We hope that you're spending this holiday around the people who matter most in your lives. But not everyone has the day off. And we wanted to hear from people who are working today. So, we called out on NPR's Facebook page and we heard back from hundreds of people - from soldiers to snow plow drivers. We called a few of them up and put together this audio portrait of people working today. We're calling it Christmas on the Clock.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.
Let's begin our show this Christmas Day with a look back at a business development this year that took many investors by surprise. Just over three months ago, Apple's stock hit a record high - for a few days in September a single share was selling for more than $700. But since then, Apple's stock has tanked. In December, it traded briefly below $500 a share.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.
In upstate New York yesterday, a gunman ambushed firefighters as they were responding to a house fire in the suburban town of Webster. Sixty-two-year-old William Spengler killed two firefighters and injured two others before he took his own life. Police believe that Spengler set the fire to lure the firefighters to the scene. NPR's Joel Rose has been covering the story and he joins us now.
Now each day we've been looking at those gifts - big and small - that the government gives us in the form of tax benefits and we have finally hit the final day in our series that we've called the Twelve Days of Tax Deductions.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS")
GREENE: And so on this 12th day of tax deductions, we thought we would just dig into a grab bag of a lot of deductions you may or may not even know about.
OK, so the final numbers are not in yet, but it looks like the Christmas shopping season was just OK. There were some bright spots, particularly in online sales.
NPR's Ina Jaffe reports.
INA JAFFE, BYLINE: The frenzy of Black Friday calmed down considerably over the course of the Christmas shopping season. Major chains began offering big discounts as the holiday approached and that'll cut into profits.
NPR's business news starts with possible port shutdowns.
A federal mediator says port operators and workers will start talking to each other again. The clock is ticking because a contract extension expires Saturday for longshoremen from Maine to Texas. Talks broke down last week. Retailers are pushing hard for mediation. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.
And today's last word in business: Dueling Santa Trackers.
We've heard for a while how NORAD tracks Santa's progress on Christmas Eve. Turns out Google is following Santa's path as well. But when NORAD, powered by Microsoft, placed him over Japan, Google cited him over Australia. When Google had him in Iceland, NORAD said no, it was Argentina. Both say he's made all of his drop-offs though, which means he's not using Apple Maps.
That's the business news from MORNING EDITION on NPR News. I'm David Greene.
An Army brigade from Fort Riley, Kan., some 4,000, soldiers, will begin helping to train African militaries. The idea is to help African troops beat back a growing terrorist threat posed by al-Qaida.
The American troops will head over in small teams over the course of the next year. The Dagger Brigade returned to Kansas last year from a deployment to Iraq, where it trained and advised that country's security forces.
Thousands of Christian pilgrims streamed into Bethlehem Monday night to celebrate the birth of Jesus. It's the major event of the year in that West Bank town. But Israeli archaeologists now say there is strong evidence that Christ was born in a different Bethlehem, a small village in the Galilee.
Throughout the debate over taxes and the "fiscal cliff," there's been a lot of looking backward â€” to the 1990s. The economic expansion of the 1990s was the longest in recorded American history.
Democrats say the economy thrived under the leadership of President Bill Clinton, including his tax rate increase on high earners. Republicans say government didn't spend as much then and that growth didn't really take off until the GOP took control of Congress in 1995.
So what actually happened in the '90s? What made them tick?
There's a wordless sequence in Quentin Tarantino's anti-bigotry neo-Spaghetti Western exploitation comedy Django Unchained in which Jamie Foxx, as recently freed slave Django, hitches up his horse and, along with the man who bought him his freedom â€” Christoph Waltz's Dr. King Schultz â€” sets off on an elegiac amble through a snowy western landscape. It's one of the most gorgeous sequences of any film this year, a reverie borrowed, with love, from rare snowscape Westerns like McCabe and Mrs. Miller and Sergio Corbucci's 1968 The Great Silence.
Half an hour into Tom Hooper's adaptation of the long-running stage musical Les Miserables, he fixes his camera on Anne Hathaway's tortured, tear-streaked face, and she delivers what ought to become one of the great moments in musical cinema history â€” right up there with Dorothy singing wistfully of a land far away, Gene Kelly swinging happily around damp lamp poles, and a problem like Maria singing to the grassy Austrian hillsides. She's that good.
Ibrahim Abazid had no idea he would be part of a nationwide revolt in Syria â€” or that his role would keep evolving.
It was March 2011. Some teenagers in his hometown, Dera'a, got arrested for spray painting anti-government slogans outside a school. Rumors began circulating that the teenagers were being tortured while in detention in the southern town.
In the broader region, Arab protesters had been filling the streets for months. Dictators in Tunisia and Egypt had already fallen. Abazid and his friends went to pray.
Former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska is said to be on President Obama's short list to be the next defense secretary. But even the possibility of his nomination has stirred up opposition â€” particularly from members of his own political party.
If Hagel can survive a political ambush in Washington, he would be the first Pentagon chief who saw combat as an enlisted soldier.
The blunt-spoken Hagel favors deeper cuts in military spending and is wary of entangling America in long overseas missions.
This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. Merry Christmas. Today we have something truly special, one of my favorite recordings in our archive. It's an onstage concert and interview with Rosemary Clooney, recorded in 1997, five years before her death. Christmas is a perfect time to listen back to this because she starred with Bing Crosby in the classic 1954 film "White Christmas."
In North Carolina, pressure is mounting to pardon a group of people convicted of a crime everyone agrees they did not commit. The group is known as the Wilmington Ten. In 1972, a state court found them guilty of firebombing a store.
It's awards season for Hollywood as the film industry starts doling out accolades. And this year, some of the films hoping to grab the attention of voters will have these words in common: "inspired by true events."
Think Argo, Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty â€” and, of course, Hitchcock.
In the film, Anthony Hopkins plays the legendary film director, and Helen Mirren plays his wife, Alma Reville.
GM, Ford and Chrysler are turning their focus to selling luxury cars â€” something they haven't succeeded at in decades. They're hoping that success in the competitive but lucrative luxury sector will signal that the U.S. auto industry's comeback is complete.
The days leading up to Christmas are typically bustling in Newtown, Conn. But given the depth of grief in this community since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, preparations for the holiday began very late.
Local shopkeepers say Saturday was the first day many people came out for holiday shopping since the tragedy. Tamara Doherty, owner of the Wishing Well â€” a shop filled with local crafts, Christmas ornaments, pottery and potpourri â€” says her business is finally picking up.
Amid continued bloodshed in several parts of Syria, international envoy Lakhdar Brahimi held another round of talks with President Bashar Assad in Damascus. But there was no sign of progress toward a peace deal.
Two firefighters died and two others were hospitalized in western New York on Monday. They were shot after responding to a fire in the town of Webster, outside Rochester. Police say the gunman is also dead, and they're not ruling out the possibility that the firefighters were led into a trap.