National / International News
North Korea's nationwide outage, which came after President Obama promised a response for the Sony hack, was not likely caused by the U.S., Internet analyst Doug Madory tells NPR's Audie Cornish.
The ruble has lost about a third of its value against the dollar. NPR's Robert Siegel speaks with Wall Street Journal Moscow Chief Greg White about Russia's deep recession.
Most of the year, Brandon Johnson makes a living as a lumberjack. He runs a business in Minneapolis, Minn. trimming and clearing trees. But cold and snow make it hard to scale trees in the winter.
So Johnson came up with a side job for the holidays: delivering Christmas trees. Dressed as an elf.
“Essentially I take all my guys from my tree business for the rest of the year and we just transition from lumberjacks to elves,” he says.
Johnson recently delivered a Christmas tree to a home in St. Paul. He was dressed in full elf attire—tight yellow pants and a green tunic.
“These were uniforms issued straight from the North Pole,” he says. “That's just what Santa requires for us elves.”
Johnson often blasts Christmas carols from the truck when he pulls up at a home. A big sign on the truck reads, "Santa's Tree Delivery."
Included in the standard $130 delivery package for a 7 foot Fraser fir is the chance for any children in the house to rub elbows with Santa's helper.
“How old is Santa Claus?” asked Ollie Koelb, the homeowner’s eight year-old granddaughter.
“I don’t know if anyone actually knows,” said Brandon the Elf. “He's getting up there. He's old.”
Johnson and two of his elf pals have delivered roughly 100 trees around the Minneapolis-St. Paul area this season. Johnson says the big trees are the most profitable. He can charge as much as $450 for a sixteen-footer.
Johnson hopes to ramp up the business next year with a big marketing campaign and more man-- or elf-- power to speed the deliveries, maybe even out of state.
Pope Francis gave a harsh Christmas speech this week, diagnosing the Vatican leadership with "spiritual Alzheimers." Vatican watcher Rocco Palmo tells NPR's Audie Cornish about the pope's message.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says the number of vehicles winning its two safety awards jumped from 39 to 71 for the 2015 model year.
Audie Cornish speaks with Bev Gooden, who created the hashtag #whyIstayed. The hashtag took off in September following the Ray Rice scandal, when many asked why women stay in abusive relationships.
The Food and Drug Administration announced plans to change a decades-old policy banning men who have ever had sex with another man — even once — from giving blood for life.
The police shooting in New York occurred outside a public housing project that's had an increase in crime. Some are trying to reduce violence and debunk myths about those who live in public housing.
The mayor asked protesters to stay off the streets until two officers killed in their squad car can be buried. But demonstrators insist there's no connection between the killings and their protests.
The economy expanded at a 5 percent seasonally adjusted rate during the third quarter. The U.S. economy is coming back strong even as the rest of the world slows down.
NASA's next big space telescope costs $8 billion and is very heavy. New York scientists think they may have found the makings of a cheaper, lighter answer for future space scopes — in a crafts store.
Obama's release of three convicted Cuban spies sparked outrage among Miami's white-haired Cuban exiles, but their American-born children and grandchildren see a bright future in U.S.-Cuba relations.
The three Cuban intelligence agents were the remaining imprisoned members of the Cuban Five spy ring. Cubans view them as heroes: Their faces are everywhere, and Cubans know them by their first names.
After criticism for pulling the release of its comedy film, Sony announced Tuesday that the movie will have a limited release on Christmas Day. The first takers for the film were independent theaters.