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6:05 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

A Man And His Machine, Finding Out What Love Is

In the sci-fi romance Her, a lonely man (Joaquin Phoenix) finds love in a rather unexpected place — with a computer operating system named Samantha.
Warner Bros.

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 1:24 pm

Her is the best film of the year by a so-wide margin. It's gorgeous, funny, deep — and I can hear some smart aleck say, "If you love it so much, why don't you marry it?" Let me tell you, I'd like to!

I certainly identify with the protagonist, Theodore Twombly, who falls in love with his computer operating system, his OS, which calls itself — sorry, I gotta say "who calls herself" — Samantha, and who sounds like a breathy young woman.

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The Two-Way
5:43 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Senators Cross Aisle To Call For New Sanctions On Iran

A bipartisan measure defying President Obama would impose new sanctions on Iran if it breaks an interim deal to curb its nuclear program.

The "Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act" would also compel the United States to back any Israeli strike against Iran's nuclear facilities.

Reuters says:

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The Two-Way
5:30 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

New York City Extends Smoking Ban To E-Cigarettes

Jim Watson AFP/Getty Images

New York's City Council has approved extending the city's strict smoking ban to include electronic cigarettes, which emit a vapor.

The measure was pushed by outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg and backed by public health advocates in the city. It comes just weeks after New York became the first major city to raise the age for buying tobacco to 21.

Earlier this month, New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said that "more research is needed on electronic cigarettes," but that "waiting to act could jeopardize the progress we have made over the last few years."

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All Tech Considered
3:49 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Outdated Magnetic Strips: How U.S. Credit Card Security Lags

The U.K., Canada and other countries have been using more secure chip credit cards for years now. Why hasn't the U.S. caught up?
Martin Keene PA Photos/Landov

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 11:47 am

Criminals may have stolen information from 40 million credit and debit cards used at Target. A possible weakness? The magnetic stripe on credit cards — which fraudsters can pull credit card numbers and expiration dates from to make counterfeit cards.

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Monkey See
3:46 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Infectious Collections: Stories And Poems To Convert Any Reader

Nishant Choksi

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 6:57 am

This post is for everyone who passes right by the poetry section; all the bookish types who haven't read a short story since graduation. We know you're out there — and you're not alone.

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All Tech Considered
3:44 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

A City Turns To Lettuce Fields To Grow High-Tech Startups

A lettuce thinner created by an agricultural tech startup uses cameras and sensors to thin lettuce rows. Salinas, Calif., has hired a venture capital fund to help it attract other high-tech agricultural companies to the area.
Courtesy of Foothill Packing Inc.

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 6:46 pm

Salinas is just one hour south of California's Silicon Valley, but generations behind when it comes to technology. Many of its sprawling lettuce farms are stuck in the era of rakes and hoes.

City officials are hoping to change that — and also spur some job growth — by investing in high-tech agriculture.

At Taylor Farms in Salinas, Andrew Fernandez, the company's vice president of product, is stepping on heads of crunchy romaine lettuce, making his way over to a very big tractor. It's a water jet knife machine, and it's on the cutting edge of lettuce farming technology.

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Around the Nation
3:42 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Once A Mighty Bomber, A B-52 Meets Its End In The Desert

A view of a B-52 about to have its tail section cut at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Ariz.
Ted Robbins NPR

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 4:16 pm

A relic of the Cold War met its end on Thursday. The Air Force destroyed the last B-52 bomber required under the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia.

A crew used a circular saw to cut through the plane's aluminum skin, the tail section separating from the fuselage with a loud thunk and officially rendering the bomber useless.

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JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater
3:24 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band On JazzSet

Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band plays the Monterey Jazz Festival.
Tomas Ovalle Courtesy of the Monterey Jazz Festival

Originally published on Thu June 19, 2014 3:24 pm

Closing his set at 92Y Tribeca, drummer Henry Cole — leader of the 11-player Afrobeat Collective from New York and Puerto Rico — told the audience, "Big groups are going to come again!" This show, which features Cole's young collective and a top big band playing the Monterey Jazz Festival, is a vote for that proposition.

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Shots - Health News
3:16 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Poll: Americans Favor Age Restrictions On Morning-After Pill

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 2:50 pm

Emergency contraception has been embroiled in controversy pretty much from the start.

But this year the legal wrangling over who can buy the Plan B One-Step morning-after pill without a prescription came to an end. A federal judge in New York ruled in April that the morning-after pill also had to be made available over the counter to girls 16 and under.

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Movie Reviews
3:01 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

From An Oscar Winner, A 'Past' Still Hauntingly Present

Asghar Farhadi's The Past focuses on the complex family dynamics between Marie (Berenice Bejo), her soon-to-be ex-husband, her new love (Tahar Rahim, above) and her children.
Carole Bethuel Sony Pictures Classics

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

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi came to international attention last year when his film A Separation won the Oscar for best foreign language film. His latest picture, The Past, has been showered with awards, too — at the Cannes Film Festival and from critics groups in the U.S. I saw The Past in September at the Toronto Film Festival, and it has haunted me ever since.

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Movie Reviews
3:01 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

'The Selfish Giant' Spins A Grim Modern Fairy Tale

Living in poverty and expelled from school, Arbor (Conner Chapman) turns to collecting scrap metal with a cart and horse in The Selfish Giant.
Agatha A. Nitecka Sundance Selects

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 5:08 pm

In Oscar Wilde's fairy tale The Selfish Giant, the title character brings eternal winter to his garden by banishing children from it. Writer-director Clio Barnard's film of the same name was inspired by Wilde's fable, yet is much different.

The original story was for kids; the movie is about kids, but its grim depictions of violence against innocents may be too harrowing even for some adults. Yet the movie is engrossing, and sure to linger long after its poignant culmination.

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Politics
2:50 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

President Obama's Rocky Year Falls Far Short Of Ambitions

By many standards, President Obama had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 4:52 pm

President Obama heads to Hawaii on Friday. He goes there for Christmas every year and always talks about how good it is to get away from Washington. This year, that's likely to be especially true.

It's been a rough year for the president, starting with the very first hours of 2013.

One year ago, when the ball dropped on Times Square and people sang "Auld Lang Syne," Obama was supposed to be in Honolulu. Instead, he was in Washington as the country went over the so-called fiscal cliff.

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It's All Politics
2:49 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Charles Rangel, Longtime Harlem Congressman, To Seek Re-Election

Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., said Thursday he will seek re-election to the Harlem-area seat he has held since 1971.
Haraz N. Ghanbari AP

Rep. Charles Rangel, the third-longest-serving member of Congress, announced Thursday he will seek a 23rd term in office next year.

There had been speculation that the New York Democrat, a veteran member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, would retire at the end of this term. But the 83-year-old Rangel, who could face a tough primary, said he still has "unfinished business" to tend to in the House.

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The Two-Way
2:48 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Dennis Rodman In North Korea 'To Open Doors For America'

Former U.S. basketball superstar Dennis Rodman arrives in Pyongyang on Thursday.
Kyodo/Landov

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 3:07 pm

Dennis Rodman arrived in North Korea on Thursday for his third visit this year to the hard-line Stalinist country, saying he will train the country's national basketball team and see his "friend," leader Kim Jong Un.

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Movie Interviews
2:45 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

A Town, A Team, And A Dream That Just Won't Die

The Medora Hornets, here with assistant coach Rudie Crain, are the centerpiece of the documentary Medora, from directors Davy Rothbart and Andrew Cohn.
Beachside Films

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 5:14 pm

In a high-school locker room in small-town Indiana, a coach is tearing into his basketball team. The Medora Hornets have scored zero points — none at all — in the game's fourth quarter.

In Medora, the hapless team becomes a kind of metaphor for the town itself — "a no-stoplight town," in the words of documentarian Davy Rothbart, one where the jobs have dried up and the population has dwindled.

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Politics
2:45 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

How The Government Spent $2 Billion Paying Workers To Not Work

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 3:42 pm

Two billion — that's the number of dollars the federal government lost during the partial government shutdown, paying furloughed employees not to work.

National Security
2:45 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Do Recommendations From White House Panel On NSA Go Far Enough?

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 3:42 pm

A review panel convened by the White House released its report on surveillance by the National Security Agency Wednesday. Among concerns the task force has are NSA practices that some say deliberately weaken America's cyber security. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has been critical about surveillance activities, and Mark Rumold, staff attorney for the organization, tells Audie Cornish about the pros and cons of the panel's recommendations.

National Security
2:45 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Civil Liberties Groups Call For Obama To Enact NSA Changes

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 3:42 pm

Civil liberties groups are urging President Obama to follow through with the recommendations of his NSA review committee. The panel suggested limiting the spy agency's electronic surveillance.

Europe
2:45 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

In Storied Hastings, English Fishermen Worry About Overfishing, Competition

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 3:42 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

We've been hearing this week about a special relationship between many British people and something called the Shipping Forecast. It's a broadcast on BBC Radio of sea and weather conditions off the coast of the British Isles. Even landlubbers enjoy it each night before bed.

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Africa
2:45 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power Goes To CAR To Appeal For Peace

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 3:42 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, made a rare visit to the Central African Republic today. Its government was toppled earlier this year, and Muslim and Christian militias are now locked in a brutal fight. Samantha Power met with the country's new president and appealed for reconciliation to prevent further atrocities.

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Europe
2:45 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Vladimir Putin Says He'll Free The Jailed Oil Tycoon Who Criticized Him

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 3:42 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The imprisoned oil tycoon Mikhail Khordorkovsky, who will apparently be pardoned by Putin, has spent the last decade in Siberian prison camps, gulag light, he calls it, but the conditions are brutal. Susan Glasser covered Khordorkovsky in Moscow for the Washington Post at the height of his power and later corresponded with him while he was in prison for a lengthy profile in Foreign Policy magazine several years ago.

Susan, welcome to the program.

SUSAN GLASSER: Thank you so much.

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Europe
2:45 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Russian Amnesty Likely To Free Greenpeace Activists, Pussy Riot Members

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 3:42 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. We begin this hour with a surprise announcement out of Russia. With the Sochi Olympics fast approaching, Russian President Vladimir Putin promised amnesty for up to 2,000 prisoners. He said he would pardon a crew of Greenpeace environmentalists as well as two members of the dissident punk band Pussy Riot.

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Around the Nation
2:45 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

One Ohio Mall Store Offers Nothing For Sale, Just Faith And Cheer

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 3:42 pm

Christmas is less than a week away and shoppers continue their quest for the perfect gift at the perfect price. But at one shop in a southwest Ohio mall, Roman Catholic friars are offering their presence for free.

Around the Nation
2:45 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

New York City Considers Ban On E-Cigarettes

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 3:42 pm

The New York City Council is slated to vote on a bill today that would add electronic cigarettes to the city's smoking ban. If the bill passes, use of e-cigarettes would be prohibited from public and private venues such as beaches, parks, restaurants and offices.

Around the Nation
2:45 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Hackers Stole 40 Million Credit, Debit Card Numbers From Target

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 3:42 pm

Right in the middle of holiday shopping season, some 40 million credit and debit card numbers were stolen in a major breach of Target customer data. The thefts occurred in stores, not online. Target says it's working with a forensics company to investigate and prevent similar data thefts from occurring in the future. Security experts say one way to limit them is to switch from magnetic stripes on cards to embedded chips.

The Record
2:45 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Feminists Everywhere React To Beyonce's Latest

The audience at Beyonce's Dec. 3 performance at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Larry Busacca/PW WireImage for Parkwood Entertainment

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 5:20 pm

617,000. That's how many copies of her self-titled album Beyonce sold in three days last week, after she dropped it without warning. As fans and critics have dug in, debates about the messages and images within it are roiling. Is Beyonce, the sexy pop goddess who has performed at two inaugurations, also this generation's highest-profile feminist? I spoke to six people who identify as feminists — all of whom feel differently about Beyonce — to find out how a pop album no one was ready for is capping off a year of think pieces and Twitter skirmishes.

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The Two-Way
2:41 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Dozens Hurt In Ceiling Collapse At London's Apollo Theatre

A rescue operation is underway at the Apollo Theatre in London after part of the roof collapsed during a performance, trapping people inside.
Leon Neal AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 5:17 pm

(This post was updated at 6:00 p.m. ET)

London's emergency services personnel say 88 people have been injured, several of them seriously, in the collapse of part of the ceiling at the Apollo Theatre in central London during an evening performance. Officials say there have been no fatalities.

Emergency services officials tell news agencies that seven of those are seriously hurt. The BBC quotes a spokesman for the theater as saying 720 theatergoers were in attendance at the time of the collapse.

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Code Switch
1:50 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Is A 'Pathway To Citizenship' The Right Concern?

Immigrants hold miniature U.S. flags as they listen to a video broadcast from President Obama during a naturalization ceremony in New York City.
Bebeto Matthews AP

Much of the debate over whether and how to overhaul the country's immigration policy has hinged on whether and how to create a pathway to citizenship. But a majority of Latinos now say that's less important for unauthorized immigrants than giving them relief from the threat of deportation.

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The Two-Way
12:55 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Obama Issues Year-End Commutations For Drug Crimes

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 2:28 pm

President Obama has commuted the sentences of eight people convicted of drug crimes, saying their terms were unusually harsh due to a system that treated crack cocaine as a more serious offense than powder cocaine.

The president also pardoned 13 others convicted of various other offenses.

The commutations come after the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, which is aimed at reducing disparities in the way the law treats cocaine possession.

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The Two-Way
12:46 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

New Mexico's High Court OKs Same-Sex Marriage

Gail Stockman, 60 (left), and Beth Black, 58, of Albuquerque, N.M., prepare to marry at a massive wedding in August, along with other same-sex couples.
Russell Contreras AP

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 4:22 pm

New Mexico's Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that same-sex marriage is legal, validating initiatives in several counties allowing the practice in the absence of a specific state law.

The ruling on Thursday means that New Mexico joins 16 states and the District of Columbia in allowing gay marriage.

The Associated Press says:

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