Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. It's a big year for the little word gif. The Oxford Dictionary has chosen it as the word of 2012. Short for graphic interface format, which are looping Internet animations, gif began as a noun in the 80s but caught on as a verb. For example, I giffed. That is made my own looping animations of the president's speech. Runners up include nomophobia - fear of being without your mobile phone. And YOLO - you only live once. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.
In the most prominent park in Mexico City, you can find statues to international heroes like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and now Heydar Aliyev. He was a Soviet-era autocrat in Central Asia. The late leader's government paid for the statue and restoration of a nearby plaza. And as NPR's Carrie Kahn reports, that's created quite a stir in the Mexican capital.
Originally published on Tue November 13, 2012 5:36 am
Immediately after last week's election, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon announced the state would not be setting up its own health insurance exchange. Next door in Kansas, Gov. Sam Brownback announced that Kansas will have no involvement in running a state exchange either. The moves open the door for increased federal involvement in health care in staunchly Republican territory.
Toothbutter: noun. Butter spread so thickly as to reveal teeth marks upon biting.
The fact that this word exists in the Danish language should help to explain what politicians were up against when they introduced the "fat tax" just over a year ago. This is a country that loves it some butter (and meat, and all things dreadful to the arteries).
President Obama meets with labor leaders at the White House on Tuesday to discuss how to steer clear of the so-called fiscal cliff. It's the first of many meetings aimed at avoiding automatic tax increases and spending cuts at the beginning of the new year.
A week ago, the president proved again that he and his team are good at winning elections. The question now is whether he can translate victory at the ballot box to success in shaping policy.
The Virgin Mary is one of the most familiar icons of Christianity. For centuries, artists have depicted her on everything from backyard statues of a rosy-cheeked innocent to paintings of magnificent Madonnas hanging in museums all over the world. But few writers have taken up her story or tried to create their own version of the events of her life.
Now, Irish writer Colm Toibin does just that. His novella, The Testament of Mary, raises questions about the life of Jesus' mother and the stories that laid the groundwork for the creation of a church.
Shell burned off gas from June through August at the Morse well pad in Bradford County, Pa., to prevent natural gas from leaking to the surface after one of its drilling sites intersected an abandoned gas well.
Credit Scott Detrow / StateImpact Pennsylvania
Laurie Barr points to an abandoned well located in the middle of a McKean County, Pa., stream.
In February 1932, the United States was in the midst of the Great Depression. Franklin Roosevelt was plotting a run for the White House. And in northeast Pennsylvania, the Morris Run Coal Co. had just finished drilling a 5,385-foot-deep gas well on a farm owned by Mr. W.J. Butters.
When German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Athens last month, a few Greek Army reservists in fatigues greeted her with chants of "Get out, Nazis!" Like other Greeks, they are furious over the drastic budget cuts Germany and other eurozone countries are demanding in exchange for billions in bailout loans.
The protesters compared the situation to Nazi Germany's brutal occupation of Greece during World War II, when more than 400,000 Greeks died.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said last week the state could design its own health insurance exchange required under President Obama's health care law. But resistance in the Republican-controlled General Assembly may cause the state to hand that power off to the federal government.
Hurricane Sandy left a long trail of destruction across the New Jersey shoreline. And it did a lot more than just flood houses.
In towns like Seaside Heights and Belmar, Sandy wiped out the boardwalks that line the beach. In places like these, boardwalks served as the commercial center knitting the towns together, and residents are wondering where to go from here.
Until two weeks ago, the boardwalk was the place to hang out in Belmar, N.J. Ann Summer was walking along the water with her husband this weekend.
It's an old problem and an old code — "don't snitch." And it exists everywhere.
But in Chicago, where homicides and shootings are up significantly this year, that old code is leaving a rising number of violent crimes unsolved. Chicago Police Department statistics show arrests are being made in about 30 percent of shooting homicides, while close to 80 percent of nonfatal shootings are going unsolved.
When police can't find and arrest the perpetrators, they worry that the shooters will soon shoot again.
Originally published on Tue November 13, 2012 5:08 am
In the wake of last Tuesday's elections, a lively debate has erupted into the open over whether conservatives and the Republican Party were well-served by their favorite media outlets.
Former Gov. Mitt Romney was reported to have been so certain of a victory on Tuesday night that he cast aside tradition and did not draft a concession speech. But conservatives now say his misplaced confidence — and theirs — were bolstered by the predictions of many like-minded pundits, which were broadcast and posted online around the clock by sympathetic news outlets.
Iran has initiated a massive week-long air defense drill amidst growing international pressure over its nuclear ambitions and last week's firing on a U.S. drone they claim entered Iranian air space.
Iran will test its air defense system, named "Mersad," meaning ambush in Persian. Drill spokesman Shahrokh Shahram told Iran's Press TV the military exercise was both a "strong warning to those threatening Iran" and a symbol of regional security, according to Reuters.
The main street in Oberhausen — Germany's most indebted city — is dotted with vacancies. Despite its economic woes, Oberhausen, like other western German cities, must make "reunification" payments to the former communist East. The payments help explain German voters' reluctance to bail out Greece and other eurozone countries.
Credit Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson / NPR
Tackenberg elementary school in Oberhausen, slated to close by mid-2015, is one of the casualties of the city's required austerity measures.
Germany, the economic engine of Europe, has been a key player in bailing out the Continent's most troubled economies.
Yet there are places in the former West Germany — like Oberhausen — that are struggling with their own debt problems, even as they pay hefty sums to revitalize former East German cities with transfers known as "Solidarity Pact" payments.
It began with a war of words in the letters pages of the Guardian and ended with comments made to The Times of London. It took 15 years, but, as the Guardian reports, the feud between writers Salman Rushdie and John le Carre is at an end.
Originally published on Tue November 13, 2012 9:06 am
They're asking politely. Malcontents from 20 different states are petitioning the White House to allow them to secede from the union.
Using the White House website's We the People function, in which petitions garnering at least 25,000 signatures get a response from the president, people from the state of Texas are asking to "peacefully ... withdraw from the United States of America and create its own NEW government."
When Andrew Solomon started his family with his husband, John Habich, he says, people were surprised that he wasn't afraid to have children, given the topic of the book he was writing. That book, Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity, explores what it's like for parents of children who are profoundly different or likely to be stigmatized — children with Down syndrome, deafness, autism, dwarfism, or who are prodigies, become criminals, or are conceived in rape.
Many veterans aren't just looking for a job; they're looking for a career, a calling and, of course, financial stability. Those recently separated from the military have to confront what is still a fairly weak civilian job market.
Ferry service into Manhattan started Monday for the Rockaway section of Queens, one of the hardest-hit New York City neighborhoods after Superstorm Sandy. Many residents are still feeling cut off, struggling without power or adequate public transportation options. And now worries about mold are creeping in.
But the new ferries were a small consolation for the trickle of commuters who trudged onto Manhattan soil for the first time in two weeks. Some of them, like Sheila Curran, were grinning all the way down the plank.
Many farmers want their farms to be located close to a city - especially organic farmers who'd like to sell their produce at big urban farmers markets. But the price of land within range of a big city is sky high and only getting higher.
Most small farmers buy their land, but some are now looking to lease in suburban or exurban areas. And to do that, they're using something straight out of Fiddler On The Roof: A matchmaker.
Afghan villagers look at a translator as U.S. soldiers tend to an injured local Afghan man, who was shot for being suspected of planting a roadside bomb in Genrandai village at Panjwai district, Kandahar, on Sept. 24.
Credit Anja Niedringhaus / AP
An Afghan boy watches an Afghan National Army soldier on patrol in Logar province, eastern Afghanistan, on May 17. NATO forces are scheduled to leave Afgahnistan by the end of 2014.
Credit Sean Carberry / NPR
In the Panjshir Valley, where mujahedeen commander Ahmed Shah Massoud fought off the Soviets and the Taliban, Afghans are hopeful, but nervous, about the country's future after NATO troops leave in 2014.
Credit Sean Carberry / NPR
The mausoleum of Ahmed Shah Massoud, the rebel commander who fought the Soviets in the 1980s and the Taliban the following decade.
Uncertainty is gripping Afghanistan as the clock ticks toward the withdrawal of NATO combat troops by the end of 2014.
People and money are leaving the country. Housing prices are falling. Construction is slowing down. Many Afghans are trying to be hopeful, but even the most optimistic admit that a number of troubling variables could determine what post-2014 Afghanistan looks like.
The Panjshir Valley, some 60 miles north of Kabul, is one of the most scenic places in Afghanistan. The Panjshir River winds its way through barren mountains.