The New York borough of Staten Island was hard-hit by Hurricane Sandy. Almost two months after the storm hit, many residents will not be back in their homes by the Christmas holiday.
One organization is trying to make the season a bit brighter for uprooted families with a free toy store on the island. This all-volunteer effort looks like a real toy store, but it feels more like a community of neighbors.
The shop boasts shelves filled with toys like model cars, Monopoly, dolls, craft supplies and books — almost everything you would want in a regular toy store.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block. It's time for Plan C. Washington's efforts to avoid massive tax hikes and spending cuts come January 1st seem to be in disarray. Last night, House Speaker John Boehner failed to get enough Republicans to go along with what he called his Plan B. NPR's John Ydstie talked with members of the business community about whether that failure is seen as a setback or clears the way for more productive negotiations.
Today also brought the first detailed response to the Newtown shootings from the nation's largest gun rights group, the National Rifle Association. At a media event here in Washington, the group's CEO took a defiant stance and took no questions. NRA leaders had promised meaningful contributions on how to prevent more mass killings. As NPR's Peter Overby reports, they recommended more, not fewer, guns.
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel. The sound of a nation in mourning. That's from the National Cathedral in Washington today. It's been one week since the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut and this morning at 9:30, bells rang out across the U.S. in honor of those who died.
Dixon has gathered her Nativity collection from many sources around the world. She says this set is made of banana fronds and was given to her by a friend who was a missionary in Nigeria.
Credit Jeff Brady / NPR
Dixon with one of the estimated 1,450 Nativities that she hopes to one day include in a museum.
Credit Jeff Brady / NPR
Margo Dixon's collection ranges from the traditional to the fun — this is a Nativity set comprising rubber ducks. Some Nativity collectors prefer only sets that use humans to depict the characters, but Dixon appreciates the wide variety of interpretations of the Nativity.
Nativity displays are a Christmas staple in front of Christian churches and in people's yards. They depict the birth of Jesus long ago in the Middle East town of Bethlehem.
The sets also come in smaller sizes for mantels and coffee tables, and some people collect them. Margo Dixon says she has more than 1,450 different depictions of the Nativity. In 2010 she moved from Atlanta to Bethlehem, Pa., with a dream: to open a Nativity museum in the town that bills itself as the "Christmas City."
An entrepreneur says he's got a plan to curb urban blight in parts of Detroit. He's buying up acre after acre of abandoned lots and planting thousands of trees. But where backers of the plan see a visionary proposal, critics see a land grab.
Entrepreneur and Detroiter John Hantz, owner of Hantz Farms and the tree-planting effort called Hantz Woodlands, wants to plant at least 15,000 trees on about 140 acres. Hantz promises to clear out all the trash and keep the grass cut, things the city cannot afford to do now.
President Obama tapped Massachusetts Senator John Kerry to be the next Secretary of State on Friday. Kerry is expected to win easy confirmation in the Senate, which would be a relief in the midst of fierce partisan battles over taxes, spending and — coming next month — gun control. Melissa Block talks to Scott Horsley.
For more on yesterday's Republican meltdown, I'm joined by Republican Congressman Steve LaTourette of Ohio. He would have voted for Plan B if it had come up for a vote. He's a strong ally of Speaker Boehner, and he joins me now from Capitol Hill. Congressman LaTourette, welcome to the program.
REPRESENTATIVE STEVE LATOURETTE: Thank you very much.