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BILL WOLFF (Announcer): This is NPR.


Christmas bells ring at the Vatican last night.

(Soundbite of bells ringing)

MARTIN: Pope Benedict XVI told Christians around the world to treat others and the Earth itself with respect. That was his message during the Vatican's midnight mass. Benedict spoke of a polluted world and the future is at risk. In recent months, the pope has been speaking out increasingly about environmental concerns. It was Benedict's third Christmas mass since being elected pope, as pope in 2005.

And a solemn Christmas tradition at the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan has come to an end this year. Police, firefighters, Ground Zero workers and families of lost loved ones have held a midnight service at the site since 2001.

That first Christmas after the September 11th attacks, worshippers gathered at the site while workers were still clearing away debris and recovering bodies. A small group of about 75 people attended this year's mass. Reverend Brian Jordan has presided over everyone at the midnight services. He decided to end the tradition after city officials informed him that heavy construction at the site would make it impossible to continue.

And parts of the Midwest are still digging themselves out of a big winter storm that hit over the past couple of days. The storm is being blamed for at least 22 traffic deaths in the Upper Midwest. By yesterday, though, the sun did come out and improved driving condition, so people could arrive safely at their Christmas destinations.

The gusty wind knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses in Michigan and Illinois, as well as thousands in Wisconsin. Utility officials say only 6,000 customers were still without power in Michigan Monday evening, while scattered outages remain in Illinois.

And a couple of remembrances today. We told you earlier about the passing of jazz legend Oscar Peterson. The world of dance also lost one of its stars. Tony award-winning choreographer Michael Kidd has passed away after battling cancer.

NPR's Nate DiMeo has more.

NATE DiMEO: In 1949, a prominent New York producer heard Oscar Peterson playing a piano on a small radio station in his hometown of Montreal. Next thing, he is making his U.S. debut at the age of 24 at Carnegie Hall. Peterson loomed very large of the world of jazz. He brought his dexterous playing to dozens and dozens of albums over the course of a seven-decade career.

(Soundbite of music)

DiMEO: And it seemed like when he wasn't recording or performing, he was accepting an award. Peterson was recognized with among many other awards, a Lifetime Achievement Grammy in just about every honor the Canadian government could bestow on one of its citizens.

Peterson suffered a serious stroke in 1993, but return to the stage. (unintelligible) critics noted that his signature finger speed was diminished but that his musicianship, his improvisational genius, were not.

MARTIN: You may have caught that, that was not a memorial for choreographer Michael Kidd. That was a spot dedicated to the memory of Oscar Peterson. That is the news; it's always online at

WOLFF: This is NPR.

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