One of the biggest political question marks going into 2012 is the fate of the Affordable Health Care for America Act. Audie Cornish speaks with Noam Levey of the Los Angeles Times about what's ahead for Americans in terms of health care in the new year, including a constitutional challenge to the law's mandatory health care provision.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.
Even though seven Republican presidential candidates ushered in the New Year, a new poll by the Des Moines Register in Iowa makes it look like a three-person race. We'll fill you in on the latest shuffle of front-runners in a moment. But first, how did the Republicans candidates spend New Year's Eve?
While all focus on has been on the future of the White House, the fate of the Senate hangs in the balance of 2012 as well. Host Audie Cornish talks with Jennifer Duffy of the Cook Political Report about what's at stake in the U.S. Senate.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses journalists at EU headquarters in Brussels in December. It's possible that European leaders will come up with ways to manage the region's debt crisis in the new year, but the worst case scenarios are dire.
Last New Year's Day, most economic forecasters were predicting a good year ahead. But 2011 turned out to be another disappointment for stock investors and home sellers, and a discouraging time for job seekers.
Now, as 2012 begins, economists are hoping their crystal balls are working a bit better. Most are seeing a brighter picture.
Come 2012, there's a new food vocabulary: authentic, craft, small batch, artisanal, rustic and, of course, local. It's the opposite of processed, mass produced and factory farmed.
What might be called urban neo-ruralism has apartment dwellers canning tomatoes, keeping bees and churning butter.
The small farmer is the new gastronomic superhero, sourced on restaurant menus. Independent butcher shops are opening across the country with unfamiliar cuts like Denver steak, petite tender, flat iron. Expect more specialty meats, too, like bison, elk, goat and rabbit.
The beaches of Brazil lure in foreigners, but fortune-hunters are more interested in the opportunities offered by the rapidly developing South American state.
The global economic downturn is starting to affect Brazil, but the country has not nearly been as hard-hit as Europe and the U.S. The emerging economy is enticing to young, highly trained and educated workers like David Bailey of Britain.
Bailey plays piano as he and his roommates prepare for a party in Rio de Janeiro. They're all foreigners — from France, Switzerland, Spain — and all of them are here for work.
A little over three hours outside Des Moines, Iowa, in the northwest corner of the state, is the city of Le Mars. A sign proclaims this is the Ice Cream Capital of the World.
Saturday, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney spoke in Le Mars at the Family Table restaurant. His speech, like all Romney campaign speeches, was about President Obama.
"This is an election to decide whether we're going to go further and further down the path of becoming more and more similar to a European welfare state, or whether instead we're going to remain an exceptional nation," he said.
Phyllis Siegel (right) kisses her wife, Connie Kopelov, after the two exchanged vows at the Manhattan City Clerk's office. The couple were the first same-sex pair to tie the knot in New York City after the state's Marriage Equality Act went into effect on July 24.
Because the news media abhor the absence of drama as much as nature supposedly detests vacuums, Rick Santorum's rise in recent polls of likely Iowa Republican presidential primary caucus voters definitely scratches a journalistic itch.
Santorum's ascent to the top three in Iowa polls, along with Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, has spiced up the race, especially after the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania spent so many months stuck in the caboose of GOP candidates.
The reward for Banana-Sam is now up to $5,000. The squirrel monkey was abducted from his cage, officials say, and the San Francisco Zoo is beefing up security to keep an eye on the rest of their animals.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports Banana-Sam was likely stolen late Thursday or early Friday by vandals who cut two holes in the mesh wall of his cage. The remaining 17 squirrel monkeys are now being kept indoors until the pen can be fixed.
Some might be inclined to think 2011 was a pretty bad year for space, what with the U.S. space program shutting down. While the Atlantis marked the last mission in NASA's decades-long space shuttle program, the agency still managed to have other significant launches this year. Crafts visited Mercury, a massive asteroid known as Vesta, and the moon. Another left for Jupiter, and the Voyager 1 spacecraft sailed out of our solar system. Guest host Rebecca Sheir talks to Neil deGrasse Tyson, head of the Hayden Planetarium, about whether all that made 2011 a good year for space exploration.
When scientists want to test new therapies for cancer or heart disease, they frequently turn to mice for help. For most mice, this isn't the best thing that could happen to them. Being a research subject has definite disadvantages, at least for mice.
But most people prefer a new therapy be tested in a rodent rather than making a human patient the guinea pig — if you'll forgive the twisted metaphor.
A vendor sells seafood at a market in East Broadway in New York City's Chinatown. There was a 17 percent drop in the population of New York City's Chinatown over the past decade, and some say it's a sign that Chinatown is becoming more of a symbolic touchstone.
Credit Rebecca Sheir / NPR
New York has seen a 17 percent decrease in the number of people living in Chinatown over the past decade.
Credit Bonnie Tsui
Author Bonnie Tsui gave NPR a guided tour of New York City's Chinatown.
The Chinese New Year begins on Jan. 23. On that day, people will celebrate the Year of the Dragon in Chinatowns across the country.
The neighborhoods known as Chinatowns sprang up in the U.S. during the Gold Rush. But since then, they've seen gradual yet significant changes — not so noticeable to the average visitor, perhaps, but quite drastic to those who've called these communities home.
Now, to Howard's point with the stories out of Penn State and Syracuse this year, it's almost hard to remember when a scandal in college sports referred to grade fixing or dishonest boosters. But some say that what should be considered a scandal is the billions of dollars generated by college football and men's basketball with hardly any of that revenue actually going to the players.
Tonight, New York's Metropolitan Opera will premiere a new piece with music that's hundreds of years old. It's called "The Enchanted Island" and it features arias by several Baroque composers, including Handel and Vivaldi, and mashes up the plots from two Shakespeare plays. And, oh yes, it stars Placido Domingo as the sea god Neptune. Jeff Lunden has still more.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden. After nine years, the official U.S. military involvement in Iraq ended this month. The withdrawal of U.S. troops has meant a shift in focus for a veterans group who that opposed the war. Iraq Veterans against the War says it will now turn its attention to ensuring that vets are not forgotten as they try to reintegrate into civilian society. Elizabeth Fiedler of member station WHYY in Philadelphia spoke with a couple of those veterans and they begin her story.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden.
In February of the New Year, the British will prepare a major celebration. It's not another Royal wedding. It's the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, marking the 60th anniversary of her accession to the throne. It's an exceptionally long reign; only one other British monarch has reigned as long, her Royal Majesty Queen Victoria.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Jackie Lyden. In Syria yesterday, activists on called on people to come out in force to show visiting monitors from the Arab League the depth of opposition to President Bashar al Assad's regime. They say hundreds of thousands of people responded despite the presence of security forces. Nearly two dozen people were reportedly killed. This adds to the 5,000 people the UN says have died in the popular uprising since it began in March.
Like many American workers, you might be using up your vacation time over the holidays but starting tomorrow. employees at Wedding Wire don't have to worry about rationing their leave. They can take off as many days as they like, just as long as their work gets done and the manager gives the OK. Jenny Harding is the Human Resources director for the web-based event planning company. She says Wedding Wire's new unlimited vacation policy will actually be good for productivity.
LYDEN: It's the last week of the NFL season and a handful of teams are still trying to edge their way into the playoffs. The NBA season is just wrapping up its first week, but already the Miami Heat look to be steamrolling it past straight to those playoffs. And there's a playoff-worthy college basketball game today in Lexington, Kentucky. Howard Bryant of ESPN.com and ESPN the magazine joins us now. Howard, welcome and Happy New Year.
Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown — perhaps that's why the queen often appears in such an impressive array of hats. Throughout history, the hat has signified a variety of things, from a crown to a team baseball cap.
A dazzling traveling exhibition celebrates centuries of hats. Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones began at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in 2009 and is now at the Bard Graduate Center in New York City through April 2012.
Credit Tamara Art Heritage / Museum Masters International NYC
Tamara de Lempicka's La Belle Rafaela, painted in 1927, inspired Ellis Avery's novel The Last Nude. The art deco painter met Rafaela while on a walk in a Paris park. Rafaela became her model and her lover.
Credit Matthew Powell / Riverhead Books
Ellis Avery is a creative writing professor at Columbia University, and the author of The Teahouse Fire and The Smoke Week: September 11-21, 2001.
You've probably seen the paintings — women, often nude, always glamorous, the epitome of Jazz Age elegance in Paris in the 1920s, done with a particular cubist, finished fashion. The art deco painter is Tamara de Lempicka, and she's the subject of a new novel by Ellis Avery.
The Last Nude imagines a hidden affair behind one of de Lempicka's most critically acclaimed works. The novel explores the relationship between the painter and Rafaela, the model featured in several of de Lempicka's works from 1920s Paris.
House Speaker John Boehner, surrounded by Republican House members, speaks during a news conference in Washington in December. The House initially rejected a plan to extend a tax cut for two months to buy time for talks on a full-year renewal. It later compromised — a rare event in 2011.
Congress got plenty of attention this year, but it was for all the wrong reasons.
There were at least three countdowns to shutdown, there was the debt-limit fight, plus the will-they-or-won't-they drama earlier in December over the payroll tax holiday. Looking at how few bills were actually signed into law this year, one might conclude this session was mostly sizzle and not much steak.
"I mean, I knew it was going to be bad this year, but I didn't realize like how bad it was," says Tobin Grant, an associate professor of political science at Southern Illinois University.