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Ask Me Another
9:17 am
Tue December 17, 2013

A.J. Jacobs: Traditional Holiday Traditions

A.J. Jacobs reads a list of ... something, but we don't want to spoil the surprise.
Lam Thuy Vo NPR

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:20 pm

Did you know that every Dec. 7, Guatemalans gather trash from their homes into a giant pile, throw an effigy of the devil on top and then light it on fire? This practice, known as "the burning of the devil," may sound a bit far-fetched, but it's actually true.

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Ask Me Another
9:17 am
Tue December 17, 2013

A Holiday Story From Ophira Eisenberg

"Red alert! Jew in the lap! Red alert! Jew in the lap!"
Lam Thuy Vo NPR

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:20 pm

Ophira Eisenberg, host of Ask Me Another, grew up Jewish, but maintained an obsession with Santa Claus. Hear Eisenberg share a story about her first childhood encounter with Father Christmas, at a shopping mall in Canada.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

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Ask Me Another
9:17 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Are We There Yet?

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:20 pm

Prepare to answer a child's age-old question during road trips. Given a starting point and a list of three destination cities by host Ophira Eisenberg, a phone contestant must put the cities in order of driving distance from the starting point, from shortest to longest. If you left New York after a visit to the Empire State Building and drove west, which city would be the closest: Cleveland, Chicago, or Seattle?

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Ask Me Another
9:17 am
Tue December 17, 2013

The Chris In Christmas

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:20 pm

At Ask Me Another, we're no strangers to messing with tradition, especially in the form of song. Instead of "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," how about "Rockin' Around the Big Blue Sea"? House musician Jonathan Coulton performs some classic holiday tunes with the lyrics rewritten to be about famous people or fictional characters named Chris, like Christopher Columbus or Christina Aguilera. For what it's worth, we're also including names that can be shortened to Chris.

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Ask Me Another
9:17 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Lizz Winstead: What's That Sound?

If you'd just delivered a no-holds-barred Tarzan yell, you'd be celebrating, too. Comedian Lizz Winstead (right) and Julia Lunetta are not shy.
Lam Thuy Vo NPR

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:20 pm

Ah, the sounds of the holidays: Jingle bells. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. The sound of reindeer landing on the roof. Or are those zombies with chains about to attack? Hopefully you have a keen ear for this game. Ask Me Another host Ophira Eisenberg welcomed back Lizz Winstead, comedian and co-creator of The Daily Show, as a Very Important Puzzler. We pitted her against a contestant in a game in which they had to reproduce sound effects and music.

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Ask Me Another
9:17 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Don't Forget The Lah-Rics

Contestants Karen Sloan (right) and Rob Gilleece.
Lam Thuy Vo NPR

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:20 pm

If singing holiday songs isn't your thing, would a carol about Las Vegas or La Toya Jackson change your mind? House musician Jonathan Coulton spices up the Christmas carol "Deck the Halls" with the lyrics rewritten to describe words or names that begin with a "la" sound. What do you call smoked salmon on a bagel? Fa-la-la-la-la la-la-la-lox!

After the game, Coulton used his clues and the contestants' answers to produce a gloriously weird recording of "Deck The Halls." Hear it in the web extra on this page.

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The Protojournalist
9:13 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Project Xpat: How It Sounds To Live In Russia

Mark Kelleher

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 12:57 pm

American expat Mark Kelleher, 56, is an English teacher in Chelyabinsk, Russia. He has lived there for a dozen years with his Russian wife, Tatiana. They have twin daughters, Caitlyn and Maggie, who are 7.

**

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The Two-Way
8:41 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Bill And Melinda Gates Foundation Names New CEO

Susan Desmond-Hellmann, the chancellor of the University of California, San Francisco, will be next chief executive officer of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, one of the largest philanthropic organizations in the world with a $40 billion endowment.

The AP reports that the foundation has been looking for a CEO since Jeff Raikes announced his retirement in September.

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The Record
8:31 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Remembering Ray Price, Voice Of The Nashville Sound

Ray Price on the Dean Martin Comedy Hour in 1973.
NBC NBC via Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:30 pm

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The Two-Way
8:27 am
Tue December 17, 2013

India-U.S. Row Over Diplomat's Arrest In New York Escalates

Indian workers remove Tuesday a barricade that had been erected as a safety measure outside the main entrance of U.S. Embassy in New Delhi. The move follows the arrest of an Indian diplomat in New York.
Saurabh Das AP

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 6:03 am

Updated at 4:55 p.m. ET

At issue is the arrest last week of Devyani Khobragade, India's deputy consul general in New York.

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Around the Nation
8:26 am
Tue December 17, 2013

From 'Death Jars' To Wasps: A Quest To Stamp Out The Stink Bug

The invasive brown marmorated stink bug has become an expensive nuisance for U.S. farmers. It has spread to 40 states and eats about 100 different crops.
Matt Rourke AP

The brown marmorated stink bug doesn't just smell bad. It's also been causing trouble for homeowners and farmers from New Hampshire to California for the past three years.

No predators are eating the invasive species fast enough to keep it under control, but researchers think they may have found a solution to the stink-bug menace.

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The Two-Way
8:06 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Many Steps, Many Countries To Get Chemicals Out Of Syria

Norwegian marines patrol the waters around the Norwegian frigate HNOMS Helge Ingstad, which was docked in Cyprus over the weekend. The frigate, and the Danish warship HDMS Esbern Snare, will escort Danish and Norwegian cargo ships transporting Syria's most dangerous chemical weapons.
Pavlos Vrionides AP
  • On 'Morning Edition': Tom Goldman explains how chemicals will be removed from Syria

With the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons expected to on Tuesday unveil its final plan for how to rid Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime of its chemical weapons, NPR's Tom Bowman has looked at how the deadly ingredients will be removed even as Syria's civil war continues to rage.

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The Two-Way
7:56 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Six U.S. Soldiers Reported Killed In Afghan Crash

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 9:11 am

The crash of a military aircraft Tuesday in Afghanistan killed six members of the International Security Assistance Force who were on board, military officials say, and NPR's Tom Bowman has been told by military sources in a position to know that all six were Americans.

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Shots - Health News
7:42 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Medicare Names Best And Worst Hospitals For Joint Replacements

Before you have get a new hip, you might want to check the government's list of best and worst hospitals for the operation.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 7:58 am

Around a million people get hip or knee replacements a year, and those operations cost Medicare and private insurers a lot of money. For the first time, the federal government is evaluating how good a job individual hospitals are doing.

Medicare has identified 95 hospitals where elderly patients were more likely to suffer significant setbacks and another 97 hospitals where patients tended to have the smoothest recoveries. (It's a long list that you can sift through here.)

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The Two-Way
7:27 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Florida School Named After KKK Grand Wizard Will Get New Name

Confederate general Nathan B. Forrest.
Wikimedia Commons

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 11:53 am

After decades of blistering debate about the balance between honoring Southern history and glorifying slavery and white supremacy, the Duval County School Board in Jacksonville, Fla., voted unanimously on Monday to rename Nathan B. Forrest High School.

Forrest is a polarizing figure from the Civil War era. Forrest was considered a succesful and fearless general, but it was also Forrest and his men who, after overpowering Union forces in Fort Pillow, near Memphis, went on to execute black soldiers after they had surrendered.

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The Two-Way
6:10 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Edward Snowden Seeks 'Permanent Political Asylum'

Edward Snowden, seen during a video interview with The Guardian.
Glenn Greenwald/Laura Poitras EPA/LANDOV

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 11:24 am

Updated at 11:04 a.m.

Edward Snowden says "permanent political asylum" will give him the freedom to talk about U.S. surveillance programs.

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The Two-Way
6:03 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Book News: Was Gollum Done In By Vitamin D Deficiency?

Gollum: Maybe if he took a daily vitamin, improved his diet and got outside more he'd have done better.
Warner Bros. AP

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

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The Two-Way
5:25 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Nirvana, Linda Ronstadt And KISS Are In The Rock Hall

Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain in 1993. He took his own life in 1994.
Frank Micelotta Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 6:23 am

We can stop wagging our tongues about KISS not being in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The hall says its 2014 inductees are:

-- Cat Stevens

-- Peter Gabriel

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The Two-Way
5:01 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Bipartisan Budget Deal Passes Key Test In Senate

It may seem to some like a holiday miracle, but the Senate moved ahead on a bipartisan budget plan Tuesday.
Jim Watson AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 5:09 pm

Updated at 10:27 a.m. ET: Moving Ahead:

The Senate voted 67 to 33 on Tuesday to move forward on the two-year, bipartisan budget plan that restores some of the automatic spending cuts of recent years, trims spending in other areas and appears to have put on hold until 2015 the bitter battles that led to this year's partial government shutdown.

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Around the Nation
4:45 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Mass. Brothers Not Too Old To Pose With Santa

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:30 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Around the Nation
4:40 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Seahawks Beat Giants And Surpise Chevy Dealer

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:30 pm

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Good morning. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

The Seahawks 23-to-nothing victory over the New York Giants is great news for Seattle, except for the folks at Jet Chevrolet. The Seattle-area dealership pledged to give 12 people $35,000 apiece if the Seahawks shut out the Giants. The car guys never expected to pay up. What are the odds? But just in case, they insured the bet, so they're only out about seven grand.

It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Business
3:03 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Mexico Opens Its Energy Sector To Private Investment

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:30 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Over the weekend, the majority of states in Mexico ratified constitutional changes that will allow foreign investment in Mexico's oil sector for the first time in decades.

Here's more from NPR's Carrie Kahn.

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Space
2:58 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Moon Landing Is A Major Step Forward For China

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:30 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This weekend, China landed a probe on the surface of the moon. This is the first soft-landing on the moon's surface in nearly 40 years, and it's a major step forward for China's space program.

Joining us to discuss these developments, NPR science correspondent Geoff Brumfiel. Hey, Geoff.

GEOFF BRUMFIEL, BYLINE: Hi, there.

GREENE: So what did China actually pull off here?

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Business
2:34 am
Tue December 17, 2013

New Owner Promises Handmade Steinways For Years To Come

Some Steinway company representatives and employees — like Wally Boot, pictured here — have been working for the company for decades. Boot is the last person to touch every piano that leaves the factory in Queens, N.Y.
Craig Warga Bloomberg/Getty

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:30 pm

For 160 years, the pianos made by Steinway & Sons have been considered the finest in the world. So when hedge fund billionaire John Paulson recently bought the company, it struck fear in the hearts of musicians: Would the famously handcrafted pianos be changed, for the sake of efficiency? Paulson, who owns several Steinways himself, says nothing will change.

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Around the Nation
2:34 am
Tue December 17, 2013

FAA To Soon Pick Sites For Commercial Drone Testing

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:30 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Six states will soon be chosen as commercial drone test sites. So major companies like Amazon say they're hoping to use drones to ship products. But first, the Federal Aviation Administration has to figure out how to fly them safely in civilian airspace. Nevada is one of the states that wants to give commercial drones a try, as Will Stone from member station KUNR reports.

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Business
2:34 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Italian Police Arrest 4 In Holiday Extortion Case

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:30 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And today's last word in business is a Christmas con.

Just when we want to be thinking about generosity around the holidays, a story of extortion.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Police in Italy have arrested four alleged mafia gangsters for forcing shop owners to buy poinsettias for as much as $140 each. Owners who refused to partake in the Christmas special would have their shops vandalized.

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Business
2:34 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Fitbit Flex Tops Jaroslovsky's 2013 Tech Gift List

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:30 pm

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

If there's somebody on your holiday shopping list who loves gadgets, you might want to surprise them with what's new in high-tech gizmos, maybe not so obvious gifts - not talking tablets here.

We called up tech journalist Rich Jaroslovsky for his recommendations. Good morning, Rich.

RICH JAROSLOVSKY: Good morning.

WERTHEIMER: So what is at the top of your list?

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Business
2:34 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Glaxo To Stop Paying Doctors To Promote Drugs

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:30 pm

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with new rules for Glaxo.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

WERTHEIMER: The head of British - the British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline, told The New York Times yesterday that the company will stop paying doctors to promote its drugs. Pharmaceutical firms commonly pay physicians to speak at medical conferences - a practice criticized as a conflict of interest.

Race
2:34 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Chinese-American Descendants Uncover Forged Family Histories

William Wong (standing) poses with his parents and nephew in an old family photo. Wong's mother immigrated to the U.S. from China as his father's "sister" to bypass the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.
Courtesy of William Wong

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:30 pm

What if you discovered the last name you've lived with since birth is fake?

That's what happened in many Chinese-American families who first came to the U.S. before World War II, when the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 banned Chinese laborers from legally entering the country.

The law, formally repealed by Congress 70 years ago Tuesday, prompted tens of thousands of Chinese to use forged papers to enter the U.S. illegally.

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