Mark Shoopman is into green beans. The Illinois chef is cooking 270 pounds of beans and 75 pounds of onions. His goal, according to WMBD in Peoria, is the largest green bean casserole in Central Illinois.
Now, while our politicians are consumed with the deficit deadline, many leaders around the world are taking a step back, putting quill to paper and carefully composing their Christmas messages. In Britain, particular attention will be paid to Queen Elizabeth's message, because this year she's celebrating 60 years on the throne.
NPR's Philip Reeves sent this letter, musing about what it meant to be British as 2012 comes to a close.
Following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, the debate over gun control has been reignited. Many have said that if there is going to be any action on gun control, law-abiding, responsible gun owners will need to be a part of the conversation. Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep talks to Steven Rinella, a writer and avid hunter, about how he views the current debate.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.
It is Christmas Eve, a time for good will towards all, for peace on Earth, for setting aside differences. Well, maybe that's not true for everyone this year. On Friday, Congress went home without settling their differences over how to avoid the spending decreases and tax increases known as the fiscal cliff.
Originally published on Mon March 25, 2013 12:43 pm
In political terms, 2012 was not the greatest of years. We witnessed an ugly, personal, petty, and often childish presidential election. Living in a "battleground" or "swing" state often meant being bombarded 24/7 by an incessant barrage of negative campaign commercials. And just as we were finally emerging from the campaign, we ended the year with an unfathomable tragedy, the gunning down of 20 children at an elementary school in Connecticut.
When Sarah Gardner was 34, she started getting really worried about whether she'd ever have kids.
"I bought this kit online that said that they could tell you your ovarian reserve," Gardner, now 40, says. These kits claim they can tell women how long their ovaries will continue producing eggs and how much time they have left to get pregnant.
"Well, mine said, 'we advise really you have a baby now.' Well, sadly that letter arrived three weeks after I just split up with my long-term partner. So, yeah, it opened a massive can of worms really," she says.
It's been known for a while that girls start puberty earlier than they did in the past, sometimes as young as 7 or 8. But it's been unclear whether boys also go through puberty earlier. Now, a study from the American Academy of Pediatrics helps answer that question.
The Monday after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., toys and stuffed animals began arriving by the truckload. Ten days later, the gymnasium at Edmond Town Hall in the center of Newtown is full of them.
"When I realized that it was getting so large, I thought that we should get this to the children before the holidays," says Ann Benore, a caseworker for Newtown Social Services.
Among the candidates President Obama may nominate for the next defense secretary is Michele Flournoy, formerly the highest-ranking woman in the Pentagon.
Flournoy is a mother of three, and in February, she stunned her colleagues when she stepped down from her job as undersecretary of defense for policy to spend more time with her children.
It wasn't an easy decision, but it's a dilemma that many working mothers face. While some call for changes in workplace policy to make caring for families and working easier, others argue women ultimately have to make a choice.
Philip Kaplan and Debra Jo Lashaway were both arrested, then cleared of their charges. Their court files were sealed, effectively removing the arrests from their public record, but their mug shots linger on websites that make money by charging people to remove their arrest photos. Now, they're part of a lawsuit that argues their right to publicity has been violated.
In August 2011, Debbie Jo Lashaway was charged with theft. She was arraigned and booked in Lucas County, Ohio, and her mug shot was taken.
Seven months later, the charges were dismissed and her record was sealed — effectively removing the theft charge from her public record. Six months after that, she even won a judgment against the man who accused her of theft, declaring the charge bogus and awarding her thousands of dollars in damages.
A clothing store in Ahmadabad, India, sparked controversy earlier this year, as reporter David Shaftel reports in <em>Bloomberg Businessweek</em>. The city tore down the store's name in October, flummoxing the owners who refused to change it.
Credit Ajit Solanki / AP
"We are popular because of the name," Hitler co-owner Rajesh Shah said. "Our customers were not upset about the name."
All over India, an unusual name has been popping up on signs in restaurants and businesses: Hitler.
Yes, Hitler. As in Adolph. Just last year there was even a Punjabi movie called Hero Hitler in Love.
To understand why a name generally associated with mass murder is turning up on storefronts around the country, reporter David Shaftel investigated and wrote about it in a recent issue of Bloomberg Businessweek.
And if you're just tuning in, this is WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz.
Former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was buried under so many feet of concrete in 2004 that it took gravediggers six hours to get to his body last month. And his body was exhumed because his widow suspects he was murdered, poisoned by the radioactive element polonium 210.
Alex Thier is the assistant to the administrator for Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs at the U.S. Agency for International Development or USAID. He just returned from Pakistan, where his organization helps manage several infrastructure projects. I asked him if the recent attacks against the health workers have undermined the work of American aid agencies in Pakistan.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. Could eggnog be the antidote to the looming fiscal cliff? President Obama expressed this very hope as he left town for Christmas in Hawaii on Friday, saying maybe eggnog and Christmas cookies could put lawmakers in a more cooperative mood in time to prevent the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts set to take effect with the new year. The president said lawmakers might also benefit from a short cooling-off period outside the partisan pressure cooker here in Washington.
Even in a city known for its eccentrics, Ernie K-Doe was in another dimension. The New Orleans musician always knew — and said, loudly — that he was special. And for one week in a life of wild ups and downs, he managed to pierce the national consciousness with a chart-topping hit: 1961's "Mother in Law."
West of the city of Colorado Springs, trees charred by the summer's wildfire scar the steep foothills. The Waldo Canyon fire destroyed more than 300 homes in June.
Now, that devastated neighborhood is coming back to life, with construction workers swarming over half-completed houses. While many of its former residents are preparing to move back, some just want to move on.
In the days after the fire devoured their homes, shell-shocked residents tried to wrap their minds around what had just happened to them.
At about 8 a.m. on March 6, 1998, Matthew Beck arrived to work at the headquarters of the Connecticut State Lottery. He hung up his coat, walked into an office and shot the first of four victims.
Beck ended up killing a number of his co-workers and then took his own life in the parking lot when the police arrived.
Mike Lawlor, the Connecticut governor's criminal justice adviser, was a state representative at the time, and wanted to understand what led to the rampage. He learned that Beck had previously attempted suicide and owned a number of guns.
Countless kids have grown up with the Girl Scouts, the Boy Scouts or Campfire Girls, but for some families, the uniforms and outdoor focus of traditional Scouting groups don't appeal.
In recent months, Scoutlike groups that concentrate on technology and do-it-yourself projects have been sprouting up around the country. They're coed and, like traditional Scouting organizations, award patches to kids who master skills.
On-air challenge: Every answer is a word that can be formed from the letters of "Christmas." You'll be given two words as clues. The first one can precede the answer word, and the second one can follow it — in each case to complete a compound word or familiar two-word phrase. For example, given "forward" and "madness," the answer would be "march" (as in "forward march" and "March Madness").
The surviving students of Sandy Hook Elementary will not be returning to their school in Newtown, Conn., where 20 first-graders and six educators were shot to death on Dec. 14.
Instead, when classes resume after the holidays, they'll attend a school in the neighboring town of Monroe. Parents, teachers and administrators in both towns are working to make the new school as similar as possible to the one Sandy Hook students left behind.