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6:00am

Thu December 22, 2011
Movie Reviews

Flicks, Picked (Redux): Edelstein's 2011 Top 10 Films

In Beginners — based on director Mike Mills' life--Oliver (Ewan McGregor) finds out his father is gay, and has denied himself throughout his married life. After coming out, Oliver's dad becomes physically and spiritually transformed.
Focus Features

Fresh Air's film critic David Edelstein says 2011 was the kind of year without a list-topping film.

"There's no best film this year," says Edelstein. "This is in alphabetical order because I liked all these movies, I loved some of them, but I just couldn't pick a best. It wasn't that kind of year."

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4:13am

Thu December 22, 2011
Business

Home Depot Shines A Light On Bulb Choices

Most incandescent light bulbs were supposed to be phased out starting Jan. 1. But tucked inside the House's omnibus spending bill, there's a provision barring the Energy Department from enforcing more energy-efficient standards for light bulbs. For those who still want them, there are increasing options for efficient bulbs. Renee Montagne talks to Bill Hamilton, merchandising vice president of electrical at Home Depot, which sells about a third of all light bulbs in the U.S.

4:00am

Thu December 22, 2011
NPR Story

'Smart Decline' May Cure Zombie Subdivisions

The suburban Southwest is awash with empty lots and zombie subdivisions — developments that have been abandoned by builders. Experts believe up to a million dirt lots in central Arizona were in some stage of approval for new homes when the housing market crashed. Urban planners say to fix the zombie problem, the state must realize the that people are leaving the suburbs and should consider "smart decline." Peter O'Dowd of member station KJZZ explains.

4:00am

Thu December 22, 2011
NPR Story

GOP Candidates Enlist Wives For Holiday Campaign Ads

With less than two weeks before voting begins in Iowa, three Republican candidates are pulling out the big guns. Callista Gingrich, Anita Perry and Anne Romney appeared in campaign ads for their husbands.

4:00am

Thu December 22, 2011
NPR Story

North Korea's Heir Apparent Has His Work Cut Out For Him

Originally published on Thu December 22, 2011 9:44 pm

Kim Jong Un, heir apparent to North Korea's longtime leader Kim Jong Il, faces formidable challenges in the isolated communist nation.
Kyodo/file

While North Korea is preparing for the state funeral of longtime leader Kim Jong Il next week, attention is quickly turning to his son and heir apparent, Kim Jong Un. Even veteran Pyongyang watchers know little about the successor. But it's clear what he's inheriting: a country in dire economic straits, and a tough fight to consolidate his political power and legitimacy.

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4:00am

Thu December 22, 2011
Middle East

Hundreds Killed In Bloody Month For Syrian Uprising

Originally published on Thu December 22, 2011 7:01 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

And I'm Linda Wertheimer. In Syria, this week has been one of the bloodiest reported in months. Activists and groups monitoring Syria say hundreds have been killed as the government moves against villages and towns near the Turkish border. The Syrian government acknowledges the campaign but calls it a fight against terrorists.

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4:00am

Thu December 22, 2011
Education

Hawaii Could Lose Federal Education Dollars

The state of Hawaii is in danger of losing millions of dollars in Race to the Top funds due to its "unsatisfactory" performance.

4:00am

Thu December 22, 2011
Election 2012

Super Pac Has Internet Fun At Gingrich's Expense

The Democratic political action committee American Bridge 21st Century has taken over the website newtgingrich.com. Visitors to the site — which is not controlled by Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign — were re-directed to, among other things, the website Tiffany & Co., and to articles critical of the former House speaker.

4:00am

Thu December 22, 2011
Election 2012

Romney Spends Another Day Campaigning In New Hampshire

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is campaigning hard in New Hampshire, which holds its primary on January tenth. The former Massachusetts Governor had four events on Wednesday, there is seven on Thursday and more on Friday..

4:00am

Thu December 22, 2011
Business

Ratings Drop For 'All-American Muslim'

Originally published on Thu December 22, 2011 7:27 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

And our last word in business is ratings reality. Ratings for this week's episode of the reality TV show, "All-American Muslim," dropped to more than 30 percent from the previous week's ratings. The show had plenty of drama off-screen earlier this month when the home improvement retailer Lowe's admitted it pulled its ads on the show after pressure from a conservative Christian group.

Yesterday, Lowe's said it would not change its decision. Cable channel TLC has not yet said whether the show will get picked up for another season.

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4:00am

Thu December 22, 2011
Around the Nation

Charities Compete With Stores For Shoppers Money

Americans make more charitable donations than people of any other country, and this is the time of year they dig the deepest. In Little Rock, Arkansas, that means the anti-poverty charity, Heifer International, is going full throttle. Contributors purchase living things, which are donated to struggling families in 52 countries.

4:00am

Thu December 22, 2011
Around the Nation

Marine Thankful To Be Home At Christmas

Originally published on Thu December 22, 2011 6:48 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

We've been following the Dark Horse Battalion this year. NPR's Tom Bowman has brought us a series of stories on the 3rd Battalion, 5th Regiment of the Marine Corps. They fought in the deadliest place in Afghanistan, Sangan in Helmand Province.

The Dark Horse Battalion is home this Christmas and we reached out to one of them. Staff Sergeant James Foley joined us by phone from Camp Pendleton here in Southern California and shared memories of what he was doing this time last year.

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1:26am

Thu December 22, 2011
Music

A Church, An Oratorio And An Enduring Tradition

Originally published on Thu December 22, 2011 11:17 am

The interior of the renowned Marienkirche church, where Johann Sebastian Bach's Christmas Oratorio is traditionally performed.
General Photographic Agency Getty Images

Johann Sebastian Bach's Christmas Oratorio was first performed in Leipzig on Christmas Day in 1734. In Germany, no matter what the economic and political times, it's the Christmas work. In the oldest functioning church in Berlin, the 13th-century Saint Mary's, performance of Bach's Christmas Oratorio is a fixed tradition.

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12:01am

Thu December 22, 2011
Education

Texas Schools Grapple With Big Budget Cuts

What's known as Middle School No. 8 in Leander, Texas, was supposed to help relieve overcrowding in the rapidly growing community. But after significant statewide cuts to education, the district can't afford to open the school.
Marisa Penaloza NPR

School funding in Texas is in turmoil. State lawmakers slashed more than $4 billion from education this school year — one of the largest cuts in state history — and more than 12,000 teachers and support staff have been laid off.

Academic programs and transportation have been cut to the bone. Promising reforms are on hold or on the chopping block. Next year, the cuts could go even deeper.

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12:01am

Thu December 22, 2011
Newt Gingrich

Gingrich's Catholic Journey Began With Third Wife

Any discussion of Newt Gingrich's journey to Catholicism begins with his wife.

"I have always been a very spiritual person," Callista Gingrich told the Christian Broadcasting Network this year. "I start each day with a prayer, and pray throughout the day, because I am grateful for the many blessings that God has bestowed upon us."

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12:01am

Thu December 22, 2011
Asia

U.S. And Pakistan Relations: From Bad To Worse

Originally published on Thu December 22, 2011 11:04 am

Relations between the U.S. military and the Pakistan military have become even more strained since American forces were involved in a shooting last month that left 24 Pakistani soldiers dead. Here, Pakistani soldiers march during a ceremony in September.
Arif Ali

In Pakistan, transit routes for NATO supply trucks heading to Afghanistan remain shut. The CIA drone missile program has gone quiet in Pakistan's tribal area. Pakistan's government has called for a re-negotiation of its troubled relationship with the U.S.

All of this is fallout from an attack on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border last month in which NATO fire from helicopter gunships killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

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12:01am

Thu December 22, 2011
Author Interviews

'The Dead Witness': Classic Victorian Crime Fiction

Originally published on Thu December 22, 2011 6:48 am

Michael Sims, editor of The Dead Witness, resurrects long-forgotten Victorian crime writing.
Dennis Wile

With his pipe, deerstalker hat and formidable "methods," Sherlock Holmes may be the most recognizable face of the Victorian mystery story. But how does he stack up against Edgar Allan Poe's C. Auguste Dupin, who pioneered deductive reasoning? Or quicksilver Violet Strange, debutante by day, intrepid sleuth by night?

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6:25pm

Wed December 21, 2011
It's All Politics

Staying In Shape On The Campaign Trail: Romney Drops A Few Pointers

Originally published on Thu December 22, 2011 4:09 pm

Romney eats a slice of pizza — this one with the cheese still on — at a campaign stop in Newport, N.H
Ari Shapiro NPR

Stumping in New Hampshire on Wednesday, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney revealed a bit about his strategies for staying in shape on the campaign trail.

"Hey, I heard you pull the cheese off your pizza to stay thin. Is that true?" asked a woman at Village Pizza in Newport, N.H., in the southwestern part of the state, where the Romney bus tour had made a stop.

"You know, on occasion, but on the campaign trail you need all the calories you can get," laughed Romney.

"And do you run three miles a day like they say?" she asked.

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6:14pm

Wed December 21, 2011
The Two-Way

Report: Canada's Less Productive, Yet Gaining On U.S. Quality Of Life

Originally published on Wed December 21, 2011 7:09 pm

Canadians live it up, while Americans work. This is actually an October picture of Canada's national baseball team at the Pan American Games in Lagos de Moreno, Mexico.
Javier Galeano AP

According to Canada's statistics agency, Canadians are less productive than their U.S. counterparts, yet their standard of living gained 5 percent during the 14 year period they analyzed.

Now, the reasons for that argument are quite complex, but The Wall Street Journal boiled it down to a lesson Americans can take from their neighbors to the north: "Be less productive, live better."

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5:45pm

Wed December 21, 2011
Shots - Health Blog

Ditch This Massager, If It Shows Up Under The Christmas Tree

This massager could also strangle you, the Food and Drug Administration warns.
FDA

The ShoulderFlex massager looks harmless enough. But don't be fooled.

The Food and Drug Administration is warning people not to use the product because it could kill or injure them. There were reports of one person being strangled by the device and another near-death by strangulation, the FDA says.

Clothing, hair and jewelry can get tangled up in the device's rotating parts. And that's a recipe for trouble.

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5:12pm

Wed December 21, 2011
The Salt

A Christmas Pudding In The Mail Carries A Taste Of Home

Originally published on Thu December 22, 2011 8:35 am

The pudding's dark glossy dome is flamed with brandy and carried to the table before the shimmering blue aura dies away.
Chris Elwell iStockphoto.com

Any day now it will arrive stamped by the Royal Mail: a truly homemade Christmas pudding from my family in England.

My mother always made Christmas puddings. And before moving to the U.S., I would make two or three puddings every November, too. Now it's my sister and brother-in-law who keep up the tradition. They use a mid-Victorian recipe handed down to my brother-in-law's father by his mother, the former Miss Mortlock. She was a Quaker so these are teetotal puddings.

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4:58pm

Wed December 21, 2011
The Two-Way

Russian Billionaire Buys Daughter $88M New York Pad

15 Central Park West.
Google Street View

The New York Post simply called it "the best Christmas present ever."

And would you disagree? Dmitry Rybolovlev just bought his 22-year-old daughter Ekaterina Rybolovleva a 6,744-sq-ft penthouse overlooking New York's Central Park. The price tag? $88 million.

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4:56pm

Wed December 21, 2011
Movies

Glenn Close Finds Chemistry In Role Of Albert Nobbs

Originally published on Wed December 21, 2011 7:14 pm

Glenn Close portrays a woman quietly living as a man in 19th-century Ireland. The character, Albert Nobbs, worked and saved money to avoid the wave of poverty plaguing the country at the time.
Patrick Redmond

Early in her career, Glenn Close was often cast in the "good girl" role: the idyllic muse in The Natural; the understanding friend, wife and mother in The Big Chill.

Things took a sharp turn for her when she played an evil manipulator in Dangerous Liaisons and then created one of film's greatest villains in Fatal Attraction.

The range of her roles alone would make Close one of the great actors of her generation. Now, she adds another remarkable character to the list, playing the title role in the new movie Albert Nobbs.

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4:26pm

Wed December 21, 2011
Movie Reviews

Tintin's 'Adventures' Take Him To Hollywood

Originally published on Thu December 22, 2011 1:31 pm

Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis, left) and Tintin (Jamie Bell) chase fortune and treasure in The Adventures of Tintin.
WETA Digital Ltd.

Tintin — star of a series of vintage Belgian comics that have sold hundreds of millions of copies in dozens of languages — is a crime-fighting boy journalist who specializes in solving riddles with the assistance of his intrepid dog, Snowy.

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4:06pm

Wed December 21, 2011
Middle East

Iran And Its Rivals Dig In On Nuclear Dispute

Originally published on Wed December 21, 2011 5:01 pm

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad regularly defends his country's nuclear program despite international criticism. The president is shown here on a visit to Varamin, south of Tehran, on Wednesday.
Atta Kenare AFP/Getty Images

The year began on a note of cautious optimism on the Iran nuclear front. But talks in Geneva and Istanbul proved inconclusive, and the Arab Spring uprisings soon pushed Iran off center stage. And as 2012 approaches, observers see little reason for optimism regarding a diplomatic solution to the Iran nuclear dispute.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, under attack from other conservative factions at home, continues to find a safe rhetorical haven in defending Iran's nuclear program — and in attacking the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

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4:04pm

Wed December 21, 2011
Latin America

What Greece Can Learn From South America

Originally published on Wed December 21, 2011 5:08 pm

Greek demonstrators protest in Athens on Nov. 8. Similar economic crises in Argentina and Uruguay a decade ago may be instructive for Greece today.
Orestis Panagiotou EPA /Landov

As Greece struggles with a financial crisis, there have been violent protests, creditors demanding their money, people losing their jobs and officials hunkering down.

A decade ago, that was the scene in South America when Argentina and Uruguay defaulted. The two handled the economic calamity in very different ways. Economists say their approaches — and what's happened in each country since — are instructive for European leaders as they try lifting Greece from its turmoil.

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4:03pm

Wed December 21, 2011
Still No Job: Over A Year Without Enough Work

Who Gives The Long-Term Jobless A Helping Hand?

Originally published on Wed December 21, 2011 9:15 pm

More than 40 percent of the long-term unemployed say they've received a lot of help from family and friends. But only 1 in 10 reports getting much help from churches or community groups, according to an NPR/Kaiser Family Foundation poll.

While family may be the first stop for help, these groups say they're indeed seeing large numbers of people who have been out of work a long time.

'We're Overwhelmed Now'

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3:56pm

Wed December 21, 2011
Opinion

Appreciating The Ugliness Of The Christmas Tree

Originally published on Wed December 21, 2011 5:03 pm

iStockphoto.com

Ken Harbaugh is a former Navy pilot and an NPR commentator.

Our Christmas tree gets uglier every year. It's not the tree's fault. This year we sprung for a Fraser fir, cut fresh at a local farm. It has soft needles, that ideal pine-cone shape, and a pointy top perfect for holding a star. But when we got home, I felt like apologizing. This tree did not deserve what we were about to do. We re-cut the bottom, mounted it in its holder, and gave it water. For about five minutes, our tree looked beautiful. Then came the decorations.

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3:38pm

Wed December 21, 2011
The Two-Way

BofA's Countrywide To Pay $335 Million, Settling Lending Discrimination Case

Originally published on Wed December 21, 2011 5:18 pm

The Countrywide logo.
AP

The Justice Department is calling it the "largest residential fair lending settlement in history:" Bank of America's Countrywide Financial has agreed to pay $335 million to settle a lawsuit that claimed it discriminated against black and Latino borrowers.

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3:07pm

Wed December 21, 2011
Environment

Turbulence As Europe Passes Fee On Plane Emissions

Air travel contributes only 2 to 4 percent of carbon dioxide emissions worldwide. A new ruling says airlines flying into an out of European airports will have to pay a price for the carbon dioxide they emit from burning jet fuel. Above, a plane takes off from the Geneva airport on March 11, 2010.
Fabrice Coffrini AFP/Getty Images

A European court ruled Wednesday that airlines flying into and out of European airports will have to pay a price for the carbon dioxide they emit when they burn jet fuel.

U.S. airlines, which had been fighting the idea in court, say the European Union is trying to force other countries to reduce carbon emissions. Europe currently limits carbon dioxide emissions from its major industries to curb global warming. The ruling cannot be appealed, and the decision likely to end the dispute.

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