The Death of Bees is a story about two young girls living in a Glasgow, Scotland, housing project. And if you believe the first sentences of a novel are often the most difficult to write, try this beginning paragraph:
"Today is Christmas Eve. Today is my birthday. Today I am fifteen. Today I buried my parents in the backyard.
Vice President Joe Biden leads the first meeting of the working group to explore solutions following the Newtown shooting with Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey and other law enforcement leaders on Dec. 20.
Credit Drew Angerer / Getty Images
Vice President Joe Biden arrives for a closed-door meeting with Senate Democrats to urge them to support a fiscal cliff deal on Monday.
This week saw both a frantic finale to the much-unloved 112th Congress and, hours later, the swearing in of the new 113th. The cast of lawmakers and their leaders is mostly unchanged. The same can be said for Capitol Hill's never-ending drama over taxes, deficits and spending.
What was arguably this week's most sensational congressional moment did not even take place in Washington. On Wednesday in Trenton, N.J., Republican Gov. Chris Christie blasted the GOP-led House for closing down the last Congress without even considering a Superstorm Sandy disaster relief bill.
Foreign buyers are pushing the prices of prime London real estate through the roof. Neighborhoods such as West London, Kensington and Chelsea are particularly popular.
The apartments at One Hyde Park have been mostly purchased by foreign-registered buyers, according to The Guardian. It said the prices ranged from 3 million to 136 million British pounds ($4.9 million to $221 million).
Few Western countries are as conservative about home ownership as Germany, where less than half the country's citizens own property.
German banks have tough lending rules. Would-be buyers are usually asked to provide hefty down payments to secure mortgages, meaning few Germans even think about buying a home until they are settled and financially secure.
But the European debt crisis appears to be changing the traditions around home ownership. The resulting surge in homebuying, some officials warn, is driving prices too high and threatens the nation's economy.
The latest figures show December was another month of steady, moderate job growth. But for many people still struggling with long-term unemployment, the situation hasn't actually changed much at all.
For Alecia Warthen, the last eight months have been painfully stagnant.
She was the first person in her family to finish college, after growing up in one of the roughest sections of Brooklyn. She had earned an accounting degree and worked as a bookkeeper for most of the last decade.
Originally published on Sat January 5, 2013 11:12 am
An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.5 hit off the coast of southeastern Alaska just before midnight local time Friday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The USGS initially reported the event as a magnitude 7.7 quake.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says sea level readings indicate the quake caused a tsunami. "It may have been destructive along coasts near the earthquake epicenter," a NOAA report said.
On the tough side of Terpsichore Street in New Orleans stands a duplex — a two-story, wood-framed building with wood floors, high ceilings and a nice fireplace. But this old house is empty: no furniture, no walls, no electricity, no toilet. Iron bars hide the windows; there's a lockbox on the door. The facade is three different shades of blecch, blurgh and blah.
Old Aristocracy Hill isn't a part of Springfield, Ill., that draws a lot of attention. The quiet neighborhood dates back to before the Civil War, its historic homes now carefully preserved by proud business owners.
But outside a stately funeral home, a large black-and-chrome Harley Davidson motorcycle trike pulls out of the parking lot, towing a matching casket in its glass-sided trailer.
It's not something you would expect to see, but it's exactly what 67-year-old Lew Bird says his friend Dave Rondelli wanted: one last ride.
Originally published on Fri January 4, 2013 5:31 pm
For 15 years, an Icelandic teenager has been called her given name, Blaer Bjarkardottir, by everyone except government employees and other officials. That's because "Blaer" (reportedly Icelandic for "light breeze") isn't on a list of government-approved names for girls.
So, in school and at the bank, she is often addressed as "stulka" — "girl" — before she explains the situation.
President Obama leaves the Oval Office early Wednesday after the House passed legislation to retain tax breaks for most Americans, let tax rates rise for the wealthiest, and delay action on mandatory spending cuts.
Originally published on Wed January 9, 2013 7:14 am
Fiscal cliff week has mercifully ended with a deal done, hurricane relief approved, President Obama vacationing, and both parties bickering internally over what was won — and lost — in the early hours of the new year.
What we have found most intriguing is the vigorous post-facto wrestling within the liberal community over what the fiscal cliff negotiations say about President Obama.
Hugo Chavez has dominated Venezuela for so long that it's hard to imagine what the country would be like without him in charge. Opposition leaders are hoping for a new, more democratic system. But powerful factions in Venezuela want things to stay just as they are. Because the country is a key player in the region, NPR's Tom Gjelten says the U.S. is now making its own plans for life after Chavez.