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The Two-Way
6:40 am
Fri December 16, 2011

Christopher Hitchens: 'Atheist Intellectual,' 'Noble Contrarian'

Christopher Hitchens.
Brendan Banaszak NPR

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 8:08 am

The life of often controversial writer and cultural critic Christopher Hitchens, who died Thursday after a long battle against cancer of the esophagus, as told in some of today's headlines:

-- "Christopher Hitchens, Author and Contrarian, Dies at 62." (The Wall Street Journal's Speakeasy blog)

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Africa
6:27 am
Fri December 16, 2011

Thieves Apprehended After Pocket Dialing 911

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 2:23 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Good morning, I'm Renee Montagne. Most thieves don't turn themselves in, but two in Wisconsin did without quite intending to. As the men drove off after stealing DVDs and video games from Target, one thief pocket-dialed 9-1-1. A dispatcher listened as the duo detailed their heist, including how the police would be looking for their Blue Dodge Durango.

That tip led the cops directly to them. After 54 minutes, their call to 9-1-1 finally ended with their arrest.

It's All Politics
6:23 am
Fri December 16, 2011

With Iowa Vote Looming, Gingrich Struggles To Stay Atop GOP Field

Republican presidential candidate former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks during a Republican presidential debate in Sioux City, Iowa, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011.
Eric Gay AP

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 7:36 am

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich got front-runner treatment Thursday night in Iowa during the final GOP debate before that state's crucial Jan. 3 caucuses, taking a pounding for his years as a highly-compensated Washington influence peddler.

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Around the Nation
6:21 am
Fri December 16, 2011

Secret Santa Drops Krugerrand In Donation Bucket

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 2:23 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne with news of a mysterious donation found in a Salvation Army bucket in Pennsylvania. A gold South African Krugerrand - worth about $1,700 - was found in a kettle Wednesday outside a Wal-Mart. This isn't the first time this has happened. The coins seem to appear almost every year near Gettysburg. Similar coins have been discovered in Salvation Army collections from Tennessee to Chicago. Still, no one's figures out who the secret Santa is. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

The Two-Way
6:05 am
Fri December 16, 2011

Congress Averts Government Shutdown, But Still Divided On Payroll Tax Cut

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 12:59 pm

Update at 1:50 p.m. ET. Government Will Not Shutdown:

The House of Representatives just passed a $1 trillion spending bill that will keep the government running through the fall. Congress, however, is still deadlocked on two major pieces of legislation. The extension of the payroll tax cut, which is a priority for the Obama administration and an extension of jobless benefits to to the long-term unemployed.

Our Original Post Continues:

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Best Books Of 2011
6:00 am
Fri December 16, 2011

A Passion For The Past: 2011's Best Historical Fiction

Priscilla Nielsen for NPR

Historical fiction invites us to experience the exotic and the unknown while confirming our common humanity. I do not believe that human nature has changed much over the centuries, and it is possible to identify with the emotions, passions, and fears of men and women long dead.

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The Two-Way
5:30 am
Fri December 16, 2011

Japanese Officials Declare 'Cold Shutdown' Of Crippled Reactors

Workers in protective suits and masks wait to enter the emergency operation center at the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station on Nov. 12, 2011.
David Guttenfelder AFP/Getty Images

Nuclear reactors crippled in Japan's March 11 earthquake and tsunami are now in a "cold shutdown," Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda announced today.

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NPR Story
3:00 am
Fri December 16, 2011

Writer Christopher Hitchens Dies At 62

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 2:23 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

We're going to remember now the acerbic, controversial and always compelling writer and cultural critic Christopher Hitchens. Vanity Fair, where he was a contributing editor, announced last night that he had died from complications of cancer. He was 62 years old.

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NPR Story
3:00 am
Fri December 16, 2011

'Mission Impossible' Review

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 2:23 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The title doesn't have the number in it, but anyone who cares knows "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" is really "Mission: Impossible 4." The movie is opening this weekend on huge IMAX screens only. Next week it will be in regular theaters. Film critic Kenneth Turan says sit back and enjoy the ride.

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NPR Story
3:00 am
Fri December 16, 2011

Early Retiree Program Bankrupt

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 2:23 pm

A $5 billion federal program to pay for the health benefits of early retirees is proving to be more popular than expected. So popular that it's running out of money earlier than planned. The fund, part of the health care overhaul, was to provide a bridge of insurance coverage until 2014 when early retirees would have many more options under the health care law.

This report is part of a collaboration between Minnesota Public Radio, NPR, and Kaiser Health News.

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Business
3:00 am
Fri December 16, 2011

Anonymous Donors Pay Off Kmart Layaway Accounts

Originally published on Mon December 19, 2011 7:33 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Our last word in business today is: Mystery Elves. At Kmart stores around the country, anonymous donors are walking in and paying off the layaway accounts of complete strangers. It seems to have started in Michigan, but the holiday spirit spread. Kmart says the stealth benefactors usually ask for accounts that include toys.

Election 2012
3:00 am
Fri December 16, 2011

GOP Presidential Contenders Done Debating Before Iowa Caucuses

Newt Gingrich stood center state Thursday night in the Sioux City Convention Center. The sharpest elbows did not come from his close rivals, Mitt Romney or Ron Paul. Instead, it was Michele Bachmann who repeatedly went after Gingrich.

Politics
3:00 am
Fri December 16, 2011

Negotiators Reach Deal To Keep Government Open

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 2:23 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

So, it looks like the federal government is not going to shut down at midnight tonight. That's good news. Congressional negotiators say they've reached an agreement to move forward on a trillion-dollar-plus spending plan. It would fund the government through October. There are still some end-of-year issues that haven't been resolved.

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Election 2012
3:00 am
Fri December 16, 2011

Bachmann Tries To Regain Early Iowa Lead

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann once appeared to be the favored Republican presidential candidate in Iowa. But she's been near the bottom of most polls since. Bachmann is making an aggressive push to finish well in next month's Iowa caucuses, and she embarks on a multi-day bus tour of the state Friday.

Law
3:00 am
Fri December 16, 2011

DOJ Probe Finds Ariz. Sheriff Violated Civil Rights

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 2:23 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

Joe Arpaio, the man who calls himself America's toughest sheriff, is not backing down. The U.S. Justice Department yesterday accused his sheriff's department in Maricopa County, Arizona of systematically violating the constitutional and civil rights of Latinos. By the end of the day, NPR's Ted Robbins reports, the sheriff was hitting back.

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Race
3:00 am
Fri December 16, 2011

Fierce Reaction To 'If I Were A Poor Black Kid'

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 2:23 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich kicked up some dust recently when he opined that poor kids should be able to work as school janitors to develop a work ethic and avoid becoming, in Gingrich's words, a prostitute or a drug dealer.

This week, a tech writer on Forbes.com is causing a stir in the blogosphere with an advice column titled "If I Were a Poor Black Kid." Gene Marks is not a kid, or black. As he put it, he's middle aged, middle class, and white.

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Planet Money
2:28 am
Fri December 16, 2011

A Technocrat In Trouble

Andreas Georgiou, technocrat
Chana Joffe-Walt NPR

Andreas Georgiou is the technocrat charged with running the Greek statistics office — the same office that, in the years leading up to the financial crisis, produced wildly distorted reports of Greece's finances.

"My goal is to make this a competent, boring institution and not to be in the limelight," Georgiou told me recently. "Not to have to give an interview like this one."

So far, though, his efforts have been met with resistance, strikes and a criminal investigation that could lead to life in prison for Georgiou.

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It's All Politics
11:27 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

Romney Regains Stride; Gingrich Shows Old Newt At Sioux City Debate

Mitt Romney returned to form in the final Republican presidential debate before the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses.

Romney, who had perhaps his shakiest debate performance in Des Moines over the weekend, appeared to regain his composure in Thursday night's debate in Sioux City, Iowa.

He managed to once again convey the sense that he was the one GOP candidate of the seven remaining who could credibly stand on the same stage with President Obama next fall, the most electable of the candidates running for the Republican presidential nomination.

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Monkey See
11:01 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

Diablo Cody Explores The Ugly Side Of Pretty In 'Young Adult'

Charlize Theron plays Mavis Gary in Young Adult.
Phillip V. Caruso Paramount Pictures

Charlize Theron is ugly in Young Adult, the new film from the Juno team of director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody — both literally and personally. In parts of the film, she still looks like her knockout movie-star self, but in other parts, she looks like she's aged a year for every day since her character, Mavis Gary, left high school.

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Your Money
11:01 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

Ways To Cut Your Tax Bill Before 2011 Ends

Taxes might not be due until April, but there are a few things you can do before the new year to lower your bill.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 4:33 pm

Federal income tax time is still a few months away, but there are some things you can do before Dec. 31 to save money on April 15.

"The biggest thing is, if you have a 401(k) retirement plan at work and you have not yet maxed it out, that is a great way to kick some extra dollars into your retirement account," Mary Beth Franklin, a senior editor at Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine, tells NPR's Renee Montagne.

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StoryCorps
11:01 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

Homeless At 60: 'A Bullet I Didn't See Coming'

Queen Jackson, right, and her case manager, Debra MacKillop, visited StoryCorps in Denver, Colorado.
StoryCorps

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 2:23 pm

Queen Jackson has been homeless for about a year. As she recently told her case manager, Debra MacKillop, it all started in 2009, when she was laid off from her job as an administrative assistant.

"I was working for the state of Colorado," says Jackson, 60. "I had all these great ideas of retiring and sitting back and enjoying my life. But, as the budget was becoming very strained, I was one of the first to be laid off."

At the time, Jackson wasn't worried. She had saved some money, and she was sure she'd be able to find another job quickly.

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National Security
11:01 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

Bradley Manning To Appear In Court In Leaks Case

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 2:23 pm

Supporters say Army Pfc. Bradley Manning doesn't belong in a courtroom at all. They think he's a whistle-blower — and a hero.

Eighteen months after his arrest on suspicion of leaking national secrets, Manning will finally make his first appearance in court Friday at Fort Meade, Md., just north of Washington, D.C.

When he worked in Iraq, Manning allegedly downloaded thousands of war logs and diplomatic cables and shared them with the website WikiLeaks. He faces 22 criminal charges that could keep him behind bars for life.

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Remembrances
11:00 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

Writer Christopher Hitchens Dies At 62

Writer and commentator Christopher Hitchens died Thursday. He was 62.
Amanda Edwards Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 2:06 pm

The influential writer and cultural critic Christopher Hitchens died on Thursday at the age of 62 from complications of cancer of the esophagus. Hitchens confronted his disease in part by writing, bringing the same unsparing insight to his mortality that he had directed at so many other subjects.

Over the years, Hitchens' caustic attention was directed at a broad range of subjects, including Henry Kissinger, Prince Charles, Bob Hope, Michael Moore, the Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa.

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The Two-Way
5:17 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

Puerto Rican Mayor Causes A Stir With Wild Christmas Card

A Santini family portrait.
Jorge Santini

We are late to this news, but because it's just now picking up steam in the mainland United States, we'll share it. This was the official Christmas card of Jorge Santini, the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, this year:

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It's All Politics
4:59 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

Iowa Gov. Branstad On GOP White House Contest: 'It's A Wide Open Race'

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad.
Charlie Neibergall AP

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 8:14 am

Iowa's popular Gov. Terry Branstad hasn't endorsed any of the Republican presidential candidates crisscrossing his state yet.

Which means he can at least claim to be above the intramural GOP fray scheduled to end in a few weeks when his state's Republican voters attend caucuses to choose their preference for their party's White House nominee.

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