Perhaps more than any other major professional sports league in this country, the National Basketball Association is star-driven. And yesterday, the stars did not disappoint. A Christmas slate of season-opening games featured the electric play of the league's Most Valuable Player, Derrick Rose, and the NBA's top scorer, Kevin Durant, and this guy named LeBron James as well. NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman monitored as much as he could of 13 hours of NBA action. And he joins me now.
In 2011, Novak Djokovic had just about the best year a male tennis player has ever had, including wins at three of the four Grand Slam tournaments.
"This is the athlete of the year," says Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated. "This is a brutal, brutal sport. This guy is playing on six continents, every surface....This is one of the all time great years in open tennis history."
This year, Djokovic also kept to a gluten-free diet. Must have been particularly difficult since his family's business is a pizza parlor.
Good morning, I'm Renee Montagne. An Irish man received a touching Christmas gift when 100-year-old letter from his mother to Santa was printed in the Irish Times. He had never seen the letter. The slightly-scorched note had been stuck in the chimney of his mother's childhood home in Dublin for more than 80 years until the current owner discovered it. Annie Howard was just 10 in 1911 when she asked Santa for gloves, toffee and a baby doll.
It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Good morning, I'm Linda Wertheimer. In Pennsylvania, a State Supreme Court judge known for writing opinions in rhyme is at it again. Justice Michael Eakin was writing for the majority in an insurance fraud case. He produced six pages of verse with gems like: Convictions for the forgery and theft are approbated; the sentence for insurance fraud, however, is vacated. A colleague wrote a dissent which did not rhyme. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Over the last year, many dictators have fallen from power. To name a few: Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was killed, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was overthrown and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il died. Linda Wertheimer talks to Susan Glasser, with Foreign Policy magazine, about the year that was and which of the world's remaining strongmen need to worry about what 2012 has to offer.
Few things announce the arrival of Christmas-time like the sound of bells. And chances are many of the bells you hear this holiday season can be sourced to one small, family-owned manufacturing business in Connecticut. Bevin Brothers was founded 180 years ago.
Professional basketball was on a long break because of the lockout, but on Christmas Day the NBA kicks off its shortened season with a five-game package featuring exciting games and glittering superstars. There's a rematch between defending champion Dallas and everybody's favorite team to hate, the Heat from Miami. Younger folks ready to break through playing for Chicago and Oklahoma City are in action, as are the storied Boston Celtics and the L.A. Lakers.
To preview these games we turn to NPR's Tom Goldman. Good morning, Tom.
MONTAGNE: The frenzy for Apple's phone 4S has failed to catch on in much of Europe. Given the product's high price and the region's weak economies, shoppers just haven't bitten. Apple's market share has dropped in France, Germany, Italy and Spain. Though, the British never wants to fall in with the continent have fallen hard for the phone. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne.
It appears as if the bitter fighting in Congress is about to come to an end just in time for Christmas. Today, the House and the Senate are expected to approve an extension of the payroll tax holiday and benefits for the long-term unemployed. This required a major reversal for House Republicans who, earlier this week, voted to reject a nearly identical compromise.
Sixth Street in downtown Austin, Texas, is one of the city's premiere live music districts. Guitar-shaped Christmas decorations hang on light poles, and the street is alive with bands and bars. Tonight you can hear Austin Heat at the Thirsty Nickel, Mike Milligan and the Altar Boys at Maggie Mae's, or you could catch Misbehavin' at the Dizzy Rooster.
Daniel Davis, a tall, thin birch tree of a man, is willing to eat almost anything. Indeed, cooking and eating are two unadulterated pleasures in Dan's life. But he recently revealed to me, his wife, that there is one dish that, as a kid, he actually feared as Christmas drew near: ambrosia salad.
Good morning, I'm Linda Wertheimer. For the fourth year in a row, a couple dressed in elf hats drove around Detroit handing out $100 bills to strangers - $12,000 worth. Many thought those crisp Benjamins were a joke. Some burst into tears. The anonymous couple stopped a Detroit bus and gave every passenger $100. The couple does ask recipients to pay it forward, in kindness. You're listening to MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. Attention lottery players in Georgia: No one has stepped up to claim a $77 million jackpot that expires on Monday, and the state's lotto offices will be closed starting tomorrow for the Christmas holiday. But if you're out there, lucky winner, you can claim your prize at a kiosk at Atlanta's International Airport throughout the Christmas holidays. Then you can do all the duty-free holiday shopping you want. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Most incandescent light bulbs were supposed to be phased out starting Jan. 1. But tucked inside the House's omnibus spending bill, there's a provision barring the Energy Department from enforcing more energy-efficient standards for light bulbs. For those who still want them, there are increasing options for efficient bulbs. Renee Montagne talks to Bill Hamilton, merchandising vice president of electrical at Home Depot, which sells about a third of all light bulbs in the U.S.
Kim Jong Un, heir apparent to North Korea's longtime leader Kim Jong Il, faces formidable challenges in the isolated communist nation.
Hundreds of North Koreans queue up to mourn the death of Kim Jong Il in front of a portrait of him in Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung Square on Wednesday. With preparations for next week's state funeral still under way, attention is turning to Kim's son and heir apparent, Kim Jong Un.
While North Korea is preparing for the state funeral of longtime leader Kim Jong Il next week, attention is quickly turning to his son and heir apparent, Kim Jong Un. Even veteran Pyongyang watchers know little about the successor. But it's clear what he's inheriting: a country in dire economic straits, and a tough fight to consolidate his political power and legitimacy.
The Democratic political action committee American Bridge 21st Century has taken over the website newtgingrich.com. Visitors to the site — which is not controlled by Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign — were re-directed to, among other things, the website Tiffany & Co., and to articles critical of the former House speaker.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is campaigning hard in New Hampshire, which holds its primary on January tenth. The former Massachusetts Governor had four events on Wednesday, there is seven on Thursday and more on Friday..
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
And I'm Linda Wertheimer. In Syria, this week has been one of the bloodiest reported in months. Activists and groups monitoring Syria say hundreds have been killed as the government moves against villages and towns near the Turkish border. The Syrian government acknowledges the campaign but calls it a fight against terrorists.
With less than two weeks before voting begins in Iowa, three Republican candidates are pulling out the big guns. Callista Gingrich, Anita Perry and Anne Romney appeared in campaign ads for their husbands.
Americans make more charitable donations than people of any other country, and this is the time of year they dig the deepest. In Little Rock, Arkansas, that means the anti-poverty charity, Heifer International, is going full throttle. Contributors purchase living things, which are donated to struggling families in 52 countries.
If the company's board approves, Yahoo could receive about $17 billion in a deal that would shed most of its Asian assets. That means Yahoo would dramatically decrease its valuable stake in Ali-baba — China's largest Internet company. The deal would get the company some much-needed cash.
And our last word in business is ratings reality. Ratings for this week's episode of the reality TV show, "All-American Muslim," dropped to more than 30 percent from the previous week's ratings. The show had plenty of drama off-screen earlier this month when the home improvement retailer Lowe's admitted it pulled its ads on the show after pressure from a conservative Christian group.
Yesterday, Lowe's said it would not change its decision. Cable channel TLC has not yet said whether the show will get picked up for another season.
Johann Sebastian Bach's Christmas Oratorio was first performed in Leipzig on Christmas Day in 1734. In Germany, no matter what the economic and political times, it's the Christmas work. In the oldest functioning church in Berlin, the 13th-century Saint Mary's, performance of Bach's Christmas Oratorio is a fixed tradition.
With his pipe, deerstalker hat and formidable "methods," Sherlock Holmes may be the most recognizable face of the Victorian mystery story. But how does he stack up against Edgar Allan Poe's C. Auguste Dupin, who pioneered deductive reasoning? Or quicksilver Violet Strange, debutante by day, intrepid sleuth by night?