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It's All Politics
8:00 am
Fri December 27, 2013

How Michael Bloomberg Became The Most Influential Mayor Of The Century (So Far)

Outgoing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks during an August news conference after officially opening the new Hunter's Point South Waterfront Park in Queens.
John Minchillo AP

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 6:45 am

Money mattered in Michael Bloomberg's case.

The billionaire's personal fortune (ranked 10th in the nation by Fortune) allowed him to bankroll his three runs for New York City mayor, freeing him to hire people he believed were the best and the brightest, rather than friends of donors.

His philanthropy also backed up the experiments he ran at City Hall — and allowed him to encourage other mayors to take similar tacks.

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Best Music Of 2013
7:58 am
Fri December 27, 2013

2013: The Year In Tiny Desk Concerts

Hayley Bartels NPR

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 7:20 am

For weeks now, we've been compiling lists of 2013's best music — favorite albums, favorite songs, individual staff members' personal Top 10 lists and so on.

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Shots - Health News
9:06 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

Experimental Tool Uses Light To Tweak The Living Brain

A technique called optogenetics is being used in the laboratory to observe and control what brain circuits are doing in real time.
Henning Dalhoff Getty Images/Science Photo Library RM

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 5:09 am

When President Obama announced his BRAIN Initiative in April, he promised to give scientists "the tools they need to get a dynamic picture of the brain in action."

An early version of one of those tools already exists, scientists say. It's a relatively new set of techniques called optogenetics that allows researchers to control the activity of brain cells using light.

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Parallels
9:05 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

Venezualan Flights Are Dirt Cheap ... If You Can Get A Ticket

At the official rate, 1 U.S. dollar is worth 6.3 Venezuelan bolivars. But in a country with runaway inflation, the black market rate is about 60 bolivars to the dollar. This has made airfares extremely cheap for those using currency acquired on the black market.
Juan Barreto AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 4:35 pm

Reporter John Otis was looking for a flight to Venezuela. That may sound like a simple task, but air travel to and from that Latin American country turns out to be extremely complicated these days. Here's his story.

A direct flight from my home in Bogotá, Colombia, to Caracas, Venezuela, takes about 90 minutes. But when I tried to buy a ticket recently, none were available. I was offered a flight with an overnight stop in Miami, but that would have cost $5,000.

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Found Recipes
9:05 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

J.R. Ewing And A Found Recipe For Poppy Seed Cookies

Aunt Ida and Uncle Julie in Winthrop Beach, Mass., in the 1940s.
Courtesy of the Brass Sisters

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 1:36 pm

During the holidays, family kitchens are ground zero for intense craziness: mixers whirling, timers buzzing, knives flying. So yes, it's understandable that many of us just stay out of way of the experienced cook — especially when the knives come out and Mama is talking under her breath.

But by staying out, you're missing out.

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The Two-Way
9:04 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

It Was 50 Years Ago Today: 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' Hit U.S.

Paul McCartney, left, and John Lennon during a November 1963 Beatles show in London. The next month, the band had its first big hit in the U.S. and Beatlemania started to sweep America.
AP

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 9:13 am

  • The opening of 'I Want To Hold Your Hand'

If you don't smile after clicking "play" on the box above ... well, then either we're too old or you're too young.

It was 50 years ago today, Kabir Bhatia from member station WKSU in Cleveland reminds our Newscast Desk, that Capitol Records released the Beatles' I Want To Hold Your Hand in the U.S.

The fab four, as he says, had "sold millions of records in Europe throughout 1963, but had flopped in the U.S. after several releases on small, regional labels."

Then came I Want To Hold Your Hand.

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All Tech Considered
9:04 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

A Game With Heart, Gone Home Is A Bold Step In Storytelling

Billed as a "story exploration game," Gone Home has users exploring an empty house and piecing together why no one is home.
The Fullbright Company

Originally published on Sun December 29, 2013 3:35 pm

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Shots - Health News
9:03 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

Common Knee Surgery May Help No More Than A Fake Operation

Knee pain is common, but surgery isn't necessarily the answer, researchers say.
Inna Jacquemin iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 5:09 am

Go to the doctor with knee pain, and they might say you've got a meniscus tear and need surgery to fix it. But surgery for this common problem might not be any better at relieving pain than having no surgery at all, according to researchers who went to the trouble of performing fake surgery to find out.

The gold standard for medical research is a randomized controlled trial, but it's hard to sign people up if they might undergo pretend surgery.

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Shots - Health News
9:58 pm
Wed December 25, 2013

A Texas Social Worker Weighs Her Insurance Options

Tammy Boudreaux (right) with her partner, Laura Perez. Boudreaux is weighing the cost and benefits of purchasing health insurance.
Courtesy of Tammy Boudreaux

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 5:23 pm

Texas has the highest rate of uninsured people in the country, with almost 1 in 4 people going without coverage.

One of them is Tammy Boudreaux.

Boudreaux, 43, lives just outside of Houston and works as a freelance psychiatric social worker, with no benefits.

She has been skipping mammograms and other checkups for years. "It's worrisome," she says. "It's like gambling. Gambling with my health, and it is very frustrating."

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NPR Story
8:56 pm
Wed December 25, 2013

Gloria Estefan's Grammy Nominated Spin On 'The Standards'

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 2:15 pm

Miami songstress Gloria Estefan has been nominated for a Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album.

Her album, “The Standards“ features her take on not only hits from the Great American Songbook, but also Brazilian and Argentinean classics as well.

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The Two-Way
8:53 pm
Wed December 25, 2013

In Christmas Message, Snowden Tells Britons 'Privacy Matters'

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in an address televised Wednesday on Britain's Channel 4.
Screengrab/Channel 4

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 11:14 pm

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden had a Christmas Day warning for Britons: "A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all."

Britain's Channel 4 televised Snowden's short address as the network's "Alternative Christmas Message," an annual address delivered by a public figure that mimics the style of Queen Elizabeth's Royal Christmas Message. You can watch the full 1:43 video at Channel 4's website.

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Books
11:13 am
Wed December 25, 2013

Writing 'Rudolph': The Original Red-Nosed Manuscript

In 1939, Montgomery Ward in Chicago asked one of its admen to write a story for the department store's own children's book.
Rauner Special Collections Library Dartmouth College

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 8:20 am

Everybody knows Rudolph was the last reindeer to join Santa's crew, but few people know about the department store copywriter who brought his story to the world.

The year was 1939, the Great Depression was waning and a manager at Montgomery Ward in Chicago decided that the store should create its own children's book for the annual holiday promotion.

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Sweetness And Light
10:59 am
Wed December 25, 2013

No Rest For Ye Merry NBA Players This Christmas

Benny and the Elevators perform during the game between the NBA's Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets Dec. 25, 2012. The Bulls are one of 10 NBA teams playing on Christmas Day this year.
David Banks Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 4:04 pm

Holidays have long been made for sports. Football has all but replaced the turkey as the signature of Thanksgiving. For decades, Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day meant stadiums filled for baseball double-headers. It's almost as if games are now an excuse for holidays, rather than the other way around.

So I now wish you a Merry NBA Day! There will be five nationally televised pro basketball games, lasting 13 straight hours, on Wednesday.

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The Two-Way
10:58 am
Wed December 25, 2013

U.S. Embassy In Kabul Hit By Indirect Fire

Afghans stand near a crater from an attack reportedly targeting the U.S. Embassy in Kabul on Wednesday.
Ahmad Nazar AP

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 11:10 pm

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, was hit by indirect rocket fire Wednesday morning, officials say. NPR's Sean Carberry reports for our Newscast unit that no one was injured.

"They hit in an open area; they didn't strike any of the embassy buildings. There was no damage to embassy facilities, and there were no causalities," he said.

Embassy officials say they are investigating. Taliban insurgents claimed they fired rockets at the embassy, but they often make claims that turn out to be exaggerated or untrue.

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Code Switch
10:58 am
Wed December 25, 2013

The Best Of Code Switch In 2013

Like many Japanese-Americans, Yuri Kochiyama was place in an internment camp during World War II. She became an outspoken civil rights activist, and began an unlikely friendship with Malcolm X.
Courtesy of the Kochiyama family/UCLA Asian American Studies Center

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 4:19 pm

Everyone else is doing their year-end lists, and we didn't want to be left out. The Code Switch crew compiled our favorite and best-received coverage from the past year: a novel revisiting of a pivotal year a half century ago; attending homecoming at a historically black college that is now nearly all-white; and rounding up some alternately hilarious and excruciating stories our readers told us about race.

When Our Kids Own America

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