7:00am

Fri December 16, 2011
Best Books Of 2011

A Passion For The Past: 2011's Best Historical Fiction

Priscilla Nielsen for NPR

Historical fiction invites us to experience the exotic and the unknown while confirming our common humanity. I do not believe that human nature has changed much over the centuries, and it is possible to identify with the emotions, passions, and fears of men and women long dead.

Read more

6:30am

Fri December 16, 2011
The Two-Way

Japanese Officials Declare 'Cold Shutdown' Of Crippled Reactors

Workers in protective suits and masks wait to enter the emergency operation center at the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station on Nov. 12, 2011.
David Guttenfelder AFP/Getty Images

Nuclear reactors crippled in Japan's March 11 earthquake and tsunami are now in a "cold shutdown," Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda announced today.

Read more

6:00am

Fri December 16, 2011
The Commonwealth

Public Radio Pioneer Retires from WEKU

Ron Smith, reporter/producer, began his career at WEKU Radio in July 1976, holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in broadcasting arts from Morehead State. He will continue teaching English to international students.
Eastern Kentucky University

Today, we celebrate the career of WEKU reporter Ron Smith, which dates back to 1972, making him a public radio pioneer in the Commonwealth.  Ron officially leaves WEKU Radio today, but in his semi-retirement, he’ll remain a fixture at Eastern Kentucky University, where he teaches.  And, Ron will do the occasional report for WEKU.   We wish Ron Smith good luck as he enters this new stage of his life.

Read more

4:00am

Fri December 16, 2011
Economy

Popularity Bankrupts Early Retiree Program

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 3:23 pm

A $5 billion federal program to pay for the health benefits of early retirees is proving to be more popular than expected. So popular that it's running out of money earlier than planned. The fund, part of the health care overhaul, was to provide a bridge of insurance coverage until 2014 when early retirees would have many more options under the health care law.

This report is part of a collaboration between Minnesota Public Radio, NPR, and Kaiser Health News.

Read more

4:00am

Fri December 16, 2011
Election 2012

Bachmann Tries To Regain Early Iowa Lead

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann once appeared to be the favored Republican presidential candidate in Iowa. But she's been near the bottom of most polls since. Bachmann is making an aggressive push to finish well in next month's Iowa caucuses, and she embarks on a multi-day bus tour of the state Friday.

4:00am

Fri December 16, 2011
Politics

Negotiators Reach Deal To Keep Government Open

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 3:23 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

So, it looks like the federal government is not going to shut down at midnight tonight. That's good news. Congressional negotiators say they've reached an agreement to move forward on a trillion-dollar-plus spending plan. It would fund the government through October. There are still some end-of-year issues that haven't been resolved.

Read more

4:00am

Fri December 16, 2011
Movies

'Mission Impossible' Review

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 3:23 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The title doesn't have the number in it, but anyone who cares knows "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" is really "Mission: Impossible 4." The movie is opening this weekend on huge IMAX screens only. Next week it will be in regular theaters. Film critic Kenneth Turan says sit back and enjoy the ride.

Read more

4:00am

Fri December 16, 2011
Sports

Bronco's Tim Tebow Is The Talk Of Denver

Denver is buzzing about quarterback Tim Tebow and the resurgent Denver Broncos. This Sunday's match-up between the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos is expected to be one of the most-watched NFL games of the season. Tebow has drawn attention for the public display of his Christian faith.

4:00am

Fri December 16, 2011
Remembrances

Writer Christopher Hitchens Dies At 62

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 3:23 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

We're going to remember now the acerbic, controversial and always compelling writer and cultural critic Christopher Hitchens. Vanity Fair, where he was a contributing editor, announced last night that he had died from complications of cancer. He was 62 years old.

Read more

4:00am

Fri December 16, 2011
Law

DOJ Probe Finds Ariz. Sheriff Violated Civil Rights

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 3:23 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

Joe Arpaio, the man who calls himself America's toughest sheriff, is not backing down. The U.S. Justice Department yesterday accused his sheriff's department in Maricopa County, Arizona of systematically violating the constitutional and civil rights of Latinos. By the end of the day, NPR's Ted Robbins reports, the sheriff was hitting back.

Read more

Pages