It's easy to forget that the tea party movement is still less than 5 years old. Its successes include the 2010 midterm elections, when it helped the GOP win back the U.S. House.
It was once again a noisy and resurgent player in American politics in 2013. But that doesn't mean it was a year of victories: The movement's campaign to repeal Obamacare failed, and public approval hit near-record lows after the tea party forced a partial government shutdown. Even tea party events aren't as large as they once were.
Ryan Begin hasn't always been the life-loving pot smoker he is today. Back in 2005, the sergeant nearly lost half his arm to an IED while serving in Iraq and was sent home for reconstructive surgery. Upon his return to Belfast, Maine, Begin was plagued by physical pain and outbursts of aggression. He was prescribed a cocktail of drugs as his treatment.
"They took the soul out of me. All that stuff, it drained my soul, it blackened my soul," Begin says.
Begin's mother, Anna, noticed the prescription drugs seemed to exacerbate his post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms.
So the Republicans have their divide and though, in recent years, Democrats have appeared more united, they have their own schisms. These internal party politics will factor heavily in the elections of 2014. And in close elections, the party that manages its internal politics most successfully has an advantage at the polls. NPR's Mara Liasson joins us now. Hi, Mara.
For a lot of families, Christmas tree tradition spark household debate. For instance, tinsel or beads; white lights or multicolored; star or angel on top. And for some people, it's not how to decorate the tree. It is when to put it up, early or late, late being now, Christmas Eve. NPR's Martin Kaste falls into that last category.
MARTIN KASTE, BYLINE: Yes, I belong to that small and shrinking tribe. We're the ones lurking in the Christmas tree lots at the last possible moment. You guys shutting down already?
Decking a house in thousands of lights is one way to spread holiday spirit. It can also serve as an education in American culture. Ibby Caputo, of member station WGBH, took a tour of Christmas lights in Manchester, New Hampshire. She went with a group of global refugees.
IBBY CAPUTO, BYLINE: On a chilly winter evening, Amadou Hamady ushers people from all over the world onto a school bus.
Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 5:08 pm
The close of 2013 has been marked by a vigorous national debate over income inequality, the plight of low-wage workers in America and the effect of boosting mandatory minimum wages.
The debate was magnified when Wal-Mart got unwanted attention for a store-based holiday food drive for its own needy workers, and when President Obama announced his support for legislation that would raise the national minimum hourly wage of $7.25 for the first time since 2007.
Over the past decade, Qatar's population has soared from 660,000 to more than 2 million. Here's the catch: Qataris themselves number only around 260,000.
The rest, more than 85 percent of the population, are not citizens. As Professor Mehran Kamrava, an American scholar at Georgetown University's campus in Qatar, says, they are all migrant workers of varying types.
"Elf advocates have joined forces with environmentalists to urge the Icelandic Road and Coastal Commission and local authorities to abandon a highway project building a direct route from the Alftanes peninsula, where the president has a home, to the Reykjavik suburb of Gardabaer."