Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 6:40 pm
When it comes to the Olympics, politics intrudes more often than not.
President Obama has decided not to attend the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, in February. The official U.S. delegation will not include a president, vice president, first lady or former president for the first time since 2000.
Instead, Obama asked athletes including openly gay tennis great Billie Jean King and two-time hockey medalist Caitlin Cahow to represent the country. American gay-rights groups, angered by an anti-gay law Russia enacted in June, applauded the move.
There are seven shopping days left until Christmas. But there are just five days until another important deadline — the last day to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act if you want coverage to start January 1.
After a slow start, activity on the federal website HealthCare.gov has been heavy all month. And with the deadline approaching, some people are getting worried that they won't get signed up in time.
And this being the health care law, it's complicated. There is more than one deadline.
Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 4:56 pm
Secretary of State John Kerry has telephoned a top official in New Delhi to express regret for the strip-search of an Indian diplomat after her arrest last week in New York on charges of visa fraud.
"As a father of two daughters about the same age as [Indian diplomat] Devyani Khobragade, the Secretary empathizes with the sensitivities we are hearing from India about the events that unfolded after Ms. Khobragade's arrest," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a written statement, relating Kerry's conversation.
"Who am I to judge?" With those five words, Pope Francis "stepped away from the disapproving tone, the explicit moralizing typical of popes and bishops," writes columnist James Carroll. Francis made that statement in July, in response to a reporter's question about the status of gay priests in the Church.
When Michele Rosewoman was growing up in the Bay Area, she played piano from childhood and congas from her teens. After moving to New York in the late 1970s, she began making music in two areas: modern jazz and traditional Cuban music. Before long, she started combining the two in her New Yor-Uba band.
Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 12:05 pm
Each week for the past six months, we've written about an invention that either solves a unique problem or solves a common problem in a unique way. We thank you, readers, for pointing us toward innovative solutions. Many of our weekly posts have featured your submissions. Who can forget the Case Coolie, which keeps your beers cold without ice?
China has confirmed that one of its warships — reportedly the newly deployed aircraft carrier Liaoning — had an "encounter" with a U.S. guided missile cruiser in the South China Sea earlier this month.
Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 7:31 pm
(This post was last updated at 3:50 p.m. ET)
Citing an improving economy, the Federal Reserve announced Wednesday that it would begin gradually paring back an $85 billion-a-month bond-buying program aimed at stimulating growth.
The move was seen as a tentative vote of confidence and comes amid an improving jobs picture and other positive signs as the U.S. continues struggles to emerge from the worst downturn since the Great Depression.
Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 5:17 pm
We're all supposed to be eating right, but most of us are not doing a very good job of that.
Could you eat an apple a day?
Adding in that one piece of fruit could improve cardiovascular health on a par with prescribing of cholesterol-lowering statins for everyone over age 50, according to a report published Tuesday in BMJ.
Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 5:28 pm
Just how far does a dollar go? We'll try to answer that question as part of an occasional series on what things cost around the world. In this installment, NPR's Julie McCarthy takes us on a gastronomic tour of New Delhi and tells us what you can buy for $5, $20 and $100.
With over a billion people, India's $1.7 trillion economy is as varied as its culture. But if you still think of it as a land of endless bargains, then you'd better think again.
If you're lucky enough to be heading down to the Caribbean this winter for snorkeling, daiquiris and a kick of vitamin D, you should probably think about packing long-sleeve shirts and bug repellent — especially if you'll be spending time on the island of St. Martin.
Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 1:01 pm
The first of four current or former BP employees charged with crimes related to the 2010 Gulf oil spill has been found guilty of obstructing justice because he deleted text messages from his cellphone that contained information about the worst offshore spill in the nation's history.
NPR's Debbie Elliott tells our Newscast Desk that a federal jury in New Orleans convicted 52-year-old Kurt Mix on Wednesday.
Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 5:08 pm
Now that the bipartisan budget agreement has passed the Senate and is headed for the president's desk, it's a good time to consider some of the takeaways from the past two weeks of congressional Sturm und Drang.