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4:41 am
Sat December 8, 2012

Detroit Driving Toward Its Own Debt Cliff

Originally published on Sat December 8, 2012 5:38 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, BYLINE: The city of Detroit is approaching its own fiscal precipice. The city is deeply in debt and could run out of cash by the end of this month. That would mean more layoffs from a city workforce that's already been cut so much that a reported two-thirds of the city's streetlights do not work. The amount of empty, abandoned land in the city, which produces no tax revenue, is estimated to be as large as the entire city of Paris.

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Africa
3:29 am
Sat December 8, 2012

Voters Decide How To Share Ghana's Boom

Ghana's President John Dramani Mahama arrives at a polling station to cast his vote.
Pius Utomi Ekpei AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat December 8, 2012 7:39 pm

Voting for a new president and parliament in Ghana has been extended into a second day in some areas due to glitches with the new biometric voter verification system.

Ghana, which began pumping crude oil in 2010 and is also a major cocoa and gold exporter, has gained an enviable reputation in its often-turbulent West African neighborhood. It's admired for being a relative oasis of stability and peace in the region — despite tensions in the build-up to the vote.

A Peaceful Democracy

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Europe
3:28 am
Sat December 8, 2012

Getting The Royal Treatment En Route To Versailles

The Belvedere on Marie Antoinette's estate.

Courtesy of Christian Recoura

Originally published on Sat December 8, 2012 12:39 pm

The opulence of the court of Louis XIV ... on a commuter train from Paris?

That's the surprise awaiting some lucky visitors to the Palace of Versailles. The cars of about 30 trains traveling between Paris and the palace have been completely decked out to reflect the sprawling and stately residence of former French kings, providing a sneak preview of sorts.

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It's All Politics
3:27 am
Sat December 8, 2012

Once Boxed-In, Boehner May Finally Be Master Of The House

Originally published on Mon December 10, 2012 10:42 am

Not long ago, it seemed to many observers that the House of Representatives was a case of the tail wagging the dog, with Speaker John Boehner unable to keep in line many of his fellow Republicans, especially freshmen who came to Congress riding the 2010 Tea Party wave.

Now, however, the big dog seems back in control.

Some of the signs are subtle, some not. But as he faces off with President Obama during fiscal cliff negotiations, Boehner enjoys a stronger position with House Republicans than he had during earlier showdowns with the White House.

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Music Interviews
12:03 am
Sat December 8, 2012

Tracey Thorn Finds Joy And Angst In Christmas Songs

Tracey Thorn's new holiday-themed album is called Tinsel and Lights.
Molly Bloom StateImpact Ohio

Originally published on Sat December 8, 2012 5:38 am

A season for being with friends and family can be hard on those who are lonely; a season of giving can be hard on those who go without. All the tinsel and lights can also make people blink, shudder and wonder about which of life's gifts they'll never find under the tree — or which they'll unwrap and find fleeting and fragile.

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Shots - Health News
4:07 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

Doctors And Women's Groups Urge Feds To Relax Plan B Restrictions

With the presidential election decided, doctors and some advocates are calling for the administration to relax restrictions on the sale of Plan B to teens.
AP

Originally published on Mon December 10, 2012 1:06 pm

Dozens of medical, women's health and reproductive health groups marked the first anniversary of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius' decision to maintain age restrictions on the sale of the morning-after birth control pill without a prescription by urging her to reconsider that decision.

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Law
3:53 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

Supreme Court Takes Up Same-Sex-Marriage Cases

Edith Windsor, 83, is asking the Supreme Court to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act. When Windsor's female spouse died, the federal government, acting under DOMA, required Windsor to pay estate taxes that she would not have owed if her spouse had been a man.
Richard Drew AP

Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 9:50 pm

The U.S. Supreme Court announced Friday that for the first time it will tackle the issue of same-sex marriage. Defying most expectations, the justices said they will examine two cases, presenting the possibility that the court could decide all the basic issues surrounding same-sex marriage in one fell swoop.

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Europe
3:49 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

Nurse Who Took Prank Call At U.K. Hospital Is Dead

Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 9:50 pm

A nurse at a London hospital who took a hoax call about Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge was found dead on Friday. Jacintha Saldhana let through a call from an Australian radio station purporting to be the Queen calling about the ailing Duchess.

Around the Nation
3:46 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

More Teachers 'Flipping' The School Day Upside Down

High school sophomore Jessica Miller watches her chemistry teacher's lectures on an iPad. Class time is used for working through problems and quizzes, rather than lecturing.
Grace Hood KUNC

Originally published on Thu December 13, 2012 7:12 am

Welcome to the 21st century classroom: a world where students watch lectures at home — and do homework at school. It's called classroom flipping, and it's slowly catching on in schools around the country.

When Jessica Miller, a high school sophomore in rural Bennett, Colo., sits down to do her chemistry homework, she pulls out her notebook. Then she turns on an iPad to watch a video podcast. Whenever the instructor changes the slide, Miller pauses the video and writes down everything on the screen.

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The Two-Way
3:44 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

Damascus Airport Becomes A Target In Syria's War

Syrian rebels say they now consider the Damascus International Airport to be part of the battle zone in their fight against Syria's government. Here, a U.N. vehicle is unloaded at the airport on May 12.
Louai Beshara AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 6:00 pm

Syrian rebels declared the Damascus International Airport a "military zone" on Friday as part of their push to seize important symbolic and strategic locations held by President Bashar Assad's government.

Rebels say the airport is a camp for Syrian government soldiers and is the main transit point for weaponry believed to be supplied by Russia and Iran.

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U.S.
3:20 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

School District Owes $1 Billion On $100 Million Loan

Students leave Miramonte Elementary, in the Clovis Unified School District in Los Angeles. School districts across California have taken out loans requiring payments that far exceed the original loan amounts.
Damian Dovarganes AP

Originally published on Fri March 21, 2014 2:10 pm

More than 200 school districts across California are taking a second look at the high price of the debt they've taken on using risky financial arrangements. Collectively, the districts have borrowed billions in loans that defer payments for years — leaving many districts owing far more than they borrowed.

In 2010, officials at the West Contra Costa School District, just east of San Francisco, were in a bind. The district needed $2.5 million to help secure a federally subsidized $25 million loan to build a badly needed elementary school.

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Environment
3:17 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

At Doha Climate Talks, Modest Results At Best

Delegates attend the last day of the U.N. climate talks in Doha, Qatar, on Friday. U.N. climate negotiators locked horns on the final day of talks in Doha to halt the march of global warming, deeply divided on extending the greenhouse gas-curbing Kyoto Protocol and funding for poor countries.
Karim Jaafar AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 9:50 pm

United Nations climate talks ran into overtime on Friday night, as diplomats pressed for whatever small advantage they could achieve.

As usual, the talks, which are being held in Doha, Qatar, involve closely interwoven issues. They include the usual wrangling over money, as well as early efforts in a multiyear process that is supposed to result in a new climate treaty.

Part of that involves finding a graceful way to phase out the Kyoto treaty, which has not proved to be a successful strategy for dealing with a warming planet.

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Movies
2:24 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

Hollywood Heights: The Ups, Downs And In-Betweens

Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise at the Writer's Guild Awards in Beverly Hills in 1998.
Ron Wolfson Landov

Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 9:50 pm

Hollywood can make any actor look imposing by shooting from a low angle or building sets with short door frames. But the fact is that we want our heroes big and our villains bigger, and the average male actor is about the same size as the average American male — roughly 5 foot 9 1/2. And some very "big" stars have been a good deal less than that.

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History
2:24 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

Company Auctions Off Letters From Freud, Van Gogh

Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 9:50 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

In the age of text messages, Twitter and Gchat, it's easy to consider the art of letter writing a lost one. But if you've got money to spare, why not lose yourself in the words of someone famous - like artist Vincent Van Gogh?

JOSEPH MADDALENA: (Reading) I myself believe that the annoyances one experiences in the ordinary routine of life do as much good as bad. The thing that makes on fall ill, overcome by discouragement today, that same thing gives us the energy, once the illness is over, to get up and walk to discover the next day.

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Around the Nation
2:24 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

Unemployment Falls To Lowest Rate In Four Years

Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 9:50 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 nation's unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent in November, that's the lowest it's been in four years. The Labor Department's latest jobs report released this morning showed employers added more jobs than expected.

But as NPR's Jim Zarroli reports, economists warn these new numbers aren't what they appear to be.

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The Two-Way
2:15 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

Winning Ticket Submitted For Second Half Of Powerball Jackpot

The remaining winner of the $587.5 million Powerball jackpot has come forward to claim their share of the prize, according to lottery officials in Arizona, where the winning ticket was sold, according to ABC 15 TV in Phoenix.

The Nov. 28 drawing produced two winning tickets: one in Arizona, and one in Missouri, where Cindy and Mark Hill have already claimed their share of the prize.

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The Two-Way
1:59 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

Supreme Court Will Review Two Gay Marriage Cases In 2013

Same-sex marriage proponent Kat McGuckin of Oaklyn, N.J., holds a gay marriage pride flag in front of the Supreme Court Nov. 30, 2012. The court says it will review two cases related to same-sex marriage in 2013.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 6:05 pm

The Supreme Court has decided to take up cases involving California's Proposition 8, which bans gay marriage, and a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The justices' rulings on the cases are likely to be announced next June, after arguments are heard in the spring. Advocates on both sides of the issue were welcoming the news.

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Shots - Health News
1:52 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

Unusually Early Flu Season Intensifies

The number of states experiencing widespread flu doubled in the past week.
CDC

Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 2:07 pm

This year's unusually early flu season is continuing to intensify, federal health officials say.

The number of states now reporting widespread flu activity doubled to eight in the past week, according to the latest update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's.

Last week Alaska, Mississippi, New York and South Carolina were reporting widespread flu. Now, Alabama, North Carolina, Ohio and Rhode Island have joined the list.

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News
1:14 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

Black, Latino Groups: It's Our Turn, Mr. President

The National Urban League's Marc Morial (center) joins other civic leaders speaking outside the White House after they met with President Obama last month.
Toby Jorrin AFP/Getty Images

After African-American and Latino voters turned out in record numbers to reelect President Obama, leaders for both groups are turning up the pressure on him to return the favor.

They say that minorities, who put aside their disappointments with Obama's first term to support him again, now expect the president to spend his political capital on policies that will help their communities begin to recover from the recession. In the post-election euphoria, some leaders claim, certain voters are saying, "It's our turn."

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The Two-Way
1:06 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

'Jet' Magazine Features Its First Gay Male Couple

Photo from Jet's wedding section.
Via GLAAD

Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 1:51 pm

Many African-Americans are buzzing about the latest edition of Jet magazine, which for the first time features a gay male couple in its popular section for wedding announcements.

The magazine's Dec. 10 issue display of Ravi Perry and Paris Prince, who held their wedding ceremony in their backyard in Worcester, Mass., is being praised by LGBT activists and some readers as a societal breakthrough given the magazine's reputation for reflecting traditional black cultural mores for 61 years.

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It's All Politics
12:54 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

Most Expensive Presidential Campaign Ended In Sprint To Spend

Competing yard signs near Evans City, Pa., four days before the election. The campaigns of President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney each raised more than $1 billion during the race.
Keith Srakocic AP

Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 2:07 pm

A campaign marked by money, fundraisers (including the infamous one that produced Mitt Romney's "47 percent" moment) and superPACs finished with spending sprees across the board.

The Washington Post noted "manic activity" in the final days of the presidential race, and sums up the numbers:

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Best Books Of 2012
12:48 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

A Wintry Mix: Alan Cheuse Selects The Season's Best

Nishant Choksi

Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 9:50 pm

It's that time of year again — the leaves have fallen, the dark comes early, the air brings with it a certain chill — and I've been piling up books on my reading table, books I've culled from the offerings of the past few months, which because of their essential lyric beauty and power stand as special gifts for you and yours.

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The Two-Way
12:28 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

Mystery On Fifth Avenue: A Constant Line Outside Abercrombie & Fitch

A model at the front entrance to the Abercrombie & Fitch flagship store in New York City.
Mario Tama Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 11, 2012 7:34 pm

Every day I walk down Fifth Avenue on my way to work. I pass glittering holiday store windows, the Salvation Army ringing its bells and the sparkling tree at Rockefeller Center.

But for months I've noticed a mystery: Only one store has huge lines outside before it opens: Abercrombie & Fitch.

Perhaps 90 people stand on line every day before opening, rain or shine. It's been going on for years and not just during this season.

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It's All Politics
12:28 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

Who's Behind The Fiscal Cliff Lobbying Effort?

Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 12:42 pm

As the White House and Congress continue to wrangle over a deal to avoid the "fiscal cliff" and its billions in automatic spending cuts and tax increases, we wanted to take a look at who is spending big to influence the debate behind the scenes.

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All Tech Considered
12:27 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

Big Brother Is In Your Pocket (But You Get A Discount)

Care To Share? Wireless carriers are launching programs allowing customers to receive rewards based on information their smartphones share — such as their location, app usage and Web surfing data.
AFP AFP/Getty Images

Customer loyalty programs have been around for years. You think nothing of giving the supermarket or pet supply store your personal information. In exchange you get a card or a key ring tag that you present at checkout to get a discount.

Now wireless carriers are taking it a step further, raising alerts from privacy advocates.

Verizon and AT&T recently launched programs allowing customers to receive rewards based on information their smartphones share with the carriers.

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The Salt
11:56 am
Fri December 7, 2012

Mushroom Ice Cream, Anyone? Chefs Turning To Veggies For Dessert

A cup of pumpkin ice cream with chunks of frozen candy cap mushrooms. The candy cap variety is said to have the fragrance of maple syrup.
Jeff Moreau

Chefs at some of the most cutting edge restaurants in the country are incorporating vegetables into their desserts in ways that, at first glance, might not seem very dessert-y.

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The Two-Way
11:52 am
Fri December 7, 2012

In Egypt, Political Rift Deepens, Anger Grows, Protests Continue

An Egyptian protester chants anti-Muslim Brotherhood slogans during a demonstration in front of the presidential palace in Cairo on Friday.
Nariman El-Mofty AP

Detractors of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi breached the security perimeter of the presidential palace in Cairo today.

The Associated Press' Sarah El Deeb reports via Twitter that protesters reached the palace and some of them scrawled graffiti on its walls.

"Have some shame," one of the scrawls read.

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Shots - Health News
11:30 am
Fri December 7, 2012

How Miscommunication And A Simple Mistake Led To A Toxic Accident

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the accidental release of chlorine gas at a Tyson Food plant could have been prevented with better communication.
April L Brown AP

A year and a half ago, a mix-up at a Tyson Foods chicken processing plant landed more than 150 workers in the hospital. Five required intensive care.

The problem: Somebody poured a solution of sodium hypochlorite (think industrial strength bleach) into a 55-gallon drum that had contained an antimicrobial solution identified as FreshFx.

That stuff was acidic, according to investigators. Mix bleach and acid, and you can make a lot of chlorine gas in a hurry.

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The Two-Way
10:17 am
Fri December 7, 2012

India's Legislature Paves Way For Big-Box, Multinationals Like Wal-Mart

Indian leftist activists rally in front of a Best Price store, owned by Wal-Mart and its Indian partner, Bharti, in Hyderabad in November. The rally was organized to protest foreign direct investment in India's retail sector.
Noah Seelam AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 10:41 am

(Reporting from New Delhi, NPR's Julie McCarthy sends along an update on a story that aired on Morning Edition Wednesday. Essentially, Indians were considering whether to allow big-box stores like Wal-Mart into the country.)

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Economy
10:15 am
Fri December 7, 2012

Crunching The Job Numbers

Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 12:52 pm

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Later in the program we'll crack open the mail bag to hear what you have to say about stories we covered this week. That's Backtalk and it's coming up. But first, we want to talk about the latest unemployment numbers which are now out. The Department of Labor says that unemployment is down to its lowest level since December 2008.

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