National News

In Britain, A Christmas Tradition Of Slapstick And Silliness

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-25 12:16

For centuries, British families have celebrated the Christmas season by attending "pantomimes," silly musical comedies of stories such as Aladdin and Cinderella. The tradition is alive and well today.

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For Venezuela, Drop In Global Oil Prices Could Be Catastrophic

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-25 12:16

The South American nation is home to the world's largest oil reserves and earns most of its foreign reserves from oil. It faced a deep economic crisis even before petroleum prices began their plunge.

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Low Gas Prices Predicted For 2015 And Beyond

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-25 12:16

Prices at the pump have dipped below $2 a gallon in some parts of the country this month, with average prices more than one-third lower than this summer. Analysts say that trend is likely to continue.

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Employers Help Legal Immigrants On Path To Citizenship

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-25 12:16

Some firms are helping their legal immigrant employees by bringing citizenship workshops and legal assistance to the jobsite. About 100 companies in seven cities are participating in the program.

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What Would Jesus Drink? A Class Exploring Ancient Wines Asks

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-25 12:16

The details of wine and winemaking practices in biblical times are debated among experts. But we do know that vino in Christ's day was very different from what we imbibe today.

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Why Bury Fig Trees? A Curious Tradition Preserves A Taste Of Italy

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-25 12:16

For generations, Italian-American fig growers in the Northeast have buried their trees in trenches for the winter. It's a tradition that preserves both flavor and ancestral ties to southern Italy.

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Where Ebola Has Closed Schools, A Radio Program Provides A Faint Signal Of Hope

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-25 12:16

1.5 million children are out of school in Liberia. It's possible kids may not return to class until spring.

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Father Of Jordanian Pilot Held By ISIS Issues Plea For His Release

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-25 11:33

The father of 26-year-old Flight Lt. Moaz al-Kaseasbeh, urged his son's Islamic State captors to treat him well and set him free because "we are all Muslims."

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You can copyright music, so why not a food recipe?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-12-25 11:29

Entrepreneurs and business owners constantly face intense competition in attracting new customers and retaining old ones. They must stand out and be original. Which is why people register their original creations with the United States Copyright Office, to legally protect the logo, design, literary work, architecture, etc., that they have spent so much time and money on.  

But would you be able to do the same thing for, say, your homemade sugar cookies? Or any other food recipe for that matter?

Unfortunately, nope. Anyone can pass off your grandmother's recipe that's been passed through generations. "You can't copyright the ingredients or steps necessary to make the cookie," says Jane Ginsburg, professor at Columbia Law School.

After 522 Years, Spain Seeks To Make Amends For Expulsion Of Jews

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-25 08:11

Spain's monarchy decimated the Jewish population by expelling, killing or forcibly converting Jews in 1492. Now the country is offering their descendants Spanish citizenship.

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Sean Parker donates $24 million for allergy research

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-12-25 07:57

Sean Parker, the tech entrepreneur who founded Napster and the first president of Facebook, donated $24 million to Stanford University to create a center for allergy research.

Parker suffered from severe food allergies all his life, and with his gift, joins a long line of philanthropists who have given large donations to cure or alleviate diseases that affect them personally.

Parker and other young tech entrepreneurs differ slightly from their predecessors in that they're likely to donate large sums directly to an academic or medical institution rather than starting a foundation of their own. 

Retailers hope for one last Christmas shopping push

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-12-25 07:53

Just like past years, stores will open early on December 26 to try to draw shoppers in with deep discounts. It’s a way for retailers to get one last revenue push before the new year, and to clear inventory that didn’t sell before Christmas. 

This year, the calendar is more favorable than usual for retailers because of the three-day weekend. Many workers will take off Friday — and hopefully shop. “Giving people more time to shop, giving them a little bit more room, and giving them a little bit more money in their pocket thanks to lower gas prices, could make a difference for retailers,” says Claes Bell, an analyst at

Economist Chris Christopher at IHS says consumers are heading into 2015 more optimistic about job prospects and personal finances than in previous years. He predicts retail sales for the 2014 holiday season will rise more than 4 percent, compared to the 3.1 percent increases in 2012 and 2013.

At a Christmas Eve open-air craft market called "Festival of the Last-Minute" in Portland, Oregon, shoppers were mixed on whether they wanted to go back out for more shopping on the post-Christmas weekend. “I have in the past, but I probably won’t now, I probably won’t brave the crowds,” says Britt Fredrickson, who has two young children. “I just don’t need any more stuff right now.”

But Jessica Martin-Weber, who has six daughters, said she’s looking forward to getting out. “My husband and I typically get the day after Christmas or the day after that, where we go catch a movie and we do some shopping.”

Sierra Leone Puts North On Lockdown Amid Ebola Spread

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-25 06:59

The country that has been hardest-hit by the ongoing outbreak of the deadly virus, has shut down shops, markets and most travel in the north.

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Peaceful Protests In Missouri After Latest Police Shooting

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-25 05:55

A few hundred gathered for a vigil and march for 18-year-old Antonio Martin, who was fatally shot by a police officer on Tuesday.

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Pope Francis: 'Many Tears This Christmas'

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-25 04:46

In his annual Christmas Day blessing, the pontiff condemned killing in Iraq, Syria and Pakistan and the "brutal persecution" of religious and ethnic minorities.

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NYPD Sorts Out Threats, Plans Funerals For Liu And Ramos

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-25 04:10

Police in New York City are monitoring threats made against officers and are upping security at some stationhouses.

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'The Interview' Gets Nationwide Theatrical Release

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-25 03:36

Nearly 300 independent theaters are showing the comedy, which Sony Pictures had originally pulled following threats. The studio is also showing the movie on streaming services.

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Ebola Survivor: "You Feel Like ... Maybe ... A Ghost"

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-25 03:03

Outside St. Joseph's Catholic Hospital in Liberia, Dr. Senga Omeonga muses over the weeks he spent at an Ebola ward — not as a doctor, but as a patient. He says the experience was life-changing.

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Would you like a cat with your cappuccino?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-12-25 02:30

It’s 10:00 AM and Sara Pritchard is at a cafe in Oakland. But instead of tapping at a computer or chatting with a friend, she’s stalking the room looking for the perfect cat to snuggle. She's at the new Cat Town Cafe, the first Cat Cafe in America.

There are cats sleeping under cat murals, cats pouncing on feather toys, there are even cats climbing on a miniature downtown Oakland. These coffee shops filled with cats are starting to open around the country. They’ve been a phenomenon in Japan, have spread across Europe, and have recently invaded Denver and Manhattan.

But if you think there will be a Siamese lounging on the biscotti, think again. The Cat Zone is separated from the coffee shop by a small hallway; an air lock, or as they call it, a “hairlock.” Staff from the food area can’t enter the Cat Zone during their shift and vice-versa. But patrons are welcome to bring their food in — that is the point after all.

But Cat Town is not a cafe that has cats, it’s an adoption center that lures in humans with its coffee shop.

“For me, this is cat rescue first and foremost. And the measure for me is how many cats are getting adopted,” says Cat Town Cafe founder Ann Dunn.

Cat Town makes it its mission to find homes for cats that aren’t doing well at the shelter. Dunn and her staff were at it for over three years before they opened the cafe. “This, hopefully, will become a model: cage free. Put them in an environment where they’ll thrive, and they’ll get adopted more quickly,” says Dunn.

It’s like the rebranding of cat adoption — and it’s working. A brown tabby named Anchor had been at the shelter for  four months, but once he arrived, Anchor found a home within 2 hours. Before the cafe opened, Cat Town adopted out about a dozen felines a month. After two months here, that number is up to 59.

Actually, make that 60.

“We're getting a cat!” Sarah Pritchard just made a friend: Guthrie. “There in the little bed right now, with the yellow eyes,” Pritchard says.

So the next time you grab a latte, you might leave with a new family member.

New minimum wage laws bring Walmart pay raises

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-12-25 02:00

Walmart is raising wages. The country’s largest private retailer says it’s doing so in order to stay in compliance with 21 states raising their minimum wages in the new year. But, while it might seem counter-intuitive, paying higher wages could mean a better bottom line, not just for workers, but also for Walmart.

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