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.

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

Dec 30, 2011

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.

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

What's That Sound? The Rhythm That Ruled 2011

Dec 30, 2011

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.

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."

'An Evolutionary Throwback': Panda Filmed Eating Meat

Dec 30, 2011

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.

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.

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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