Even as President Obama relaxes with his family in Hawaii over the holidays, he knows what's on the horizon when he returns to work in Washington.
He will start where he left off, facing new skirmishes with Congress over a push to extend a temporary cut in payroll taxes. That temporary extension was approved just days before Christmas after a high-stakes gamble that finished only after most of Congress had left for the year.
Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors, and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:
Quarterback Darron Thomas of the Oregon Ducks (right) threw for 30 touchdowns with only 6 interceptions this season. The Ducks beat UCLA in the Pac-12 Championship to earn a spot in the Rose Bowl, where they'll face Wisconsin.
College football is set to enter its final week, and that means the biggest bowl games are coming up. This weekend will see teams such as Auburn, Oklahoma and Georgia Tech in action. And the first week of 2012 will feature marquee matchups like Oregon vs. Wisconsin, and Oklahoma State against Stanford.
Update at 1 p.m. ET: We'll have a separate preview of the BCS title game between Alabama and LSU later this week. Our original post continues:
What if you could hold on to time in your hands? You can, you know. You can crack open, on this New Year's Eve, the unsullied, unhurried, un-trammeled pages of an old-fashioned datebook — the kind that still arranges seven days into a week; the kind you write in with a pen and which never, ever, beeps at you to remind you of a meeting or errand.
We saw a crazy market this year. It swung so wildly in both directions, that ending a day a couple of percentage points up or down became the norm.
But after much tumult, Wall Street closed its year today not far from where it started it.
The AP reports:
"In the final tally, despite big climbs and falls, unexpected blows and surprising triumphs, all the hullabaloo proved for naught. On Friday, the Standard & Poor's 500 index closed at 1,257.60. That's exactly 0.04 point below where it started the year.
R&B singer Chris Brown is back only a few years after what could have been a career-ending incident.
In 2009, just before that year's Grammy Awards show, Brown violently beat his superstar girlfriend Rihanna. He was 19. Brown later plead guilty to felony assault and was sentenced to 5 years of labor-intensive probation and a year of domestic violence prevention classes.
On Jan. 3, Iowans will caucus at 1,774 precincts across the state, in the first contest of the 2012 presidential nominating process. Above, Iowans caucus in 2004 at St. John's United Methodist Church in Des Moines, precinct 87.
In a cavernous Des Moines meeting hall just west of the state Capitol, progressive activist and writer John Nichols had a simple message for those involved in Iowa's iteration of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
"Learn to get cool with losing," Nichols told about 50 people who had come to hear advice from longtime activists, including veterans of the civil rights battle.
"Get comfortable that you absolutely will be told you can't succeed," he said, and with the notion of a long-term struggle "that may last beyond your lifetime."
For the long-term unemployed, getting a job isn't always the end of the story.
Randy Howland spent most of this past year working at a $10-an-hour customer service job. He used to make six figures. With this job, he was settling, just so he could have the satisfaction of working. It was essentially a call-center job.
Nga Truong (front) meets with social services advocate Lisa Gigliotti. Truong says she's struggling to rebuild her life after nearly three years awaiting trial for murder.
Credit Jesse Costa / WBUR
A screen shot of video footage attained by WBUR shows Worcester Police Sgt. Kevin Pageau (right) and Detective John Doherty as they interrogate Nga Truong, then 16, after the 2008 death of her baby boy.
Before his death in 2008, Nga Truong's son, Khyle, suffered from respiratory problems that required a nebulizer.
<strong>'Pina': </strong>German filmmaker Wim Wenders' 3-D dance documentary is a homage to influential German dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch, who died in 2009.
Credit Donata Wenders / Neue Road Movies
<strong>'The Artist':</strong> Silent-screen idol George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) and up-and-coming dancer Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo) share a vivacious moment onstage.<em></em> <em></em>
Credit The Weinstein Co.
<strong>'Tree of Life': </strong>Brad Pitt plays an archetypal 1950s patriarch who loves his family — but can't help imposing his expectations on them.
Credit Merie Wallace / 20th Century Fox Film Corp.
<strong>'Midnight In Paris':</strong> Owen Wilson, playing the time-traveling hero Gil, wants to write novels instead of movies, much to the horror of his fiancee Inez, played by Rachel McAdams.
Credit Roger Arpajou / Sony Picture Classics
<strong>'Incendies':</strong> After the death of the widowed Nawal (Lubna Azabal), her adult children slowly discover the bitterness of her childhood in a country plagued by endless cycles of violence.
Credit Sony Pictures Classics
<strong>'The Trip': </strong>Steve Coogan (right) and his friend Rob Brydon tour Northern England and engage in a battle of competing impressions in the road trip comedy.
Wizards, transformers and vampires did their best, but they couldn't transform 2011 into a magical year for Hollywood: Despite all the 3-D and IMAX screenings and the premium prices that come with them, industry box office sagged by half a billion dollars compared with last year. But quality? That's another story.
Originally published on Sat December 31, 2011 7:20 am
Haters are here. And there. And everywhere. And the word "hate" is in the air.
Fox has a new sitcom: I Hate My Teenage Daughter. A recent issue of Us magazine tells us "Why Scarlett Johansson Hates Blake Lively." Psychology Today explains "Why We Hate Airport Security." Dick Meyer, formerly of NPR and now executive producer for news services at BBC America, wrote a provocative book called Why We Hate Us.
Children hate beets. Many adults hate beets. In fact, so few people in the U.S. eat table beets that the federal government doesn't bother to keep track of how many are grown and sold, even though it does keep track of just about every other crop, including turnip greens and horseradish.
If you gave or received a Build-A-Bear this holiday season, you may want to check it over.
Nearly 300,000 Colorful Hearts teddy bears from Build-A-Bear Workshop sold in the U.S. and Canada have been recalled.
The teddy bear's eyes can fall out and become a choking hazard for children, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Company spokeswoman Jill Saunders tells Shots in a statement that Build-A-Bear hasn't received any reports of injuries or deaths from the teddy bears.
A trader walks in New York City's financial district on Sept. 12, a day when stocks fell early based on fears that the Greek government would default, then rallied on news that China might buy Italian debt. This year, what sent the market into a tailspin often took place overseas.
Credit Spencer Platt / Getty Images
Anti-riot police clash with Greek demonstrators in Athens in October during a protest against deeper austerity cuts, as the debt crisis in Greece and the rest of Europe intensified this year.
2011 was a year of crisis and revolution, and that took a big toll on the world's financial markets. In the United States, stocks lurched along for much of the year, losing and gaining ground over and over again.
Stock prices are ending the year just about where they were at the beginning, and anyone who invested in anything but the bluest of blue chip stocks probably didn't make much money. And yet, the flat trend lines masked a huge amount of volatility, says Jack Ablin, chief investment officer of Harris Private Bank.
Teachers and school districts say they agree that better teacher evaluations are needed, but they can't agree on the details. Now, those disputes threaten federal grants meant to encourage education reform.
Take New York state, which has a lot of failing schools. Those schools got more than $100 million in federal School Improvement Grants. In exchange, districts promised to phase in new evaluation systems.
Originally published on Thu January 5, 2012 6:56 pm
For many people, 2011 wasn't a great year. When the economy wasn't sluggish, it was turbulent. And all manner of disasters seemed to rotate through the headlines. But in some states, and some neighborhoods, people got along just fine. Look closely at the worlds of business and sports, music and politics, and you'll find a few people and places that had it pretty good in 2011.
Every year thousands of scientists visit Antarctica. Some study the gas plume from the active volcano, Mount Erebus. Others map the ever-changing ice caves. But they all face the same challenges of working on extreme terrain. Two researchers and a photojournalist discuss how research is done on the frozen continent.
Many have fallen of the new year's resolution bandwagon soon after adopting a new diet or quiting smoking. So how can you achieve year-end goals and start the year on a positive note? Roy Baumeister, co-author of Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength , has some tips.
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. When you look back on 2011, what will you remember, the Fukushima nuclear disaster following the tsunami? What about the death of Steve Jobs, founder of Apple and the pioneer of personal computing? How about the world's population reaching seven billion?
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. The New Year's countdown has begun, not at the clock in Times Square but this one for two NASA probes set to orbit the moon this weekend. The twin spacecraft, GRAIL-A and GRAIL-B are expected to enter lunar orbit 24 hours apart, one on New Year's Eve, the other on New Year's Day.