PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, good afternoon, everybody.
UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: Good afternoon.
OBAMA: Welcome to the White House.
LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
At a news conference earlier this week, President Obama tried to put pressure on Republicans and federal budget negotiations. The president said he would not accept spending cuts from Republicans without some tax increases. Then he used a phrase that raised a few eyebrows.
In Pakistan, there's a cafe called the Second Floor. It's listed in a local Karachi social blog as one of the coolest cafes in town. Since it opened its doors five years ago, it's become a haven in a city more known for its violence than its civil discourse. NPR's Dina Temple-Raston paid a visit.
DINA TEMPLE-RASTON, BYLINE: The artwork on the front stoop of the Second Floor Cafe in Karachi says it all.
SABEEN MAHMUD: I wanted something right at the entrance...
The Death of Bees is a story about two young girls living in a Glasgow, Scotland, housing project. And if you believe the first sentences of a novel are often the most difficult to write, try this beginning paragraph:
"Today is Christmas Eve. Today is my birthday. Today I am fifteen. Today I buried my parents in the backyard.
Few Western countries are as conservative about home ownership as Germany, where less than half the country's citizens own property.
German banks have tough lending rules. Would-be buyers are usually asked to provide hefty down payments to secure mortgages, meaning few Germans even think about buying a home until they are settled and financially secure.
But the European debt crisis appears to be changing the traditions around home ownership. The resulting surge in homebuying, some officials warn, is driving prices too high and threatens the nation's economy.
On the tough side of Terpsichore Street in New Orleans stands a duplex — a two-story, wood-framed building with wood floors, high ceilings and a nice fireplace. But this old house is empty: no furniture, no walls, no electricity, no toilet. Iron bars hide the windows; there's a lockbox on the door. The facade is three different shades of blecch, blurgh and blah.
For some, bringing in the new year means praying for good things to come. Kristina Olsen ponders the reasons for prayer in her song, "Prayer Flags." She tells the story behind it in the latest edition of What's in a Song, a series from the Western Folklife Center.
There is nothing new about the Congress coming to a hostile halt at a critical moment - fussing and fuming, holding impromptu news conferences at the Ohio Clock - that's a nearly 200-year-old timepiece that counts the hours outside the Senate Chamber - or representatives stopping to chat in the beautiful Rayburn reception room outside the House with George Washington looking disapprovingly down from his portrait.