As It Happens

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Since 1968, this current affairs program has explored the heart of a story, whether it's happening in the streets of Belgrade, the dockyards of Vancouver, the boardrooms of Bay Street, or the kitchens of Paris. For 60-minutes every weekday, Barbara Budd and Carol Off host stimulating conversation with fascinating guests, probing features, incisive commentary, and lots more.

Updated at 2:52 p.m. ET

Legendary music producer Phil Spector — who was convicted in 2009 of murdering actress Lana Clarkson — died Saturday at age 81. His death was announced Sunday by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, which said that he had died of natural causes. His official cause of death is yet to be determined.

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Families banding together in shifts to try and get appointments, clogged phone lines and glitchy Web portals - the vaccine rollout in America has been a mess so far. All that as we're seeing a staggering rise in infections and after almost 400,000 Americans have died of COVID-19. And now we're learning that a federal deal to increase vaccine manufacturing has an unusual clause that could allow certain people to cut the line. NPR pharmaceuticals correspondent Sydney Lupkin is here to tell us about it. Good morning.

On-air Challenge: Below are some clues. The answer to each one is one of the words in the clue with its vowel sound changed.

Example: What fish bite --> BAIT (the word "bite" with the long-I sound changed to a long-A)

1. Not day

2. It's made by moistening dirt

3. Jacket part that covers the head

4. Item that's sowed in a garden

5. Fail to hit a ball in fair territory

6. Painful illness you get in your joints

7. What kickboxers fight with

8. What might surround a castle

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The acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, Michael Sherwin, says "hundreds" of people may ultimately face charges related to the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, which interrupted a session of Congress and left five people dead.

Sherwin spoke with NPR's Martin Kaste in an exclusive interview Saturday evening about the multiagency investigation, the challenges officials face and what they'll be looking for.

On-air Challenge: Today, I've brought a game of Categories based on the word FIRST. For each category I give, name something in it starting with each of the letters F-I-R-S-T. Any answer that works is OK, and you can give the answers in any order.

Example: If the category were "Girl's Names," you might say Flo, Iris, Rosa, Sarah and Teresa.

1. State capitals

2. Parts of the human body

3. Terms in mathematics

4. Appliances you plug in

The music of Aaron Frazer feels a bit like stepping into a time machine: It's got touches of Curtis Mayfield and Carole King, but it's also very much of this moment.

Daniel Loedel Releases Dark New Novel

Jan 10, 2021

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Imagine spending most of your life on one creative project.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHILDREN PLAYING)

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On-air Challenge: Every year around this time I do a year-end "New Names in the News Quiz." Here's how it works. I'll name some people and things you probably never heard of until 2020, but who sprang to prominence during the past 12 months. You tell me who or what they are. This list was compiled with the help of Kathie Baker, who played a similar quiz in the past.

1. Amy Coney Barrett

2. Deborah Birx

3. Doug Emhoff

4. Li Wenliang

5. Sarah Fuller

6. Isaias

What We Hope 2021 Will Bring

Jan 3, 2021

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Hope - it's what many of us do feel as we embark on this first full week of this brand-new year. Aside from an end to the pandemic, maybe you have other wishes for 2021. We asked some of the guests we had on the show over the weekend for their thoughts.

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If you haven't taken down your Christmas tree yet, no worries. We don't judge. But here's an idea: Have you ever thought about eating it?

Like, mmm, that would be good with my salmon. Well, maybe not. Still, Julia Georgallis has some recipes.

Over the last five years, she's been orchestrating Christmas dinners in London with a friend.

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Latest On COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

Dec 27, 2020

The European Union begins a rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine to its nearly 450 million people. A 101-year-old nursing home patient became Germany's first vaccinated person.

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Investigators in Nashville are combing the site of a Christmas morning explosion. Authorities say it was caused by an RV filled with explosives, which issued a 15-minute warning before it blew up.

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Sarah McCammon speaks with director David Rodrigues and San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus artistic director Tim Seelig, subject of the new documentary Gay Chorus Deep South.

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Looking for a good book to finish the year? We have four recommendations for books about love, romance and relationships.

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A Michigan teenager shares what it's like to live with an anxiety disorder.

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On-air Challenge: Every answer today is an eight-letter word that consists of a three-letter word inserted inside a five-letter word. I'll give you a clue to the three-letter word as well as the five-letter word itself. You tell me the eight-letter word.

Example: Wrigley's product + AREN'T --> ARGUMENT

1. Tennis court divider + MAGIC

2. Oil installation + IRATE

3. What a hot dog goes in + TRIAL

4. Everything + BROOM

5. Have dinner + ENTRY

6. Opposite of young + DRUMS

7. To employ + CAROL

On-air challenge: I'm going to read you some sentences about Christmas. For each one, change one letter in one of the words to reveal a state capital.

Example: I'm a lover of the whole Christmas season. --> DOVER (Delaware)

1. The kids made a lot of noise unwrapping their presents.

2. Did you hear Santa Claus landing on the roof?

3. Christmas is a season of traditional sacraments.

4. The little sock hanging by the fireplace is my baby brother's.

5. You'll have to pierce the packaging to get out the Christmas ornament.

NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro speaks to singer Meghan Trainor about her new holiday album, A Very Trainor Christmas.

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NPR's Book Concierge has hundreds of recommendations from NPR staff and critics. And there are so many good choices that it can be hard to know where to start. So today, here are four suggestions from our colleagues for those of you out there who, when it gets dark and cold outside, like to sit by the fire with a creepy, scary horror novel.

A tighter lockdown in the UK, strictly limiting the movement of millions during the holidays amid worries of a possible new variant of the coronavirus. Infections are climbing dramatically.

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Leave it to a beaver to find new ways to build dams.

That much was revealed by Nancy Coyne, who's rehabilitating a beaver in her home in New York's Hudson Valley. Coyne's videos of Beave the beaver on TikTok have quickly racked up millions of views.

Beave has taken to building dams out of whatever's available around the house.

A global catastrophe has wiped out most of humanity. An astronomer living in an outpost inside the Arctic Circle is in a race against time to help the crew of a spacecraft returning from one of Jupiter's moons.

That's the premise of The Midnight Sky, the new science fiction movie starring George Clooney. It's based on the 2016 book Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton. Though the story is set in 2049, the themes are very 2020.

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