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Literature
5:58 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

In 2012's Best Mysteries, Mean Girls Rule

Nishant Choksi

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 10:56 am

Mean girls and their ingenious female creators top my mysteries and thrillers list this year. Maybe it takes the special discernment of a female writer (who's presumably suffered through the "Queen Bee and Wannabee" cliques of middle school) to really capture the cruel mental machinations that can hide behind a pair of shining eyes and a lip-glossed smile.

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Food
5:57 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Mealworms Beat Meat For A Place On The Menu In Environmental Study

A woman takes a bite of a mealworm pie in the Hague, Netherlands.
Ed Oudenaarden AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 9:04 am

Want to eat sustainably? Then eat bugs.

That's the word from the Dutch, who are doing their best to make a scientific case for the environmental benefits of insect proteins. Reduce greenhouse gases? Check. Produce more edible protein while using less land than more traditional livestock? Check.

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Food
5:49 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Belgian Sweets Not Just For 'Sinterklaas'

Emily Hilliard for NPR

Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 8:34 am

Though my grandmother Georgette was born in the United States, she is half Belgian (Flemish) and half French. On top of the cabinets in her blue kitchen you'll find a little Dutch village of porcelain houses. Above the sink are miniature figures of the Statue of Liberty, Manneken Pis and the Eiffel Tower — representations of her three nationalities. In her Delft cookie jar you'll find speculaas (also called speculoos) — the Dutch windmill-shaped gingersnap-like cookie traditionally eaten on St. Nicholas Day.

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The Two-Way
5:36 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Newtown Teacher And Students Remembered For The Light They Brought

A child peers through firefighters standing as the procession heads to the cemetery outside the funeral for school shooting victim Daniel Barden at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Newtown, Conn.,
Charles Krupa AP

Mourners attended funerals for three children and a first-grade teacher in Newtown, Conn., Wednesday, the third day of services for the victims of a mass shooting that has reignited debate over gun control in the U.S.

Victoria Leigh Soto, 27, is the first Sandy Hook Elementary School teacher to be laid to rest.

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Around the Nation
5:00 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

What Are The Odds Of Gun Control Changes?

A clerk peers out from a gun shop in Seattle on Wednesday.
Elaine Thompson AP

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 7:35 pm

Advocates of stricter gun control legislation are hoping that history will not repeat itself.

Last Friday's shootings at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., have shaken the country, but it's unclear whether the intense feelings of the moment will translate into legislative action. Many times in the past, outrage over gun violence has dissipated before Congress has chosen to act.

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It's All Politics
4:36 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Robert Bork's Supreme Court Nomination 'Changed Everything, Maybe Forever'

Robert Bork, nominated by President Reagan to the Supreme Court, is sworn in before the Senate Judiciary Committee at his confirmation hearing, Sept. 15, 1987.
John Duricka AP

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 8:31 pm

Robert Bork, whose failed Supreme Court nomination provoked a lasting partisan divide over judicial nominations, died Wednesday at age 85.

A former federal judge and conservative legal theorist, he subsequently became a hero to modern-day conservatives. And as solicitor general in the Nixon administration, he played a small but crucial role in the Watergate crisis. In what came to be known as the Saturday Night Massacre, he fired Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox after the attorney general and deputy attorney general refused President Nixon's firing order and quit.

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Health
4:35 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

How The U.S. Stopped Malaria, One Cartoon At A Time

The U.S. Army distributed a monthly pinup calendar to GIs, which encouraged them to protect themselves from malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
Cartoon by Frank Mack for the U.S. Army. Courtesy of the Images from the History of Medicine.

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 1:28 pm

"Her business is robbery and coldblooded murder ... they call her Annie Awful ... She's a thief and a killer. She stops at nothing."

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Planet Money
4:31 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Without Magic, Santa Would Need 12 Million Employees

Lam Thuy Vo / NPR

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 4:31 pm

There are 760 million Christian children in the world, according to the Pew Research Center. Suppose Santa delivers one gift to each child. What kind of delivery workforce would Santa need?

We couldn't get an interview with Santa. But we did get Paul Tronsor from FedEx and Mike Mangeot from UPS. They helped us go through the numbers.

Here are just a few of the positions Santa would need to fill to pull off Christmas. (Note: For the complete list, see the graphic at the bottom.)

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World
4:29 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

In Pakistan, Tax Evaders Are Everywhere — Government Included

An investigative report found that less than a third of Pakistani lawmakers filed tax returns for 2011. The report said Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari, photographed in Paris in December, did not file a return, though his spokesman says he did.
Kenzo Tribouillard AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 8:32 pm

Tax evasion is a chronic problem in Pakistan — only about 2 percent of the population is registered in the tax system, and the government collects just 9 percent of the country's wealth in taxes, one of the lowest rates in the world.

But now a new investigative report is making headlines. It says that just a third of the country's 446 federal lawmakers bothered to file income tax returns last year.

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Science + Technology
4:28 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

This Should Be A Hit In Texas: Puddle Of Oil Turns Into A Christmas Tree

YouTube

Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 9:41 am

We start with a pool of oil. We turn on a magnet. The oil travels up a superstructure and blossoms into a tree. Turn off the magnet, the branches, the needles, the tree melt away. It's a puddle again.

The perfect tree for an oil billionaire, no?

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Food
4:21 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

A Gluten-Free Holiday Table

Nicole Spiridakis for NPR

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 11:39 am

My family's holiday traditions are simple but consistent: Wake up Christmas morning, drink lots of coffee, eat a good breakfast, and wish each other happy happy. If the weather is nice, we postpone the present opening and pile into the car to head directly to the beach for a walk — a sunny December day along the Northern California coast is something to celebrate. Later, we cook a delicious dinner and sit around the table with a fire glowing in the fireplace nearby.

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Literature
4:17 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Self-Publishing: No Longer Just A Vanity Project

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 5:44 am

They used to call it the "vanity press," and the phrase itself spoke volumes. Self-published authors were considered not good enough to get a real publishing contract. They had to pay to see their book in print. But with the advent of e-books, self-publishing has exploded, and a handful of writers have had huge best-sellers.

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Science + Technology
4:16 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Suddenly There's A Meadow In The Ocean With 'Flowers' Everywhere

Courtesy of Matthias Wietz

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 1:40 pm

It was three, maybe four o'clock in the morning when he first saw them. Grad student Jeff Bowman was on the deck of a ship; he and a University of Washington biology team were on their way back from the North Pole. It was cold outside, the temperature had just dropped, and as the dawn broke, he could see a few, then more, then even more of these little flowery things, growing on the frozen sea.

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Science + Technology
4:15 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

A Guarantee: The World Will Not End On Friday

National Museum of the American Indian." href="/post/guarantee-world-will-not-end-friday" class="noexit lightbox">
A replica Mayan Calendar Round showing the date September 21, 2004, opening day for the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian.
Molly Stephey Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 11:52 am

According to countless prophecies, terrorizing people across the world, this will be my last contribution to 13.7. On Friday, December 21, the world will come to an end. I have been receiving dozens of concerned email messages from otherwise reasonable people, convinced that this time it is for real, that there is no escape.

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Commentary
4:06 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

When Someone You Know Loses A Child

The grief a bereaved parent feels resides deep within and is individually expressed. Different people respond in different ways.
Brendan Smialkowski Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 9:21 pm

Amid the aftershocks of the senseless shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., our ever-more-complex society goes on to publicly discuss what happened and how to avoid such tragedy in the future.

But there are also private considerations and quieter questions of how to respond — on a personal level — to suffering parents.

What can you say to parents who have lost a child? What can you do?

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Literature
3:58 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

In 'Red Pyramid,' Kid Heroes Take On Ancient Egypt

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 5:43 pm

If there was a recipe for the best-selling writer Rick Riordan, it would go something like this — start with a love of storytelling, fold in more than a decade of teaching middle school English, combine that with two sons of his own who don't quite share their dad's love of literature, and marinate all of that with a deep passion for mythology.

Riordan has sold tens of millions of kids' books. He hit pay dirt with the Percy Jackson series — it's about an everyday kid who has superhero powers because he's the secret son of Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea.

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Music Reviews
3:55 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Homeboy Sandman: A Rapper Leaves Law Behind

Homeboy Sandman's fourth album is called First of a Living Breed.
Gavin Thomas Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 5:43 pm

The bare facts of Homeboy Sandman's back story don't sound very hip-hop: prep school in New Hampshire, Ivy League B.A., even some pieces for The Huffington Post. But, as is often the case with class and race in America, bare facts don't tell the whole story.

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World Cafe
3:23 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Sea Wolf On World Cafe

Sea Wolf.
Courtesy of the artist

Alex Brown Church began performing under the name Sea Wolf in 2003, after writing a handful of songs that didn't fit the rock band he played with at the time. Although Church has roped in a supporting cast of musicians to perform his songs, Sea Wolf is still very much his baby.

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The Two-Way
3:10 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

South Korea To Get Its First Female Leader

South Korea's Park Geun-hye claimed victory Wednesday in the country's presidential election. Park, the daughter of a former military dictator, will be the first female leader of the country. Here, she greets supporters at party headquarters.
Kim Jae-hwan AP

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 6:47 am

Conservative candidate Park Geun-hye claimed victory Wednesday in South Korea's closely contested presidential election, an outcome that will make her the first woman to lead the Asian nation.

In addition, Park boasts a fascinating personal history that's deeply intertwined with South Korea's evolution in recent decades.

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The Two-Way
2:29 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Death Penalty Possible In Court Martial Of Army Sgt. Accused Of Afghan Killings

Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales during an August 2011 training exercise at Fort Irwin, Calif.
Spc. Ryan Hallock AFP/Getty Images

The Army staff sergeant accused in the March 11 murders of 16 Afghan civilians and shooting of six others could be given the death penalty if he's convicted of all the charges officially filed against him this week, a General Court-Martial Convening Authority announced Wednesday.

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, 39, prosecutors say, attacked two villages near his base in southern Afghanistan. Among the 16 people killed, nine were children.

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