The Statue of Liberty still lifts her lamp beside the golden door, but the island that's home to the iconic statue was severely tempest-tost by Superstorm Sandy. Flood damage inflicted by the storm has closed Liberty Island and nearby Ellis Island indefinitely.
On Thursday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar made his first visit to the Statue of Liberty since the storm. David Luchsinger, superintendent of the Statue of Liberty National Monument, led the secretary on a walking tour.
The Hobbit's path to the screen may have started out as tortuous as a trek through the deadly Helcaraxe, filled with detours (Guillermo del Toro was initially going to direct), marked by conflict (New Zealand labor disputes) and strewn with seemingly insurmountable obstacles (so many that the filmmakers threatened to move the shoot to Australia).
Stop anyone on the street in Europe, Latin America, Africa and even Asia, and chances are they'll know the name Lionel Messi — and they'll probably know what he did this week. The soccer phenom scored his 88th goal of the year, which is widely thought to be a world record.
And the year's not over yet.
On Sunday, Messi, 25, scored his 86th goal of the calendar year in a Spanish league game against Real Betis, in Seville. The goal, Messi's second of the game, gave Barcelona a 2-1 win over Betis, with the announcer booming, "A new goal king!"
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel.
European leaders have taken a big step forward in their efforts to address the continent's debt problems. At a meeting today in Brussels, they approved the idea of a single regulator who would have power over most of Europe's banks. Officials say such a regulator could have averted the kind of credit bust that has crippled the economies of Spain, Greece and Ireland.
In Egypt, the road to democracy is anything but easy. President Mohammed Morsi has set a vote on a new constitution to begin this Saturday. But Egyptian rights groups are warning of possible election fraud.
Drug cartels are taking to the ocean. That's because security along the land border between the U.S. and Mexico has been beefed up. Smuggling off the coast of Southern California is up 30 percent this year, according to the government, and that has the Coast Guard and Homeland Security warning of an increasingly dangerous situation off the busy coast.
Our next story is an economic mystery. Our Planet Money reporter Chana Joffe-Walt stumbled over it while holiday shopping.
CHANA JOFFE-WALT, BYLINE: The other day, I went to Toys R Us after work to buy my son some Legos for Hanukkah. He's never had Legos before, so I was very excited. But did you know that a basic box of Legos cost 59.99? For just 102 DUPLO pieces, 60 bucks. They're plastic blocks.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #1: Legos cost a lot of money.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #2: Yeah, actually, they are expensive.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish.
Homecomings at the nation's military bases are treated as occasions of the highest order. This morning, more than 100 families at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, waited for hugs and kisses before the sun came up. Blake Farmer of member station WPLN was there.
BLAKE FARMER, BYLINE: The 747 touched down just before sunrise.
U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice withdrew her name from consideration for the Secretary of State job on Thursday. President Obama accepted her withdrawal and says she will continue in her role as U.N. ambassador.
Well, even if Americans largely agree on addressing the deficit with a combination of tax hikes and spending cuts, the consensus falls apart when you get specific about those spending cuts. And that may be why politicians have been wary of discussing cuts in too much detail. We're going to try to remedy that now with NPR's Scott Horsley. Hi, Scott.
SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Robert.
Hay is one of the basic materials on a farm. It's important. But dried grass is not the kind of thing most farmers or ranchers would keep under lock and key until recently. The ongoing drought has meant less hay to go around. Production of alfalfa, for instance, is down 15 percent this year. So hay prices are soaring and so is the number of hay thefts. Grace Hood of member station KUNC reports from Colorado, one of several states where hay rustling is on the rise.
You might know Lizzy Caplan, eternal sidekick, as Jason Segel's girlfriend on television's Freaks and Geeks. Or as the struggling comedienne from Party Down, or the vampire vegan on True Blood, or from the movie The Bachelorette earlier this year?
Using illegal immigration as a frame to explore the slow awakening of a tough-shelled young Texas woman, The Girl is a patient chamber piece about the emotional bruises left by poverty and neglect.
Even before we fully know her circumstances, Ashley (Abbie Cornish) introduces herself as a victim of race and class discrimination. A sullen single mother and minimum-wage drone in a south Texas supermarket, she opens the film with a request for a raise. When denied, she refuses to accept her supervisor's criticism of her attitude.
We're long past the point where, at least among half-sentient beings, we need to make a case for the intelligence and sensitivity of Marilyn Monroe. Even when cast as a dumb blonde, she was never just your stock ditzy dame: She always showed a breezy self-effacement that was too sly to be purely accidental.
And to look at her, of course, is to love her, particularly now that her sad story has become part of the cultural landscape: How can you not want to protect such beauty and vulnerability from the cruelty of the world?
The O'Haras don't talk much about what's wrong, but the members of this biracial Queens family — the central characters of Yelling to the Sky -- are bedeviled by alcoholism (dad), mental illness (mom) and adolescent defiance (the two daughters). Indeed actress-turned-director Victoria Mahoney barely explains her characters' circumstances, which makes the movie obliquely intriguing. But whenever the story comes into focus, it's revealed as fairly conventional.
If this year the single-artist album looks to be on shaky ground — thanks to the EP's rise, the single's continuing dominance and the neither-nor of hip-hop mixtapes and online dance DJ mixes — the officially sanctioned compilation album would seem even wobblier. In the age of Spotify (not to mention the age of iTunes), most listeners make their own multi-artist playlists as a matter of course.
Originally published on Thu December 13, 2012 4:54 pm
When most drivers get a ticket from a speed-zone camera, there's little they can do but pay the fine. After all, the ticket often includes photographic proof that their car was over the limit. But a Maryland driver is fighting his $40 fine precisely because of what the photos show: his car, sitting at a red light.
Federal and state authorities have received criticism after deciding not to indict HSBC on accusations that it laundered money for Mexican drug cartels and conducted prohibited transactions on behalf of countries like Iran and Sudan. Instead, they entered into a $1.9 billion settlement this week with the bank.
There's no question that HSBC is a massive, sprawling operation. It markets itself as the world's local bank. But watchdogs of the banking industry say mere size should never insulate an organization from the law.
This picture received from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on Wednesday shows an orbit image of the satellite Kwangmyongsong-3, being monitored on a large screen at a satellite control center in Cholsan county, North Pyongan province in North Korea.
Originally published on Thu December 13, 2012 2:51 pm
Sputnik 1 just beeped. China's first satellite, launched more than a decade later, simply radioed a communist anthem back to Earth. So far, North Korea's first satellite appears to be less accomplished.
And that shouldn't be a surprise.
Given the history of first orbital space shots, North Korea's apparent struggle with its mission is fairly typical, says David Akin, an associate professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Maryland.
I went to Toys R Us recently to buy my son a Lego set for Hanukkah. Did you know a small box of Legos costs $60? Sixty bucks for 102 plastic blocks!
In fact, I learned, Lego sets can sell for thousands of dollars. And despite these prices, Lego has about 70 percent of the construction-toy market. Why? Why doesn't some competitor sell plastic blocks for less? Lego's patents expired a while ago. How hard could it be to make a cheap knockoff?
Brothers John and Martin Pizzarelli were born into a family of musicians. Their father is the famed jazz guitarist, Bucky Pizzarelli, who, during the 1960s, performed in the Tonight Show Band and who worked as a session player for rock acts such as Dion and the Belmonts. Musical greats, too, were in and out of the Pizzarelli house in Paterson, New Jersey, as John and Martin were growing up. It makes perfect sense then that, eventually, Martin picked up the upright bass professionally and John found his calling with jazz guitar, singing and songwriting.
Originally published on Thu December 13, 2012 1:44 pm
The energy in the room is palpable, as Wynton Marsalis launches into "Dipper Mouth Blues," a tune named for King Oliver's trumpet player, Louis Armstrong. "New Orleans Bump" features the whimsical clarinet of Victor Goines.