NPR News

First Round Of Oscar Ballots Get Mailed

Dec 27, 2011

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We're nearing the end of an unusual year for movies. No single film has dominated the conversation in Hollywood. Some celebrated films this year refer to the past of the movie industry itself, like the silent film "The Artist," or "Hugo," which becomes a tale of old film preservation.

Nearly three decades ago, Kenny Buchanan decided to drop out of school. Over the last 26 years, he's jumped from job to job and unemployment. He now has a full-time job and for the first time in years, he and his family have health insurance and can enjoy a few luxuries.

Business News

Dec 27, 2011

Steve Inskeep has business news.

With just a week until the Republican caucuses, presidential candidate Rick Santorum spent the day in Iowa hunting — for pheasants and votes. Although he's worked hard in Iowa, he's not won over the group he's targeted: social conservatives.

Anthony Hamilton's Got Something To Prove

Dec 26, 2011

As 2011 winds down, Morning Edition is looking at music we missed over the past 12 months. R&B singer Anthony Hamilton is one artist that slipped under our noses; we just missed his album Back To Love, which came out earlier this month. Hamilton's been in the music business for two decades, during which he's had a mostly black audience. Now, with Back To Love, he's gaining even wider appeal.

Four years ago, Florida played a key role choosing the Republican presidential nominee with a crucial early primary in violation of party rules. Next month, Florida Republicans are poised to do it again — once again breaking rules with an early primary. Only this time, their decision could confuse the race, rather than clarify it.

To understand why political parties set rules for presidential primaries, and why states break those rules, it's helpful to appreciate what it means for the campaigns to descend on a small state like Iowa or New Hampshire.

The Ford Motor Co. recently closed its historic Twin Cities Assembly Plant on a scenic river bluff in St. Paul, Minn. In better times, the parcel of land might have made condo developers drool, but in today's real estate market, redevelopment of the old factory could be a long way off.

The industrial architect Albert Kahn was particularly skilled at making factories blend into their surroundings. The 2-million-square-foot plant has a classical stone facade that flows along the Mississippi River bluff. The red tile roof of its hydroelectric plant glows in the sunlight.

In Vermont, Gravel And Road Business Is Up

Dec 26, 2011

Federal, state and local spending on roadways is down nearly 6 percent. That's made it a tough year for many in the road-building business — but not in Vermont. There, pavers, excavators and other companies have had one of their busiest years ever, thanks to a storm named Irene.

For the past several months, Steve Wilk and Doug Casella have spent a lot of time in and out of their pickup trucks, checking on their road crews. For a business meeting, they just pull off onto the rocky shoulder to talk about new guardrails and blacktop for a job they're working on.

The U.S. troops have left Iraq, and U.S. diplomats will now be the face of America in a country that remains extremely volatile.

The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, along with several consulates, will have some 15,000 workers, making it the largest U.S. diplomatic operation abroad. Those diplomats will be protected by a private army consisting of as many as 5,000 security contractors who will carry assault weapons and fly armed helicopters.

This fall American police were confronted with something they hadn't seen in 40 years: prolonged, simultaneous political protests across the country. In most cities, police showed restraint. But there have been exceptions — sometimes involving copious amounts of pepper spray. Those flashpoints have become a cause for concern.

There aren't many people on the broad Kansas prairie, but there is industry.

At G.L. Huyett, boxy machines jammed into a big metal building grind steel into heavy transmission parts.

"We're a supplier of last resort," says Tim O'Keeffe, who owns the company. If you have disruptions in the supply chain and someone can't meet a shipping time, he says, G.L. Huyett can step in.

It Was A Good Year For Swag

Dec 26, 2011

2011 was a good year for the word "swag". Not trinkets, or party favors, not an acronym for Stuff We All Get, "swag" comes from swagger. This year a term that hip-hop artists have been using for nearly a decade enjoyed a moment in the spotlight.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The new bio-pic My Week with Marilyn chronicles the making of The Prince and the Showgirl, in which Laurence Olivier acted with and directed Marilyn Monroe. Sarah Churchwell, author of The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe, talks to Robert Siegel about what elements of the film ring true.

In Iowa, All Eyes On Republican Hopefuls

Dec 26, 2011

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

In Kabul, Banking On Luxury Accommodations

Dec 26, 2011

A five-star hotel in Afghanistan may seem a risky business proposition. But not to the Marriott chain, which is going to manage a six-story hotel under construction in Kabul. Part of the U.S. and NATO security bubble, it will likely draw foreign businesspeople hoping to sign reconstruction deals.

Hospitals Move To Curb Elective Early Deliveries

Dec 26, 2011

More hospitals in Massachusetts and across the country are saying no to elective deliveries of babies before 39 weeks unless medically necessary. Doctors cite increased health risks associated with early deliveries, not costs — though Texas' Medicaid program has stopped paying for such births.

On Florida's Gulf coast Tuesday, there will be a celebrated homecoming. For a turtle. This is no ordinary turtle: Known as Johnny Vasco da Gama, after the 15th-century Portuguese explorer, it crossed the Atlantic twice — by sea and by air.

Johnny, as his human friends call him, is a critically endangered Kemp's ridley turtle. Only a few thousand of these sea-turtles exist, mostly in the Gulf of Mexico. Normally, they do not migrate across the Atlantic.

Injured In Battle, Libyans Recuperate In U.S. Hospital

Dec 26, 2011

Libya's civil war toppled a dictator and put the country on a path to democracy, but many of the rebel fighters who helped create that change are still recovering from battle injuries. Spaulding Hospital in Salem, Massachusetts, near Boston, is treating about two dozen of them — the only hospital in the country providing this kind of care.

Handwritten signs in Arabic are hung in a physical therapy room at the hospital, where several Libyan patients are getting rehab for injuries to their shoulders, hands and arms.

The Touchy-Feely Future Of Technology

Dec 26, 2011

In 1975, when then-composer and performer Bill Buxton started designing his own digital musical instruments, he had no way of knowing he was helping to spark the next technological revolution. But nine years — and a master's in computer science — later, that all changed.

1948 The Electronic Sackbut
The history of touch technology begins with touch-sensitive music synthesizers. According to the Canada Science and Technology Museum, Hugh Le Caine's Electronic Sackbut, completed in 1948, is widely considered to be the first musical synthesizer. The Sackbut is played with the right hand on the keyboard and the left hand on control board above the keyboard. The right hand controls volume by applying more or less pressure on the keys, while the left hand controls four different sound texture options.

This week on Fresh Air, we're marking the year's end by revisiting some of the most memorable conversations we've had in 2011. This interview was originally broadcast on May 23, 2011.

Ron Paul's struggles to distance himself from some decades-old controversial newsletters got a bit tougher over the holiday weekend.

Every four years, a small subset of political junkies starts salivating over the prospect that no one candidate will garner enough delegates to win his or her party's nomination for the presidency. That would lead to the junkie's greatest fantasy: a brokered convention.

This week on Fresh Air, we're marking the year's end by revisiting some of the most memorable conversations we've had in 2011. This interview was originally broadcast on October 31, 2011.


NBA Commissioner Turns Boos Into Cheers

Dec 26, 2011

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Santa Trackers Set Record On Christmas Eve

Dec 26, 2011

The North American Aerospace Defense Command keeps an eye on Saint Nick's progress from an Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo. NORAD volunteers in elf hats fielded more than 100,000 calls from kids checking on Santa.

Milwaukee VA Cuts In-Patient Stays

Dec 26, 2011

The VA hospital in Milwaukee is shortening its residential mental health treatment programs. Doctors there say the shortened stay — from 90 to 45 days — will mean more intense treatment and will make it easier for veterans to transition back into society sooner. Some patients worry about being pushed out too soon.

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Perhaps more than any other major professional sports league in this country, the National Basketball Association is star-driven. And yesterday, the stars did not disappoint. A Christmas slate of season-opening games featured the electric play of the league's Most Valuable Player, Derrick Rose, and the NBA's top scorer, Kevin Durant, and this guy named LeBron James as well. NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman monitored as much as he could of 13 hours of NBA action. And he joins me now.

Good morning, Tom.

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