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12:27 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Florida Man Airs Grievances With Festivus Pole In Capitol

Florida lobbyist Keith Arnold stops to look at Chaz Stevens' Festivus pole made out of beer cans in the rotunda of the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee.
Mark Wallheiser Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 3:14 pm

There's a brand-new holiday display at Florida's state Capitol in Tallahassee: a pole celebrating the fake holiday Festivus from the TV show Seinfeld.

It's the latest protest exhibit after a Nativity scene was set up in the rotunda last week.

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The Salt
12:23 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Drug Companies Accept FDA Plan To Phase Out Some Animal Antibiotic Uses

Young broilers nibble feed at a chicken farm in Luling, Texas. The Food and Drug Administration has issued new guidance on how drug companies label antibiotics for livestock.
Bob Nichols USDA/Flickr

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 3:07 pm

If drug companies follow guidance issued Wednesday by the Food and Drug Administration, within three years it will be illegal to use medically important antibiotics to make farm animals grow faster or use feed more efficiently.

The FDA's announcement wasn't a big surprise; a draft version of the strategy was released more than a year ago.

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U.S.
12:23 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

After Fight Over Colo. Gun Laws, Two Sides As Dug In As Ever

A man holds a sign advocating the recall of state Sen. John Morse in Colorado Springs, Colo., in September. Morse and a second state senator who backed the state's new gun control measures were recalled during a special election that month.
Matthew Staver Landov

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 3:47 pm

John Morse was president of the Colorado Senate until September, when he became the first elected official recalled in the state's history.

Three months later, he's climbing the rotunda steps of the gold-domed Capitol building — his office for seven years. He hasn't been here since October. Gazing up at the dome, he says, "This is one of my favorite things to do. That's my version of smelling the roses."

Morse's political career ended over the gun bills he pushed through these chambers eight months ago. But he says he would do it all again.

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Energy
12:23 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Big Batteries Needed To Make Fickle Wind And Solar Power Work

PG&E, a Northern California utility company, is already experimenting with big batteries to store wind-generated electricity at its Vaca-Dixon Substation.
Richard Harris NPR

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 3:57 am

Giant batteries are coming to a power grid near you. In fact, they're already starting to appear on the grid in California.

That's because California is planning to rely increasingly on power supplies that aren't necessarily available every minute of every day. The state plans to get one-third of its electricity from wind and solar energy by 2020.

Utilities in the state are trying to figure out how they can cope with that uncertain power supply. Batteries aren't a panacea, but they could help.

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NPR Story
11:33 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Nelson Mandela Lies In State In Pretoria Before Sunday Burial

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 1:26 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Yesterday, the world's leaders paid tribute to Nelson Mandela. Now, the people have their turn. Mandela is lying in state in Pretoria to allow South Africans to bid him a personal farewell. Thousands of mourners filed past the half-open casket. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports the clouds and showers at yesterday's memorial have lifted.

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Movie Interviews
11:33 am
Wed December 11, 2013

David O. Russell, Building Movies From The Characters Up

Amy Adams and Christian Bale star as a couple of con artists in David O. Russell's American Hustle.
Francois Duhamel Columbia Pictures

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 3:32 pm

Director David O. Russell's latest film, American Hustle, is inspired by the Abscam scandal — the FBI sting from the 1970s, complete with an agent posing as an Arab sheik, that led to the downfall of a number of politicians.

Starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams and Christian Bale, the movie is about that sting operation, but it's also a love story and a loving study of larger-than-life characters — with big '70s hair, wearing classic '70s polyester wardrobes — trying to reinvent themselves.

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NPR Story
11:33 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Pope's Propensity For Shaking Things Up Makes Him Man Of The Year

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 1:26 pm

Time magazine has named Pope Francis as its Person of the Year. The magazine cited Francis' willingness to take on thorny issues such as homosexuality, the role of women in the church, poverty and the nature of capitalism. At the same time, the pontiff has done so while projecting an air of humility and compassion, which has captured the world's attention in just nine months.

Shots - Health News
11:02 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Staph Germs Hide Out In The Hidden Recesses Of Your Nose

The interior of the nose is like a lush rain forest that's barely been explored.
Courtesy of Sunje Pamp

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 10:33 am

Otherwise innocuous bacteria can cause deadly infections when people have surgery or fall ill. To prevent trouble, patients sometimes have their bodies scrubbed clean of Staphylococcus aureus.

But it doesn't always work.

That may because the germs thrive in upper recesses of the nose, far from the spots typically tested for staph bacteria, or where antibiotics are applied.

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Planet Money
9:44 am
Wed December 11, 2013

We Found This 20-Year-Old T-Shirt In Kenya. The Internet Found The Original Owner

Tshirt
Quoctrung Bui

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 7:46 pm

We recently published a story about how used clothes that get donated in the U.S. often wind up for sale in markets in Africa. As part of the story, we published some photos of used T-shirts we found in a couple of markets in Kenya.

One shirt in particular caught our eye:

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It's All Politics
9:14 am
Wed December 11, 2013

6 Things Missing From The Budget Agreement

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., left, and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., walk to announce a tentative agreement Tuesday between Republican and Democratic negotiators on a government spending plan.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 10:46 am

The essence of the budget deal reached by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is better understood by looking at what's missing, rather than what's included in it.

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The Salt
8:47 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Chowing Down On Meat, Dairy Alters Gut Bacteria A Lot, And Quickly

Morgan Walker NPR

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 6:24 am

Looks like Harvard University scientists have given us another reason to walk past the cheese platter at holiday parties and reach for the carrot sticks instead: Your gut bacteria will thank you.

Switching to a diet packed with meat and cheese — and very few carbohydrates — alters the trillions of microbes living in the gut, scientists report Wednesday in the journal Nature.

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Deceptive Cadence
8:39 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Funk, Faust And Stone: Three Stunning Albums From 2013

Violinist Isabelle Faust.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 1:26 pm

Throughout this week, we at NPR Music are taking a look at the year in music with our friend Audie Cornish, host of All Things Considered. I joined her to bring a closer ear to two very impressive classical albums and an international rarity that's been brought back to life. (I also provided Audie with a primer on pronouncing my last name. I hope you all pay close attention.)

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Shots - Health News
8:37 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Health Exchange Enrollment By State, In 2 Charts

HHS

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 10:48 am

Numbers released by the Obama administration show enrollment in health exchanges edged up in November, but the uptake remains far short of the administration's initial targets.

Roughly 264,000 people signed up for private insurance coverage last month through the federal and state exchanges, according to data from the Health and Human Services Department. That brings the total to about 364,000 for October and November.

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The Two-Way
8:32 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Mystery Bidder At French Auction Plans To Return Sacred Hopi Items

An anonymous bidder paid $530,000 for 24 Native American items that went on the block this week in Paris. The auction went ahead despite an appeal by the Hopi tribe to cancel the sale of the items it considers sacred. The U.S. Embassy asked for a delay, and the sale was challenged in court — unsuccessfully.

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Intelligence Squared U.S.
7:52 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Debate: Should We Avoid Eating Anything With A Face?

Dr. Neal Barnard, Gene Baur, Chris Masterjohn and Joel Salatin debate eating meat for Intelligence Squared with moderator John Donvan.
Samuel LaHoz Intelligence Squared U.S.
  • Listen To The Full Audio Of The Debate
  • Listen To The Broadcast Version Of The Debate

A doctor, a vegan, a researcher and a farmer recently waded into a hot-button topic in the food world: Is it a bad idea to eat meat?

They faced off two against two on the topic for the Intelligence Squared U.S. series. In an Oxford-style debate, they delved into the medical, ethical and environmental arguments surrounding the motion "Don't Eat Anything With A Face."

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The Two-Way
7:49 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Sebelius Calls For Review Of HHS Practices That Led To Debacle

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. Earlier today, Sebelius announced an inquiry into the agency's launch of the problem-plagued HealthCare.gov site.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 2:14 pm

"The launch of HealthCare.gov was flawed and simply unacceptable."

Those are the words of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, published Wednesday just before she met with people who share those views: members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

With her agency under fire since the website's failed release last month, Sebelius announced an internal inquiry and other steps that will focus on improving the contracting process, project management and employee training.

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Faith Matters
7:35 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Is Pope Francis Really 'The People's Pope'?

Pope Francis greets his papal audience.
Marco Campagna

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 3:53 am

Time magazine has dubbed Pope Francis its Person of the Year, calling him "The People's Pope." This title comes weeks after he criticized aspects of the global economy and "unbridled consumerism" in a document called an apostolic exhortation. Host Michel Martin recently spoke with a group of practicing Catholics about how Pope Francis has inspired them in their faith.


Interview Highlights

Author Michael Sean Winters: What the pope's exhortation puts into focus

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World
7:05 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Who Is The Next Mandela?

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 3:53 am

Transcript

CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

I'm Celeste Headlee and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Michel Martin is away. Coming up, Pope Francis is Time magazine's person of the year for 2013. We'll talk about how the pope is changing both the Catholic Church and its relationship to the world. That's in a few minutes.

But first, mourning continues in South Africa for anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela. Some 100 leaders and dignitaries from around the world attended a memorial service in Soweto yesterday. And U.S. President Barack Obama was among the many speakers.

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Law
6:46 am
Wed December 11, 2013

No Cake For You: Saying 'I Don't' To Same-Sex Marriage

A Colorado judge recently ordered Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, to serve gay couples, after he refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding.
Lindsay Pierce Denver Post via Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 11:15 am

There were a few snickers when a Colorado state judge ruled that a baker has to produce wedding cakes for gay couples even though he opposes same-sex marriage on religious grounds.

A cake? What's the big deal?

But the decision, handed down late last week, is just the latest slice in a debate that has gone front burner with gay marriage now legalized in 16 states, and counting.

Can individual businesspeople like Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop in suburban Denver be compelled to provide wedding (or commitment ceremony) goods and services to gay couples?

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The Two-Way
6:39 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Lululemon Bets New Leaders Will Help It See Through Woes

Lululemon clothes at a store in Pasadena, Calif.
Kevork Djansezian Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 7:27 am

Yoga clothier Lululemon began the year with an embarrassing problem — pants that allowed way too much of women's bottoms to be seen through their sheer fabric.

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The Two-Way
6:13 am
Wed December 11, 2013

U.S. Suspends Some Aid To Syrian Rebels

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 10:53 am

This story was updated at 12:59 p.m. ET

The U.S. government has suspended all non-lethal aid to the Western-backed military wing of the Syrian opposition.

The suspension, which was announced Wednesday, began on the weekend after Islamist rebel groups seized control of warehouses containing communications equipment and other aid items.

NPR's Deborah Amos, who is in Beirut, filed this story for our Newscast unit:

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The Protojournalist
6:13 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Debate Club: Blocks Are The Best Toys Ever

iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 3:16 am

Resolved: That blocks are the best toys ever.

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The Salt
5:54 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Robots Could Help Farmers Rein In Fertilizer Pollution

Rowbot is designed to fit in between the rows of crops. Moving up and down each row, a fleet of 20 bots could fertilize and monitor the corn crops during the growing season.
Courtesy of Kent Cavender-Bares

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 7:00 am

Lately, robots have been taking over all kinds of jobs that humans used to do on the farm — from thinning lettuce to harvesting spinach.

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The Two-Way
5:34 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Asiana Pilot Was 'Very Concerned' Before California Crash

The wreckage of Asiana Airlines flight 214 on the runway at San Francisco International Airport last July.
National Transportation Safety Board Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 1:07 am

The pilot of an Asiana Airlines passenger jet that crashed in July at San Francisco International Airport has told investigators he was "very concerned" about trying to land there, The Associated Press writes.

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Health Care
5:10 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Exchange Enrollment Growing But Still Short Of Forecasts

The Obama administration just released the latest sign-up numbers for its troubled health insurance exchange website. Enrollment picked up last month, after a disastrous start in October. Still, the number of people signing up for coverage is below the administration's original forecasts.

Politics
5:04 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Pensions Become Less Certain For Government Workers

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn smiles during the signing of the pension overhaul legislation bill on Dec. 5 in Chicago. Looking on from left are Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington; Senate GOP leader Sen. Christine Radogno; Rep. Darlene Senger, R-Naperville; Rep. Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs; House Speaker Michael Madigan and Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago.
M. Spencer Green AP

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 6:18 am

Federal workers have reason to be nervous. The budget agreement announced Tuesday — if it passes — would raise revenue by making employees contribute more toward their pensions.

It's part of a trend. Governments at all levels have been cutting back on pension benefits in recent years, in an attempt to fix funding problems caused by the recession and years of fiscal mismanagement.

In many cases, states and localities have made benefits less generous. But that has, for the most part, only affected newly hired workers.

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The Two-Way
4:55 am
Wed December 11, 2013

India's Supreme Court Restores Ban On Gay Sex

A child sitting on the shoulders of an Indian gay rights activist waves a rainbow-colored flag during a protest in New Delhi following a decision Wednesday by the country's top court that a colonial-era law criminalizing homosexuality will remain in effect.
Altaf Qadri AP

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 8:00 am

India's Supreme Court on Wednesday reversed a landmark lower court ruling that decriminalized homosexual acts, in a decision that is being called a major setback to gay rights in the country.

At issue was an 1861 British colonial-era law that forbids "intercourse against the order of nature." Prosecutions under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code are rare, but are often used by police to harass gays and lesbians.

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The Two-Way
4:35 am
Wed December 11, 2013

'Fake' Sign Language Interpreter Marred Mandela Memorial

As President Obama and other world leaders spoke Tuesday in Johannesburg at a memorial for Nelson Mandela, a man stood nearby and appeared to be doing sign language interpretation. Many in the deaf community are outraged because the man appeared to be faking.
Pedro Ugarte AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 8:52 am

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Shots - Health News
4:10 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Enrollment Jumps At HealthCare.gov, Though Totals Still Lag

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius' shadow appeared behind the lectern as she spoke about the implementation of the federal health law in Detroit in November.
Paul Sancya AP

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 7:56 am

Enrollment in the federal government's new health insurance exchange picked up sharply in November, but the number of people signing up for coverage still trails original forecasts. Officials from the Obama administration say they expect the pace of enrollments will continue to increase now that the insurance website is working more smoothly.

Users have until Dec. 23 to sign up for coverage that begins in January.

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Politics
3:31 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Sen. Murray On Budget Deal: A 'Compromise' With 'Smarter Cuts'

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 5:10 am

Democratic Sen. Patty Murray and Republican Rep. Paul Ryan announced a bipartisan budget proposal Tuesday. For more details on the plan, Steve Inskeep speaks with Murray, who led her party in the negotiations.

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