U.S. News

Africa
2:41 am
Tue December 25, 2012

U.S. Military Builds Up Its Presence In Africa

Gen. Carter Ham is head of the U.S. African command. An Army brigade from Fort Riley, Kan., will begin helping train African militaries beat back a growing terrorist threat posed by al-Qaida.
AP

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 5:22 am

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.

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U.S.
2:04 am
Tue December 25, 2012

In Pursuit of Recognition: An Undocumented Immigrant's Resilient Fight

Sofia Campos, 23, is the head of the United We Dream campaign — a national network of youth-led immigrant organizations. Campos was born in Peru, but grew up in California, entirely unaware of her undocumented status until she tried applying for college scholarships.
Courtesy of Sofia Campos

Originally published on Tue December 25, 2012 7:42 am

Unlike many undocumented immigrants, Sofia Campos is not afraid to give her real name.

"It's deliberate, and it's liberating," she says. "It's kind of a shock to hear somebody say, 'I am undocumented' or wear the 'I am undocumented' T-shirt, just in your face."

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Economy
2:03 am
Tue December 25, 2012

Back To The Economy Of The '90s? Not So Fast

A lone employee oversees Hewlett-Packard workstations being assembled at a plant on Jan. 1, 1993. Huge improvements in computer technology propelled the economy during that decade.
Ovak Arslanian Time

Originally published on Tue December 25, 2012 7:42 am

Throughout the debate over taxes and the "fiscal cliff," there's been a lot of looking backward — 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?

A Unique Boom

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Around the Nation
3:03 pm
Mon December 24, 2012

Finding New Meaning In The Loss Of A Son

Ronan at 2 years old. "I know Ronan's purpose in life was to shed light on this disease," says his mother, Maya Thompson. "This is why I will continue to fight for childhood cancer for the rest of my life."
Courtesy of Maya Thompson

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 4:00 pm

This is a story about loss and meaning. It's the story of a boy who died and a mother who tottered at the precipice of despair. It's about faith — not in God, but in the ability to build from ashes.

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National Security
2:29 pm
Mon December 24, 2012

Hagel Would Be First Former Enlisted Soldier To Run Pentagon

Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., and then-presidential candidate Barack Obama in Amman, Jordan, in 2008.
Paul J. Richards AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun December 30, 2012 9:20 am

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 — 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.

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Around the Nation
1:59 pm
Mon December 24, 2012

Pressure Mounts To Free 'Wilmington Ten'

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 3:18 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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.

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Business
1:57 pm
Mon December 24, 2012

Lower Energy Prices Could Inspire U.S. Auto Industry Renaissance

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 3:18 pm

Robert Siegel reviews the top auto news of 2012 with Dan Neil, automotive columnist for The Wall Street Journal.

World
1:56 pm
Mon December 24, 2012

U.S. Has Previously Called On Sen. Kerry In Diplomatic Crises

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 3:18 pm

Over the past few years, Sen. John Kerry has quietly made several trips to Afghanistan and Pakistan to help defuse diplomatic crises.

Business
1:51 pm
Mon December 24, 2012

Detroit Three Look To Revive Their Luxury Brands

Alan Mulally, president and CEO of Ford Motor Co., stands next to the Lincoln MKZ. For the first time ever, Ford will promote the Lincoln brand during the Super Bowl.
Shannon Stapleton Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 5:19 pm

GM, Ford and Chrysler are turning their focus to selling luxury cars — 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.

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Shootings In Newtown, Conn.
1:51 pm
Mon December 24, 2012

Pulling Together, Newtown Celebrates Holiday 'As Best We Can'

Mourners put decorations on a Christmas tree, part of a memorial in Newtown, Conn. Holiday greetings, toys and cards have flowed into the town, and some residents say the community feels closer-knit since the shooting.
Zhang Chuanshi Xinhua/Landov

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 4:18 pm

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 — a shop filled with local crafts, Christmas ornaments, pottery and potpourri — says her business is finally picking up.

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The Salt
1:51 pm
Mon December 24, 2012

Christmas A Busy Season For Tamale-Makers

Tamales in Ofelio Crespo's home on Dec. 20.
Lauren Rock NPR

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 3:18 pm

For Christmas, Central and Mexican-American families don't crave a holiday turkey; they want a plate of steaming hot tamales.

Gustavo Arellano, author of the book Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America, says that to him, tamales are more than food. They transmit Latino culture during Christmas.

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NPR Story
1:33 pm
Mon December 24, 2012

Firefighters Trapped And Shot After Responding To Blaze

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 3:18 pm

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.

Religion
11:58 am
Mon December 24, 2012

For Some Jews, Christmas Is More Than Chinese Food

People joke that it's customary for non-Christians to eat Christmas dinner at Chinese restaurants. But a Jewish community in Detroit is offering an alternative. They work with Muslims to volunteer for nearly 40 projects around the city. Guest host Celeste Headlee talks with organizers Micki Grossman and Dr. Muzammil Ahmed, about "Mitzvah Day."

Race
11:58 am
Mon December 24, 2012

Descendants Of Slaves, Slave Traders Come Together

Transcript

CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

This is TELL ME MORE, from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee. Michel Martin is away. And a Merry Christmas to you, if you celebrate. Your kids might've gotten a visit from jolly St. Nick last night, but did you know St. Nicholas was a real guy? We'll talk with the man who traveled the world in search of the man who would become Santa Claus. That's just ahead.

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The Two-Way
11:17 am
Mon December 24, 2012

A Moveable Feast: What Are You Leaving For Santa?

Aside from the traditional plate of cookies, some households planned to leave Santa gourmet surprises that would land most people on the naughty list at the local gym.
Larry Crowe AP

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 11:53 am

Milk and cookies might be the traditional Santa offering on Christmas Eve, but in at least one household, St. Nicholas will be getting smoked salmon and scotch.

It's just one out-of-the-ordinary example we gleaned from a call out to fans of NPR's Facebook page. Many of them involved a different sort of Christmas "spirit" — the kind that could push Mr. Claus over the legal limit, at least during the U.S. leg of his annual aerial circumnavigation.

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Shootings In Newtown, Conn.
1:16 am
Mon December 24, 2012

Toy Donations Pour Into Newtown For The Holidays

Christmas stockings with the names of shooting victims hang from a railing in the Sandy Hook village of Newtown, Conn.
Julio Cortez AP

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 11:48 am

The Monday after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., toys and stuffed animals began arriving by the truckload. Ten days later, the gymnasium at Edmond Town Hall in the center of Newtown is full of them.

"When I realized that it was getting so large, I thought that we should get this to the children before the holidays," says Ann Benore, a caseworker for Newtown Social Services.

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Business
3:02 pm
Sun December 23, 2012

When The Glass Ceiling Is A Baby: Working Through Motherhood

Defense Undersecretary for Policy Michele Flournoy talks with Marines Lt. Gen. John Paxton on Capitol Hill in 2010. Flournoy has since left her position to spend more time with her three children.
Manuel Balce Ceneta AP

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 11:44 am

Among the candidates President Obama may nominate for the next defense secretary is Michele Flournoy, formerly the highest-ranking woman in the Pentagon.

Flournoy is a mother of three, and in February, she stunned her colleagues when she stepped down from her job as undersecretary of defense for policy to spend more time with her children.

It wasn't an easy decision, but it's a dilemma that many working mothers face. While some call for changes in workplace policy to make caring for families and working easier, others argue women ultimately have to make a choice.

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The Two-Way
3:02 pm
Sun December 23, 2012

Mug Shot Websites Charge When You're Charged, For Now

Philip Kaplan and Debra Jo Lashaway were both arrested, then cleared of their charges. Their court files were sealed, effectively removing the arrests from their public record, but their mug shots linger on websites that make money by charging people to remove their arrest photos. Now, they're part of a lawsuit that argues their right to publicity has been violated.
Courtesy of Scott Ciolek

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 11:43 am

In August 2011, Debbie Jo Lashaway was charged with theft. She was arraigned and booked in Lucas County, Ohio, and her mug shot was taken.

Seven months later, the charges were dismissed and her record was sealed — effectively removing the theft charge from her public record. Six months after that, she even won a judgment against the man who accused her of theft, declaring the charge bogus and awarding her thousands of dollars in damages.

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U.S.
4:48 am
Sun December 23, 2012

For Soldiers, There's No Cheeseburgers In Foxholes

Originally published on Sun December 23, 2012 10:41 am

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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U.S.
3:11 am
Sun December 23, 2012

New Lives Emerge From Colo. Wildfire Ashes, Still Scarred

Janet Wilson describes the charred hillsides above her old home as "a vast area of toothpicks." She found the scene too sad to return to.
Megan Verlee for NPR

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 11:44 am

West of the city of Colorado Springs, trees charred by the summer's wildfire scar the steep foothills. The Waldo Canyon fire destroyed more than 300 homes in June.

Now, that devastated neighborhood is coming back to life, with construction workers swarming over half-completed houses. While many of its former residents are preparing to move back, some just want to move on.

In the days after the fire devoured their homes, shell-shocked residents tried to wrap their minds around what had just happened to them.

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Shootings In Newtown, Conn.
3:08 am
Sun December 23, 2012

Tragedy Spotlights Connecticut's Previous Efforts At Gun Control

Police Lt. Ray Mesek registers a rifle at a gun buyback event on Saturday in Bridgeport, Conn.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 11:46 am

At about 8 a.m. on March 6, 1998, Matthew Beck arrived to work at the headquarters of the Connecticut State Lottery. He hung up his coat, walked into an office and shot the first of four victims.

Beck ended up killing a number of his co-workers and then took his own life in the parking lot when the police arrived.

Mike Lawlor, the Connecticut governor's criminal justice adviser, was a state representative at the time, and wanted to understand what led to the rampage. He learned that Beck had previously attempted suicide and owned a number of guns.

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Around the Nation
3:07 am
Sun December 23, 2012

With Growth Of 'Hacker Scouting,' More Kids Learn To Tinker

Kids build robots with Popsicle sticks at an Oakland meeting of Hacker Scouts, a group that encourages young people to create do-it-yourself crafts and electronics.
Jon Kalish for NPR

Originally published on Sun December 23, 2012 10:41 am

Countless kids have grown up with the Girl Scouts, the Boy Scouts or Campfire Girls, but for some families, the uniforms and outdoor focus of traditional Scouting groups don't appeal.

In recent months, Scoutlike groups that concentrate on technology and do-it-yourself projects have been sprouting up around the country. They're coed and, like traditional Scouting organizations, award patches to kids who master skills.

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Shootings In Newtown, Conn.
4:13 pm
Sat December 22, 2012

Near-Replica Of Sandy Hook Made Nearby For Students

A school bus drives past a welcome sign near the Chalk Hill Middle School in Monroe, Conn. Students from Sandy Hook Elementary in neighboring Newtown will attend the school in January.
Lucas Jackson Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Sat December 22, 2012 5:54 pm

The surviving students of Sandy Hook Elementary will not be returning to their school in Newtown, Conn., where 20 first-graders and six educators were shot to death on Dec. 14.

Instead, when classes resume after the holidays, they'll attend a school in the neighboring town of Monroe. Parents, teachers and administrators in both towns are working to make the new school as similar as possible to the one Sandy Hook students left behind.

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It's All Politics
3:14 pm
Sat December 22, 2012

How Boehner's 'Critical Moment' Could Turn Out OK For Him

House Speaker John Boehner holds a press conference at the Capitol on Friday. The night before, he did not have enough backing from his own party to pass his fiscal cliff legislation.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Sat December 22, 2012 6:50 pm

"The House has done its part to avert this entire fiscal cliff," House Speaker John Boehner said Saturday in his weekly address.

He cited the measure that passed Thursday, which would reorganize the automatic spending cuts to protect the defense budget and cut deeper elsewhere. He also pointed to legislation that would stop all tax hikes on Jan. 1.

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Around the Nation
3:11 pm
Sat December 22, 2012

It's Not Jolly, It's A Job: Pro Santas Say It's More Than Just The Beard

Charity workers dressed as Santa Claus wave to pedestrians in New York. Professional Santas say it's not an easy job, and it's not just as simple as putting on a beard.
John Minchillo AP

Originally published on Sat December 22, 2012 4:37 pm

WARNING: The following story contains Santa information that may not be suitable for youngsters.

So, you're considering becoming a Santa — getting a suit, throwing on a beard — after all, how hard could it be?

"Being a good Santa Claus, it's a calling," says Santa Jim Manning, aka Boston Santa.

Manning has been playing Santa for about a decade, doing mostly home visits. He says the first thing you're going to need to do is figure out is what kind of Santa you're going to be.

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U.S.
3:40 am
Sat December 22, 2012

Immigrants Welcomed: A City Sees Economic Promise

Adolphe Bizwinayo left Rwanda as a refugee and says his new city, Dayton, Ohio, helped him transition to American life with initiatives like the Dayton World Soccer Games.
Shawndra Jones for NPR

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 9:40 am

If there's one common language that some recent immigrants in Dayton, Ohio, seem to share, it's soccer.

The first Dayton World Soccer Games kicked off earlier this year, an initiative hosted by the city to welcome an influx of immigrants. On the field, a rainbow of brightly colored jerseys represented nearly 20 of the different immigrant communities in the city.

"I've been really surprised to see that there's a lot of soccer going on in Dayton," says Adolphe Bizwinayo, who left Rwanda as a refugee.

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U.S.
3:38 am
Sat December 22, 2012

Democrats Slam NRA's Response To School Shooting

Wayne LaPierre, the National Rifle Association's executive vice president, speaks in response to the Connecticut school shootings, at a news conference in Washington on Friday.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 9:40 am

The nation's largest gun owners group had said little in the immediate aftermath of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. But the National Rifle Association's executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre, broke that silence Friday with a call to place armed guards at all of the nation's schools.

The idea was met with immediate criticism from Democrats in Congress.

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The Two-Way
4:13 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

Obama On Fiscal Cliff Talks: 'I Actually Still Think We Can Get It Done'

At a press conference Friday, President Obama urges Congress to pass a scaled-back package to avert end-of-year tax hikes and spending cuts.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

In a news conference Friday, President Obama said there were still things the parties could agree on about the automatic tax-rate increases and spending cuts at the end of the year. But he said parties would have to work together to get a plan approved in the next 10 days.

"Call me a hopeless optimist, but I actually still think we can get it done," he said, after meeting with Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid and speaking to Republican House Speaker John Boehner.

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It's All Politics
3:30 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

Kerry's Cabinet Nod Sets Off Massachusetts Senate Fight

Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., gets into his pickup truck after voting in Wrentham, Mass., on Nov. 6. Brown lost the election to Democrat Elizabeth Warren, but both he and his truck could be back on the campaign trail soon.
Gretchen Ertl AP

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 3:55 pm

President Obama's nomination of Democrat John Kerry to be secretary of state sets off a chain of events that could put another Kennedy in the Senate, at least on an interim basis.

And it gives ousted Republican Scott Brown a fighting chance of returning to the Senate by midyear.

On Friday, Obama nominated Kerry, the senior senator from Massachusetts, to replace Hillary Clinton as the nation's chief diplomat. A 27-year veteran of the Senate and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry should win easy Senate confirmation early in the new year.

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Economy
3:06 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

Failure To Avert Fiscal Cliff Could Damage World's Confidence In U.S.

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 7:21 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. It's time for Plan C. Washington's efforts to avoid massive tax hikes and spending cuts come January 1st seem to be in disarray. Last night, House Speaker John Boehner failed to get enough Republicans to go along with what he called his Plan B. NPR's John Ydstie talked with members of the business community about whether that failure is seen as a setback or clears the way for more productive negotiations.

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