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Middle East
2:34 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Destruction Plan To Be Announced For Syrian Chemical Weapons

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:30 pm

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

You're listening to MORNING EDITION on NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene.

There's another milestone today in the long effort to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons. The international overseeing the effort is unveiling more details of its plan and this is all a bit complicated. The first stage could be the hardest - moving the chemicals overland in the middle of a civil war to a Syrian port.

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Business
2:34 am
Tue December 17, 2013

New Owner Promises Handmade Steinways For Years To Come

Some Steinway company representatives and employees — like Wally Boot, pictured here — have been working for the company for decades. Boot is the last person to touch every piano that leaves the factory in Queens, N.Y.
Craig Warga Bloomberg/Getty

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:30 pm

For 160 years, the pianos made by Steinway & Sons have been considered the finest in the world. So when hedge fund billionaire John Paulson recently bought the company, it struck fear in the hearts of musicians: Would the famously handcrafted pianos be changed, for the sake of efficiency? Paulson, who owns several Steinways himself, says nothing will change.

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Around the Nation
2:34 am
Tue December 17, 2013

FAA To Soon Pick Sites For Commercial Drone Testing

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:30 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Six states will soon be chosen as commercial drone test sites. So major companies like Amazon say they're hoping to use drones to ship products. But first, the Federal Aviation Administration has to figure out how to fly them safely in civilian airspace. Nevada is one of the states that wants to give commercial drones a try, as Will Stone from member station KUNR reports.

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Business
2:34 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Italian Police Arrest 4 In Holiday Extortion Case

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:30 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And today's last word in business is a Christmas con.

Just when we want to be thinking about generosity around the holidays, a story of extortion.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Police in Italy have arrested four alleged mafia gangsters for forcing shop owners to buy poinsettias for as much as $140 each. Owners who refused to partake in the Christmas special would have their shops vandalized.

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Business
2:34 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Fitbit Flex Tops Jaroslovsky's 2013 Tech Gift List

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:30 pm

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

If there's somebody on your holiday shopping list who loves gadgets, you might want to surprise them with what's new in high-tech gizmos, maybe not so obvious gifts - not talking tablets here.

We called up tech journalist Rich Jaroslovsky for his recommendations. Good morning, Rich.

RICH JAROSLOVSKY: Good morning.

WERTHEIMER: So what is at the top of your list?

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Business
1:17 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Economists, Unemployed Fret Over Long-Term Jobless Aid Lapse

Attendees of a job fair in California in October fill out paperwork.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:30 pm

Democrats in Congress are promising to try to retroactively extend emergency unemployment benefits after the new year. With the House already in recess, the benefits are expected to expire at the end of the month.

The Senate is still in Washington working on a bipartisan budget agreement passed by the House before it left town last week, but the bill does not include a benefits extension.

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Number Of The Year
1:16 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Year In Numbers: The Federal Reserve's $85 Billion Question

On Tuesday, Federal Reserve policymakers begin a two-day meeting where many analysts expect they will announce a reduction in the central bank's $85 billion monthly stimulus.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:30 pm

Many economists and investors think there's a good chance that at the end of their two-day meeting that begins Tuesday, Federal Reserve policymakers will announce that they'll begin reducing their $85 billion monthly stimulus, their third round of quantitative easing, or QE3.

The analysts think recent economic data, like a drop in the unemployment rate to 7 percent and a budget deal in Washington, have brightened the outlook for the economy enough that the Fed can pull back.

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The Salt
1:15 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Forget Golf Courses: Subdivisions Draw Residents With Farms

The Bucking Horse subdivision in Fort Collins, Colo., will include a working CSA farm, complete with historic barn, farm house and chicken coop.
Luke Runyon Harvest Public Media

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 8:00 am

When you picture a housing development in the suburbs, you might imagine golf courses, swimming pools, rows of identical houses.

But now, there's a new model springing up across the country that taps into the local food movement: Farms — complete with livestock, vegetables and fruit trees — are serving as the latest suburban amenity.

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Around the Nation
1:04 am
Tue December 17, 2013

To Make Science Real, Kids Want More Fun

Hands-on science activities like making bubble mitts at the Mission Science Workshop teach students about things like surface tension.
Justin Jach Courtesy of Mission Science Workshop

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:30 pm

Are American kids being adequately prepared in the sciences to compete in a highly competitive, global high-tech workforce? A majority of American parents say no, according to a poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.

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Energy
1:04 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Environmentalists Split Over Need For Nuclear Power

Southern California's San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, shown here in April 2012, was closed after small radiation leaks.
Lenny Ignelzi AP

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:30 pm

California is regarded as the leading state when it comes to addressing climate change. But in 2012, according to analysts at Rhodium Group, California's carbon emissions actually increased more than 10 percent, bucking the national trend of decreases. That's in large part because California shut down one of its few remaining nuclear power plants.

That rise in carbon emissions underscores the huge impact nuclear power can have in efforts to combat climate change.

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U.S. Commutes: The Way We Get To Work
1:03 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Even An 85 MPH Highway Can't Fix Austin's Traffic Tangle

Texas Highway 130, a new Austin bypass toll road, is so far east of the city that it sees little traffic. The state recently raised the speed limit there to 85 mph in hopes of boosting its use.
Wikipedia

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:30 pm

Four decades ago, Austin, Texas, had a population of 250,000 and a reputation as a laid-back oasis of liberal politics and live music. Today, the Austin metro area is home to 1.8 million people and has some of the nation's worst traffic congestion.

For years, the city has done little to address the growing problem. But most in the Texas capital now agree something has to change if Austin is to save what's left of its quirky character.

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Remembrances
6:06 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Country Music Legend Ray Price Dies At 87

Country music singer and songwriter Ray Price died Monday at the age of 87 at his ranch in Texas. Price was a Grammy Award Winner and who had more than 100 country hits in his decades-long career. A 1996 Country Music Hall of Fame inductee, he was credited with pioneering a shuffle beat and walking bass line that became standard in Texas dance halls.

The Two-Way
5:39 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Country Singer, Bandleader Ray Price Dies At 87

Ray Price performs during Stagecoach: California's Country Music Festival 2010 held at The Empire Polo Club on April 24, 2010 in Indio, California.
Frazer Harrison Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 7:04 pm

Singer-bandleader Ray Price, who had more than 100 country hits in his decades-long career, has died at the age of 87 of complications related to pancreatic cancer, his family said.

Price was a Grammy Award winner and a Country Music Hall of Fame inductee (1996).

Quoting family members, The Associated Press writes:

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It's All Politics
4:02 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

New Year Likely To Ring In Old Debt Ceiling Fight

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis. (right), accompanied by House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, takes reporters' questions during a Dec. 11 news conference.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 5:00 pm

At the moment, Washington fiscal policy is a good news, bad news story.

The good news is that the budget agreement, overwhelmingly passed by the House last week in a bipartisan vote, is likely to be approved by the Senate this week. That takes another costly government shutdown off the table.

The bad news? Another debt ceiling fight, with all the attendant risks of a U.S. government default, appears to be right around the corner.

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Code Switch
3:50 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

It's Called 'Africa.' Of Course It's About Race, Right?

Steve Lukather, vocalist and guitarist, is Toto's frontman.
Courtesy of Toto

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 6:26 am

The email arrived with the kind of snarky tone reserved for a moment when the author is sure he — and it's usually a he — thinks he's hoisted you with your own petard.

A bit of back story: Last week, I tweeted a question wondering why CBS This Morning used a clip of Toto's hit song "Africa" under a montage of photos from Nelson Mandela's funeral. The tweet went viral, sparking stories on several websites and agreement from a co-founder of the band.

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The Two-Way
3:33 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Pastor Says He Will Minister To Gays Even If He's Defrocked

The Rev. Frank Schaefer, a United Methodist clergyman convicted of breaking church law for officiating at his son's same-sex wedding, enters a news conference at the Arch Street United Methodist Church in Philadelphia on Monday.
Matt Rourke AP

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 5:06 pm

A Methodist minister in Pennsylvania who was suspended after defying church authorities by presiding over his gay son's wedding has vowed to continue his work as a clergyman even if he is defrocked.

NPR's John Burnett reports that the Rev. Frank Schaefer was convicted in a church trial last month of violating the Methodist Book of Discipline — which opposes gay marriage — and given a 30-day suspension.

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Shots - Health News
3:32 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

FDA Asks For Proof That Antibacterial Soaps Protect Health

There's no evidence that triclosan and other chemicals in antibacterial soaps do a better job than plain soap and water, the FDA says.
Kiichiro Sato AP

In hospitals, people are bathed with soaps containing the antibacterial triclosan to reduce the risk of serious infections in surgery. But that doesn't necessarily mean we should be using triclosan soap in the kitchen and the bathroom, the Food and Drug Administration says.

The agency on Monday took a step toward restricting the use of triclosan and other antibacterial chemicals widely used in soap, deodorant, cosmetics and hundreds of other consumer products.

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Shots - Health News
3:31 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Doctor Helps Iowa Couple Face Illness On Their Own Terms

Dr. Tim Ihrig, a palliative care physician, treats Augie Avelleyra, 93, at his home in Fort Dodge, Iowa.
Courtesy of Paula Avelleyra

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 8:49 am

When Dr. Tim Ihrig crosses the threshold of the Avelleyras home in Fort Dodge, Iowa, he steps over a doormat that says, "One nice person and one old grouch live here."

It doesn't take long to figure out who the nice person is.

Phyllis Avelleyra grew up on a farm in western Iowa and met her husband, Augie, in "the big city," otherwise known as Fort Dodge. Population 25,000. The couple has been married for 60 years. They have five daughters, the oldest of whom is already a grandmother herself.

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The Two-Way
3:31 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Coroner: Colo. High School Shooter Died Of Gunshot Wound To Head

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 6:01 pm

The student who opened fire at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., last week, died of a single gunshot wound to the head, the county coroner said Monday.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

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All Tech Considered
3:25 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Here Are The Tech Execs Meeting With President Obama Tuesday

Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo Inc., is on the RSVP list for a White House meeting on HealthCare.gov tomorrow. She's seen here headed to a previous White House meeting in 2012.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 7:59 am

Tech giants aren't on the best terms with the Obama administration lately, with the NSA's surveillance revelations getting more widespread by the day. But a lot of big tech names have agreed to visit the White House for a chat.

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All Tech Considered
3:17 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Is Silicon Valley Automating Our Obsolescence?

One of several robots at the University of California, San Francisco's hospital pharmacy helps manage and track its drug inventory.
Leland Kim/University of California, San Francisco

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 12:58 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.

Silicon Valley has created mind-boggling amounts of wealth. Entire industries have been invented here. Smartphones, search engines, cloud computing and cars that drive themselves are designed here.

Billionaires are minted annually, but inequality is rising rapidly.

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Around the Nation
3:17 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

All Aboard! Real-Life Polar Express Chugs Through Michigan

The Pere Marquette 1225 rolls into view in Owosso, Mich. It's been a local favorite for decades and especially gained popularity after inspiring the look and sounds of the train in a 2004 film.
James DeVleeschouwer Jr. Flickr

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 4:12 pm

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The Two-Way
3:08 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

General Motors CEO: In The Bailout, Fair Is Fair

General Motors Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson speaks at the National Press Club on Monday in Washington, D.C.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Retiring General Motors CEO Dan Akerson made a case Monday for how losing should feel like winning — at least for U.S. taxpayers who lost more than $10 billion in a GM bailout.

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The Two-Way
2:29 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Poland, Lithuania Nervous Over Reports Of Russian Missiles

An undated file picture shows Russian missile complex "Iskander" on display during a military equipment exhibition in the Siberian town of Nizhny Tagil.
AFP AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 6:38 am

Poland and Lithuania say they are worried over Russian news reports that Moscow has placed nuclear-capable missiles in its Baltic territory of Kaliningrad, which lies between the two countries.

"Further militarization of this region, bordering the Baltic states and NATO, creates further anxiety, and we will be watching the situation there closely," Lithuania's Defense Minister Juozas Olekas said, describing the deployment as "alarming."

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Business
2:20 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Years Of Tumult In The Rear-View, U.S. Auto Industry Revs Back Up

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 6:46 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. We begin this hour with a number. That number is 50. It's for our new series Number of the Year, where we explore the numbers that tell the story of 2013, numbers about same sex marriage, the minimum wage, Syria, even pandas. Today's number tells the story of a rebound in the U.S. auto industry.

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Europe
2:20 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

The Shipping Forecast: From Britain's Seas Into Its Soul

Fisherman Teddy Head tells a story to a group of children while mending his nets in Hastings in 1952. The fishermen of Hastings are tightknit; fathers, brothers and sons work together in rugged boats no more than about 30 feet long. Some families in Hastings have worked this way for centuries.
Fred Morley Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 12:29 pm

It is a bizarre nightly ritual that is deeply embedded in the British way of life.

You switch off the TV, lock up the house, slip into bed, turn on your radio, and begin to listen to a mantra, delivered by a soothing, soporific voice.

"Viking, North Utsire, South Utsire, Forties, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne, Dogger ...." says the voice.

You are aware — vaguely — that these delicious words are names, and that those names refer to big blocks of sea around your island nation, stretching all the way up to Iceland and down to North Africa.

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Parallels
2:20 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Denmark's 'Fix Rooms' Give Drug Users A Safe Haven

Inside the drug consumption room in Aarhus, Denmark's second-largest city.
Sidsel Overgaard for NPR

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 6:06 pm

Martin Jensen smokes heroin.

In the past, when this gaunt-faced Dane had to hide in elevators and stairwells to feed his addiction, he probably wouldn't have been so willing to advertise that fact. Back then, his days were spent scouring Copenhagen — mostly the notorious Vesterbro neighborhood — for places to smoke, out of sight of the police and children. He says he never felt safe, understandably, given what happened to one of his friends.

"My friend, he [was trying to] get some sleep, when he had smoked," Jensen recalls.

That's when an arsonist stopped by.

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Education
2:20 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Fiscal Strains Push Community Colleges To Look Hard At Their Mission

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 6:06 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From, NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

City College of San Francisco is one of the biggest community colleges in the country and it may be about to close. Its accreditation is in jeopardy. The problems aren't in the classroom, they're financial and administrative. And a lot of people in higher education are watching closely.

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Environment
2:20 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Scientists Find Tiny Exfoliating Beads In Great Lakes Fish Guts

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 6:06 pm

Tiny plastic beads used in some cosmetics and toothpaste are making their way into the bellies of fish in the Great Lakes, and it's raising concern among environmentalists. Dr. Sherri Mason, a chemistry professor at the State University of New York at Fredonia, has been researching the issue, and she joins Audie Cornish to explain what this means for the Great Lakes ecosystem.

The Salt
2:20 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

In Florida, A Turf War Blooms Over Front-Yard Vegetable Gardening

Hermine Ricketts says she gardens for the food and for the peace it brings her.
Greg Allen NPR

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 6:06 pm

In tropical South Florida, it's growing season. Temperatures are in the 80s, there's lots of sun and good rain, and normally, Hermine Ricketts' plants would already be in the ground.

"By now, this should be probably Red Sails lettuce, which is a beautiful color lettuce, or purple mizuna, which is a beautiful filigreed purple leaf," she says.

But this year, Ricketts' vegetable planting has been derailed by a legal fight over what she can plant and where she can plant it.

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