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The Salt
9:49 am
Tue December 20, 2011

11 Food Gifts We'd Like To See On The Doorstep

Artichokes for Christmas? For some veggie lovers, a box from Pezzini Farms may be the perfect gift.
Ethan Taniguchi for Pezzini Farms

Originally published on Tue December 20, 2011 10:26 am

When it comes to a gift that embodies the warmth and sharing of the holidays, food wins every time. This week, millions of boxes of treats are jetting across the country, spreading cheer and calories. We asked the denizens of NPR's science desk what food they're hoping to find on their doorsteps this week. Here are their picks, from traditional to outré.

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The Two-Way
9:20 am
Tue December 20, 2011

Top Stories: Blizzard, North Korea, Payroll Tax Dispute

Originally published on Tue December 20, 2011 9:25 am

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The Two-Way
9:05 am
Tue December 20, 2011

Home Construction Rose In November; 2011 Still A Weak Year

There was a 9.3 percent rise in "housing starts" last month vs. October, the Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development just reported.

"Single-family housing starts in November were at a rate of 447,000," the agencies say. "This is 2.3 percent above the revised October figure of 437,000." The really big increase was in construction of buildings with five or more living units. Starts in that category were up 32.2 percent.

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The Two-Way
8:55 am
Tue December 20, 2011

House Rejects Senate's Extension Of Payroll Tax Cut

House John Boehner (R-Ohio) at the U.S. Capitol on Monday (Dec. 19, 2011).
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 20, 2011 2:23 pm

Update at 12:56 p.m. ET. House Rejects Bill:

Voting mostly along party lines, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to send a Senate bill extending unemployment benefits and a payroll tax cut to conference. With the Senate in recess, the move leaves the bill in limbo and could mean that come January, 2 million Americans will lose their long-term unemployment benefits and 160 million workers could see their taxes rise by 2-percentage points.

Before the vote, Democrats and Republicans went head to head on the House floor.

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It's All Politics
8:45 am
Tue December 20, 2011

Why Is Times Columnist Gail Collins So Obsessed With Mitt Romney's Dog?

This 1982 family photo provided by the Romney campaign shows the Romney family during summer vacation: from left, Mitt, Tagg, Ben, Matt, Craig, Ann and Josh Romney. Seamus, unfortunately, is not pictured. His fateful voyage to Canada occurred the following summer.
Anonymous AP

Plenty of folks have their unshakable obsessions. Indiana Jones sought the Holy Grail. Captain Ahab pursued the Great White Whale. For New York Times columnist Gail Collins, it's her fixation on the voyages of an Irish Setter named Seamus.

"For some reason, the idea that you've got this guy who would drive all the way to Canada with an Irish setter sitting on the top of the car — it absolutely fascinated me," Collins says.

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The Two-Way
8:15 am
Tue December 20, 2011

Kim Jong Un's Ascension Is 'Being Cemented For Him'

A screen shot from North Korean TV foottage shows Kim Jong Il's body lying in a glass coffin in Pyongyang.
AFP/Getty Images

The body of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is now lying in state at the Kumsusan Memorial Palace in Pyongyang — enclosed in a glass coffin and surrounded by flowers. He died Saturday and the period of mourning is set to continue until well into next week.

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Sports
8:11 am
Tue December 20, 2011

Power Outage Delays Start Of Monday Night Football

Originally published on Tue December 20, 2011 8:14 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Good morning. I'm Linda Wertheimer. If you were ready for some football last night, too bad. The aptly named Candlestick Park in San Francisco lost electricity twice, causing a Monday Night Football lighting malfunction. The game started 20 minutes late due to darkness. The second-quarter blackout lasted almost as long.

Suspended Steeler James Harrison Tweeted: If I can't play, can't nobody play. Lights out. When the lights came on, the '49ers won. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

World
8:06 am
Tue December 20, 2011

Airline To Let Passengers Pick Seatmates

The misery of holiday flying can be made even worse by who you end up sitting next to. So KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is unveiling a new feature allowing flyers to link up their social media profiles during check-in then pick a flying buddy from other passenger profiles.

Remembrances
7:49 am
Tue December 20, 2011

Jazz Musician Bob Brookmeyer Dies At 81

Bob Brookmeyer began his career in the 1950s. From the beginning, Brookmeyer was credited with a highly distinctive personal style — first as an improviser, then as a composer and arranger for big-band jazz. And his primary instrument is one that's rarely heard — the valve trombone — instead of a slide.

Europe
7:42 am
Tue December 20, 2011

France, Britain Fight To Keep AAA Ratings

An economic war of words has broken out between France and Britain as both nations try to hang on to their coveted AAA ratings. There is speculation that France will be downgraded soon. Meanwhile, the head of France's central bank suggested that rating agencies might want to take a closer look at Britain.

Iraq
7:37 am
Tue December 20, 2011

Arrest Warrant Issue For Iraq's Vice President

Just days after the final withdrawal of U.S. troops, Iraq is in the midst of a growing political crisis. Aides to Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki say one of his main rivals, ordered attacks on Shiite politicians.

Food
7:30 am
Tue December 20, 2011

Menudo: Spicy Red Chili Broth, A Christmas Tradition

Originally published on Tue December 20, 2011 9:09 am

Morning Edition asked listeners to write in about a dish they only make during the holiday season. Monica Bencomo of Albuquerque, New Mexico, wrote in to tell us about her favorite holiday dish: menudo, a red chili-based soup that her mother makes almost every December.

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The Two-Way
7:30 am
Tue December 20, 2011

Blizzard Pounds Great Plains, Northeast May See White Christmas

It's slick out there: The scene Monday along U.S. 550 near Rio Rancho, N.M.
Susan Montoya Bryan AP

Originally published on Tue December 20, 2011 7:34 am

Stranded motorists. Closed highways. Packed hotels.

It's winter and the Great Plains has gotten walloped:

"From northern New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle through Oklahoma and northwestern Kansas," The Associated Press writes, "blizzard conditions [on Monday and into today] put state road crews on alert and had motorists taking refuge and early exits off major roads."

Some reports from the stricken states:

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Business
7:16 am
Tue December 20, 2011

Brewer's Popular Chanukah Beer: 8 Malty Nights

During the holidays, beer manufacturers roll out seasonal brews. And now, in addition to Ebenezer Ale and Santa's Private Reserve, there's a relative newcomer for Chanukah: a chocolate rye porter from a micro-brewer in Portland, Oregon.

Politics
7:06 am
Tue December 20, 2011

Why Mitt Romney's Dog Is Getting A Lot Of Press

Originally published on Tue December 20, 2011 11:30 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

New York Times columnist Gail Collins feasts on the foibles of elected officials, with a lively take on politicians past and present. As NPR's David Folkenflik reports, this election season, Collins has brought a laser-like focus to a shaggy dog story with a political tie.

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Asia
6:52 am
Tue December 20, 2011

Anger Spreads Over Chinese Government Land Grabs

As residents of the Chinese village of Wukan continue their rebellion against local government land seizures, NPR is uncovering evidence of the scale of the problem. Many villages around Wukan — which has been sealed off by police and paramilitary troops — also accuse corrupt officials of selling off their land.

Asia
4:00 am
Tue December 20, 2011

North Koreans Honor Late Leader Kim Jong Il

Originally published on Tue December 20, 2011 8:14 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

The body of North Korea's late leader Kim Jong Il lies in state today in a glass coffin in the capital, Pyongyang. In the three days since his death, little has emerged about what's next in North Korea, other than a state funeral has been set for next week.

Governments around the region are monitoring for signs of instability, and they're also debating how to respond to the events.

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Business
4:00 am
Tue December 20, 2011

Business News

Originally published on Tue December 20, 2011 8:14 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with a mobile phone patent wars.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

WERTHEIMER: Smartphone makers have filed dozens of lawsuits against one another for patent infringement. Yesterday, a federal agency handed Apple a limited victory in a closely watched case. It's one of the first of many mobile patent disputes to be decided.

Business
4:00 am
Tue December 20, 2011

The Last Word In Business

Originally published on Tue December 20, 2011 8:14 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Perhaps after you'd had a few glasses of holiday brew, this next item will look better. Our last word in business is: Ugly Christmas Sweater.

While searching for a way to help her kids pay for college, Anne Marie Blackman spotted a trend she thought she might capitalize on: The holiday-themed sweaters she found online, they didn't seem ugly enough. So, she started My Ugly Christmas Sweater, Inc. for people hoping to win a prize cheese wheel for the scariest holiday sweater at a party.

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Asia
12:01 am
Tue December 20, 2011

India's Techies Angered Over Internet Censorship Plan

An activist of Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena hold placards and roses outside the residence of Communications and IT Minister Kapil Sibal in New Delhi.
Sajjad Hussain AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 28, 2011 1:20 pm

India has the world's largest democracy, and one of the most rambunctious. Millions of its young people are cutting edge when it comes to high-tech.

Yet the country is still very conservative by Western standards, and a government minister recently said that offensive material on the web should be removed.

The way it was reported in India, Communications Minister Kapil Sibal started the whole row by assembling the heads of social networking sites at a meeting in his office in New Delhi.

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Africa
12:01 am
Tue December 20, 2011

New Law Aims To Shine Light On Conflict Metals

Workers dig at a mine in Chudja, near Bunia, north eastern Congo. The conflict in the Congo, a nation rich in mineral resources such as gold, diamonds, tin, and cobalt, has often been linked to a struggle for control over its minerals resources.
Lionel Healing AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 20, 2011 8:14 am

Delly Mawazo Sesete wants American consumers to know what is in their smart phones, computers and other electronics and where U.S. companies like Apple are getting those rare metals.

Sesete says that, without knowing, consumers in the U.S. could be fueling conflicts in Eastern Congo. The human rights activist is from a remote part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where armed groups are wreaking havoc and get much of their funding from mining rare metals.

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Religion
12:01 am
Tue December 20, 2011

Vatican Declares Boy's Recovery A 'Miracle'

Barbara Bradley Hagerty NPR

Originally published on Tue December 20, 2011 11:57 am

In February 2006, 5-year-old Jake Finkbonner fell and hit his head while playing basketball at his school in Ferndale, Wash. Soon, he developed a fever and his head swelled. His mother, Elsa, rushed him to Seattle Children's Hospital, where the doctors realized Jake was battling a flesh-eating bacterium called Strep A.

"It traveled all around his face, his scalp, his neck, his chest," she recalls, "and why it didn't travel to his brain or his eyeballs or his heart? He was protected."

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Violence At California's Psychiatric Hospitals
12:01 am
Tue December 20, 2011

In Calif. Mental Hospitals, Assaults Rarely A Crime

Metropolitan State Hospital employees and supporters gathered outside the hospital in Norwalk, Calif., this summer to protest repeated assaults at the hands of mental patients, and what they called dangerous working conditions.
Nick Ut AP

Originally published on Wed December 21, 2011 2:16 pm

Part of an ongoing series

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Movies
12:01 am
Tue December 20, 2011

From Bond To Blomkvist: Daniel Craig's Next Big Role

Mikael Blomkvist, the investigative journalist who teams up with the title character in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, is the second iconic character that actor Daniel Craig (right, with Christopher Plummer) has tackled in the space of a half-decade.
Sony/Columbia

Originally published on Tue December 20, 2011 11:30 am

Actor Daniel Craig is used to taking on iconic characters. In 2006, he famously shook up the 007 franchise as a new, blond James Bond. And his latest on-screen character, though he has somewhat less swagger and not nearly as much style, is almost as well-known.

In David Fincher's film of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Craig plays investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist, the leading man in a trio of thrillers by Swedish author Stieg Larsson that has sold 65 million copies worldwide.

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Presidential Race
6:10 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

Despite Spate Of Negative Ads, Gingrich Stays Positive

Newt Gingrich speaks Monday at Global Security Services in Davenport, Iowa. Despite falling poll numbers, Gingrich says he will avoid negative campaigning.
Chris Carlson Associated Press

Originally published on Mon December 19, 2011 7:44 pm

The airwaves in Iowa are filled with a lot of people saying some not very nice things about Newt Gingrich.

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The Two-Way
6:05 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

As Crackdown Continues, Syria Agrees To Arab League Observers

A boy stands in a water fountain as he holds up the Syrian national flag during a rally in Damascus, Syria.
Muzaffar Salman AP

Originally published on Mon December 19, 2011 6:09 pm

Today, Syria signed an agreement that would allow Arab League observers into the country. It's all in a bid to end its isolation and the nine-month standoff between the government of President Bashar Assad and protesters who are demanding his ouster.

The Guardian reports:

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Movie Interviews
6:04 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

From Meryl To Margaret: Becoming 'The Iron Lady'

Meryl Streep stars as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in Phyllida Lloyd's The Iron Lady.
The Weinstein Co.

Originally published on Mon December 19, 2011 6:54 pm

Margaret Thatcher's policies as British prime minister earned her the nickname "The Iron Lady," and now that's also the title of a new film about her life.

Thatcher was famously tough on British labor unions, IRA hunger strikers, the Soviet Union and the war with Argentina over the Falkland Islands. So in the film, when visiting U.S. Secretary of State Alexander Haig questions Thatcher's knowledge of war, the then-prime minister's response is predictably unyielding.

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Business
6:03 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

AT&T Drops T-Mobile Bid

AT&T shuttered proposed plans to buy T-Mobile. For more, Robert Siegel talks to NPR's Joel Rose.

North Korea In Transition
5:35 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

How Will A New Leader Handle North Korea's Nukes?

Perhaps Kim Jong Il's most enduring legacy was to turn North Korea into a nuclear weapons state. The country successfully tested a nuclear bomb underground in 2006, and a second test followed in 2009.

With Kim's death, which was announced Monday, his presumed successor is his son, Kim Jong Un. But little is known about him or his thinking on the country's nuclear program.

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The Two-Way
5:21 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

AT&T Drops Bid To Purchase T-Mobile USA

This June 2, 2010, file photo shows the AT&T logo in Washington, D.C.
Etienne Franchi AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 19, 2011 5:27 pm

After the federal regulators raised questions about AT&T's bid to buy T-Mobile USA, the telecommunications company said it was scrapping its $39 billion bid. The merger would have made AT&T the largest wireless carrier in the United States.

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