So, the news got weird in 2013. Here's a roundup of off-beat stories from United Press International: Germany dropped the longest word in its language, all 63 letters. Maker's Mark had plans to lower the alcohol content in its whiskey. Angry customers talked them out of it. A Canadian dentist bought John Lennon's tooth at auction, hoping to use it to clone the Beatle. And Denny's opened a wedding chapel in Vegas. The wedding package comes with a cake made with pancake mix.
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Here's one of the many ways that Congress is like high school. Lawmakers tend to do some late night cramming as if for a test and then head home for the holidays. This December, Congress passed a budget and left town. President Obama and his family are vacationing in Hawaii. So let's talk about the shape they left the country in and what they might do in the new year.
British dramas, mostly from BBC America, have become gold mines of binge viewing for American TV fans seeking a deep dive into compelling series. Gillian Anderson's The Fall, David Tennant's Broadchurch and Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock are just a few of the series which offer hours of escape.
Regular listeners to this program know we are using numbers to highlight some of the stories of 2013. And today, we look at the situation in Iraq. The number here is 6,639. That's how many people have been killed in violence in Iraq so far this year, up to December 21st, according to a regular tally kept by Baghdad bureau of the French Press Agency, AFP.
We're joined now by Will Dunlop, an AFP correspondent in Baghdad. Welcome to the program, sir.
You might think underwear maker Hanes would be worried about competition from Jockey or Fruit of the Loom. In fact, Hanes seems far more concerned about being confused with chickpea dip. The American manufacturer has threatened to sue a Canadian company, Hanes Hummus, for trademark violation.
Host Arun Rath talks with Los Angeles Times reporter Robert Faturechi about the troubles facing the L.A. County Sheriff's Department. More than a dozen current and former deputies face federal charges stemming from allegations of abuse and corruption.
Raed Fares, a pro-democracy activist from the Syrian town of Kafr Nabl, has helped lead that town's anti-government protests since the very early days of the Syrian conflict in 2011. This week, Fares is in the U.S., on only his second trip outside of Syria. Fares is attempting to rebuild support for the revolution among Syrian Americans. He speaks with NPR's Arun Rath about the conflict and the toll it has taken on his town.
As the U.S. recovers from the Great Recession, one fact that's emerging is that while jobs are coming back, most are either high- or low-paying. NPR's Kelly McEvers is reporting on the disappearing middle. Host Arun Rath talks with Kelly about her first piece of the project, a look at her hometown of Lincoln, Ill. They also discuss her upcoming work.