For Americans saving for retirement, 2011 was another lackluster year, filled with lots of risks but few rewards.
Savers who tried to avoid risks by putting money into federally insured savings accounts earned almost no interest. The money just sat there, even as inflation ate away at its value, with consumer prices rising nearly 3.5 percent this year.
And for those who invested in a broad array of U.S. stocks, the results were — at best — mixed.
Two weeks from Tuesday, Iowa voters will head out to almost 1,800 caucus sites to help select a Republican presidential nominee. It could be cold. It could also be snowing. And the campaigns know they'll have to work hard to make sure their supporters show up. Those get-out-the-vote efforts could make all the difference in a race that now appears to be up for grabs.
During the holidays, many beer manufacturers roll out seasonal brews. But there's a relative newcomer for the festival of lights: Hanukkah beer.
Lompoc Brewing, in Portland, Ore., is one small, craft brewery that has added it to its winter lineup.
"We had a Jewish gentleman here ... and he wanted to make a Hanukkah brew," says David Fleming, the head brewer. "So we thought it was a great idea. We already had six Christmas beers going anyhow, so why couldn't we have a seventh one for Hanukkah?"
Over the past few seasons, Breaking Bad's Walter White (Bryan Cranston) has changed from meek hero to forceful villain. TV critic David Bianculli says he isn't just breaking bad anymore — he's entirely broken.
Fresh Air's TV critic David Bianculli liked so many shows this year that he says he couldn't pick just 10 favorites. Instead, he split his favorites into several lists, including best documentaries and best scripted comedies/dramas.
Bianculli also highlights some of the worst shows to hit TV screens this year — including not one but two shows featuring Snooki.
Despite his Snooki misgivings, Bianculli says it was a banner year for TV.
"There is more good television on a weekly basis than there has ever been," Bianculli says. "I am absolutely certain of it."
New polls — both in Iowa and nationwide — show front-running GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich losing his edge. Over at the New York Times' blog FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver's latest forecast shows Ron Paul taking the lead in Iowa.
Hospitals across the country are trying to clamp down on frequent readmissions in anticipation of new penalties Medicare is readying. But it's a bigger problem at hospitals that treat lots of low-income patients.
Originally published on Tue December 20, 2011 9:26 am
When it comes to a gift that embodies the warmth and sharing of the holidays, food wins every time. This week, millions of boxes of treats are jetting across the country, spreading cheer and calories. We asked the denizens of NPR's science desk what food they're hoping to find on their doorsteps this week. Here are their picks, from traditional to outré.