1:00pm

Fri December 23, 2011
Television

The Science Behind 'Breaking Bad'

Cooking crystal meth is just "basic chemistry" for Walter White, the fictional chemistry teacher and anti-hero of the TV drama "Breaking Bad." Organic chemist Donna Nelson serves as science adviser to the show; she explains how the series' writers work to get the science right.

1:00pm

Fri December 23, 2011
NPR Story

Birders Fan Out to Count Feathered Friends

The 112th Audubon Christmas Bird Count is underway. Citizen scientists armed with binoculars are recording data vital to monitoring bird health and conservation. But before you can count a Snowy Owl or a Rufous Hummingbird, you need to identify it. Birder Richard Crossley has some tips.

1:00pm

Fri December 23, 2011
NPR Story

Kepler Telescope Narrows Hunt For Earth's Twin

Originally published on Fri December 23, 2011 1:33 pm

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. If you're scanning the Milky Way for life, where do you look? Well, probably someplace not too different from planet Earth, right? So you want to find a planet about the same size as Earth to increase the chance it has a rocky surface, with oceans of course rather than being a giant ball of gas like Jupiter, and it should be just the right distance from its star, in what they call the Goldilocks Zone: hot enough to have liquid water but not so hot that the surface has completely scorched.

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12:00pm

Fri December 23, 2011
NPR Story

Will Lawmakers Make Santa's Naughty Or Nice List?

After receiving an earful from Democrats and Senate Republicans, House GOP members agreed to a deal to extend unemployment benefits and a payroll tax holiday. The Republican race is also heating up in Iowa and New Hampshire. Guest host Allison Keyes speaks with former GOP National Committee chairman Michael Steele, and Joy-Ann Reid of TheGrio.com.

12:00pm

Fri December 23, 2011
Barbershop

Shop Talk: Obama Jumps In The Polls

The guys weigh in on President Obama's recent increase in popularity, and they look at the NBA match-ups that will kick-off the season on Christmas Day. Guest host Allison Keyes is joined by author Jimi Izrael, GOP strategist Ron Christie, The Boston Globe film critic, Wesley Morris, and Dave Zirin, sports editor at The Nation.

12:00pm

Fri December 23, 2011
NPR Story

'Earth Song' Still Inspires King Of Pop's Brother

Jermaine Jackson performed alongside his brother, Michael, in the legendary Motown group the Jackson 5. In his book, You Are Not Alone: Michael, he looks at his struggle to come to terms with his brother's death. As part of Tell Me More's series, In Your Ear, Jackson talks about the songs that continue to inspire him.

11:50am

Fri December 23, 2011
Politics

What's Behind House GOP's Payroll Tax Reversal?

Originally published on Fri December 23, 2011 12:01 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

And I'm Linda Wertheimer.

A bitter fight in Congress is come to an end just in time for Christmas. The House and the Senate this morning, approved an extension of payroll tax cuts for every worker and benefits for the long-term unemployed. This required a major reversal for House Republicans who, earlier this week, voted to reject a nearly identical compromise.

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11:46am

Fri December 23, 2011
The Salt

Senator Finds Government-Funded Food Waste Far Beyond The Compost Bin

The Washington State Fruit Commission received $100,000 in federal money to promote cherries in Indonesia, but Sen. Tom Coburn says this is a waste of taxpayer money.
Jeff Goulden iStockphoto.com

As Eater reported this week, some politicians believe this country is awash in food waste. But this isn't the stuff in the garbage — it's the way we pour money into building restaurants, promoting American food products abroad, and encouraging the purchase of local foods.

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11:37am

Fri December 23, 2011
Opinion

Bittersweet Anticipation: Expecting The Expected

iStockphoto.com

Ben Dolnick is a writer based in Brooklyn.

Lately, just in time for Christmas, I've discovered that I've been acting in a play. A kind of holiday pageant, really. Working title: Things Are Always Better Before You Have Them.

Act One: I learn about the existence of something I want. Say, a book. (Ooh, a book of letters between William Maxwell and Eudora Welty!)

Act Two: I add the book to my Amazon wish list, which I proceed to circulate shamelessly to my family.

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11:23am

Fri December 23, 2011
It's All Politics

Boehner's 2012 Challenges Highlighted By Payroll Tax Misstep

Originally published on Mon December 26, 2011 12:09 pm

House Speaker John Boehner announces a payroll tax cut extension agreement, December 22, 2011.
Evan Vucci AP

When the histories of the current 112th Congress are finally written, maybe it all will become clear.

But for right now, there seem to be many more questions than answers.

For instance, why did House Republicans ever think it was a good idea to stake out a position on the payroll-tax issue that would leave them holding the bag for a new year's tax increase for 160 million workers? That has now been averted with Congress' passage Friday morning of a two-month extension of the current payroll-tax holiday.

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