NPR News

History With Cain May Pay Off For Gingrich

Dec 5, 2011

When businessman Herman Cain left the Republican presidential race over the weekend, he said he would endorse one of his former rivals.

One likely recipient of that endorsement: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Like Cain before him, Gingrich is trying to establish himself as the conservative alternative to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. And Cain and Gingrich share a long history of mutual admiration.

In the past two weeks, Russia's president has once again slammed the U.S. for its missile defense plans in Europe. President Dmitry Medvedev told his nation Russia would aim its missiles at U.S. missile interceptors when they are deployed in Europe. He also said Russia might even pull out of the new START agreement, which limits both sides' strategic nuclear warhead deployments. We've heard these complaints and threats before from Moscow. Nevertheless, the tone of the Medvedev's remarks was quite sharp.

Congress returned to Washington Monday with a pile of unfinished business, and no clarity on a path to getting it done. At the top of the congressional to-do list this week is extending a payroll tax holiday that meant about $1,000 in extra take-home pay for the typical family this year. It is set to expire at the end of the month.

Congressional leaders from both parties say the payroll tax cut is a must-pass measure. It's just not entirely clear how it's going to happen.

A decade ago, shortly after the Taliban had been driven out of Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, the international community gathered in Bonn, Germany, to talk about rebuilding Afghanistan.

On Monday, more than 100 countries again gathered in Bonn, this time to see how they could maintain support for Afghanistan after the U.S. and NATO wind down their combat operations in three years.

Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai, said he was grateful for all the help his country has received, and he appealed to the international community to keep it up.

GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich had little time to savor his weekend appearance atop the Des Moines Register's influential Iowa caucus poll before front-runner reality set in.

The former House Speaker on Monday sparred with fellow candidate Ron Paul over the relevance of businessman/reality show host/would-be debate moderator Donald Trump's opinion.

He was questioned at a New York City fundraiser about the "baggage" he brings to the race.

Scientists at the NASA's Ames Research Center said today that for the first time, they have found a planet that orbits a star a lot like the sun and is smack in the middle of the "habitable zone."

Using 54,000 feet of toilet paper and the 825-foot long "Infinite Corridor" at MIT as a workspace, students from a small boarding school in Massachusetts say they broke an unofficial record for folding paper on Sunday.

You know that shortage of nurses people have been warning about for about the last decade or two? Fuhgeddaboudit!

Howard Tate, Soul Singer, Dies At 72

Dec 5, 2011

Soul music lost one of its great voices last week. Singer Howard Tate died Friday after a battle with cancer at the age of 72. Tate had made his name with a string of classic records including "Get It While You Can," before sliding into obscurity and addiction. But Tate got sober, found religion and he enjoyed a successful encore career over the past decade.

Tate's first turn at the music business came in 1966, when the single "Ain't Nobody Home" hit the R&B charts.

We don't usually share local crime stories, but two of them stuck out today. And one of them provides some hope. We'll start with the sad one:

Fox 8 Cleveland reports that a burglar has "ruined" Christmas for a Painesville, Ohio family. The burglar allegedly broke into the home, took their TV, an Xbox, a laptop and worst of all perhaps, then took all the newly-bought presents underneath the Christmas tree:

The United States and dozens of other countries convened in Bonn, Germany, Monday to discuss Afghanistan's future. But Pakistan, a key player in any Afghan settlement, boycotted the conference.

Pakistani leaders were deeply angered by the killing of 24 of their soldiers in a NATO airstrike along the Afghan border last month.

Many in Pakistan say relations between the United States and Pakistan have never been worse, though there may be signs of a coming thaw.

Russian Voters Send Putin A Message

Dec 5, 2011

After 12 years with his authority virtually unchallenged, Vladimir Putin now appears to be facing an electorate that's showing signs of weariness with his rule.

Putin still seems to have a lock on another presidential term as the country prepares for that election in March. Nevertheless, his party – United Russia – received a clear rebuke in parliamentary elections held Sunday.

Lynn Neary and Robert Siegel read letters from listeners

Envoys from dozens of countries and international organizations meet in Bonn, Germany, hoping to chart a path to peace for Afghanistan. But the conference has been marred by the absence of Pakistan, furious over NATO airstrikes that left two dozen of its soldiers dead last week.

Transcript

LYNN NEARY, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Lynn Neary.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

Little good can be said of war, but that it has provided fertile ground for some of the world's great novelists. The latest example is Andrew Krivak's first book, "The Sojourn." It's set during World War I.

Alan Cheuse has our review.

The head of the Federal Aviation Administration, who among other duties is in charge of the nation's air traffic controllers, was charged with driving while intoxicated Saturday night in Fairfax, Va., a suburb of Washington, D.C.

And Federal News Radio says Jerome "Randy" Babbitt has now been "placed on a leave of absence." The Associated Press reports that the leave was "at Babbitt's request."

John Lithgow's On-Stage 'Education'

Dec 5, 2011

John Lithgow was born into a theater family, but he never intended to become an actor; he wanted to paint. But ever since he first took the stage as a toddler, he was a hit — and he's gone on to win numerous awards for his work in television, theater and film.

In his memoir, Drama: An Actor's Education, Lithgow focuses on the years before the fame — from his stage debut at the age of 2 and his college years at Harvard, right up to the moment when he moved out West and became a star.

Over the weekend, the company that runs the Japanese nuclear plant crippled by the earthquake and tsunami in March said they had detected another leak of radioactive water. This time, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) said, 45 tons of contaminated water had been found outside the cooling system and about 300 liters of it had leaked into the Pacific Ocean.

For a long time, most public colleges and universities have gotten their funding based on how many students they enroll: More students mean more money.

But economic pressures have convinced states they should only reward results that help students — and the state's economy.

Tennessee is a leader among states trying to peg funding to the number of students who actually graduate.

Getting Education To Do More For The State

In between his speakership and his presidential candidacy, Newt Gingrich built a network of organizations to promote his causes — and himself.

Informally known as Newt Gingrich Inc., those entities have flourished. But questions linger, especially about two of them: the Gingrich Group, a for-profit consulting firm; and a unit of the Gingrich Group called the Center for Health Transformation.

Five months after the implosion of Enron, Feb. 12, 2002, the company's chief executive, Ken Lay, finally stood in front of Congress and the world, and placed his hand on a Bible.

At that point everyone had questions for Lay. It was clear by then that Enron was the product of a spectacular ethical failure, that there had been massive cheating and lying. The real question was: How many people had been dishonest? Who was in on it?

She'll still get about $50 million a year in taxpayers' money to run her palaces and travel the world, but there's word from the U.K. that Queen Elizabeth II has had her "pay" frozen until at least 2015.

Hard times, after all, require sacrifices.

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Over the weekend, as the number killed rose over 4,000, one U.N. official took the considered step of describing the situation in Syria as a civil war. While much of the opposition to the government of Bashar al-Assad remains peaceful, defectors from the military have taken up arms, neighborhoods have formed ad-hoc militias, political and military opposition groups have established a presence across the border in Turkey.

Herman Cain quit the presidential primary over the weekend and an Atlanta TV station reports that he may endorse his former rival, Newt Gingrich. NPR's Ken Rudin talks about Cain's decision to quit, and how it will change the primary field.

When Freeman Hrabowski became president of The University of Maryland, Baltimore County in 1992, he made it his mission to close the achievement gap. UMBC now sends more African-African students to graduate school in science and technology than any other predominantly white university in the U.S.

Many doctors complain that the few patients who refuse immunizations put all patients at risk, and some refuse them treatment. New York Times Ethicist Ariel Kaminer addresses the question of whether it's ethical for pediatricians to refuse routine care to families with unvaccinated children.

Teens sharing totally inappropriate naked photos on their phones: Sexting sounded so plausible, it just had to be true.

But now it turns out that's the vast majority of teenagers aren't sexting at all.

The Occupy movement has refocused the national conversation to income inequality. As we've reported in the past, this Tumbler blog puts a face on who the 99 percent are.

But who are the 1 percent?

Today, Gallup released analysis that looked at households who earned more than $500,000 annually and found that in many cases they were a "mirror image" of the 99 percent.

Among the findings:

Unmanned aircraft — or drones — are playing a large role in U.S. military operations in Afghanistan but they're starting to show up in increasing numbers in U.S. as well. Drones are already used to patrol the border with Mexico and now they may soon be coming to a police department near you.

As the temperature starts to drop, it may be comforting to know that hot chocolate could be more American than apple pie.

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