Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 5:47 pm
Anybody with an e-mail box this time of year is in the middle of a storm — a 20 percent-off coupon lands, only to be topped by another for 30 percent off, then 40 percent, half-price. That's not to mention the free shipping offers piling up like snowdrifts as we head into the last full weekend of Christmas shopping.
Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 5:01 pm
The tech and business press called it the most hyped initial public offering since Google, but very quickly today Zynga's public debut went sour with its stock price falling below its initial price of $10.
A few years ago, Jennifer Reese lost her job, so she decided it was the perfect time to save money by undertaking "all those exciting Little House on the Prairie cooking jobs" she'd been curious to try. Reese was an ambitious cook, and her enthusiasm knew no bounds: She wasn't just baking bread or grinding peanut butter. She fried potato chips, made Pop-Tarts, stretched curds into mozzarella, infused vermouth, fermented kimchee — and, while she was at it, raised her own chickens, turkeys and goats at her home in the San Francisco Bay area.
Family members burn funeral offerings for Xue Jinbo on Friday. Xue, 42, was involved in a property dispute that turned into a major confrontation with authorities in the southern Chinese village of Wukan. He died in police custody.
Credit Louisa Lim / NPR
An altar in honor of Xue. Residents in his home village of Wukan believe he was detained and beaten by police for the role he played as a negotiator in a land dispute with the local government.
What began as a property dispute in the southern Chinese village of Wukan has escalated into an open revolt for the past six days. It's one of the most serious episodes of unrest that the Chinese Communist Party has faced in recent years. The protests were suspended for a while Friday so villagers could mourn the man whose death led villagers to chase police and government officials out of town. The police have sealed off the area, but NPR's Louisa Lim managed to get into Wukan.
Every so often, an NFL player transcends the game. Think William "Refrigerator" Perry or Bo Jackson.
Tim Tebow, the quarterback who'll lead the Denver Broncos against the powerful New England Patriots on Sunday, has become a household name, thanks to his improbable come-from-behind victories combined with his prominent expressions of faith.
How does he do it? The Bears, Chargers, Chiefs, Dolphins, Jets, Raiders and Vikings would like to know.
Time For A Comeback
Tebow is a proper noun. Tebow is a verb meaning to genuflect.
When your grandfather is a bootlegger and your family runs an illegal small-town roadhouse, you must have a lot of stories to tell. Cam Penner does, and he tells them in his music. The Canadian singer-songwriter's latest album is titled Gypsy Summer.
Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 3:24 pm
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
In federal court in New York this morning, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged six top executives of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with civil fraud. The SEC says the executives of the giant mortgage companies mislead investors about the amount of subprime loans their companies held during the housing bust. NPR's John Ydstie reports.
"Bonds sat stoically as U.S. District Judge Susan Illston told baseball's home run king that he had avoided prison but must spend one month in his two-acre Beverly Hills estate, two years on probation, serve 250 hours of community service and pay a $4,000 fine.
Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 1:29 pm
Fitch ratings agency, one of the big three, said today that it was considering downgrading the credit ratings of six Euro-zone countries. Italy, Spain, Ireland, Belgium, Slovenia and Cyprus could see their their rating cut by one or two notches.
Researchers at New York University are studying flight with a speaker, a soup pot, straws and a box full of paper aircraft. Emeritus professor Stephen Childress describes the experiment and what he and his colleagues have learned about flight from their homemade flying objects.
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. You know that nice feeling you get when you listen to your favorite tune? What about music that can actually be medical therapy? It does exist. It's prescribed for illnesses from speech disorders to autism, Alzheimer's, even cancer.
Take the case of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. After she was shot in the head earlier this year, one way she learned to talk again was by singing her favorite songs, like this Cyndi Lauper tune.
It's time for our monthly episode of Science Diction, where we explore the origins of scientific words with my guest Howard Markel, professor of history of medicine at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, also director of the Center for the History of Medicine there. He joins us WUOM. Welcome back, Howard.
HOWARD MARKEL: Good afternoon, Ira.
FLATOW: We have a very interesting word, or actually lab equipment today.
MARKEL: That we do. It's my favorite plate. It's the Petri dish.
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. Scientists have been searching for decades for a subatomic particle called the Higgs Boson. You've heard about it. It's been in the news, and you know, in theory, it explains why and how objects have mass.
This holiday season I'm sure is finding many of us on airplanes, flying around the country. It could take tedious hours of body scans, the crummy back-of-the-seat TV and scary airplane bumps and noises. But if you marvel at nature and technology, though, you can turn this torturous event into a more enjoyable learning experience.
Christopher Hitchens, shown here in 2010, began a lifelong battle with a God he didn't believe in when he was just 9 years old.
Credit David Levenson / Getty Images
Over the years, Christopher Hitchens took on most of the leading figures of his time. <a href="http://www.npr.org/2011/12/16/143674020/the-many-targets-of-christopher-hitchens">Click for an audio slideshow.</a>
Writer Christopher Hitchens, who died on Thursday from complications of cancer at the age of 62, leaves behind some 18 books and countless essays on politics and public figures. But his most lasting legacy may be his atheism and his long-running duel with what he considered the world's most dangerous threat: religion.
We need a heart-warming story and this fits the bill:
"At Kmart stores across the country," The Associated Press writes, "Santa is getting some help: Anonymous donors are paying off strangers' layaway accounts, buying the Christmas gifts other families couldn't afford, especially toys and children's clothes set aside by impoverished parents."
The fourth Mission: Impossible picture is nonsense from beginning to end — and wonderful fun. The director is Brad Bird, of Ratatouille and The Incredibles and The Iron Giant, and there's no doubt now, in his live-action debut, that he's a filmmaker first and an animator second. Part 4, titled Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, is in a different league from its predecessors.
Six former top executives of the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) "knew and approved of misleading statements claiming the companies had minimal holdings of higher-risk mortgage loans, including subprime loans" and have now been accused of securities fraud in a civil suit, the Securities and Exchange Commission just announced.
Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 1:13 pm
Sugary drinks like soda are a big cause of obesity, but public health types haven't had much luck convincing the public of that.
But what if you knew that it would take 50 minutes of jogging to burn off one soda?
When researchers taped signs saying just that on the drink coolers in four inner-city neighborhood stores, sales of sugary beverages to teenagers dropped by 50 percent. That tactic was more effective than a sign saying that the drinks had 250 calories each, or a sign saying that a soft drink accounts for 11 percent of recommended daily calories.
Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 11:20 am
An "astonishing" scene has already played out at the just-opened military court hearing about the case against Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, who stands accused of giving classified information to WikiLeaks, The Guardian reports.