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The Salt
1:11 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Nuts For Longevity: Daily Handful Is Linked To Longer Life

Regular nut consumers had about a 20 percent reduction in all-cause mortality, including lower death rates from heart disease and cancer, a study found.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 10:02 am

Americans have not always been in love with nuts.

Think about it: They're loaded with calories and fat. Plus, they can be expensive.

But Americans' views — and eating habits — when it comes to nuts are changing. Fast.

There's a growing body of scientific evidence that's putting a health halo over supermarkets' expanding nut aisles.

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The Two-Way
12:35 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Dow Jones Index Closes Above 16,000 For First Time

For the first time in its history, the Dow Jones industrial average closed above 16,000 points Thursday. The index of 30 stocks touched the mark earlier this week, when a trader was photographed at the New York Stock Exchange.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 12:42 pm

The Dow Jones industrial average tacked on 109 points Thursday for a gain of less than 1 percent. But the small rise brought a big milestone, as the industrial index closed above 16,000 for the first time in its history. The index had touched the mark earlier this week but fell short by the day's end.

Today, the Dow closed at 16,009.99.

The historic moment for the benchmark index that tracks 30 leading U.S. companies came on a day that began with positive economic news.

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The Kennedy Assassination, 50 Years Later
12:34 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Moved By Kennedy's Death, The Boston Symphony Played On

The Boston Symphony Orchestra was mid-performance when the news of President Kennedy's assassination broke.
AP

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 4:08 pm

A visit to the symphony: It's often a solitary experience that can, in truly important moments, become communal — as it did in Boston on Nov. 22, 1963.

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Education
12:34 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Unrelenting Poverty Leads To 'Desperation' In Philly Schools

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, cut more than $1 billion from the state's K-12 budget, which hit the state-controlled Philadelphia district hardest.
Matt Slocum AP

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 4:01 am

This is the second in a three-part report on Philadelphia schools in crisis.

Philadelphia's Center City area sparkles with new restaurants, jobs and money. After declining for half a century, the city's population grew from 2006 to 2012.

But for people living in concentrated poverty in large swaths of North and West Philadelphia, the Great Recession only made life harder.

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The Kennedy Assassination, 50 Years Later
12:34 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Marking Kennedy Assassination, Dallas Still On 'Eggshells'

Dallas is preparing for Friday's 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's assassination, and hoping to show how much the city has changed.
Tom Pennington Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 3:22 pm

Friday's 50th anniversary of assassination of President John F. Kennedy is an important moment for Dallas: The city wants to use the occasion to demonstrate how much it has changed.

In the 1960s — after the president's murder — Dallas became known around the world as "The City of Hate." And it was a hotbed of right-wing politics, a magnet for the extremes of the conservative movement at the time.

If the world would like to see evidence that Dallas is no longer the City of Hate, it need not look further than the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.

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Politics
12:34 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

ATF Chief Faces Tough Challenge At Troubled Agency

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Director B. Todd Jones speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Aug. 29.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 1:54 pm

For the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, nothing seems to come easy.

The agency runs at a fraction of the size of its much larger law enforcement counterparts. Under pressure from gun rights groups, it operated without a Senate-confirmed leader for seven years. And its new leader, B. Todd Jones, only narrowly averted a congressional roadblock to win confirmation this summer after serving more than two years as an interim leader.

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Arts & Life
12:34 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Remembering 5Pointz: A Five-Story Building That Told Plenty More

The walls of 5Pointz were once covered in graffiti. Artists worldwide came to New York to paint the warehouse surface.
Bruce Wallace for NPR

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 1:54 pm

This week, New York City lost a cultural landmark. The site known as 5Pointz was a graffiti museum, of sorts — the walls of a 200,000-square-foot warehouse complex covered with ever-evolving spray-painted art. It spread across a block in Long Island City right across the water from Manhattan in the borough of Queens.

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It's All Politics
12:16 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

'Nuclear Option' Vote Marks Tectonic Shift In Senate Rules

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada (from left), Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin of Illinois defend the Senate Democrats' vote Thursday to weaken filibusters and make it harder for Republicans to block confirmation of the president's nominees for judges and other top posts.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 2:15 pm

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's move Thursday to make possible the confirmation of presidential nominees with a simple majority marks a tectonic shift in the rules and folkways of the Senate.

Back in 2005, then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist called this idea "the constitutional option" when he came close to invoking it on behalf of the judicial nominees of President George W. Bush.

That sounded a lot more dignified than the name Frist's predecessor, Trent Lott, had used just two years earlier: "the nuclear option."

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The Two-Way
11:41 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Number Of Homeless Declines Again, But Gains Aren't Universal

A homeless man sleeps under an American flag blanket on a park bench in New York City. New U.S. data reports a drop in the number of homeless people — but not in New York and other states.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

The number of homeless people in the U.S. shrank from 2012 to 2013, according to a large government study that found the number of veterans and others who are homeless declined for the third straight year. But homeless numbers rose in New York and other states, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The study also found that nearly 20 percent of homeless people were in either New York City (11 percent of the U.S. total) or Los Angeles (9 percent).

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The Salt
11:15 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Food Stamp Program Doesn't Guarantee Food Security, Study Finds

A sign in a New York City market window advertises the acceptance of food stamps.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Just as the food stamp program has been hit with funding cuts, a small study out of Harvard has found that the program isn't doing enough to ensure that its participants get a complete and nutritious diet.

The researchers wanted to find out how much the benefits provided through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a critical source of food aid for 47 million needy Americans, improved individuals' food security.

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National Security
11:12 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Women Pass Marine Training, Clear First Hurdle To Combat Role

Pfc. Katie Gorz (center) served as a squad leader during the training at Camp Geiger, N.C.
Tom Bowman NPR

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 1:54 pm

More than 200 Marines have been training since late September in the pine forests of North Carolina. They've been hiking for miles carrying 87-pound packs and assault rifles, sleeping in the field, attacking mock enemy positions.

And for the first time, women took part in the training. Three of them made it to the end and graduated Thursday morning.

They were there at Camp Geiger to answer the question of whether women have what it takes to become combat infantry Marines.

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NPR Story
11:12 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Homeless Population Shrinks Again, But Unevenly

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 1:54 pm

The number of homeless people in the U.S. has declined for the third straight year. New numbers from the Department of Housing and Urban Development show a large decrease in the number of homeless veterans. Though there are still large numbers of homeless, mainly concentrated in large cities, including New York City and Los Angeles.

NPR Story
11:12 am
Thu November 21, 2013

'Nasty Piece Of Work' Makes Spy-Turned-PI Work Well

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 1:54 pm

Alan Cheuse reviews Robert Littell's newest novel of a CIA agent turned private investigator, A Nasty Piece of Work.

NPR Story
11:12 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Sen. Wicker: Senate Democrats Are Opposed To Regular Order

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 1:54 pm

The Senate passed a major change to its filibuster rules Thursday. Now, the minority party can no longer easily block nominees, except for those to the Supreme Court. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid introduced the measure after Republicans had stalled the nominations of three judges to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Robert Siegel talks to Republican Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi about the change. Earlier this year, Wicker helped strike a deal with Democrats to avert the so-called "nuclear option."

It's All Politics
10:51 am
Thu November 21, 2013

GOP Enraged After Filibuster Vote, But Does It Change Much?

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) speaks to the media on Thursday after passing the so-called nuclear option, which changes the Senate rules to eliminate the use of the filibuster on presidential nominees except those to the Supreme Court.
Jim Lo Scalzo EPA/Landov

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 11:48 am

The political class was aflame Thursday with outrage (Republicans) and triumph (Democrats) as Senate Democrats voted to hem in the minority party's ability to filibuster most presidential nominees.

By a 52-48 vote, the Democratic-controlled Senate carried out the so-called nuclear option. The leadership will now allow a simple majority of senators to override filibusters on nominations, with the exception of those to the Supreme Court.

Previous precedent, in place since the 1970s, required a 60-vote "supermajority" to end a filibuster.

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The Two-Way
9:34 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Alabama Pardons Scottsboro Boys In 1931 Rape Case

Attorney Samuel Leibowitz, confers with seven of the defendants in the Scottsboro rape case in 1935 in Alabama. Thursday, a judge pardoned the remaining three men who hadn't already been pardoned.
AP

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 12:05 pm

"Today, the Scottsboro Boys have finally received justice."

That was Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley's reaction to a parole board's decision Thursday that brought an end to an eight-decade-old case that came to represent racial injustice in the Deep South.

The parole board unanimously approved a posthumous pardon for Haywood Patterson, Charlie Weems and Andy Wright — the three black men who weren't pardoned in the 1931 rape case.

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Shots - Health News
9:04 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Reinventing The Condom With Easy-On Tabs And Beef Tendon

One experimental condom has tabs on either side so it's easier to put on in the dark.
Courtesy of California Family Health Council

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 7:42 am

When you hear the term "next-generation condom," beef tendon probably isn't the first thing that pops into your mind.

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Parallels
8:58 am
Thu November 21, 2013

The European Union Says It Wants To Join The Drone Club

A handout picture shows Europe's biggest drone, Eurohawk, made by Northrop Grumman, at the start of its first test flight in Manching, Germany, on Jan. 11. If European officials have their way, the European Union will have its own drones within the next decade.
Cassidian DPA /LANDOV

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 11:44 am

Seven EU countries say they want to join forces and start making their own military drones by 2020 rather than relying on the Americans.

The EU Observer website reported that the proposed "Medium Altitude Long Endurance (Male) craft ... can be used to strike military targets or for surveillance of migrant boats in the Mediterranean Sea."

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Parallels
7:45 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Everything You Wanted To Know About An Afghan Loya Jirga

Afghan delegates to the Loya Jirga, or grand assembly, listen to Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday. Some 2,500 elders and community leaders have gathered in Kabul to discuss a U.S.-Afghan security agreement that would define the role of U.S. troops after the combat mission ends next year.
S. Sabawoon EPA/Landov

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 10:25 am

The U.S. military has been fighting in Afghanistan for 12 years, and its future role could be determined, or at least heavily influenced, in the next few days by an Afghan Loya Jirga.

So, what is a Loya Jirga?

It's a "grand assembly," an Afghan tradition dating back at least three centuries, that brings together elders and community leaders from across the land to discuss matters of major national importance.

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Intelligence Squared U.S.
7:45 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Debate: Has The Right To Bear Arms Outlived Its Usefulness?

Alan Dershowitz and Sanford Levinson argue in favor of the motion "The Constitutional Right To Bear Arms Has Outlived Its Usefulness" in an Intelligence Squared U.S. debate on Nov. 14.
Samuel LaHoz Intelligence Squared U.S.

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 9:48 am

  • Listen To The Broadcast Version Of The Debate
  • Listen To The Full Audio Of The Debate

If Americans were writing the Constitution over again in 2013, would it make sense to include the right to bear arms? Or has it become outdated?

Some argue that states should have the ability to decide the laws they want around guns, instead of having a national standard. And they point to the Second Amendment's language about the need for well-regulated militias as evidence of its anachronism.

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The Two-Way
7:32 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Senate Democrats Detonate 'Nuclear Option' To Curb Filibusters

Senate Majority Leader Senator Harry Reid, D-Nev.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 9:09 am

(We added to the top of this post at 2:08 p.m. ET.)

There was high drama Thursday on the floor of the Senate as Democrats significantly changed the way business in the chamber is done.

In what Republicans cast as a "power grab" but Democrats defended as a way to break gridlock, the Senate's rules were changed to make it much more difficult for a minority of the members to hold up action on key presidential nominees.

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The Two-Way
7:28 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Kennedy Cousin Skakel Gets Bail As He Awaits New Murder Trial

Michael Skakel, pictured in October 2012, was granted bail Thursday.
Jessica Hill MCT /Landov

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 3:00 pm

Michael Skakel, a cousin of the Kennedy family, was granted bail Thursday and released from prison as he awaits a new trial in the 1975 murder of his neighbor Martha Moxley.

The Associated Press reports:

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The Two-Way
7:19 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Three Women May Have Spent 30 Years As Slaves In London

A very disturbing story is emerging from the U.K.:

-- "Two people have been arrested as part of an investigation into slavery and domestic servitude at a house in London sparked by a report on Sky News. The inquiry was launched after one of three alleged victims told a charity she had been held against her will for more than 30 years." (Sky News)

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The Two-Way
6:55 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Yellen's Nomination To Fed Gets OK From Senate Committee

Janet Yellen during her confirmation hearing earlier this month. She's expected to win Senate approval to take over as head of the Federal Reserve.
Brendan Smialowski AFP/Getty Images

By a 14-8 vote that saw three Republicans join 11 Democrats in saying "aye," the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday morning approved the nomination of Janet Yellen to be the next head of the Federal Reserve.

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The Protojournalist
6:18 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Project Xpat: Recalling Thanksgivings Abroad

Kate Brantley in Lille, France, 2012.
Kate Brantley

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 3:31 am

When we asked American members of the NPR community who are living in other countries to let us in on their plans for Thanksgiving 2013, we received hundreds and hundreds of responses.

Some expatriates say they plan to trot out the turkey and dressing and Mama Stamberg's cranberry relish. Others say they don't plan to celebrate one whit. Many folks sent us stories and photos of past Thanksgivings spent abroad.

Here are a few examples:

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Shots - Health News
5:42 am
Thu November 21, 2013

A Son's Death Reveals Chasms In Emergency Mental Health Care

A hearse leaves the Deeds family home in Millboro, Va., on Tuesday, after 24-year-old Austin "Gus" Deeds died in an apparent suicide.
Don Petersen AP

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 8:49 am

Parents who have a child struggling with serious mental illness live in fear that the worst will happen.

The apparent suicide of a young man in Virginia after he allegedly attacked his father, a state senator, shows how difficult it can be for families to get help in the midst of a mental health crisis.

The recession brought deep cuts in states' spending on mental health. The reductions made it harder for people to get help before they're in crisis, mental health advocates say, and even harder to find a hospital bed in an emergency.

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The Salt
5:15 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Remember 'French Fries Cause Cancer'? Here's The Acrylamide Update

French fries: There are probably other reasons besides acrylamide to avoid these tasty snacks.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 10:02 am

Back in 2002, french fry lovers around the world received a nasty bit of news: Those crunchy, fried strips of potato contained a known carcinogen. Now, all these years later, a new warning from the Food and Drug Administration has consumers once again puzzling over whether to fear the chemical acrylamide.

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Parallels
4:50 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Saudi Arabia's Global Arms Shopping Spree

A Leopard 2 A6 tank is in operation during the German army exercise in Bergen, Germany, on Oct. 2. Germany said it would sell 270 of the tanks to Saudi Arabia last year. According to official figures, the Saudis were the top buyers of arms from Germany.
Peter Steffen DPA /LANDOV

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 11:04 am

Saudi Arabia has emerged as the biggest foreign customer for German arms, buying nearly a quarter of Germany's total weapons sales.

It's part of an emerging pattern of weapons purchases by Saudi Arabia and its neighbor, the United Arab Emirates.

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The Two-Way
4:46 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Family Asks North Korea To Release 85-Year-Old American

North Korean soldiers march through Kim Il-Sung square in Pyongyang. Merrill Newman, an American grandfather, has been missing since being removed from a plane about to depart North Korea on Oct. 26.
ED JONES AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 6:53 am

The family and friends of an 85-year-old California grandfather have appealed to North Korean officials to release the man, who reportedly has been held by authorities in the communist state since Oct. 26.

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Typhoon Haiyan Devastates The Philippines
4:34 am
Thu November 21, 2013

What I Saw: A Photographer's Last Dispatch From The Philippines

David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 2:12 pm

NPR photographer David Gilkey has photographed in extreme situations — from the surge in Afghanistan, to bombings in Gaza, to the tsunami in Japan, but he was shocked at what he saw in the village of Barangay 68 in Tacloban City, Philippines.

Nothing could have prepared me for what I was going to find when I arrived.

"Barangay," loosely translated, means a neighborhood or village and Barangay 68 is just one of the tiny hamlets that make up greater Tacloban City in the central Philippines. The village was devastated by Typhoon Haiyan.

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