France is known as a tolerant country on many social issues, yet the country is embroiled in a debate about same-sex marriage and adoption.
President Francois Hollande is following through on a campaign promise to bring full rights to gay couples. France legalized civil unions more than a decade ago, though same-sex couples must still go abroad to marry or adopt.
But opposition to Hollande's measure has been unexpectedly fierce, something the Socialist government wasn't expecting.
Even though the top four congressional leaders left their White House meeting with the president separately and silently on Friday, they cast the hourlong encounter in a positive light back at the Capitol.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi described the tone of the discussion to head off across-the-board tax hikes and spending cuts as "candid." An aide to House Speaker John Boehner put out a statement that noted that the group agreed the next step should be the Senate's — a tacit acknowledgement that Boehner is no longer the lead negotiator with President Obama.
It's been almost a decade since Johnny Cash died, but fans still travel from around the world to see the place the music legend often described as key to his development: his boyhood home in the eastern Arkansas town of Dyess. The small house will soon serve as a museum — not only as a tribute to Johnny Cash, but also to tell the history of the town.
Originally published on Fri December 28, 2012 9:56 pm
Young Jon Faddis, born in 1953, learned every note Dizzy Gillespie ever recorded. Then Faddis found Gillespie and reacquainted the older trumpeter with some of his own best work. Their relationship became a close mentorship in jazz, maybe the closest. Now, Faddis advances the Gillespie style — fast, syncopated, chromatic, teasing, conversing, climbing step by step (sometimes tacking crosswise), racing up and down the hills, having serious fun.
Hortense Calisher, a virtuoso of the form, once called the short story "an apocalypse in a teacup." It's a definition that suits the remarkable stories published this year by three literary superstars, and two dazzling newcomers with voices so distinctive we're likely to be hearing from them again. These stories are intense, evocative delights to be devoured singly when you have only a sliver of time, or savored in batches, at leisure, on a winter weekend.
National Intelligence Director James Clapper leaves the Capitol after briefing members of Congress earlier this month. The Senate voted Friday to extend the FISA Amendments Act to 2017, granting federal agencies wide surveillance powers.
Originally published on Mon December 31, 2012 6:16 pm
The FISA Amendments Act has been approved for another five years, as the Senate voted to renew the law that grants the government wide surveillance authority. President Obama has said he intends to sign the measure, which senators approved by a 73-23 margin Friday morning. It had already won approval in the House.
Update at 6:10 p.m. Dec. 31: Obama signs FISA extension.
The president signed the FISA extension Sunday. Our original post continues:
Originally published on Sun December 30, 2012 8:51 pm
A woman who survived a brutal gang-rape on a bus in India has died, according to reports. Earlier Friday, hospital officials in Singapore, where the 23-year-old student was being treated, had warned that her condition was worsening.
The U.S. economy was a bit of a disappointment in 2012. During the early months of the year, job creation was surprisingly strong, but by the end of the year, uncertainty about the election and the "fiscal cliff" slowed the economy's forward motion. So will 2013 look any better?
Mark Zandi of Moody's Analytics says that while Washington likely will steer us away from the fiscal cliff at the last minute, some elements of the deal will be a drag on the economy early in 2013.
Natisha Laws near her hotel in the middle of Times Square. She and her family were placed at the DoubleTree in mid-November by FEMA. They lost their rental apartment during Superstorm Sandy and have been struggling to recover.
Credit Cindy Rodriguez for NPR
Natisha Laws and her partner, Mark Douglas, inside the Times Square hotel room where they've been staying since mid-November. The tourist hot spot is exciting for 3-year-old Tru and 9-year-old Isaiah, but their parents say they are stressed out and worry the family will end up homeless.
At California's nearly two dozen Spanish missions, conversion these days isn't just about religion; it's also about seismic retrofitting. That's because the missions — which date to the late 1700s, when Spain's king sent Franciscan missionaries to convert natives to Christianity — would not withstand a major earthquake.
At a mission in Carmel, a 220-year-old basilica is in the middle of an earthquake retrofit. Workers removed the structure's red tile roof and replaced it with scaffolding and a protective plastic.
The voice of a great soul classic has died. Fontella Bass sang the 1965 hit "Rescue Me." She was 72 years old and died from complications caused by a recent heart attack. NPR's Elizabeth Blair has this appreciation.
ELIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: It's a perfect song with a perfect voice.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RESCUE ME")
FONTELLA BASS: (Singing) Rescue me. Take me in your arms. Rescue me. I love your tender charms. I'm rather lonely and I'm blue. I need you and your love, too. Come on and rescue me.
Sometimes "the one that got away" is a book that was easy to overlook. A little gem of a first novel, or a memoir by an unknown writer that unexpectedly captured everyone's imagination.
But sometimes, it's the elephant in the room that you just haven't looked at yet. Everyone knows about it. It's one of the biggest sellers of all time. It's a cultural phenomenon — it's Fifty Shades of Grey. And I ignored it until I couldn't anymore.
A threatened strike by the International Longshoremen's Association at 14 ports along the East and Gulf Coasts has been called off. Federal negotiators say the union has reached an agreement with the United States Maritime Alliance and will extend contract talks.
In Quentin Tarantino's new film, Django Unchained, Jamie Foxx plays the title character, a freed slave turned bounty hunter searching for his wife and their plantation tormentors.
As is the case with all of Tarantino's films, Django Unchained is incredibly violent. We spoke to the director before the school shootings in Newtown, Conn., and before critics had taken him to task for the film's brutality. The film also is being debated for the way it brings humor to the story of slavery.
David Easterling, manager of the Suicide Prevention Program at Fort Riley in Kansas spray-paints Army boots white in 2009 as part of an on-base display to commemorate the six Fort Riley soldiers who committed suicide in 2008.
Credit John Berry / The Post-Standard/Landov
Each responder for the VA National Suicide Prevention Hotline Call Center has a bell on their desk that they ring when they need assistance in handling a call at the Canandaigua VA Medical Center in upstate New York.
Credit Emilio Morenatti / AP
Soldiers on patrol in Afghanistan near the Pakistan border in 2009. This year, more active-duty troops died by suicide than by fighting in Afghanistan.
At a suicide prevention center in upstate New York, America's troops and veterans are calling in for help.
And that help is needed more than ever. This past year witnessed a terrible death toll from suicide. For the first time in a decade of war, more active-duty troops have taken their own lives this year than have died fighting in Afghanistan.
Originally published on Fri December 28, 2012 6:50 pm
Days before a budget crisis deadline will hit the U.S. economy, President Obama says, "I'm optimistic we may still be able to reach an agreement that can pass both houses in time."
The details of that agreement, which could avert automatic spending cuts and tax increases that are set to take effect on Jan. 1, would likely come from discussions between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
It's probably not true that truth is stranger than fiction, but in the hands of a great biographer, it can be just as compelling. Novelists can create unique and unforgettable characters — there's never been anyone quite like Jane Eyre or Ignatius J. Reilly — but there's no shortage of fascinating literary protagonists who just happened to exist in real life.
The tortuous negotiations involved in the "fiscal cliff" talks are like a chess game.
To shed some light on the kinds of negotiation techniques that members of Congress might be using during the talks, we asked two negotiators to walk us through their tactics with examples from their everyday lives.
Originally published on Fri December 28, 2012 4:46 pm
Longshoremen and East Coast and Gulf Coast port operators have agreed to an extension on labor negotiations, a federal mediator said Friday, averting a potentially crippling strike that would have halted container traffic at many of the nation's largest seaports.
Update at 4:45 p.m. ET: The temporary deal extends the contract to Feb. 6.
Women shop and trade at a market in Razon city, northeast of Pyongyang, in September. Most private trading, which is the only source of income for almost half of North Korean families, is done by women.
Credit Ng Han Guan / AP
Women work at a bookstore in Pyongyang. With so many men unable to find work and support a family, more young women are willing to delay marriage.
Imagine going to work every day and not getting paid. Then, one day, you're told there's no work to do — so you must pay the company for the privilege of not working.
This is the daily reality facing Mrs. Kim, a petite 52-year-old North Korean. Her husband's job in a state-run steel factory requires him to build roads. She can't remember the last time he received a monthly salary. When there are no roads to build, he has to pay his company around 20 times his paltry monthly salary, she says.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE, from NPR News. Coming up, all kinds of folks made their debut on Twitter this year, including His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI. We decided we wanted to talk about the best and worst of 2012 on Twitter. That's coming up later in the program.
Looking ahead to the new year, we would like to know if you are planning to make a change in an effort to bring peace into your life. It could be anything: trying to reconcile with someone with whom you are estranged, cutting up your credit cards, cleaning out the garage or making plans for a weekly date night. Whatever it is, if the intention is to bring peace to your life, we'd like to hear about it
I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE, from NPR News. Coming up, are you invited to any parties for Kwanzaa, which is going on now? If the answer is yes, you're not alone. If the answer is no, you're not alone, either. We'll ask just how widely observed is this inspired-by-Africa, made-in-America celebration.
Originally published on Fri December 28, 2012 1:03 pm
In A Man of Misconceptions: The Life of an Eccentric in an Age of Change, John Glassie writes of 17th-century Jesuit priest and scientist Athanasius Kircher, a renaissance man who studied magnetism, Mount Vesuvius, even the blood of plague victims. The only problem? His theories were often wrong.