Scott Neuman

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.

He brings to NPR years of experience as a journalist at a variety of news organizations based all over the world. He came to NPR from The Associated Press in Bangkok, Thailand, where he worked as an editor on the news agency's Asia Desk. Prior to that, Neuman worked in Hong Kong with The Wall Street Journal, where among other things he reported extensively from Pakistan in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He also spent time with the AP in New York, and in India as a bureau chief for United Press International.

A native Hoosier, Neuman's roots in public radio (and the Midwest) run deep. He started his career at member station WBNI in Fort Wayne, and worked later in Illinois for WNIU/WNIJ in DeKalb/Rockford and WILL in Champaign-Urbana.

Neuman is a graduate of Purdue University. He lives with his wife, Noi, on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland.

In the weeks since the school shootings in Newtown, Conn., communities across the country have wanted to do something about gun control, and many have turned to an old standby: buybacks.

Time was that a Swiss bank account was synonymous with confidentiality and keeping assets from prying eyes. No more.

Last week, Switzerland's oldest bank, Wegelin & Co., pleaded guilty in a New York court to helping Americans hide $1.2 billion from the Internal Revenue Service over a decade-long period. Wegelin's plea, and a $57.8 million fine, forced the bank to shut its doors. It follows a $780 million settlement with UBS in 2009 that forced the Swiss banking giant to identify the names of its U.S. account holders.

You might have thought the intense partisan negotiations over the so-called fiscal cliff were all about who wins and who loses when it comes to taxes and government programs.

And that assessment would be essentially correct — but some of the winners might strike you as a bit odd.

Tucked away in the bill's obscure cul-de-sacs are a bevy of obscure tax and spending provisions. We picked five for your perusal. Here goes:

The House of Representatives voted 257-167 late Tuesday to pass a Senate-approved compromise deal that stops large tax increases for 99 percent of Americans, and delays massive spending cuts for two months.

The bill now goes to President Obama, who is expected to sign it into law.

NPR's S.V. Date is reporting on the deal for our Newscast unit. Here's what he says:

"The eventual deal was hammered out by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Vice President Joe Biden. It passed the Senate with overwhelming, bipartisan support.

Longshoremen and East Coast and Gulf Coast port operators have agreed to an extension on labor negotiations, a federal mediator said Friday, averting a potentially crippling strike that would have halted container traffic at many of the nation's largest seaports.

Update at 4:45 p.m. ET: The temporary deal extends the contract to Feb. 6.

Milk and cookies might be the traditional Santa offering on Christmas Eve, but in at least one household, St. Nicholas will be getting smoked salmon and scotch.

It's just one out-of-the-ordinary example we gleaned from a call out to fans of NPR's Facebook page. Many of them involved a different sort of Christmas "spirit" — the kind that could push Mr. Claus over the legal limit, at least during the U.S. leg of his annual aerial circumnavigation.

At a service for the late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye at the Washington National Cathedral on Friday, President Obama said if it weren't for the example of the long-serving Hawaii Democrat, he might not have gone into public service.

Inouye "hinted to me what might be possible in my own life," Obama told the crowd, which included Vice President Joe Biden and other friends and former Senate colleagues.

Fielding questions from reporters Friday in the first hours after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Connecticut State Police spokesman Lt. J. Paul Vance made one thing perfectly clear: The news media could consider him the one and only reliable source for information on the tragedy.

It was a message he repeated in the ensuing days. "All information relative to this case is coming from these microphones," Vance said Sunday before a throng of reporters. "Any information coming from other sources cannot be confirmed, and in many cases it's been found as inaccurate."

Police on Sunday said 20-year-old Adam Lanza was armed with a high-powered rifle, two handguns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition when he forcibly entered a Newtown, Conn., elementary school and proceeded to gun down 20 young students and six faculty members.

The latest information on the tragedy, the worst violence at an elementary school in U.S. history, came ahead of President Obama's arrival in the town where Friday's mass shooting took place. The president met with families of the victims and planned to attend an evening vigil, where he will speak.

Even as Friday's shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., suggests that more could be done, the whole culture of school security has undergone a revolution since the 1999 Columbine school shooting, experts say.

"Schools are far more secure than they were at the time of Columbine," says Paul Timm, president of RETA Security Inc., a school security consultancy.

For one, he says, "They keep most exterior doors secured, which is something they didn't pay much attention to before."

Sputnik 1 just beeped. China's first satellite, launched more than a decade later, simply radioed a communist anthem back to Earth. So far, North Korea's first satellite appears to be less accomplished.

And that shouldn't be a surprise.

Given the history of first orbital space shots, North Korea's apparent struggle with its mission is fairly typical, says David Akin, an associate professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Maryland.

North Korea's successful rocket launch may conjure up visions of nuclear missiles in the hands of one of the planet's least predictable regimes. But building a satellite launch vehicle doesn't directly translate into an ability to rain warheads on distant enemies.

When clerical workers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach reached an impasse in talks with management over job security last week, they took what has become something of a rare step: They went on strike.

President Obama has yet to make known his choice to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but plenty of Republicans have made theirs: John Kerry.

And that puts the Massachusetts senator and former Democratic presidential nominee in a bit of a bind. As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he'd normally be one of the loudest voices defending U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice against GOP attacks that she mishandled her role in explaining an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. But she's the other top contender for the Cabinet post.

Alexander Murphy recalls visiting a Guatemala museum some years ago and gazing up at a huge relief map of the country. Something about the borders struck the University of Oregon geography professor as out of place.

"And then I realized, 'Wait, all of Belize is shown as part of Guatemala,' " Murphy says. That's when he remembered a decades-old territorial dispute between the two Central American neighbors.

President Obama, in the midst of a five-day trip to Asia, is making stops in Thailand, Cambodia and Myanmar. But the strongest diplomatic signals are probably aimed farther north, at China, which has significant economic and strategic interests in the region.

Obama, who has billed himself as "America's first Pacific president" has already made several trips to Asia, but his administration's goal of making a "pivot" to the region — both militarily and diplomatically — has been hamstrung by the need to wind down wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As the lame ducks waddle up to Capitol Hill for the final few weeks of this Congress, some political observers are hoping they will bring the "Spirit of 2010" with them.

Despite all the partisan bickering, the lame-duck session two years ago — bolstered by a bevy of outgoing Democrats with nothing to lose — actually got big things done, including the $850 billion stimulus and tax cut deal, a measure setting in motion the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," passage of the defense authorization bill and an arms treaty.

For as much criticism as pollsters endured in the run-up to Election Day, a look back shows many of them hit very close to the bull's-eye for the presidential race — but some did better than others.

Take the venerable Gallup. It had Mitt Romney at 49 percent and President Obama at 48 percent in a poll published Monday, a day before the voting. And when undecided voters were split up among candidates, Gallup put the figure at 50 percent Romney, 49 percent Obama.

The much-hyped battle for the battleground states turned into more of a rout on Election Day, as President Obama swept through eight key states and looked on course to capture Florida.

Swing states — Ohio, Virginia, Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin, Nevada, Colorado, New Hampshire — viewed as tossups a day before the voting fell without much fight into the blue column. Only North Carolina went for Romney.

For most of us, Election Day marks a welcome end to months of relentless political ads and partisan bickering. You show up at your polling place, run the gantlet of sign-wielding campaign volunteers, and join your fellow Americans in long lines that inch toward the voting booth.

There are political races all over the country that aren't even close, but you wouldn't know it from listening to the candidates.

It seems that every behind-the-curve challenger is scrapping his or her way to victory and every ensconced incumbent is fighting an unexpectedly tight contest.

Amid the devastation caused by Sandy, there are signs the superstorm might have blown a fresh breeze into the nation's politics. Suddenly, everyone's talking about something that seemed impossible just days before — bipartisanship.

Nothing sums that attitude up better than the actions of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Republican Christie, who has worked closely with GOP hopeful Mitt Romney's campaign and has consistently proved one of President Obama's harshest critics, put that aside in the aftermath of Sandy.

It's a commuter's nightmare.

Cars and buses are back on the road in New York City and New Jersey, but workers are still trying to put the subway system and commuter trains back in operation after the devastating effect of Superstorm Sandy. It's a process that could take days or weeks to complete.

The impact on the country's most densely populated metropolitan area has been extensive. Here's a look at what is, and mostly what isn't, working:

NEW YORK CITY:

The storm that has spawned so many worst-ever superlatives managed a few more when it comes to electricity, with record-breaking power outages across 18 states stretching from Michigan and Indiana to Maine and North Carolina, according to a Department of Energy assessment.

When the HMS Bounty set sail in 1787, Captain William Bligh had only his instincts to safely complete a journey from England to the South Pacific island of Tahiti. Last week, Robin Walbridge, captain of a replica of Bligh's ship of mutiny fame, had every modern weather-forecasting resource to plan a voyage from New London, Conn., to St. Petersburg, Fla.

But it didn't keep him from a fatal misjudgment.

People across the New York metropolitan area confronted scenes of devastation from Superstorm Sandy on Tuesday: widespread flooding, power and transportation outages and a wind-swept fire that tore through dozens of houses in the borough of Queens.

Hurricane Sandy may be grinding closer to the East Coast with 90 mph winds and torrential rains, but the most devastating aspect is likely to be storm surge.

Simply put, storm surge is wind-driven water that is forced against the shore, piling up in low-lying areas where it can cause dangerous flooding. A number of factors can make storm surge worse: a massive storm with high winds headed straight for a region full of shallow coastal bays and inlets.

Sandy seems to have them all, says Chris Landsea, science and operations officer at the National Hurricane Center.

A special election two years ago to fill the late Sen. Edward Kennedy's seat brought a huge change to Massachusetts politics: the first Republican U.S. senator in nearly four decades.

Not surprisingly, Sen. Scott Brown has been a thorn in the side of the state's Democratic establishment since his 2010 victory.

"Most of the time here, you have a Democratic primary and then shortly thereafter, a swearing in," says Maurice Cunningham, a political science professor at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

If you've ever found yourself anxiously wondering where a hurricane might make landfall, then you're probably familiar with "spaghetti charts" — the intertwined web of possible storm tracks put out by many forecasters.

Those lines represent hundreds of millions of observations from satellites, aircraft, balloons and buoys, all crunched from complex forecasting equations on some of the world's most powerful computers.

Even if you didn't watch any of the three presidential debates, chances are you're familiar with Big Bird, binders and bayonets.

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