This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. This year's flu season started early. Eight states already report widespread flu activity, and doctors say it's a nasty strain this year, too. The good news is this year's vaccine is a good match. But even so, the flu will kill thousands more, probably tens of thousands of Americans, before it runs its course. Why? And what more can we do to reduce that number?
President Barack Obama is expected to make some key changes to his second-term cabinet. As Hillary Clinton prepares to step down as Secretary of State, many wonder whether she will run for president in 2016.
As you probably heard by now, the great sitar player Ravi Shankar died yesterday at the age of 92. His music arrived in most American ears thanks to George Harrison and the Beatles, whose interest triggered something of a sitar craze back in the late '60s. Harrison played the exotic instrument on a couple of tracks. The Rolling Stones followed suit on "Paint It Black." The electric sitar soon followed. But Ravi Shankar remained the unchallenged master. But what do I know? He's the only Indian-born sitar player I ever heard.
To date, Syrian rebels have had to rely on small-scale weapons in their fight against the Syrian army. Here, a rebel fighter throws an explosive device toward a Syrian government position in the northern city of Aleppo last month.
Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 1:50 pm
The U.S. has now formally recognized a new Syrian opposition group as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people. But the U.S. has repeatedly declined to provide weapons for rebels fighting President Bashar Assad's army.
However, NPR has learned that there are movements behind the scenes. In Jordan, several Syrian sources said that Jordanian authorities, along with their U.S. and British counterparts, have organized training for Syrian rebels on sophisticated anti-aircraft weapons.
Ke$ha uses a dollar-sign instead of an "s" in the middle of her stage name. It's one of those gestures that's meant to bait her detractors — suggesting before anyone else does that she's only in it for the money. It turns out, though, that like pop stars ranging from Madonna on back to Chuck Berry, Ke$ha wants it both ways: mass-audience success and artistic acknowledgment. For Ke$ha, that's what her album title Warrior means: She's fighting a war on multiple fronts.
By the time he turned 40, Joseph Kennedy was a millionaire many times over and the head of what would soon become one of America's greatest political dynasties. In his new biography of the senior Kennedy, The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy, David Nasaw charts Kennedy's life and trajectory from Boston society boy to Hollywood bigwig to controversial ambassador to Great Britain as World War II unfolded on the European stage.
Saying it is concerned that the economy won't be strong enough in coming months to keep adding jobs to the labor market, the Federal Reserve announced this afternoon that is increasing its efforts to give the economy a boost.
And in an unusually specific statement from the central bank, its policymakers said they expect to keep a key short-term interest rate at or near zero percent "as long as the unemployment rate remains above 6.5 percent."
It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel.
Late today a federal bankruptcy judge gave the nod to a Chinese firm to buy a Massachusetts technology company. A123 Systems makes batteries for electric cars, but some in Congress are fighting to block the deal. Curt Nickisch reports from member station WBUR in Boston.
Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 1:12 pm
India's government has approved an inquiry into Wal-Mart's lobbying activities in the U.S. as a heated debate over the retail giant's plans for stores in India moves into a new phase, NPR's Julie McCarthy tells us from New Delhi.