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Parallels
7:15 am
Tue December 16, 2014

Has Vladimir Putin Just Overplayed His Hand?

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

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 8:16 am

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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Goats and Soda
7:12 am
Tue December 16, 2014

Scientists Report Headway In Hunt For Dengue Vaccine

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

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 10:19 am

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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The Two-Way
6:41 am
Tue December 16, 2014

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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The Two-Way
5:49 am
Tue December 16, 2014

Jeb Bush Announces He Will 'Actively Explore' Presidential Run

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

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 7:06 am

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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The Two-Way
5:39 am
Tue December 16, 2014

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

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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The Two-Way
4:29 am
Tue December 16, 2014

Thousands Lay Flowers At The Site Of Hostage Siege In Sydney

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

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 5:32 am

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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Code Switch
3:22 am
Tue December 16, 2014

Is Courting Controversy An Urban Outfitters Strategy?

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

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 5:40 am

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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Shots - Health News
3:22 am
Tue December 16, 2014

Few Employers Cover Egg Freezing For Women With Cancer

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 7:44 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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The Two-Way
2:41 am
Tue December 16, 2014

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

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 4:42 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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Around the Nation
2:31 am
Tue December 16, 2014

Robot Flies Economy From LA To Frankfurt

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

Animals
2:31 am
Tue December 16, 2014

New York Bans The Tattooing And Piercing Of Pets

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

Asia
1:45 am
Tue December 16, 2014

Dozens Killed As Taliban Gunmen Storm Pakistani School

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 2:31 am

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

The Two-Way
1:41 am
Tue December 16, 2014

Taliban Gunmen Storm School, Kill Dozens In Pakistan

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

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 9:21 am

(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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Middle East
12:26 am
Tue December 16, 2014

Contestant From War-Torn Syria Wins 'Arab Idol'

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 1:09 pm

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

NPR Story
12:11 am
Tue December 16, 2014

Hostage Drama Unfolds Violently In Sydney

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 4:45 pm

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

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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NPR Story
12:11 am
Tue December 16, 2014

Sony On The Defensive After Hackers Attack Its Computer Network

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 1:01 pm

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

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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Law
11:39 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Judge Regrets Harsh Human Toll Of Mandatory Minimum Sentences

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

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 6:03 am

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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Law
11:38 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

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

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

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 8:12 am

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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Parallels
10:47 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Kurdish Officials Worry About Kurds Joining The Islamic State

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

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 1:15 pm

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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Economy
10:36 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

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

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

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 8:46 am

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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Shots - Health News
10:28 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Alaska's Governor Eager To Expand Medicaid

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

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 2:31 am

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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U.S.
10:26 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

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

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

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 9:13 am

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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Parallels
10:24 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Argentina's Approach To Inflation: Ditch The Peso, Hoard U.S. Dollars

A man gets information about how to buy dollars at a foreign exchange business in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Jan. 27.
Natacha Pisarenko AP

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 9:00 am

Kelly Brenner ushers in guests at the Adentro Dinner Club. This is a "​puertas cerradas"​ restaurant — meaning behind closed doors. It's a culinary movement where people cook for paying guests in their homes. Adentro is the most well-reviewed in Buenos Aires​.

​Brenner, who is originally from Boulder, Colo., acts as the host, and her Argentine fiance, Gabriel Aguallo, does the cooking, focusing on grilled meat.

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The Salt
10:22 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

At Last, Muslims Can Savor A Halal Spin On Spain's Famous Jamón

Halal jamón products made with lamb and beef inside the Balkis Gourmet curing room in Cumbres Mayores in Andalusia, Spain.
Lauren Frayer for NPR

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 10:43 pm

Wander into any bar in Spain, order a drink, and the waiter will very likely hand you free tapas. Very often it's some type of pork — jamón (ham), chorizo (spicy sausage) or panceta (cured bacon). You could say this country is obsessed with cured pork products. People joke that even vegetarians in Spain eat jamón.

Eating authentic jamón ibérico de bellota, a cured ham made from free-range pigs fed on acorns, is a key part of Spanish life, especially in the south.

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The Two-Way
9:03 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

2015 Rock Hall Of Fame Class Includes Lou Reed, Joan Jett, Green Day

Billie Joe Armstrong (left) and Mike Dirnt of Green Day play the Reading Festival. Green Day and five other acts will join the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next year.
Yui Mok PA Photos/Landov

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 3:49 am

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All Tech Considered
2:26 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Hustle Behind The Wheel: What It's Like To Be An Uber Driver

Ride-hailing services like Uber have changed ground transportation for both passengers and drivers. As Uber rapidly grows, it becomes more difficult for its drivers to keep up with the hustle.
David Ramos Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 15, 2014 3:09 pm

The popular ride-hailing service Uber is valued at a staggering $40 billion — even though it's besieged by lawsuits, bad PR and outright bans in some cities.

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The Two-Way
1:44 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

The U.S. Has A Surgeon General, For The First Time In 17 Months

More than a year after he was nominated, Dr. Vivek Murthy was confirmed as the next surgeon general Monday. Back in February, Murthy testified about his nomination before a Senate panel.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Mon December 15, 2014 2:14 pm

A job that's been open in President Obama's administration since July of 2013 was finally filled Monday, as the Senate voted to confirm Vivek Murthy as America's new surgeon general.

The tally was 51-43, ending a confirmation process that began after Obama nominated Murthy to the post in November of 2013 — yes, that's one year ago.

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The Two-Way
1:11 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Russia Boosts Interest Rates To 17 Percent Amid Currency's Slide

Russia's central bank raised its interest rate to 17 percent from 10.5 percent in an early Tuesday decision that comes as the ruble continues its year as the world's worst-performing major currency.

"This decision is aimed at limiting substantially increased ruble depreciation risks and inflation risks," the Bank of Russia said in a statement on its website.

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The Two-Way
12:41 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Chinese Man Cleared Of Rape, Murder 18 Years After His Execution

Shang Aiyun (second left) and Li Sanren (second right) mourn at the grave of their son, Huugjilt, in Hohhot, China. Huugjilt was executed in 1996 for the rape and murder of a woman in a public toilet. He was cleared of the crime on Monday.
Ren Junchuan Xinhua /Landov

Originally published on Mon December 15, 2014 3:26 pm

In 1996, China executed an 18-year-old man named Huugjilt for the rape and murder of a woman in a public toilet. But Monday, Chinese authorities cleared the ethnic Mongolian of the crime and offered a rare apology to his family.

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Book Reviews
12:12 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Murakami's 'Library' Is Dark, Creamy And Grainy At The Same Time

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

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