principal writedown — that is, hacking away at the amount owed as far down as the current market value. They're doing it so borrowers can actually afford payments. Two years ago, that 30 percent was just at 2 percent.
A picture released by the official website of Iran's Revolutionary Guards on December 8, 2011 shows Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Brig. Gen. Amir-Ali Hajizadeh (R) looking at what Iranian officials claim is a U.S. RQ-170 Sentinel high-altitude reconnaissance drone that crashed in Iran on December 4.
Originally published on Mon December 12, 2011 7:02 pm
The United States is officially asking Iran for the return of a drone surveillance aircraft lost earlier this month.
"We have asked for it back. We'll see how the Iranians respond," President Barack Obama said during a White House news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Monday.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, speaking at a State Department news conference, told reporters that the U.S. had "submitted a formal request" for the craft's return, but that "given Iran's behavior to date, we do not expect them to comply."
Mitchell Zuckoff is a professor at Boston University and the author of Lost in Shangri-La.
I taught my last class of the semester the other day. Inevitably, my students — all of them journalism majors and most of them seniors — hijacked the lesson plan to vent their hopes and fears about what awaits them after graduation.
This happens every December, and each year I do my best to calm and encourage them, to let them know it's OK to be worried but it's not OK to despair. I give them what I've come to consider my pre-commencement address.
Maryland farmer Josie Johnson listens to a lecture on extending the farming season using caterpillar tunnels. The lesson was part of a conference for young farmers held in Tarrytown N.Y., in early December.
Credit All photos by Maggie Starbard / NPR
Maryland farmer Josie Johnson learns about extending the farming season by growing crops under caterpillar tunnels. The lecture was part of a conference for young farmers held in Tarrytown N.Y., in early December.
Credit Maggie Starbard / NPR
Steven "Shepsi" Eaton and Liz Moran are expecting a baby and say they hope to start their own farm soon. "[Farming] isn't to make a living," Moran says. "It's to create a certain lifestyle for myself and for the people around me".
For decades, as young people have been leaving farms behind, the average age of the American farmer has been rising. The last time the government counted farmers, in 2002, the average farmer was 55-years-old.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki shakes hands with President Obama in the Oval Office at the White House on Monday. The two leaders met as the U.S. prepares to withdraw the last of its combat troops from Iraq.
President Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki met at the White House on Monday and pledged to maintain strong ties after the U.S. withdraws the last of its troops, but nagging concerns remain about Iraq's security and neighboring Iran.
He's the hottest topic in sports and now Denver Broncos quarterback is a word, kind of.
The online Global Language Monitor, which professes to track what's hot in the world of words, announced today that is has declared "tebowing, the act of 'taking a knee' in prayerful reflection" during an athletic activity is now "an English language word."
It's the kind of news that parents of a premature baby would grasp at: One of the world's smallest preemies, born weighing a mere 9.8 ounces, is now a 22-year-old college student who's living a normal life.
But doctors who deal with low birth weight babies say parents shouldn't think that sort of bright future is assured.