Opinion
4:55 am
Sat January 7, 2012

Iowa, New Hampshire: Small States With Big Roles

Iowa and New Hampshire are not demographic snapshots of America. They are smaller, less diverse and more rural than California, New York or Illinois, which have a lot more votes.

But Iowa and New Hampshire win a lot of attention early in an election year. As an old political columnist, now departed, once told me over the din of clinking cups in an Iowa diner, "If the first presidential caucuses were in Hawaii, congress would give federal subsidies to make gasoline out of pineapples."

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The Salt
4:53 am
Sat January 7, 2012

Mystery Solved: Why The Cat Craves Mushrooms (And People Do, Too)

Why do cats have an affinity for mushrooms?
Marco Varrone iStockphoto.com

Anyone who lives with a cat knows that fruits and vegetables do not top the feline food chart. So it's a surprise to hear that some cats do crave mushrooms.

This tale starts with Ellen Jacobson, an amateur mushroom hunter in Colorado. As she was cooking up a bolete mushroom, her cat Cashew started brushing against her legs. She put some of the mushrooms in a bowl, and Cashew gobbled them up. "He didn't like them raw," she told The Salt. "He only liked them cooked."

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Sylvia Poggioli is senior European correspondent for NPR's international desk covering political, economic, and cultural news in Italy, the Vatican, Western Europe and the Balkans. Poggioli's on-air reporting and analysis have encompassed the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, the turbulent civil war in the former Yugoslavia and how immigration has transformed European societies.

Since joining NPR's foreign desk in 1982, Poggioli has traveled extensively for reporting assignments. Most recently, she travelled to Norway to cover the aftermath of the brutal attacks by an ultra-rightwing extremist; to Greece, Spain, and Portugal for the latest on the euro-zone crisis; and the Balkans where the last wanted war criminals have been arrested.

Ari Shapiro is an NPR international correspondent based in London. An award-winning journalist, his reporting covers a wide range of topics and can be heard on all of NPR's national news programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

Prior to his current post, Shapiro reported from the NPR Washington Desk as White House Correspondent during President Barack Obama's first and second terms, as Justice Correspondent during the George W. Bush administration and as a regular guest host on NPR's newsmagazines. He is also a frequent analyst on CNN, PBS, NBC and other television news outlets.

Economy
4:09 am
Sat January 7, 2012

What Jobs Numbers Mean For Obama's Employment

President Obama speaks about jobs in Manchester, N.H., in November. The Labor Department reported Friday that unemployment dropped to 8.5 percent.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Sat January 7, 2012 11:38 am

President Obama acknowledged Friday that the economic recovery has a long way to go. Still, he was able to share some good news. The Labor Department reported that U.S. employers added 200,000 jobs in December, and the unemployment rate fell to 8.5 percent.

"Obviously, we have a lot more work to do," he said, "but it is important for the American people to recognize that we've now added 3.2 million new private-sector jobs over the last 22 months."

Those better-than-expected numbers could help Obama as he tries to hang onto his own job.

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Arts & Life
4:02 am
Sat January 7, 2012

Elizabeth McGovern, Acting At An Intersection

Elizabeth McGovern was nominated for an Oscar as turn-of-the-century Broadway sensation Evelyn Nesbit in the film of E.L. Doctorow's Ragtime. She plays Lady Cora Grantham in Downton Abbey.
Nick Brigg ITV/Masterpiece

Originally published on Sat January 7, 2012 8:20 am

Elizabeth McGovern is back — though she was never really gone. She just moved across the pond.

She was 19 when a star — hers — was born, after she played the love interest in Robert Redford's film Ordinary People. She went on to co-star with some of Hollywood's leading men, including Robert De Niro, Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, and landed an Oscar nomination for Milos Forman's big-budget film Ragtime.

But in the early '90s, McGovern married a British guy and gave up Hollywood for London. She raised a family and developed a British acting career.

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Election 2012
4:02 am
Sat January 7, 2012

Romney's Week: A Squeaker, A Love Fest And A Shrug

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney pleaded with his supporters at a rally Monday in Dubuque, Iowa, saying, "I need every vote." He did — winning the Iowa caucuses the next day by just eight votes.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Sat January 7, 2012 8:55 pm

When Mitt Romney kicked off this past week with a blitzkrieg tour of Iowa, he had no way of knowing just how true this statement would be: "You guys in Dubuque, you're the best. Get out there and vote tomorrow. I need every vote!"

He wasn't kidding. When the final numbers were tallied in Iowa, the former Massachusetts governor edged his closest rival, Rick Santorum, by the smallest margin in Iowa history — just eight votes.

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Business
4:01 am
Sat January 7, 2012

Italian Shopkeepers Say 'No, Grazie' To More Hours

A butcher shop serves customers in a Rome market on Dec. 31. A new law went into effect in Italy on Jan. 1, allowing shops, cafes and restaurants to stay open 24/7 throughout the year.
Alberto Pizzoli AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat January 7, 2012 5:50 pm

Italy's new prime minister, technocrat Mario Monti, wants to stimulate growth by boosting productivity and competitiveness. A new law that went into effect Jan. 1 allows shops, cafes and restaurants to stay open 24/7 all year long, holidays included. This deregulation puts Italy ahead of many European countries, but many Italians are resisting.

Friday — the Day of the Epiphany — was the first holiday of the year. In Rome, however, hardly anyone took advantage of the liberalized shop hours.

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Nina Totenberg is NPR's award-winning legal affairs correspondent. Her reports air regularly on NPR's critically acclaimed newsmagazines All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and Weekend Edition.

Totenberg's coverage of the Supreme Court and legal affairs has won her widespread recognition. Newsweek says, "The mainstays [of NPR] are Morning Edition and All Things Considered. But the creme de la creme is Nina Totenberg." She is also a regular panelist on Inside Washington, a weekly syndicated public affairs television program produced in the nation's capital.

Politics
3:00 am
Sat January 7, 2012

Debate Over Appointees Hinges On One Word: Recess

President Obama took a controversial step this week in making appointments to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and National Labor Relations Board during what the White House considered a congressional recess, bypassing any objections from lawmakers.

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