National News

Would You Like Health Insurance With Those Stocking Stuffers?

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-24 09:35

While shoppers rush to the mall to pick up the last neckties and Transformers for Christmas, health officials are trying to pitch them on an unconventional gift this holiday season: health insurance.

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U.S. Strikes Have Killed 1,100 ISIS Fighters and Cost $1 Billion

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-24 09:27

Spending exceeds $8 million per day. Operation Inherent Resolve, as the U.S.-led operation against the Islamic State is known, is getting its own inspector general to oversee government costs.

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China's Fierce Anti-Corruption Crackdown: An Insider's View

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-24 08:51

China's president has pushed hard to combat corruption. But he's meeting resistance from some bureaucrats who say their incomes have fallen because bribes are less common.

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Sony To Stream 'The Interview' On YouTube, Other Sites Starting Today

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-24 08:09

The studio said the comedy will also be available to rent on Google Play Microsoft's Xbox Video and a dedicated website at a price of $5.99. It's also being shown in more than 200 theaters.

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Son's Death 'Doesn't Make Any Sense,' Say Antonio Martin's Parents

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-24 08:08

Toni Martin-Green came forward last night to say it was her son who had been shot and killed in Berkeley, Missouri. Today, she says, "I am trying to remain calm."

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Contractor Freed By Cuba Will Get $3.2M From U.S.

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-24 07:23

A USAID official confirmed the payment to Alan Gross, who spent five years in a Cuban prison. It's part of a settlement with the Maryland-based company for which he worked at the time of his arrest.

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A Very Native American Christmas

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-24 07:11

For some Native Americans, Christmas has been a time for decorated trees, Santa Claus and lots of old traditions.

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Quiz: Students at the bar haven’t bounced back

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-12-24 07:09

Law school enrollment declined again in 2014.

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Teacher Wins $150,000 Prize — And Donates It All To Her School

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-24 05:54

Nikki Bollerman recently won a contest that gave books to her students. The third grade teacher, 26, decided the cash that came with it should also go to her school.

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25 Years After Death, A Dictator Still Casts A Shadow In Romania

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-24 05:44

Nicolae Ceausescu ruled with an iron fist for 25 years until he was overthrown and executed on Christmas Day in 1989. A quarter-century after his ouster, the country is still dealing with his legacy.

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New Blood Donation Rules Would Still Exclude Many Gay Men

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-24 05:33

The FDA recommends overturning a lifetime ban on blood donations by men who have sex with men. It's the right solution, but it still won't help me donate.

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Turkey's President And His 1,100-Room 'White Palace'

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-24 05:23

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the massive presidential complex is a symbol of Turkey's growing importance. But as one opposition politician puts it: Only dictators want to live in palaces.

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An Update On For-Profit Colleges

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-24 04:08

New regulations and new complaints for a troubled sector; a new owner for a troubled college.

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Former President George H.W. Bush Taken To Hospital

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-24 04:05

Former President George H.W. Bush, 90, is being kept at Houston Methodist Hospital for observation, his staff says.

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Jordanian Pilot Captured By Islamic State Militants

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-24 03:42

The Jordanian military confirmed the pilot was seized by the group. It said his aircraft had crashed, but the militants say they shot the plane down.

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Police Kill Young Man In St. Louis Area, Sparking New Anger

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-24 03:40

An man who was reportedly armed was shot and killed outside a gas station in a St. Louis suburb that's just two miles west of Ferguson. Police say the incident was captured on video.

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PODCAST: Christmas tree economy

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-12-24 03:00

First up on today's show, as the markets have been up in the U.S., we look at if this trend will continue into 2015. And we follow up on news that the CEO of Uber has been indicted by South Korea. Plus, ‘tis the season for Christmas trees. We profile a business that provides Christmas tree delivery service to residents ... by elves.

Guyanese Christmas Gives A Whole New Meaning To Slow Food

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-24 02:33

Two classic Christmas dishes beloved by the people of Guyana are pepperpot and garlic pork. To get the flavors just right, you have to cook them and let them sit out for weeks.

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Travel snafus delight retailers

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-12-24 02:00

While weather-related travel delays can throw a wrench into holiday plans, that doesn't mean it's bad news for everyone. After all, what do people do when they get stuck in an airport or decide to bail out on a traffic jam? Spend money.  

We look at who wins when travelers are the losers.

Click the media player above to hear more.

Some of Santa's elves are also lumberjacks

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-12-24 02:00

Most of the year, Brandon Johnson makes a living as a lumberjack. He runs a business in Minneapolis, Minn. trimming and clearing trees. But cold and snow make it hard to scale trees in the winter. 

So, Johnson came up with a side job for the holidays: delivering Christmas trees ... dressed as an elf.

“Essentially, I take all my guys from my tree business for the rest of the year and we just transition from lumberjacks to elves,” he says.

Johnson recently delivered a Christmas tree to a home in St. Paul. He was dressed in full elf attire: tight yellow pants and a green tunic.

“These were uniforms issued straight from the North Pole,” he says. “That's just what Santa requires for us elves.”

Johnson often blasts Christmas carols from the truck when he pulls up at a home. A big sign on the truck reads, "Santa's Tree Delivery."

Included in the standard $130 delivery package for a 7 foot Fraser fir is the chance for any children in the house to rub elbows with Santa's helper.

“How old is Santa Claus?” asked Ollie Koelb, the homeowner’s eight year-old granddaughter.

“I don’t know if anyone actually knows,” said Brandon the Elf. “He's getting up there. He's old.”

Johnson and two of his elf pals have delivered roughly 100 trees around the Minneapolis-St. Paul area this season. Johnson says the big trees are the most profitable. He can charge as much as $450 for a sixteen-footer.

Johnson hopes to ramp up the business next year with a big marketing campaign and more man — or elf — power to speed the deliveries, maybe even out of state.

Visit MPR News to check out more photos from the elves' deliveries.