From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish. New laws go into effect across the country today and we're going to look at a few of them that all struggle with the same problem, how to keep up with technology. We're going to hear about three of them now from Jon Kuhl of the National Conference of State Legislatures. The first deals with that perplexing new phenomenon, driverless cars.
Most of the really big changes made by the 2010 health law don't start for another year. That includes things like a ban on restricting pre-existing conditions, and required insurance coverage for most Americans. But Jan. 1, 2013, will nevertheless mark some major changes.
In covering this debate, much has been made of income tax rates and where exactly they should be raised. But one fact has gotten far less notice. Starting today, payroll taxes are going up two percentage points for nearly all American workers. NPR's John Ydstie joins us to talk about it. And John, this means lower take-home pay for a lot of workers starting very soon.
Sen.-elect Ted Cruz of Texas is a bright young Hispanic star who will be sworn in this week in Washington. The Republican Party nationally hopes Cruz will be part of the solution to its growing problem luring Hispanic voters.
Almost nobody had heard of Cruz when he began his campaign for the U.S. Senate. But when he stepped in front of a microphone, he could light up a room in a way that made the other Republican candidates seem lifeless.
When you think about the great music of science fiction, a few staples spring to mind — say, the theme from the classic Star Trek series, or John Williams' compositions for the Star Wars movies.
Nathan Johnson, the composer for the new time-travel thriller Looper, wanted to break with tradition. Instead of going for that slick, orchestral sound, he immersed himself in the world of the film to find his source material.
Originally published on Mon December 31, 2012 6:55 pm
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish. There's good news and bad news on the so-called "fiscal cliff," just hours before the nation is set to slide over it. The good news is that top negotiators for the Senate and the White House are by all accounts this close to a deal. The deal would prevent a major income tax hike for most Americans. That starts tomorrow.
The simplest explanation to what's going on in Washington is that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans command majorities in both Houses and control of the White House and you can throw in political realignment as an explanation. Liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats have been diminished to the point of near extinction. But even so, Democrats and Republicans in Congress in years past somehow managed to make deals and legislate despite profound differences.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel.
While battles over the fiscal cliff continue, one thing not being discussed is a recovery package for Superstorm Sandy. The Senate has already passed a $60 billion aid package. Right now, it's unclear if the House will take it up.
From member station WSHU, Charles Lane says people in the storm zone are concerned that repairs and rebuilding will be delayed, leaving them vulnerable to future storms.
A lot of movie box-office records fell in 2012. The comic-book blockbuster The Avengers had the biggest opening weekend in Hollywood history. Skyfall will be the first James Bond film to top $1 billion worldwide. And the box-office year as a whole is easily the movie industry's biggest ever. But what about quality? Perhaps surprisingly, the news is good there, too.
In 1953, Mildred Norman set off from the Rose Bowl parade on New Year's Day with a goal of walking the entire country for peace. She left her given name behind and took up a new identity: Peace Pilgrim.
When Peace Pilgrim started out, the Korean War was still under way, and an ominous threat of a nuclear attack was on the minds of many Americans. And so, with "Peace Pilgrim" written across her chest, she began walking "coast to coast for peace."
Goma, a city on the eastern border of the Congo, has been a magnet for war refugees for nearly two decades. And in an expanding camp for displaced people, called Mugunga I, school principal Emmanuel Kibanja Miteso holds up a three-ring binder that reflects the history of war here.
The pages are a logbook for parent-teacher conferences. Every time fighting flares in the region, people flood into the displacement camps and the roster of names swells in the principal's binder.
Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick will represent Arizona's 1st Congressional District when she returns to Washington this week after sitting out a term. This time around, Kirkpatrick hopes to strengthen her foothold in a swing district, but she's dealing with a tricky electorate.
First elected to the House in 2008, Kirkpatrick turned a red district blue. Then in 2010, the backlash against President Obama and his health care plan hurt her. So, a Republican dentist from Flagstaff took her seat for a term.
Last spring, weekends on All Things Considered spoke with author Ben Fountain just as he released his widely acclaimed first novel, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk. Later in the year, it was nominated for the National Book Award.
We asked Fountain to share with us what he's looking forward to in the book world next year. He says he's read about 25 books for release in 2013 and tells host Jacki Lyden, "The state of American fiction is really strong, at least from where I'm standing."