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2:00 am
Fri December 23, 2011

House Leaders Do An About-Face On Tax Extension

Originally published on Fri December 23, 2011 4:39 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

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

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

It appears as if the bitter fighting in Congress is about to come to an end just in time for Christmas. Today, the House and the Senate are expected to approve an extension of the payroll tax holiday and benefits for the long-term unemployed. This required a major reversal for House Republicans who, earlier this week, voted to reject a nearly identical compromise.

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World
2:00 am
Fri December 23, 2011

2011 Was A Bad Year For Dictators

Over the last year, many dictators have fallen from power. To name a few: Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was killed, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was overthrown and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il died. Linda Wertheimer talks to Susan Glasser, with Foreign Policy magazine, about the year that was and which of the world's remaining strongmen need to worry about what 2012 has to offer.

World
10:01 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Italians Are Mostly Window Shopping This Christmas

A woman gazes into a shop window in downtown Rome. Due to tough austerity measures, even wealthy Italians are buying less this holiday season.
Max Rossi Reuters

Originally published on Fri December 23, 2011 8:19 pm

A tour of how Christmas shopping is going in Italy starts with Via Condotti — Rome's premier shopping street.

It features high-end stores like Prada, Gucci, Armani, Bulgari, Louis Vuitton, Valentino and Ferragamo. But salespeople are standing idly by the door. There's a yawning emptiness in these shops.

Two streets down, the only Christmas sound is a recording of a children's chorus singing "Gloria in Excelsis Deo." But even in a toy store, well-dressed customers leave without buying.

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Animals
10:01 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Myth Busting: The Truth About Animals And Tools

A tufted capuchin uses a stone hammer to crack open a nut in Brazil's Parnaiba Headwaters National Park.
Ben Cranke Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 23, 2011 11:28 am

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Afghanistan
10:01 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Ten Years Of Hanging On As An Afghan Potter

Abdul Wahkeel at his pottery stall in the Afghan village of Istalif. He was among the first potters to return after the fall of the Taliban.
Jim Wildman NPR

After the fall of the Taliban, Abdul Wahkeel was the first potter to return to the Afghan village of Istalif.

Istalif had been home to generations of potters who crafted teapots, dishes and pots that glow a jewel-like blue. But Wahkeel and other villagers left after the Taliban torched workshops, smashed pottery and — it was said — killed birds in their cages.

When NPR's Renee Montagne first arrived in Istalif in 2002, she heard Wahkeel's story as he was centering clay on his potter's wheel.

"It is two months now that I have returned back to my home," he told her.

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Still No Job: Over A Year Without Enough Work
10:01 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

For Black Americans, A Longer Time Without Work

Willa Booker, 53, has been out of work for more than two years. A former medical records administrator in Chicago, Booker says she just wants someone to give her a chance.
Cheryl Corley NPR

Originally published on Fri December 23, 2011 9:32 am

Although the U.S. gained more than 120,000 jobs last month, the numbers of long-term unemployed barely shifted, and unemployment rates for African-Americans continued to go through the roof.

A recent NPR and Kaiser Family Foundation poll shows that although the long-term unemployed face many of the same difficulties regardless of race, there are distinct differences between blacks and whites struggling to find work.

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Ron Paul
10:01 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Ron Paul Has Support In Iowa, But Old Issues Linger

Texas Congressman Ron Paul is anything but an establishment GOP candidate. Yet, he is at the top of the polls in Iowa, largely because his message appeals to more than just the typical Republican caucus-goer. That was made clear when he met John McCarthy and Michelle Godez-Schilling, both of whom attended a campaign stop in Dubuque, Iowa.

"I would like to say I'm an independent, and for the first time in my life I'm affiliated with one of the two major parties because of you," McCarthy told Paul.

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The Record
10:01 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Austin: The Brooklyn Of The South

A musician performs at the Bat Bar during SXSW 2011 in Austin, Texas.
Katie Hayes Luke for NPR

Sixth Street in downtown Austin, Texas, is one of the city's premiere live music districts. Guitar-shaped Christmas decorations hang on light poles, and the street is alive with bands and bars. Tonight you can hear ­­­­­­­­Austin Heat at the Thirsty Nickel, Mike Milligan and the Altar Boys at Maggie Mae's, or you could catch Misbehavin' at the Dizzy Rooster.

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Chompsgiving To Chew Year's: Holiday Dishes
10:01 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

When Ambrosia Salad Spells Dread

Esther's ambrosia salad
Daniel E. Davis

Part of an ongoing series on unique holiday dishes

Daniel Davis, a tall, thin birch tree of a man, is willing to eat almost anything. Indeed, cooking and eating are two unadulterated pleasures in Dan's life. But he recently revealed to me, his wife, that there is one dish that, as a kid, he actually feared as Christmas drew near: ambrosia salad.

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StoryCorps
8:00 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

A Bowlful Of Memories About A Mama Named Sugar

Cora Lee Collins was called Sug by everyone, including her children.
Courtesy of Penelope Simmons

Everybody loved Cora Lee Collins — known to all, including her children, as Sug.

"Oh, I called her Mama, too, but I called her Sug," her daughter, Penelope Simmons, tells her own daughter, Suzanne Wayne. "When she was a little kid, she would climb up on the kitchen table and eat sugar out of the sugar bowl, and so they started calling her Sugar."

Simmons grew up in Lake Charles, La., with two brothers, Otis and Jamie. "Sug loved us, but she was nowhere near a hovering mother. I mean, we did run wild."

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The Two-Way
4:39 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Need A Hug? Go To 'The Nicest Place On The Internet'

Sometimes, we bring you bad news. Sometimes the good. But other times, we just like to share something sweet.

And as Gizmodo said yesterday: "The holidays are here. The year is finishing up. It's late. It's cold. It's about time to go to the nicest place on the Internet."

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Shots - Health Blog
3:20 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Report: Cuts In Federal Funding Put Public Health Preparedness At Risk

Oregon health authorities quickly traced an August outbreak of foodborne illness to a strawberry field in the state. But will they be so swift next time?
iStockphoto.com

Do you remember the E. coli outbreak that started in an Oregon strawberry patch this August?

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It's All Politics
3:19 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

With 'Lie Of The Year' Controversy, Fact Checking Comes Under Scrutiny

A screen grab from "America the Beautiful" by The Agenda Project. According to PolitiFact, videos like this one used elderly actors to falsely suggest that Rep. Paul Ryan's Medicare plan would adversely affect current senior citizens.
The Agenda Project YouTube

Originally published on Thu December 22, 2011 8:08 pm

The fact-checking movement has been gaining momentum and gaining fans. Journalistic fact checkers serve as referees by calling foul — and fair — on various assertions by politicians, public figures and pundits with heavily documented analyses. But a slow-burn backlash flared into the open this past week.

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World
3:17 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

U.S.-Pakistan: A Year Of Worsening Ties

Pakistanis attend a funeral in Peshawar on Nov. 27 for the two dozen Pakistani soldiers killed in a NATO attack a day earlier.
Mohammad Sajjad AP

Key events in the recent rift between the U.S. and Pakistan.

The Salt
3:16 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Disposable Pans Can Cook More Than The Christmas Goose

Beware of throw-away aluminum roasting pans, burn doctors say.
James Bo Insogna iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri December 23, 2011 6:25 am

For no muss or fuss clean-up, a disposable aluminum roasting pan seems like a great way to reduce holiday home chef stress. But beware: Burn specialists say many such pans aren't built to handle the oversized birds or other hunks of meat on your menu.

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Newt Gingrich
3:05 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

As Gingrich Stumps In Iowa, His Style Evolves

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich's campaign has been down and then up this year.

His top staffers resigned en masse in June, leading many to wonder whether he was out of the race. Then came debates in which the former speaker of the House shined.

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NPR Story
2:57 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Resolution For Payroll Tax Extension May Be Near

Originally published on Thu December 22, 2011 2:57 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

LYNN NEARY, HOST:

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Media
2:53 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

'PolitiFact' Faces Criticism From Liberals

Fact-checking sites like PolitiFact referee assertions by politicians, public figures and pundits. The fact-checking movement has been gaining momentum — and fans. But PolitiFact has come under fire after announcing its "Lie of the Year": a claim by some Democrats and liberals about a House Republican plan to change Medicare.

The Two-Way
2:15 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Reports: House Will Vote On 2-Month Payroll Tax Cut Extension

The Associated Press and Reuters are reporting that House Republicans have relented and will vote on a two-month extension of the payroll tax. On Tuesday, the House had voted to move the bill into conference, but the Senate had already left town.

What resulted was another Washington showdown with Senate Democrats — who passed the bill in rare bi-partisan fashion — refusing to negotiate further and House Republicans insisting that a year-long extension was the only way to go.

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Shots - Health Blog
2:12 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Medicare Can't Rescue Congress On Fix For Doctors' Pay

Wendell Franks iStockphoto.com

Here we go again.

With official Washington trapped in partisan gridlock, doctors who treat Medicare patients are once again facing the prospect of a big cut in pay that almost no one supports.

And this time Medicare officials say they won't be hold onto the bills for longer than the usual 10-day processing time to wait for Congress to act. A 27 percent cut is set to take effect Jan. 1, unless Congress stops it.

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Politics
1:54 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Future Dim For 100-Watt Bulb, Despite Congress' Stall

The trillion-dollar budget bill that Congress passed last weekend includes plenty of non-spending provisions tucked into it. One of these so-called riders is aimed at saving the 100-watt incandescent light bulb.

But the move is more about politics than light.

Strictly speaking, the issue is this: Old-fashioned incandescent bulbs waste a lot of energy. So under federal law, they're being slowly phased out. The first to go, starting on New Year's Day, is the 100-watt bulb.

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Business
1:42 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

'Twas The Busiest Week All Year For Shipping

Bill Ferguson, a courier for FedEx, loads his truck at a sorting facility in Chicago on Dec. 12 — the company's busiest day in its history.
M. Spencer Green AP

Originally published on Thu December 22, 2011 5:36 pm

This week marks the busiest time of the year for shipping services like UPS, FedEx and the Postal Service. The post office handled 600 million cards and letters alone on Tuesday, and UPS says it is delivering 300 packages per second, on average.

At one FedEx facility in Washington, D.C., the logistics of last-minute shipping are on full display.

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The Two-Way
1:40 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

NORAD's Santa Tracker Switches On Saturday

They'll see him when he's flying.
NORAD

Assuming his elves haven't come up with some sort of stealth technology to cloak his movements, it's almost time again for children of all ages (who have access to computers or smart phones, that is) to follow the jolly guy's travels via the North American Aerospace Defense Command's Santa tracker.

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It's All Politics
1:31 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

In New Hampshire, Romney Aims For Common Touch, With Mixed Results

Romney pumped his own gas at a stop on his bus tour.
Ari Shapiro NPR

Originally published on Thu December 22, 2011 2:10 pm

As he continued his bus tour on Thursday, Mitt Romney may have been hoping to connect with regular folks. At a service station in Randolph, N.H., he pumped the gas himself.

But voters weren't necessarily buying his 'just folks' demeanor. When he joked with a woman at the service station about buying a classic car her family owns, she asked, "$10,000?" — an echo of his unfortunate bet with Texas Gov. Rick Perry in a recent debate.

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The Two-Way
1:22 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Bradley Manning's Hearing In WikiLeaks Case Concludes

Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, left, is escorted from a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md., on Thursday.
Patrick Semansky AP

Originally published on Thu December 22, 2011 1:27 pm

The military hearing to decide whether Pfc. Bradley Manning, 24, will face a court-martial has come to an end in Fort Meade, Md. As the AP reports, during the hearing a military prosecutor argued that Manning, an Army intelligence analyst, had "defied the nation's trust" by allegedly leaking 700,000 documents, including tens of thousands of classified diplomatic cables, to the website WikiLeaks.

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Asia
1:05 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Pentagon: U.S., Pakistan Share Blame In Shooting

Pentagon spokesman George Little, speaking Thursday, said U.S. and Pakistani forces both made mistakes that contributed to the Nov. 26 shooting that killed two dozen Pakistani soldiers along the border with Afghanistan.
Luis M. Alvarez AP

Originally published on Thu December 22, 2011 5:36 pm

The U.S. military said Thursday that U.S. and Pakistani forces both made mistakes in a U.S. helicopter attack that killed two dozen Pakistani troops in November along the Afghan-Pakistan border.

The Pentagon released the findings of its investigation that said a lack of trust, miscommunication and faulty map information all contributed to the shooting.

"For the loss of life and lack of coordination between U.S. and Pakistani forces that contributed to those losses, we express our deepest regret," said Pentagon spokesman George Little.

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Food
12:52 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Get Into The Holiday Spirit With Scandinavian Glogg

iStockphoto.com

In snowy Norway, nothing evokes Christmastime like a pot of glogg brewing on the stove. The traditional Scandinavian winter drink mixes wine, port and brandy with spices like caraway, cardamom and cinnamon to make for a brew that smells divine and tastes even better.

Urd Milbury, cultural attache from the Norwegian Embassy in Washington, D.C., and her husband, Todd, teach NPR's Lynn Neary how to make the holiday treat.

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The Two-Way
12:05 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

North Korea: 'Peculiar Natural Wonders' Reported In Tribute To 'Dear Leader'

This handout picture taken by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on December 21 shows members of the Korean People's Army crying for late North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il in Pyongyang.
KNS AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 22, 2011 12:10 pm

As we've reported before, North Korea's state news agency is fond of assigning supernatural occurrences to their Dear Leader. Over the past two days, the news agency has published an array of stories about Kim Jong Il's death. But late yesterday and today, they are revealing that "peculiar natural wonders" occurred just as Kim died.

Here's the news via the Korean News Service in Japan:

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The Two-Way
12:05 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Because Of Somali Pirates, Ocean Racers Are In A 'Stealth Zone'

The Groupama Sailing Team (shown here on Dec. 10 near Cape Town, South Africa) is somewhere out ahead in the "stealth zone."
Volvo Ocean Race Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 22, 2011 12:08 pm

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Holiday Music
11:42 am
Thu December 22, 2011

Some Christmas Tunes From Rebecca Kilgore And Pals

Originally published on Fri December 23, 2011 9:24 am

This interview was originally broadcast on December 19, 2005.

In time for the holidays, Fresh Air presents an in-studio concert. Singer Rebecca Kilgore, trombonist Dan Barrett and pianist Rossano Sportiello played at the NOLA studios in Manhattan.

Kilgore is one of the leading interpreters of American songs. She became known for her work with pianist and composer Dave Frishberg.

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