This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. And President Obama's in Hawaii today. His family flew there last night for their annual Christmas getaway. Just before leaving Washington, D.C., the President put a stamp on 2013 with a year-end news conference. At times, his parting encounter with reporters seemed as rough as the year just ending. NPR's Ari Shapiro was there.
The U.S. Senate wrapped up its first session of the 113th Congress yesterday. Despite modest signs of bipartisanship near the end of the session, this year's been lampooned as one of the least productive years in the history of the legislative branch, one mired in partisan strife. NPR's congressional reporter, Ailsa Chang, joins us now. Ailsa, thanks for being with us.
AILSA CHANG, BYLINE: You're welcome. Thanks for having me.
Holiday music: Bing, "Silver Bells," Nat, evening carolers, and, of course, tubas. Well, maybe not. But hundreds of thousands of tubas oom-pah-pah their way through the holiday standards in annual concerts every year, all around the world. It's called Tuba Christmas and this is its 40th year. NPR's Gabrielle Emanuel swung by the Washington, D.C. event this week.
Our goal for this special holiday Tiny Desk Concert is simple: to bring you joy. Preservation Hall Jazz Band is a hot and historic outfit from New Orleans, and its members brought us a tuba-wielding Santa and some original holiday cheer and praise — what they call a Cajun Christmas from the French Quarter.
Hear Will Shortz Prove His Anagram Prowess On Ask Me Another
The first published crossword puzzle was printed on December 21, 1913, in the The New York World. It was written by Arthur Wynne, a British journalist who moved to the United States at age 19 and wound up in New York City. His puzzle, diamond-shaped and identified as a "Word-Cross," first appeared in the "Fun" section of the Sunday paper.
We recorded our show in Memphis, Tenn., this week, where Carla Thomas is a soul legend. Born in Memphis, Thomas scored her first hit single for Stax Records at the age of 18, and had many more, including duets with Otis Redding and other stars.
We've invited her to play a game called "Thomas, meet Thomas." Three questions about other people who are also named Thomas.
Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 7:01 pm
It's the season of peace and goodwill, but President Obama may have tested the limits of both with some comments at his end-of-year news conference.
Asked if he would negotiate with congressional Republicans about the debt ceiling, Obama said he wouldn't do so over raising the limit, though he was willing to talk with Rep. Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican and House Budget Committee chairman, about other issues, like tax reform.
John Hinckley Jr., the man who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981, has been granted more time outside the mental hospital where he's been confined for almost three decades.
U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman ordered that Hinckley be allowed to visit his mother's home in Williamsburg, Va., for up to 17 days at a time, tacking a week on to the 10-day visits that were already permitted away from St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, D.C.
Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity after he shot Reagan and three others on March 30, 1981.
If you haven't read Josh Levin's amazing story at Slate — the woman upon whom the term "welfare queen" was originally bestowed — you're missing out on a fascinating and disturbing profile of an unlikely political figure.
Under throbbing loudspeakers at a NASCAR track south of Miami, vaguely humanoid robots with two legs, four legs and tank treads take up garages that normally house race cars.
The robots, along with researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lockheed Martin, NASA and 13 other teams from around the world, are in Homestead, Fla., for the robot Olympics on Friday and Saturday.
NASA astronauts will be heading out to conduct critical repairs on the International Space Station early Saturday morning. The 6 1/2-hour spacewalk, the first in a series, will replace a faulty piece of cooling equipment.
$498 million — that's how much the state of Minnesota and the city of Minneapolis have agreed to pay as their share of a new, nearly $1 billion football stadium for the Minnesota Vikings. Team owner Ziggy Wilf says he believes Minnesotans got a fair deal.
And as it turns out, the deal is pretty standard. But is it fair? Increasingly, privately owned sports teams aren't just asking for newer, fancier digs. They're also asking the public to pay half — or more — of the bill.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty — originally a two-page James Thurber story published in The New Yorker in 1939 — is about the reveries of a henpecked husband who became transformed, in his imagination, into an intrepid fighter pilot or a world-famous surgeon.
Ahead of his trip to Hawaii for the holidays, President Obama held a year-end press conference at the White House Friday. Despite a tough year, the president insisted he had successes under his watch as well, and said he still hoped 2014 could be a "breakthrough year."