This interview was originally broadcast on December 13, 2010. Apollo's Angels is now available in paperback.
It is ballet season, which means many companies are performing The Nutcracker for the holidays and preparing their big shows for the winter months. Everywhere you turn these days, you can see toe shoes — but there is a deep and fascinating history to the art form that few people know.
For the U.S. military around the world, the enemy can be hard to pinpoint and even harder to defeat. Back at home, the Army has a tiny and vexing foe in its sights: the bacteria that cause food to rot.
In this bacterial battle, though, it's clearer who's winning, and the evidence is a humble pocket sandwich, which looks from the outside no different than your average hot pocket in the frozen foods aisle.
Updated 1:30 p.m.: The National Institutes of Health accepts the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine report on chimpanzee research, NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins said in a statement. "We will not issue any new awards for research involving chimpanzees until processes for implementing the recommendations are in place," he said.
"Crucial parts" of the story that Marine Corps officials told about Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer's bravery in Afghanistan are "untrue, unsubstantiated or exaggerated, according to dozens of military documents" that McClatchy Newspapers has examined and reporting done by a McClatchy correspondent who survived the ambush in which Meyer performed heroically.
In a long report based on extensive research, correspondent Jonathan S. Landay writes that:
2011 was a good year to be a reader of science fiction and fantasy, although lately every year has been a good year: Not only are the books getting more popular — thank you, Game of Thrones — they're getting more interesting, evolving and morphing in weird, fascinating ways.
They're also interbreeding with other genres to produce wild new hybrid forms, like historical science fiction romances and hard-boiled fantasy detective novels. They're commenting on current events and swapping DNA with literary novels.
The political wrangling continues in Washington as Republicans and Democrats try to get their priorities enacted even as several key deadlines fast approach.
Overnight, as The Associated Press reports, Republicans in the House "unveiled a massive $1 trillion-plus year-end spending package despite a plea from the White House for additional talks over a handful of provisions opposed by President Barack Obama."
We Americans have Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and the rest but residents of Enfield, North London, can expect a visit from Dobbey the reindeer this time of year. His owner Gordon Elliott takes him everywhere — to the local pub and with him on the subway or bus. On Christmas, Elliott dresses as Father Christmas and walks Dobbey through town.
Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. Drivers near Coventry, England experienced unusual weather conditions yesterday: apples falling from the sky. About 100 rained down in a few minutes. Meteorologists blamed a freak wind, clearly a strong one, since a woman whose car hood was pounded by the fruit said there are no orchards nearby. This isn't the first time strange objects have rained down in Britain. In 2007, fish fell in Norfolk. Frogs rained down in Wales in 1996. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
America's colors have been cased in Iraq — the flag was just symbolically put away at a ceremony marking the end of a war that lasted nearly nine years.
At the Baghdad airport a short time ago, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other officials were there to mark the occasion, NPR's Kelly McEvers reports. It was, she said on Morning Edition, a "quiet, small ceremony."
Jackson "Jax" Teller, the antihero at the heart of FX's blockbuster biker gang series Sons of Anarchy, is pretty easy to distinguish from a traditional hero. Just this season, Jax blew away a rival gang with an RPG missile, shot a Russian gangster in the head and got into some serious trouble while selling guns to the scariest gangsters on the planet.
And let's turn now to the latest volley in the ongoing tariff war. American politicians have vowed to fight new Chinese tariffs on U.S. made cars and SUVs. Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton has more.
TRACY SAMILTON, BYLINE: In 2010, the U.S. won a Chinese tire-dumping complaint before the World Trade Organization. Then China complained about U.S. poultry dumping. The U.S. said China subsidizes solar panels. Now the fight's over cars. Republican Congressman Kevin Brady of Texas heads a trade subcommittee.
In Alabama, a teacher who takes a Christmas ham as a gift from a student could get jail time. That's because of a new ethics law the governor wants changed. The new law severely restricts gifts to teachers.
Oil futures are recovering after falling to a five-week low Wednesday, amid fears of declining demand and OPEC's decision to set a higher production ceiling for the next six months. The decision effectively ratified Saudi Arabia's move in recent months to pump more oil in an attempt to rein in soaring crude prices.
Hewlett Packard has been under fire for the golden parachutes it awards outgoing CEOs. A chief let go earlier this year received nearly $10 million in severance and bonuses for what was less than a year's work. And the CEO fired before that received nearly $35 million when he left.
And it may be surprising to many outside Los Angeles to hear that it has an art scene that goes back to the middle of the last century - maybe because the '50s and '60s in Southern California was a vast landscape dotted with car culture, beach culture, and a growing aerospace industry. Not necessarily art, one thinks.
It was also, though, the home of an art scene which attracted artists who were rejected in New York. That's something Hunter Drohojowska-Philp writes about in her book "Rebels in Paradise."
A long-running fight between Hollywood and Silicon Valley could get nastier today when a congressional committee votes on a bill about online piracy. Movie producers say the Stop Online Piracy Act creates stronger protections for intellectual property. Critics in the high-tech industry say the bill could have unintended consequences for the Internet, as NPR's Joel Rose reports.
JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: Hollywood loves a pirate - as long as he's on screen.
(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES")
President Obama has vowed to stay committed to Iraq. He emphasized that earlier this week when he met at the White House with Iraq's Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki. Yesterday, the president marked the pullout of troops from Iraq in North Carolina. He and the first lady visited Fort Bragg to offer thanks and congratulations to the soldiers there.
Dave DeWitt of North Carolina Public Radio sent this report.
Part of an ongoing series on unique holiday dishes
My great-great-grandma Mary Dusek kept alive the Czech heritage of her parents and immigrant husband through food. In the one photo I've seen of her, she's wearing a crisp, white apron. Our signature holiday dish comes from Mary's kitchen.
My mom, Dee Dee — Mary's great-granddaughter — is the keeper of the Dusek kraut tradition.
Death sentences dropped dramatically this year, marking the first time in more than three decades that judges and juries sent fewer than 100 people to death row, according to a new report from the Death Penalty Information Center.
Just 78 offenders were handed capital sentences, and only 43 inmates were executed — almost half as many as 10 years ago.
Lego doesn't call itself a toy company for boys. But look at the company's website, and its products are clearly geared towards boys' love of combat and action. There's Lego Star Wars, Lego Indiana Jones, Alien Conquest, Racers and Superheroes. One lonely set, called Belleville, is clearly for girls. It's pink-themed and features a horse.
In the past three years, the ability and willingness of Americans to move across town or to another state have fallen to their lowest level in more than half a century.
An NPR/Kaiser Family Foundation survey examined mobility among the long-term unemployed and underemployed. Of those two groups combined, 40 percent said they would be willing to move to another state to find a job.
One day last year, I skipped school to wait for acceptances from colleges. It was the final day that letters or emails were supposed to be sent out.
I sat in front of my laptop by the front door for at least three hours, listening for the mailman while eagerly pressing the refresh button on my inbox. I admit, at one point, I checked my neighbor's mail. Getting my house skipped on the mail route was one of the less crazy hypotheticals I imagined while waiting.
Originally published on Wed December 14, 2011 4:58 pm
Every year around this time, the Geminid Meteor Shower is on display. ABC News reports that, yesterday, the shower delivered a pretty spectacular show with some star gazers reporting about 80 shooting stars per hour.