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The Two-Way
2:34 am
Thu December 25, 2014

Unexpected Life Found In The Ocean's Deepest Trench

Schmidt Ocean Institute/HADES YouTube

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Around the Nation
2:29 am
Thu December 25, 2014

Christmas Tree Farmers Invest Long-Term In The Holiday Spirit

The Carrolls, who once raised cattle, decided three decades ago to raise Christmas trees instead. The trees take seven to 12 years to mature.
Courtesy of Claybrooke Farm

When you step into the bright red barn at Claybrooke Farm in Louisa, Va., it instantly feels like Christmas. A pot of hot cider bubbles on the stove. Friends, neighbors and extended family make wreaths while owner John Carroll hauls in wood for the fire. It's gray outside, but the barn is full of holiday cheer.

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Parallels
2:28 am
Thu December 25, 2014

The French Go Crazy For 'An American In Paris'

The stage version of the Hollywood classic An American in Paris combines British, French and American artistic traditions and stars Leanne Cope and Robert Fairchild in the roles made famous by Leslie Caron and Gene Kelly.
Marie-Noelle Robert Courtesy of Theatre du Chatelet

Parisians are going gaga over An American in Paris, the first-ever stage production of the 1951 Hollywood film starring Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron and with a musical score by George Gershwin.

The performance at Paris' Chatelet theater is getting rave reviews and has completely sold out. It's not hard to see why: the stage comes alive with the story of an American artist and the young French dancer he falls in love with. It's filled with fabulous dancing and all those great Gershwin tunes.

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The Salt
2:27 am
Thu December 25, 2014

Inside The Indiana Megadairy Making Coca-Cola's New Milk

Cows rotate in the milking parlor at Fair Oaks Farms, a large-scale dairy and tourist attraction, near Rensselaer, Indiana.
Dan Charles NPR

Coca-Cola got a lot of attention in November when it announced that it was going into the milk business. Not just any milk, mind you: nutritious, reformulated super milk.

It also invited ridicule. "It's like they got Frankenstein to lactate," scoffed Steven Colbert on his show. "If this product doesn't work out, they can always re-introduce Milk Classic."

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Around the Nation
2:26 am
Thu December 25, 2014

Pittsburgh Tries To Attract Enterprising Immigrants And Refugees

When Ammar Nsaif was 8, in Iraq, he often thought about his future wife and kids, about the car and house and business he'd own. As an adult, he became an electrical engineer and made his 8-year-old self proud.

"Before the war, I did many things," Nsaif says. "My cousins, my friends, my neighbors, they know Ammar. He's working, making business. I did very well."

But he lost everything when he fled Bagdad suddenly, in 2006. Nsaif, 39, says he received a death threat from terrorists over his work with an American company. They already had killed one of his older brothers.

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Parallels
2:26 am
Thu December 25, 2014

Pope Francis And His Gift For Blending The Spiritual And The Political

Pope Francis waves to the faithful as he arrives in St. Peter's Square for his weekly audience, on Dec. 17, in Vatican City. Even among non-Catholics, the pope's popularity is high.
Franco Origlia Getty Images

In the 21 months since his election, the first pope to take the name of Saint Francis has emerged as a moral leader on the global stage, addressing both Catholics and the world beyond.

A recent Pew worldwide survey showed an overwhelmingly favorable view of the pope. And that was before his crucial role in the U.S.-Cuba thaw was revealed.

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Parallels
2:25 am
Thu December 25, 2014

A Century Ago, When The Guns Fell Silent On Christmas

British and German soldiers fraternizing at Ploegsteert, Belgium, on Christmas Day 1914. World War I was raging at the time, but front-line troops initiated the truce, which they documented in photos and letters. Commanders on both sides were furious when they learned of it.
Courtesy of Imperial War Museum

A century ago, young men in Europe were killing each other by the tens of thousands. World War I, which had erupted just a few months earlier, was raging. Yet on a frozen Christmas Eve, the guns briefly fell silent.

The Christmas Truce of 1914 has become the stuff of legend, portrayed in films, television ads, and songs. On this 100th anniversary of the cease-fire, it is possible to reconstruct the events of that day from letters, diaries, and even the recorded spoken words of the men who experienced the truce.

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The Salt
2:24 am
Thu December 25, 2014

A Punch Line In The U.S., Christmas Fruitcake Is Big In Calcutta

At Calcutta's famous New Market, vendors do brisk business in fruitcake as Christmas approaches.
Sandip Roy for NPR

Denzil Saldanha is over 80 but far from retired.

He takes orders on the phone, surrounded by workers, newspapers spread out in front of them, cutting slices of fruitcake with thick almond icing.

The family-run Saldanha Bakery and Confectionery is making 600,000 pounds of cake this Christmas. Denzil's daughter Debra Saldanha, who gave up banking to join the family business, says customers appreciate that it's all made to order.

"They get the smell of hot cake coming out of the oven and literally wafting in the air," she says.

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The Two-Way
4:48 pm
Wed December 24, 2014

Mishandling Of Ebola Sample May Have Exposed CDC Technician To Virus

Stringy particles of Ebola virus (blue) bud from a chronically infected cell (yellow-green) in this colorized, scanning electron micrograph.
NIAID Science Source

Federal health officials are investigating an incident involving the mishandling of the Ebola virus at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's headquarters in Atlanta.

The incident involved the material used in an experiment with the Ebola virus, the CDC said in a statement released late Wednesday. The material was accidentally moved from a high-security lab to a low-security lab on Monday. As a result, there's a possibility that one lab technician may have been exposed to the virus. That person will be monitored for 21 days for any symptoms.

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Shots - Health News
3:25 pm
Wed December 24, 2014

When Home And Health Are Just Out Of Reach

Donna Giron wheels through the halls of the nursing home she's lived in since May. Finding an affordable home of her own has been difficult.
Sarah Jane Tribble WCPN

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 4:09 pm

Donna Giron is frail. She has Crohn's disease and uses a wheelchair to get around because walking exhausts her.

But she doesn't want to be in the nursing home where she has lived since May.

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The Two-Way
3:13 pm
Wed December 24, 2014

Japanese Artist Indicted For 'Vagina Kayak'

Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi, seen here in July, has been indicted on obscenity charges stemming from her genital-inspired artworks.
KAZUHIRO NOGI AFP/Getty Images

Provocative Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi, who has been arrested twice this year on charges related to her design for a kayak that incorporates a 3-D model of her genitals, has been indicted on charges that she distributed "obscene" data.

The case has attracted wide attention, both for its unique circumstances and for its depiction of how Japan's pornography laws interact with cutting-edge technology and images of the female body.

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The Two-Way
3:11 pm
Wed December 24, 2014

A Blizzard Of Cash: Christmas Comes Early To Hong Kong

Traffic came to a halt on Wednesday when bundles of new Hong Kong 500 dollar notes flew out of a security van. Drivers and passersby were not shy about taking advantage of the Christmas Eve windfall.

Video posted on the BBC shows people abandoning their cars and scrambling to pick up bills strewn across a busy eight-lane roadway. The cash blizzard littered the Wan Chai district of Hong Kong around lunchtime.

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NPR Story
1:57 pm
Wed December 24, 2014

Four Dead, 50 Injured In Mississippi After Severe Storms

Four people were killed and at least 50 injured in Mississippi yesterday, when severe storms — and what is believed to have been a tornado — swept through the southern part of the state.

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant declared a state of emergency in Jones and Marion counties after the storms, which also knocked over trees, flipped cars, damaged homes and businesses and left thousands without power.

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NPR Story
1:57 pm
Wed December 24, 2014

Animated Films Become Bridge To Child With Autism

Through characters in "Aladdin, " "The Lion King" and "The Jungle Book," Owen could express himself and his feelings. (lifeanimated.net)

[Note: This show is from a previous interview that aired on May 27, 2014.]

When acclaimed journalist Ron Suskind’s son Owen was just shy of three years old, he suddenly stopped communicating with his family. Owen would sleep and cry a lot and his vocabulary dwindled to the single word “juice.”

Eventually Owen was diagnosed with autism.

Ron and his family tried all sorts of ways of reaching Owen but it was the Disney films that Owen loved that would prove to be the bridge.

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NPR Story
1:57 pm
Wed December 24, 2014

DJ Sessions: Christmas Favorites Of Yesterday -- And Today

This year's DJ Christmas session includes holiday songs from (left) Boney M., Jimmy Buffet, Bing Crosby and Chuck Berry. (Getty Images)

For this week’s DJ session we sit down with Mike Haile, also known as “Mike in the Morning” and general manager at WHMS in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.

Jeremy listened to Mike in the morning when he was a kid, and Mike joins us for an annual tradition where he shares his favorite Christmas songs — from oldies, to newer takes on the Christmas classics.

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Heartland Health Monitor
1:45 pm
Wed December 24, 2014

Saint Luke’s Scientist Pens Viral Op-Ed On Dangers Of Sugar

An op-ed piece co-written by Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute scientist James J. DiNicolantonio, pictured here, was the most emailed article Tuesday in The New York Times.
Credit Saint Luke's Health System

 

An op-ed piece on the addictive nature of sugar that ran in The New York Times Tuesday and shot to the top of the newspaper’s “Most Emailed” list early Wednesday was co-written by Kansas City research scientist James J. DiNicolantonio.

DiNicolantonio is a cardiovascular research specialist at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute. According to his bio on Saint Luke’s Health System’s website, the 2010 graduate of the University of Buffalo School of Pharmacy is the author or co-author of more than 100 medical publications.

And oh, he’s all of 28 years old.

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Shots - Health News
12:35 pm
Wed December 24, 2014

Would You Like Health Insurance With Those Stocking Stuffers?

Need a gift for a 20-something kid about to age out of the family's health plan? Juana Rivera (left) discusses insurance options with Fabrizzio Russi, an agent from Sunshine Life and Health Advisors, at the Mall of the Americas in Miami.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

California's health insurance marketplace, Covered California, has supported the development of more than 200 new storefronts at or near shopping centers across the state this year, each tasked with explaining the ins and outs of different health plans to holiday (and everyday) shoppers.

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The Two-Way
12:31 pm
Wed December 24, 2014

U.S. Strikes Have Killed 1,100 ISIS Fighters And Cost $1 Billion

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 4:15 pm

U.S.-led coalition airstrikes on Syria have killed more than 1,100 Islamic State fighters since the bombings began in September, according to a British-based monitoring group.

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Movie Reviews
12:10 pm
Wed December 24, 2014

In A 'Depressing' Year For Films, Edelstein Finds Some Greats

Ellar Coltrane, who plays Mason in Boyhood, was 6 years old when director Richard Linklater picked him for the role. Made over the course of 12 years, the film is David Edelstein's favorite of the year.
Courtesy of Matt Lankes

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 1:06 pm

"This is a very, very depressing year for film," critic David Edelstein tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross, "because none of the great material came from Hollywood studios."

Studios, he says, direct their financial resources into sequels and comic-book movies, which leaves little room for "creative expression, and for doing something weird and potentially boundary-moving."

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Parallels
11:51 am
Wed December 24, 2014

China's Fierce Anti-Corruption Crackdown: An Insider's View

China's President Xi Jinping, shown speaking in Bruges, Belgium, back in April, has made fighting corruption one of his top priorities. Many Chinese bureaucrats are angry, saying a loss of bribes has greatly reduced their incomes.
Yves Logghe AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 2:00 pm

A government job in China used to be a gravy train: easy hours, little scrutiny and — usually — a chance to make good money through perks and corruption. This year, though, more than 100,000 fewer people signed up to take China's civil service exam.

Most people think the reason is the government's fierce anti-corruption drive, which has taken a lot of the profit out of public service. Recently, a low-level Shanghai official vented to NPR about life under China's toughest crackdown in modern memory.

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Television
11:34 am
Wed December 24, 2014

Bianculli's Top 10: 2014 Was A 'Good Year For Programming'

Allison Tolman plays Deputy Sheriff Molly Solverson in the FX TV series Fargo. It's a breakout role for the actress who had done only theater and commercials.
Chris Large

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 1:47 pm

Although it wasn't a great year for the shows themselves, it was a good year for programming, says TV critic David Bianculli.

"In terms of what was happening on television, in terms of new and old formats and new, exciting players coming into the mix — [it was] another good year," Bianculli tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "I'm actually kind of encouraged."

Bianculli reflects on how far TV has come.

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Central Standard
11:20 am
Wed December 24, 2014

Kansas Citians Remember Loved Ones Lost In 2014

From left, American Jazz Museum's Greg Carroll, jazz historian Chuck Haddix, and musicians Horace Washington and Bobby Watson participated in a recent panel about the legacy of Charlie Parker at the American Jazz Museum.
Credit Courtesy photo / American Jazz Museum

On Central Standard, we asked our listeners to tell us about the people in their lives and communities who died in 2014. 

Here are a few of the personal stories we heard during our conversation about memory and meaning.

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The Two-Way
11:17 am
Wed December 24, 2014

Sony To Stream 'The Interview' On YouTube, Other Sites Starting Today

A poster for The Interview, which will now be shown on streaming services as well as some theaters.
Jim Ruymen UPI/Landov

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 12:40 pm

Sony Pictures' The Interview, the comedy that centers on a plot to assassinate North Korea's leader, will be shown on streaming services starting today, the studio said in a statement.

Starting at 10 a.m. PST, the comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco will be available to rent in HD on Google Play, YouTube Movies, Microsoft's Xbox Video and a dedicated website at a price of $5.99. The film can also be bought in HD for $14.99, the statement said.

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The Two-Way
11:08 am
Wed December 24, 2014

Son's Death 'Doesn't Make Any Sense,' Say Parents Of Berkeley Teen

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 1:16 pm

The parents of Antonio Martin say their son was killed by police in Berkeley, Mo., last night. And while he had had problems, it "doesn't make any sense for them to kill my son like this," Toni Martin-Green tells the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She added, "I am trying to remain calm."

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The Protojournalist
10:57 am
Wed December 24, 2014

A Very Native American Christmas

A Native American family gathers around a Christmas tree in Montana, ca. 1900-1920.
Library of Congress

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 11:28 am

With the spread of Christianity among some Native Americans in the early 20th century came certain Christmas rituals — trees and presents and jolly old Santa Claus — that were folded into traditional wintertime celebrations.

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The Two-Way
10:23 am
Wed December 24, 2014

Contractor Freed By Cuba Will Get $3.2M From U.S.

Alan Gross pauses during a news conference at his lawyer's office in Washington on Dec. 17. The federal government will pay him $3.2 million as part of a settlement with the company that employed Gross when he was arrested in Cuba in 2009.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 11:18 am

Alan Gross, the former USAID subcontractor who spent five years in a Cuban prison before his release last week, will get $3.2 million from the federal government, part of a settlement with the Maryland-based company for which he worked at the time of his arrest.

The U.S. Agency for International Development, in a statement, said it had finalized a settlement, agreed to in principle in November, with Development Alternatives, Inc.

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Christmas Music
9:00 am
Wed December 24, 2014

The Best Christmas Music You've (Probably) Never Heard Of

James Brown is mostly known for being the "Godfather of Soul," but he's on our list for best Christmas songs that you might not have heard before.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Besides food and presents, Christmas music might be one of the most important parts of the holidays.

From Bing Crosby to Brenda Lee, dozens of music artists have produced timeless classics that never lose their seasonal appeal.

That said, one can only tolerate "White Christmas" so many times before suffering a holiday breakdown. To keep that from happening, here's a list of more obscure Christmas tunes that are sure to brighten your spirits.

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The Two-Way
8:54 am
Wed December 24, 2014

Teacher Wins $150,000 Prize — And Donates It All To Her School

Third-grade teacher Nikki Bollerman, 26, won a contest that gave her students books for the holidays. When she also won $150,000, she decided it should go to her school.
YouTube

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 2:43 pm

One thing's for sure: Nikki Bollerman believes in her school and the kids who go there. How else to explain Bollerman, 26, giving a $150,000 windfall to the Boston area public charter school where she teaches third grade?

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Parallels
8:44 am
Wed December 24, 2014

25 Years After Death, A Dictator Still Casts A Shadow In Romania

Romanians burn a portrait of Nicolae Ceausescu in Denta on Dec. 22, 1989, as residents take to the streets to celebrate the downfall of the dictator.
Joel Robine AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 4:09 pm

Twenty-five years ago, the Communist leaders of Eastern Europe were falling like dominoes. And on Christmas Day in 1989, Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife, Elena, were executed by firing squad. The deaths of the despised couple ended a quarter-century of iron-fisted rule that translated into oppression and misery for most Romanians.

Yet many in that country — including some of their opponents — question the summary nature of the Ceausescus' trial and sentence.

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NPR Story
8:36 am
Wed December 24, 2014

Missouri's Prison Garden Program Donates Record Haul Of Fresh Produce To The Needy

Offenders harvest fresh fruits and vegetables at gardens located at Missouri Department of Corrections' institutions to donate to the needy.

Originally published on Mon December 22, 2014 4:39 pm

A record donation of produce to more than 80 food pantries and other sites around the state is coming from an unlikely source: the Missouri Department of Corrections.

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