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NPR Story
4:28 am
Thu December 27, 2012

Holiday Travelers Stranded By Severe Weather

Originally published on Thu December 27, 2012 5:13 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

A series of rare December tornados flattening homes in the South added to the winter woes of millions of Americans from Texas to Maine. Faced with heavy snow, rains and high winds throughout, hundreds of flights have been canceled, leaving many holiday travelers stranded. NPR's Claudio Sanchez has this report.

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NPR Story
4:28 am
Thu December 27, 2012

5 Days Left To Avoid 'Fiscal Cliff'' Extremes

Originally published on Thu December 27, 2012 5:06 am

President Obama returns to Washington Thursday as do members of the U.S. Senate. They're cutting holiday plans short in hopes of coming up with a deal to avoid the tax hikes and budget cuts set to take effect on Jan. 1.

Digital Life
3:29 am
Thu December 27, 2012

In Rapid-Fire 2012, Memes' Half-Life Fell To A Quarter

A screengrab from the "Kony 2012" online video about the Central African warlord Joseph Kony, which skyrocketed in popularity after its release in March. It was criticized, then forgotten, just as quickly.
via YouTube

Originally published on Thu December 27, 2012 4:34 am

Last June, a young woman in Texas uploaded a Justin Bieber fan video. She seemed a little .... unhinged.

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Music
3:28 am
Thu December 27, 2012

Music-Streaming Services Hunt For Paying Customers

Originally published on Thu December 27, 2012 8:58 am

2012 has been a strange year for content creators — authors, producers, musicians. It was a year when the very idea of physical ownership of a book or CD or even a song file became almost passe.

It was also the year in which music-streaming services like Spotify and Pandora launched major efforts to convince people to pay for something they didn't own. But it's been slow going.

Music-streaming services have been trying to win over two types of customers: a younger generation that doesn't buy at all and an older generation that still likes owning physical albums.

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Music Interviews
3:28 am
Thu December 27, 2012

Rye Rye Just Wants To Be 'Young And Playful'

Rye Rye.
Meeno Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu December 27, 2012 8:58 am

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Around the Nation
3:27 am
Thu December 27, 2012

Connecticut Left To Reconcile Tragedy With Its Proud Gun History

The Coltsville factory's blue dome has long been a landmark in Hartford, Conn. The Colt Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company began building factories in the area in 1855.
Bob Child AP

Originally published on Thu December 27, 2012 12:05 pm

Connecticut has suddenly become the epicenter of the nation's gun control debate in a way no one there could have foreseen. The Newtown school shootings have brought calls for restrictions on firearms, in the state that once led the world in creating modern weaponry.

If you drive past Hartford on the interstate, you'll see the blue onion dome high atop the factory that once was the Colt Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company. The gunmaker has long since left its Hartford factory, but it still makes guns nearby.

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Joe's Big Idea
3:26 am
Thu December 27, 2012

The Quest For The Perfect Toothbrush

A drawing from Michael Davidson's 2012 patent for "Toothbrush And Method Of Using The Same."
Patent 8,108,962 U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Originally published on Thu December 27, 2012 4:34 am

There are some consumer products where every year brings new innovations. Computers get faster, cellphones get lighter, cars get new bells and whistles.

It's easy to imagine why inventors are drawn to redesigning these products — the technology for making them is changing all the time.

But what about consumer products that have been around for a long time? For the toothbrush, the answer is a resounding yes.

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U.S.
3:26 am
Thu December 27, 2012

For Veterans, The Wait For Disability Claims Grows Longer

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs began the year with a promise to cut wait times disability benefits claims. Instead, the backlog of pending claims has worsened.
Karen Bleier Getty Images

Originally published on Mon March 25, 2013 2:46 pm

Kevin English served three tours as a Marine in Iraq. When he came home to Arizona, he suffered from vicious headaches and neck pain that made it hard to keep a job. The worst day, he says, was when he found he couldn't lift a simple aluminum ladder.

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Economy
5:32 pm
Wed December 26, 2012

The Fed Boosts The Economy, But What About The Risks?

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke speaks during a news conference in Washington on Dec. 12. Some economists worry the Fed has set the stage for inflation as well as stock and housing bubbles by keeping interest rates low.
Kevin Lamarque Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 7:24 pm

The Federal Reserve continued to keep its foot on the accelerator in 2012, using unusual tactics to try to boost economic growth. But there's disagreement among economists about whether the Fed's policies were effective or whether the risks to the economy outweighed the rewards.

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Law
5:32 pm
Wed December 26, 2012

Toyota Reaches $1 Billion Deal On Accelerator Lawsuits

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 7:24 pm

A plaintiffs' attorney says Toyota Motor Corp. has reached a settlement exceeding $1 billion in a class-action lawsuit involving complaints of unintended acceleration in its vehicles. Robert Siegel talks with NPR's Sonari Glinton about the deal, which still needs a judge's approval.

The Two-Way
5:25 pm
Wed December 26, 2012

Toyota Moves To Settle 'Sudden Acceleration' Lawsuits For More Than $1 Billion

Toyota has agreed to spend more than $1 billion to resolve lawsuits stemming from "unintended acceleration" cases. In November, the company displayed new cars at the Los Angeles Auto show.
Kevork Djansezian Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 27, 2012 7:27 am

Owners of Toyota vehicles that experienced sudden and unintended acceleration have reached a settlement that could require the carmaker to pay as much as $1.4 billion in claims, according to the auto maker and the law firm representing Toyota customers.

U.S. District Court Judge James Selna, at whose direction the many lawsuits over the "runaway car" fears were consolidated in 2010, will review the proposed settlement Friday.

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Health
5:18 pm
Wed December 26, 2012

How A Drug Shortage Hiked Relapse Risks For Lymphoma Patients

The number of new drug shortages each year in the U.S., from 2001 through Dec. 21, 2012.
University of Utah

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 7:24 pm

Katie Alonzo was stunned when doctors told her they couldn't get a drug her 10-year-old daughter, Abby, was taking to fight lymphoma.

"When a doctor says, 'This is what you need to take.' And then all of a sudden somebody tells you, 'Well, that is what you need to take but this isn't available so we're going to try this instead,' it's very scary," say Alonzo, who lives in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

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NPR Story
5:18 pm
Wed December 26, 2012

Legalized Pot Creates Quandary For Adults In Wash.

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 7:24 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

In Washington State, parents and drug counselors are in a quandary. Now that recreational marijuana is legal, they're wondering how to talk to kids about pot.

NPR's Martin Kaste has that story from Seattle.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Ten, nine, eight, seven...

CROWD: Nine, eight, seven...

MARTIN KASTE, BYLINE: Under the Space Needle, marijuana enthusiasts counted down to the moment of legalization.

CROWD: Two, one...

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

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U.S.
4:34 pm
Wed December 26, 2012

Debating The Impact Of An Immigration Crackdown

John Steinbach shows a day laborer in the parking lot of Ricos Tacos Moya a photo he took of him for an ID.
Lauren Rock NPR

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 7:24 pm

In 2007, when Virginia's Prince William County ordered police to check the immigration status of anyone they had "probable cause" to suspect was in the U.S. unlawfully, the impact was swift at family restaurant Ricos Tacos Moya.

"Suddenly nobody showed up," says Stacey Moya, an employee, and daughter of the owner. "Nobody was around. Not one soul. We would go hours without any customers, any clients. Nothing."

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NPR Story
3:54 pm
Wed December 26, 2012

Climate Change Gets Real For Americans

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 7:24 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Now to a scientist looking back at the year that's about to end, commentator Adam Frank is an astrophysicist. And in the category of science, he is confident about the headline for 2012.

ADAM FRANK: Something remarkable has happened that may etch this year into history for centuries to come. Twenty-twelve's importance comes not through elections, economic shifts or the new movements in art. No, 2012 may well be remembered for something far more elemental.

This was the year that climate change got real for Americans.

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NPR Story
3:54 pm
Wed December 26, 2012

Labor Force Participation At Lowest Point In 3 Decades

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 7:24 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

7.7 percent, that's the current unemployment rate. It's a full percentage point lower than this time last year. That sounds like progress, a modest number of new jobs are being added every month. But labor force participation, a measure of both people who are working and those who are actively looking for work, is at its lowest point in three decades.

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Health
3:22 pm
Wed December 26, 2012

Despite Uneven Results, Alzheimer's Research Suggests A Path For Treatment

Brain scans using Amyvid dye to highlight beta-amyloid plaques in the brain. Clockwise from top left: a cognitively normal subject; an amyloid-positive patient with Alzheimer's disease; a patient with mild cognitive impairment who progressed to dementia during a study; and a patient with mild cognitive impairment.
Slide courtesy of the journal Neurology

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 7:24 pm

It's been a mixed year for Alzheimer's research. Some promising drugs failed to stop or even slow the disease. But researchers also found reasons to think that treatments can work if they just start sooner.

Scientists who study Alzheimer's say they aren't discouraged by the drug failures. "I actually think it was a phenomenal year for research," says Bill Rebeck, a brain scientist at Georgetown University.

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World
2:52 pm
Wed December 26, 2012

Brazil's Drug Epidemic: Welcome To 'Crackland'

A member of Rio de Janeiro's Social Work Department speaks with crack addicts in a slum area known as "Crackland," during a police operation in the city in November.
Christophe Simon AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue January 8, 2013 2:19 pm

Brazilian health officials say an epidemic is taking hold — an outbreak of crack cocaine use nationwide, from the major cities on the coast to places deep in the Amazon.

It's an image at odds with the one Brazil wants to project as the country prepares to host soccer's World Cup in 2014 and the Summer Olympics two years later. But the problem has become too big to ignore.

The Luz district of central Sao Paulo was once grand, with its old train station and opulent buildings. Now, this neighborhood is known as Cracolandia — Crackland.

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The Salt
2:44 pm
Wed December 26, 2012

Smartphone Apps Offer Few Shortcuts For Those With Food Allergies

The iTube platform, left, uses colorimetric assays and a smartphone-based digital reader to detect potential food allergen. A screen capture of the iTube App appears on the right.
UCLA

Originally published on Mon December 31, 2012 3:42 pm

Managing food allergies can be a pain, requiring lots of sleuthing of ingredients in restaurants and supermarkets. But people with potentially lethal allergies to nuts and other foods don't have much choice.

Dozens of smartphone apps offer to make that task easier. Doctors say, though, the apps now on the market just aren't reliable enough.

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U.S.
2:40 pm
Wed December 26, 2012

Airlines Fear Pilot Shortage Amidst New Federal Safety Rules

Starting next summer, aspiring commercial pilots will need 1,500 hours of flight training before they can be hired. This dramatic increase, among other factors, is making airlines worry that there will not be enough pilots to maintain current service.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 8:05 pm

Some airlines — especially the smaller ones — worry they won't have enough pilots. They're a number of factors in play, but they point to new federal safety rules as a big part of the problem.

In February 2009, a Colgan Air commuter jet crashed, killing 50 people. Investigators cited inadequate pilot training; Congress responded with new legislation. Beginning next summer, those who want to pilot commercial jets will need dramatically more hours of flight training before they can be hired.

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