Politics
5:00 am
Sat December 24, 2011

GOP Walks Away From Payroll Tax Debacle Bruised

Originally published on Sat December 24, 2011 5:25 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. President Obama is in Hawaii with his family today. Yesterday, just before leaving Washington, D.C., he signed a bill to extend the payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits for two months. It was a political victory for the president and for Democrats who had made extending the tax break a priority.

For Republicans in the House of Representatives though, it may have marked a political defeat. NPR's congressional correspondent reporter, Tamara Keith, has more.

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Animals
5:00 am
Sat December 24, 2011

A Pigeon's Potential: Learning Abstract Numbers

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Pigeons are not known for their algebra skills or intelligence generally. They don't talk like parrots. They don't make tools out of twigs like some crows.

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Education
5:00 am
Sat December 24, 2011

To Make Algebra Fun, Rethink The Problem

Originally published on Sat December 24, 2011 5:25 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Schools across the country are on break this week, meaning that millions of students don't have to think even about algebra - or are they just missing the algebra that's all around them? We're joined now by our Math Guy, Keith Devlin of Stanford University, who joins us this week from member station KJAU in Boulder, Colorado. Keith, thanks so much for being with us.

KEITH DEVLIN, BYLINE: Hi, Scott. Nice to be here.

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The Salt
3:49 am
Sat December 24, 2011

Pride And Prejudice: For Latinos, Tamales Offer Up A Delicious Serving Of Both

Many Americans are familiar with cornhusk-wrapped tamales. But those aren't my favorite.
Chicago Tribune MCT via Getty Images

Originally published on Fri October 19, 2012 12:10 pm

It's Christmas Eve, and many Latinos will celebrate the holiday tonight by unwrapping a delicious little present: tamales.

At its essence, a tamale consists of masa (a type of starchy corn dough) that's been wrapped in leaves, then steamed or boiled. Some come bundled in corn husks, others in plantain, banana or mashan leaves. Some are sweetened with molasses, others spiced with mole. Some are plain, others filled with meats or vegetables.

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After a stint on Capitol Hill, NPR National Correspondent Debbie Elliott is back covering her native South.

From a giant sinkhole swallowing up a bayou community in Louisiana to new state restrictions on abortion providers, Elliott keeps track of the region's news. She also reports on cultural treasures such as an historic church in need of preservation in Helena, Arkansas; the magical House of Dance and Feathers in New Orleans' lower 9th ward; and the hidden-away Coon Dog Cemetery in north Alabama.

She's looking back at the legacy of landmark civil rights events, and following the legal battles between states and the federal government over immigration enforcement, healthcare, and voting rights.

Hard Times: A Journey Across America
3:12 am
Sat December 24, 2011

In Camden, S.C., A Family's Generations Talk Race

Sisters Ernestyne James Adams (right) and Althea James Truitt are concerned about the economy and today's political climate.
Debbie Elliott NPR

Originally published on Sat December 24, 2011 9:07 pm

Part of a series

With the 2012 presidential election on the horizon, NPR's Debbie Elliott heads to Camden, S.C., to hear from the close-knit Gaither-James family. Like other African-Americans — considered the political base for President Obama — they're concerned about the economy and today's political climate.

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Around the Nation
3:11 am
Sat December 24, 2011

Secular Opponents Of Holiday Displays Get Creative

A skeleton dressed in a Santa Claus costume is part of the holiday displays at the Loudoun County Courthouse in Leesburg, Va. Many local residents are not pleased with the "Skele-Claus" or other displays by secular activists and atheists.
Kevin Dietsch UPI /Landov

Joseph, Mary, and ... the Flying Spaghetti Monster?

Nativity scenes have long been a part of holiday displays at city halls and small-town courthouses across the country. This year, some proponents of secularism are finding new ways to protest the time-honored tradition. They're putting up their own versions of the creche — and causing quite a commotion in places like Leesburg, Va.

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Animals
3:11 am
Sat December 24, 2011

To Flirt In Cities, Birds Adjust Their Pitch

Have you ever been at a bar where it was just too loud to hit on anybody? Birds feel your pain.

A big part of being a bird is singing, often to attract other birds. Sometimes it's hard to do that amid all the noise in a city. For birds, it's like living in a bar, scientist Peter Marra says.

"Those sounds compete with low-frequency sounds," Marra says, and that makes it hard for birds that sing at a lower pitch to hook up.

But there's no stopping love, and Marra has found that those birds are changing their tune.

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Christopher Joyce is a correspondent on the science desk at NPR. His stories can be heard on all of NPR's news programs, including NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition.

Joyce seeks out stories in some of the world's most inaccessible places. He has reported from remote villages in the Amazon and Central American rainforests, Tibetan outposts in the mountains of western China, and the bottom of an abandoned copper mine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Over the course of his career, Joyce has written stories about volcanoes, hurricanes, human evolution, tagging giant blue-fin tuna, climate change, wars in Kosovo and Iraq and the artificial insemination of an African elephant.

Asia
2:10 am
Sat December 24, 2011

In Japan, Radiation Fears Reshape Lives

Japanese shoppers remain concerned about radiation levels in food following the country's nuclear accident in March. Shoppers are shown here in a Tokyo supermarket.
Lucy Craft NPR

Nine months after Japan's nuclear accident, life in Tokyo seems to have snapped back to normal, with a vengeance. The talk shows are back to their usual mindless trivia about pop stars and baseball contracts. The date of the tsunami and nuclear accident, March 11 — known here as just 3/11 — has faded into the background.

But while the horror has receded, for many of us, particularly women with families, things will never be the same.

There's no getting past the fact that the nuclear accident dumped radioactive particles into the atmosphere, soil and sea.

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