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5:21pm

Thu December 18, 2014
The Two-Way

In List Of Changes For Secret Service, A New Fence Comes First

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 6:03 pm

A review panel says changes are needed at the Secret Service — along with a better fence at the White House. Here, members of the Secret Service uniformed division stand in front of the White House.
Kevin Dietsch UPI /Landov

The Secret Service must both change the way it trains agents and hire more of them, according to a panel that reviewed the agency that has endured a string of embarrassing lapses in recent months. The panel says its suggestions are "a roadmap for reform" under a new director.

Some of those suggestions are inherently practical – such as one that states "the fence around the White House needs to be changed as soon as possible to provide better protection."

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5:09pm

Thu December 18, 2014
The Salt

What The Change In U.S.-Cuba Relations Might Mean For Food

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 5:47 pm

Sugar, coffee, fruit juice for babies, oil and salt inside a market subsidized by the government in Havana on July 11, 2013.
Enrique De La Osa Reuters/Landov

It took a few hours for some Cubans to realize the magnitude of President Obama's announcement on Wednesday about changes in the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba, according to Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez.

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5:07pm

Thu December 18, 2014
Monkey See

Sarah Koenig On Serial: 'I Think Something Went Wrong With This Case'

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 5:43 pm

Adnan Syed
Courtesy of Serial

It's hard to believe that not only was there no Serial six months ago, there was no Serial three months ago. The hugely popular podcast, a spinoff production of This American Life, didn't even premiere until early October, but since then, it has made its way with great speed into worlds from Sesame Street to Funny Or Die.

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4:55pm

Thu December 18, 2014
The Two-Way

U.S. Announces Protections For Transgender Workers

The Justice Department is broadening a civil rights law to include protections for transgender workers, a reversal from how the Bush administration interpreted the measure.

Attorney General Eric Holder said the law, Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, will now ensure that workers who sue over discrimination in the workplace will get fair and consistent treatment.

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4:53pm

Thu December 18, 2014
Law

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Makes Court Appearance In Pretrial Hearing

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 5:43 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

4:53pm

Thu December 18, 2014
Law

Justice Department Sues Over Conditions At Rikers Island Jail

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 5:43 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

4:53pm

Thu December 18, 2014
Music

Music A Longtime Feature Of Cuba-U.S. Cultural Exchange

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 5:43 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

4:53pm

Thu December 18, 2014
Business

New Popularity Of L.L. Bean Boots Sparks Scramble To Fill Orders

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 6:05 pm

A surge in popularity of L.L. Bean boots has the Maine company scrambling to fill orders.
Murray Carpenter NPR

L.L. Bean's iconic rubber and leather boots — long worn by practical and preppie New Englanders — have swung back into fashion with young people and are more popular than ever.

The recent surge in demand has the company scrambling to fill orders, upgrading its manufacturing equipment and adding a third shift at its Maine boot factories.

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4:24pm

Thu December 18, 2014
The Two-Way

Administration Won't Rule Out Raul Castro Visit To White House

The White House today said it "wouldn't rule out a visit from President Raul Castro" to Washington, a day after President Obama announced the U.S. and Cuba would begin talks to normalize relations and open embassies following more than five decades of hostility.

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4:10pm

Thu December 18, 2014
The Two-Way

Immigration Driving Broad Demographic Shifts In U.S., Report Says

Navy Petty Officer Jimmy Dial, left, sits with his daughter Kimberly beside U.S. Army soldier Henri Blandon and his daughter as the men's wives and the girls' mothers become U.S. citizens at a naturalization ceremony last month in Ontario, Calif.
Nick Ut AP

Native-born Americans are making up a smaller percentage of those living in some areas of the U.S. as immigration moves to become the key factor in population growth within the next quarter-century, according to a new analysis by the Pew Charitable Trusts that examined county-level census data.

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4:05pm

Thu December 18, 2014
Parallels

In Latin America, Not Everyone Is Thrilled With The U.S.-Cuba Thaw

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 4:53 pm

Cuba's President Fidel Castro, left, and Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez in Barinas, Venezuela, in 2000. The two formed a close partnership, which has continued with their successors. However, the prospect of normal ties between the U.S.-Cuba may also have an impact on relations between Cuba and Venezuela.
Jose Goitia AP

Latin American governments have long viewed Cuba as the region's David facing off against the Goliath of the United States. So from Mexico to Argentina, leaders are endorsing Wednesday's announcement that the two nations intend to normalize relations.

But this could prove awkward for Venezuela, which has been Cuba's closest ally and a fierce critic of Washington.

In public, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is praising the rapprochement between the U.S. and Cuba.

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3:56pm

Thu December 18, 2014
Goats and Soda

And The Award For Most Offensive Fund-Raising Video Goes To...

The "Rusty Radiator" award for most offensive or stereotypical portrayal of the developing world in a fund-raising video went to Feed A Child South Africa.
Feed A Child South Africa

3:54pm

Thu December 18, 2014
The Two-Way

5 Defining Moments In The U.S.-Cuba Relationship

President Obama speaks with President Raul Castro of Cuba from the Oval Office on Tuesday. A day later, both men announced plans to normalize relations between the Cold War-era foes.
Pete Souza The White House

1. Obama, Raul Castro Announce Normalization Of Relations

President Obama said Wednesday the U.S. and Cuba will normalize relations, which have been strained since being severed in 1961. He spoke to Cuban President Raul Castro on Tuesday to finalize details of the announcement.

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3:24pm

Thu December 18, 2014
Television

A Tribute To Stephen Colbert, A Self-Proclaimed 'Junkie For Exhaustion'

Stephen Colbert will host his final episode of The Colbert Report Thursday after nine years on air.
Pool Getty Images

After nine years, Stephen Colbert is retiring the character he created for The Colbert Report, the conservative, self-important blowhard who opines about the news and the media. The final episode airs Thursday. Colbert will take over as host for The Late Show, replacing the retiring David Letterman.

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2:53pm

Thu December 18, 2014
The Two-Way

White House Says Any Response To Sony Attack Needs To Be 'Proportional'

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 3:26 pm

The White House says the devastating cyber attack on Sony Pictures was done with "malicious intent" and was initiated by a "sophisticated actor" but it would not say if that actor was North Korea.

Spokesman Josh Earnest says the matter is still under investigation.

"Regardless of who is found to be responsible for this, the president considers it to be a serious national security matter," Earnest says.

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2:43pm

Thu December 18, 2014
Shots - Health News

NIH Allows Restart Of MERS Research That Had Been Questioned

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 3:26 pm

A transmission electron micrograph shows Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus particles (colorized yellow).
NIAID

Some researchers who study the virus that causes Middle East respiratory syndrome got an early Christmas present: permission to resume experiments that the federal government abruptly halted in October.

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2:09pm

Thu December 18, 2014
The Two-Way

6 Things You Should Know About Cuban Cigars

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 2:55 pm

American actor Groucho Marx, with his trademark mustache, glasses and cigar. We can't be sure that this cigar was Cuban.
John Kobal Foundation Getty Images

Cuban cigars are wrapped in mystique. Soon travelers will be able to bring back $100 worth of the famed cigars. Here are some facts you should know.

1. Cuban cigars are expensive, even in Cuba.

As NPR's Tom Gjelten tweeted, the new permission to bring back $100 worth of tobacco (or alcohol) allows you at the most four good cigars. Tom says he hasn't been back to Cuba for six years, but the last time he was there, a single Cohiba or Uppman "set you back at least $25."

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1:28pm

Thu December 18, 2014
The Two-Way

Boko Haram Suspected In New Round Of Killing And Kidnapping

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 4:37 pm

Members of the Abuja "Bring Back Our Girls" protest group sit during a march in continuation of the Global October movement. Once again, Boko Haram militants are implicated in killings and mass kidnapping in northeastern Nigeria.
Afolabi Sotunde Reuters/Landov

Updated at 4:30 p.m. ET

Islamist extremists are being blamed for an attack in northeastern Nigeria that killed at least 33 people and resulted in the kidnapping of about 200 others.

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1:16pm

Thu December 18, 2014
The Salt

Tourtiere: A French-Canadian Twist On Christmas Pie

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 4:21 pm

Tourtiere is a savory, spiced meat pie, which both French- and English-speaking Canadians love to serve around the holidays.
martiapunts iStockphoto

A version of this story was originally published on Dec. 23, 2011.

If you happen to spend Christmas Eve in Canada — especially Quebec — you might be lucky enough to be invited to a festive dinner after midnight Mass. The feast is an old tradition from France called reveillon, and it's something to look forward to after a long day of fasting.

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12:58pm

Thu December 18, 2014
The Two-Way

Pakistani Court Grants Bail To Suspect In Mumbai Attack

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 2:24 pm

Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi, seen here on June 28, 2008, was granted bail today by an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan. India says he is one of the masterminds of the 2008 attack on Mumbai that killed more than 160 people.
Roshan Mughal AP

An anti-terrorism court in Pakistan has granted bail to a man accused of masterminding the deadly 2008 attack on Mumbai, India.

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11:50am

Thu December 18, 2014
Shots - Health News

California Whooping Cough Infections Run High Among Latino Babies

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 12:22 pm

Nurse Julietta Losoyo gives Derek Lucero a whooping cough vaccination at the San Diego Public Health Center on Dec. 10.
Chris Carlson AP

California is battling the worst whooping cough epidemic in 70 years.

Nearly 10,000 cases have been reported in the state so far this year, and babies are especially prone to hospitalization or even death.

Six of 10 infants who have become ill during the current outbreak are Latino. There's no conclusive explanation, but there are a few theories that range from Latino cultural factors to a lack of health insurance.

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11:50am

Thu December 18, 2014
Goats and Soda

Death Comes In Many Different Ways. And Some Are A Bit Surprising

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 2:55 pm

A vigil is held against violence in Cali, Colombia. The country has seen some 1,090 homicides this year.
Luis Robayo AFP/Getty Images

We're living longer.

And cardiovascular disease and infectious diseases aren't taking quite as much of a toll as they did a couple of decades ago.

But that doesn't mean we're immortal.

Road accidents, suicide, chronic kidney disease, alcohol-related diseases ... these are a few of topics to discuss after looking at a new country-by-country analysis of causes of death by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

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11:41am

Thu December 18, 2014
The Two-Way

India Tests Crew Capsule, New Heavy-Lift Rocket

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 12:11 pm

India's test crew module floating in the Andaman Sea after splash down.
N. Balbantray Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO)

India took a giant leap forward toward its ambitious goal of sending humans into space, launching an unmanned crew capsule aboard a powerful new rocket.

The Indian Space Research Organization, or ISRO, launched the 630-ton rocket from its facility at Sriharikota on the country's southeast coast. It was the first flight test of an improved version of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle, or GSLV rocket.

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11:38am

Thu December 18, 2014
The Two-Way

Montana Man Found Guilty Of Killing German Exchange Student

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 12:37 pm

Markus Kaarma waits to be dismissed during an afternoon break in Missoula County Court in Missoula, Mont., in this Dec. 5 photo. A jury found Kaarma guilty Wednesday of deliberate homicide in the shooting death of a German high school exchange student who entered his garage.
Arthur Mouratidis Reuters /Landov

A Montana man's shooting in April of a German exchange student was a test of the state's "castle doctrine," which says a man's home is his castle and can be defended as such. But on Wednesday, a jury convicted Markus Kaarma of deliberate homicide in the death of 17-year-old Diren Dede, who was in his garage.

As Montana Public Radio's Christopher Allen reports, "Kaarma's defense team argued deadly force was justified because he was defending his home. Prosecutors argued Kaarma, who had been previously burglarized, set a trap with intent to harm and committed deliberate homicide."

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10:55am

Thu December 18, 2014
The Two-Way

FIFA Begins Meeting After American Lawyer's Angry Resignation

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 11:22 am

Michael J. Garcia, head of FIFA's investigatory chamber of the ethics committee, resigned Wednesday in protest.
Walter Bieri EPA /LANDOV

Soccer's governing body is meeting Thursday in Morocco, a day after the American lawyer, who spent two years investigating allegations of corruption in the bidding process for the World Cup, quit in protest at how FIFA handled his report.

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10:30am

Thu December 18, 2014
Shots - Health News

Is Your State Ready For The Next Infectious Outbreak? Probably Not

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 12:47 pm

Alyson Hurt/NPR

Ebola may have slid off the nation's worry list, but that doesn't mean the United States is ready to handle an outbreak of Ebola or another infectious disease, an analysis says. That includes naturally occurring outbreaks like dengue fever, tuberculosis and measles, as well as the use of bioterrorism agents like anthrax.

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10:25am

Thu December 18, 2014
The Two-Way

2014 Saw Fewest Executions In 20 Years, Report Finds

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 1:20 pm

The gurney in the execution chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary is pictured in McAlester, Okla., in 2008.
AP

There was a significant drop in the number of executions and death penalty sentences in 2014, a new report by the Death Penalty Information Center finds.

The group's year-end accounting finds that:

-- States conducted 35 executions in 2014 — the lowest since 1994.

-- And the justice system sentenced 72 people to death — the lowest number in 40 years.

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10:17am

Thu December 18, 2014
The Two-Way

Putin: Sanctions, Falling Oil Prices Causing Ruble's Tumble

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 11:02 am

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures during his annual news conference in Moscow, Russia, on Thursday, where he blamed Western sanctions and falling oil prices on his country's economic troubles.
Pavel Golovkin AP

Russian President Vladimir Putin lashed out at the West in a year-end news conference today, blaming international sanctions and a steep plunge in oil prices for the precipitous drop in the value of the ruble.

Putin, speaking during a more than three-hour news conference attended by some 1,200 journalists, "promised never to let the West chain or defang his proud nation," according to The Associated Press.

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9:47am

Thu December 18, 2014
Shots - Health News

Worries About Unusual Botulinum Toxin Prove Unfounded

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 3:05 pm

A culture of Clostridium botulinum, stained with gentian violet.
CDC

Remember that worrisome new form of botulinum toxin we told you about in late 2013, the one that supposedly had to be kept secret out of fear it could be used as a bioweapon that would evade all of our medical defenses?

Well, as it turns out, it's not that scary after all. The antitoxin stored in the government's emergency stockpile works and would neutralize the toxin just fine.

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9:40am

Thu December 18, 2014
Goats and Soda

Pakistan Keeps On Vaccinating Despite Tough Terrain And Terror Threat

A Pakistani health worker administers a polio vaccine to a child during a campaign in the northern city of Rawalpindi.
FAROOQ NAEEM AFP/Getty Images

Between the rugged terrain and the constant terrorist threats, vaccinating Pakistani children against common diseases hasn't been easy. Mountains make it hard — at times even impossible — for vaccinators to reach people in the north. In the south, health workers have to use four-wheelers and camels to travel through Pakistan's harsh deserts.

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