The Picture Show
5:00 am
Sat December 10, 2011

Russia By Rail: Siberia's Serious Cold

A woman is bundled up by the tracks of the Trans-Siberian railway.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Sat December 10, 2011 5:12 am

It's tempting, when beginning a visit to the far reaches of Siberia, to dismiss cold as some Russian cliché. Like vodka. And fur hats.

Sure, there'll be vodka — but not at every meal. Maybe I'll buy a fur hat as a souvenir — but I won't actually wear it.

Cold is no cliché. Siberia is cold.

I know cold. I like cold. I grew up in Pittsburgh, skiing, sledding and sitting through Pittsburgh Steeler football games in January, where beers and sodas freeze in plastic cups at your seats.

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It's All Politics
5:00 am
Sat December 10, 2011

Why Iowa Could Be Rick Perry's 'Alamo' Moment

Republican presidential candidate Texas Gov. Rick Perry talks with voter Jane High before speaking at the Scott County Republican party's Ronald Reagan Dinner on Nov. 14 in Bettendorf, Iowa.
Charlie Neibergall AP

Originally published on Sat December 10, 2011 5:07 am

In the hours before Saturday's pivotal Republican presidential debate in Iowa, attention has been riveted on the intensifying battle between front-runners Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.

Waiting in the wings, with hope and a prayer — directed squarely at the state's evangelical voters — is, improbably, Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

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Author Interviews
4:58 am
Sat December 10, 2011

Desai's 'Disappearance': Three Tales Of Art And Time

Novelist Anita Desai is a professor of humanities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She has also written Journey to Ithaca, Village by the Sea and Clear Light of Day.
Jerry Bauer Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Anita Desai's new collection of stories, The Artist of Disappearance, reads a bit like three symphonic movements in a minor key. They're three novellas, set in modern India, where the past is giving way. In one story, a government official inspects the forgotten treasures left behind in a fated mansion. In another story, a translator becomes a little too creative; and in the third, a man living in solitude finds his world upset by roving visitors.

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Environment
4:00 am
Sat December 10, 2011

Climate Activists: To Cut Emissions, Focus On Forests

The world's forests act as massive sponges, sucking carbon from the atmosphere. Above, an aerial photo from 2009 shows massive deforestation in the Brazilian state of Para.
Antonio Scorza AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 4:56 pm

Some climate strategists are looking beyond the United Nations and the idea of remaking the energy economy — and toward the world's tropical forests.

The basic idea is to provide rich countries that emit lots of climate-warming gases another way to reduce their carbon footprint besides replacing or retrofitting factories and power plants. Instead, they could just pay poorer countries to keep their forests, or even expand them. Forests suck carbon out of the atmosphere. It's like paying someone to put carbon in a storehouse.

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Environment
5:29 pm
Fri December 9, 2011

What Countries Are Doing To Tackle Climate Change

NPR

Originally published on Sun December 11, 2011 9:49 am

While nations wrangle over a new global treaty on climate change, the question on many minds is: What happens next?

Key portions of the Kyoto Protocol are set to expire at the end of 2012. But many of the world's major greenhouse gas emitters have already set national targets to reduce emissions, and they're forging their own initiatives to meet those goals.

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U.S.
4:43 pm
Fri December 9, 2011

Congress Won't Recess To Block Obama Appointments

The U.S. Capitol is seen above in 2009 as senators worked late into the night on legislation. The light signifying that Congress is in session may remain on this holiday season as well, since House Republicans have said they will remain in a pro-forma session.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Sat December 10, 2011 5:45 am

Senate Republicans blocked confirmation votes on two of President Obama's most high-profile nominees this week — one for a seat on a federal appeals court, the other to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Traditionally, the end-of-the-year holidays have allowed presidents to bypass Congress and give such thwarted nominees recess appointments. But an angry President Obama is quickly leaning that this might not be the case this year.

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The Two-Way
4:38 pm
Fri December 9, 2011

Scientists Find Studying For Test To Become London Cabbie Enlarges Brain

A taxi driver stands outside his cab in London, England.
Dan Kitwood Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 9, 2011 4:42 pm

To become a cab driver in London, you have to acquire "The Knowledge," which is their fancy way of saying that you have to memorize all the streets in London. It's quite a process that takes most three to four years to complete.

Now, scientists have found that studying for the test makes your brain bigger. The U.K. Press Association reports:

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The Salt
4:05 pm
Fri December 9, 2011

The Surprising Ingredient In Raw Cookie Dough That Could Make You Sick

So tempting, but don't do it. Raw cookie dough can indeed make you sick.
iStockPhoto.com

Cookie dough may be one of the joys of the holiday season, but it's dangerous, at least for people who nibble it raw.

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Music Interviews
3:12 pm
Fri December 9, 2011

Classical Contemporaries Perform With A Ghost

Cellist Zuill Bailey and soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian reanimate the late composer Manuel de Falla on The Spanish Masters.
Dario Acosta Photography / Lisa Marie Mazzucco

What's it like to perform with a ghost?

"There was no pianist breathing or cueing me," cellist Zuill Bailey says. "The good news is that he was very consistent." Soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian adds, "It's absolutely true — it takes a little bit of adjusting."

Bailey and Bayrakdarian are talking about their accompanist: the late — very late — Manuel de Falla, who died in 1946. With the help of new recording technology, the two have performed de Falla's Seven Popular Spanish Songs for a new release, The Spanish Masters.

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Music Interviews
2:59 pm
Fri December 9, 2011

A Jazz Pianist Gets His Big Break — At Age 85

Boyd Lee Dunlop was discovered in a Buffalo nursing home, wrestling music from a dilapidated piano. His debut album is called Boyd's Blues.
Brendan Bannon

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 4:56 pm

Back in the 1930s, Boyd Lee Dunlop taught himself to play music on a broken piano left out on the streets of Buffalo, N.Y. Only half the keys worked.

He also taught his little brother Frank to play the drums while they were growing up. Frankie Dunlop went on to record with Thelonious Monk and Charles Mingus, among other jazz greats. Boyd Lee Dunlop went to work in the steel mills and rail yards of Buffalo, occasionally playing piano at local clubs.

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