A lot of movie box-office records fell in 2012. The comic-book blockbuster The Avengers had the biggest opening weekend in Hollywood history. Skyfall will be the first James Bond film to top $1 billion worldwide. And the box-office year as a whole is easily the movie industry's biggest ever. But what about quality? Perhaps surprisingly, the news is good there, too.
The simplest explanation to what's going on in Washington is that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans command majorities in both Houses and control of the White House and you can throw in political realignment as an explanation. Liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats have been diminished to the point of near extinction. But even so, Democrats and Republicans in Congress in years past somehow managed to make deals and legislate despite profound differences.
The Dow Industrials gained 166 points today. That's about 1.3 percent. Before today, the stock market had been steadily drifting lower, losing ground for five straight days. Joining us now to talk about the market is NPR's Jim Zarroli. And, Jim, of course, we don't know how today's talks in Washington will ultimately turn out, but it does appear that before the markets close today news of a deal was moving the markets. True?
As the hours ticked away before the end of the year, Congress still did not have a final package to vote on or even debate to avert automatic tax hikes and spending cuts. NPR's David Welna, reporting from the Capitol, talks with All Things Considered host Audie Cornish to help us understand what the next day or two may hold.
Amid all the talk of going over the fiscal cliff, we have a report now on another midnight deadline tonight. Few were paying attention when Congress failed to pass the Farm Bill last fall. But now lawmakers are scrambling to extend the law for a year, to dodge a spike in milk prices. While an agreement is in the works, another vote is necessary, and none is scheduled yet. Peggy Lowe of member station KCUR in Kansas City explains how farmers, processors and consumers ended up at what is being called the dairy cliff.
It's unlikely 2013 will be the year that jet packs make it big, but the coming year could bring us a host of other new technology trends and products, such as 3-D printers for consumers, smarter smartphones and more connected devices like glasses and cars.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel.
While battles over the fiscal cliff continue, one thing not being discussed is a recovery package for Superstorm Sandy. The Senate has already passed a $60 billion aid package. Right now, it's unclear if the House will take it up.
From member station WSHU, Charles Lane says people in the storm zone are concerned that repairs and rebuilding will be delayed, leaving them vulnerable to future storms.
Originally published on Mon December 31, 2012 2:07 pm
There are some people who believe you can tell a lot about a person from what they read. By that measure, judging from the year's most popular posts on Shots, you might think our readers include plenty of depressed parents obsessed with diet and excrement.
Luckily for you, dear readers, we here at Shots know that Web traffic isn't a scientific measure of personality or of quality — just of virality. Plenty of powerful, public service stories failed to make our Top 10 list for the year. That caveat delivered, here's a look at the stories that kept you clicking in 2012.
Originally published on Mon December 31, 2012 1:32 pm
Jeff Jarvis has had enough of the White House's petition site.
The 1-year-old site, We the People, is meant to be a place for Americans to directly entreat the president. Any petition that gathers more than 25,000 signatures in its first month is supposed to generate an official response from the Obama administration.
In 1953, Mildred Norman set off from the Rose Bowl parade on New Year's Day with a goal of walking the entire country for peace. She left her given name behind and took up a new identity: Peace Pilgrim.
When Peace Pilgrim started out, the Korean War was still under way, and an ominous threat of a nuclear attack was on the minds of many Americans. And so, with "Peace Pilgrim" written across her chest, she began walking "coast to coast for peace."
Congolese women wait for food to be distributed at the Mugunga III camp for displaced people outside the eastern town of Goma on Dec. 2.
Credit Phil Moore / AFP/Getty Images
On Nov. 20, an M23 rebel walks on the streets of Goma. The rebels initially claimed control of the town, but retreated 10 days later under international pressure. However, many people think M23 never really left — rather, they just changed into civilian clothes and went into hiding.
Credit Gregory Warner / NPR
Mugunga I is a camp of approximately 60,000 displaced people, mostly women and children. Here, soldiers from the Congolese army — who are not supposed to be in the camp — use camp water provided by Oxfam on Dec 19.
Goma, a city on the eastern border of the Congo, has been a magnet for war refugees for nearly two decades. And in an expanding camp for displaced people, called Mugunga I, school principal Emmanuel Kibanja Miteso holds up a three-ring binder that reflects the history of war here.
The pages are a logbook for parent-teacher conferences. Every time fighting flares in the region, people flood into the displacement camps and the roster of names swells in the principal's binder.
NPR's coverage of President Obama's comments on the "fiscal cliff" talks
Update at 9:45 p.m. Deal Reached
Vice President Joe Biden was meeting late Monday with Senate Democrats to brief them on a proposed deal to stop sharp tax increases and spending cuts. A source told NPR the deal with congressional Democratic and Republican leaders includes a mix of both.
Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick will represent Arizona's 1st Congressional District when she returns to Washington this week after sitting out a term. This time around, Kirkpatrick hopes to strengthen her foothold in a swing district, but she's dealing with a tricky electorate.
First elected to the House in 2008, Kirkpatrick turned a red district blue. Then in 2010, the backlash against President Obama and his health care plan hurt her. So, a Republican dentist from Flagstaff took her seat for a term.
Originally published on Mon December 31, 2012 11:42 am
The act of toasting feels natural: You lift your arms in affirmation and drink in honor of an occasion or a loved one.
It's what millions will do this week as they ring in the New Year, but why? Like shaking hands or saluting, toasting is a habit with incredibly foggy beginnings, so we here at The Salt decided to dig into it, for the sake of science.
Originally published on Tue January 1, 2013 10:17 am
Updated Jan. 1, 2013: I've added a postscript to this post. You can find it at the bottom of this page.
Look at yourself. Right now.
You are muscle,skin, bone, brain, blood, warmed by energy, and all of you, every cell, even the subsets of those cells, all trillions and trillions of them, are going to tire, waste and depart. In 10 years almost every bit of you will have been replaced by new bits.
Phiona Mutesi is a teenager living in Katwe, the biggest and possibly toughest slum in Uganda's capital city. She's also a rising star in competitive chess.
Her story is told in the book The Queen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess and One Extraordinary Girl's Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster.
But when she first started the game, Mutesi wasn't hungry for glory; she was just hungry. A local chapter of a Christian charity hosted a chess program, and it lured Mutesi, her brother and other children with the promise of a meal.
NPR Senior Producer Walter Watson pairs his blue Banana Republic sweater with golden brown Lands' End slacks. He calls his style "nothing too fancy office casual wear."
Credit Amy Ta / NPR
Victor Holliday, associate producer of NPR's on-air fundraising, wears a light gray wool suit (DKNY Essentials) under a black vintage overcoat with fine English stitching (Regis Rex). He considers his style "easy elegance."
Credit Amy Ta / NPR
NPR Washington Desk Assistant Editor Brakkton Booker.
Credit Amy Ta / NPR
Tell Me More intern Azmi Abusam is dressed in designs by Guess, Aldo and H&M. He got his handmade leather bag from a street dealer in Khartoum, Sudan. Abusam says his style changes every six months, but it's usually based on comfort, quality and personal taste.
Credit Amy Ta / NPR
Tell Me More's Barbershop guy Jimi Izrael wears a Kenneth Cole shirt, Inc jacket and Ray Ban glasses. He says he mostly has his wife's taste in clothes, but also likes unconventional takes on conventional clothing items.
Credit Amy Ta / NPR
Kevin Langley, NPR's Deputy Director of Broadcast Engineering, dresses in a navy blue pin-striped Calvin Klein suit. Made of cashmere, wool and polyester, the suit has an athletic fit. Langley says his overall style is "business attire," and he's drawn to ties that look expensive and professional, but are cheap and accentuate his shirt or suit.
Credit Amy Ta / NPR
NPR Digital Media's Matt Thompson shows off a plum-colored Express shirt with a lavender DKNY silk tie, charcoal wool vest by Indochino and wool pants by Calvin Klein. He says he keeps things simple for the most part, usually wearing muted colors with one bold accent.
Credit Courtesy of Corey Ealons
Tell Me More's Barbershop and political chat contributor Corey Ealons is outfitted in a Joseph Abboud black velvet jacket with a ticket pocket and pink silk handkerchief. Ealons says real men can wear pink with confidence, and that his style is classic and clean with a little edge.
Credit Courtesy of Corey Ealons
Maxwell Ealons, 4, enjoys dressing like his father, Corey. His dressy clothes usually come from Children's Place, H&M, Target and Zara. He actually dresses himself for school with Spider-Man, Batman and Redskins shirts, plus jeans or sweat pants.
Credit Courtesy of Ron Christie
Republican strategist Ron Christie wears a tailored three-piece suit from Lord Willy's in New York City. He says the style is bespoke British with irreverent flair. And when Christie isn't dressed for business, he turns to casual Lucky Brand jeans and a sweater.
For many, style is much deeper than articles of clothing; it's a statement of identity. Black men have a unique relationship with fashion, one that can be traced all the way back to the 17th and 18th centuries.
Monica L. Miller, the author of Slaves to Fashion: Black Dandyism and the Styling of Black Diasporic Identity, spoke with Tell Me More's Michel Martin about the past, present and future of black men's fashion.
Diana Vreeland had a troubled childhood; her mother often told her she was ugly. But she later became editor-in-chief of American Vogue and one of the country's most revered fashion icons. Her life is captured in the new biography, Empress of Fashion: A Life of Diana Vreeland. Host Michel Martin talks with author Amanda Mackenzie Stuart.
The countdown is on to a new year — and the fiscal changes that are on the other side of midnight. But what else is on the cards economically for 2013, both here and overseas? Guest host Celeste Headlee puts the question to the Wall Street Journal's Sudeep Reddy.
Originally published on Mon December 31, 2012 9:14 am
If the thought of watching the ball drop in Times Square again is already making you yawn, consider perking your New Year's Eve celebration with this tradition from Spain: As midnight nears on Nochevieja, or "old night," the last day of the year, the entire country gathers in front of television screens or in town squares, clutching a small bowl of green grapes and wearing red underwear. More on the underwear later.
This show was originally broadcast on May 11, 2012.
Friday, May 11, 2012 marked the 25th anniversary of the day Fresh Air became a daily national NPR program. Before that, the show was broadcast only on WHYY in Philadelphia. How long ago was May 11, 1987? On Fresh Air's first edition, TV critic David Bianculli reviewed the finale of the TV series Hill Street Blues.
The new documentary, West of Memphis, delves into the controversial case of three Arkansas teens who were convicted of murder in 1994. Host Michel Martin speaks with Oscar-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson and Damien Echols, one of men convicted in the case.
The new year could bring new challenges to the nation's schools and students. Host Michel Martin discusses what's ahead with NPR Education Correspondent, Claudio Sanchez. He says immigration policy and the demand for Pell Grants could have a huge effect on American education in 2013.