Rita Betush and Judy Bottomley grew up with a sense that something was missing. As a child, Betush's mother told her she had a sister who'd been put up for adoption. This year, after decades apart, Betush and her long-lost sister, Bottomley, connected by phone, and in February, they'll finally meet.
The Christmas season is a peculiar time for Jewish children, many of whom are drawn to Christmas specials like A Christmas Story. What should Jewish parents do? Guest host John Donvan talks to Slate senior editor Dahlia Lithwick about her Jewish parent's guide to Christmas specials.
E.T.A. Hoffmann's original story, "Nutcracker and Mouse King," is darker and spookier than the ballet version most people know.
Credit Courtesy of Crown
Maurice Sendak worked on a version of The Nutcracker for the Pacific Northwest Ballet in 1983, and put out a book in 1984. He described Hoffmann's story as having "bite and muscle, the way the Grimm fairy tales do."
This is the time of year when one man's work is widely — if indirectly — celebrated. His name used to be hugely famous, but nowadays, it draws blank stares, even from people who know that work. We're speaking about E.T.A. Hoffmann, original author of The Nutcracker.
An Army brigade from Fort Riley, Kan., some 4,000, soldiers, will begin helping to train African militaries. The idea is to help African troops beat back a growing terrorist threat posed by al-Qaida.
The American troops will head over in small teams over the course of the next year. The Dagger Brigade returned to Kansas last year from a deployment to Iraq, where it trained and advised that country's security forces.
Thousands of Christian pilgrims streamed into Bethlehem Monday night to celebrate the birth of Jesus. It's the major event of the year in that West Bank town. But Israeli archaeologists now say there is strong evidence that Christ was born in a different Bethlehem, a small village in the Galilee.
Sofia Campos, 23, is the head of the United We Dream campaign — a national network of youth-led immigrant organizations. Campos was born in Peru, but grew up in California, entirely unaware of her undocumented status until she tried applying for college scholarships.
Credit Courtesy of Sofia Jones
Sofia Jones speaks at the 2011 University of California Student Lobby Conference in Sacramento. Jones was among many lobbying for the California Dream Act and affordable higher education.
Throughout the debate over taxes and the "fiscal cliff," there's been a lot of looking backward — to the 1990s. The economic expansion of the 1990s was the longest in recorded American history.
Democrats say the economy thrived under the leadership of President Bill Clinton, including his tax rate increase on high earners. Republicans say government didn't spend as much then and that growth didn't really take off until the GOP took control of Congress in 1995.
So what actually happened in the '90s? What made them tick?
In March 2011, at the beginning of the Syrian uprising, protester Ibrahim Abazid made a massive white flag out of a sugar sack. This picture of him waving the flag in his hometown of Dera'a became a hugely popular image. Now Abazid hopes to serve on a city council in Dera'a.
Credit REUTERS TV / Reuters TV via Landov
Syrian rebels shout "God is greatest," near the southern Syrian town of Dera'a in this still image taken from a video obtained by Reuters on May 17.
Ibrahim Abazid had no idea he would be part of a nationwide revolt in Syria — or that his role would keep evolving.
It was March 2011. Some teenagers in his hometown, Dera'a, got arrested for spray painting anti-government slogans outside a school. Rumors began circulating that the teenagers were being tortured while in detention in the southern town.
In the broader region, Arab protesters had been filling the streets for months. Dictators in Tunisia and Egypt had already fallen. Abazid and his friends went to pray.
Ronan at 2 years old. "I know Ronan's purpose in life was to shed light on this disease," says his mother, Maya Thompson. "This is why I will continue to fight for childhood cancer for the rest of my life."
Credit Barbara Bradley Hagerty / NPR
Maya Thompson holds a sonogram of her unborn daughter. After a period of hopelessness after her son's death, Thompson says you "either let this pain kill you or you let it make you stronger."
Credit Courtesy of Maya Thompson
Maya Thompson with Ronan just a few weeks before his death in May 2011. A broviac on his chest administered chemotherapy, platelets and red blood cells when needed. He wanted to play in the hot tub that day, so Maya let him go in up to his midsection to keep the broviac dry.
Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., and then-presidential candidate Barack Obama in Amman, Jordan, in 2008.
Credit Photo provided by Library of Congress / AP
Chuck Hagel (right) and his younger brother Tom sit atop an armored personnel carrier in Vietnam, in a photo taken in or around 1968. The Hagel brothers were squad leaders with the U.S. Army's 9th Infantry Division in the Mekong River Delta.
Former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska is said to be on President Obama's short list to be the next defense secretary. But even the possibility of his nomination has stirred up opposition — particularly from members of his own political party.
If Hagel can survive a political ambush in Washington, he would be the first Pentagon chief who saw combat as an enlisted soldier.
The blunt-spoken Hagel favors deeper cuts in military spending and is wary of entangling America in long overseas missions.
To celebrate Christmas, Fresh Air listens back to a concert given by the late singer and actress on Feb. 11, 1997. Clooney spoke then with Terry Gross about her childhood, being on the road as a young performer with her sister, and working with Bing Crosby and Billy Strayhorn.
Mourners put decorations on a Christmas tree, part of a memorial in Newtown, Conn. Holiday greetings, toys and cards have flowed into the town, and some residents say the community feels closer-knit since the shooting.
The days leading up to Christmas are typically bustling in Newtown, Conn. But given the depth of grief in this community since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, preparations for the holiday began very late.
Local shopkeepers say Saturday was the first day many people came out for holiday shopping since the tragedy. Tamara Doherty, owner of the Wishing Well — a shop filled with local crafts, Christmas ornaments, pottery and potpourri — says her business is finally picking up.
Amid continued bloodshed in several parts of Syria, international envoy Lakhdar Brahimi held another round of talks with President Bashar Assad in Damascus. But there was no sign of progress toward a peace deal.
Two firefighters died and two others were hospitalized in western New York on Monday. They were shot after responding to a fire in the town of Webster, outside Rochester. Police say the gunman is also dead, and they're not ruling out the possibility that the firefighters were led into a trap.
Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 2:49 pm
The holiday season is one of the busiest travel times of the year. However, we seldom think about the transit workers — bus drivers, train operators, air traffic controllers and tow truck operators — who help us reach our destinations.
Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 2:53 pm
For most of us, riding from floor to floor in an elevator is a completely mundane process. Lee Gray, an associate dean at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, is known as the Elevator Guy. He spends a lot of his time researching the history of elevators and why we behave so oddly in the big metal boxes.
Our colleague Kate Myers has been helping us look back on The Two-Way's year — the most popular posts, the most frequent commenters, the heaviest traffic days and other such measures. We'll share some of what she's found in coming days.
But something Kate just turned up strikes us as worth noting right away.
If you celebrate Christmas, you may have found some presents under the tree, and you may believe those mysterious presents came from a jolly old man in a red suit.
He has a lot of names, including Santa Claus, Kris Kringle, Sinterklaas, Noel Baba, Popo Gigio — and of course — St. Nicholas. But believe it or not, St. Nicholas was a real man. He was a bishop, living in the 3rd century, in what's now modern-day Turkey.
People joke that it's customary for non-Christians to eat Christmas dinner at Chinese restaurants. But a Jewish community in Detroit is offering an alternative. They work with Muslims to volunteer for nearly 40 projects around the city. Guest host Celeste Headlee talks with organizers Micki Grossman and Dr. Muzammil Ahmed, about "Mitzvah Day."