As North Korea mourns the death of its leader Kim Jong Il, both South Korea and China have reacted to the risk of instability on their borders. The South Korean military has been placed on alert, and there are reports that the Chinese have closed their border with North Korea. Robert Siegel talks to NPR's Louisa Lim, who is watching events from the South Korean capital, Seoul.
Christmas tree growers are frustrated that politics are delaying a marketing campaign to promote real trees over artificial. Following four years of work to get it passed, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the industry-sponsored real Christmas tree campaign in November. But conservatives quickly branded it as "President Obama's Christmas tree tax" and the program was delayed within days of its approval. There are 18 other commodities — like pork and eggs — with similar generic advertising programs. They show anywhere from a two-to-one to a ten-to-one return on investment.
Days after it seemed Congress had struck a budget, tax cut and unemployment deal that would get it through the holidays, it is clear that they did not. House Speaker John Boehner Monday must deal with a restive House GOP caucus that signaled over the weekend that it had no interest in going along with the Senate's two-month plan. NPR congressional correspondent David Welna joins Lynn Neary with the latest.
Originally published on Mon December 19, 2011 1:03 pm
2011 is shaping up to be the safest on record for airline travel, according to analysis of United Nations data by a trade group.
The International Air Transport Association reports that January to November of 2011 are the safest months on record since the U.N. started keeping data in 1945. The 11-month period has also seen a 22 percent improvement in safety from last year.
Chad Harbach's debut novel The Art of Fielding is as much about literary fiction as it is about America's national past time. The book follows the baseball team at a small liberal arts college in Wisconsin — with side trips to the big leagues of American literature.
Henry Skrimshander is that college's talented but socially awkward shortstop, destined for big-league stardom. But when a routine throw goes wrong, Henry's life falls apart as he ends up embroiled in conflicts with his teammates, his roommate and a school administrator.
The death of North Korea's Kim Jong Il leaves many open questions about the secretive country's future. Former Ambassador Christopher Hill and North Korea experts Hazel Smith and Alexander Monsourov discuss how Kim's death may affect the country's relationship with the international community.