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The Two-Way
8:17 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Putin: Sanctions, Falling Oil Prices Causing Ruble's Tumble

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures during his annual news conference in Moscow, Russia, on Thursday, where he blamed Western sanctions and falling oil prices on his country's economic troubles.
Pavel Golovkin AP

Russian President Vladimir Putin lashed out at the West in a year-end news conference today, blaming international sanctions and a steep plunge in oil prices for the precipitous drop in the value of the ruble.

Putin, speaking during a more than three-hour news conference attended by some 1,200 journalists, "promised never to let the West chain or defang his proud nation," according to The Associated Press.

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Extras: TED Radio Hour
8:03 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Playlist: Inspiring Stories You'll Want To Share

You'll want to send these TED Radio Hour stories to everyone you know.
A.J. Rich iStock

This playlist includes some blockbuster TED talks that have already inspired millions. These stories about growing up, shaping identity, and finding courage will have you forwarding them to family and friends.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Shots - Health News
7:47 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Worries About Unusual Botulinum Toxin Prove Unfounded

A culture of Clostridium botulinum, stained with gentian violet.
CDC

Remember that worrisome new form of botulinum toxin we told you about in late 2013, the one that supposedly had to be kept secret out of fear it could be used as a bioweapon that would evade all of our medical defenses?

Well, as it turns out, it's not that scary after all. The antitoxin stored in the government's emergency stockpile works and would neutralize the toxin just fine.

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Goats and Soda
7:40 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Pakistan Keeps On Vaccinating Despite Tough Terrain And Terror Threat

A Pakistani health worker administers a polio vaccine to a child during a campaign in the northern city of Rawalpindi.
FAROOQ NAEEM AFP/Getty Images

Between the rugged terrain and the constant terrorist threats, vaccinating Pakistani children against common diseases hasn't been easy. Mountains make it hard — at times even impossible — for vaccinators to reach people in the north. In the south, health workers have to use four-wheelers and camels to travel through Pakistan's harsh deserts.

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Ask Me Another
7:36 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Blaze Of Gloria

We've rewritten the lyrics of the beloved Christmas carol "Angels We Have Heard on High" to be about things that begin with the "glo-" sound of its famous refrain: "Gloooooooooria [in excelsis Deo]."

Heard in Holiday Spectacular 2014

Ask Me Another
7:36 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Season's Eatings

Ideal size for your Christmas ham.
Sylvie Rosokoff NPR

When you're the editor-in-chief of Bon Appétit Magazine, people tend to expect a lot from your holiday cuisine.

"That's why we just give them ham," says the editor himself, Adam Rapoport. "Everybody loves ham. Especially us Jews. Give them a big, glistening, baked, bone-in ham with Martin's potato rolls and a big bowl of punch."

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Ask Me Another
7:36 am
Thu December 18, 2014

'Tis The Season For Corny Movies

Nothing says "cheer" like a cheesy made-for-TV holiday movie. Can you tease out the real ones from the fake when it comes to The Dog Who Saved Christmas Vacation or Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever?

Heard in Holiday Spectacular 2014

Ask Me Another
7:36 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Schaaps' Family Feud

A little friendly family competition between Rosie (R) and Jeremy Schaap.
Sylvie Rosokoff NPR

When the holiday season rolls around and families convene, board games are pulled out of storage...and then the gloves come off. In the spirit of friendly, familial competition, we welcomed back to Ask Me Another former VIPs Rosie Schaap and Jeremy Schaap, who also happen to be siblings.

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Ask Me Another
7:36 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Reindeer Games

If you spell "reindeer" by combining precipitation ("rain") and a loved one ("dear"), then you think in homophones. In this round, we give clues to two words whose homophones form a new word or phrase.

Heard in Holiday Spectacular 2014

Ask Me Another
7:36 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Chappy Cholidays

All answers in this round start with the letter "h", but we want you to pronounce them with that back-of-the-throat "ch" sound, in honor of the "ch" in "Chanukah." Have a lozenge or two ready.

Heard in Holiday Spectacular 2014

Ask Me Another
7:36 am
Thu December 18, 2014

All I Don't Want For Christmas

All they want for Christmas is for you to sing along.
Sylvie Rosokoff NPR

Warm up your vocal chords and join in singing some holiday tunes with the songwriting duo from Disney's Frozen, Bobby Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez. The Oscar-winning husband-and-wife musical team has written some of the all-time catchiest tunes about winter, and on a previous episode of Ask Me Another, graciously lent their voices to a rewritten version of "Let It Go."

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Ask Me Another
7:36 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Ho Ho Ho

In this final round, every correct answer will start with a jolly "Ho!" sound. Which goalkeeper has won two Olympic medals with the U.S. women's soccer team? That would be Ho Ho Hope Solo!

Heard in Holiday Spectacular 2014

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR's Holiday Favorites
7:33 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Tinsel Tales 3: NPR Christmas Stories

Andrew Malone Flickr

In keeping with a well-loved NPR holiday tradition, Lynn Neary hosts a collection of extraordinary Christmas stories that will transport you to unexpected places.

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Monkey See
5:54 am
Thu December 18, 2014

The Many Rabbit Holes (Or Should We Say Labyrinths) Of 'Serial'

Sarah Koenig and producer Dana Chivvis in the studio.
Elise Bergerson Serial

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The Two-Way
5:35 am
Thu December 18, 2014

New Era For Cuba? Voices From Miami And Havana

Anti-Castro protester Lazaro Lozano, left, argues with an unidentified pro-Obama supporter in the Little Havana area of Miami, on Wednesday.
Alan Diaz AP

Just hours after the United States and Cuba announced they were moving toward normalizing relations, crowds gathered in Havana and Miami trying to come to grips with a historic shift.

NPR covered the reaction in those two places with two pieces on Morning Edition.

NPR's Greg Allen reported from Miami:

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Around the Nation
5:24 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Santa Pays An Early Visit To Cape Cod Eateries

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 5:52 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

World
5:24 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Correct Name Gets Canadian Woman A Free European Trip

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 5:52 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Research News
3:20 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Research Examines Character Concerns Versus Performance In The NFL

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 5:52 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Around the Nation
3:16 am
Thu December 18, 2014

TSA Administrator John Pistole To Leave At Month's End

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 5:52 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR Story
3:11 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Obama Announces Diplomatic Thaw With Cuba

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 5:52 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Afghanistan
3:11 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Fight Against Corruption In Afghanistan Press On

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 5:52 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR Story
3:11 am
Thu December 18, 2014

How Tchaikovsky's 'Nutcracker' Became A Holiday Tradition

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 5:52 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR Story
3:11 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Rapprochement With Cuba: What It Includes And Excludes

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 5:52 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR Story
3:11 am
Thu December 18, 2014

S.C. Judge Rules 1944 Execution Of 14-Year-Old Boy Was Wrong

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 8:07 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR Story
3:11 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Rep. Sires Pushes Back Against Obama's Cuba Plans

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 5:52 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

All Tech Considered
1:46 am
Thu December 18, 2014

With Sony Hack, Nation-State Attacks Go From Quiet To Overt

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 7:29 am

NPR has confirmed from U.S. intelligence officials that North Korea was centrally involved with the recent attacks against Sony Pictures. And the company says it is pulling its comedy film The Interview from the box office. It was supposed to debut on Christmas. These are major developments in what we may now call cyberwarfare.

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Science
1:36 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Arctic Is Warming Twice As Fast As The Rest Of The Planet

A lone polar bear poses on a block of arctic sea ice in Russia's Franz Josef Land.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 7:56 am

The latest word from scientists studying the Arctic is that the polar region is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet. And researchers say the trend isn't letting up. That's the latest from the 2014 Arctic Report Card — a compilation of recent research from more than 60 scientists in 13 countries. The report was released Wednesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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Parallels
1:31 am
Thu December 18, 2014

At An Isolated Camp, Iraqi Police Prep For A Showdown With ISIS

More than 4,000 officers of Nineveh Province security force are based in an isolated training camp in northern Iraq. Their aim is retaking ISIS-controlled Mosul, Iraq's second largest city.
Deborah Amos NPR

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 8:24 am

When Mohammed Taha Yaseen recalls the day that Islamic militants swept through Iraq's northern city of Mosul this past summer, he chokes up.

"The army ran away," he says, and pauses to gain control of his voice. "We didn't run — the police stayed and fought ISIS."

Yaseen, an officer in the Mosul police force, tells his story at an isolated training camp in northern Iraq, less than 20 miles from the front lines with ISIS, also known as the Islamic State.

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Television
1:27 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Boundary-Pushing Late Night Hosts Move On — Colbert Up, Ferguson Out

Craig Ferguson hosts The Late Late Show in 2011.
Sonja Flemming AP

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 7:15 am

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The Two-Way
1:23 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Supreme Court Refuses To Block Arizona Driver's Licenses For 'Dreamers'

The Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. voted against Arizona's appeal, which would have allowed a state ban on drivers licenses for young undocumented immigrants.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 5:55 am

Arizona hoped an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court would prevent the state from having to grant driving permits to young undocumented immigrants, also known as "dreamers," who entered the country as children. A federal appeals court ruled in July of this year Arizona must start issuing the licenses to dreamers, who under Obama administration policy are permitted to remain in the United States.

NPR's Nina Totenberg reported on the Supreme Court's Wednesday decision and the background of the legal dispute:

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