It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And I'm David Greene. This afternoon, President Obama is set to nominate Massachusetts Senator John Kerry as the nation's next secretary of state. Kerry would replace Hillary Clinton, who's planning to leave that post after four years as the president's globe-trotting emissary. Joining us to talk about the move is NPR White House correspondent Scott Horsley; and NPR's diplomatic correspondent Michele Kelemen, who's here in the studio with me.
On this week's show, we dive into Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Glen is an extra-extra-expert, Stephen and I are novices, and Trey is somewhere in between when it comes to Tolkien, so what happens when we all see the same movie? What about the super-crisp technical side? And what does this have to do with Les Miserables?
President Obama announced this afternoon that he will nominate Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., to be his next secretary of state.
Kerry's long experience in the Senate (he was first elected in 1984) and especially in foreign affairs (he chairs the Foreign Relations Committee) mean the senator's "not going to need a lot of on-the-job training," Obama said.
We followed the short appearance at the White House by the president and Kerry and posted some highlights.
This interview was originally broadcast on October 10, 2011.
Can people really change? That's the question Laura Dern and Mike White ask in their HBO series Enlightened, the second season of which begins Jan. 13. The show features Dern as Amy Jellicoe, an ambitious executive who has a nervous breakdown at her workplace. She goes to a rehabilitation center in Hawaii, where she experiences an awakening.
Tenor Rolando Villazon let loose during a recent Q&A with The Arts Desk: "One thing that I haven't achieved is longevity. This will come — if it comes. That said, I don't think that longevity is a necessary part of a great career." And regarding his own health problems: "[My doctor] would have told [critics] the problem was biology. I would have got it if I had sung Mozart. It had nothing to do with repertoire or technique or how much I sang.
In light of last Friday's mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, all explanations and ruminations for why Adam Lanza opened fire are on the cable-news pundits' table. Was it the lack of gun control? Untreated mental illness? Or was it an Aurora-style pop-culture revenge fantasy writ large? Did Hollywood's culture of raging, gun-slinging entertainment help fuel the mayhem? Nobody knows the shooter's motive, and yet the conversation and pontification remains incessant and unabated.
Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 8:14 am
On this morning after he couldn't get fellow Republicans to support his "Plan B" for avoiding the year end "fiscal cliff" of automatic tax increases and spending cuts, House Speaker John Boehner took some questions from reporters.
We listened in and posted updates. Hit your "refresh" button to see our latest additions:
-- Update at 10:12 a.m. ET. House Will Come Back "If We're Needed":
It is raining in Newtown, Connecticut, where people observed a moment of silence seven days to the minute after a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School. NPR's Kirk Siegler is in Newtown; he's on the line. And Kirk, what do you see this morning?
Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 7:45 am
Good morning! If you can read this, then we offer our congratulations on surviving the Mayan Apocalypse!
You've evidently made it through the initial cataclysm caused by the collision of Earth with an unknown comet, a massive solar storm, a burst of radiation from the center of the galaxy, the mysterious Planet X (aka Nibiru), or some other catastrophe that scientists assured us wouldn't happen.
There are two positive economic signals to pass along this morning:
-- The Census Bureau says orders for durable goods rose 0.7 percent in November from October. That follows a 1.1 percent rise in October from September and is the sixth increase in the past seven months.
Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 7:25 am
House Speaker John Boehner's "major defeat" Thursday night — when he had to pull his "Plan B" to extend Bush-era tax cuts for nearly all American taxpayers because he couldn't get enough support from his fellow Republicans — means negotiations about avoiding the so-called fiscal cliff remain at an impasse.
Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 7:38 am
Update at 9:36 a.m. ET: In Newtown and across the nation, bells rang starting at 9:30 a.m. ET, to honor the 20 children and six adults killed one week ago at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. And on the Web, it appears many did take part in #MomentForSandyHook — judging from the sharp slowdown in our Twitter feed.
If you're running out of time for holiday shopping and you can't stand to buy another gift card, there's still hope.
Over the last few holiday shopping seasons, I've become something of a specialist in hunting down specific DVD and Blu-ray sets that will most appeal to friends and family on my list. I usually have a pretty good inkling of these things: My sister gets the art-house movies. My uncle gets the old-school sitcoms. My nephew gets anything that involves baseball, superheroes and/or ice road truckers (don't ask).
House Speaker John Boehner was dealt a major defeat Thursday night. After spending most of the week trying to round up votes for his "Plan B" to extend tax cuts for virtually everyone, he pulled the measure without a vote and sent the House home for Christmas. The clock keeps ticking toward the end of the year, when automatic tax increases and spending cuts are set to hit.
Early Thursday, Boehner expressed confidence not only that his bill would pass but that the Democratic-controlled Senate would feel so much pressure, it would be forced to consider it, too.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And I'm David Greene. Good morning. Action last night in the House of Representatives suggests just how hard it could be to pass a solution to the tax increases and spending cuts due at the end of the year.
INSKEEP: House Speaker John Boehner has yet to reach a deal with President Obama, so he sought to put his own plan before the House last night.
And now you can consider this. It's our last word in business today: A Bluetooth bathroom. The Japanese are known for being on the cutting edge of tech, and now that extends to the edge of the toilet seats.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
A Japanese company recently announced a smartphone-controlled toilet. Yup. Using a smartphone app, you can flush - that means not having to touch the handle at all.
Our regular listeners know by now we've been spending part of this holiday season exploring the tax code. So much of that code is up for debate as fiscal negotiations stagger forward, so we're learning what the rules are in our 12 Days of Tax Deductions.
Here's the top headline in last Friday's edition of the Newtown Bee: "Vandalism Leaves Old Headstones Cracked and Damaged." Just hours after that edition of the weekly paper was delivered, Newtown became a headline all over the world. Neena Satija, of member station WNPR, has the story of a small town paper covering - and caring - for its own.
This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep.
If you ever wished the Christmas season could go on for an extra week or two, here's a suggestion: visit Russia, where the Christmas tradition is a little different than in the United States and is celebrated on a different calendar. Of course, a quick flight to Moscow is not convenient for everybody, so NPR's Corey Flintoff did it for us.
The Long Island Power Authority is finally answering questions about its performance after Hurricane Sandy. LIPA, as it's known, is supposed to provide power to New York City's eastern suburbs, but needed weeks to restore power after the storm. Elected officials blasted the utility and executives have now answered questions from state investigators. Charles Lane of member station WSHU reports on what investigators think of the answers.
Some insurance companies are taking a page out of their own history books: running their own doctors' offices and clinics. Though the strategy previously had mixed results, insurers think that by providing primary care for patients, they might reduce costly diseases and hospital stays in the long run.
Dr. Michael Byrne spent eight years working for a Brooklyn hospital and he saw firsthand why the United States spends more on healthcare than any other country in the world.