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.
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.
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.
Let's say you live in Canada — say, Toronto — and you like to sing. You're not in a band, you don't get asked to sing at weddings, but singing just kind of makes you happy. Well, every Tuesday night at a local bar, you'll find a crowd of people just like you, singing their hearts out.
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.
Originally published on Sat December 22, 2012 6:50 pm
"The House has done its part to avert this entire fiscal cliff," House Speaker John Boehner said Saturday in his weekly address.
He cited the measure that passed Thursday, which would reorganize the automatic spending cuts to protect the defense budget and cut deeper elsewhere. He also pointed to legislation that would stop all tax hikes on Jan. 1.
For nearly 150 years the world-renowned beer manufacturer Anheuser-Busch was a family company. It was passed from father to son for five generations. A couple drops of Budweiser were put onto the tongue of each first-born son before he even tasted his mother's milk. That trademark brew, Budweiser, is known to the world as the "King of Beers," and the Busch family wasn't too far from American royalty.
It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz.
It seems less and less likely that a deal to avert the fiscal cliff will be reached before the New Year. And much of that may have to do with a divided opposition. James Fallows of The Atlantic is with me now, as he is most Saturdays. Jim, hello.
Originally published on Sat December 22, 2012 4:25 pm
Waves of angry demonstrators were repelled by tear gas and water cannons in New Delhi on Saturday as they marched on the president's residence to protest the brutal gang rape of a 23-year-old student on a private bus last weekend.
With cries of "be ashamed," thousands flowed through central Delhi, trying to break through steel barricades as the seesawing battle lasted into the evening. It's the fourth straight day of protests that have shaken the government and taken police aback.
In the 1980s, few musicians matched the consistent brilliance and staggering fame of Prince. The Purple One earned legions of young fans back then, including one doting girl in California named Maya Rudolph — the same Maya Rudolph who would find fame herself as a cast member on Saturday Night Live and co-star of the film Bridesmaids.
Originally published on Sun December 23, 2012 6:22 am
Update Dec. 23, at 5:30 a.m.:
Egypt's constitution appears to have passed with 64 percent of Egyptians voting "yes," according to preliminary results issued by state-run media. But the document passed under a cloud of controversy as the opposition to the Islamist-backed document cried fraud.