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The Two-Way
9:26 am
Sun January 5, 2014

Israel's Sharon Fights For Life, But Doctors 'Pessimistic'

Former Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has been in a coma since 2006, but his condition is now deteriorating.
Oded Balilty AP

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 1:41 pm

The outlook for Ariel Sharon's survival is "pessimistic," but the former Israeli prime minister is "fighting like a lion."

That's according to Dr. Zeev Rotstein, the head of the Chaim Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv where Sharon is being treated.

At a news conference this weekend, Rotstein said Sharon's condition was still critical, and that his organs weren't functioning. But, he added, doctors had stabilized the former leader's blood pressure and pulse.

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The Two-Way
9:01 am
Sun January 5, 2014

U.S. Icebreaker On The Way To Rescue Ships Trapped In Antarctic

The U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Polar Star, seen here in 1999, has been sent to help free Russian ship Akademik Shokalskiy and Chinese icebreaker Xue Long, which are gripped by Antarctic ice.
U.S. Coast Guard Handout Photo Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 4:09 am

A U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker is sailing to Antarctica to rescue more than 120 crew members still aboard two ships trapped in the frozen continent. That's after the news that 52 scientists and paying passengers trapped aboard one of those vessels — the Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy — were on their way home.

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Food
8:31 am
Sun January 5, 2014

Eating Tea And Other Food Predictions For 2014

Tea leaves will be big in entrees and desserts in 2014.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 10:44 am

At the beginning of every year, we read the tea leaves to see what new food trends we'll be tasting in the coming months. This year, the tea itself is the trend.

Tea leaves will be big in entrees, desserts and, of course, cocktails. Starbucks has opened its first tea shop.

We won't be just drinking tea; Artisan distilling keeps on growing. This could be the year of gin, made with local botanicals as well as the traditional juniper berry.

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Around the Nation
8:12 am
Sun January 5, 2014

No Relief Forecast After One Of California's Driest Years Ever

Downtown Los Angeles peeps through the distance and dry brush. Many cities in California closed out 2013 as the driest year since record-keeping began more than a century ago.
Nick Ut AP

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 9:13 am

It's a near-perfect morning on Venice Beach in Southern California, temperatures in the 60s, with a breeze. You can hear the waves of the Pacific crash against the sand. Only a layer of clouds mars the scene.

Scott and Sue Nolan, visiting from Houston, play kickball in the sand with their son. They are grateful to be in this mild, if not perfectly sunny weather, but Sue Nolan has noticed something's not right.

"One of the thoughts, when we were driving through town was, how are they sustaining all this with what you see so dry everywhere?" she says.

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Bonus Round: Ask Me Another
8:02 am
Sun January 5, 2014

Day 12: It's A New Year, So Keep Your Brain Sharp

Puzzle guru Art Chung has a question or two for you.
Steve Petrucelli
  • Listen to 'Replacement Math'

This is the twelfth day of Ask Me Another's 12 Days of Xmas series.

What do you get when you add Jay-Z's 'Problems' to Three Dog Night's 'Loneliest Number'? In this Season One bonus round, titled "Replacement Math," puzzle guru Art Chung challenges contestants to solve simple arithmetic problems using numbers found in pop culture. Calculus is a lot less scary when it involves your favorite band.

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The Two-Way
7:58 am
Sun January 5, 2014

At Least 20 Dead In Baghdad Blasts; Fighting In Anbar Continues

An Iraqi riot police officer flashes the V-sign as his unit returns to its headquarters from clashes with al-Qaida fighters in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, in the restive Anbar Province.
Nabil al-Jurani AP

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 2:24 pm

More news Sunday of violence in Iraq: At least 20 people are dead in the capital, Baghdad, following a wave of bombings.

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The Two-Way
7:11 am
Sun January 5, 2014

New York Weighs Easing Limits On Marijuana Use

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is reportedly considering allowing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Tim Roske AP

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 2:03 pm

New York may join a group of states that have loosened restrictions on marijuana: Gov. Andrew Cuomo is reportedly considering allowing the use of the drug for medicinal purposes.

The New York Times first reported the story. Here's more from the paper:

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Author Interviews
6:59 am
Sun January 5, 2014

A Novice Reporter Begins His Journey In The Congo

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 9:13 am

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Anjan Sundaram had all kinds of options in the late summer of 2005. He had a master's in mathematics from Yale, a lucrative job offer from Goldman Sachs; and he was just about to begin a Ph.D. But he left all that behind and made a dramatically different choice. He headed to the Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the worst conflict zones in the world, to try to start a career in journalism. At the time, the death count in that war was more than 4 million people. That number continues to rise.

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The Two-Way
6:22 am
Sun January 5, 2014

'Polar Vortex' Brings Bitter Cold, Heavy Snow To U.S.

A woman cross-country skis in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Saturday. The National Weather Service is warning of "life-threatening wind chill" amid a record-breaking cold spell that has enveloped much of the nation.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 10:08 am

When the National Weather Service warns of "life-threatening wind chill" affecting the Northern and Central parts of the country, you'd better pay attention.

Here's what it says:

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It's All Politics
6:10 am
Sun January 5, 2014

How Media Outlets Sometimes Agree To Agree

Nelson Mandela was not always the universally revered figure he's become.
Filippo Monteforte AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 7:42 am

When former South African President Nelson Mandela died last month, he was celebrated around the world, lauded in this country by politicians who range as far apart on the ideological spectrum as President Obama and Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz.

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Sunday Puzzle
6:01 am
Sun January 5, 2014

Two Times Harder

NPR

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 9:13 am

On-air challenge: Every answer is a pair of two-syllable words. The first syllable of the word answering the first clue has the letters A-R, pronounced "are." Change these phonetically to "er," and you'll get a new word that answers the second clue. For example, given "hair-cutter" and "a North African," the answer would be "barber" and "Berber."

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Author Interviews
6:01 am
Sun January 5, 2014

'On Such A Full Sea': A Fable From A Fractured Future

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 9:13 am

Fast-forward to a few hundred years into the future: Resources in the United States are scarce. The government has fallen apart and most of the population has left, looking for a better life somewhere else.

Immigrant laborers — many from China — have come to fill the labor void, and life in the new America is divided into three distinct societies. First, the Charters, walled-off cities populated by the elites. Next are the working-class cities where the laborers live, and last are the lawless and wild places in between.

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Politics
6:01 am
Sun January 5, 2014

Debt Ceiling, Immigration Confrontations Loom In Congress

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 9:13 am

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

As we just heard, jobless benefits are a top priority for Congress when lawmakers get back to work tomorrow. But of course, there are more big issues to resolve. And joining us to run through the rest of the 2014 congressional agenda is NPR's political correspondent Mara Liasson. Hi, Mara.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Hi, Rachel.

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Around the Nation
6:01 am
Sun January 5, 2014

Despite Scandals, Nation's Crime Labs Have Seen Little Change

Annie Dookhan, a former chemist, during her arraignment in Brockton, Mass., in January 2013.
Jessica Rinaldi Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 10:33 am

The nation's crime labs are no strangers to scandal. Last year in Massachusetts, bogus testing by former chemist Annie Dookhan called into question tens of thousands of cases and led to the release of more than 300 people from the state's prisons.

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Three Books...
5:02 am
Sun January 5, 2014

When Modernism Met Science Fiction: Three New Wave Classics

The original paperback cover for Joanna Russ' 1975 novel The Female Man (detail above) called the book "startling."

A fan named Peter Graham once said that the golden age of science fiction is 12. That's true for me, although like many other fans I'd insist that my first exposure to SF happened during the real golden age. The decade from 1965 to 1975 was science fiction's so-called New Wave, when the genre took on both the turmoil of the '60s and the literary techniques of high modernism. The mix of the two created spectacular results, as dozens of energized writers penned scores of wonderful books. To this day their impact is being recognized; 2014 will see Samuel R.

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Krulwich Wonders...
2:33 am
Sun January 5, 2014

Oh Say, Can You See? A Musical Salute

Jon Batiste star-spangles our banner.
YouTube

Some things are so familiar, so fixed in our heads, that we stop noticing them. Buckle-your-seat-belt instructions in an airplane, for example. You don't have to listen. You know the drill.

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Fine Art
2:32 am
Sun January 5, 2014

Robert Indiana: A Career Defined By 'LOVE' No Longer

Robert Indiana first emerged as a pop artist in the early 1960s, but he was quickly defined by his 1966 signature work, LOVE, shown behind Indiana in this 2013 photo.
Lauren Casselberry AP

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 9:13 am

In 1968, Manhattan's Museum of Modern Art bought a painting called LOVE — and made artist Robert Indiana famous. It became a sculpture, a stamp, greeting cards.

And it obliterated the rest of Indiana's career. The artist has been pretty much ignored by the art world for the past few decades. Not sneered at, he says – just ignored.

"I wasn't aware that I was disrespected," he says, in a raspy baritone. "I've only been neglected."

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The Record
3:24 pm
Sat January 4, 2014

Phil Everly: Harmony To His Brother's Melody

The Everly Brothers, Phil (left) and Don, perform in 2004 in London.
Jo Hale Getty Images

Originally published on Sat January 4, 2014 5:59 pm

The Everly Brothers' close harmonies and smooth guitar licks influenced an entire generation of popular musicians. Don Everly's voice usually handled the melody, but Phil Everly gave the higher accompanying harmony to that melody, and that was what defined The Everly Brothers' sound.

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Poetry
3:16 pm
Sat January 4, 2014

Jimmy Santiago Baca, From Prison To Poetry

When Jimmy Santiago Baca was 20, he was convicted of drug charges and sentenced to prison. He was illiterate when he arrived at the Arizona State Prison. When he got out five years later, he was well on his way to becoming one of America's most celebrated poets.

Baca writes about oppression, love and migration, and his poems range from just a few lines to many pages.

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Fine Art
3:16 pm
Sat January 4, 2014

Conserving Priceless Chinese Paintings Is An Art All Its Own

Zhao Mengfu was the preeminent painter and calligrapher of the early Yuan dynasty (1279-1368). His Sheep And Goat scroll is estimated to be worth $100 million.
Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 1:33 pm

Outside of China and Taiwan, U.S. museums hold the world's best collection of Chinese paintings. It's worth billions of dollars, but it's also fragile: Over time, these paintings fall apart. In the U.S., there are only four master conservators who know how to take care of them, and they're all approaching retirement.

The Freer and Sackler Galleries — one of the huge, stone Smithsonian buildings on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. — employ one of those masters.

Invisible Conservation

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Economy
3:16 pm
Sat January 4, 2014

With Benefits Cut, Unemployed Take Stock Of Dwindling Options

Visitors use the Unemployment Insurance Phone Bank in Sacramento, Calif., on Sept. 20. Tens of thousands in the state lost federal unemployment benefits in December.
Rich Pedroncelli AP

Originally published on Sat January 4, 2014 4:51 pm

In November, 222,000 Californians opened their mailboxes to find a warning: Unemployment benefits were scheduled to end in December.

While Congress was inching closer to passing a budget, Emergency Unemployment Compensation was not part of the deal. That's the long-term jobless benefits: extra federal money that allows unemployed workers to collect payments for months longer than they could in better economic times.

Sure enough, on Dec. 18, Congress passed that budget and packed up for Christmas recess, leaving those extended benefits to expire just 10 days later.

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Iraq
3:16 pm
Sat January 4, 2014

Iraq's Anbar Province Under Threat From Al-Qaida

Heavy fighting has been reported in the Anbar province of Iraq this week. NPR's Arun Rath speaks to Middle East specialist Kirk Sowell about what it means.

Sports
3:16 pm
Sat January 4, 2014

Controversial Since Day 1, Bowl Championship Series To End

On Monday, the BCS National Championship featuring Florida State and Auburn University will mark the end of the confusing and controversial Bowl Championship Series. Dennis Dodd from CBS Sports speaks with NPR's Arun Rath about what this means for the future of NCAA football.

Digital Life
3:16 pm
Sat January 4, 2014

New In The Next Year: From Acting To Electric Cars

Originally published on Sat January 4, 2014 3:39 pm

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

It's time now for The New and The Next.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

RATH: Carlos Watson is the cofounder of the online magazine Ozy. Each week, he joins us to talk about what's new and what's next. Welcome back, Carlos. Happy New Year.

CARLOS WATSON: Arun, Happy New Year to you. Always good to be back.

RATH: So this week, we're going to talk about some of the stuff you're excited about in the year ahead. One of those things, in a word, Japan.

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The Two-Way
1:40 pm
Sat January 4, 2014

Saul Zaentz, Oscar Winner Who Feuded With John Fogerty, Dies

Saul Zaentz in 2009.
Kevork Djansezian Getty Images

"Saul Zaentz, who parlayed a successful career in the music business into a Oscar-winning second act as an independent movie producer, died Friday at his home in the San Francisco area from complications of Alzheimer's," The Hollywood Reporter writes.

He was 92.

The three Oscars that Zaentz won were all "best picture" awards — for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in 1975, Amadeus in 1984 and The English Patient in 1996.

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The Two-Way
12:38 pm
Sat January 4, 2014

'No One Controls Fallujah,' Which U.S. Soldiers Fought To Free

In Fallujah on Saturday, Sunni fighters turned out for the funeral of a man killed by Iraqi army artillery fire.
Mohammed Jalil EPA/LANDOV

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 12:42 pm

The latest headlines from the city of Fallujah, the scene of much intense fighting involving U.S. forces during the Iraq War, are ominous:

-- "Iraq Government Loses Control Of Fallujah." (Al-Jazeera)

-- "Sunni Fighters 'Control All Of Fallujah.' " (BBC News)

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Afghanistan
10:53 am
Sat January 4, 2014

Texas Man Becomes Unlikely CFO Of Ragged Kabul Orphanage

Conditions are spare at the Window of Hope orphanage in Kabul, but American NGO worker Siavash Rahbari (upper left) says it's still better than how many Afghan children live.
Sean Carberry NPR

Originally published on Sat January 4, 2014 4:14 pm

On Saturday afternoons, sometimes with a coworker or two, Siavash Rahbari drives up a rutted side street in Kabul to visit the Window of Hope orphanage.

In the living room, there are a dozen boys and two girls. Some are playing, while others lie around on mats on the floor, clearly suffering from a range of disabilities. Rahbari, a Texan who works at an NGO in Kabul, gives the children a cursory inspection.

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The Two-Way
10:39 am
Sat January 4, 2014

Former First Lady Barbara Bush Released From Hospital

Former first lady Barbara Bush in March 2012.
Tom Pennington Getty Images

Former first lady Barbara Bush is home after more than five days of treatment at a Houston hospital. She had pneumonia.

The Houston Chronicle reports that Bush family spokesman Jim McGrath says the 88-year-old wife of one president and mother of another had a couple "truly great days" in which she responded well to treatment.

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The Two-Way
9:48 am
Sat January 4, 2014

How Cold Is It? It's So Cold That ...

Brrr. This woman was cold Friday in Washington, D.C. But even more frigid temperatures are descending on much of the nation.
Kevin Dietsch UPI/Landov

Originally published on Sat January 4, 2014 12:26 pm

... there's no hot air left in Washington.

We bet Two-Way readers can do much better than that. Feel free to answer our headline's question in the comments thread.

The news, of course, is that "record breaking cold" is expected through Monday "from the Northern Plains eastward into the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley," according to the National Weather Service. It warns that:

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The Two-Way
9:01 am
Sat January 4, 2014

How One Man Won $324M And Didn't Realize It For 2 Weeks

One of two winning tickets in last month's $648 million Mega Millions jackpot was sold here, at Jenny's Gift Shop in San Jose. The guy who bought it didn't realize what he had for nearly two weeks.
John G. Mabanglo EPA/LANDOV

Originally published on Sat January 4, 2014 12:27 pm

The second very lucky winner of last month's massive Mega Millions jackpot is a California delivery driver who didn't get around to checking his lottery tickets for nearly two weeks.

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