Morning Edition for Monday, December 30, 2013

Throughout the year, stories about gun violence in the city grabbed the country's attention. Now at the end of the year, the city's crime rate is again big news because it declined so much in 2013, to its lowest level in decades. It's a reality that often doesn't fit the perception of the city.
Winter is off to a robust start in the Northeast. Thousands of New Englanders spent Christmas without electricity and a new storm meant more power outages Sunday night. The city of Portland is about a third of the way through its million-dollar, winter-weather budget.

Pharrell Williams On Juxtaposition And Seeing Sounds

The songwriter and producer — up for Grammys and an Oscar — breaks down his three-step writing process, recalls his history in Virginia Beach with Chad Hugo and Teddy Riley and says anybody can do what he does.

Would-Be Robber Rejects Victim's Flip Phone

A man was being mugged in New York's Central Park when the thief asked for the victim's phone. According to the New York Post, when he saw it was an old phone, he gave it back to the victim.

Kiwi Gardner Gets A Break, Told To 'Go At The Rim'

Two months ago, NPR listeners were introduced to Kiwi Gardner, 20, a 5'7" basketball wiz from Oakland, Calif. Like so many talented young ballplayers, Gardner's ultimate goal is the NBA but he has took take the minor league route.
A Swedish inventor came up with a wristwatch that counts down the seconds left in your life. He calls it a happiness watch because he believes living with the reality of one's mortality can enhance how we value our lives.

Electricity Use Drops In U.S. For 3rd Year In A Row

According to the U.S. Energy Department, the drop is because big household appliances are more efficient than ever. The department also predicts home electricity use will continue to fall in 2014.

Commercial Drone Testing Sites Chosen By FAA

The Federal Aviation Administration has picked six states which will get to test unmanned aerial vehicles. The sites will begin testing how to integrate drones into U.S. airspace, sharing the skies with passenger planes.

Connecticut Plagued By Soaring Foreclosure Rate

In the U.S. last month, home foreclosures fell to the lowest level since the mortgage crisis began eight years ago. But in Connecticut, and several other states, foreclosures are still rising dramatically.

Local Brewery Has Starbucks Frothing Over Stout's Name

The giant coffee chain sent a cease-and-desist letter to the owner of Exit 6 Pub and Brewery in Missouri. Starbucks told the pub to stop referring to one of its dark, frothy beers as "the frappicino." Starbucks noted it sounds a lot like its trademarked frozen coffee drink.
Today is the deadline for Syria to hand over about 500 tons of ingredients for its chemical weapons including the deadliest: Sarin and mustard gas. Renee Montagne talks to Ake Sellstrom, who headed the U.N. team of inspectors investigating the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
Early Tuesday, Israel released another group of Palestinian prisoners convicted of violent crimes against Israelis. Former prisoner Omar Masoud says the releases legitimize the peace process for Palestinians. But the family of his Israeli victim says it's unacceptable for Israel to sell "our blood as a gesture."

Bon Voyage Voyager — Old Friends Take Stock

Long gone, but never forgotten, Voyager 1 is about 12 billion miles from home and now sailing through interstellar space, scientists were thrilled to confirm in 2013. The spacecraft carries with it a generation's dreams.

Blessed Feathers: Nomadic And Loving It

When Donivan Berube got a job at a pizzeria and met Jacquelyn Beaupre, he had no idea that it would challenge his faith and change his life.

Giant Peach, Cheese Wedge To Ring In New Year

In Georgia, an 800 pound peach is Atlanta's version of the Times Square crystal ball. Among the other huge items being dropped New Year's Eve: A giant ruby slipper in Key West, Fla. In Plymouth, Wis., an 80 pound cheese wedge is decorated for the occasion.

In Memoriam: 2013

Follow along as NPR Music remembers some of the great musicians who died this year.

'Big Bang Theory' Owes Its Success To Classic TV

As 2013 ends, many TV critics are filling their best-of lists with unconventional comedies like Netflix's Orange is the New Black. But our critic says his pick is this year's highest-rated television comedy, rooted in the style of old-school TV classics.

10,000 Year Clock Challenges Approach To Time

In this final interview in our series of conversations about the future, Morning Edition co-host Steve Inskeep talks to Danny Hillis, a scientist and engineer and the inventor of a clock designed to last 10,000 years. The clock is meant to encourage people to think about the long-range future; the "long now" as Hillis calls it.

American Dialect Society To Vote On Word Of The Year

Later this week the American Dialect Society will announce its word of the Year. Renee Montagne discusses word contenders with linguist Ben Zimmer, who is the language columnist for The Wall Street Journal.

Here Are 68 Of 2013's Biggest Songs In 5 1/2 Minutes

Pop Danthology, an annual mashup made by an amateur DJ, combines dozens of pop songs into a single, nonstop fast-forward through the hits of the past 12 months that's both relentlessly new and nostalgic for the year that's ending.
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