Sought After Hollywood Sword Master Dies

Jan 3, 2012

Bob Anderson was an Olympic fencer, and was a major fight choreographer for saber-rattling movies including: The Princess Bride and The Lord of the Rings. He was nearly 60 when he did Darth Vader's light saber fighting. Anderson died Sunday at 89.

Steve Inskeep talks to filmmaker Mike Mills for the latest in the Watch This series about recommended movies and television shows. Mills directed the film Beginners starring Christopher Plummer as an elderly father who comes out of the closet.

The next sounds you hear will be Iowa Republicans rendering their judgment for 2012. The road to the magic number of 1,145 — delegates needed to clinch the GOP nomination — begins Tuesday. The caucuses, all 1,774 of them, start at 7 pm Central time (8 Eastern), and results may start to trickle in within the hour.

Iowa's Republican Gov. Terry Branstad is a fierce advocate for the Iowa caucuses. At times over the past four months, he has seemed frustrated that candidates have not been in the state as much as in past years.

Branstad's message over and over to the candidates was not to ignore the voters of Iowa, because they take it personally.

"They want to see the candidates, and they take their responsibility very seriously," Branstad says.

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Blustery winds and freezing cold temperatures today didn't slow down the Republican presidential candidates' campaigning on the eve of the Iowa caucuses.

Six GOP candidates — most with family members in tow — shook voters' hands and made their final arguments.

Here's a look at what our reporters are finding on the campaign trail:

-- Mitt Romney, who has edged into the lead in recent polls, is looking to deepen — not broaden — his statewide map in the final stretch, campaign adviser Eric Fehrnstrom tells NPR's Ari Shapiro.

Driving And Phoning: What's New In 2012

Jan 2, 2012

States have long sought to restrict cellphone use by drivers because of safety concerns, and as the new year begins, several states are toughening their laws.

It turns out it's a hard habit to break; and for government officials, it's not easy to stay ahead of tech advances.

'Cognitive Distraction'

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan, in Washington. In Iowa, all the GOP presidential candidates continue to profess their faith in speeches and in broadcast ads, perhaps none more than Texas Governor Rick Perry.

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Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

And now, the Opinion Page. It's the start of a new year. Already, millions of us have posted new calendars on the wall or installed new ones on our computers. But Steven Hanke and Richard Henry, two Johns Hopkins University professors, propose a more radical step: the Hanke-Henry permanent calendar, which they say will solve the yearly hassle of reworking our schedules and even help businesses put fiscal calendars in sync. But that raises a question: Is the current calendar a problem for you?

Almost 150 years ago, English scientist Francis Galton coined the phrase "nature versus nurture" — and proposed that research on twins could resolve the debate.

Genetics have long seemed to weigh heavily in favor of the role of nature in shaping the people we become. But even identical twins are different to varying degrees, and some researchers believe those differences suggest a third influence at work, called epigenetics.

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Here's What You Need To Know About Germany's Election

2 hours ago

In these uncertain times, the international community has looked increasingly to Germany and its experienced, long-serving chancellor, for leadership.

That leader, Angela Merkel, looks set to return to office for her fourth term when Germans go to the polls on Sunday.

But even if she does, there's no guarantee it will be business as usual. Governments in Germany are most commonly formed as coalitions, and for now, it's unclear what the country's next coalition will end up looking like — and how that will affect Germany's global role.

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