European Union leaders completed a marathon of treaty negotiations overnight to address the continent's debt crisis. Host Scott Simon checks in with NPR's Philip Reeves about how this new plan will impact Europe.
Opposition politicians and press pundits in France warn that the Sarkozy-Merkel plan to save the Euro will make France subservient to Germany. They say France will lose its sovereignty by giving a German-dominated EU control over French fiscal policy. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley pounded the pavement of Paris for days, however, and could not find a single rank-and-file French citizen who shared these fears.
Word came this week that scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have found the two largest black holes known to exist. Each is 10 billion times the size of our sun, and more than 300 million light-years away. Now, we should explain, black holes are known to hold some of the mysteries of our universe. They are so dense, they have so much gravitational pull, that not even light can escape. That makes this discovery all the more remarkable.
Last week, we spoke with artist John Morse. He creates traffic warning signs complete with haikus for the New York City Transportation Department.
JOHN MORSE: (Reading) Cyclist writes screenplay. Plot features bike lane drama. How pedestrian.
SIMON: Michael Haslam, in Bellows Falls, Vermont, asks: Is there a potential downside to the New York City haiku signs for pedestrians and bicyclists? Crossing street downtown, signs catch attention, enthrall; fatal distraction.
Most Americans haven't read the U.S. Constitution in a long time, if ever. They may be able to tell you about the Second Amendment, or the Fifth, maybe even part of the First. But other than that? A lot of blank stares.
Christopher Phillips has been leading what he calls "Constitution Café" discussions with people across the country. He's asking Americans to imagine themselves as framers of our founding document.
Anita Desai's new collection of stories, The Artist of Disappearance, reads a bit like three symphonic movements in a minor key. They're three novellas, set in modern India, where the past is giving way. In one story, a government official inspects the forgotten treasures left behind in a fated mansion. In another story, a translator becomes a little too creative; and in the third, a man living in solitude finds his world upset by roving visitors.
The world's forests act as massive sponges, sucking carbon from the atmosphere. Above, an aerial photo from 2009 shows massive deforestation in the Brazilian state of Para.
Credit Rodrigo Baleia / LatinContent/Getty Images
Deforestation and forest fires are responsible for 75 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions in Brazil. Above, smoke from a fire on livestock pastures in Brazil's Mato Grosso state breaks into the forest, September 2009.
Some climate strategists are looking beyond the United Nations and the idea of remaking the energy economy — and toward the world's tropical forests.
The basic idea is to provide rich countries that emit lots of climate-warming gases another way to reduce their carbon footprint besides replacing or retrofitting factories and power plants. Instead, they could just pay poorer countries to keep their forests, or even expand them. Forests suck carbon out of the atmosphere. It's like paying someone to put carbon in a storehouse.
Originally published on Sun December 11, 2011 10:49 am
While nations wrangle over a new global treaty on climate change, the question on many minds is: What happens next?
Key portions of the Kyoto Protocol are set to expire at the end of 2012. But many of the world's major greenhouse gas emitters have already set national targets to reduce emissions, and they're forging their own initiatives to meet those goals.
The U.S. Capitol is seen above in 2009 as senators worked late into the night on legislation. The light signifying that Congress is in session may remain on this holiday season as well, since House Republicans have said they will remain in a pro-forma session.
Credit Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images
Richard Cordray testifies during his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in September. His nomination to head the consumer watchdog agency was blocked by Senate Republicans on Thursday.
Senate Republicans blocked confirmation votes on two of President Obama's most high-profile nominees this week — one for a seat on a federal appeals court, the other to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Traditionally, the end-of-the-year holidays have allowed presidents to bypass Congress and give such thwarted nominees recess appointments. But an angry President Obama is quickly leaning that this might not be the case this year.
Originally published on Fri December 9, 2011 5:42 pm
To become a cab driver in London, you have to acquire "The Knowledge," which is their fancy way of saying that you have to memorize all the streets in London. It's quite a process that takes most three to four years to complete.
"There was no pianist breathing or cueing me," cellist Zuill Bailey says. "The good news is that he was very consistent." Soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian adds, "It's absolutely true — it takes a little bit of adjusting."
Bailey and Bayrakdarian are talking about their accompanist: the late — very late — Manuel de Falla, who died in 1946. With the help of new recording technology, the two have performed de Falla's Seven Popular Spanish Songs for a new release, The Spanish Masters.
Back in the 1930s, Boyd Lee Dunlop taught himself to play music on a broken piano left out on the streets of Buffalo, N.Y. Only half the keys worked.
He also taught his little brother Frank to play the drums while they were growing up. Frankie Dunlop went on to record with Thelonious Monk and Charles Mingus, among other jazz greats. Boyd Lee Dunlop went to work in the steel mills and rail yards of Buffalo, occasionally playing piano at local clubs.
It's of Wanti Dodo, 93, an Indonesian woman who lost her husband in a 1947 massacre. Dodo was in the audience in Rawagede, West Java when the Netherlands offered an official apology to Indonesia, today.
The Dutch ambassador to Indonesia Tjeerd de Zwaan apologized for the massacre that killed at least 150 boys and men. The Jakarta Globe provides a bit of history:
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Lynn Neary.
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And I'm Robert Siegel.
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 runs hundreds of pages. It authorizes hundreds of billions in defense spending. And as it stands, the version of the bill approved by the Senate is facing a veto by President Obama.
Here's another challenge for traditional retailers. Companies like Amazon and eBay now offer apps for your Smartphone that take a lot of the legwork out of comparison-shopping. While you're in a store, just take a picture of an item or scan the barcode on the box. You'll find out where else to get it and you might even get an extra discount for buying it on the spot.
Stephen Hoch teaches marketing at the Wharton School of Business and consults for some retailers.
Ron Paul is surging in the polls — at least in Iowa — reflecting the implosion of other candidates, his memorable debate performances and eclectic libertarian positions. He's for ending the wars — as well as what he calls the "socialist big government." What is his role in the GOP nomination race? Who is he hurting and helping? Could he conceivably win the nomination? Does he want to be president?
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
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And I'm Lynn Neary. European officials are moving ahead today with a new package of economic reforms. That's after a long night of talks in Brussels. The effort to address the unyielding debt crisis has threatened European unity and one important country, the United Kingdom, has refused to sign off on the reforms. More on that in a moment, but first we hear about the new rules from NPR's Jim Zarroli.
Mitt Romney was also in Iowa today. His campaign has spent the past several days on the offensive against Newt Gingrich. As Iowa Public Radio's Kate Wells reports, the former Massachusetts governor is facing a bigger challenge than he planned.
KATE WELLS, BYLINE: Remember when Mitt Romney wasn't supposed to really need Iowa?