Tourists are seen in front of the "Gran Jaguar" Mayan temple at the Tikal archaeological site in Guatemala, where ceremonies will be held to celebrate the end of the Mayan cycle known as Baktun 13 and the start of the new Maya Era on December 21.
It is Dec. 20, 2012 — and citizens of Earth are panicking, consumed by the idea that the world will end Friday, something they say was predicted by Mayan astronomers. Of course, most people are not panicking, and Maya expert David Stuart says no one should. The calendar, he says, has plenty of room to go.
NPR's business news begins with a global bank settlement.
It's the big Swiss bank, UBS. It announced this morning that it will pay a total of $1.5 billion in fines for its role in rigging the interbank lending rate known as LIBOR. The settlement will be paid to Swiss, British and American regulators.
Greece got a rare bit of good news late yesterday. Standard and Poor's upgraded the country's credit rating six notches to a B minus. I mean, not the worst grade on your report card, but in the financial world this is junk bond status.
Still, Joanna Kakissis reports from Athens that there is a more stable outlook.
Pakistani gunmen staged new attacks Wednesday on health workers carrying out a nationwide polio vaccination program. Six workers were killed Tuesday as they went house to house to administer the immunizations to area children in Karachi and the northwest city of Peshawar.
Although there were additional attacks, the Pakistani government vowed to continue the vaccination campaign — and eradicate the disease — even if there is bloodshed.
If the sheer variety of holiday music that pops up each winter is any indication, there's no genre that can't handle a little Christmas spirit. This year, Louisiana country singer Sammy Kershaw decided to test that theory with the sounds of the bayou. His new album of Cajun-infused holiday songs is called A Sammy Klaus Christmas.
A visitor handles a revolver at a Smith & Wesson display during the NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits on April 14 at America's Center in St. Louis, Mo.
Credit Joshua Roberts / Reuters/Landov
Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, calls on Congress to address gun violence at a news conference on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. More than 20 family members and victims of mass shootings across America joined him.
They used to call it the "vanity press," and the phrase itself spoke volumes. Self-published authors were considered not good enough to get a real publishing contract. They had to pay to see their book in print. But with the advent of e-books, self-publishing has exploded, and a handful of writers have had huge best-sellers.
I've never had any interest in hunting. Among other things, I'm a terrible shot, but I have friends who hunt, and it appears to me to be a perfectly reasonable sports hobby — certainly every bit as honorable as fantasy football. Moreover, shooting a deer or a duck with a bullet seems to me no more inhuman than catching a trout or a marlin with a hook.
Oh, sometimes I get a little piqued that those who hunt and fish are ennobled as "sportsmen," while people who play golf are just golfers and people who bowl are just bowlers. But then, that's just me being picayune.