Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 3:12 pm
Spacewalking astronauts have successfully replaced a failed coolant pump on the International Space Station.
NPR's Joe Palca reports that American spacewalkers Michael Hopkins and Rick Mastracchio had to bolt the massive pump in place (on the ground, it weighs 780 pounds), connect four ammonia lines and plug in five electrical cables. The ammonia is a refrigerant used in the station's two-part cooling system, which is necessary to dissipate heat from the onboard electrical equipment.
And in these last days of 2013 we've been having conversations about the future. Rather than grand predictions, we've been seeking a realistic assessment of what lies ahead. So far we've explored cybersecurity, we've looked at the changing electorate. When it comes to climate change, the topic for today, Andrew Steer of the World Resources Institute told my colleague Steve Inskeep that the trends don't look very good.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene with Steve Inskeep. There's a lot of last-minute shopping going on today. And that goes for health insurance, too. Yesterday was supposed to be the deadline to sign up on the government's new insurance website for coverage that begins January first.
1947 was the year the most notorious weapon in history was born. That is the "Avtomat Kalashnikov" or AK-47. Today millions of them, maybe 100 million, are in use. The man who helped bring the weapon to the world - Mikhail Kalashnikov - has now died, at age 94. Joining me now is C. J. Chivers. He's a reporter for the New York Times and author of "The Gun," a book about the A-K-47. Chris, welcome back to the program. C. J., welcome back to the program.
OK. Our last word in business today - what else: Reindeer.
From Dasher to Prancer, Vixen to Cupid, and of course, Rudolph - all of Santa's reindeer have gotten the green light from the Agriculture Department to enter U.S. territory. It's very important. The USDA granted, quote, Mr. S. Claus a special livestock permit. And in the spirit of Christmas, the department even waived the normal application fees and disease testing requirement for his reindeer.
It's Sunday evening, and services are just getting underway at the House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver. Nearly 200 worshipers sit in circles of plastic chairs around a simple altar table. Together they follow traditional Christian rites. They sit. They stand. They sing.
We're only at halftime for the 113th Congress, but if current trends hold, it's well on track to being the least productive lawmaking effort in the nation's history.
During this Congress' first yearlong session, just 58 bills became law — and many that did were about naming post offices or transferring federal lands. In fact, the most memorable act of Congress this year may well have been its failure to act in time to avoid a government shutdown.
Being a news consumer means you're constantly on the receiving end of bad news. War, unemployment, crime, political dysfunction — it can be enough to make you think we humans aren't doing anything right. But good news: We are. As the year draws to an end, here's a look at a few areas of real progress in the U.S. and around the world.
Let's start with flying. It's not a lot of fun: baggage fees, pat-downs, cramped seating, disappointing snacks.
This past year, many of the best known technology firms were actively designing and building new corporate offices. It's the first time Silicon Valley giants like Apple, Google and Facebook have done so from the ground up. The same is true for Amazon, which is building in Seattle.
All of these projects are still in their early stages, but perhaps the most talked about and architecturally ambitious project that broke ground this year is the Apple headquarters building in Cupertino, Calif. It was a project near and dear to the late Steve Jobs.