Good morning, I'm Linda Wertheimer. For the fourth year in a row, a couple dressed in elf hats drove around Detroit handing out $100 bills to strangers - $12,000 worth. Many thought those crisp Benjamins were a joke. Some burst into tears. The anonymous couple stopped a Detroit bus and gave every passenger $100. The couple does ask recipients to pay it forward, in kindness. You're listening to MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. Attention lottery players in Georgia: No one has stepped up to claim a $77 million jackpot that expires on Monday, and the state's lotto offices will be closed starting tomorrow for the Christmas holiday. But if you're out there, lucky winner, you can claim your prize at a kiosk at Atlanta's International Airport throughout the Christmas holidays. Then you can do all the duty-free holiday shopping you want. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Ah, 'tis the season to be indulgent. Another glass of champagne? Please, have some homemade cookies. Does anyone want to go to the movies instead of the gym? As far as I'm concerned, December is Guilty Pleasures Time.
Most incandescent light bulbs were supposed to be phased out starting Jan. 1. But tucked inside the House's omnibus spending bill, there's a provision barring the Energy Department from enforcing more energy-efficient standards for light bulbs. For those who still want them, there are increasing options for efficient bulbs. Renee Montagne talks to Bill Hamilton, merchandising vice president of electrical at Home Depot, which sells about a third of all light bulbs in the U.S.
Renee Montagne speaks with Alex Thier who oversees projects in Afghanistan for the U.S. Agency for International Development. They discuss the tremendous efforts that have been made to improve medical care in that country over the last decade.
The suburban Southwest is awash with empty lots and zombie subdivisions β developments that have been abandoned by builders. Experts believe up to a million dirt lots in central Arizona were in some stage of approval for new homes when the housing market crashed. Urban planners say to fix the zombie problem, the state must realize the that people are leaving the suburbs and should consider "smart decline." Peter O'Dowd of member station KJZZ explains.
With less than two weeks before voting begins in Iowa, three Republican candidates are pulling out the big guns. Callista Gingrich, Anita Perry and Anne Romney appeared in campaign ads for their husbands.
And our last word in business is ratings reality. Ratings for this week's episode of the reality TV show, "All-American Muslim," dropped to more than 30 percent from the previous week's ratings. The show had plenty of drama off-screen earlier this month when the home improvement retailer Lowe's admitted it pulled its ads on the show after pressure from a conservative Christian group.
Yesterday, Lowe's said it would not change its decision. Cable channel TLC has not yet said whether the show will get picked up for another season.
While North Korea is preparing for the state funeral of longtime leader Kim Jong Il next week, attention is quickly turning to his son and heir apparent, Kim Jong Un. Even veteran Pyongyang watchers know little about the successor. But it's clear what he's inheriting: a country in dire economic straits, and a tough fight to consolidate his political power and legitimacy.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
And I'm Linda Wertheimer. In Syria, this week has been one of the bloodiest reported in months. Activists and groups monitoring Syria say hundreds have been killed as the government moves against villages and towns near the Turkish border. The Syrian government acknowledges the campaign but calls it a fight against terrorists.
Americans make more charitable donations than people of any other country, and this is the time of year they dig the deepest. In Little Rock, Arkansas, that means the anti-poverty charity, Heifer International, is going full throttle. Contributors purchase living things, which are donated to struggling families in 52 countries.
If the company's board approves, Yahoo could receive about $17 billion in a deal that would shed most of its Asian assets. That means Yahoo would dramatically decrease its valuable stake in Ali-baba β China's largest Internet company. The deal would get the company some much-needed cash.
Johann Sebastian Bach's Christmas Oratorio was first performed in Leipzig on Christmas Day in 1734. In Germany, no matter what the economic and political times, it's the Christmas work. In the oldest functioning church in Berlin, the 13th-century Saint Mary's, performance of Bach's Christmas Oratorio is a fixed tradition.
Any discussion of Newt Gingrich's journey to Catholicism begins with his wife.
"I have always been a very spiritual person," Callista Gingrich told the Christian Broadcasting Network this year. "I start each day with a prayer, and pray throughout the day, because I am grateful for the many blessings that God has bestowed upon us."
In Pakistan, transit routes for NATO supply trucks heading to Afghanistan remain shut. The CIA drone missile program has gone quiet in Pakistan's tribal area. Pakistan's government has called for a re-negotiation of its troubled relationship with the U.S.
All of this is fallout from an attack on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border last month in which NATO fire from helicopter gunships killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.
School funding in Texas is in turmoil. State lawmakers slashed more than $4 billion from education this school year β one of the largest cuts in state history β and more than 12,000 teachers and support staff have been laid off.
Academic programs and transportation have been cut to the bone. Promising reforms are on hold or on the chopping block. Next year, the cuts could go even deeper.
With his pipe, deerstalker hat and formidable "methods," Sherlock Holmes may be the most recognizable face of the Victorian mystery story. But how does he stack up against Edgar Allan Poe's C. Auguste Dupin, who pioneered deductive reasoning? Or quicksilver Violet Strange, debutante by day, intrepid sleuth by night?
Originally published on Thu December 22, 2011 4:09 pm
Stumping in New Hampshire on Wednesday, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney revealed a bit about his strategies for staying in shape on the campaign trail.
"Hey, I heard you pull the cheese off your pizza to stay thin. Is that true?" asked a woman at Village Pizza in Newport, N.H., in the southwestern part of the state, where the Romney bus tour had made a stop.
"You know, on occasion, but on the campaign trail you need all the calories you can get," laughed Romney.
"And do you run three miles a day like they say?" she asked.
The ShoulderFlex massager looks harmless enough. But don't be fooled.
The Food and Drug Administration is warning people not to use the product because it could kill or injure them. There were reports of one person being strangled by the device and another near-death by strangulation, the FDA says.
Clothing, hair and jewelry can get tangled up in the device's rotating parts. And that's a recipe for trouble.
Originally published on Thu December 22, 2011 8:35 am
Any day now it will arrive stamped by the Royal Mail: a truly homemade Christmas pudding from my family in England.
My mother always made Christmas puddings. And before moving to the U.S., I would make two or three puddings every November, too. Now it's my sister and brother-in-law who keep up the tradition. They use a mid-Victorian recipe handed down to my brother-in-law's father by his mother, the former Miss Mortlock. She was a Quaker so these are teetotal puddings.
Tintin β star of a series of vintage Belgian comics that have sold hundreds of millions of copies in dozens of languages β is a crime-fighting boy journalist who specializes in solving riddles with the assistance of his intrepid dog, Snowy.
The year began on a note of cautious optimism on the Iran nuclear front. But talks in Geneva and Istanbul proved inconclusive, and the Arab Spring uprisings soon pushed Iran off center stage. And as 2012 approaches, observers see little reason for optimism regarding a diplomatic solution to the Iran nuclear dispute.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, under attack from other conservative factions at home, continues to find a safe rhetorical haven in defending Iran's nuclear program β and in attacking the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.
As Greece struggles with a financial crisis, there have been violent protests, creditors demanding their money, people losing their jobs and officials hunkering down.
A decade ago, that was the scene in South America when Argentina and Uruguay defaulted. The two handled the economic calamity in very different ways. Economists say their approaches β and what's happened in each country since β are instructive for European leaders as they try lifting Greece from its turmoil.
More than 40 percent of the long-term unemployed say they've received a lot of help from family and friends. But only 1 in 10 reports getting much help from churches or community groups, according to an NPR/Kaiser Family Foundation poll.
While family may be the first stop for help, these groups say they're indeed seeing large numbers of people who have been out of work a long time.