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The Two-Way
7:18 pm
Fri December 30, 2011

College Football Bowl Preview: Compelling Matchups, Dead Ahead

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.
Steve Dykes Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 2, 2012 12:56 pm

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:

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Opinion
5:47 pm
Fri December 30, 2011

The Simple Joys Of An Old-Fashioned Datebook

Originally published on Sat December 31, 2011 10:05 am

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.

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The Two-Way
5:46 pm
Fri December 30, 2011

After Much Tumult, Wall Street Ends Year Where It Started

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.

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NPR Story
5:39 pm
Fri December 30, 2011

Johnson Discusses Opting To Seek Libertarian Nomination

Originally published on Sat January 21, 2012 10:30 am

Robert Siegel speaks with Gary Johnson, former governor of New Mexico. He tells Robert why he decided to end his GOP presidential bid and instead seek the Libertarian nomination for president.

Around the Nation
5:38 pm
Fri December 30, 2011

In Chris Brown's Big Year, Tough Questions On Abuse

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.

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Election 2012
5:19 pm
Fri December 30, 2011

Confused About The Iowa Caucuses? Here's A Guide

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.
Shaun Heasley Getty Images

At 7 p.m. central time on Tuesday, Jan. 3, the first contest of the 2012 presidential nominating process takes place in Iowa.

As you've heard countless times, Iowans vote in caucuses, which are small political meetings held in 1,774 locations scattered around the state.

NPR political correspondent Don Gonyea has prepared this basic guide to next week's contest.

How It Works

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Music News
5:02 pm
Fri December 30, 2011

What's That Sound? The Rhythm That Ruled 2011

"Party Rock Anthem" by LMFAO was one of the dozens of pop hits this year to use the same hammering disco beat.
YouTube

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The Salt
4:58 pm
Fri December 30, 2011

The Perfect Champagne Pour: It's A Science, Not An Art

The chemistry behind champagne has helped scientists figure out how to preserve its flavor and fizz.
Sean Parsons, American Chemical Society

Originally published on Fri December 30, 2011 5:14 pm

Here's something to impress — or annoy — your friends this New Year's Eve: the science behind the champagne pour.

To preserve the fizz and taste of the wine, you need to preserve the bubbles, a recent study found.

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It's All Politics
4:22 pm
Fri December 30, 2011

'Occupy' Activists Urge Like-Minded to Participate In, Not Disrupt, Iowa Caucuses

Former Democratic state legislator Ed Fallon, a vocal member of the Occupy movement, said activists should take part in the caucuses.
Becky Lettenberger NPR

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."

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The Two-Way
4:07 pm
Fri December 30, 2011

'An Evolutionary Throwback': Panda Filmed Eating Meat

A panda eating meat.
Wanglong Nature Reserve

The staff at a Chinese nature reserve have caught a very rare thing on film: a wild panda eating the meat of a dead widebeest.

The AP reports:

"Staff at the Wanglong Nature Reserve in southwest Sichuan province set up the camera after noticing dead animals with chew marks. It was not known if the panda had killed the animals.

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The Road Back To Work
3:26 pm
Fri December 30, 2011

When The Road Back To Work Detours

Randy Howland works in his small office in March, shortly after he began a work-from-home job with a call center earning $10 an hour.
Tamara Keith NPR

Part of an ongoing series

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.

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Around the Nation
3:22 pm
Fri December 30, 2011

How A Teen's Coerced Confession Set Her Free

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.
Jesse Costa WBUR

Originally published on Mon January 2, 2012 9:53 pm

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Movies
3:19 pm
Fri December 30, 2011

Bob Mondello Picks The Year's Top 10 (Plus 10)

'Pina': German filmmaker Wim Wenders' 3-D dance documentary is a homage to influential German dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch, who died in 2009.
Donata Wenders Neue Road Movies

Originally published on Tue January 3, 2012 12:25 pm

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.

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Around the Nation
3:11 pm
Fri December 30, 2011

'Haters' Are Going To Hate This Story

The word "Hater" — as it's often used today — is derived from the term "Player Hater," a phrase popularized by late rapper Notorious B.I.G., shown here clutching his Billboard Music Awards in 1995.
Mark Lennihan AP

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.

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The Salt
3:08 pm
Fri December 30, 2011

A Year That Was Good To Beets

Heirloom beets served at Bibiana Restaurant in downtown Washington, D.C.
JOSEPH SILVERMAN The Washington Times /Landov

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.

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Shots - Health Blog
2:56 pm
Fri December 30, 2011

Build-A-Bear Workshop Recalls Colorful Hearts Teddy Bears

Build-A-Bear has recalled almost 300,000 Colorful Heart teddy bears.
CPSC

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.

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The Two-Way
2:39 pm
Fri December 30, 2011

University Of Miami Will Return $83K In Former Booster Donations

The University of Miami will return $83,000 in donations it received from Nevin Shapiro, a former booster, who was incarcerated for his role in running a $930 million Ponzi scheme.

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Economy
2:17 pm
Fri December 30, 2011

Even Finish Masks Volatile Year For U.S. Economy

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.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 30, 2011 6:16 pm

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.

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Education
1:48 pm
Fri December 30, 2011

Big Education Grants Threatened By Teacher Spats

Originally published on Fri December 30, 2011 6:58 pm

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.

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Music News
1:47 pm
Fri December 30, 2011

Leaders Wanted: Protest Songs From The Arab Spring

Tunisian rapper El Général's "The President of the Country" is an essential song of the Arab Spring.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri December 30, 2011 5:40 pm

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Music Interviews
1:46 pm
Fri December 30, 2011

Winter Songs: The Frozen Tale Of 'Lord Franklin'

Originally published on Tue February 14, 2012 3:24 pm

We continue our Winter Song series with a lament for a 19th century British Arctic explorer. It's the choice of Andrew Revkin, who writes the Dot Earth blog for the New York Times.

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The Two-Way
1:41 pm
Fri December 30, 2011

'An Extraordinary Battle': Judge Claims SEC Misled Court In Citi Case

A man walks by a Citibank branch at the U.S. bank Citigroup world headquarters on Park Avenue, in New York in 2008.
Emmanuel Dunand AFP/Getty Images

U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff ruffled feathers back in November when he refused to approve a settlement between the Securities and Exchange Commision and Citigroup.

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It Was A Good Year For...
1:01 pm
Fri December 30, 2011

Answering The Question 'What Was It A Good Year For?'

A word cloud featuring readers' submissions to the question, "What was 2011 a good year for?"
NPR

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.

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Science
1:00 pm
Fri December 30, 2011

Exploring Science At The End Of The Earth

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.

NPR Story
1:00 pm
Fri December 30, 2011

Making Resolutions That Stick In 2012

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.

Science
1:00 pm
Fri December 30, 2011

Year in Review: Science Stories of 2011

Originally published on Thu March 8, 2012 2:00 pm

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

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?

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Space
1:00 pm
Fri December 30, 2011

NASA Probes Set To Orbit The Moon Over New Year's

Originally published on Thu March 8, 2012 2:00 pm

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

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.

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Shots - Health Blog
12:50 pm
Fri December 30, 2011

To Your Health: Time For New Resolutions

What's on your list?
Catherine Jones iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue January 3, 2012 7:55 am

When the New Year's parties end, a lot of us are left with some tough promises to keep.

This year, I'll lose weight. Smoking? History! And, of course, I'll start working out, too. Really, I mean it this time.

So with the day for fresh starts looming, we resolved to ask Americans about their New Year's resolutions, past and future, in the latest NPR-Thomson Reuters Health Poll.

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The Two-Way
12:15 pm
Fri December 30, 2011

First 79 Of The 100+ Sears And Kmart Stores Being Closed Are Identified

There are 79 stores in 25 states on the first list of Sears and Kmart locations being closed in the coming year, Sears Holdings has announced.

The 79 locations are posted here. Some details:

-- 11 of the stores are in Florida, the most of any state.

-- The second-most stores (6) are in Georgia, Michigan and Ohio.

-- 38 Kmarts are included.

-- 25 Sears "full-line" locations are listed.

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The Best Of Fresh Air 2011
11:24 am
Fri December 30, 2011

South Park Creators Talk 'Book Of Mormon'

The Book of Mormon features music and lyrics by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone and plays at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre in New York City.
John Marcus Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri December 30, 2011 11:25 am

This week on Fresh Air, we're marking the year's end by revisiting some of the most memorable conversations we've had in 2011. This interview was originally broadcast on May 19, 2011.

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