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Environment
1:03 am
Wed January 1, 2014

Federal Flood Insurance Program Drowning In Debt. Who Will Pay?

Even when a flood obliterates homes, as Superstorm Sandy did in 2012 in the Rockaway neighborhood of Queens, N.Y., the urge to rebuild can be strong.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 1, 2014 9:42 am

Millions of American property owners get flood insurance from the federal government, and a lot of them get a hefty discount. But over the past decade, the government has paid out huge amounts of money after floods, and the flood insurance program is deeply in the red.

Congress tried to fix that in 2012 by passing a law to raise insurance premiums. Now that move has created such uproar among property owners that Congress is trying to make the law it passed disappear.

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All Tech Considered
12:58 am
Wed January 1, 2014

Banks Try To Save Big With 'ATMs Of The Future'

An ATM at a Chase lobby in New York is part of what company executives are touting as a "branch of the future" — a place where machines distribute exact change and count cash so tellers don't have to.
Mary Altaffer AP

Originally published on Wed January 1, 2014 9:42 am

There's a drive-thru ATM in Charlotte, N.C., that looks pretty standard, but it has an extra function: a button that says "speak with teller."

The face of a woman wearing a headset sitting in front of a plain blue background flashes onto the ATM screen. "Good afternoon," she says. "Welcome to Bank of America. My name is Carolina. How are you today?"

She's one of a cadre of Bank of America employees in Florida and Delaware call centers, where they remotely control ATMs across the country. I ask for $26.

"Just a $1, a $5 and $20," I say.

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Kitchen Window
10:03 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Cooking With A Cup O' Kindness (Beer, Cider Or Booze)

Sheri Castle's quick bread is based on popular beer bread recipes but uses hard apple cider instead.
Sheri Castle for NPR

Originally published on Wed January 1, 2014 4:32 am

In case you want to add a pinch of celebratory beverage to your first meal of the year, we invite you to look through the Kitchen Window. A spirited New Year's can come from the kitchen as well as the bar.

We've featured a number of stories using alcohol as an ingredient in cooking as well as in bartending — if it tastes good in a glass, it tastes good on a plate. It's also a great way to use up any leftover libations from your holiday celebrations.

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The Two-Way
6:10 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Target Says Some Of Its Gift Cards 'Not Properly Activated'

Target says a small percentage of the gift cards it sold won't work properly — more bad news following on the heels of a security breach affecting some 40 million credit and debit cards.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

It's not been a very good holiday season for Target.

First, it was the pre-Christmas announcement that 40 million credit and debit card accounts used for purchases at the retail chain had been hacked, even though the company later said the "strongly encrypted PIN data" that were breached shouldn't be at risk.

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Parallels
4:56 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Japan's State Secrets Law: Hailed By U.S., Denounced By Japanese

A November demonstration against Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Designated Secrets Bill drew thousands of protesters. The Japanese Parliament has since passed the law, under which people convicted of leaking classified information will face five to 10 years in prison.
Franck Robichon European Pressphoto Agency/Landov

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 6:31 pm

Earlier in December, the normally sedate Japanese Parliament disintegrated into chaos. Opposition party members screamed, pounded the speaker's desk and flapped papers in his face — but all in vain.

In a shocking display of brute force, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling party, the Liberal Democratic Party, railroaded into law a sweeping, vague and hastily drafted secrets protection bill.

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Best Music Of 2013
4:38 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Defining Detroit Techno: The Retrospectives And Reissues Of 2013

Juan Atkins, whose 1983 debut album was reissued this year.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 10:38 am

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Shots - Health News
3:46 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Vitamin E Might Help Slow Alzheimer's Early On

Vitamin E has been associated with increased risk of death in some studies, but it may also delay cognitive decline in Alzheimer's disease.
iStockphoto

Alzheimer's is a disease without a cure, and the available treatments only slow its progression for a bit. Now there's evidence vitamin E may help hold it at bay, at least for people in the early stages of the disease.

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The Two-Way
3:30 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Out Like A Bull: 2013 Was A Banner Year For Wall Street

Philips Lighting North America CEO and President Bruno Biasiotta rings the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange in New York, on Tuesday.
Seth Wenig AP

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 11:17 am

U.S. stocks in 2013 posted their best showing since 1997, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing up 26.5 percent, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index up 29.6 percent and the Nasdaq up 38 percent.

NPR's Jim Zarroli says Wall Street's stellar performance was set against the backdrop of a U.S. economy that continued to limp along.

Brad McMillan, the chief financial officer at Commonwealth Financial Network, tells NPR "The stock market surprised everybody."

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The Two-Way
3:28 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Utah Asks U.S. Supreme Court To Stop Gay Marriages

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 6:07 pm

Utah's attorney general has filed a request with the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay that would allow the state to enforce its limit of marriage to a union between a man and a woman.

Similar requests have already been rejected by district and circuit courts. Earlier this month, a federal district court invalidated Utah's ban on gay marriage that was endorsed by voters in 2004, saying it is not constitutional.

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The Salt
3:15 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Here's How Young Farmers Looking For Land Are Getting Creative

Chris and Sara Guerre are among a growing number of farmers who have made the choice to rent land to farm instead of buy because of increasing property values.
Zac Visco for NPR

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 6:02 pm

Across the country, there's a wave of interest in local food. And a new generation of young farmers is trying to grow it.

Many of these farmers — many of whom didn't grow up on farms — would like to stay close to cities. After all, that's where the demand for local food is.

The problem is, that's where land is most expensive. So young farmers looking for affordable land are forced to get creative.

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World
2:57 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Ringing In The New Year, Trapped By Antarctic Ice

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 4:56 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

This is how you celebrate New Year's Eve in Antarctica.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Five, four, three, two, one, happy New Year.

CORNISH: That is, if you are among the 70 passengers and crew of the Akademik Shokalskiy. The scientific research vessel was halfway through a month-long Australian-Antarctic expedition when, on Christmas Day, it made a call for help. It was trapped in packed sea ice so dense that twice icebreakers have tried and failed to get through.

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Economy
2:55 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

2013 Was A Tremendous Year...At Least For The Stock Market

Originally published on Wed January 29, 2014 9:20 am

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

2013 was a so-so time for the U.S. economy, but it was a banner year for the stock market. Investors poured money into stocks, driving up prices to record highs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished the year up 26 percent. The S&P 500 did even better. NPR's Jim Zarroli looks at how the market defied expectations.

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Europe
2:52 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Berlin's Frenzied Fireworks Have Locals Leaving, Hiding On New Year's

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 4:56 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

New Year's Eve in Berlin is a big draw for tourists from around the world. Revelers pack the streets around the Brandenburg Gate and greet the stroke of midnight with music, champagne and mulled wine. But for many residents of the German capital, the holiday can be a frightening and often dangerous experience. As NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports, thousands of people armed with fireworks transform the city's streets into what feels like a war zone.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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Middle East
2:48 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

In Syria, Conflict In Cyberspace Complements Ground War

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 4:56 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

For Syrians who remain in their country, you might think that computer security would be a low priority, but with a civil war raging, so, too, is an electronic war between groups allied with President Bashar al-Assad and rebel forces. Anti-Assad groups use cyberspace to recruit fighters and coordinate with allies.

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Middle East
2:47 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Of 2.3 Million Syrians Displaced By Civil War, 45 Found Home In U.S.

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 4:56 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. And we begin this hour with a number, 45. It's for our series Number of the Year where we explore the biggest stories of 2013 through numbers. What's 45? It's how many Syrians were accepted as refugees into the United States this year, a tiny number compared to the some 2.3 million people who've been displaced by the fighting in Syria.

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Around the Nation
2:46 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

The Online Education Revolution Drifts Off Course

Students at the Oakland Military Institute took several courses offered by San Jose State and the online course provider Udacity this year. The university is now scaling back its relationship with Udacity.
Laura A. Oda MCT/Landov

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 5:23 pm

One year ago, many were pointing to the growth of massive open online courses, or MOOCs, as the most important trend in higher education. Many saw the rapid expansion of MOOCs as a higher education revolution that would help address two long-vexing problems: access for underserved students and cost.

In theory, students saddled by rising debt and unable to tap into the best schools would be able to take free classes from rock star professors at elite schools via Udacity, edX, Coursera and other MOOC platforms.

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Sports
2:28 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Icing On The Puck: Hockey Fans And The NHL Winter Classic

NHL Winter Classic hockey game seat pads are displayed at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor ahead of the New Year's Day outdoor game between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs.
Paul Sancya AP

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 4:56 pm

The Detroit Red Wings are kind of playing a home game on New Year's Day — even if it'll be played about 40 miles west of their home ice in downtown Detroit.

Mike Babcock, the Red Wings head coach, told the NHL Network that might not be such a good thing, because home teams haven't fared so well in prior Winter Classics.

"The reason the home team doesn't have much success is there's probably a New Year's Eve party going on in everybody's house," he said. "So you gotta decide whether that's more important, or the game's more important."

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Politics
2:16 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Congress Lets Dozens Of Tax Breaks Expire

If you use up all your rum on New Year's Eve and buy a replacement bottle in 2014, your purchase is going to be a little less rewarding for Puerto Rico.

A rum tax rebate program that sent nearly $200 million to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands in 2013 will expire at midnight on Dec. 31. It's just one among 55 tax breaks set to expire at the end of the year.

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The Two-Way
2:16 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Judge Upholds Key Provisions Of N.Y. Gun-Control Law

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg displays a confiscated AR-15 assault rifle in East Harlem as District Attorney Cy Vance (right) looks on during a news conference in October 2012 in New York City.
Mario Tama Getty Images

A federal judge has largely upheld New York's tough gun control law passed in the weeks after the Sandy Hook school shooting.

Judge William Skretny in Buffalo rejected arguments from opponents that its ban on large-capacity magazines and the sale of semi-automatic rifles infringed on Second Amendment rights.

He ruled that the provisions were constitutional because the state has an "important governmental interest" in public safety in a suit brought by the New York affiliate of the National Rifle Association.

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Monkey See
2:13 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Screen Time: Bob Mondello's Favorite Films Of 2013

Lea Seydoux plays Emma in the film Blue Is the Warmest Color, directed by Abdellatif Kechiche.
AP

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 4:56 pm

Conventional wisdom has it that television is where the creative action is these days, and yes, there are some terrific shows on cable.

But there are things it's hard to do on the small screen, and the year's most cinematic film delighted in reminding audiences why they like seeing movies in theaters.

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Business
2:13 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Boeing Soars Despite A Turbulent 2013

A Boeing 737 takes off from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Va. Demand remains high for 737s and 777s, helping the company weather problems with its 787 earlier this year.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 4:56 pm

On the very first Monday of 2013, Boeing got some bad news: There was a catastrophic battery fire on a 787 parked at Boston's Logan International Airport. Less than two weeks later, a second battery meltdown on another 787 prompted an emergency landing in Japan.

Government regulators responded quickly. The Federal Aviation Administration ordered the entire fleet of 787s grounded indefinitely.

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Parallels
2:13 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

In Russia, A Soviet-Era Movie To Ring In The New Year

Zhenya drinks heavily with his friends at a Russian bathhouse in The Irony of Fate, a Soviet-era film that Russians still watch on New Year's Day.
Via Mosfilm

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 5:19 pm

Every year on New Year's Eve, at least one TV channel in Russia will show The Irony of Fate, a three-hour movie that was made for TV in 1975.

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NPR Story
2:13 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Investigation Begins Into Fiery North Dakota Oil Train Crash

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 4:56 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

Residents of Casselton, North Dakota are starting to return to their homes. That's after yesterday's fiery crash of two freight trains, one carrying crude oil. From Fargo, Prairie Public's Todd McDonald reports.

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NPR Story
2:13 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Cabbing Home From That New Year's Party? Expect To Pay A Premium

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 4:56 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

It's the last night of the year, a big night for party-hopping and, of course, some bubbly. And that also means it's the biggest night of the year for cab companies. The surge in demand starts right after the clock strikes 12 and quickly outstrips supply. That mismatch can send prices soaring, depending on who's doing the driving. NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports several ride services have come up with some solutions to try to manage the crunch.

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NPR Story
2:13 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Fighting Intensifies In South Sudan Despite Calls For Cease-Fire

Originally published on Wed January 29, 2014 9:38 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. Both sides in the conflict in South Sudan agreed to meet tomorrow in Ethiopia to discuss a cease-fire. It's hoped that a speedy end to the power struggle between President Salva Kiir and his ousted deputy Riek Machar can avert an all-out ethnic civil war. But even as both sides prepare to negotiate, a fierce battle was underway for control of the strategic city of Bor. NPR's Gregory Warner reports.

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The Two-Way
2:10 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

New Year's Eve: Dubai Puts On A Record-Setting Fireworks Show

Fireworks explode over Palm Jumeirah in Dubai on Jan. 1, 2014, to celebrate the new year. Dubai's glittering fireworks display that lasted around six minutes spanned over 100 kilometres (60 miles) of the Dubai coast, which boasts an archipelago of man-made islands.
Karim Sahib AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 12:38 pm

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The Salt
1:26 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

A Judge's Cookbook Reveals The Secrets Of Bialys And Bagels

Judge Michael Zusman's bialys are topped with roasted onions, poppy seeds and coarse salt.
Daniel Zwerdling NPR

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 5:40 pm

There are two important things that you learn about Michael Zusman, baker and co-author of The Artisan Jewish Deli at Home, when you bake with him.

First, his real job has nothing to do with bread or writing recipes: He's a trial judge. "Full time," Zusman says. "Wear a black robe every day."

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Code Switch
1:19 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

MSNBC Host Apologizes For Comments About Mitt Romney's Grandson

MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry asked her guests to comment on this photo of Mitt Romney's family, which included Romney's adopted grandson.
MSNBC

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 2:44 pm

Melissa Harris-Perry, host of an MSNBC weekend show, apologized on Tuesday for comments she and her panelists recently made. On Sunday, Harris-Perry had her guests — a group of comedians — caption a photo of Mitt Romney's family, which included Romney's adopted grandchild.

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Middle East
1:10 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Malala Yousafzai's Hope Is Stronger Than Ever

Originally published on Wed January 1, 2014 6:45 am

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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All Songs Considered
12:59 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Viking's Choice 2013: We Saved The Weirdest And Loudest For Last

Clockwise from top left: Circuit des Yeux, Jeremiah Cymerman, Katie Gately, Satan, SubRosa.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 1:03 pm

We've saved the best (and weirdest ... and loudest) for last. It's been a couple of years since we last had NPR Music producer Lars Gotrich on the show to highlight the year in metal and what he sometimes calls "outer sound," a nebulous grouping of experimental music. It was time to bring his weird sonic world back.

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