This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. President Obama is in Hawaii with his family today. Yesterday, just before leaving Washington, D.C., he signed a bill to extend the payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits for two months. It was a political victory for the president and for Democrats who had made extending the tax break a priority.
For Republicans in the House of Representatives though, it may have marked a political defeat. NPR's congressional correspondent reporter, Tamara Keith, has more.
Off the northeastern tip of North America on Newfoundland lies a stretch of the coast known as the graveyard of the Atlantic. The rocky shoreline has sunk hundreds of ships. Reporter Emma Jacobs traveled to the red and white lighthouse on the tip of Cape Race that still warns ships away from the coast.
EMMA JACOBS, BYLINE: The day I visited in late fall was the kind of day the Cape Race lighthouse was built for. Twenty-foot swells rolled in towards the point through a thick fog.
There's a Purple Heart in the window of the A-Z Outlet pawnshop in Holland, Mich., right between a silver necklace and an inexpensive watch.
Bryan VandenBosch says a young man walked into his shop just before Thanksgiving to pawn a medal that the U.S. government awards to soldiers who have been "wounded or killed in any action" while serving.
He says that he doesn't know why the young man needed or wanted to pawn his medal.
Christmas falls on a weekend this year; a chance for many families to curl up with a good film that's stood the test of holidays past. But what if you've already seen "It's A Wonderful Life" and "Bad Santa?" What's left? Cameron Crowe joins us now from Los Angeles. Mr. Crowe is the esteemed screenwriter and director whose films include "Say Anything," "Almost Famous," "Jerry Maguire," the documentary "Pearl Jam Twenty," and the just-released, "We Bought A Zoo," starring Ben Affleck's best friend. Thanks for being with us, Mr. Crowe.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Coming up: A couch potato's holiday. It's time for sports.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
SIMON: This weekend, the NBA gets going. The NFL gets extra thrilling. And the Boise State Broncos got to clean out their lockers. The boys in blue demolished Arizona State, 56 to 24 in the MAACO-Las Vegas Bowl. Now they got ahead home while lower ranked teams compete in the official bowl championship series games.
NPR's Tom Goldman joins us from Portland. Tom, thanks for being with us.
Korean pop music groups turned a corner in 2011, expanding their audience worldwide, despite the language barrier. Two of the most popular bands are 2NE1, whose music projects ideas of self-worth, and Girls' Generation, which has nine members.
Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
Originally published on Fri October 19, 2012 3:10 pm
It's Christmas Eve, and many Latinos will celebrate the holiday tonight by unwrapping a delicious little present: tamales.
At its essence, a tamale consists of masa (a type of starchy corn dough) that's been wrapped in leaves, then steamed or boiled. Some come bundled in corn husks, others in plantain, banana or mashan leaves. Some are sweetened with molasses, others spiced with mole. Some are plain, others filled with meats or vegetables.
Australian actress Rachel Griffiths, best known in the U.S. for her work on HBO's Six Feet Under and ABC's Brothers and Sisters, has made an acclaimed Broadway debut in the new play Other Desert Cities.
Griffiths, who is well-known in Australia for her stage work, tells NPR's Scott Simon she would have been happy if all she had ever done was act onstage.
"Theater was where I began and what I really thought my career would be in Australia," she says. "That was my thing. ... The movies were an unexpected joy, and television even more unexpected."
With the 2012 presidential election on the horizon, NPR's Debbie Elliott heads to Camden, S.C., to hear from the close-knit Gaither-James family. Like other African-Americans — considered the political base for President Obama — they're concerned about the economy and today's political climate.
A skeleton dressed in a Santa Claus costume is part of the holiday displays at the Loudoun County Courthouse in Leesburg, Va. Many local residents are not pleased with the "Skele-Claus" or other displays by secular activists and atheists.
Credit Courtesy of FFRF
An "alternative Nativity scene" was set up at the Wisconsin State Capitol by the secular, nontheist organization Freedom from Religion Foundation when its request that a traditional creche be removed was not met.
Joseph, Mary, and ... the Flying Spaghetti Monster?
Nativity scenes have long been a part of holiday displays at city halls and small-town courthouses across the country. This year, some proponents of secularism are finding new ways to protest the time-honored tradition. They're putting up their own versions of the creche — and causing quite a commotion in places like Leesburg, Va.
This year has something unpleasant in common with the years 1979 and 1986. In 1979, a nuclear reactor at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania melted down. In 1986, the Soviet reactor at Chernobyl blew up and burned.
This year's meltdown occurred in Fukushima in Japan, and nuclear power isn't likely to be the same as a result.
Nuclear power had enjoyed 25 years of relative quiet, but the Fukushima accident reminded people that despite improvements in safety, nuclear plants could still go horribly wrong.
Japanese shoppers remain concerned about radiation levels in food following the country's nuclear accident in March. Shoppers are shown here in a Tokyo supermarket.
Credit David Guttenfelder / AP
An official from the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (right), wearing a protective suit and mask, rides on a bus taking journalists by the crippled Fukushima nuclear power station in northeast Japan in November. Japanese officials say the plant is stable, but concerns about radioactivity remain a constant worry in many parts of Japan.
Nine months after Japan's nuclear accident, life in Tokyo seems to have snapped back to normal, with a vengeance. The talk shows are back to their usual mindless trivia about pop stars and baseball contracts. The date of the tsunami and nuclear accident, March 11 — known here as just 3/11 — has faded into the background.
But while the horror has receded, for many of us, particularly women with families, things will never be the same.
There's no getting past the fact that the nuclear accident dumped radioactive particles into the atmosphere, soil and sea.
The Justice Department has blocked a new South Carolina voting law, saying it violates the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The state law requires voters to present a photo ID in order to vote. The Justice Department says the law disenfranchises minorities, but the state says it protects against voter fraud. For more, Robert Siegel talks to NPR's Pam Fessler.
If you happen to spend Christmas Eve in Canada — especially Québec — you might lucky enough to be invited to a festive dinner after midnight mass. The feast is an old tradition from France called revellion, and it's something to look forward to after a long day of fasting.
"They'll have a huge feast, with sweets and lobster and oysters, everything," says Thomas Naylor, executive chef to the Canadian ambassador to the U.S. "But, in Quebec at least, you'll always have tourtière. It will be the center of the reveillon."
Prince Philip, 90, was taken from Sandringham, the queen's sprawling estate in rural Norfolk, to the cardiac unit at Papworth Hospital in Cambridge for "precautionary tests," a spokeswoman for Buckingham Palace said.