This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
LYNN NEARY, HOST:
And I'm Lynn Neary.
The Republican candidates gather for yet another debate tonight. This one is in Sioux City, Iowa. It's the last debate before the Iowa caucuses on January 3rd. And it comes as Mitt Romney and other candidates try to stop the surge of Newt Gingrich. Romney and his allies have been launching a furious assault on the former House speaker.
They're just everywhere. That's how a wildlife manager describes the mass casualties of Eared Grebes that crash landed in southern Utah on Monday night. Some 1,500 grebes died, another 3,000 have been rescued. The small water birds were migrating and apparently mistook a Walmart parking lot, highways and football fields covered with snow for bodies of water.
The Republican House and Democratic Senate pushed their game of chicken closer to the precipice Thursday, with a government shutdown threat looming at midnight Friday. Both maneuvered to be able to blame the other — should things fall apart and the government actually runs out of money to operate. NPR's Andrea Seabrook joins Lynn Neary with the latest.
2011 was a good year to be a reader of science fiction and fantasy, although lately every year has been a good year: Not only are the books getting more popular — thank you, Game of Thrones — they're getting more interesting, evolving and morphing in weird, fascinating ways.
They're also interbreeding with other genres to produce wild new hybrid forms, like historical science fiction romances and hard-boiled fantasy detective novels. They're commenting on current events and swapping DNA with literary novels.
A tiny percentage of very wealthy Americans funded a relatively large chunk of the 2010 congressional midterm races, continuing a trend that has been growing for two decades, according to a new analysis of political contributions.
The Sunlight Foundation, which advocates for transparency in politics and government, found that fewer than 27,000 individuals (out of a population of 307 million) each gave at least $10,000 to federal political campaigns in 2010.
Norwegians are suffering a butter shortage. The Nordic country has to go without, supposedly because of trade barriers imposed by the country's dairy cooperative Tine. And of course, this comes right as the holiday baking season is heating up. Lynn Neary talks with Lovisa Morling, of the Apent Bakeri in Oslo, about how the bakery is getting by.
Arizona’s immigration law is scheduled to go before the US Supreme Court in April. As Peter O’Dowd reports for the Fronteras Changing America Desk, that’s just in time for a re-energized debate over state rights in the 2012 election.
A national poll shows Latinos are unhappy with both political parties and many aren’t too sure if they’ll vote next year. The poll posed several questions to Latino registered voters about their attitudes toward candidates and the 2012 election. Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez reports for the Fronteras Changing America Desk.
The US Supreme Court will hear arguments in late April, on Arizona’s controversial immigration law. As Dennis Lambert reports for the Fronteras Changing America Desk, the court will take up a lawsuit challenging the law’s constitutionality.
No announcement has been made yet, but government officials say the deployment of National Guard soldiers at the US-Mexico border is about to change significantly. Fronteras Changing America Desk correspondent Hernán Rozemberg reports.
Scratch just a little below the surface of American writing, and you'll find a substratum of stories that revolve around an impostor, a figure at once sinister and fascinating. This charlatan moves fluidly between personae, and in doing so, proves that identity is — especially in America — up for grabs. The impostor thus is everything we insist we are not. But he's also, I think, everything we wish we could be as the inheritors of our open, yet easily manipulated, American culture.
Mitchell Zuckoff is a professor at Boston University and the author of Lost in Shangri-La.
I taught my last class of the semester the other day. Inevitably, my students — all of them journalism majors and most of them seniors — hijacked the lesson plan to vent their hopes and fears about what awaits them after graduation.
This happens every December, and each year I do my best to calm and encourage them, to let them know it's OK to be worried but it's not OK to despair. I give them what I've come to consider my pre-commencement address.
There's trouble brewing within Britain's ruling coalition after Prime Minister David Cameron's veto of changes to an E.U. treaty to save the euro and the eurozone. Liberal Democratic Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he was "bitterly disappointed" by the veto. Parliament debated the move — and Britain's place within Europe — Monday.
Melissa Block speaks with Robert Perito, the director of the Security Sector Governance Center at the U.S. Institute of Peace, about the effectiveness of Provincial Reconstruction Teams, or PRTs, in Iraq over the years. Perito says the teams had a lot of problems from the beginning, but they got better with time.
With all the chatter about the death of the compact disc, anxiety in the recording industry and the domination of downloads, the flood of CDs overflowing my mailbox never seems to recede. Need a new Bruckner 4th, an Adès anthology or piano music by Pärt? How about Azerbaijani concertos, Schubert sonatas or a new Midsummer Night's Dream?
In jazz, to be a bassist usually means playing in someone else's band. The bassist-as-bandleader is a fairly rare thing, with the torch being passed over the years from Charles Mingus to Ron Carter ... and now to Philadelphia-born Christian McBride.
Turning now to domestic politics. The Iowa caucuses are just about three weeks away now. Herman Cain is gone. Newt Gingrich is the new front-runner. And Mitt Romney is slipping somewhat in the polls. Meanwhile, the attacks among the GOP contenders are getting sharper. And against that backdrop, there's another debate tonight. This one at Drake University in Des Moines.
For the first time in history, an Arab woman has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. At a ceremony in Oslo, Norway today, Tawakkul Karman, known as the mother of Yemen's democratic revolution, shared the 2011 prize with two Liberian women: President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee, who helped lead the protests that ousted former Liberian President Charles Taylor.
A new study shows that it is more difficult to "move up" in America than other developed countries. In America, kids are more likely to stay at the bottom of the economic ladder if their parents had low socio- economic status. Weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz talks with Erin Currier, manager of the Economic Mobility Project of the Pew Charitable Trusts, about why the U.S. ranked worst for economic mobility among the countries in the study.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
LYNN NEARY, HOST:
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?
More insular than ever - so says the French newspaper Le Mon, and it was referring to Britain and that country's decision not to join the effort to forge a new European pact. Today, nearly every European leader expressed support for that pact, but not the British prime minister, David Cameron. NPR's Philip Reeves explains.