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History
12:01 am
Wed December 21, 2011

A 'Happy Burden': Reflections On The Medal Of Honor

In February 1945, Hershel Williams was sent to Iwo Jima with a flamethrower unit. All but 17 of the 279 members of his company had been killed or wounded a week and a half later.
Nick Del Calzo Courtesy Artisan Books

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the Medal of Honor. It is the highest military decoration in the United States, reflecting great service and sacrifice. Of the more than 3,400 recipients, fewer than 85 are still living.

Among them is Hershel Williams, who served as a Marine corporal in World War II. He says that on the day he received the honor — Oct. 5, 1945 — he had no concept of it.

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Middle East
12:01 am
Wed December 21, 2011

White House Faces Tough Choice On Iran Sanctions

Originally published on Wed December 21, 2011 10:35 am

Let Iran off the hook or undermine the global economy? Slap sanctions on an Iranian energy company or provide Europe with an alternative to Russian gas? Washington policymaking is especially difficult when the aims conflict, and few cases illustrate that principle more clearly than the challenge of finding a way to punish Iran without hurting someone else.

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Sweetness And Light
10:00 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

The NBA Is Bullish On Christmas, By Necessity

The Chicago Bulls mascot, dressed as Santa Claus, dunks during a game last December. The NBA is starting its season on Christmas Day, with a quintuple-header.
Jonathan Daniel Getty Images

This time last year, Phil Jackson, then the coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, complained that the NBA scheduled games on Christmas Day. It seemed, he said, that "Christian holidays don't mean anything" any longer.

A few players echoed Jackson's sentiments, but the complaint died aborning. This Christmas, Sunday, the league has scheduled ... (to the tune of "The 12 Days Of Christmas"):

  • 5 gold games,
  • 4 point guards,
  • 3 referees,
  • 2 free throws,
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It Was A Good Year For...
6:34 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

In Sales, Android Has Upper Hand On The iPhone

Models hold the new Samsung Galaxy Nexus Android phone during its official launch in Hong Kong in October. The new smartphone runs Google's Android "Ice Cream Sandwich" operating system.
Laurent Fievet AFP/Getty Images

Apple's iPhones may seem more cool, but the Google-backed Android phones are much more popular in the United States. In 2011, Android's U.S. market share was 53 percent, compared to 29 percent for the iPhone, according to the research group NPD.

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Shots - Health Blog
6:33 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Many Police Officers Are Sleep Deprived, Risky For Them And Us

Sleepy police were likelier to fall asleep while driving, a new survey of nearly 5,000 officers in the U.S. and Canada finds. About 40 percent of officers surveyed reported sleep disorders, with various health implications.
Sean Locke iStockphoto

Harvard researchers say they've uncovered a big problem among the nation's 700,000 police officers: a serious lack of sleep.

In what's believed to be the first study of its kind, the researchers queried nearly 5,000 municipal and state police officers in the U.S. and Canada about their sleep habits and symptoms of possible sleep disorders. Then they assessed their on-duty performance for two years.

Forty percent had sleep disorders, and the vast majority of these were undiagnosed before.

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The Two-Way
6:11 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Report: U.S. Takes Top Spot As Most Charitable Nation

Antionette Levi solicits donations for the Salvation Army in Chicago.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Despite the gloomy economic situation, the United States has become the world's most generous nation, according to this year's Charities Aid Foundation's World Giving Index.

Ireland is ranked second followed by Australia, New Zealand and the U.K. Charities Aid Foundation used Gallup's Worldview Poll to look at three behaviors: "giving money, volunteering time and helping a stranger."

The U.S. came out on top after being ranked fifth last year.

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Latin America
6:01 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

In A Drug War, Mexican Forces Accused Of Abuses

Federal policemen escort the armored car carrying a member of Los Zetas drug cartel on June 17. The security forces have been accused of abuses in the fight against the drug cartels.
Yuri Cortez AFP/Getty Images

In Mexico, the last five years of President Felipe Calderon's drug war have been marked by brutal violence, unsolved kidnappings and tens of thousands of deaths. Most of violence has come from the drug gangs, but some of these atrocities have been committed by the Mexican military and police.

Human rights groups say that as state security forces battle the drug cartels, they've tortured, abducted and killed criminal suspects and even innocent civilians.

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Asia
5:05 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

After Kim's Death, No Signs Of Power Struggles

The body of Kim Jong Il, the deceased leader of North Korea, now lies in state in the capital, Pyongyang. His sudden death has raised concerns about possible power struggles. But so far, all outward signs suggest that the North Korean leadership is lining up behind his son, Kim Jong Un.

The Two-Way
5:02 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Scores Dead In Syria; Thousands Of Women Protest In Egypt

Hundreds of Egyptian women march at Cairo streets, angered by the recent violence used against them in clashes with police.
Amr Nabil AP

Originally published on Tue December 20, 2011 5:07 pm

A day after Syria said it would allow Arab League observers into the country, the deadly clashes with government forces continued. Al Arabiya reports that activists said at least 100 Syrian army defectors were killed or wounded and 36 people were killed in clashes with police.

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Still No Job: Over A Year Without Enough Work
4:29 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Marriage Economy: 'I Couldn't Afford To Get Divorced'

iStockphoto.com

Lindsay Reynolds lives in Waterloo, Wis. Even before the recent economic downturn, Reynolds and her husband struggled to make ends meet. They quarreled, especially over money.

"We never had enough income to pay bills, to pay rent. We were constantly late on rent," Reynolds says. "He always wanted to go do things. He wanted to go buy things. And I said, 'No, we can't. We have to be fiscally responsible.' "

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It's All Politics
4:07 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

'We The People': NPR Readers Would Ratify Four New Amendments

The people have spoken: NPR readers would add four new amendments to the Constitution.
ASSOCIATED PRESS

In "Reconstituting The Constitution: How To Rewrite It," we invited readers to share their own thoughts on how we might change the founding document for 2011. Now the people have spoken.

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The Two-Way
3:52 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

A Mighty Release This Is: Star Wars Video Game Is EA's Most Expensive

Part of the packaging of "Star Wars: The Old Republic."
EA

Originally published on Tue December 20, 2011 3:59 pm

The video game "Star Wars: The Old Republic" is estimated to have cost Electronic Arts somewhere between $100 and $300 million to make. To put it into perspective Avatar, released in 2009 and one of Hollywood's most expensive movies, cost $237 million to make. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, released in 1977, had a budget of $11 million.

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Opinion
3:48 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

A Quest To Seek The Sublime In The Spiritual

A globe Buddha is visible against the sunset in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar (Burma).
istockphoto.com

Eric Weiner's most recent book is Man Seeks God: My Flirtations with the Divine.

Surveys show religious people are happier than the secular? Why is this? Is it — as an atheist friend quipped — that "ignorance is bliss?" Not long ago, that's what I would have concluded. Like many people of my ilk — cerebral East Coaster, highly skeptical, and, yes, latte drinking — I reflexively viewed the religious as less sophisticated. And, if I'm brutally honest here, somehow less intelligent, or at least more narrow-minded. I don't feel that way anymore.

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The Two-Way
3:25 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

From Homeless To White House To 'The Martha Stewart Show'

One of the decorations in the Red Room of the White House, where David Bondarchuck was among the volunteer decorators.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:11 am

When NPR's Ari Shapiro earlier this month filed a report on the 2011 holiday decorations at the executive mansion, he focused some of his attention on the diverse group of volunteer decorators who were called on to help dress up 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

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Politics
3:00 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Dreier Discusses The Payroll Tax Cut

Robert Siegel speaks with California Republican Rep. David Dreier for the latest on the payroll tax cut and the House vote.

Presidential Race
3:00 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Prominent Iowa Conservative Backs Santorum

The Family Leader, an influential social conservative organization based in Iowa, has decided to remain neutral in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. But the group's founder, Bob Vander Plaats, surprised many political observers Tuesday by throwing his support to former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

Around the Nation
3:00 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Winter Weather Grounds Travelers

Winter weather is making travel difficult in parts of the county. The blizzard is making its way through the lower plains.

Media
3:00 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Piers Morgan Testifies Before Judicial Inquiry

Originally published on Tue December 20, 2011 6:09 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

Piers Morgan, the man who took over Larry King's chair at CNN, was forced to confront his past today. Morgan was hooked up by video link to London to field questions at a public inquiry into media ethics. The inquiry was convened because of the News of the World phone hacking affair. That scandal has so far led to the resignation of top executives in Rupert Murdoch's media empire and more than 20 arrests.

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Politics
3:00 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

House Rejects Senate's Payroll Tax Extension

The House blew up the end-of-year deal to extend the payroll tax holiday, but it insists it's the Senate's fault. If both chambers fail to forge a compromise, taxes go up, unemployment benefits expire and payments to Medicare doctors get cut by 27 percent — all starting Jan. 1.

Sports
3:00 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Montrealers Reject New Interim Canadiens Coach

Originally published on Tue December 20, 2011 6:09 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The Montreal Canadiens hockey team has lost more games than it's won this season. It's in last place in its division and so, as often happens when a sports teams does poorly, the Canadiens coach, Jacques Martin, was fired. In his place, the Canadiens, who are owned by Geoff Molson of Molson Beer fame, promoted the assistant coach, Ontario-born Randy Cunneyworth. Mr. Cunneyworth instantly encountered a serious objection, though. He may know hockey, but he doesn't know French.

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Presidential Race
3:00 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Looking For Boost, Candidates Hit The Ground In N.H.

Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul laughs as he sits down with Elizabeth Rose Chamberlain, 3, of Epping, N.H., while campaigning at the Early Bird Cafe in Plaistow, N.H., on Tuesday.
Charles Krupa AP

With three weeks to go before the New Hampshire primary, presidential campaigns are working at full speed to reach out to voters.

Political strategists say a good ground game — a campaign's ability to identify voters and get them to the polls — is worth 3 points at the ballot box. That's a boost any candidate would want.

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Shots - Health Blog
2:36 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

U.S. Says Details Of Flu Experiments Should Stay Secret

H5N1 avian flu viruses (seen in gold) grow inside canine kidney cells (seen in green).
Cynthia Goldsmith CDC

Originally published on Wed December 21, 2011 10:35 am

A committee that advises the government says that details of two controversial experiments on bird flu virus should not be made public, because of fears that the work could provide a recipe for a bioweapon.

The government-funded experiments were done by researchers who wanted to understand if bird flu virus might change in the future to cause a pandemic in people. By tweaking genes, they made the deadly bird flu virus more contagious between lab animals.

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The Two-Way
2:26 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Citing Competition, Honda Announces Civic Overhaul

Honda hopes a Civic revamp will boost sales.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Here's some interesting news about the car market in the United States: Citing increased competition, Honda said it is taking the unusual step of redesigning its Civic sedan months after a unveiling its 2012 model this summer.

Here's what Tetsuo Iwamura, chief executive for American Honda Motor Co., told The Detroit News:

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The Two-Way
2:15 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Report: Ohio State Football Team 'Banned From Postseason Play Next Year'

"The NCAA today stunned Ohio State University's football program by banning it from postseason play after the 2012 season," multiple sources tell The Columbus Dispatch.

It adds that:

"The penalty means Ohio State automatically is out of the running for any bowl, or a Big Ten or national championship next year, just as newly appointed head coach Urban Meyer is wooing recruits to the Buckeyes."

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Book Reviews
2:03 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

The Story Of The Chitlin' Circuit's Great Performers

Cover detail

During the years before the Civil Rights movement got underway, segregated American cities helped give birth to a touring circuit that provided employment for hundreds of black musicians and eventually brought about the birth of rock 'n' roll. Today, rock historian Ed Ward looks at two books, Preston Lauterbach's The Chitlin' Circuit and the Road to Rock 'n' Roll and Fever, Susan Whitall's biography of Little Willie John, one of the Chitlin' Circuit's last stars.

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The Two-Way
1:30 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

'Ultimate Dog Tease' Is No. 2 On YouTube's List, No. 1 In Some Hearts

How can you not love that face?
Talking Animals

YouTube is out with its most-viewed video list for the year and if you didn't know that Rebecca Black's Friday would be on top, than you're among the (dare we say?) lucky few who didn't get her song stuck in their head this year.

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NPR Story
1:00 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Finding Bright Spots In A Difficult 2011

2011 has been a tough year in many ways: the economy is still struggling, Europe's dealing with a huge debt crisis and Japan is still recovering from a devastating tsunami. But from Chrysler to coconut water, there are people, products and ideas that have done well in 2011.

NPR Story
1:00 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Revisiting The First Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Before the 2011 film version of John Le Carre's spy novel, British director John Irvin directed the original 1979 multi-episode series for the BBC, starring George Smiley as the master spy recalled from forced retirement to root out a traitor in the top ranks of the British intelligence service.

NPR Story
1:00 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Letters: Video Games And The High Cost Of College

NPR's Neal Conan reads from listener comments on previous show topics, including realizing how much college actually costs, recovering from a traumatic injury and the season's big video games.

Children's Health
1:00 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Autism Rates Have Spiked, But Why?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly one percent of U.S. children have some form of autism, 20 times higher than the rate in the 1980s. Alan Zarembo of The Los Angeles Times and clinical psychologist Catherine Lord discuss what's behind the growing number of diagnoses.

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