NPR News

Letters: Lives Lost In 2011 And Farm Work

Jan 3, 2012

NPR's Neal Conan reads from Talk of the Nation listener comments on previous show topics, including our annual show remembering remarkable lives lost, and a recent proposal to change the laws governing what work children may do on farms.

A major medical group issued ethical guidelines on Monday that take the provocative position of urging doctors to consider cost-effectiveness when deciding how to treat their patients.

The American College of Physicians, the second-largest U.S. doctors' group after the American Medical Association, included the recommendation in the latest version of its ethics manual, which provides guidance for some 132,000 internists nationwide.

We knew defense cuts were coming, but The New York Times is reporting that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will unveil $450 billion in cuts this week. With the announcement, reports the Times, will also come a new philosophy for the Pentagon.

The Times reports:

On the last day he'll have New Hampshire to himself, GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, who bypassed the Iowa caucuses, plans to travel from Pembroke to Peterborough in search of enough votes to break into the top three in next week's Granite State primary.

With his presidential opponents scrambling for last-minute support in advance of Tuesday's Iowa caucuses, Huntsman has been methodically wooing New Hampshire voters in nearly 150 events over the past few weeks.

Most everyone's spirits are a bit deflated after the holidays. So, as a literary antidote, I recommend a just-published anthology called New York Diaries: 1609 – 2009. Editor Teresa Carpenter has collected four centuries worth of diary excerpts written by people, great and small, who've lived in or just passed through one of the greatest cities in the world.

U.S. Defiant As Iran Threatens Its Aircraft Carrier

Jan 3, 2012

Iran issued a threat to a U.S. aircraft carier, today, which further complicates the tense relationship between the two countries. The threat comes just a day after Iran performed naval maneuvers in the Strait of Hormuz.

Make a list of the world's most popular scientists, and Stephen Hawking's name will be near or at the very top of the list.

Hawking, the author of A Brief History of Time and a professor at the University of Cambridge, is known as much for his contributions to theoretical cosmology and quantum gravity as for his willingness to make science accessible for the general public, says science writer Kitty Ferguson.

"It's not dumbing down [science]; it's really making it accessible, hopefully, to a lot of people," she tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

In yet another sign that the economy is limping forward, the Commerce Department said today that spending on construction rose 1.2 percent in November for the third time in four months.

Candidates Make Last Push Before Iowa Voting Begins

Jan 3, 2012

Republican presidential candidates prepared Tuesday for their first major test of the primary season, making last-minute whistle-stops throughout Iowa in hopes of swaying many undecided caucus-goers.

Later tonight, Iowa Republicans will gather to cast ballots for the person they want to stand against President Obama in November. But after a bruising months-long campaign, more than a third of those participating in the caucuses say they still haven't made up their minds.

If you were listening carefully to NPR's Ted Robbin's report on Rick Santorum on Morning Edition, yesterday, you heard some pretty controversial comments from the Republican presidential candidate.

No, The School Nurse Is Not In

Jan 3, 2012

More than half of American public schools don't have a full-time nurse, and the situation is getting worse as school systems further cut budgets. This year, 51 were laid off in Philadelphia's public schools, 20 in a Houston suburb, 15 in San Diego and dozens more in other school systems nationwide.

Other schools have reduced their school nurse staffing.

Making The Best Of A Hospital Stay By Quitting Smoking

Jan 3, 2012

When smokers are in the hospital, they typically have to give up cigarettes for as long as they're there.

Most hospitals make little effort to screen patients for tobacco use or to help them kick the habit permanently. That's a missed opportunity.

In Iowa, It's Decision Day At Last

Jan 3, 2012

After months of campaigning, it's finally caucus day in Iowa. Polls still show a fluid race, with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum heading the pack.

The man police called "the most dangerous arsonist in Los Angeles County," may have been angered by the immigration hearing of a family member. The Los Angeles Times reports that Harry Burkhart, a 24-year-old from Germany who was arrested and charged in connection to a string of arson fires in Los Angeles, went on an anti-American tirade recently.

The Times reports:

Scotch Wiskey From A Can?

Jan 3, 2012

A maker of Scotch whiskey plans to start selling its product in a can. You can buy a 12 ounce can — 80 shots of 80 proof whiskey — in a container that cannot be re-sealed. The company says it hopes to eventually develop a can you can close.

It's Caucus Day In Iowa

Jan 3, 2012

Today, Iowa kicks off the 2012 presidential race in earnest. As, you've no doubt heard by now, the Republican presidential contest is still very fluid: Mitt Romney, Ron Paul or Rick Santorum could all win the season's first contest.

As The Des Moines Register found in its poll, the race is so unsettled "41 percent of those who have a first choice could still be persuaded to change their minds."

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.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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.

(SOUNDBITE OF POLITICAL ADVERTISEMENT)

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?

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