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Sports
2:03 am
Mon January 6, 2014

Figure Skater With 'Happy Feet' Hopes To Clinch Spot In Sochi

Jeremy Abbott performs during a figure skating competition in Paris in 2012.
Gonzalo Fuentes Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 7:03 am

As the Olympic Games get closer, athletes like figure skater Jeremy Abbott are focusing on making Team USA. With only two slots on the U.S. men's figure skating team, the competition is tough. But the three-time U.S. champion — who has yet to deliver on the world stage — wants 2014 to be the year he takes a medal in Sochi, Russia.

Abbott, 28, has been in ice skates since he was 2 years old. He's already been to one Olympics, placing ninth at the 2010 games in Vancouver.

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Europe
2:02 am
Mon January 6, 2014

Madrid's Street Performers Now Must Audition To Hold Out A Hat

Street musician Valentino Juanino, right, plays his bagpipe at the Conde Duque Cultural Center last month after taking a quality test to obtain official permission to perform in the streets of Madrid.
Paul White AP

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 7:03 am

On the train, in the park, on the famed medieval Plaza Mayor — the Spanish capital of Madrid is famous for its street performers.

And with more than a quarter of Spaniards out of work, more people than ever before have been crisscrossing the city with their violins and voices, for extra cash. People squeeze giant accordions onto the metro, and roll amplifiers on carts across cobblestones.

The street performers are a tourist attraction. But Madrid's mayor, Ana Botella, says the clamor has reached its limit.

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Shots - Health News
2:02 am
Mon January 6, 2014

Dental Coverage Deciphered, And The Latest On Sign-Up Deadlines

Laura Breland gets her teeth cleaned by Denise Lopez-Rodriguez at a community health center in Aurora, Colo., in 2012. Dental coverage is available through the Affordable Care Act.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 3:01 pm

New Year's Day marked the halfway point to sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act for coverage this year.

And after a dismal start, things seem to be going a lot better on the HealthCare.gov website. Federal officials say more than 1 million people enrolled in coverage by the Christmas Eve deadline for coverage that began January 1.

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Around the Nation
2:01 am
Mon January 6, 2014

An Honorable Last Wish For A Dying Marine

Hal Faulkner (left), 79, receives his new papers from two Marines after having his military status changed to "honorable discharge" at a recent ceremony. Faulkner was kicked out of the Marine Corps in 1956 for being gay.
Courtesy of Phil Latzman

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 7:03 am

Hal Faulkner is 79 years old and he's already lived months longer than his doctors predicted.

"I don't know what to say, it's just incredible that I'm still here," Faulkner says in a halting voice made gruff by age and cancer.

Faulkner joined the Marines in 1953, and served in the Philippines. In 1956, he got kicked out with an "undesirable discharge" for being gay. His military papers said "homosexual" on them, quite an obstacle in the 1950s.

Still, Faulkner moved on, and had a successful career in sales.

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First Listen
10:10 pm
Sun January 5, 2014

First Listen: Gripe, 'In His Image'

Gripe's In His Image comes out on Jan. 14.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 9:34 am

The weird thing about bands from Athens, Ga., is that they tend not to leave Athens, Ga. It's a cozy town with cheap food, cheap beer and cheap rent. Why leave, right?

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First Listen
10:03 pm
Sun January 5, 2014

First Listen: Rosanne Cash, 'The River & The Thread'

Rosanne Cash's The River & The Thread comes out Jan. 14.
Clay Patrick McBride Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 9:34 am

It's tempting — and, really, accurate — to describe Rosanne Cash's new album as a literary effort. The singer-songwriter is also a published author, and her last album, 2009's The List, was a writer's game: Its 12 tracks abridged her famous father Johnny's 100-song lexicon of essentials, which he gave to his then-teenaged daughter as a legacy and a challenge.

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First Listen
10:03 pm
Sun January 5, 2014

First Listen: Sharon Jones And The Dap-Kings, 'Give The People What They Want'

Give the People What They Want, Sharon Jones' new album with The Dap-Kings, comes out Jan. 14.
Paul McGeiver Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 9:33 am

For veteran soul singer Sharon Jones, 2013 was a year of frustration, fear and false starts: She'd just announced the summer release of her fifth album, Give the People What They Want, when she was diagnosed with cancer and had to put her career on hold. Tours were canceled, while the finished record had to be shelved until she'd recovered to where she was in a position to promote it. Anyone who's seen Jones live knows how much she pours into performing, so fans appeared to be in for a long wait.

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First Listen
10:03 pm
Sun January 5, 2014

First Listen: Damien Jurado, 'Brothers And Sisters Of The Eternal Son'

Damien Jurado's new album, Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son, comes out Jan. 21.
Steve Gullick Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 1:43 pm

It's a testament to singer-songwriter Damien Jurado's versatility that he's made nearly a dozen albums of largely inward-looking folk and rock music, and yet has never made two records that sound the same.

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Digital Life
5:51 pm
Sun January 5, 2014

The Internet's Cicada: A Mystery Without An Answer

A poster found in Warsaw shows a QR Code for a website related to the Cicada 3301 mystery.
Cicada 3301

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 5:55 pm

"Hello. We are looking for highly intelligent individuals. To find them, we have devised a test. There is a message hidden in this image. Find it, and it will lead you on the road to finding us. We look forward to meeting the few that will make it all the way through. Good luck."

That message, signed "3301," appeared on the underground message board known as 4chan two years ago. It was mysterious, cryptic and sparked a global Internet mystery that has yet to be answered to this day.

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Around the Nation
5:49 pm
Sun January 5, 2014

Calif. Toxin Law Warns Consumers, But Can Burden Businesses

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 5:55 pm

All over California, signs in restaurants, parking garages and other businesses warn that you could be exposed to chemicals that can cause cancer.

The disclosure is mandated by 1986 state law. If a company fails to warn consumers, it can be sued.

But a lot has changed since the law was passed: The list of toxic chemicals is longer and the lawsuits are more prolific. In October, Gov. Jerry Brown signed an amendment to ease the burden on businesses.

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Books
4:25 pm
Sun January 5, 2014

Upcoming Books To Read In 2014

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 5:55 pm

NPR's Arun Rath talks to Daniel Alarcon, the author of At Night We Walk in Circles, about the new books he is most excited about for 2014.

Law
4:25 pm
Sun January 5, 2014

Some Women Decide Their Place Isn't In The Illegal Gun Trade

Most gun crimes are committed by men, but women also help buy, hide and sell guns for others.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 8:28 am

Most firearms in the U.S. start out in a state of perfect legality, sold by a manufacturer to a federally licensed dealer. But somewhere along the way, some of them cross the line and become what are called "crime guns."

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History
4:25 pm
Sun January 5, 2014

WWII Female Air Force Pilots Still Flying High

Originally published on Sat January 11, 2014 12:07 pm

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR West. I'm Arun Rath.

During World War II, a group of women took a bold step in aviation. While male pilots were sent overseas, the Women Air Force Service Pilots took up the war effort on the home front. From 1943 to 1944, they logged over 60 million miles across the U.S., flying 77 types of military aircraft to haul supplies and conduct training exercises.

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Sports
4:25 pm
Sun January 5, 2014

Costs Climb As Sochi Winter Olympics Approaches

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 5:55 pm

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR West. I'm Arun Rath.

Russia is spending $51 billion on the Sochi Winter Olympics, the most expensive Olympic Games ever by a wide margin. The preparations have not gone smoothly. Construction has been delayed repeatedly and marred by accusations of political corruption. The outlandish price tag for the games has turned into an embarrassment for Russian officials.

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Television
3:37 pm
Sun January 5, 2014

In High-Drama Parody, Will Ferrell Reveals 'Spoils Of Babylon'

Cynthia and Devon Morehouse, played by Kristen Wiig and Tobey Maguire, are caught up in a passionate romance in the IFC miniseries The Spoils of Babylon. Oh, but they're not married: They're sister and (adopted) brother, the central figures in a bizarro salute to '80s melodramas like The Thorn Birds.
Katrina Marcinowski IFC

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 5:55 pm

In The Spoils of Babylon, Will Ferrell plays a "nonexistent author of a nonexistent best-seller." His book, written in the 1970s, was supposedly made into a television miniseries that never saw the light of day — until now.

The story begins in the 1930s, and spans about 50 years, following the powerful Morehouse family.

The series is a parody of the big, bloated miniseries of the 1970s and '80s (like The Thorn Birds or The Winds of War), filled with family drama in a changing America.

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The Salt
1:32 pm
Sun January 5, 2014

In Sao Paulo, Organic Markets Are Beginning To Take Off

As demand for organic food in Brazil rises, organic produce is getting more affordable.
Paula Moura for NPR

Sao Paulo holds the title of the biggest city in Latin America, with an estimated 22 million people in its metropolitan area. But when it comes to local, organic food, the pickings are pretty slim: The city has just 20 organic farmers' markets.

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The Two-Way
11:54 am
Sun January 5, 2014

Kerry Appears To Signal Openness To Iran Role In Syria Talks

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a news conference at the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem on Sunday.
Brendan Smialowski AP

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 2:37 pm

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has opened the door for Iran's participation in peace talks to end Syria's civil war.

The U.S. has long been opposed to an Iranian role in the so-called Geneva II talks later this month, but Kerry's comments in Jerusalem on Sunday may be the first sign that opposition is softening.

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Politics
10:58 am
Sun January 5, 2014

The Campaign For Jobless Benefits Begins In Congress

Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., along with Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., is co-sponsoring the three-month extension of unemployment benefits up for a vote in Congress this week.
Win McNamee Getty Images

The Senate gets back to work Monday after a two-week holiday break. Just as Majority Leader Harry Reid promised, the first piece of legislation getting a vote will be a three-month extension of the long-term unemployment benefits that ran out a week ago for 1.3 million jobless Americans.

Though the Senate unemployment measure is bipartisan, it's not clear it has enough votes to beat a GOP filibuster. Regardless, Democrats are banging the drum on the issue as a midterm election year begins.

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The Two-Way
10:50 am
Sun January 5, 2014

Pope Francis Says He'll Visit Holy Land In May

Pope Francis arrives for the Angelus noon prayer Sunday, during which he announced he would travel to Israel, the West Bank and Jordan on May 24-26. It would be Francis' first visit to the Holy Land.
Alessandra Tarantino AP

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 11:21 am

The pope says he'll visit the Holy Land in May.

Pope Francis made the announcement Sunday while giving his weekly blessing at the Vatican.

"In the climate of joy, typical of this Christmas season, I wish to announce that from 24 to 26 May next, God willing, I will make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land," he said.

The pope is expected to visit Israel, Jordan and the West Bank.

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The Two-Way
10:26 am
Sun January 5, 2014

Israel's Sharon Fights For Life, But Doctors 'Pessimistic'

Former Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has been in a coma since 2006, but his condition is now deteriorating.
Oded Balilty AP

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 2:41 pm

The outlook for Ariel Sharon's survival is "pessimistic," but the former Israeli prime minister is "fighting like a lion."

That's according to Dr. Zeev Rotstein, the head of the Chaim Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv where Sharon is being treated.

At a news conference this weekend, Rotstein said Sharon's condition was still critical, and that his organs weren't functioning. But, he added, doctors had stabilized the former leader's blood pressure and pulse.

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The Two-Way
10:01 am
Sun January 5, 2014

U.S. Icebreaker On The Way To Rescue Ships Trapped In Antarctic

The U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Polar Star, seen here in 1999, has been sent to help free Russian ship Akademik Shokalskiy and Chinese icebreaker Xue Long, which are gripped by Antarctic ice.
U.S. Coast Guard Handout Photo Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 5:09 am

A U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker is sailing to Antarctica to rescue more than 120 crew members still aboard two ships trapped in the frozen continent. That's after the news that 52 scientists and paying passengers trapped aboard one of those vessels — the Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy — were on their way home.

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Food
9:51 am
Sun January 5, 2014

Eating Tea And Other Food Predictions For 2014

Tea leaves will be big in entrees and desserts in 2014.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 11:44 am

At the beginning of every year, we read the tea leaves to see what new food trends we'll be tasting in the coming months. This year, the tea itself is the trend.

Tea leaves will be big in entrees, desserts and, of course, cocktails. Starbucks has opened its first tea shop.

We won't be just drinking tea; Artisan distilling keeps on growing. This could be the year of gin, made with local botanicals as well as the traditional juniper berry.

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Around the Nation
9:12 am
Sun January 5, 2014

No Relief Forecast After One Of California's Driest Years Ever

Downtown Los Angeles peeps through the distance and dry brush. Many cities in California closed out 2013 as the driest year since record-keeping began more than a century ago.
Nick Ut AP

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 10:13 am

It's a near-perfect morning on Venice Beach in Southern California, temperatures in the 60s, with a breeze. You can hear the waves of the Pacific crash against the sand. Only a layer of clouds mars the scene.

Scott and Sue Nolan, visiting from Houston, play kickball in the sand with their son. They are grateful to be in this mild, if not perfectly sunny weather, but Sue Nolan has noticed something's not right.

"One of the thoughts, when we were driving through town was, how are they sustaining all this with what you see so dry everywhere?" she says.

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Bonus Round: Ask Me Another
9:02 am
Sun January 5, 2014

Day 12: It's A New Year, So Keep Your Brain Sharp

Puzzle guru Art Chung has a question or two for you.
Steve Petrucelli

This is the twelfth day of Ask Me Another's 12 Days of Xmas series.

What do you get when you add Jay-Z's 'Problems' to Three Dog Night's 'Loneliest Number'? In this Season One bonus round, titled "Replacement Math," puzzle guru Art Chung challenges contestants to solve simple arithmetic problems using numbers found in pop culture. Calculus is a lot less scary when it involves your favorite band.

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The Two-Way
8:58 am
Sun January 5, 2014

At Least 20 Dead In Baghdad Blasts; Fighting In Anbar Continues

An Iraqi riot police officer flashes the V-sign as his unit returns to its headquarters from clashes with al-Qaida fighters in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, in the restive Anbar Province.
Nabil al-Jurani AP

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 3:24 pm

More news Sunday of violence in Iraq: At least 20 people are dead in the capital, Baghdad, following a wave of bombings.

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It's All Politics
8:42 am
Sun January 5, 2014

How Media Outlets Sometimes Agree To Agree

Nelson Mandela was not always the universally revered figure he's become.
Filippo Monteforte AFP/Getty Images

When former South African President Nelson Mandela died last month, he was celebrated around the world, lauded in this country by politicians who range as far apart on the ideological spectrum as President Obama and Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz.

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Author Interviews
7:59 am
Sun January 5, 2014

A Novice Reporter Begins His Journey In The Congo

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 10:13 am

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Anjan Sundaram had all kinds of options in the late summer of 2005. He had a master's in mathematics from Yale, a lucrative job offer from Goldman Sachs; and he was just about to begin a Ph.D. But he left all that behind and made a dramatically different choice. He headed to the Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the worst conflict zones in the world, to try to start a career in journalism. At the time, the death count in that war was more than 4 million people. That number continues to rise.

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The Two-Way
7:59 am
Sun January 5, 2014

New York Weighs Easing Limits On Marijuana Use

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is reportedly considering allowing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Tim Roske AP

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 3:03 pm

New York may join a group of states that have loosened restrictions on marijuana: Gov. Andrew Cuomo is reportedly considering allowing the use of the drug for medicinal purposes.

The New York Times first reported the story. Here's more from the paper:

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The Two-Way
7:22 am
Sun January 5, 2014

'Polar Vortex' Brings Bitter Cold, Heavy Snow To U.S.

A woman cross-country skis in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Saturday. The National Weather Service is warning of "life-threatening wind chill" amid a record-breaking cold spell that has enveloped much of the nation.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 11:08 am

When the National Weather Service warns of "life-threatening wind chill" affecting the Northern and Central parts of the country, you'd better pay attention.

Here's what it says:

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Sunday Puzzle
7:01 am
Sun January 5, 2014

Two Times Harder

NPR

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 10:13 am

On-air challenge: Every answer is a pair of two-syllable words. The first syllable of the word answering the first clue has the letters A-R, pronounced "are." Change these phonetically to "er," and you'll get a new word that answers the second clue. For example, given "hair-cutter" and "a North African," the answer would be "barber" and "Berber."

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