It's All Politics
3:22 am
Sat December 29, 2012

Congressional Leaders Hopeful As Fiscal Cliff Deadline Nears

House Speaker John Boehner arrives at the White House on Friday for talks with President Obama and congressional leaders aimed at avoiding the "fiscal cliff."
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat December 29, 2012 3:38 pm

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.

Read more
Europe
3:22 am
Sat December 29, 2012

Same-Sex Marriage And Adoption: Unresolved Issues In France

A man wears a costume reading "Dad" and "Mom" during a demonstration against gay marriage and adoption by same-sex couples in Nice, France, in October.
Valery Hache AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat December 29, 2012 6:14 pm

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.

Read more
It's All Politics
3:21 am
Sat December 29, 2012

Obama: 'The American People Are Watching What We Do Here'

"I'm optimistic we may still be able to reach an agreement that can pass both houses in time," the president said after meeting with congressional leaders at the White House on Friday.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Sat December 29, 2012 3:38 pm

We have reached the last weekend of the year, and Washington still has not reached a deal to avert the big tax hikes and spending cuts known as the fiscal cliff.

President Obama met with top congressional leaders at the White House on Friday afternoon: John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi from the House, and Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell from the Senate.

Read more
Music Interviews
12:03 am
Sat December 29, 2012

Johnny Cash's Boyhood Home Tells The Story Of A Town

The Cash family house today.
Michael Hibblen

Originally published on Sat December 29, 2012 3:38 pm

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.

Read more

Jane Ciabattari is the author of the short-story collection Stealing The Fire. Her reviews, interviews and cultural reporting have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Daily Beast, the Paris Review, the Boston Globe, The Guardian, Bookforum, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and Columbia Journalism Review, among others. She is a former president of the National Book Critics Circle.

Best Books Of 2012
5:11 pm
Fri December 28, 2012

Short Stories To Savor On A Winter Weekend

Nishant Choksi

Originally published on Sat December 29, 2012 3:38 pm

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.

Read more
It's All Politics
4:50 pm
Fri December 28, 2012

New Immigration Battle: Driver's Licenses

Originally published on Fri December 28, 2012 5:19 pm

In a sign of growing opposition to President Obama's immigration policy, Iowa has become the latest state to deny driver's licenses to young illegal immigrants who receive deferments from deportation.

Read more
The Two-Way
3:45 pm
Fri December 28, 2012

President And Congress Extend FISA Wiretapping Act To 2017 [Updated]

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.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Mon December 31, 2012 4:16 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:

Read more
The Two-Way
3:38 pm
Fri December 28, 2012

Victim Of Brutal Rape In India Dies In Singapore Hospital

Originally published on Sun December 30, 2012 6:51 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.

Read more
Around the Nation
2:44 pm
Fri December 28, 2012

California Missions Undergo Upgrades To Resist Quakes

Scaffolding is seen at the basilica at a mission in Carmel, Calif., a sign of its multimillion-dollar seismic retrofit.
Krista Almanzan for NPR

Originally published on Fri December 28, 2012 3:06 pm

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.

Read more

Pages