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The Two-Way
6:05 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

As Crackdown Continues, Syria Agrees To Arab League Observers

A boy stands in a water fountain as he holds up the Syrian national flag during a rally in Damascus, Syria.
Muzaffar Salman AP

Originally published on Mon December 19, 2011 6:09 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.

The Guardian reports:

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Movie Interviews
6:04 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

From Meryl To Margaret: Becoming 'The Iron Lady'

Meryl Streep stars as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in Phyllida Lloyd's The Iron Lady.
The Weinstein Co.

Originally published on Mon December 19, 2011 6:54 pm

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.

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Business
6:03 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

AT&T Drops T-Mobile Bid

AT&T shuttered proposed plans to buy T-Mobile. For more, Robert Siegel talks to NPR's Joel Rose.

North Korea In Transition
5:35 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

How Will A New Leader Handle North Korea's Nukes?

Perhaps Kim Jong Il's most enduring legacy was to turn North Korea into a nuclear weapons state. The country successfully tested a nuclear bomb underground in 2006, and a second test followed in 2009.

With Kim's death, which was announced Monday, his presumed successor is his son, Kim Jong Un. But little is known about him or his thinking on the country's nuclear program.

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The Two-Way
5:21 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

AT&T Drops Bid To Purchase T-Mobile USA

This June 2, 2010, file photo shows the AT&T logo in Washington, D.C.
Etienne Franchi AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 19, 2011 5:27 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.

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Economy
4:53 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

Some Jobless Saved By The Salvation Army Bell

Lynn Smith has been ringing a Salvation Army bell since Thanksgiving outside a grocery store in Ventura, Calif. A former travel agent, she works 8 hours a day for minimum wage.
Glorida Hillard For NPR

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.

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Three Books...
4:34 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

Hell-Raising Heroines: Three Ladies With Spitfire

James FL USA via flickr

Originally published on Wed January 4, 2012 5:19 pm

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.

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Newt Gingrich
4:16 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

To Win Over Iowans, Gingrich Aims At Judges

In the final leg of the campaign in Iowa, the Republican presidential candidates are talking about judges. No one has made them a bigger issue than Newt Gingrich.

Overhauling the judiciary has become one of his key proposals on the stump.

Conservatives have used "activist judges" as a battle cry for many election cycles now. But in Iowa, the issue has special resonance since the judiciary became a potent political issue two years ago.

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North Korea In Transition
4:12 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

North Korea's Likely Leader: Young And Untested

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.
AP

Originally published on Mon December 19, 2011 5:10 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.

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The Salt
3:23 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

To Party Like A Rock Star, They Suggest Buying Their Booze

At the national release of "AC/DC The Wine" in Melbourne, varieties included Back in Black Shiraz, Highway to Hell Cabernet Sauvignon and You Shook Me All Night Long Moscato.
William West AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 5, 2012 5:40 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.

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North Korea In Transition
3:10 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

U.S. Treads Cautiously With North Korean Transition

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.
Lasse Norgaard AP

Originally published on Mon December 19, 2011 8:19 pm

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.

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Shots - Health Blog
3:05 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

Generic Lipitor Now At Stores Near You

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.

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NPR Story
3:00 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

National Guard May Receive Joint Chiefs Spot

The most elite club in the military, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is set to get a new member: the chief of the National Guard. Congress approved the change as part of the defense authorization bill last week and the president is expected to sign the bill into law.

NPR Story
3:00 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

Post-9/11 Vets Face Special Employment Challenges

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.

NPR Story
3:00 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

House Poised To Reject Budget Deal

Days after it seemed Congress had struck a budget, tax cut and unemployment deal that would get it through the holidays, it is clear that they did not. House Speaker John Boehner Monday must deal with a restive House GOP caucus that signaled over the weekend that it had no interest in going along with the Senate's two-month plan. NPR congressional correspondent David Welna joins Lynn Neary with the latest.

Around the Nation
3:00 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

Kim's Death Met With Joy, Concern In Koreatown

Originally published on Mon December 19, 2011 6:54 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Many Koreans who live in the United States are following the situation in North Korea closely. Southern California is home to a huge Korean community.

And as NPR's Carrie Kahn reports, news of Kim Jong Il's death has been greeted there with shock and anxiety.

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The Two-Way
2:55 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

Scientists Pinpoint Source Of Stonehenge's Inner Stones

The sun rises behind Stonehenge as revellers celebrate the pagan festival of 'Summer Solstice' in 2010.
Carl Court AFP/Getty Images

It took scientists nine months, but they are now sure the inner stones of Stonehenge came from Pembrokeshire, Wales, about 160 miles from the Stonehenge site.

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The Two-Way
2:25 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

Don't Panic, It Wasn't Lil' Kim

In case anyone's confused. Kim Jong Il is at left. And Lil' Kim is still with us.
Korean Central News Agency / Ian Gavan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 19, 2011 2:28 pm

Just the headline of this Buzz Feed post made us laugh.

"25 People Who Thought Lil Kim Died."

It's funny either way:

-- If some folks were confused by the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

-- Or if they were just making mischief.

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The Two-Way
2:01 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

Report: So Far, 2011 Safest Year On Record For Air Travel

An airplane takes off.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon December 19, 2011 2:03 pm

2011 is shaping up to be the safest on record for airline travel, according to analysis of United Nations data by a trade group.

The International Air Transport Association reports that January to November of 2011 are the safest months on record since the U.N. started keeping data in 1945. The 11-month period has also seen a 22 percent improvement in safety from last year.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

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Shots - Health Blog
1:32 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

Second Neti-Pot Death From Amoeba Prompts Tap-Water Warning

Keep that tap water — and amoebas — out of your neti pot.
iStockphoto.com

Washing noses with neti pots or squeeze bottles has become increasingly popular as a home remedy for colds, allergies and sinus trouble. But it's not such a great remedy if it kills you.

Now that two people have died from infection with brain-eating amoebas after using neti pots, doctors are warning: do not put tap water up your nose.

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The Two-Way
12:58 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

Kim Jong Il's Legacy? 'North Korea Is Dark'

North Korea's borders are outlined.
NASA via Afrikent

Originally published on Mon December 19, 2011 3:03 pm

There's certainly already been a lot said about North Korea's Kim Jong Il. NPR's Anthony Kuhn has an obit and Planet Money has a recap of how North Korea's economy is fueled by drug dealing and smuggling of counterfeit goods.

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North Korea In Transition
12:28 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

Key Moments In The Rule Of Kim Jong Il

Korean Central News Agency photo released on Jan. 18, 2009, showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Il posing with soldiers.
STR AFP/Getty Images

Kim Jong Il succeeded his father and ruled the secretive nation for 17 years. It was a period that included repeated friction with the international community over North Korea's nuclear weapons program and a devastating famine in the late 1990s that may have been responsible for upwards of 2 million deaths.

The Two-Way
12:25 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

VIDEOS: Christmas-Themed 'Senior Citizen Flash Mobs' Are Spreading

The senior citizens flash mob in Kansas.
YouTube

Originally published on Mon December 19, 2011 12:26 pm

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Presidential Candidates: Did You Know?
11:34 am
Mon December 19, 2011

5 Things You May Not Know About Rick Santorum

Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum listens during a presidential debate Oct. 11 at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H.
Scott Eells-Pool Getty

Originally published on Mon December 19, 2011 5:24 pm

Born in the spring of 1958, former Sen. Rick Santorum — the son of a psychologist and a nurse — was the second of three children in a Catholic family. The Pennsylvania Republican spent most of his childhood in the Pittsburgh suburbs.

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The Salt
11:19 am
Mon December 19, 2011

Why Are We More Hungry In The Winter?

Our drive to eat more in the winter may be a product of less sunlight — or more temptation around us.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon December 19, 2011 11:24 am

If you feel hungrier as winter draws near, you're not alone. Even though most of us spend our days in climate-controlled offices and homes, our appetites seem to change when the days grow shorter. Some researchers say it's our primitive impulses promting us to stockpile calories for the winter ahead.

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