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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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Book Reviews
2:53 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

This British Spy Thriller Shows How Thrill-Less Spying Can Be

Then-Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte walks the hallways of the Threat Operations Center inside the National Security Agency in 2006.
Paul J. Richards AFP/Getty Images

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

Thanks to the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies, a panel appointed by President Obama, the practice of spying has been thrust back into headlines this week. The panel recommended that the NSA should stop collecting nearly all phone records, suggesting that a third party take responsibility instead for the database of records.

Tapping phones, searching records, international intrigue — these acts are not new events unfolding with the NSA. In fact, all this espionage has been a staple in novel and film for the better part of a century.

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The Two-Way
2:28 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Gov. Christie Signs New Jersey 'DREAM Act' Into Law

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at a news conference Thursday.
Mel Evans AP

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 5:52 pm

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill on Friday that will give some students who are in the U.S. illegally a break on their tuition.

Christie inked New Jersey's version of the DREAM Act, which the Republican governor supported in his last re-election bid.

The state's Legislature passed the bill after a compromise that dropped a provision that would also have allowed students in the country illegally to be eligible for state financial aid if they qualified under income guidelines, according to The Associated Press.

The AP reports:

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Parallels
2:01 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Uganda Passes Anti-Gay Bill That Includes Life In Prison

David Bahati, a member of Uganda's Parliament, is interviewed in 2011. Bahati was the driving force behind a controversial anti-gay bill that was approved Friday.
Ronald Kabuubi AP

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

Uganda's Parliament ignored Western criticism and passed a bill on Friday that punishes acts of homosexuality with prison terms that can include life in prison.

The bill has been a source of controversy for years. Western governments and leaders, including President Obama, have criticized the measure, which President Yoweri Museveni must sign for it to take effect.

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill, it's actual name, also makes it a crime to "promote" homosexuality, which could mean simply offering HIV counseling.

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It's All Politics
1:38 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Black GOP Hopefuls See Promise In Retirement Flurry

Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love addresses the Utah Republican Party's annual organizing convention in May.
Rick Bowmer AP

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 5:49 pm

It's not every day that three long-serving House members announce their retirements within hours of each other. It's rarer still that two of those seats have a distinct possibility of being filled by a black Republican after next year's election.

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Remembrances
1:24 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Fresh Air Remembers Country Music Artist Ray Price

Country Music Hall of Famer Ray Price, pictured above in 1983, died Monday at age 87.
AP

Pioneering country music artist Ray Price — who created hits like "Heartaches by the Number" — died Monday of pancreatic cancer. He was 87 years old. Price was born in Cherokee County, Texas, in 1926. When he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1996, he was described by musician Kris Kristofferson as a living link from Hank Williams to the country music of today.

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Interviews
1:24 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Jason Isbell Locates His Musical Compass On 'Southeastern'

Jason Isbell was previously a member of Drive-By Truckers. His solo albums include Sirens of the Ditch and Here We Rest.
Eric England Courtesy of the artist

This interview was originally broadcast on July 17, 2013.

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All Tech Considered
1:05 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

The 'Blacks In Tech' Series Wraps, But Let's Keep Talking

Omar Wasow founded BlackPlanet, one of the earliest social networks, but isn't as widely recognized as the founders of Facebook or Myspace.
Willi Wong

Editor's Note: As part of Tell Me More's three-week-long Twitter exploration of black innovators in the tech sector, digital lifestyle expert Mario Armstrong analyzed the tweets and the conversations going on under the hashtag #NPRBlacksinTech. The series wraps today. Below, he looks back on what we've learned.

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All Tech Considered
12:42 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Week That Was: Bay Area Economy, NSA Ruling, Tech Execs In D.C.

President Obama and Vice President Biden met with tech executives at the White House on Wednesday.
Jim Watson AFP/Getty Images

Before we slow things down for the final two weeks of 2013 — you'll still get fresh stories and posts here, but at a slower clip — let's look back at tech in one of the last weeks of the year.

ICYMI

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Architecture
12:11 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Makeover USA: Short, 'Dowdy' D.C. Considers High Heels

The skyline of Washington, D.C., including the Capitol building, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and National Mall. The tall buildings in the distance are in Virginia.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 2:06 pm

The powers that be in Washington are typically, though certainly not always, wrestling with weighty issues.

Recently, they've also been debating height, and whether they prefer a stout, familiar dowager, or a taller, sleeker model.

Building heights, people: We're talking building heights in your nation's capital, where for more than a century the 1910 Building Height Act has kept the city's profile low.

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The Two-Way
12:09 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

President Orders Review Of Sexual Assault In Military

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey brief reporters at the Pentagon in Washington, on Thursday.
Charles Dharapak AP

President Obama has ordered a one-year review of the military's response to sexual assault within the ranks, saying his administration has "an urgent obligation" to respond to the problem.

"If I do not see the kind of progress I expect, then we will consider additional reforms that may be required to eliminate this crime from our military ranks," the president said in a statement on Friday.

As Reuters says:

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The Two-Way
11:54 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Obama On Health Care Rollout: 'We Screwed It Up'

Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 3:46 pm

President Obama, in his final news conference of the year, sought to put the best face on a difficult first year of his second term.

Speaking a few hours before he heads to Hawaii for a two-week vacation, Obama is meeting with reporters at the White House.

He touted the improving economy, saying 2 million jobs had been added in 2013, with the unemployment rate now at its lowest level in five years.

"2014 can be a breakthrough year," he said.

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The Two-Way
10:22 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Yellen Nomination To Fed Clears Hurdle; Confirmation Likely

Janet Yellen, who is poised to move from the No. 2 to the No. 1 post at the Federal Reserve.
Alex Wong Getty Images

By a vote of 59-34 the Senate on Friday moved the nomination of Janet Yellen to be the next chairman of the Federal Reserve past a key procedural hurdle.

The vote invoked "cloture" — effectively preventing Republicans from filibustering President Obama's nominee.

Next up for Yellen's nomination: A confirmation vote, set for Jan. 6. With the Democratic caucus controlling 55 of the Senate's 100 seats, she's expected to get a majority and then become the first woman to head the central bank.

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Shots - Health News
10:11 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Angelina Didn't Help Educate People About Breast Cancer Risk

A celebrity's efforts to educate the public about health risk may have very limited effects.
Evan Agostini AP

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 2:47 pm

Remember when Angelina Jolie decided to have a double mastectomy to reduce her risk of breast cancer? The Hollywood star revealed her experience in The New York Times in May.

Her story got a lot of people talking about preventive mastectomies. But it didn't do much to increase people's understanding of breast cancer risk, a study found.

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Politics
10:07 am
Fri December 20, 2013

'A Lot Of Sour Grapes' Left In Budget Deal

Congress is hopes for a happy holiday after approving a budget deal. But the President is still feeling the heat over Obamacare and the National Security Agency's data mining. Host Michel Martin talks politics with Republican strategist Ron Christie and Fernando Espuelas of Univision.

Technology
10:07 am
Fri December 20, 2013

#NPRBlacksInTech: Creating Technology 'Comes From Passion'

Tell Me More has sparked Twitter discussions around diversity in tech at #NPRBlacksinTech. For more on why there's a racial disparity in tech, host Michel Martin talks with physicist Reginald Farrow, entrepreneur Deena Pierott and middle school student Miles Peterson.

Parallels
9:43 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Rebel Leader: Nuns Were Led To Safety, Not Seized, In Syria

Nuns from the Mar Takla convent in Maaloula, Syria.
YouTube

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 11:53 am

There are differing versions of what happened to the Greek Orthodox nuns of Maaloula, who left their convent north of Damascus earlier this month. Some say the nuns are being held hostage by Islamic radicals. Others say they were under missile assault by the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad and were rescued by rebel fighters.

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It's All Politics
9:33 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Protesters Greet Scott Brown At New Hampshire GOP Event

Republican Scott Brown (center) waves to the crowd at the conclusion of his Massachusetts Senate race concession speech Nov. 6 as his daughter Ayla Brown (left) and wife Gail Huff applaud.
Steven Senne AP

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 12:43 pm

Scott Brown still knows how to make an entrance.

The former Massachusetts senator — and a soon-to-be official resident of Rye, N.H. — arrived at the New Hampshire GOP's holiday party in his trademark pickup truck Thursday evening, and was greeted by more than 100 chanting protesters.

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Movie Reviews
9:28 am
Fri December 20, 2013

For An Actress In Eclipse, 'All The Light' She Can Grasp

Jane Adams, who played a poet turned pimp on the HBO series Hung, takes on the part of a conflicted actor grappling with age in All the Light in the Sky.
Factory 25

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 12:24 pm

"I wish I had this other layer all the time," says a woman offhandedly, zipping up a form-fitting protective wetsuit.

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The Two-Way
9:21 am
Fri December 20, 2013

No Widespread Misconduct In Secret Service, Investigators Say

U.S. Secret Service

"Although individual employees have engaged in misconduct or inappropriate behavior, we did not find evidence that misconduct is widespread," concludes a report from the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general. The IG's investigation was launched after the 2012 scandal over some agents' behavior while they were on a mission in Colombia.

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Business
9:13 am
Fri December 20, 2013

U.S. Economy's 3rd-Quarter Growth Beats Projections

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

NPR's business news begins with some good news on the economic front.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GREENE: The U.S. economy grew by 4.1 percent in the third quarter of the year, and that's significantly higher than the earlier projection of 3.6 percent. The upward revision comes mostly thanks to stronger consumer spending, and it is the fastest jump in growth in almost two years. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

The Salt
9:04 am
Fri December 20, 2013

They're Back! Chesapeake Oysters Return To Menus After Rebound

A plate of Sweet Jesus oysters grown in Chesapeake Bay by Hollywood Oyster Co. in Hollywood, Md.
Katy Adams Courtesy Clyde's Restaurant Group

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 10:44 am

The history of the Chesapeake Bay oyster hasn't always been a pure one. So you could forgive a chef for being skeptical about the big bivalve comeback being staged in D.C. and the surrounding area this winter as oyster season gets underway.

But many mid-Atlantic chefs are actually cheering. That's because a major public-private effort to re-establish the oyster as a quality local food product — as well as a weapon against water pollution — seems to be working.

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The Two-Way
8:38 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Sen. Baucus Tapped To Be Ambassador To China

Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Confirming one of the week's less-secret secrets, the White House announced Friday morning that President Obama intends to nominate Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., to be the next ambassador to the People's Republic of China.

The 72-year-old Baucus has been in the Senate since 1978. He is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

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Code Switch
8:16 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Diaspora Sounds Alarm As Dominicans Face Statelessness

Dominicans of Haitian descent protest outside the Constitutional Court in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on Oct 3.
Manuel Diaz AP

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 12:09 pm

Politicians in the Dominican Republic have long courted Dominicans in the U.S. for votes. That relationship has strengthened in the past couple of years; in 2011, the Dominican government established seven representatives for its communities abroad.

And that influence means activism in the U.S. matters back on the island.

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The Two-Way
7:48 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Well, Morgan Freeman Did Play Nelson Mandela In A Movie

Oops.
Twitter

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 11:04 am

Among the memorials to Nelson Mandela put up across India is a billboard in Tamil Nadu that features a photo of actor Morgan Freeman, not the iconic anti-apartheid hero from South Africa who died earlier this month.

The businessman who paid for the sign says it will be replaced with one that has the right image.

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Monkey See
7:18 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Love In The Time Of Hollering: The Age Of Enthusiasm

Mark Evans iStockphoto

There have been Ages of Innocence and Iron, of Jazz and Bronze and Ice. We've had Golden Ages of all kinds, though we note them less by experiencing them and more by debating whether they have started, whether they are over, and whether we will ever see their like again.

And now we are in the Age Of Enthusiasm.

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