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The Two-Way
8:45 am
Thu December 15, 2011

Jobless Claims Drop To Lowest Level In More Than Three Years

The number of Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment insurance dropped by 19,000 last week, to 366,000, the Employment and Training Administration reports. And that's the lowest level since May 2008.

Bloomberg News says the decline was not expected — most economists thought we would hear they remained around 390,000.

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The Two-Way
8:30 am
Thu December 15, 2011

Report: 'Marines Promoted Inflated Story For Medal Of Honor Recipient'

President Obama presents the Medal of Honor to Marine Corps Sgt. Dakota Meyer.
Jim Watson AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 6:10 pm

"Crucial parts" of the story that Marine Corps officials told about Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer's bravery in Afghanistan are "untrue, unsubstantiated or exaggerated, according to dozens of military documents" that McClatchy Newspapers has examined and reporting done by a McClatchy correspondent who survived the ambush in which Meyer performed heroically.

In a long report based on extensive research, correspondent Jonathan S. Landay writes that:

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Best Books Of 2011
8:16 am
Thu December 15, 2011

Fired Up: The Year's Best Science Fiction, Fantasy

Priscilla Nielsen for NPR

2011 was a good year to be a reader of science fiction and fantasy, although lately every year has been a good year: Not only are the books getting more popular — thank you, Game of Thrones — they're getting more interesting, evolving and morphing in weird, fascinating ways.

They're also interbreeding with other genres to produce wild new hybrid forms, like historical science fiction romances and hard-boiled fantasy detective novels. They're commenting on current events and swapping DNA with literary novels.

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The Two-Way
7:50 am
Thu December 15, 2011

Republicans Unveil $1 Trillion Spending Bill, Possible Shutdown Still Looms

The political wrangling continues in Washington as Republicans and Democrats try to get their priorities enacted even as several key deadlines fast approach.

Overnight, as The Associated Press reports, Republicans in the House "unveiled a massive $1 trillion-plus year-end spending package despite a plea from the White House for additional talks over a handful of provisions opposed by President Barack Obama."

The wire service adds that:

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NPR Story
7:36 am
Thu December 15, 2011

Dobbey The Reindeer Delights Kids In North London

We Americans have Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and the rest but residents of Enfield, North London, can expect a visit from Dobbey the reindeer this time of year. His owner Gordon Elliott takes him everywhere — to the local pub and with him on the subway or bus. On Christmas, Elliott dresses as Father Christmas and walks Dobbey through town.

Europe
7:31 am
Thu December 15, 2011

Freak Wind Rains Down Apples On Motorists

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. Drivers near Coventry, England experienced unusual weather conditions yesterday: apples falling from the sky. About 100 rained down in a few minutes. Meteorologists blamed a freak wind, clearly a strong one, since a woman whose car hood was pounded by the fruit said there are no orchards nearby. This isn't the first time strange objects have rained down in Britain. In 2007, fish fell in Norfolk. Frogs rained down in Wales in 1996. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

The Two-Way
7:25 am
Thu December 15, 2011

As Flag Is Put Away, America's Mission In Iraq Symbolically Ends

America's colors have been cased in Iraq — the flag was just symbolically put away at a ceremony marking the end of a war that lasted nearly nine years.

At the Baghdad airport a short time ago, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other officials were there to mark the occasion, NPR's Kelly McEvers reports. It was, she said on Morning Edition, a "quiet, small ceremony."

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Monkey See
6:41 am
Thu December 15, 2011

Television's New Antiheroes: Creating Sympathy For The Devilish

Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount) owns slaves on AMC's Hell On Wheels. But the guys he's chasing are worse.
Chris Large AMC

Jackson "Jax" Teller, the antihero at the heart of FX's blockbuster biker gang series Sons of Anarchy, is pretty easy to distinguish from a traditional hero. Just this season, Jax blew away a rival gang with an RPG missile, shot a Russian gangster in the head and got into some serious trouble while selling guns to the scariest gangsters on the planet.

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Business
4:15 am
Thu December 15, 2011

China Slaps Tariffs On Large U.S.-Made Cars, SUVs

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 6:45 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And let's turn now to the latest volley in the ongoing tariff war. American politicians have vowed to fight new Chinese tariffs on U.S. made cars and SUVs. Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton has more.

TRACY SAMILTON, BYLINE: In 2010, the U.S. won a Chinese tire-dumping complaint before the World Trade Organization. Then China complained about U.S. poultry dumping. The U.S. said China subsidizes solar panels. Now the fight's over cars. Republican Congressman Kevin Brady of Texas heads a trade subcommittee.

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NPR Story
4:00 am
Thu December 15, 2011

Obama Thanks Fort Bragg Soldiers For Iraq Service

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 6:45 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

President Obama has vowed to stay committed to Iraq. He emphasized that earlier this week when he met at the White House with Iraq's Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki. Yesterday, the president marked the pullout of troops from Iraq in North Carolina. He and the first lady visited Fort Bragg to offer thanks and congratulations to the soldiers there.

Dave DeWitt of North Carolina Public Radio sent this report.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Hello Fort Bragg.

(SOUNDBITE OF AUDIENCE RESPONSE)

OBAMA: All the way.

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NPR Story
4:00 am
Thu December 15, 2011

GOP Tries To Reign In Federal Spending On Jobless Benefits

Originally published on Mon October 15, 2012 7:24 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

One of the year-end fights going on in Congress is about extending unemployment insurance. Democrats want to extend benefits for people long out of work. Republicans say, wait a minute, it's time to reform the program and lower its cost.

The stakes are high on this one. The Labor Department estimates that if Congress doesn't do something soon, some two-and-a-half million people could stop receiving checks by March. NPR's Andrea Seabrook reports now on the politics and on the realities of unemployment insurance.

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NPR Story
4:00 am
Thu December 15, 2011

Why TV viewers Embrace Anti-Heroes Like Dexter, Dan Draper

Television has always loved heroes who sometimes act a bit like the bad guys — from cheeky gambler Brett Maverick to know-it-all bigot Archie Bunker. But today's TV shows seem addicted to the anti-hero, pushing audiences to fall in love with a meth dealer, murderous biker gang and a serial killer. TV critic Eric Deggans of the "St. Petersburg Times" explains why bad-guy heroes are so popular now.

Election 2012
4:00 am
Thu December 15, 2011

Huckabee Hosts 4 GOP Candidates

In 2008, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee was running for the GOP presidential nomination, and won the Iowa caucuses. Wednesday night in Des Moines, he hosted four current GOP contenders at a premiere for an anti-abortion film in which he appears. There was no endorsement from Huckabee. But there was a lot of talk about the need for abortion and other social issues to play a role in selecting a nominee.

Iraq
4:00 am
Thu December 15, 2011

Baghdad Ceremony Formally Ends Iraq War

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 6:45 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne. On what was once one of America's busiest bases in Iraq, the flag of U.S. forces was rolled up this morning, ready to be sent home to America. It's a ceremony known as the casing of the colors. And Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta was there, marking the end of the U.S. combat mission in Iraq. We reached NPR's Kelly McEvers at that ceremony. And, Kelly, describe where you are.

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Around the Nation
4:00 am
Thu December 15, 2011

Ala. Ethics Law Restricts Gifts To Teachers

In Alabama, a teacher who takes a Christmas ham as a gift from a student could get jail time. That's because of a new ethics law the governor wants changed. The new law severely restricts gifts to teachers.

Business
4:00 am
Thu December 15, 2011

OPEC Sets Higher Production Ceiling

Oil futures are recovering after falling to a five-week low Wednesday, amid fears of declining demand and OPEC's decision to set a higher production ceiling for the next six months. The decision effectively ratified Saudi Arabia's move in recent months to pump more oil in an attempt to rein in soaring crude prices.

Business
4:00 am
Thu December 15, 2011

Business News

Hewlett Packard has been under fire for the golden parachutes it awards outgoing CEOs. A chief let go earlier this year received nearly $10 million in severance and bonuses for what was less than a year's work. And the CEO fired before that received nearly $35 million when he left.

Art & Design
4:00 am
Thu December 15, 2011

1960's Los Angeles Gave Artists Freedom

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 7:11 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And it may be surprising to many outside Los Angeles to hear that it has an art scene that goes back to the middle of the last century - maybe because the '50s and '60s in Southern California was a vast landscape dotted with car culture, beach culture, and a growing aerospace industry. Not necessarily art, one thinks.

It was also, though, the home of an art scene which attracted artists who were rejected in New York. That's something Hunter Drohojowska-Philp writes about in her book "Rebels in Paradise."

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Politics
4:00 am
Thu December 15, 2011

Federal Government Faces 3rd Shutdown Threat This Year

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 6:55 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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Politics
4:00 am
Thu December 15, 2011

House Committee To Vote On Online Piracy Act

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 6:53 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

A long-running fight between Hollywood and Silicon Valley could get nastier today when a congressional committee votes on a bill about online piracy. Movie producers say the Stop Online Piracy Act creates stronger protections for intellectual property. Critics in the high-tech industry say the bill could have unintended consequences for the Internet, as NPR's Joel Rose reports.

JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: Hollywood loves a pirate - as long as he's on screen.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES")

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Around the Nation
4:00 am
Thu December 15, 2011

Patty Duke Applies For Social Security Benefits

Actress Patty Duke celebrated her 65th birthday Wednesday by apply for Social Security benefits. She did so online, as she's encouraged other seniors to do for years.

Chompsgiving To Chew Year's: Holiday Dishes
3:26 am
Thu December 15, 2011

Savoring The Tradition Of Holiday Sauerkraut

Reporter Julie Rose's great-great-grandmother, Mary, and her husband, Frank Joseph Dusek
Courtesy of Jule Rose

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 12:25 pm

Part of an ongoing series on unique holiday dishes

My great-great-grandma Mary Dusek kept alive the Czech heritage of her parents and immigrant husband through food. In the one photo I've seen of her, she's wearing a crisp, white apron. Our signature holiday dish comes from Mary's kitchen.

My mom, Dee Dee — Mary's great-granddaughter — is the keeper of the Dusek kraut tradition.

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Law
12:01 am
Thu December 15, 2011

Death Sentences Drop To Historic Lows In 2011

The high-profile case of Troy Davis sparked national debate on the death penalty. Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, says there's growing discontent among Americans about capital punishment.
David Tulis AP

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 11:05 am

Death sentences dropped dramatically this year, marking the first time in more than three decades that judges and juries sent fewer than 100 people to death row, according to a new report from the Death Penalty Information Center.

Just 78 offenders were handed capital sentences, and only 43 inmates were executed — almost half as many as 10 years ago.

American Reaction

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It's All Politics
12:01 am
Thu December 15, 2011

State Of The GOP Race: Are We In For A Protracted Primary Season?

Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich face off at the ABC News GOP Presidential Debate on Dec. 10.
Kevork Djansezian Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 11:53 am

The mitts are off, so to speak, in the Republican presidential primary. Mitt Romney, the former front-runner, and his current and most serious rival, Newt Gingrich, are now engaged in an all-out war.

With only a few short weeks until voters in Iowa go to the caucuses, Romney is doing everything he can to stop Gingrich's sudden and surprising rise.

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Business
12:01 am
Thu December 15, 2011

With New Toys, Lego Hopes To Build Girls Market

The new Lego Friends toys are not yet public, but the company gave a sneak peek at its "Olivia" minifigure from the set.
Courtesy of Bloomberg Businessweek. Photographed by Nick Ferrari

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 6:45 am

Lego doesn't call itself a toy company for boys. But look at the company's website, and its products are clearly geared towards boys' love of combat and action. There's Lego Star Wars, Lego Indiana Jones, Alien Conquest, Racers and Superheroes. One lonely set, called Belleville, is clearly for girls. It's pink-themed and features a horse.

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Still No Job: Over A Year Without Enough Work
12:01 am
Thu December 15, 2011

Willing To Sacrifice After A Long Time Out Of Work

According to a survey by NPR and the Kaiser Family Foundation, 44 percent of the long-term unemployed and 35 percent of the underemployed are willing to move to another state for a new job.
Tony Tremblay iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 4:08 pm

In the past three years, the ability and willingness of Americans to move across town or to another state have fallen to their lowest level in more than half a century.

An NPR/Kaiser Family Foundation survey examined mobility among the long-term unemployed and underemployed. Of those two groups combined, 40 percent said they would be willing to move to another state to find a job.

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Youth Radio
12:01 am
Thu December 15, 2011

An Early College Economics Lesson For One Student

Youth Radio's Sayre Quevedo, 19, attends community college and lives in Oakland, Calif.
Courtesy of Youth Radio

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 12:41 pm

One day last year, I skipped school to wait for acceptances from colleges. It was the final day that letters or emails were supposed to be sent out.

I sat in front of my laptop by the front door for at least three hours, listening for the mailman while eagerly pressing the refresh button on my inbox. I admit, at one point, I checked my neighbor's mail. Getting my house skipped on the mail route was one of the less crazy hypotheticals I imagined while waiting.

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Music
6:44 pm
Wed December 14, 2011

Listeners Pick Their Favorite Albums Of 2011

Mito Habe-Evans NPR

Originally published on Tue December 27, 2011 9:14 am

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All Tech Considered
6:01 pm
Wed December 14, 2011

Who's Opposed To .XXX Domain Names? Not Exactly Whom You'd Think

Members of the adult entertainment industry and its trade groups gathered in San Francisco in March to oppose the creation of a separate Internet address for adult entertainment websites.
Anonymous AP

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 5:42 pm

Education has .edu, .gov belongs to the government, and now, adult entertainment has .xxx.

Since last week, anyone can go online and buy a domain name ending in .xxx — but it's not all adult entertainment companies that are rushing to purchase the new addresses.

Colleges and other institutions have purchased .xxx domains pre-emptively to prevent others from doing so and associating their names with adult content. And many big names in the adult entertainment industry are opposed to the possibility of censorship by places that could block the entire .xxx domain.

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