Christopher Hitchens, shown here in 2010, began a lifelong battle with a God he didn't believe in when he was just 9 years old.
Credit David Levenson / Getty Images
Over the years, Christopher Hitchens took on most of the leading figures of his time. <a href="http://www.npr.org/2011/12/16/143674020/the-many-targets-of-christopher-hitchens">Click for an audio slideshow.</a>
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.
We need a heart-warming story and this fits the bill:
"At Kmart stores across the country," The Associated Press writes, "Santa is getting some help: Anonymous donors are paying off strangers' layaway accounts, buying the Christmas gifts other families couldn't afford, especially toys and children's clothes set aside by impoverished parents."
The fourth Mission: Impossible picture is nonsense from beginning to end — and wonderful fun. The director is Brad Bird, of Ratatouille and The Incredibles and The Iron Giant, and there's no doubt now, in his live-action debut, that he's a filmmaker first and an animator second. Part 4, titled Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, is in a different league from its predecessors.
Six former top executives of the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) "knew and approved of misleading statements claiming the companies had minimal holdings of higher-risk mortgage loans, including subprime loans" and have now been accused of securities fraud in a civil suit, the Securities and Exchange Commission just announced.
Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 12:13 pm
Sugary drinks like soda are a big cause of obesity, but public health types haven't had much luck convincing the public of that.
But what if you knew that it would take 50 minutes of jogging to burn off one soda?
When researchers taped signs saying just that on the drink coolers in four inner-city neighborhood stores, sales of sugary beverages to teenagers dropped by 50 percent. That tactic was more effective than a sign saying that the drinks had 250 calories each, or a sign saying that a soft drink accounts for 11 percent of recommended daily calories.
Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 10:20 am
An "astonishing" scene has already played out at the just-opened military court hearing about the case against Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, who stands accused of giving classified information to WikiLeaks, The Guardian reports.
Gen. David Petraeus (center, with no gun) walks with troops in 2007 in Baqouba, Iraq. The area had recently been seized back from al-Qaida control with help from U.S. forces who were part of the surge. The surge is widely credited with changing the course of the war; now, some experts are debating how much credit it deserves.
Credit Chris Hondros / Getty Images
U.S. Army Specialist Zachery King patrols Baghdad in 2007, the year the U.S. military added some 30,000 troops to the battle in Iraq.
Here's the conventional wisdom about the U.S. troop surge in Iraq: By 2006, Iraq was in chaos. Many Americans called for the U.S. to get out. Instead, President Bush sent in 30,000 additional troops. By the end of 2007, Iraq started to stabilize, and the move took on an almost mythic status.
Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 8:48 am
Each year, one-quarter of adults don't see a primary care doctor, so odds are they're not being checked for high blood pressure, diabetes and other major health risks. That's 55 million people who are missing out.
But a lot of them — around 13 million — do go to the dentist. So what if the dentist could screen them instead?