This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.
(SOUNDBITE OF CIRCUS MUSIC)
SIMON: When the bright lights beam under the Big Top of the Big Apple Circus, Grandma shuffles in. She's got a silver hair, a slow walk, a sly smile, and a purse so huge you think she might have New Jersey somewhere in there. I mean Grandma the Clown.
Coquito, an eggnog made with rum and coconut, is as integral to a Puerto Rican Christmas as presents under the tree.
In New York on Saturday, 12 coquito makers are battling to be this year's Coquito Masters champion. It's the 10th year of the contest. Trolleys will take fans to different locations in Spanish Harlem to sample coquito and vote for their favorite drinks in blind taste tests.
It may be telling that Christopher Hitchens should die in this season. I don't mean the holiday season but a contentious season in Congress and on the campaign trail, with politicians jabbing fingers and accusing each other of inconsistency.
Nadia Karim Hassan says she stayed in her Baghdad neighborhood as long as she could, but by the height of the sectarian war in 2007, too many fellow Shiites were getting killed, and she had to leave the area and move into an abandoned building.
As American troops pull out of Iraq, one of the most striking consequences of the war remains unresolved today: the issue of people who were forced out of their homes and still can't go back. Relief organizations estimate there are some 2 million displaced people inside Iraq.
Robert Khuzami (right), director of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's Enforcement Division, announces that the SEC has charged six former top executives of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with securities fraud on Friday.
Ever since Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were taken over by the government in 2008, questions have swirled over who was responsible for the collapse. Friday, the Securities and Exchange Commission weighed in, filing fraud charges against former Fannie Mae CEO Daniel Mudd, Richard Syron — ex-chief executive at Freddie Mac — and four other former executives.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was in South Carolina Friday to celebrate an important announcement. The Palmetto State's Gov. Nikki Haley has officially endorsed him, just weeks before the South Carolina Republican primary.
The Romney campaign staged this event at a capacious fire station that was so crowded the chief had to bar the door when the crowd reached 500 people.
Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 5:00 pm
Tucked inside the omnibus spending bill that the House of Representatives passed earlier, today, is a provision that prevents the Department of Energy from enforcing new, more energy efficient standards for light bulbs.
The new standards were signed into law in 2007 by then President Bush, but the standards have become a favorite cause for Rush Limbaugh and the Tea Party, who say the bill would ban incandescent light bulbs and give Americans less choice. They say it is a perfect example of government overreach.
The Republican presidential contest remains fluid less than three weeks before the caucuses and primaries begin. Nationwide, nearly one in five GOP voters is still undecided. And in Iowa, candidates are making their final push before the Jan. 3 caucuses.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney on Friday told workers at a metal fabricating plant in Sioux City, Iowa: "I am running in this race because I understand how to get middle-class Americans prosperous again, working again, buying things, and putting more Americans back to work."
Arab League Secretary General Nabil Al Arabi (far left) meets with foreign ministers of the Arab League in Cairo on Nov. 27. The group imposed tough sanctions against Syria at that meeting, but is now wavering when it comes to implementing them.
The Arab League has a reputation for being long on rhetoric and short on action. That's why it was so surprising when Arab ministers approved an unprecedented package of sanctions against Syria at the end of November.
But the unity that produced that vote is falling apart, and a meeting in Cairo to set the terms of the sanctions was suspended indefinitely.
Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 3:47 pm
Anybody with an e-mail box this time of year is in the middle of a storm — a 20 percent-off coupon lands, only to be topped by another for 30 percent off, then 40 percent, half-price. That's not to mention the free shipping offers piling up like snowdrifts as we head into the last full weekend of Christmas shopping.
The tech and business press called it the most hyped initial public offering since Google, but very quickly today Zynga's public debut went sour with its stock price falling below its initial price of $10.
A few years ago, Jennifer Reese lost her job, so she decided it was the perfect time to save money by undertaking "all those exciting Little House on the Prairie cooking jobs" she'd been curious to try. Reese was an ambitious cook, and her enthusiasm knew no bounds: She wasn't just baking bread or grinding peanut butter. She fried potato chips, made Pop-Tarts, stretched curds into mozzarella, infused vermouth, fermented kimchee — and, while she was at it, raised her own chickens, turkeys and goats at her home in the San Francisco Bay area.
Family members burn funeral offerings for Xue Jinbo on Friday. Xue, 42, was involved in a property dispute that turned into a major confrontation with authorities in the southern Chinese village of Wukan. He died in police custody.
Credit Lousia Lim / NPR
An altar in honor of Xue. Residents in his home village of Wukan believe he was detained and beaten by police for the role he played as a negotiator in a land dispute with the local government.
What began as a property dispute in the southern Chinese village of Wukan has escalated into an open revolt for the past six days. It's one of the most serious episodes of unrest that the Chinese Communist Party has faced in recent years. The protests were suspended for a while Friday so villagers could mourn the man whose death led villagers to chase police and government officials out of town. The police have sealed off the area, but NPR's Louisa Lim managed to get into Wukan.
Every so often, an NFL player transcends the game. Think William "Refrigerator" Perry or Bo Jackson.
Tim Tebow, the quarterback who'll lead the Denver Broncos against the powerful New England Patriots on Sunday, has become a household name, thanks to his improbable come-from-behind victories combined with his prominent expressions of faith.
How does he do it? The Bears, Chargers, Chiefs, Dolphins, Jets, Raiders and Vikings would like to know.
Time For A Comeback
Tebow is a proper noun. Tebow is a verb meaning to genuflect.
When your grandfather is a bootlegger and your family runs an illegal small-town roadhouse, you must have a lot of stories to tell. Cam Penner does, and he tells them in his music. The Canadian singer-songwriter's latest album is titled Gypsy Summer.
"Bonds sat stoically as U.S. District Judge Susan Illston told baseball's home run king that he had avoided prison but must spend one month in his two-acre Beverly Hills estate, two years on probation, serve 250 hours of community service and pay a $4,000 fine.
Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 11:29 am
Fitch ratings agency, one of the big three, said today that it was considering downgrading the credit ratings of six Euro-zone countries. Italy, Spain, Ireland, Belgium, Slovenia and Cyprus could see their their rating cut by one or two notches.
Writer Christopher Hitchens, who died on Thursday from complications of cancer at the age of 62, leaves behind some 18 books and countless essays on politics and public figures. But his most lasting legacy may be his atheism and his long-running duel with what he considered the world's most dangerous threat: religion.