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Arts & Life
4:47 pm
Wed December 25, 2013

The Dark Roots Of 'The Nutcracker' And The Man Who Wrote It

This is the time of year when one man's work is widely - if indirectly - celebrated. His name used to be hugely famous, but nowadays, it draws blank stares, even from people who know that work. E.T.A. Hoffman, who lived from 1776 to 1822 in the Kingdom of Prussia, was responsible for a work that is a staple the holiday season, the original author of The Nutcracker. You can read more about the story, which aired last Christmas, here.

Movies
4:47 pm
Wed December 25, 2013

Another Life For The Surprisingly Multifarious Walter Mitty

Ben Stiller has revisited James Thurber's henpecked daydreamer Walter Mitty in a new film that lets him become more conventionally heroic. NPR's Bob Mondello charts the character's changing fortunes over the years.
Wilson Webb 20th Century Fox

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 8:26 pm

A short story, a radio show, a Danny Kaye vehicle — no, really — even an off-Broadway musical: James Thurber's nebbishy daydreamer Walter Mitty has had plenty of incarnations in his nearly 75 years. He's back again, this time in an expensive, effects-fueled drama from actor-director Ben Stiller, and we thought that rather than reviewing it, we'd have NPR's Bob Mondello survey the range of public lives lived by the character. Have a listen.

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Around the Nation
4:47 pm
Wed December 25, 2013

Snowstorm Leave Parts Of Midwest, Northeast And Canada Powerless

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 8:23 am

Christmas is less than merry and far from bright for hundreds of thousands of families from the upper Midwest to the far northeast and into Canada, where ice storms have downed power lines, leaving many households in the cold and dark.

This is the worst holiday week in the 126-year history of Michigan's largest power company, Consumers Energy. The outages began over the weekend, affecting nearly 350,000 customers. Power has been restored to many, but more than 120,000 remain in the dark.

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Law
4:47 pm
Wed December 25, 2013

Calif. Law To Help Domestic Abuse Victims Escape Violence

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 10:52 am

In California, it's about to get easier for abuse survivors to break their leases.

The new law, which takes effect Jan. 1, will allow domestic violence victims to give their landlords a simple form as proof that they have been abused.

Counselors say it will make abuse survivors safer because they'll more easily be able to move away.

Virginia's Story: 'An Extreme Hardship'

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Around the Nation
4:47 pm
Wed December 25, 2013

For An Injured Vet, A True Homecoming On The Horizon

High school students from Lancaster, Calif., held yard sales and bake sales to raise money to build a new house for Iraq War veteran Jerrell Hancock, center. Unlike Hancock's current mobile home, the new house will be wheelchair-accessible.
Courtesy of Jamie Goodreau

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 2:51 pm

When Jerral Hancock came home from serving in Iraq six years ago, he received a hero's welcome in the Mojave Desert town of Lancaster, Calif. He'd been severely wounded but looked forward to returning to his family and getting on with his life.

But sometimes, celebrated homecomings can be short-lived. Things took a painful turn for Hancock a few years ago; his wife left and he became a single father of two. But with the help of an enterprising group of young people, Hancock and his children have brighter days ahead.

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Parallels
4:47 pm
Wed December 25, 2013

Instead Of Sending Students Abroad, Qatar Imports U.S. Colleges

A man walks along a pathway at the Texas A&M University campus in Doha, Qatar.
Osama Faisal AP

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 10:53 pm

In Qatar's rapid race to modernity, the emirate has created a distinctive approach to educating its young: It has effectively imported a host of American universities.

Dr. Sheikha Aisha bint Faleh bin Nasser Al-Thani, a member of Qatar's ruling family, sits on the Supreme Education Council and owns a few independent schools. For her own children, she wanted a top-flight college education. Her sons were educated in Britain.

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Shots - Health News
4:47 pm
Wed December 25, 2013

A Texas Social Worker Weighs Her Insurance Options

Tammy Boudreaux (right) with her partner, Laura Perez. Boudreaux is weighing the cost and benefits of purchasing health insurance.
Courtesy of Tammy Boudreaux

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 8:23 pm

Texas has the highest rate of uninsured people in the country, with almost 1 in 4 people going without coverage.

One of them is Tammy Boudreaux.

Boudreaux, 43, lives just outside of Houston and works as a freelance psychiatric social worker, with no benefits.

She has been skipping mammograms and other checkups for years. "It's worrisome," she says. "It's like gambling. Gambling with my health, and it is very frustrating."

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From Our Listeners
4:35 pm
Wed December 25, 2013

Letters: Eggnog Recipe Brings Cheers And Jeers

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 7:15 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Now a brief nod to nog, eggnog, the holiday drink some people love to hate.

MARIA DEL MAR SACASA: Do you politely refuse and make up a dairy allergy or say you're not drinking? Or are you wondering this woman has completely lost it, and is she trying to poison me?

SIEGEL: That's Maria del Mar Sacasa, author of "Winter Cocktails." Earlier this week, she gave us her eggnog recipe to win over those haters, a freshly mixed pumpkin eggnog.

SACASA: This tastes like melted ice cream. It does; I promise.

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Middle East
4:35 pm
Wed December 25, 2013

Turkish Leaders Resign In Anti-Graft Probe, Erdogan Claims Conspiracy

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 4:47 pm

Three government ministers in Turkey have resigned in a corruption scandal. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has denounced the anti-graft investigation as part of an international conspiracy. For more on the political developments, Robert Siegel speaks with Turkish columnist and television commentator Astli Aydintasbas.

Africa
4:35 pm
Wed December 25, 2013

Clashes Continue In South Sudan Despite Calls For Cease-Fire

South Sudanese troops have retaken the flashpoint town of Bor, north of the capital Juba.
James Akena Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 10:41 am

It was a somber Christmas day in South Sudan. Despite an appeal for a Christmas cease-fire from the African Union, government soldiers and rebels clashed in an oil-rich part of the country.

At a church in the capital of Juba, President Salva Kiir called for peace and unity. Even the leader's choice of clothing — traditional robes instead of army fatigues — seemed to signal that he wants to move past the violence.

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