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6:57 am
Sat December 21, 2013

Despite Setbacks, Obama Finds Bright Spots In 2013

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 9:30 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. And President Obama's in Hawaii today. His family flew there last night for their annual Christmas getaway. Just before leaving Washington, D.C., the President put a stamp on 2013 with a year-end news conference. At times, his parting encounter with reporters seemed as rough as the year just ending. NPR's Ari Shapiro was there.

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Politics
6:56 am
Sat December 21, 2013

Congress Faces Farm Bill, Debt Ceiling In 2014

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 9:30 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The U.S. Senate wrapped up its first session of the 113th Congress yesterday. Despite modest signs of bipartisanship near the end of the session, this year's been lampooned as one of the least productive years in the history of the legislative branch, one mired in partisan strife. NPR's congressional reporter, Ailsa Chang, joins us now. Ailsa, thanks for being with us.

AILSA CHANG, BYLINE: You're welcome. Thanks for having me.

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Music News
6:54 am
Sat December 21, 2013

At Christmas, The Tubas Finally Get The Melody

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 9:30 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Holiday music: Bing, "Silver Bells," Nat, evening carolers, and, of course, tubas. Well, maybe not. But hundreds of thousands of tubas oom-pah-pah their way through the holiday standards in annual concerts every year, all around the world. It's called Tuba Christmas and this is its 40th year. NPR's Gabrielle Emanuel swung by the Washington, D.C. event this week.

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Code Switch
6:10 am
Sat December 21, 2013

A Jew And A Latino Walk Into A Recording Studio...

Released November 2013
Courtesy of Cary Baker

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 9:30 am

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The Two-Way
6:09 am
Sat December 21, 2013

Utah Seeks Emergency Stay Of Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Chris Serrano, left, and Clifton Webb kiss after being married, as people wait in line to get licenses outside of the marriage division of the Salt Lake County Clerk's Office in Salt Lake City on Friday.
Kim Raff AP

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 12:34 pm

Officials in Utah are asking for an emergency stay of a federal court ruling that found the state's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.

Reporting from Salt Lake City, NPR's Howard Berkes filed this report for our Newscast unit:

"Within minutes of the federal court decision, the Salt Lake County Clerk's office was inundated with gay couples seeking marriage licenses.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
6:03 am
Sat December 21, 2013

Preservation Hall Jazz Band: Tiny Desk Concert

Preservation Hall Jazz Band performs at the Tiny Desk on Dec. 3, 2013.
John W. Poole John W. Poole

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 3:14 pm

Our goal for this special holiday Tiny Desk Concert is simple: to bring you joy. Preservation Hall Jazz Band is a hot and historic outfit from New Orleans, and its members brought us a tuba-wielding Santa and some original holiday cheer and praise — what they call a Cajun Christmas from the French Quarter.

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Books
3:18 am
Sat December 21, 2013

The Brighter Side Of Darkness: For Some, The Night Inspires

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 11:13 am

Saturday is the winter solstice — the longest night of the year. For many, winter's darkness is depressing. But others seem to bloom, thrive, even come alive in the dead of night.

It's not just vampires who seek the dark: it's poets, painters, musicians and artists of all kinds.

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Bonus Round: Ask Me Another
3:15 am
Sat December 21, 2013

The Crossword Turns 100 (Across): Celebrate By Playing Our Puzzle

John Chaneski

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 8:46 am

  • Hear Will Shortz Prove His Anagram Prowess On Ask Me Another

The first published crossword puzzle was printed on December 21, 1913, in the The New York World. It was written by Arthur Wynne, a British journalist who moved to the United States at age 19 and wound up in New York City. His puzzle, diamond-shaped and identified as a "Word-Cross," first appeared in the "Fun" section of the Sunday paper.

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Number Of The Year
3:14 am
Sat December 21, 2013

For BP Cleanup, 2013 Meant 4.6 Million Pounds Of Oily Gunk

Jonathan Henderson of the Gulf Restoration Network holds a jar of tar balls.
Debbie Elliott NPR

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 12:58 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.

On a breezy December morning, a work crew is scouring the surf line on Grand Isle, La., scooping up tiny tar balls and collecting them in a basket.

Foreman LeRoy Irving keeps track of what the 14-person team has collected in a half-day. "If I had to guess, maybe 10 pounds," he says.

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The Two-Way
6:19 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Police Recover Heroin Packets Stamped 'Obamacare'

Police in Massachusetts on Friday pulled over a suspicious automobile and after conducting a search, recovered more than a thousand small packets of heroin stamped "Obamacare" and "Kurt Cobain."

Four people were arrested after the traffic stop in Northampton in which 1,250 of the packets were found.

Police say the car driver committed several violations, prompting the stop. He was later found to be unlicensed.

The Associated Press says a state police dog found the contraband:

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Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
5:58 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

'Queen Of Memphis Soul' Carla Thomas Plays Not My Job

Stax Museum of American Soul Music

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 12:14 pm

We recorded our show in Memphis, Tenn., this week, where Carla Thomas is a soul legend. Born in Memphis, Thomas scored her first hit single for Stax Records at the age of 18, and had many more, including duets with Otis Redding and other stars.

We've invited her to play a game called "Thomas, meet Thomas." Three questions about other people who are also named Thomas.

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Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
5:58 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Prediction

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 12:14 pm

Transcript

CARL KASELL: Now panel, what is the next thing that will turn up to be worthless? Tom Bodett.

TOM BODETT: I don't personally believe it but the wishes you make before you blow out the candles on your birthday cake.

(LAUGHTER)

BODETT: It turns out totally worthless.

PETER SAGAL, HOST:

I can vouch for that. Roxanne Roberts.

ROXANNE ROBERTS: You know how our parents always warned us that Santa only brings presents to nice girls?

SAGAL: Yes.

ROBERTS: Just not true.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: And Roy Blount, Jr.

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Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
5:58 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Lightning Fill In The Blank

All the news we couldn't fit anywhere else.

Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
5:58 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Limericks

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 12:14 pm

Transcript

PETER SAGAL, HOST:

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It's All Politics
5:42 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Obama Zings Friends And Foes Alike In Year-End News Conference

A few of President Obama's comments at his year-end news conference were the kind that could rankle political allies and opponents alike.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 7:01 pm

It's the season of peace and goodwill, but President Obama may have tested the limits of both with some comments at his end-of-year news conference.

Asked if he would negotiate with congressional Republicans about the debt ceiling, Obama said he wouldn't do so over raising the limit, though he was willing to talk with Rep. Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican and House Budget Committee chairman, about other issues, like tax reform.

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The Two-Way
5:03 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Man Who Shot Reagan Allowed Longer Stays Out Of Mental Hospital

In a Nov. 18, 2003 file photo, John Hinckley Jr. arrives at U.S. District Court in Washington.
Evan Vucci AP

John Hinckley Jr., the man who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981, has been granted more time outside the mental hospital where he's been confined for almost three decades.

U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman ordered that Hinckley be allowed to visit his mother's home in Williamsburg, Va., for up to 17 days at a time, tacking a week on to the 10-day visits that were already permitted away from St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, D.C.

Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity after he shot Reagan and three others on March 30, 1981.

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Code Switch
4:21 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

The Truth Behind The Lies Of The Original 'Welfare Queen'

The Chicago press covered Linda Taylor's 1977 trial extensively, and she dressed to court the cameras.
Charles Knoblock Associated Press

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 8:36 am

If you haven't read Josh Levin's amazing story at Slate — the woman upon whom the term "welfare queen" was originally bestowed — you're missing out on a fascinating and disturbing profile of an unlikely political figure.

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All Tech Considered
4:18 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Robot 'Olympics' Test Machines On Human Skills

Atlas, a humanoid robot, is competing against 16 other robots in a Pentagon-sponsored contest this weekend.
Greg Allen NPR

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 4:46 pm

Under throbbing loudspeakers at a NASCAR track south of Miami, vaguely humanoid robots with two legs, four legs and tank treads take up garages that normally house race cars.

The robots, along with researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lockheed Martin, NASA and 13 other teams from around the world, are in Homestead, Fla., for the robot Olympics on Friday and Saturday.

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The Two-Way
3:47 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Astronauts Ready For Marathon Spacewalks

NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy performs a spacewalk in May to inspect and replace a pump controller box on the International Space Station. On Saturday, two astronauts will perform the first in a series of similar spacewalks to fix a broken cooling line on the ISS.
AP

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 4:46 pm

NASA astronauts will be heading out to conduct critical repairs on the International Space Station early Saturday morning. The 6 1/2-hour spacewalk, the first in a series, will replace a faulty piece of cooling equipment.

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Health Care
3:42 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

White House Announces Another Rule Change For Affordable Care Act

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 4:46 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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The Two-Way
3:07 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Federal Court Strikes Down Utah's Gay Marriage Ban

Derek Kitchen (left) and his partner, Moudi Sbeity, talk with the media outside Frank E. Moss United States Courthouse earlier this month, where a challenge to Utah's same-sex marriage ban by three gay couples was decided on Friday.
Rick Bowmer AP

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 5:03 pm

A federal judge has struck down Utah's ban on same-sex marriage, saying it's unconstitutional.

The 53-page ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby says a 2004 ban passed by the state's voters violates the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The Associated Press says:

"Attorneys for the state argued that Utah's law promotes the state's interest in 'responsible procreation' and the 'optimal mode of child-rearing.'

"The lawsuit was brought by three gay and lesbian couples in Utah.

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Around the Nation
3:03 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Detroit's New Top Cop Brings Hope For A Struggling Department

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 4:46 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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Planet Money
3:01 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Will A Computer Decide Whether You Get Your Next Job?

In an effort to hire better job candidates, some companies are replacing paper resumes with tests designed to collect big data from job applicants.
Mark Lennihan AP

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 4:46 pm

Xerox runs 175 call centers around the world. In all, the centers employ more than 50,000 customer service agents who deal with questions about everything from cellphone bills to health insurance.

Teri Morse, who is in charge of recruiting all those people, says the company had a problem: It was hiring people who just weren't a good fit.

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Middle East
3:01 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Robert Siegel On Qatar: Tiny Country, Big Influence

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 4:46 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

My co-host Robert Siegel has just returned from a reporting trip in the Middle East, to the nation of Qatar, and next week he'll be bringing us some stories. Robert, welcome back.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Hi, thanks, Audie. How are you?

CORNISH: So first, why Qatar?

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Number Of The Year
3:00 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

The Cost To Keep The Home Team At Home May Not Be Worth It

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announces that the city will demolish Turner Field after Major League Baseball's Atlanta Braves leave for a new stadium in the suburbs in 2017. Reed says it was a hard decision but he thinks the city will be better for it.
David Goldman AP

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 5:52 pm

$498 million — that's how much the state of Minnesota and the city of Minneapolis have agreed to pay as their share of a new, nearly $1 billion football stadium for the Minnesota Vikings. Team owner Ziggy Wilf says he believes Minnesotans got a fair deal.

And as it turns out, the deal is pretty standard. But is it fair? Increasingly, privately owned sports teams aren't just asking for newer, fancier digs. They're also asking the public to pay half — or more — of the bill.

Hidden Costs Add Up

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Movie Interviews
2:53 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Ben Stiller, Spinning Daydreams In 'Walter Mitty'

Ben Stiller stars as a man who escapes his humdrum life by daydreaming in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which he also directed.
Wilson Webb Twentieth Century Fox

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 4:46 pm

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty — originally a two-page James Thurber story published in The New Yorker in 1939 — is about the reveries of a henpecked husband who became transformed, in his imagination, into an intrepid fighter pilot or a world-famous surgeon.

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Politics
2:53 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Despite Tough Year, Obama Puts Upbeat Spin On 2013

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 3:42 pm

Ahead of his trip to Hawaii for the holidays, President Obama held a year-end press conference at the White House Friday. Despite a tough year, the president insisted he had successes under his watch as well, and said he still hoped 2014 could be a "breakthrough year."

Politics
2:53 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Week In Politics: Another Looming Debt Fight, Possible NSA Changes

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 4:46 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Well, for thoughts on that, I'm joined by our weekly political commentators E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post and David Brooks of the New York Times. David, breakthrough year coming up?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, yes. We're going to be the Miley Cyrus of nations next year, unstoppable.

BLOCK: I don't know what that means.

BROOKS: Unstoppable, but kind of embarrassing.

BLOCK: OK.

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Politics
2:53 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Obama: A Million People Bought Health Plans On Exchanges

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 4:46 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. President Obama accentuated the positive at his year-end news conference today.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: You know what they say, it's the most wonderful press conference of the year.

BLOCK: The president pointed to three bits of good news. First, economic growth, more than 2 million jobs produced in 2013 and an American economy that grew at its strongest pace since 2011.

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Around the Nation
2:53 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Bankruptcy Casts Shadow Over Detroit's Plan To Fix Streetlights

In Detroit, fewer than half of the city's 88,000 street lights actually work anymore.
Quinn Klinefelter WDET

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 4:46 pm

Many neighborhoods in Detroit are in the dark — not because of a power outage but because fewer than half of the city's 88,000 streetlights actually work.

In some parts of town, city block after city block is filled with streetlights that never come on.

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