NPR Blogs

The Two-Way
12:57 pm
Fri December 6, 2013

U.S. Flags Lowered For Mandela, A Rare Honor For Foreign Leaders

The U.S. flag flies at half-staff over the White House in Washington, D.C., in honor of former South African President Nelson Mandela.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 3:44 pm

After the death of Nelson Mandela, President Obama ordered that U.S. flags on government buildings be flown at half-staff until Monday evening — a symbolic gesture of a nation in mourning.

It's a tradition observed by countries around the world, one that began as early as the 17th century. Mental Floss reports:

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The Two-Way
12:49 pm
Fri December 6, 2013

World Cup 2014 Draw Is Set: U.S. Will Face Germany, Portugal, Ghana

FIFA Secretary-General Jerome Valcke shows a paper with the name of the Korea Republic as Brazilian presenter Fernanda Lima looks on during the final draw of the Brazil 2014 FIFA World Cup Friday.
Christophe Simon AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 2:53 pm

The final draw of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil was announced Friday. The U.S. team will face Germany, Portugal and Ghana in Group G; host Brazil will face world No. 16 Croatia in Group A. Only the top two teams of each group advance to the next round.

The draw puts the U.S., currently ranked as the world's No. 14 team, in the same group with the world's No. 2 (Germany) and No. 5 (Portugal). Ghana is ranked 24th. The showdown with Germany has the potential to be bittersweet for Jürgen Klinsmann, the coach of the U.S. team who was a star for German World Cup teams in the 1990s.

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Monkey See
11:36 am
Fri December 6, 2013

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Live Shows And The Return Of Regrettable Television

NPR
  • Listen to Pop Culture Happy Hour: Live Shows And Regrettable TV
  • Listen to Pop Culture Happy Hour: Catching Fire And Gifts

Taped in the run-up to Thursday night's Sound Of Music performance, this week's round-table podcast is not a review of it, but a consideration of the live event in general. Are we all just performance ghouls, waiting around for people to fail? What is it fair to ask from a live performance? And what happens if a horse has an unfortunate moment in a theater?

Our second segment brings back one of our favorite things (har har), the Regrettable Television Pop Quiz. Thrill to extravagantly bleeped cursing! Wonder about the appropriate and safe temperature for raw chicken!

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Shots - Health News
11:02 am
Fri December 6, 2013

Canceled In California: People Eye Health Plans Off Exchange

Shoppers get ready to pay at Costco Wholesale in Mountain View, Calif. For the next couple of weeks, Californians whose insurance was canceled have some unusual options, including an Aetna plan available only at Costco.
Paul Sakuma AP

Some Californians whose policies have been canceled are finding relief in a surprising place: from insurance companies that aren't offering plans on the new Covered California marketplace.

Earlier this year, Aetna announced it would bow out of the state's individual market, effective Dec. 31. Cigna is staying, but isn't offering any products on the exchange. Right now, both companies are accepting new customers into pre-Affordable Care Act plans.

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The Two-Way
10:57 am
Fri December 6, 2013

Paneer Pizza: Domino's Sees India Becoming Second-Largest Market

An employee rides a motorcycle to deliver Domino's pizzas in New Delhi this past May. Domino's Pizza CEO J. Patrick Doyle says India is poised to become the chain's largest market outside the U.S., on the strength of a menu tailored to Indians' tastes.
Anindito Mukherjee Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 1:40 pm

In recent years, Domino's Pizza has rapidly expanded overseas — helping it open stores at a faster clip than Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts, according to Forbes. Part of that growth is in India, which company CEO J. Patrick Doyle says is poised to supplant Britain as the chain's largest market outside the U.S.

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Krulwich Wonders...
10:37 am
Fri December 6, 2013

How Important Is A Bee?

Robert Krulwich NPR

This is an alarming story, not because it ends badly. It's alarming because it ends well. It shouldn't have, but it did, and biologists (and especially conservationists) now have a puzzle to ponder.

The story begins in central China, in an apple-growing region called Maoxian County, near the city of Chengdu. In the mid-1990s, the bees that regularly showed up there every spring suddenly didn't. Apple farmers, obviously, need bees. Bees dust their way through blossoms, moving from flower to flower, pollinating, which helps produce apples in September.

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Monkey See
9:34 am
Fri December 6, 2013

Needs More Alps: How Was 'The Sound Of Music Live'?

Carrie Underwood as Maria, with (back, from left) Ella Watts-Gorman as Louisa, Michael Nigro as Friedrich, Ariane Rinehart as Liesl, Joe West as Kurt and (front, from left) Grace Rundhaug as Marta, Sophia Ann Caruso as Brigitta and Peyton Ella as Gretl, in NBC's live production of The Sound Of Music.
Will Hart NBC

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 2:05 pm

Much like Sharknado and most presidential debates, NBC's The Sound Of Music on Thursday night caused Twitter to explode in a frenzy of arguing and counterarguing. It was charming! It was dreadful! It was liiiiiiiive!

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The Salt
9:08 am
Fri December 6, 2013

Meat And Booze With A Side Of Still Life: American Painters On Food

tk

Originally published on Sun December 8, 2013 5:29 pm

In the age of celebrity chef fetishism and competitive ingredient sourcing, it can be hard to remember that there was a time when restaurants didn't exist in America.

Before the Civil War, most people ate at home, consuming mostly what they could forage, barter, butcher or grow in the backyard. But just because food choices were simpler back then doesn't mean our relationship to what we ate was any less complicated.

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The Two-Way
8:56 am
Fri December 6, 2013

Eyes Turn To The Fed As Unemployment Rate Falls To 5-Year Low

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 11:41 am

(This post was updated at 10:15 a.m. ET)

The nation's unemployment rate dropped to 7 percent — the lowest mark in five years — and employers added 203,000 jobs to payrolls last month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.

The latest data could build anticipation that the Federal Reserve might taper its stimulus program.

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The Two-Way
8:55 am
Fri December 6, 2013

LISTEN: Two Mandela Speeches That Made History

South African National Congress President Nelson Mandela delivers an address in 1990.
Trevor Samson AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 12:46 pm

There were two speeches Nelson Mandela delivered that changed the course of history and cemented his legacy as one of the most revered leaders of our time.

The first happened in 1964, when Mandela was put on trial for sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the state. The second is the speech Mandela gave in 1994 when he was inaugurated as president.

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The Two-Way
7:42 am
Fri December 6, 2013

Book News: Remembering Nelson Mandela, The Author

Nelson Mandela, pictured at a concert at London's Hyde Park in 2008. Mandela died Thursday in South Africa. He was 95.
Gareth Davies Getty Images

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

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Monkey See
7:03 am
Fri December 6, 2013

The Book Concierge Presents NPR Staff #FridayReads

(Clockwise, from top left)Lynn Neary, Bob Mondello, David Greene, Michel Martin, Susan Stamberg, Neda Ulaby, Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, Linda Holmes, Deborah Amos, Audie Cornish
Max Hirshfeld, Doby Photography, David Gilkey, Doby Photography, Antony Nagelmann, Doby Photography, Jacques Coughlin, Mito Habe-Evans, Steve Barrett, Doby Photography

If you follow NPR Books on Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr, you may already know that #fridayreads is one of our favorite weekly Internet traditions.

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The Two-Way
6:23 am
Fri December 6, 2013

A Mix Of Joy, Sadness: South Africans Mourn, Celebrate Mandela

A woman prays outside the house of former South African President Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg on Friday, the day after his death.
Stephane de Sakutin AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 1:20 pm

As the sun rose over South Africa on Friday, the country began to come to terms with the loss of Nelson Mandela, whom President Jacob Zuma called the father of the nation.

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The Two-Way
9:12 pm
Thu December 5, 2013

Thai King Calls For Stability Amid Political Unrest

Anti-Government protesters shout during a celebration in Bangkok for the Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej on his 86th birthday, on Thursday.
Ed Wray Getty Images

Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej, in an address marking his 86th birthday, called on his people to do their duty "for stability, security of our nation" in an apparent reference to ongoing anti-government protests.

While avoiding a direct reference to the sometimes violent demonstrations that have rocked the capital, Bangkok, in recent weeks, the world's longest-serving monarch, said "All Thais should ... behave and perform our duties accordingly, our duty for the sake of the public, for stability, security for our nation of Thailand."

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