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Shots - Health News
5:20 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

The Perilous Politics Of The Health Insurance Tax Break

MIT health economist Jonathan Gruber, who explained the ins and outs of health overhaul in a comic book, says that excluding the value of health insurance from federal taxes is a terrible idea, at least from an economist's point of view.
Macmillan

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 6:50 pm

There's not much in health care that economists agree on. But one of the few things that bring them together is the idea that excluding the value of health insurance from federal taxes is nuts.

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NPR Story
5:20 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

AAA Says New Ethanol-Gas Blend Could Hurt Cars

Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 6:50 pm

AAA has warned against potential damage that a new blend of gasoline could do to some engines. And the warning has started a fight over renewable fuels and the future of what we put in our gas tanks.

The fuel is called E15 — named for the percentage of ethanol in the blend. Most of the gas that's sold in the U.S. has about 10 percent ethanol in it.

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The Two-Way
5:00 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

The First Book Printed In British North America And A Church's Decision To Sell It

Jeff Makholm holds the Bay Psalm Book.
Monica Brady-Myerov WBUR

Originally published on Wed December 5, 2012 11:34 am

This past Sunday, the Old South Church in Boston made a decision that cuts to the heart of not only the congregation's history, but to the very beginning of this country's founding.

With an overwhelming 271 to 34 vote, the church decided to give its board the power to sell one copy of the Bay Psalm Book, the first book ever printed in British North America.

Only 11 of the original 1,600 copies of the book printed in Cambridge in 1640 remain. And of those, the church owns two.

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Music Reviews
4:44 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

Two Malian Guitar Greats, Gone But Still Wailing

Malian guitarist Lobi Traore died in 2010, at just 49. His last album is called Bwati Kono.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 6:50 pm

Back in 1985, a young Malian named Zani Diabate became one of the first African musicians to release a successful album in Europe. He was soon crowded out by a flood of superstar African singers, but for anyone who experienced Diabate's rocking guitar tone and edgy African phrasing, the sound is unforgettable.

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

For Tea Party Activists In Florida, The Health Care Battle Goes On

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 6:50 pm

President Obama's re-election sent a message to state capitals: The war over the president's health care overhaul is finished.

Even in Florida, where Republican leaders led the legal battle against Obamacare, there's recognition now that the state has to act fast to comply with the new law.

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Business
4:22 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

Netflix Gets Disney Movies Ahead Of Pay TV Channels

A promotional image for the Netflix Just for Kids portal. The new deal announced with Disney is the first time that one of Hollywood's major studios has sold the coveted rights to Netflix Inc. instead of a premium TV network.
Netflix

Netflix's video subscription service has trumped pay-TV channels and grabbed the rights to show Disney movies shortly after they finish their runs in theaters.

The multiyear licensing agreement announced Tuesday represents a breakthrough for Netflix as it tries to add more recent movies to a popular service that streams video over high-speed Internet connections.

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Shots - Health News
4:17 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

Computerized Health Records Breed Digital Discontent For Some Doctors

Electronic medical records can have drawbacks, too.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 6:50 pm

Two years and $8.4 billion into the government's effort to get doctors to take their practices digital, some unintended consequences are starting to emerge.

One is a lot of unhappy doctors. In a big survey by Medscape, an online site for doctors, 38 percent of the doctors polled said they were unhappy with their electronic medical records system.

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Deceptive Cadence
3:49 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

Alisa Weilerstein Plays Elgar: Exploring Music With An Intense Past

Cellist Alisa Weilerstein
Jamie Jung Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed December 5, 2012 10:26 am

British composer Edward Elgar wrote his cello concerto in 1919 — soon after the end of World War I — and it's suffused with the dark weight of that war.

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It's All Politics
3:14 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

Obama And Boehner Call It Negotiation; The Rest Of Us Are Permitted To Laugh

President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner meet in the White House on July 23, 2011. At that time, they were discussing how to avert a debt default. The talks ultimately led to the deal that now brings us aspects of the so-called fiscal cliff.
Jewel Samad AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat December 8, 2012 1:29 pm

If you're tempted to throw back your head and guffaw when you hear the word "negotiation" linked with "Congress" and "fiscal cliff," please, don't hesitate.

Because what you're seeing play out publicly between congressional Republicans and Democrats and the White House bears little resemblance to negotiation.

"The game that's being played is the same game that's been played over the past few years — brinksmanship, and hard positional bargaining," says William Ury, who knows negotiation when he sees it.

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The Salt
3:13 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

A Hidden Hanukkah Tale Of A Woman, An Army And Some Killer Cheese

This Hanukkah lamp, made in Italy in the 19th century, depicts Judith holding a sword in one hand and the severed head of Holofernes in the other.
The Jewish Museum, New York / Art Resource, NY

Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 9:11 am

At Hanukkah, many Jewish families celebrate with foods such as latkes and donuts that are fried in oil. The tradition honors the story of the miracle that occurred when a one-day supply of oil burned for eight days inside a temple under siege by the enemy .

Some Jews also eat dishes like kugel, cheesecake or rugelah that all share one ingredient — cheese. But how did cheese make it onto the holiday menu?

It starts (as many of these tales do) with a woman. This woman was Judith.

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Shots - Health News
2:59 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

A Polio Outbreak In Pakistan Reveals Gaps In Vaccination

A child is inoculated with the polio vaccine at a traffic checkpoint just outside Pakistan's capital, Islamabad. Roadside vaccinations help health workers reach children in mobile populations.
Jackie Northam NPR

Originally published on Wed December 5, 2012 9:55 am

Pakistan has made a lot of progress this year in wiping out polio. There are signs that one type of poliovirus is gone and transmission of other strains seems to be slowing.

But a recent outbreak of polio there has health officials concerned about the overall effectiveness of the effort to eliminate polio in that country.

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The Two-Way
2:51 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

Remembering Kim Jong Il ... And His Parka

Kim Jong Il and his favorite parka in 2009.
STR AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 4:16 pm

For three generations now, the dynastic Kims who have ruled North Korea for more than six decades have been a rich source for parodies.

Before Kim Jong Il died in December 2011, his trademark pompadour hairdo attracted its share of attention.

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The Two-Way
2:49 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

NATO Approves Turkey's Request For Patriot Defense Missiles

An Israeli army Patriot missile battery is deployed at an unidentified base in central Israel.
Shaul Schwarz Getty Images

NATO has announced that it will deploy Patriot defense missiles that Turkey had requested to protect itself against attacks from Syria that have so far killed five Turks.

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The Two-Way
1:35 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

Report: Bloomberg Urged Hillary Clinton To Run For NYC Mayor

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as she is introduced to speak at the residence of the U.S. ambassador to Belgium in Brussels.
Kevin LaMarque AFP/Getty Images

The New York Times broke one of the more intriguing political stories of the week, last night: In a phone call "not long ago," New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg urged Hillary Clinton to consider running for his job after she ended her tenure as secretary of sate.

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Author Interviews
1:23 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

'Inventing Wine': The History Of A Very Vintage Beverage

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 1:40 pm

Wine is our original alcoholic beverage. It dates back 8,000 years and, as Paul Lukacs writes in his new book, Inventing Wine: A New History of One of the World's Most Ancient Pleasures, was originally valued more because it was believed to be of divine origin than for its taste. And that's a good thing, Lukacs tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross, because early wine was not particularly good.

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The Two-Way
1:21 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

Europeans Summon Israeli Diplomats On Settlement Plan

Construction workers are seen at the E1 construction site near the West Bank settlement of Maaleh Adumim on the eastern outskirts of Jerusalem in 2007.
Sebastian Scheiner AP

Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 9:11 am

The U.S. has called the latest Israeli settlement plan "counterproductive," and now the Europeans have weighed in, with even more pointed criticism.

Israeli ambassadors to Britain, France, Denmark, Spain and Sweden were summoned Monday to hear opposition to the settlement plan.

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Television
1:06 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

Boxes Of TV Fun, Old And New, For The Holidays

The new five-DVD, one-CD box set The Incredible Mel Brooks is crammed full with comedy gold — and includes Brooks and Carl Reiner (above) doing their iconic skit "The 2,000-Year-Old Man."
William Claxton Demont Photo Management, LLC

I'm biased, of course, because I'm a television critic — but to me, giving someone a gift of a TV show you yourself enjoyed tremendously is somehow very personal. You're giving something that you love, and that in many cases will occupy many hours, if not days, of their time. And during that time, they'll occasionally be reminded of you.

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The Two-Way
12:34 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

Betrayed By Metadata: John McAfee Admits He's Really In Guatemala

A Facebook page shows photos of John McAfee, the founder of the eponymous anti-virus company.
Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 5, 2012 11:05 am

The story of John McAfee just keeps getting weirder. If you remember, the McAfee anti-virus software founder is on the lam, wanted for questioning in Belize for the shooting death of Gregory Faull, another expat who lived near him.

McAfee claims he's innocent and the victim of a corrupt government who is trying to get him.

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The Two-Way
12:02 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

Report: Man Given Boots By NYC Police Officer Has Apartment He Could Use

The photo that touched many hearts: New York City Police Officer Lawrence DePrimo gives a shoeless man a pair of boots on a frigid night last month. That man was later identified as 54-year-old Jeffrey Hillman.
Jennifer Foster NYPD via Facebook

Jeffrey Hillman's bare feet on a frigid night in New York City last month inspired a police officer to buy the seemingly homeless man a pair of warm boots — a moment captured in a heartwarming photo that went viral.

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The Two-Way
11:47 am
Tue December 4, 2012

In Damascus, Bracing For The Worst

A Syrian soldier aims his rifle during clashes in the Damascus suburb of Daraya on Sunday. There is frequent fighting in and around Damascus, and residents are increasingly worried about a major battle for the capital.
HOPD AP/SANA

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 2:47 pm

Editor's Note: Throughout the Syrian uprising, the government has allowed few foreign journalists and other outsiders into the country, and there has been limited information about many parts of the country. In this essay, a Syrian citizen describes life in the capital Damascus. For security reasons, NPR is not identifying the author.

The people of Damascus seem to be bracing for the worst, fearing that a revolt now 20 months old is building to a ferocious fight for control of the capital.

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