7:18pm

Fri December 30, 2011
The Two-Way

College Football Bowl Preview: Compelling Matchups, Dead Ahead

Originally published on Mon January 2, 2012 12:56 pm

Quarterback Darron Thomas of the Oregon Ducks (right) threw for 30 touchdowns with only 6 interceptions this season. The Ducks beat UCLA in the Pac-12 Championship to earn a spot in the Rose Bowl, where they'll face Wisconsin.
Steve Dykes Getty Images

College football is set to enter its final week, and that means the biggest bowl games are coming up. This weekend will see teams such as Auburn, Oklahoma and Georgia Tech in action. And the first week of 2012 will feature marquee matchups like Oregon vs. Wisconsin, and Oklahoma State against Stanford.

Update at 1 p.m. ET: We'll have a separate preview of the BCS title game between Alabama and LSU later this week. Our original post continues:

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5:47pm

Fri December 30, 2011
Opinion

The Simple Joys Of An Old-Fashioned Datebook

Originally published on Sat December 31, 2011 10:05 am

What if you could hold on to time in your hands? You can, you know. You can crack open, on this New Year's Eve, the unsullied, unhurried, un-trammeled pages of an old-fashioned datebook — the kind that still arranges seven days into a week; the kind you write in with a pen and which never, ever, beeps at you to remind you of a meeting or errand.

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5:46pm

Fri December 30, 2011
The Two-Way

After Much Tumult, Wall Street Ends Year Where It Started

We saw a crazy market this year. It swung so wildly in both directions, that ending a day a couple of percentage points up or down became the norm.

But after much tumult, Wall Street closed its year today not far from where it started it.

The AP reports:

"In the final tally, despite big climbs and falls, unexpected blows and surprising triumphs, all the hullabaloo proved for naught. On Friday, the Standard & Poor's 500 index closed at 1,257.60. That's exactly 0.04 point below where it started the year.

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5:39pm

Fri December 30, 2011
NPR Story

Johnson Discusses Opting To Seek Libertarian Nomination

Originally published on Sat January 21, 2012 10:30 am

Robert Siegel speaks with Gary Johnson, former governor of New Mexico. He tells Robert why he decided to end his GOP presidential bid and instead seek the Libertarian nomination for president.

5:38pm

Fri December 30, 2011
Around the Nation

In Chris Brown's Big Year, Tough Questions On Abuse

R&B singer Chris Brown is back only a few years after what could have been a career-ending incident.

In 2009, just before that year's Grammy Awards show, Brown violently beat his superstar girlfriend Rihanna. He was 19. Brown later plead guilty to felony assault and was sentenced to 5 years of labor-intensive probation and a year of domestic violence prevention classes.

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5:19pm

Fri December 30, 2011
Election 2012

Confused About The Iowa Caucuses? Here's A Guide

On Jan. 3, Iowans will caucus at 1,774 precincts across the state, in the first contest of the 2012 presidential nominating process. Above, Iowans caucus in 2004 at St. John's United Methodist Church in Des Moines, precinct 87.
Shaun Heasley Getty Images

At 7 p.m. central time on Tuesday, Jan. 3, the first contest of the 2012 presidential nominating process takes place in Iowa.

As you've heard countless times, Iowans vote in caucuses, which are small political meetings held in 1,774 locations scattered around the state.

NPR political correspondent Don Gonyea has prepared this basic guide to next week's contest.

How It Works

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5:02pm

Fri December 30, 2011
Music News

What's That Sound? The Rhythm That Ruled 2011

"Party Rock Anthem" by LMFAO was one of the dozens of pop hits this year to use the same hammering disco beat.
YouTube

4:58pm

Fri December 30, 2011
The Salt

The Perfect Champagne Pour: It's A Science, Not An Art

Originally published on Fri December 30, 2011 5:14 pm

The chemistry behind champagne has helped scientists figure out how to preserve its flavor and fizz.
Sean Parsons, American Chemical Society

Here's something to impress — or annoy — your friends this New Year's Eve: the science behind the champagne pour.

To preserve the fizz and taste of the wine, you need to preserve the bubbles, a recent study found.

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4:22pm

Fri December 30, 2011
It's All Politics

'Occupy' Activists Urge Like-Minded to Participate In, Not Disrupt, Iowa Caucuses

Former Democratic state legislator Ed Fallon, a vocal member of the Occupy movement, said activists should take part in the caucuses.
Becky Lettenberger NPR

In a cavernous Des Moines meeting hall just west of the state Capitol, progressive activist and writer John Nichols had a simple message for those involved in Iowa's iteration of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

"Learn to get cool with losing," Nichols told about 50 people who had come to hear advice from longtime activists, including veterans of the civil rights battle.

"Get comfortable that you absolutely will be told you can't succeed," he said, and with the notion of a long-term struggle "that may last beyond your lifetime."

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4:07pm

Fri December 30, 2011
The Two-Way

'An Evolutionary Throwback': Panda Filmed Eating Meat

A panda eating meat.
Wanglong Nature Reserve

The staff at a Chinese nature reserve have caught a very rare thing on film: a wild panda eating the meat of a dead widebeest.

The AP reports:

"Staff at the Wanglong Nature Reserve in southwest Sichuan province set up the camera after noticing dead animals with chew marks. It was not known if the panda had killed the animals.

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