NPR News

Around the Nation
1:27 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 10:05 am

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
1:26 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 2:34 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.
1:26 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 12:46 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
3:32 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 5:24 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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U.S.
3:32 pm
Wed December 26, 2012

Legalized Pot Creates Quandary For Adults In Wash.

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 5:24 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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The Two-Way
3:25 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 5:27 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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Shots - Health News
3:02 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 5:24 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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U.S.
2:34 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 5:24 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
1:54 pm
Wed December 26, 2012

Climate Change Gets Real For Americans

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 5:24 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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Shots - Health News
1:22 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 5:24 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
12:52 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 12:19 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
12:40 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 1:42 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.
12:40 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 6:05 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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It's All Politics
12:24 pm
Wed December 26, 2012

Minorities May Spurn The GOP, But The Party Welcomes Them

Incoming Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who spoke during the Republican National Convention this summer in Tampa, Fla., is among a number of minority politicians seen as rising stars in the GOP.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Tue January 1, 2013 10:03 am

As the nation's first African-American president, Barack Obama benefited from and expanded his party's enormous advantage among minority voters.

But as he prepares to start his second term, Obama hasn't managed to usher in behind him many Democrats who are minorities to top elected office. Conversely, Republicans — despite their highly limited support among non-Anglo voters — have managed to elevate more top politicians from minority backgrounds.

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The Two-Way
12:22 pm
Wed December 26, 2012

'Thunderbirds' TV Show Creator Anderson Dies At 83

Thunderbirds creator Gerry Anderson has died at age 83. Here, he poses with puppets Parker and Lady Penelope from the series, shortly before a 2001 auction in London.
Dave Caulkin AP

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The Two-Way
12:11 pm
Wed December 26, 2012

'Fiscal Cliff' Deadline Looms, But Sense Of Urgency Seems To Be Lacking

Will the lights be on late at the White House for the next few nights, or will talks about the "fiscal cliff" be less than dramatic?
Larry Downing Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 12:49 pm

President Obama is "cutting short" a vacation that he'd already said he would cut short. "See you next week," he told reporters last week before leaving for Hawaii. The president is now due back at the White House on Thursday, which is pretty much what was expected. His family will stay in Hawaii until after the New Year.

Senators are also coming back to Washington, but many aren't likely to get to the Capitol until Thursday evening.

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Middle East
10:54 am
Wed December 26, 2012

Syria's War Leaves Its Scars On The Children

Maysam Selmo, 8, during her first week at Albashayer School for Syrian Refugee Children in Antakya, Turkey. She and her extended family fled their village in northwestern Syria, and now live in a crowded apartment.
Jodi Hilton for NPR

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 5:57 pm

The war in Syria is taking a huge toll on the children. An international team of researchers that interviewed Syrian kids in a refugee camp in Turkey found that 3 out of 4 have lost a loved one. Almost half have post-traumatic stress disorder and elevated levels of depression.

There are efforts to help, but it's challenging. In the southern Turkish city of Gaziantep, the bell rings at 8 a.m. at the Friendship Elementary School. Syrian kids, in fresh school uniforms, cram into desks, with more than 40 students in every classroom.

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The Two-Way
10:33 am
Wed December 26, 2012

N.Y. Website Posts Map Of People With Gun Permits, Draws Criticism

The Journal News' map of gun owners in Rockland County, N.Y. At its website, the image is interactive so that users can see who has handgun permits and where they live.
The Journal News

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 12:49 pm

The website of New York's Journal News newspapers has posted an interactive map showing the names and addresses of people with licenses to own handguns in three counties just to the north of New York City — Westchester, Rockland and Putnam.

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Around the Nation
9:17 am
Wed December 26, 2012

A Lull Until New Year's? Not So These Days

The CambridgeSide Galleria was bustling with people exchanging gifts and taking advantage of sales the day after Christmas 2011.
Suzanne Kreiter The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 11:32 am

Time was, the stretch following Christmas Day until New Year's Day was a quiet, sleepy spot on the American calendar. The six-day span hung like a lazy hammock between the holidays.

Not anymore.

Nowadays, the WAC — Week After Christmas — is busy and abuzzing. All around the country, Americans continue to celebrate — Kwanzaa, the Christmas afterglow and the coming New Year.

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The Two-Way
9:14 am
Wed December 26, 2012

Gunman Who Killed Two Firefighters Left Chilling Note

William Spengler, in an undated image released by the Monroe County (N.Y.) Sheriff's Office.
Reuters /Landov

We're learning more about Monday's shooting deaths of two firefighters in Webster, N.Y., and the man who police say lured the first responders to the scene by setting fire to his home.

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Shots - Health News
9:06 am
Wed December 26, 2012

Dip In Preschoolers' Obesity Hints Worst May Be Past For Weight

An overweight child reads her part during a skit that was in a 2010 program promoting healthy lifestyles sponsored by Children's Hospital near Denver.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 9:29 am

Obesity among preschoolers has dropped a bit, offering hope that a decades-long trend towards dangerously overweight children may finally be on the wane. If the trend continues, it could mean healthier adults in the future.

The findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention follow a reports earlier this year that found declines in obesity rates among school-aged children.

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Music Interviews
7:55 am
Wed December 26, 2012

Catherine Russell: The Fresh Air In-Studio Concert

Catherine Russell.
Stefan Falke

As part of our year-end wrap up, we are sharing the best Fresh Air interviews of 2012. This interview was originally broadcast on Feb. 21, 2012.

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The Two-Way
6:57 am
Wed December 26, 2012

By Showing Ammo Magazine On NBC, Did David Gregory Break The Law?

Meet the Press host David Gregory, holding what he said was a high capacity magazine, during Sunday's broadcast.
NBC News

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 12:50 pm

Washington, D.C., city police are investigating whether NBC News' David Gregory broke the district's laws when he displayed what he said was a "magazine for ammunition that carries 30 bullets" on Sunday's edition of Meet the Press.

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Politics
6:20 am
Wed December 26, 2012

After Beating Allen West, House Freshman Faces New Fight

Rep.-elect Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., speaks during a news conference introducing 37 of the newly elected House Democrats at the U.S. Capitol on Nov. 13.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 6:44 am

Of the eight new seats that Democrats picked up in the House of Representatives in November, four of them come from Florida.

Democrats were aided by a big turnout for President Obama, plus new rules that helped erase a Republican advantage in how districts are drawn in the Sunshine State.

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The Two-Way
5:59 am
Wed December 26, 2012

Top Stories: Frightful Weather; Fiscal Cliffhanger; Soft Shopping Season

Will someone come back to fill it up? On Christmas Day at the Lakeside Mall in New Orleans, this shopping cart sat all alone. After what's been said to have been a soft holiday shopping season, retailers are hoping that post-holiday sales will be strong.
David Grunfeld The Times-Picayune /Landov

Good morning.

Our early headline:

-- Weather Outside Is Frightful; Tornadoes, Snow, Rain Lash Much Of Nation.

Some of the other stories making news today:

-- " 'Fiscal Cliff' To Bring President Obama Back Early From Hawaii." (Los Angeles Times)

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Around the Nation
5:42 am
Wed December 26, 2012

Blind Dog Returns To Alaska Family

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 5:43 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Around the Nation
5:33 am
Wed December 26, 2012

Zappos Logs Record Service Call

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The Two-Way
5:27 am
Wed December 26, 2012

Weather Outside Is Frightful; Tornadoes, Snow, Rain Lash Much Of Nation

The wicked weather covers a lot of territory. (Image shows conditions as of late afternoon Wednesday, ET.
National Weather Service

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

  • From the NPR Newscast: Giles Snyder on the storm

(On Wednesday, we weaved new information into the top of this post and in updates below. Thursday, we began a new post about the weather.)

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Movie Interviews
4:07 am
Wed December 26, 2012

Vic Flick's Riff Captures The Sound Of James Bond

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 2:39 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

We've been looking back at some of the stories we heard on MORNING EDITION in the past year and bringing you encore performances of our favorites. 2012 marked the 50th anniversary of the first Bond film, "Dr. No." and to help 007 celebrate, we investigated one of the ingredients that helps make Bond films so Bond.

(SOUNDBITE OF JAMES BOND THEME SONG)

MONTAGNE: Ah, yes, the music. This is one of the most famous themes in movie history, and here's the part that gives it that secret agent feel.

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Games & Humor
4:07 am
Wed December 26, 2012

Google Integrates Kevin Bacon In Its Search Function

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 4:41 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

OK, remember the game "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon"? Google, which can bring you the weather forecast for any spot on the planet, launched another very useful service this year. The search engine's "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" game will connect any movie star, living or dead, to the veteran Hollywood actor Kevin Bacon.

The game has become so popular, we went in search of its origins this past September. We had so much fun that once again we bring what we found on our expedition.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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