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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Every investor celebrating Christmas this week would love this gift: a really good crystal ball.

It'd be so helpful to look right through the orbuculum and glimpse the future prices of stocks, bonds and gold bars.

Unfortunately, no such ball exists. Our next best option is to turn to economic forecasters. And in general, the professionals see mostly good news for 2016.

Bummer, you've missed the best time to order Christmas gifts online! And now you have these options: pay for same-day delivery or face the dreaded shopping mall (or resort to that end-of-the-line choice of a gift card, but you wouldn't go there, would you?).

So what's the last-minute buy for your plugged-in friend, sister or mom? Do they really need another Internet-connected thing? Nothing against gadgets and gizmos, but if you're of the philosophy that thoughtful gestures qualify perfectly well as Christmas presents, we've got a few ideas for you.

The U.S. wind power industry is celebrating after reaching a new milestone in November: 70 gigawatts (GW) of generating capacity.

"That's enough to power about 19 million homes," says Michael Goggin, senior director of research at the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

There are more than 50,000 wind turbines operating across 40 states and Puerto Rico, according to the AWEA.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Oops: Wrong Name Announced As Winner Of Miss Universe Pageant

Dec 21, 2015

For a brief moment in Las Vegas Sunday night, Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez Arevalo was crowned Miss Universe.

Then host Steve Harvey apologized, saying he had read the card wrong.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Shiso Kitchen, just outside of Boston, is capitalizing on recent American food fetish. There, Jess Roy teaches people like you and me how to cook like a celebrity chef.

Until she started her business two years ago, Roy taught at Le Cordon Bleu Boston. It's now one of 16 Le Cordon Bleu schools in the U.S. due to close after graduating its current crop of students.

The French culinary institute Le Cordon Bleu is iconic to Americans, thanks to its famous graduate, Julia Child, who helped bring classic French cuisine into the American kitchen.

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Since President Obama opened a door to Cuba, there's been progress in the past year. Americans can travel there. The two countries reopened their embassies and have agreed to re-establish commercial air travel.

But on the financial front, progress has been slow. After a year, there's just one U.S. financial institution doing business with Cuba — and it's a small bank in Pompano Beach, Fla.

One day after he was arrested on fraud charges, controversial drug executive Martin Shkreli has resigned his post as the leader of Turing Pharmaceuticals. Shkreli is currently free on bail.

Turing announced the change Friday, naming Ron Tilles, its current board chairman, as the interim chief executive officer.

"We wish to thank Martin for helping us build Turing Pharmaceuticals into the dynamic research focused company it is today, and wish him the best in his future endeavors," Tilles said in a statement about the move.

President Obama has signed a $1.1 trillion funding bill that will keep the federal government running until Sept. 30, 2016. Earlier on Friday, the Senate gave final congressional approval to the bill, which includes nearly $700 billion in tax breaks.

The Senate adopted the Omnibus Appropriations Act by a vote of 65-33; the House did so by a 316-113 tally.

NPR's Ailsa Chang reports:

Even some of those seeking the nation's highest office have weighed in on college debt with payment plans and relief proposals. Voters and the media ask for details on the campaign trail. And that highlights a remarkable shift: Policymakers and politicians are paying attention to this issue like never before.

And it's not as simple or cynical as trying to woo the important student vote. The fact is, the student loan burden in America is second only to mortgages in consumer debt. The government estimates that some 41 million students together owe more than $1.2 trillion.

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When NPR first met Laura Silva Kirkpatrick and her husband, Ricardo Robleño Llorente, they were both in their late 20s and both unemployed.

They considered themselves members of Spain's so-called "lost generation" and felt as though they'd lost their best years to the country's economic crisis. At the time, more than half of Spanish 20-somethings were out of work.

That was nearly 18 months ago.

Despite facing mounting evidence federal officials were overpaying some Medicare health plans by tens of millions of dollars a year, the government dialed back efforts to recover as much of the money as possible, newly released records show.

The privately run Medicare Advantage plans offer seniors an alternative to traditional Medicare and in recent years have signed up more than 17 million members, about a third of people eligible for Medicare.

An attachment to the last-minute spending proposal going before Congress this week would end a six-year trade dispute between the U.S. and Canada. If it's passed, as seems likely, the omnibus budget bill would repeal a law called COOL that requires "country-of-origin labels" on meat.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

For years, critics have been fulminating while watching lawmakers take little or no action on crucial spending and taxing matters.

This week, at least, the "do-nothing Congress" label won't stick.

On Thursday, the U.S. House approved a massive package of tax breaks worth $622 billion, voting 318-109. On Friday, the House will vote again, this time on a $1.1 trillion spending package.

On March 27, 2013, John Sweeney, a plumber from Ireland, started a Facebook page called Suspended Coffees. His message was simple: Buy a cup of coffee for a stranger, because an act of kindness can change a life. Eight hours later, the page had attracted more than 20,000 likes.

The mysterious new owner of the Las Vegas Review-Journal was revealed in a statement printed on page 2 of Thursday's edition: "We are proud to announce that the Adelson family has purchased the Las Vegas Review-Journal through a wholly-owned fund, as both a financial investment as well as an investment in the future of the Las Vegas community."

Commercial airline flights are due to resume between the United States and Cuba — a step in the ongoing thaw in relations between the two countries.

State Department officials announced the aviation deal Thursday, a year after President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro began the process of restoring diplomatic ties.

Tourism to Cuba is booming, and reconciliation is visible in other ways, as NPR's Carrie Kahn reports for our Newscast unit:

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Martin Shkreli, the drug executive who was widely criticized for sharply raising the price of a drug used by HIV patients, was arrested Thursday by federal agents on charges that he misused funds at the company he founded.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The holiday season can bring stresses — what with the shopping, shipping, baking and bills — but for workers in the energy sector, this December is turning out to be especially tough thanks to industry layoffs.

Take Robin Ewan, who, for more than 30 years, worked as a test engineer for Schlumberger, a global oilfield service company. Not anymore.

Until the morning of Sept. 25, 2014, life was treating Kris Penny well. His flooring company had just secured its first big contract.

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