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2:54 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Fed's Final 2013 Meeting Could Indicate Course For Early 2014

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 6:02 am

Federal Reserve officials end a two-day meeting on Wednesday amid signs that the U.S. economy is slowly mending. David Greene talks to David Wessel, economics editor of The Wall Street Journal, about the Fed's last meeting of the year.

The Salt
1:05 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Is A 500-Year-Old German Beer Law Heritage Worth Honoring?

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 6:56 am

Germans are serious about their beer. Serious enough for the European country's main brewers association to urge the United Nations to recognize that fact.

The brewers association wants a five-century-old law governing how German beer is made to become part of the UNESCO World Heritage list. It would join the Argentinian tango, Iranian carpet weaving and French gastronomy, among other famous traditions, that are considered unique and worth protecting.

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All Tech Considered
1:04 am
Wed December 18, 2013

What It's Like To Live On Low Pay In A Land Of Plenty

Manny Cardenas, seen here with his 5-year-old daughter Zoe, has earned $16 an hour as a part-time security guard at Google.
Laura Sydell NPR

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 11:11 am

This week, we're exploring the San Francisco Bay Area and the way income inequality is affecting the region. Check out the other pieces of the week, aggregated on this page.

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Food
1:03 am
Wed December 18, 2013

The Stars Come Out For Holiday Bakers

T. Susan Chang for NPR

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 11:21 am

As a young woman, I had an attack of nostalgia for a possibly imaginary cookie. It was prompted by a walk up New York's Third Avenue, where I saw in the bakery case of a local delicatessen a stack of small round cookies, covered in the tiny rainbow sprinkles known as nonpareils. Instantly, I was ambushed by a flashback to the tiny Italian pastry shop of the small riverside town just north of Manhattan where I grew up, and where, I felt sure, I had been given star-shaped sprinkle cookies of a similar kind as a reward for my excellent behavior.

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Around the Nation
1:03 am
Wed December 18, 2013

A 'Tale Of Two Cities' As Detroit Looks To 2014

Detroit's Midtown neighborhood is reviving in the midst of the larger city's decline.
Carlos Osorio AP

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 6:13 am

The streets outside Avalon Bakery in Detroit's Midtown are a snowy, slushy, mostly unplowed mess, and all these customers want to do is pay for their loaf of Motown Multigrain or Poletown Rye.

But Detroiters are a gracious, if weary, bunch. So when they see yet another reporter sticking a microphone in their faces, asking what they think of all this media attention, they answer politely.

And even if they're not always crazy about the way their city is portrayed, no one argues with the fact that Detroit had a newsworthy year.

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Books News & Features
1:02 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Hear, Here: Four Audiobooks With A Brand-New Sound

Think a graphic novel is too visual to make a good audiobook? Think again. The audio version of Civil War uses sound effects, music and a full cast to bring the superhero story to life.
Courtesy of GraphicAudio

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 9:08 am

If your holiday shopping trip includes a stop at the bookstore, you might consider adding audiobooks to your gift list. And this year, as you slip on headphones to sample the offerings, what you hear might surprise you.

According to Robin Whitten, the founder and editor of AudioFile magazine, the genre has far surpassed the conventions of the taped readings of yore.

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Sweetness And Light
1:01 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Why The American Dream Is Still Alive In Sports

Wesley Matthews of the Portland Trail Blazers goes up for the shot as Philadelphia 76ers defend the basket on Saturday in Philadelphia.
Chris Szagola AP

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 8:02 am

Political innocent I may be, but I find great irony in that, while everybody agrees there is massive inequality in the United States today, it's in sports where the American dream still lives — more than ever.

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The Salt
12:58 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Amid Fields Of Plenty, A Farmworker's Wife Struggles To Feed Her Family

Food banks have become a primary source of nutrition for rural farmworker communities in the Central Valley.
Scott Anger KQED

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 8:25 am

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The Two-Way
5:46 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

New Research Affirms That Milky Way Has Four Spiral Arms

An image showing the distribution of massive stars in the new study. Our location within the Galaxy is circled in black.
J. Urquhart et al. Background image by Robert Hurt of the Spitzer Science Center.

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 4:05 am

Our Milky Way galaxy has four arms instead of two, according to just published results of a 12-year study by scientists in the U.K.

The findings, published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, affirm what astronomers surmised in the 1950s but began to doubt in 2008 after seeing images from the Spitzer Space Telescope that could only confirm two spiral arms.

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It's All Politics
5:43 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Retirement Flurry Creates Openings For Both Parties In 2014

Republican Rep. Tom Latham speaks in Des Moines, Iowa, on Nov. 9. Latham and two other congressmen announced Tuesday they will not seek re-election in 2014.
Justin Hayworth AP

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 7:21 pm

Congress got a jolt Tuesday when three House members announced they will step down at the end of their terms, creating 2014 pickup opportunities for both parties.

The retirements of Republican Reps. Frank Wolf of Virginia and Tom Latham of Iowa came as welcome news to Democrats, who need a net gain of 17 seats to capture a House majority in the midterm elections.

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Number Of The Year
4:44 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Prices Are Low, And That Could Be Bad

Superlow inflation means workers often don't see big raises and consumers may delay buying, thinking prices will drop some more.
Kevork Djansezian Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 7:34 pm

2.

That's the number the Federal Reserve Board's policymakers wanted to see this year. Having an annual inflation rate of 2 percent would confirm that the U.S. economy is strengthening — workers are getting raises and companies are seeing enough customer demand to mark up prices.

But the 2 percent target turned out to be too high.

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It's All Politics
4:15 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Red State Retirement Takes Democratic House Seat Out Of Play

Utah Rep. Jim Matheson delivers a speech in October 2012. The veteran Democrat says he'll retire at the end of his seventh term.
Rick Bowmer AP

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 5:57 pm

Rep. Jim Matheson announced Tuesday that he will retire at the end of his term, providing Republicans with a likely House seat pickup in 2014.

With a tough re-election fight looming in his conservative Salt Lake City-area district, the Utah Democrat decided against seeking another term in the House.

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Shots - Health News
3:40 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Why Glaxo Won't Pay Doctors To Sell Its Drugs Anymore

British pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline is pledging to revamp its relationships with doctors.
Sang Tan AP

Doctors talking up drugs to other doctors has been quite lucrative for pharmaceutical companies — and the physicians who moonlight as their salesmen.

Drugmakers learned long ago that deputized doctors were effective pitchmen. A doctor paid by a company to give a dinner speech or to chat over lunch with colleagues can go a long way toward changing their prescribing habits.

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All Tech Considered
3:38 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

How This Bay Area Tech Boom's Different From The Last One

San Francisco's median home price hit $1 million this year.
Patrick Shyu Flickr

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 7:22 pm

This week, we're exploring the San Francisco Bay Area and the way income inequality is affecting the region. Check out the other pieces of the week, aggregated on this page.

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The Two-Way
3:37 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

NASA Orders Spacewalks To Fix Faulty Pump On Orbiting Station

Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio in the International Space Station's Columbus lab last month.
NASA

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 6:00 pm

NASA has decided to go ahead with a series of spacewalks to fix a broken cooling system aboard the International Space Station.

The decision was made Tuesday by station managers. They said the extra-vehicular activity should take place as soon as possible to replace a coolant pump that contains a bad valve.

The Associated Press says:

"The spacewalks are taking priority over the launch of a supply ship from Virginia. The delivery had been scheduled for this week, but is now delayed until January."

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20 Years Of NAFTA
3:28 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

What Has NAFTA Meant For Workers? That Debate's Still Raging

An auto worker tightens bolts on a Focus at a Ford plant in Michigan in October. Labor unions predicted in 1993 that NAFTA would send many U.S. manufacturing jobs to Mexico, and they continue to argue that the pact prompted a race to the bottom for workers.
Mira Oberman AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:31 pm

Two decades ago, the strongest critics of the North American Free Trade Agreement were members of labor unions. They warned that the trade deal would mean the loss of manufacturing jobs to Mexico and lower wages for U.S. workers.

Today, 20 years since NAFTA's passage, unions feel as strongly as ever that the deal was a bad idea.

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Number Of The Year
3:28 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

A Majority In U.S. Favor Legal Pot, But Will That Stick?

Partiers celebrate marijuana legalization in Washington state at a pot party in Seattle earlier this month.
Elaine Thompson AP

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 11:49 pm

As we near the end of 2013, NPR is taking a look at the numbers that tell the story of this year. They're numbers that, if you really understand them, give insight into the world we live in.

This year, for the first time, national polls show a majority of Americans support the legalization of marijuana. Gallup has been asking the question for four decades, and now it says 58 percent favor legalization.

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The Two-Way
3:23 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Angela Merkel Is Sworn In For Third Term As Chancellor

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a ceremony in which German President Joachim Gauck appointed the new German government cabinet on Tuesday in Berlin, Germany.
Adam Berry Getty Images

After months of negotiations to create a grand coalition, Angela Merkel was sworn in by Parliament on Tuesday to serve a third term as chancellor.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Ron Burgundy, Still A Legend In His Own Tiny Mind

Great Odin's Raven! Will Ferrell's cheerfully idiotic Ron Burgundy and Christina Applegate's whip-smart Veronica Corningstone are back for a comedy sequel that critic Ian Buckwalter says is essentially an avalanche of one-liners.
Gemma LaMana Paramount Pictures

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 2:13 pm

Make no mistake, Ron Burgundy is a terrible human being. In 2004's Anchorman, it's true, he learned a lesson (sort of) about the dangers of his overinflated ego and the lies of his culturally inherited misogyny. But everything came out OK in the end, and he ended things as a semi-likable rogue — casually misogynist, lackadaisically racist, generically insensitive and oblivious, but still a guy who loves his dog, his lady and his Scotch, and who isn't afraid to cry.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

LaBute's 'Velvet Morning': Nothing Soft About These Surfaces

When Fred (Stanley Tucci) shows up on the doorstep of his former lover (Alice Eve) ready to resume their relationship, it doesn't necessarily go smoothly.
Rogier Stoffers Tribeca Film

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 8:43 am

I'll say this for Neil LaBute: The man sticks to his guns. Critics may carp about his sour vision of human nature, but he keeps plugging away at his micro-studies of the cruel struggle for interpersonal domination.

LaBute is a master of stagecraft, of course; I'm not sure why he works in film at all, other than to broaden his audience. Aside from the substantially more cinematic Nurse Betty, almost all of his movies are essentially stage plays, ably transposed to the screen but with minimal concession to the switch in medium.

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Movie Interviews
2:43 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

From 'Crash Reel' To Recovery, And Everything In Between

Snowboarder Kevin Pearce suffered a severe brain injury after an accident on the halfpipe in 2009. His road to recovery is the subject of director Lucy Walker's documentary The Crash Reel.
Christian Stadler HBO Pictures

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:31 pm

In 2009, snowboarder Kevin Pearce was riding high, soaring skyward, twisting his body into breathtaking acrobatics. He was 22, one of the world's top halfpipe riders, and a favorite to make the U.S. Olympic team for the 2010 Vancouver Games.

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Politics
2:43 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

After Key Vote, Senate Poised To Pass Congressional Budget Deal

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:31 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

On Capitol Hill today, a truce in the budget wars. A dozen Republican senators agreed to let a bipartisan budget deal proceed to a final vote. That was the bill's last obstacle. It's expected to easily garner the 51 votes it needs for passage.

But as NPR's Ailsa Chang reports, the deal still has many critics in the Senate on both sides of the aisle.

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Politics
2:43 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Obama Meets With Tech Leaders, Taps Microsoft Exec To Fix HealthCare.gov

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:31 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block. The government's health insurance website has a new Mr. Fixit. The Obama administration has hired a former Microsoft executive to oversee improvements. Kurt DelBene will take over for Jeff Zients, the former management consultant and White House staffer who was brought in in late October to help turn the troubled website around.

News of DelBene's appointment comes as President Obama met today with a group of high tech CEOs. NPR's Scott Horsley reports.

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All Tech Considered
2:43 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

In A Divided San Francisco, Private Tech Buses Drive Tension

Protesters in San Francisco block a Google bus, which shuttles employees from the city to its location in Silicon Valley.
cjmartin Flickr

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:31 pm

Part of a series on income inequality in the San Francisco Bay Area

If you want to understand the tension between tech workers in San Francisco, who often make six figures, and many of the city's other residents, try standing on the southwest corner of 24th Street and Valencia around 7:30 on a weekday morning.

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Business
2:43 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

GlaxoSmithKline To Stop Paying Doctors To Promote Its Drugs

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:31 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Today, one of the biggest drug companies in the world announced changes to its marketing practices. GlaxoSmithKline says the idea is to be more transparent about how it sells its drugs. Among the changes, the company will stop paying doctors to tout its products to other doctors.

As NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports, the public interest community says this is a step in the right direction for an industry that's faced many legal problems.

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Europe
2:43 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Russia Agrees To Financial Massive Bail-Out For Ukraine

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:31 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

Russia has agreed to a multibillion-dollar bailout for Ukraine. The deal comes amid a political crisis in Ukraine, as tens of thousands of demonstrators keep up a weeks-long protest. They're demanding the country's president step down. As NPR's Corey Flintoff reports from Moscow, the bailout may buy some breathing room for President Viktor Yanukovych, but it triggered new outrage among his opposition.

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Europe
2:43 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

A Storm-Lashed British Isle Famous For Church Bells, Populated By Few

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 7:17 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

We're going to venture out onto the sea now off the coast of Britain. Yesterday, we heard about a British cultural institution called the Shipping Forecast. Every night, landlubbers who know nothing of the sea tune into BBC radio, to hear about sea and weather conditions off the British Isles. Songs and poems have been devoted to the forecast.

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Shots - Health News
2:43 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

How The U.S. Helped Fight The Global AIDS Epidemic

A mother waits with her child at an HIV clinic in Nyagasambu, Rwanda, in February 2008. The clinic was built with a grant from the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief initiative.
Shashank Bengali MCT /Landov

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 6:50 am

A decade ago, President George W. Bush announced an unprecedented global health initiative: $15 billion over five years to fight HIV in developing countries.

"There are whole countries in Africa where more than one-third of the adult population carries the infection," Bush said in his 2003 State of the Union address. "Yet across that continent, only 50,000 AIDS victims — only 50,000 — are receiving the medicine they need."

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Sports
2:43 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Some Competitors Say Free-Diving Needs A Safety Sea Change

Nicholas Mevoli smiles while diving in Curacao in October. He died a month later following an attempted dive in a free-diving competition in the Bahamas.
Daan Verhoeven Barcroft Media/Landov

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:31 pm

Dahab, Egypt, just north of Sharm el-Sheikh on the Sinai Peninsula, is perfect for free-diving. A diver can have tea in a simple beach cafe and then take just a handful of steps into the Gulf of Aqaba, where the seafloor plunges more than 100 yards into a wine-glass-shaped blue hole.

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National Security
2:43 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Snowden's Document Leaks Shocked The NSA, And More May Be On The Way

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:31 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

That lawsuit over NSA surveillance would likely never have happened if former NSA contractor Edward Snowden hadn't leaked classified documents that showed what the agency was doing. Snowden also revealed that the U.S. government was monitoring the communications of foreign leaders, among other secret activities. Intelligence officials say they're still coping with the ramifications of all these unauthorized disclosures.

NPR's Tom Gjelten has been covering the Snowden leaks since they became known in June, and he joins me now.

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