It's winter and the Great Plains has gotten walloped:
"From northern New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle through Oklahoma and northwestern Kansas," The Associated Press writes, "blizzard conditions [on Monday and into today] put state road crews on alert and had motorists taking refuge and early exits off major roads."
Morning Edition asked listeners to write in about a dish they only make during the holiday season. Monica Bencomo of Albuquerque, New Mexico, wrote in to tell us about her favorite holiday dish: menudo, a red chili-based soup that her mother makes almost every December.
During the holidays, beer manufacturers roll out seasonal brews. And now, in addition to Ebenezer Ale and Santa's Private Reserve, there's a relative newcomer for Chanukah: a chocolate rye porter from a micro-brewer in Portland, Oregon.
New York Times columnist Gail Collins feasts on the foibles of elected officials, with a lively take on politicians past and present. As NPR's David Folkenflik reports, this election season, Collins has brought a laser-like focus to a shaggy dog story with a political tie.
As residents of the Chinese village of Wukan continue their rebellion against local government land seizures, NPR is uncovering evidence of the scale of the problem. Many villages around Wukan — which has been sealed off by police and paramilitary troops — also accuse corrupt officials of selling off their land.
This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne.
The body of North Korea's late leader Kim Jong Il lies in state today in a glass coffin in the capital, Pyongyang. In the three days since his death, little has emerged about what's next in North Korea, other than a state funeral has been set for next week.
Governments around the region are monitoring for signs of instability, and they're also debating how to respond to the events.
NPR's business news starts with a mobile phone patent wars.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
WERTHEIMER: Smartphone makers have filed dozens of lawsuits against one another for patent infringement. Yesterday, a federal agency handed Apple a limited victory in a closely watched case. It's one of the first of many mobile patent disputes to be decided.
Perhaps after you'd had a few glasses of holiday brew, this next item will look better. Our last word in business is: Ugly Christmas Sweater.
While searching for a way to help her kids pay for college, Anne Marie Blackman spotted a trend she thought she might capitalize on: The holiday-themed sweaters she found online, they didn't seem ugly enough. So, she started My Ugly Christmas Sweater, Inc. for people hoping to win a prize cheese wheel for the scariest holiday sweater at a party.
GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is accusing his Republican opponents of what he says is reprehensible behavior — running attack ads in Iowa against the former House Speaker. Before a crowd of supporters in Hiawatha, Iowa, Gingrich stressed that the negative GOP attack ads are bad for the party and bad for voters.
Workers dig at a mine in Chudja, near Bunia, north eastern Congo. The conflict in the Congo, a nation rich in mineral resources such as gold, diamonds, tin, and cobalt, has often been linked to a struggle for control over its minerals resources.
Delly Mawazo Sesete wants American consumers to know what is in their smart phones, computers and other electronics and where U.S. companies like Apple are getting those rare metals.
Sesete says that, without knowing, consumers in the U.S. could be fueling conflicts in Eastern Congo. The human rights activist is from a remote part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where armed groups are wreaking havoc and get much of their funding from mining rare metals.
Jake Finkbonner, shown with his father, Donny, and mother, Elsa, nearly died after contracting a flesh-eating bacterium. His family and friends prayed for a miracle, and now the Vatican has declared that his recovery was considered a miracle by the church.
In February 2006, 5-year-old Jake Finkbonner fell and hit his head while playing basketball at his school in Ferndale, Wash. Soon, he developed a fever and his head swelled. His mother, Elsa, rushed him to Seattle Children's Hospital, where the doctors realized Jake was battling a flesh-eating bacterium called Strep A.
"It traveled all around his face, his scalp, his neck, his chest," she recalls, "and why it didn't travel to his brain or his eyeballs or his heart? He was protected."
Mikael Blomkvist, the investigative journalist who teams up with the title character in <em>The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,</em> is the second iconic character that actor Daniel Craig (right, with Christopher Plummer) has tackled in the space of a half-decade.
The smooth, daring James Bond — Craig's other franchise-icon role — is the polar opposite of Blomkvist, the average guy. Craig says Blomkvist's appeal is his honest nature, driven by a sense of injustice.
Actor Daniel Craig is used to taking on iconic characters. In 2006, he famously shook up the 007 franchise as a new, blond James Bond. And his latest on-screen character, though he has somewhat less swagger and not nearly as much style, is almost as well-known.
In David Fincher's film of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Craig plays investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist, the leading man in a trio of thrillers by Swedish author Stieg Larsson that has sold 65 million copies worldwide.
An activist of Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena hold placards and roses outside the residence of Communications and IT Minister Kapil Sibal in New Delhi.
Credit Sajjad Hussain / AFP/Getty Images
Indian Telecommunications Minister Kapil Sibal has said that Internet giants such as Facebook and Google have ignored his demands to screen derogatory material from their sites, so the government would have to take action on its own.
Metropolitan State Hospital employees and supporters gathered outside the hospital in Norwalk, Calif., this summer to protest repeated assaults at the hands of mental patients, and what they called dangerous working conditions.
From caroling to consumption, wassail is an old English tradition for the holiday season. A favorite of Charles Dickens and the subject of many carols, wassail is actually synonymous with drinking "to your health." But figuring out exactly what you are drinking is another matter.
Originally published on Mon December 19, 2011 5:09 pm
Today, Syria signed an agreement that would allow Arab League observers into the country. It's all in a bid to end its isolation and the nine-month standoff between the government of President Bashar Assad and protesters who are demanding his ouster.
Margaret Thatcher's policies as British prime minister earned her the nickname "The Iron Lady," and now that's also the title of a new film about her life.
Thatcher was famously tough on British labor unions, IRA hunger strikers, the Soviet Union and the war with Argentina over the Falkland Islands. So in the film, when visiting U.S. Secretary of State Alexander Haig questions Thatcher's knowledge of war, the then-prime minister's response is predictably unyielding.
Originally published on Mon December 19, 2011 4:27 pm
After the federal regulators raised questions about AT&T's bid to buy T-Mobile USA, the telecommunications company said it was scrapping its $39 billion bid. The merger would have made AT&T the largest wireless carrier in the United States.
The Salvation Army bell ringers and their iconic red kettles have been a familiar sight during the holidays for more than 120 years. Although in the past bell ringers were primarily volunteers, for many behind the kettle today, the temporary job has become a life saver.
For first-time bell ringers Lynn and Rusty Smith, it's helping keep them afloat during tough economic times. They work 8 hours a day ringing a Salvation Army bell for minimum wage.
In this age of bland romantic comedy leads, when the feminine ideal seems to mix two parts sweetly smiling Jennifer Aniston with three parts saucer-eyed Rapunzel, nothing can bring more satisfaction than the antiheroine.
Kim Jong Un, who is expected to become North Korea's next leader, claps after inspecting the construction site of a power station. This undated photo was released by the Korean Central News Agency on Nov. 4, 2010.
Originally published on Mon December 19, 2011 4:10 pm
North Korea has yet to formally name its new leader, and it may take a while before it does. But there's a clear favorite. Kim Jong Un was anointed back in 2009 to succeed his father, Kim Jong Il, the country's longtime leader, whose death was announced on Monday.
If Kim does follow his father and grandfather as ruler of the secretive nation, he will face huge challenges. He's not yet 30 years old, and yet would be running a society that inherently favors leaders seen as experienced and wise, rather than young and untested.
Originally published on Thu January 5, 2012 4:40 pm
The year 2011, it seems, was a good one for celebrity booze. The famous fellows who launched their own labels this year weren't your run-of-the-mill rappers touting trendy liquors or champagnes, though. (I'm looking at you, Diddy.) Instead, several aging rockers, a professional athlete, and an actor decided the time had come to hawk wine, spirits or beer.
North Korean residents line up to receive food rations at a Red Cross distribution center in Tongsin, North Korea, in 1997. Discussions over U.S. food aid to the reclusive country were to take place Monday. "You could, in a very real sense, see the needs for food assistance," said an official with Mercy Corps, after a September 2011 visit to the country.
The changing of the guard in North Korea poses clear risks for the United States.
Kim Jong Il's son Kim Jong Un is the likely successor. But he's still in his 20s and has had little time to prepare to take over the country. Analysts say that because he's weak, he won't be in any position to get back to nuclear disarmament talks and make concessions.
Kim Jong Un may also be tempted to take provocative actions to establish his leadership credentials, and the Obama administration has to take all this into account as it decides on next steps.
It's here. The cholesterol-fighter Liptor, the biggest hit in the history of the pharmaceutical industry, is now widely available in generic form.
The Pfizer drug finally lost its U.S. patent protection at the end of November, opening the door for cheaper substitutes (atorvastatin, generically) and ending the monopoly for one of the most profitable brand-name products of any kind.
Lynn Neary speaks with Michael Haynie, executive director of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University, about the unemployment picture for American veterans. Haynie says veterans from the post-9/11 generation have to overcome not only a tough economy but a special set of challenges, including physical and psychological traumas in war.