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4:04 am
Sat December 21, 2013

The Life Of A Lobbyist In A Do-Nothing Congress

After casting their final votes of a session in which few laws were passed, members of Congress leave for a five-week recess.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 11:00 am

The 113th Congress has finished its first session, and lawmakers enacted fewer than 60 laws. No Congress since 1947 has done so little legislating.

That's bad news for many of Washington's lobbyists. Howard Marlowe, for one, hasn't been feeling the joy of his job.

"One of the driest periods in the 35 years that I've been lobbying," he says.

An old Washington hand, Marlowe has a small, boutique lobbying firm specializing in local infrastructure projects. His client base includes airports, shipping ports and local governments.

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Asia
3:24 am
Sat December 21, 2013

World's Most Popular Film Industry Turns 100

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 6:30 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. You know, Americans often assume that Hollywood films are what the world watches most. But the world's most popular film industry features music, melodrama and spectacular dance moves that have become known by a single name: Bollywood.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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Around the Nation
3:17 am
Sat December 21, 2013

Ornaments Give Tornado Victims A Little Christmas Cheer

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 6:30 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The people of Moore, Oklahoma are still living with the effects of a powerful tornado in May. The twister killed 25 people and destroyed more than a thousand homes. This holiday season, residents are reminded just how much they lost in that destruction. Kate Carlton of member station KGOU reports on one woman who's found a small way to make the holidays a bit more normal.

KATE CARLTON, BYLINE: On a recent Wednesday evening, Kim Rollins opened her home to strangers.

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Interviews
3:15 am
Sat December 21, 2013

Texas Teacher And His Groovy Shirt Retire

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 6:30 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Back in 1973, Dale Irby was just beginning his career as a physical education teacher in the Dallas area. School photo time came around, he needed something nice to wear and had just the thing - a groovy new polyester shirt with large lapels and a brown sweater. Dale Irby has worn the same outfit ever since in every school photo for 40 years. He's now retired; so has his ensemble. He joins us from Dallas. Mr. Irby, thanks so much for being with us.

DALE IRBY: Thank you.

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Code Switch
3:10 am
Sat December 21, 2013

A Jew And A Latino Walk Into A Recording Studio...

Released November 2013
Courtesy of Cary Baker

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 6:30 am

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The Two-Way
3:09 am
Sat December 21, 2013

Utah Seeks Emergency Stay Of Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Chris Serrano, left, and Clifton Webb kiss after being married, as people wait in line to get licenses outside of the marriage division of the Salt Lake County Clerk's Office in Salt Lake City on Friday.
Kim Raff AP

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 9:34 am

Officials in Utah are asking for an emergency stay of a federal court ruling that found the state's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.

Reporting from Salt Lake City, NPR's Howard Berkes filed this report for our Newscast unit:

"Within minutes of the federal court decision, the Salt Lake County Clerk's office was inundated with gay couples seeking marriage licenses.

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All Tech Considered
1:18 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Robot 'Olympics' Test Machines On Human Skills

Atlas, a humanoid robot, is competing against 16 other robots in a Pentagon-sponsored contest this weekend.
Greg Allen NPR

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 1:46 pm

Under throbbing loudspeakers at a NASCAR track south of Miami, vaguely humanoid robots with two legs, four legs and tank treads take up garages that normally house race cars.

The robots, along with researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lockheed Martin, NASA and 13 other teams from around the world, are in Homestead, Fla., for the robot Olympics on Friday and Saturday.

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The Two-Way
12:47 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Astronauts Ready For Marathon Spacewalks

NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy performs a spacewalk in May to inspect and replace a pump controller box on the International Space Station. On Saturday, two astronauts will perform the first in a series of similar spacewalks to fix a broken cooling line on the ISS.
AP

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 1:46 pm

NASA astronauts will be heading out to conduct critical repairs on the International Space Station early Saturday morning. The 6 1/2-hour spacewalk, the first in a series, will replace a faulty piece of cooling equipment.

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Number Of The Year
12:46 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

The Cost To Keep The Home Team At Home May Not Be Worth It

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announces that the city will demolish Turner Field after Major League Baseball's Atlanta Braves leave for a new stadium in the suburbs in 2017. Reed says it was a hard decision but he thinks the city will be better for it.
David Goldman AP

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 2:52 pm

$498 million — that's how much the state of Minnesota and the city of Minneapolis have agreed to pay as their share of a new, nearly $1 billion football stadium for the Minnesota Vikings. Team owner Ziggy Wilf says he believes Minnesotans got a fair deal.

And as it turns out, the deal is pretty standard. But is it fair? Increasingly, privately owned sports teams aren't just asking for newer, fancier digs. They're also asking the public to pay half — or more — of the bill.

Hidden Costs Add Up

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Code Switch
12:42 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

The Truth Behind The Lies Of The Original 'Welfare Queen'

The Chicago press covered Linda Taylor's 1977 trial extensively, and she dressed to court the cameras.
Charles Knoblock Associated Press

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 5:36 am

If you haven't read Josh Levin's amazing story at Slate — the woman upon whom the term "welfare queen" was originally bestowed — you're missing out on a fascinating and disturbing profile of an unlikely political figure.

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The Two-Way
12:07 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Federal Court Strikes Down Utah's Gay Marriage Ban

Derek Kitchen (left) and his partner, Moudi Sbeity, talk with the media outside Frank E. Moss United States Courthouse earlier this month, where a challenge to Utah's same-sex marriage ban by three gay couples was decided on Friday.
Rick Bowmer AP

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 2:03 pm

A federal judge has struck down Utah's ban on same-sex marriage, saying it's unconstitutional.

The 53-page ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby says a 2004 ban passed by the state's voters violates the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The Associated Press says:

"Attorneys for the state argued that Utah's law promotes the state's interest in 'responsible procreation' and the 'optimal mode of child-rearing.'

"The lawsuit was brought by three gay and lesbian couples in Utah.

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Parallels
11:53 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Uganda Passes Anti-Gay Bill That Includes Life In Prison

David Bahati, a member of Uganda's Parliament, is interviewed in 2011. Bahati was the driving force behind a controversial anti-gay bill that was approved Friday.
Ronald Kabuubi AP

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 1:46 pm

Uganda's Parliament ignored Western criticism and passed a bill on Friday that punishes acts of homosexuality with prison terms that can include life in prison.

The bill has been a source of controversy for years. Western governments and leaders, including President Obama, have criticized the measure, which President Yoweri Museveni must sign for it to take effect.

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill, it's actual name, also makes it a crime to "promote" homosexuality, which could mean simply offering HIV counseling.

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Around the Nation
11:53 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Bankruptcy Casts Shadow Over Detroit's Plan To Fix Streetlights

In Detroit, fewer than half of the city's 88,000 street lights actually work anymore.
Quinn Klinefelter WDET

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 1:46 pm

Many neighborhoods in Detroit are in the dark — not because of a power outage but because fewer than half of the city's 88,000 streetlights actually work.

In some parts of town, city block after city block is filled with streetlights that never come on.

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NPR Story
11:53 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Meet The Original Welfare Queen

Melissa Block talks with Josh Levin, executive editor at Slate, about his article about "Welfare Queen" Linda Taylor. She became notorious in the 1970s for her abuses of the welfare system but, as Levin discovered, she also committed far worse crimes.

NPR Story
11:53 am
Fri December 20, 2013

White House Announces Another Rule Change For Affordable Care Act

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 1:46 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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NPR Story
11:53 am
Fri December 20, 2013

NPR Says Goodbye To 90 Staff Members

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 1:46 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Here at NPR, today has been a day of toasts, rousing ovations, tears and even a conga line because, well, that's how we roll.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

As the year ends, we're saying goodbye to many people who work here. NPR has been running a deficit and about 90 people said yes to a voluntary buy-out.

CORNISH: Those leaving include many voices you've heard on the radio, reporters and newscasters, also talented and fearless producers and editors.

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The Two-Way
11:28 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Gov. Christie Signs New Jersey 'DREAM Act' Into Law

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at a news conference Thursday.
Mel Evans AP

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 2:52 pm

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill on Friday that will give some students who are in the U.S. illegally a break on their tuition.

Christie inked New Jersey's version of the DREAM Act, which the Republican governor supported in his last re-election bid.

The state's Legislature passed the bill after a compromise that dropped a provision that would also have allowed students in the country illegally to be eligible for state financial aid if they qualified under income guidelines, according to The Associated Press.

The AP reports:

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It's All Politics
10:38 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Black GOP Hopefuls See Promise In Retirement Flurry

Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love addresses the Utah Republican Party's annual organizing convention in May.
Rick Bowmer AP

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 2:49 pm

It's not every day that three long-serving House members announce their retirements within hours of each other. It's rarer still that two of those seats have a distinct possibility of being filled by a black Republican after next year's election.

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All Tech Considered
10:05 am
Fri December 20, 2013

The 'Blacks In Tech' Series Wraps, But Let's Keep Talking

Omar Wasow founded BlackPlanet, one of the earliest social networks, but isn't as widely recognized as the founders of Facebook or Myspace.
Willi Wong

Editor's Note: As part of Tell Me More's three-week-long Twitter exploration of black innovators in the tech sector, digital lifestyle expert Mario Armstrong analyzed the tweets and the conversations going on under the hashtag #NPRBlacksinTech. The series wraps today. Below, he looks back on what we've learned.

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All Tech Considered
9:42 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Week That Was: Bay Area Economy, NSA Ruling, Tech Execs In D.C.

President Obama and Vice President Biden met with tech executives at the White House on Wednesday.
Jim Watson AFP/Getty Images

Before we slow things down for the final two weeks of 2013 — you'll still get fresh stories and posts here, but at a slower clip — let's look back at tech in one of the last weeks of the year.

ICYMI

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Architecture
9:35 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Makeover USA: Short, 'Dowdy' D.C. Considers High Heels

The skyline of Washington, D.C., including the Capitol building, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and National Mall. The tall buildings in the distance are in Virginia.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 11:06 am

The powers that be in Washington are typically, though certainly not always, wrestling with weighty issues.

Recently, they've also been debating height, and whether they prefer a stout, familiar dowager, or a taller, sleeker model.

Building heights, people: We're talking building heights in your nation's capital, where for more than a century the 1910 Building Height Act has kept the city's profile low.

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The Two-Way
8:54 am
Fri December 20, 2013

President Orders Review Of Sexual Assault In Military

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey brief reporters at the Pentagon in Washington, on Thursday.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 9:09 am

President Obama has ordered a one-year review of the military's response to sexual assault within the ranks, saying his administration has "an urgent obligation" to respond to the problem.

"If I do not see the kind of progress I expect, then we will consider additional reforms that may be required to eliminate this crime from our military ranks," the president said in a statement on Friday.

As Reuters says:

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The Two-Way
8:54 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Obama On Health Care Rollout: 'We Screwed It Up'

Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 12:46 pm

President Obama, in his final news conference of the year, sought to put the best face on a difficult first year of his second term.

Speaking a few hours before he heads to Hawaii for a two-week vacation, Obama is meeting with reporters at the White House.

He touted the improving economy, saying 2 million jobs had been added in 2013, with the unemployment rate now at its lowest level in five years.

"2014 can be a breakthrough year," he said.

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The Two-Way
7:22 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Yellen Nomination To Fed Clears Hurdle; Confirmation Likely

Janet Yellen, who is poised to move from the No. 2 to the No. 1 post at the Federal Reserve.
Alex Wong Getty Images

By a vote of 59-34 the Senate on Friday moved the nomination of Janet Yellen to be the next chairman of the Federal Reserve past a key procedural hurdle.

The vote invoked "cloture" — effectively preventing Republicans from filibustering President Obama's nominee.

Next up for Yellen's nomination: A confirmation vote, set for Jan. 6. With the Democratic caucus controlling 55 of the Senate's 100 seats, she's expected to get a majority and then become the first woman to head the central bank.

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Shots - Health News
7:11 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Angelina Didn't Help Educate People About Breast Cancer Risk

A celebrity's efforts to educate the public about health risk may have very limited effects.
Evan Agostini AP

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 11:47 am

Remember when Angelina Jolie decided to have a double mastectomy to reduce her risk of breast cancer? The Hollywood star revealed her experience in The New York Times in May.

Her story got a lot of people talking about preventive mastectomies. But it didn't do much to increase people's understanding of breast cancer risk, a study found.

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It's All Politics
6:33 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Protesters Greet Scott Brown At New Hampshire GOP Event

Republican Scott Brown (center) waves to the crowd at the conclusion of his Massachusetts Senate race concession speech Nov. 6 as his daughter Ayla Brown (left) and wife Gail Huff applaud.
Steven Senne AP

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 9:43 am

Scott Brown still knows how to make an entrance.

The former Massachusetts senator — and a soon-to-be official resident of Rye, N.H. — arrived at the New Hampshire GOP's holiday party in his trademark pickup truck Thursday evening, and was greeted by more than 100 chanting protesters.

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Shots - Health News
6:32 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Feds Drop Mandate For People Whose Insurance Was Canceled

Only hours before the deadline to sign up for health insurance that will begin Jan. 1, the Obama administration has offered people whose plans have been canceled a new option. They can sign up for catastrophic coverage instead.

These little-noticed plans cover only three primary care visits, specified preventive services and medical costs that exceed a catastrophic amounts. In 2014, that's $6,300 for an individual.

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The Two-Way
6:21 am
Fri December 20, 2013

No Widespread Misconduct In Secret Service, Investigators Say

U.S. Secret Service

"Although individual employees have engaged in misconduct or inappropriate behavior, we did not find evidence that misconduct is widespread," concludes a report from the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general. The IG's investigation was launched after the 2012 scandal over some agents' behavior while they were on a mission in Colombia.

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Parallels
6:17 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Rebel Leader: Nuns Were Led To Safety, Not Seized, In Syria

Nuns from the Mar Takla convent in Maaloula, Syria.
YouTube

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 8:53 am

There are differing versions of what happened to the Greek Orthodox nuns of Maaloula, who left their convent north of Damascus earlier this month. Some say the nuns are being held hostage by Islamic radicals. Others say they were under missile assault by the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad and were rescued by rebel fighters.

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The Protojournalist
6:13 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Have Yourself A Tacky Little Christmas

Solid Color Neckties

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 5:55 am

Maybe it all started with ugly Christmas sweaters. Or with cheesy inflatable Santas. Or hideously inappropriate tree ornaments. But Christmastime – at least its visible trappings and accoutrements – seems to be getting tackier.

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