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2:24pm

Tue December 16, 2014
The Best Music Of 2014

Ken Tucker's Top 9 Albums Of 2014, Plus A Book

Elizabeth Grant is better known by her stage name, Lana Del Rey.
Neil Krug Courtesy of the artist

2:00pm

Tue December 16, 2014
The Two-Way

'Torture Report': A Closer Look At When And What President Bush Knew

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 5:13 pm

President George W. Bush speaks to Vice President Dick Cheney by phone aboard Air Force One after departing Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska on Sept. 11, 2001.
Eric Draper AP

One of the big, controversial questions to emerge from the Senate investigation into the CIA interrogation of terrorism suspects is this: Did President George W. Bush know the specific techniques used by the CIA to interrogate terrorism suspects?

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1:47pm

Tue December 16, 2014
Parallels

Amid Strains, Syrian Refugees Are Facing Curfews In Lebanon

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 6:29 pm

A Syrian refugee child carries water in the Fayda Camp, some 25 miles east of Beirut, Lebanon, on March 10.
Jerome Delay AP

In Lebanon — a fragile little country of just 4 million people — there are about 1 million refugees from Syria. Many have been here three years, and their welcome is starting to wear thin.

Some towns and villages have imposed a curfew on refugees – enforced by local groups of volunteers. But in a country that experienced a brutal civil war, some are concerned about the return of armed civilian groups.

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1:40pm

Tue December 16, 2014
The Two-Way

Apple Wins $1B iPod Antitrust Lawsuit

A California jury has found that Apple's iTunes 7.0 did not violate antitrust laws when it restricted files bought on other music services.

After deliberating for around three hours, the eight-member jury in the U.S. District Court in Oakland unanimously found that iTunes 7.0 was an improvement over the previous version of the software. Bloomberg reports that the finding means Apple can't be held liable for hindering competition even if it hurt its rivals.

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1:23pm

Tue December 16, 2014
Business

Economists: Congress Gets A Hat Tip (Barely) For Its Efforts

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 10:59 pm

The Capitol's dome and Christmas tree are illuminated on Dec. 11 as Congress worked to pass a $1.1 trillion U.S. government-wide spending bill and avoid a government shutdown.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

As the latest Congress draws to a close, economists are looking back — and seeing little.

Lawmakers passed no measures addressing tax reform, trade, immigration or even the minimum wage.

But judged by the very low standards of recent years, the 113th Congress did manage to win at least light applause from economists who are watching as the curtain goes down.

Sure, Congress allowed a disruptive government shutdown in 2013 — but it avoided repeating that drama in 2014.

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1:21pm

Tue December 16, 2014
Shots - Health News

Scientists Debate If It's OK To Make Viruses More Dangerous In The Lab

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 4:26 pm

The coronavirus responsible for Middle East respiratory syndrome (green particles) seen on camel cells in a scanning electron micrograph.
NIAID/Colorado State University

Imagine that scientists wanted to take Ebola virus and see if it could ever become airborne by deliberately causing mutations in the lab and then searching through those new viruses to see if any spread easily through the air.

Would that be OK?

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12:53pm

Tue December 16, 2014
Monkey See

Deggans: 'Fargo,' 'True Detective,' 'Transparent' Top Best TV Of 2014

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 11:44 am

Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson star in HBO's True Detective.
Michele K. Short HBO

When I was a kid, I loved reading Gene Siskel's movie reviews for the Chicago Tribune.

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12:30pm

Tue December 16, 2014
Parallels

Has Vladimir Putin Just Overplayed His Hand?

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 1:16 pm

Russian President Vladimir Putin, shown delivering his state of the union speech earlier this month, was riding high this year as the country hosted the Winter Olympics. Russia is now embroiled in economic turmoil, and Putin has alienated Western countries that could potentially help.
Pavel Golovkin AP

Since his return to the Russian presidency in 2012, Vladimir Putin has been on a tear: He has annexed Crimea, crushed opposition at home and challenged the West at most every turn.

With oil seemingly stable at more than $100 a barrel, the government coffers were full, and Putin received mostly cheers at home and few repercussions abroad for his consistently aggressive approach.

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12:12pm

Tue December 16, 2014
Goats and Soda

Dengue Fever Strikes Millions. Now Scientists Hope To Strike Back

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 3:19 pm

The dengue virus has an icosahedral shape, similar to the pattern on a soccer ball. Antibodies stop the virus by binding to its surface.
Laguna Design Science Source

Dengue — aka "breakbone fever" — has been a tough nut to crack when it comes to making a vaccine.

The problem is that the mosquito-borne virus comes in four flavors, or strains. Vaccines that work on one strain haven't worked well on the others.

Now scientists at Imperial College London have discovered a potential way around this problem.

Immunologist Gavin Screaton and his colleagues have found molecules — specifically antibodies — in human blood that stop all forms of dengue.

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11:41am

Tue December 16, 2014
The Two-Way

FIFA Dismisses U.S. Lawyer's Appeal On Handling Of World Cup Report

FIFA, soccer's governing body, said an appeal by an American lawyer who spent two years investigating allegations of corruption in the bidding process for the World Cup is inadmissible.

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10:34am

Tue December 16, 2014
The Two-Way

Jeb Bush Announces He Will 'Actively Explore' Presidential Run

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 12:06 pm

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush talks to supporters after speaking at the U.S. Cuba Democracy PAC's annual luncheon in Coral Gables, Fla., on Dec. 2.
J Pat Carter AP

Jeb Bush, the former Republican governor of Florida and the brother and son of two former U.S. presidents, has essentially kicked off the 2016 presidential campaign with a pre-announcement announcement on Facebook.

Saying he had conversations with his family about the future of the country, Bush said he had decided to "actively explore" a presidential run.

He went on:

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10:26am

Tue December 16, 2014
The Two-Way

Book News: James Patterson Makes Good On $1M Promise To Indies

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 10:39 am

James Patterson, together with a cadre of co-writers, consistently produces more than 10 books a year. Forbes estimates that Patterson made $90 million this year alone.
Janette Pellegrini Getty Images for Disney Publishing

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

Less than 10 months from the day James Patterson swore a million-dollar promise, he has kept his word. The best-selling novelist announced he has donated about $437,000 to 81 independent bookstores — a gift that completes his plan to donate $1 million of his own money to support independent booksellers.

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9:39am

Tue December 16, 2014
The Two-Way

Thousands Lay Flowers At The Site Of Hostage Siege In Sydney

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 10:32 am

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his wife, Margie, pay their respects at the Martin Place memorial site on Tuesday in Sydney, Australia.
Jennifer Polixenni Brankin Getty Images

A day after a hostage siege left two people plus a gunman dead, Australians left thousands of bouquets of flowers at a makeshift shrine.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

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8:22am

Tue December 16, 2014
Code Switch

Is Courting Controversy An Urban Outfitters Strategy?

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 5:38 pm

This Lord Ganesh tapestry is currently being advertised on Urban Outfitters' website. The company previously drew outrage for its Lord Ganesh duvet cover.
Urban Outfitters

Earlier this week, Gawker published an image of an invitation sent to Urban Outfitters employees, exhorting them, as the invite put it, to "break out your juttis, kurtas, turbans, saris, lehenga cholis and harem pants" for the company holiday party.

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8:22am

Tue December 16, 2014
Shots - Health News

Few Employers Cover Egg Freezing For Women With Cancer

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 8:56 am

As some companies add egg freezing to their list of fertility benefits, they're touting the coverage as a family-friendly perk.

Women's health advocates say they welcome any expansion of fertility coverage. But they say that the much-publicized changes at a few high-profile companies such as Facebook and Apple are still relatively rare, even for women with serious illnesses like cancer who want to preserve their fertility.

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7:41am

Tue December 16, 2014
The Two-Way

Russia's Rate Increase Fails To Stop Currency's Steep Decline

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 9:42 am

Russia's ruble plunged to a record low against the dollar on Tuesday despite some bold measures taken by the country's central bank to halt its slide.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

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7:31am

Tue December 16, 2014
Around the Nation

Robot Flies Economy From LA To Frankfurt

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

7:31am

Tue December 16, 2014
Animals

New York Bans The Tattooing And Piercing Of Pets

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

7:12am

Tue December 16, 2014
Asia

Dozens Killed As Taliban Gunmen Storm Pakistani School

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 7:31 am

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

6:41am

Tue December 16, 2014
The Two-Way

Taliban Gunmen Storm School, Kill Dozens In Pakistan

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 2:21 pm

A Pakistani girl, who was injured in a Taliban attack on a school, is rushed to a hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan, on Tuesday.
Mohammad Sajjad AP
(This post was last updated at 2:07 p.m. ET.)

Taliban militants stormed a school in northwest Pakistan on Tuesday, leaving scores of students dead.

Quoting Pakistani officials, multiple media outlets say the death toll is at least 140, including at least 80 students in grades 1 through 10.

A little before 8 p.m. local time, police announced that the operation had ended after the gunmen were killed. Security personnel, police official Abdullah Khan told the AFP, were now in the process of sweeping the rest of the building.

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5:26am

Tue December 16, 2014
Middle East

Contestant From War-Torn Syria Wins 'Arab Idol'

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 6:09 pm

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

5:11am

Tue December 16, 2014
NPR Story

Denmark Files Claim To Portion Of The Arctic

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 6:11 pm

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

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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5:11am

Tue December 16, 2014
NPR Story

Hostage Drama Unfolds Violently In Sydney

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 9:45 pm

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

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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5:11am

Tue December 16, 2014
NPR Story

Sony On The Defensive After Hackers Attack Its Computer Network

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 6:01 pm

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

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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5:11am

Tue December 16, 2014
Law

Judge Regrets Harsh Human Toll Of Mandatory Minimum Sentences

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 3:08 pm

The shocking death of basketball player Len Bias from a cocaine overdose in 1986 led Congress to pass tough mandatory sentences for drug crimes.
AP

It seems long ago now, but in the 1960s, '70s and '80s, murders and robberies exploded as cocaine and other illegal drugs ravaged American cities.

Then came June 19, 1986, when the overdose of a college athlete sent the nation into shock just days after the NBA draft. Basketball star Len Bias could have been anybody's brother or son.

Congress swiftly responded by passing tough mandatory sentences for drug crimes. Those sentences, still in place, pack federal prisons to this day. More than half of the 219,000 federal prisoners are serving time for drug offenses.

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4:38am

Tue December 16, 2014
Law

From Judges To Inmates, Finding The Human Casualties Of Mandatory Sentencing

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 1:12 pm

NPR's series looks at the human toll of mandatory minimum prison sentences. The White House and the Justice Department have taken the unprecedented step of asking for candidates who might win early release from prison through presidential pardons or commutations in the final years of the Obama presidency.
Dan Henson iStockphoto

The United States spends nearly $7 billion a year to operate a network of federal prisons that house more than 200,000 inmates. About half of them are incarcerated for drug crimes, a legacy of 1980s laws that prosecutors use to target not only kingpins but also low-level couriers and girlfriends. Multiple convictions for small-time offenses under those laws mean thousands of people are locked up for decades, or even the rest of their lives.

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3:47am

Tue December 16, 2014
Parallels

Kurdish Officials Worry About Kurds Joining The Islamic State

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 6:15 pm

The Iraqi town of Halabja is dominated by Kurds, the group that has been fighting the Islamic State in northern Iraq. However, some Kurdish residents have been slipping away to join the Islamic State.
Yahya Ahmad Reuters/Landov

In the northern Iraqi city of Halabja, near the border with Iran, we knock on the door of a 16-year-old boy who disappeared. His family says he lied to them, saying he was going on a picnic with a teenage friend. But they never came home.

"He disappeared in May," says the boy's older sister. "A few days later a letter arrived in his handwriting. It said, 'I'm in Syria. Don't look for me.' "

The boy, like most everyone in this city, is a Kurd, most of whom are Sunni Muslim. He joined the so-called Islamic State, a Sunni Muslim extremist group also known as ISIS.

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3:36am

Tue December 16, 2014
Economy

'Reshoring' Trend Has Little Impact On U.S. Economy, Study Finds

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 1:46 pm

An "Assembled in the USA" stamp is seen at the side of a box containing a 32-inch television set May 29 in the warehouse of Element Electronics, in Winnsboro, S.C. For the phenomenon of "reshoring," or bringing overseas jobs back to the United States, the electronics sector has been a leader.
Chris Keane Reuters/Landov

A report on the phenomenon known as "reshoring" — the opposite of offshoring — shows that while a growing number of companies are returning to the United States to do their manufacturing, the trend is smaller and less significant to the economy than it appears.

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3:28am

Tue December 16, 2014
Shots - Health News

Alaska's Governor Eager To Expand Medicaid

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 7:31 am

Valerie Davidson was appointed health commissioner by Alaska's Gov. Bill Walker to help him expand Medicaid in the state. She'll look for middle ground with Republicans to get it done, she says.
Lori Townsend/Alaska Public Media

Alaska's new governor won his election in one of the tightest races in the country, a race that was too close to call even a week after election night. Bill Walker, who ran as an independent (unaffiliated with the Republicans or Democrats), took office on Dec. 1, after campaigning on the promise that he would expand Medicaid as one of his first orders of business.

To make good on that, he'll have to face a Republican-controlled legislature that hasn't been willing to even consider the idea.

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3:26am

Tue December 16, 2014
U.S.

President's Task Force To Re-Examine How Police Interact With Public

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 3:09 pm

President Obama announces the creation of a policing task force Dec. 1 as Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey (left) and George Mason University criminology professor Laurie Robinson look on.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Earlier this month, after the events in Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island, N.Y, the White House announced the creation of what it's calling a Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

The group's job is to find ways to strengthen the relationship between police and the public, and to share recommendations with the president by late February.

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