In Los Angeles today, federal prosecutors announced charges of corruption and civil rights abuses inside the nation's largest jail system. The indictments came against 18 current and former deputies of the L.A. Sheriff's Department. NPR's Kirk Siegler has details from outside the federal building in downtown Los Angeles.
Time was when business-suited Santas would spend December roaming the corridors of Congress, bestowing all sorts of goodies upon their elected friends, prospective friends and staffers: baskets of food, bottles of booze, even high-priced tickets to sports events.
That last item is the kind of thing that sent uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff to prison. It also brought the House of Representatives a new set of ethics rules — stern and often complex limits on accepting gifts.
Critics of the federal auto bailout will no longer be able to refer derisively to GM as "Government Motors" — on Monday, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced the U.S. government has sold its remaining shares in the carmaker.
"With the final sale of GM stock, this important chapter in our nation's history is now closed," Lew said, announcing the sale.
The net? Taxpayers lost $10.7 billion on the deal.
The track record of commercial products designed with privacy as a top priority has been abysmal — at least until recently. The ephemeral texting app Snapchat is turning assumptions upside down about young people and their desire for digital privacy.
Fred Cate, director of applied cybersecurity research at Indiana University, is an expert on privacy in the digital age. But when it comes to the viability of tech products that promise privacy, Cate has always been skeptical.
That wreath on your front door could contain stolen goods.
The tips of fir trees used to make wreaths are collected by "tippers" and attract high prices — as well as poachers, who cut limbs and even whole trees on private land.
The Christmas greens industry is estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars. But like other cottage industries, no one's really counting. Anyone with a desire to make some money can take part — on or under the table. And that's become a problem for some woodlot owners trying to protect their trees.
France's Chateau of Versailles has pulled out all the stops for one of its favorite sons, gardener Andre Le Notre, who designed the palace's famous gardens. This year, to mark the 400th anniversary of Le Notre's birth, several of the garden's fountains are being restored and the chateau is hosting an exhibit on his life through February 2014.
Experts say Le Notre'swork was so groundbreaking, it continues to influence contemporary urban architecture.
Book lovers rejoice! Tis the season to curl up with a good read. If you're in need of some literary inspiration, here's a novel idea: let NPR's Book Concierge guide you through this year's best picks, cover by cover.
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This week's pick for World Cafe: Next is Dott, a young quartet from Galway, Ireland. The music on the band's debut album, Swoon, calls upon the sounds of garage-pop, with chugging, jangly guitars out front and the vocals of Anna McCarthy on top.
Sometimes, the other two women of Dott, Laura Finnegan and Miriam Donahue, will chime in on the harmonies, while Tony Higgins makes his presence known on the drums. Hear two tracks from the glowing and infectious Swoon when you download this week's podcast.