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The Salt
1:14 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Congressional Work On Farm Bill Likely To Spill Into 2014

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., during a Dec. 4 break in negotiations on the farm bill. On Tuesday, Stabenow said the bill likely won't pass Congress until January.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 2:14 pm

House and Senate negotiators working to finish a farm bill say it is unlikely their work will be completed before the end of the year. The House is only in session for the rest of the week, and according to one of the negotiators, this week's snowy weather has delayed some numbers-crunching needed to figure out how much elements of a possible deal will cost.

"We're going to pass it in January," said Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., as she left a closed-door meeting to negotiate details of the five-year farm bill.

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The Two-Way
1:05 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Woman Pleads Guilty To Mailing Ricin To Obama, Bloomberg

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 2:36 pm

A former actress who sent ricin-laced letters to President Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has pleaded guilty in federal court in Texarkana, Texas, as part of a deal to limit her sentence to no more than 18 years.

Shannon Guess Richardson, a mother of six from Texas, had minor roles in The Walking Dead and The Blind Side. She mailed three ricin-laced letters from New Boston, Texas, near Texarkana, and then contacted police to say that her estranged husband had done it.

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Shots - Health News
12:44 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Popular Antacids Increase The Risk Of B-12 Deficiency

Drugs that reduce acid production can make it harder for the stomach to absorb vitamin B12.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 11:22 am

Acid-inhibiting drugs like Zantac and Prilosec have become hugely popular because they're so good at preventing the unpleasant symptoms of heartburn and acid indigestion.

But the drugs also make it more likely that a person will be short on vitamin B-12. And that can contribute to health problems including depression, nerve damage and dementia.

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The Two-Way
11:56 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Missing Couple, Four Kids Found Safe In Nevada Mountains

This undated family photo provided by the Pershing County Sheriff's Office shows Shelby Fitzpatrick (left) and Chloe Glanton, two of the children who were found "alive and well" after an extensive search in northern Nevada.
AP

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 2:42 pm

A couple and four children who had been missing since Sunday in the mountains of northern Nevada amid subzero temperatures have been found in good shape, officials said.

"We have located the people. They have been taken to the hospital. They are alive and well." Pershing County Undersheriff Thomas Bjerke said Tuesday. "They are in pretty good shape."

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Shots - Health News
11:49 am
Tue December 10, 2013

To Fight Meningitis Outbreak, Princeton Tries European Vaccine

The Ivy League school has begun vaccinating nearly 6,000 students to try to stop an outbreak of type B meningitis in an unusual federal government-endorsed administration of a drug not generally approved for use in the U.S.
Mel Evans AP

Princeton University has started vaccinating students against type B meningitis in an effort to stop an outbreak that's infected at least eight people.

The vaccine isn't approved for general use in the United States, though it is available in Europe, Australia and Canada. But the meningitis strain that hit the New Jersey campus isn't fazed by the vaccines typically used in the U.S. The Food and Drug Administration is allowing a Novartis vaccine that's usually sold in other countries to be administered on the Princeton campus.

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Around the Nation
11:29 am
Tue December 10, 2013

New Orleans' Rat Fighters Go Beyond Baiting Traps

A rat forages for food in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans in 2006, a year after Hurricane Katrina. Blighted buildings and fewer people led to an increase in the city's rat population.
Alex Brandon AP

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 7:30 am

Marvin Thompson knew he faced a difficult task when he was hired last year as principal at John McDonogh High School in New Orleans.

"The day that I pulled up to this building, I thought it was condemned," Thompson says.

The structure, built in 1898, was sagging and leaky and missing entire window panes. Inside, students were underperforming academically.

And then, there were the rats. Thompson and his two children didn't even finish unpacking his office before they discovered that problem.

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Parallels
11:29 am
Tue December 10, 2013

As Inflation Soars, Venezuela's Leader Opts For Drastic Steps

A woman and her child are barred from a supermarket that was closing its doors to ration milk products in Caracas on Nov. 15. Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, who was elected after the death of Hugo Chavez in March, is facing growing criticism over economic problems that include shortages of basic goods and inflation that's topped 50 percent this year.
Jorge Silva Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 7:30 am

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro has closely followed the economic policies of his predecessor, and by one measure, he has already outpaced Hugo Chavez — inflation.

Inflation has hit 54 percent this year, giving Venezuela one of the highest rates in the world and far surpassing the relatively high rates under Chavez, which sometimes topped 20 percent a year.

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Music
11:29 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Indie-Pop Albums That Make The Cut Are More Than Mere Collections

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 7:30 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

At NPR Music, they're wrapping up the year the best way they know how, with their hotly contested list of their 50 favorite albums of 2013. Now, all this week, we'll get a peak of that list from our in-house experts, including NPR Music writer and editor Stephen Thompson, whose beat is the ever amorphous indie pop, which - Stephen, what exactly is that these days?

STEPHEN THOMPSON, BYLINE: I have absolutely no idea. It used to mean accessible but unpopular.

CORNISH: OK. So...

(LAUGHTER)

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Around the Nation
11:29 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Texas Ice Storm Plus Sand, Traffic Equals 'Cobblestone Ice'

Cobblestone ice has made travel downright dangerous. Over the weekend, Ross Hailey of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram captured this truck driving over cobblestone ice in Haltom City.
Ross Hailey Star-Telegram via KERA

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 7:30 am

The ice storm that's blanketed North Texas streets and highways has spawned a new name: cobblestone ice.

Cobblestone ice — sounds poetic, doesn't it?

Not if you've had to drive through it.

So what is it?

Ryan LaFontaine of the Texas Department of Transportation says cobblestone ice is a combination of ice accumulation and sand laid down by TxDOT and city trucks — which traffic compresses together to form a cobblestone-type surface, a thick layer of frozen ruts and potholes. In some places, it's several inches deep.

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Latin America
11:29 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Ex-Brazilian President Kubitschek Was Murdered, Commission Says

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 7:30 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

A probe into the death of one of Brazil's most celebrated presidents has determined he was murdered. It was thought that the former leader died in a 1976 car crash but an investigation has found he was assassinated by the military junta that once ruled the country. NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports that the revelation is renewing calls for Brazil's amnesty law to be revised so that the killers can face justice.

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The Two-Way
11:08 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Will A Handshake Lead To Better U.S.-Cuba Relations?

In this image from TV, President Obama shakes hands with Cuban President Raul Castro at the memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
AP

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 2:00 pm

In everyday life, a handshake is rather ordinary. But when President Obama shook hands Tuesday with Cuban leader Raul Castro at a memorial service for the late South African President Nelson Mandela, this was how it was described:

-- "a simple gesture that signaled possible thawing between the leaders of the two Cold War foes"

-- "an unprecedented gesture"

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Business
11:04 am
Tue December 10, 2013

GM Gives A Woman The Keys To Drive Its Future

Mary Barra speaks at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit earlier this year. General Motors has picked her to lead the company.
Rebecca Cook Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 12:29 pm

She's not the first woman to head a global corporation.

Ginni Rometty runs IBM, and Indra Nooyi heads PepsiCo. Don't forget Ursula Burns at Xerox and Meg Whitman at Hewlett-Packard. There's Marissa Mayer at Yahoo.

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The Two-Way
10:53 am
Tue December 10, 2013

WATCH: Goats Escape Avalanche

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 1:08 am

Gawker brings us this video posted on Monday of a herd of chamois goats that make a seemingly miraculous escape from an avalanche on an Alpine mountain face. It occurs in the Rhone-Alpes near Pralognan-la-Vanoise, not far from the border between France and Italy.

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Shots - Health News
10:52 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Despite Big Market In Florida, Obamacare Is A Hard Sell

Enroll America outreach workers talk to congregants at the Mt. Calvary Church in Jacksonville, Fla.
Eric Whitney

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 9:39 am

Getting people to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act remains an uphill battle in much of Florida.

Politicians in the state erected roadblocks to the law from the beginning — from joining in the 2010 lawsuit to thwart the law to placing restrictions on what insurance helpers called navigators can tell people seeking advice.

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Code Switch
10:33 am
Tue December 10, 2013

In A Small Missouri Town, Immigrants Turn To Schools For Help

Abbie Fentress Swanson Harvest Public Media

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 7:30 am

This story comes to us from Harvest Public Media, a public radio reporting project that focuses on agriculture and food production issues. You can see more photos and hear more audio from the series here. Wednesday, we'll have a story from a meatpacking plant in Garden City, Kan., which takes a proactive stance toward its newest immigrants.

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The Two-Way
10:06 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Regulators Approve Rule To Rein In Banks' Risky Trades

President Obama with Paul Volcker at the White House in 2009. Volcker, who headed the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board, lent his name to a new rule aimed at curbing risk-taking on Wall Street.
Brendan Smialowski Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 3:33 pm

The Volcker rule, a centerpiece of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial law aimed at stopping some of the risky banking practices that contributed to the economic meltdown, was approved by five key regulators on Tuesday, clearing the way for its implementation.

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission became the fifth and final body to approve the rule. The Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. were also among the agencies that gave the green light.

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The Salt
10:02 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Elevenses And Then Some: How To Prepare A Feast Fit For A Hobbit

Precious snack: In Tolkien's books, lembas was a special bread made by elves that could stay fresh for months — perfect for sustaining travelers on a long journey (or engaging in an all-day movie marathon.) Try it for elevenses.
Beth Accomando for NPR

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 6:23 am

"If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world." — J.R.R. Tolkien

Each year, I swear I will never do this again.

And yet, for the third year in a row, I am preparing to host a day-long Lord of the Rings movie marathon – and cooking up a seven-course hobbit-themed feast, plus dessert, to serve my guests. Maybe it's because, like Tolkien, I too would like the world to be a merrier place.

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The Two-Way
8:59 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Ouster Of North Korea's Jang Noted With Unease In China

A South Korean man watches TV news about the dismissal of Jang Song-Thaek, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's uncle, at a railway station in Seoul on December 3.
Jung yeon-je AFP/Getty Images

The recent, very public ouster of North Korea's Jang Song Thaek, the uncle of Kim Jong Un and formerly the country's No. 2 leader, has been noted with some concern in China, which is more or less Pyongyang's only friend in the region.

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Politics
8:56 am
Tue December 10, 2013

How ALEC Serves As A 'Dating Service' For Politicians And Corporations

President Bush speaks to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in Philadelphia, on July 26, 2007.
Mel Evans AP

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 7:07 am

A batch of internal documents recently leaked to The Guardian has revealed new insights into the goals and finances of the secretive group called ALEC. The American Legislative Exchange Council is a group that brings together state legislators and representatives of corporations. Together, they develop model bills that lawmakers introduce and try to pass in their state legislatures.

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The Two-Way
8:00 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Using Satellite, Scientists Pinpoint Coldest Place On Earth

Sastrugi stick out from the snow surface in this photo near Plateau Station in East Antarctica. Most of Antartica looks quite flat, despite the subtle domes, hills, and hollows.
Atsuhiro Muto National Snow and Ice Data Center

Using data from a NASA satellite, scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) say they have now pinpointed the coldest place on Earth.

On a 1,000 kilometer swath of the highest section of the East Antarctic ice divide, scientists measured temperatures of -134 to -137 degrees Farenheit.

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It's All Politics
7:54 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Conservative Firebrand Challenges Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn

Texas Rep. Steve Stockman participates in a mock swearing-in ceremony with House Speaker John Boehner in January. Stockman made the surprise move to challenge Sen. John Cornyn in the 2014 Texas GOP primary.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 11:42 am

Another day, another GOP primary fight.

This time, it's John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, who's receiving a challenge from the right in 2014. Rep. Steve Stockman, a conservative firebrand, made the surprise move to enter the March 4 race Monday evening just before the state's filing deadline.

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NPR Story
7:11 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Mourners Say Final Farewells To Mandela In Soweto

Tens of thousands of South Africans and world leaders celebrated the life of former president Nelson Mandela at FNB Stadium in Soweto. NPR's Gregory Warner has the story.

NPR Story
7:11 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Volcker Rule Aims To Rein In Banks' Risky Trades

American bank regulators unveiled the final version of the so-called Volcker Rule, which prohibits banks from trading stocks, bonds and derivatives for their own accounts. For more, Steve Inskeep speaks to NPR's Jim Zarroli.

NPR Story
7:11 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Mandela To Lie In State In Pretoria

The memorial service for Nelson Mandela concluded Tuesday in Soweto, but South Africans will have additional opportunities to say farewell to their late president. Mandela lies in state in Pretoria for three days and will be buried Sunday in his home village of Qunu.

The Two-Way
6:48 am
Tue December 10, 2013

In Qatar, Hagel Tours Command Center That May Or May Not Exist

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel visited the Combined Air and Space Operations Center in the tiny Persian Gulf nation of Qatar on Tuesday morning, the last leg of a tour that has also taken him to Bahrain, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

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Shots - Health News
6:39 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Don't Count On Insurance To Pay For Genetic Tests

After genetic testing revealed a heightened risk for breast cancer, Angelina Jolie had a precautionary double mastectomy.
Alastair Grant AP

The day when a simple blood test or saliva sample can identify your risk for medical conditions ranging from cancer to Alzheimer's disease seems tantalizingly close.

But genetics specialists say the hype around many of these tests has outstripped the science. Insurers generally only cover a test if there's strong scientific evidence that it can provide a health benefit to patients.

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The Two-Way
6:33 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Snow Follows On Heels Of Ice Storm In The East

A person walks on a deserted walkway on a snowy morning in New York City on Tuesday. People who live along the East Coast and the Appalachians woke up to snow Tuesday, forcing school closings and closed roads.
Seth Wenig AP

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 1:53 pm

(This post was updated at 5:30 p.m. ET)

A fast-moving winter storm swept through the Eastern U.S. on Tuesday, bringing several inches of snow to the region, causing flights to be canceled, traffic to be snarled and federal government offices in Washington, D.C., to be shut for the day.

Northern Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware and southern New England got up to 6 inches of snow, and the nation's midsection experienced frigid temperatures.

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The Two-Way
6:26 am
Tue December 10, 2013

U.K. Rescue Center Overrun With Orphaned (And Adorable) Seal Pups

Men take pictures as they try to move a seal pup away from a house, which has fallen into the sea, during a storm surge in Hemsby, eastern England, on Dec. 6.
Darren Staples Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 7:29 am

We guarantee this is the saddest and cutest story you'll hear about all day: About 263 seal pups were swept away from their mothers by a massive tidal surge near Norfolk in the U.K. recently.

Now, a wildlife center is struggling to cope with about 100 of them, who will need to be bottle fed and rehabilitated.

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The Salt
6:12 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Fresh Research Finds Organic Milk Packs In Omega-3s

Cows graze in a pasture at the University of New Hampshire's organic dairy farm in Lee, N.H., Sept. 27, 2006.
JIM COLE AP

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 9:35 am

While milk consumption continues to fall in the U.S., sales of organic milk are on the rise. And now organic milk accounts for about 4 percent of total fluid milk consumption.

For years, organic producers have claimed their milk is nutritionally superior to regular milk. Specifically, they say that because their cows spend a lot more time out on pasture, munching on grasses and legumes rich in omega-3 fatty acids, the animals' milk is higher in these healthy fats, which are linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.

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Remembrances
5:51 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Too Young To Remember Mandela's Leadership, But Not His Legacy

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 7:11 am

In Soweto, South Africa, NPR's Gregory Warner speaks with people attending Nelson Mandela's memorial service — some who are too young to remember the late leader's years as president.

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