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3:52 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

Special Coverage: Obama's Year-End Remarks

President Barack Obama speaks during a press conference in the briefing room of the White House December 19, 2014 in Washington, D.C. Obama addressed the press before traveling with the first family on their annual Christmas beach vacation in the president's birth state of Hawaii. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 4:02 pm

Here & Now provided special coverage of the president’s remarks on Friday afternoon, before he and his family left for a Christmas vacation in Hawaii. The audio includes the entirety of the remarks and special coverage.

President Barack Obama praised the reopening of diplomatic relations with Cuba on Friday but said he doesn’t expect it to bring overnight change on the island, a quick end to the U.S. economic embargo or the likelihood that he will soon visit the communist nation.

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NPR Story
3:52 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

Obama: Sony Decision To Cancel Movie A 'Mistake'

President Barack Obama said Friday that Sony Pictures Entertainment “made a mistake” in shelving a satirical film about a plot to assassinate North Korea’s leader, and he vowed the United States will respond “in a place and manner and time that we choose” to a hack attack the FBI blamed on the secretive Communist regime.

Speaking of Sony executives, Obama said at a year-end news conference, “I wish they had spoken to me first. … We cannot have a society in which some dictatorship someplace can start imposing censorship.”

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Law
3:37 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

Sentenced For Life, Inmate Still Holds Hope For Release

David Padilla with his grandchildren. Seventeen years ago, a judge found Padilla guilty of conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute cocaine.
Courtesy of the Padilla Family

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 7:39 pm

Thousands of people sentenced under the tough drug laws of the 1980s and '90s are still behind bars, serving mandatory minimum prison sentences requiring them to spend decades, if not life, in prison. Nowadays people convicted of the same crimes serve far less time.

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The Two-Way
3:23 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

Apple Responds To BBC On Conditions At Asian iPhone Suppliers

People walk near several buildings of a Pegatron factory in Shanghai, China, in July 2013. Pegatron is a supplier for Apple products.
Eugene Hoshiko AP

Jeff Williams, Apple's senior vice president for operations, has responded to a BBC report that workers at Asian suppliers for the iPhone 6 are mistreated and overworked, saying he's "deeply offended" by the accusations.

In an email to some 5,000 Apple staff in the United Kingdom, Williams hit back at the British broadcaster's Panorama program, which sent in undercover reporters to observe conditions at the Pegatron factory, near Shanghai, where iPhones are assembled.

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The Two-Way
3:02 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

Michael Phelps Pleads Guilty To DUI

Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps was sentenced to 18 months' supervised probation today after pleading guilty to drunken driving.

He was arrested in September after leaving a casino in downtown Baltimore. Police documents show that he swerved over a yellow line while going 84 in 45-mph zone. Police say Phelps failed field sobriety tests and registered a 0.14 on a blood-alcohol test. In Maryland, the legal limit is 0.08.

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The Salt
2:50 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

Pride And Prejudice: For Latinos, Tamales Can Taste Of Both

Panamanian tamales stuffed with chicken and wrapped in bijao leaves — one of hundreds of interpretations of the dish found throughout Latin America.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Sat December 20, 2014 10:31 am

This Christmas Eve, many Latinos will celebrate the holiday by unwrapping delicious little presents: tamales.

At its essence, a tamale consists of masa (dough made from corn or another starch) that's been wrapped in aromatic leaves, then steamed or boiled. Some come bundled in corn husks, others in plantain, banana or mashan leaves. Some are sweetened with molasses or coconut milk, others spiced with mole or seasoned with achiote. Some are plain; others are filled with meat, cheese or vegetables.

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The Two-Way
2:22 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

Instagram Is Now Valued At $35 Billion By Citigroup Analysts

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 3:19 pm

Less than three years after Facebook purchased Instagram for $1 billion, the photo-sharing service is now worth $35 billion, according to analysts at Citigroup.

Instagram's user base has skyrocketed since the acquisition, in part because of its integration with Facebook but also because the purchase roughly coincided with the release of an Instagram app for Android smartphones.

Earlier this month, Instagram announced that it surpassed 300 million users.

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Shots - Health News
2:00 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

At Last, I Meet My Microbes

Lactobacillus acidophilus, which is one variety of the genus Lactobacillus is one of the common active cultures found in yogurt and in the human gut.
Scimat Scimat Getty Images/Photo Researchers

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 8:01 pm

A veritable jungle of organisms is helping keep each of us alive. But we've been rather negligent hosts. For starters, we don't even know who has shown up for the party.

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The Thistle & Shamrock
1:53 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

The Thistle & Shamrock: Alan Reid

Alan Reid.
Courtesy of the artist

Three decades after her journey into national radio started, host Fiona Ritchie meets up with the man who was her very first interview: Alan Reid, known for his long career with the legendary Battlefield Band.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR Story
1:50 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

Mixed Reaction As New York Bans Fracking

An opponent of the hydraulic fracturing holds a sign during a demonstration on March 20, 2014 in New York. The demonstrators say "fracking," the process used in natural gas drilling, is dangerous for water supplies and food sources. (Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images)

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 3:52 pm

This week, New York became the second state in the nation to ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Vermont’s ban, which was the first, was largely symbolic, as the state doesn’t have any real natural gas resources. New York, though, sits on the gas-rich Marcellus Shale, and the debate over whether to open it to fracking has been deeply emotional and contentious.

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The Two-Way
1:31 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

Obama's Wide-Ranging, Year-End News Conference

President Obama speaks in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House during a media briefing last month.
Manuel Balce Ceneta AP

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 6:02 pm

Updated at 6 p.m. ET

President Obama spoke to reporters in a year-end news conference at the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House.

One of the topics that came up was Sony Pictures Entertainment's decision to cancel distribution of the film The Interview following North Korea's cyber attack against the company's servers.

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NPR Story
1:30 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

Kurds Claim Victory In Northern Iraq

A member of the Kurdish forces stands next to an armored vehicle destroyed by an improvised explosive device placed by Islamic State militants that killed several Peshmerga fighters and injured dozens late Wednesday, when they pushed towards Sinjar Mountain, as they inspect the aftermath of the site in Kasr Reej, Iraq, Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces battling Islamic State militants managed on Thursday to open up a corridor to the mountain so that thousands of people from the country's Yazidi minority who have been trapped there can flee, said a senior Kurdish official. (Zana Ahmed/AP)

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 3:52 pm

Kurdish fighters are calling it their biggest victory yet over ISIS. They say they have broken the militants’ siege at Mount Sinjar, where thousands of minority Yazidis have been trapped for months.

The Kurds’ victory comes as the Pentagon reports that U.S. airstrikes have killed several high-ranking ISIS military leaders in Iraq. The BBC’s Jiyar Gol in Irbil, Iraq, brought us this report.

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NPR Story
1:30 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

Why El Salvador's Youth Are Fleeing

Photos of many of the “desaparecidos” — the “disappeared ones” (Courtesy of Norman Palomo)

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 3:52 pm

The immigration crisis involving thousands of unaccompanied minors coming from Central America this past summer, may seem far away, but one in three of the so-called “border kids” remain in the U.S.

The children live with their sponsors, usually a relative, while they wait their fate in immigration court. Many are seeking asylum – claiming gang related violence and extreme poverty threaten their lives if they were to go back to their country of origin.

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Movie Interviews
1:15 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

Meryl Streep: The Fresh Air Interview

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 1:48 pm

Meryl Streep won a Golden Globe for her performance as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. She talks about preparing for that role and how her perceptions of herself have changed over the years.

Originally broadcast Feb. 6, 2012.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

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Movie Reviews
1:15 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

The Strange World — And Life — Of 'Mr. Turner'

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 1:48 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

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Television
1:15 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

J.K. Simmons On Playing A Neo-Nazi On HBO's 'Oz'

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 1:48 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

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NPR Story
1:12 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

Preview: Obama's 2014 Year-End Press Conference

A member of the Secret Service walks outside the White House on December 18, 2014 in Washington, D.C. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 3:52 pm

Note: Here & Now will air live special coverage of the press conference, set to begin at 1:30 pm Eastern Time.

President Obama will finish up 2014 with his annual end-of-year press conference. He’s expected to cover a wide range of this year’s events, including:

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NPR Story
1:12 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

Obama Grants 'Christmas Clemency' To 20, Including 8 Drug Offenders

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 3:52 pm

This week, President Obama granted clemency to 20 people involved in America’s criminal justice system.

He pardoned 12 people convicted of crimes from 1964 to 1997, and commuted the sentences of eight federal inmates serving long sentences for drug offenses.

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NPR Story
1:12 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

What Christmas Does (Or Doesn't Do) For the Economy

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 7:33 pm

Is Christmas good for the economy? That’s the conventional thinking, but some economists believe that if Christmas didn’t exist, all of the shopping we do would actually be distributed more evenly throughout the year, and there might not be so much “deadweight loss,” i.e., that ugly sweater from your aunt that gets put in the back of the closet.

Derek Thompson has looked at some of the research and joins Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson to explain.

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NPR Story
1:12 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

A Journey From Wrestling Cage To Santa's Village

Mick Foley as Mankind in 1999, and as Santa Claus in 2014. (Courtesy of the WWE/Sean Hurley for NHPR)

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 3:52 pm

You start to notice them in late November — in malls, outside stores, at company parties — the deluge of Santas. But who are the men under the beards and beneath the red stocking caps?

The answer about one Santa may surprise you. From the Here & Now Contributors Network, Sean Hurley of New Hampshire Public Radio reports that sometimes Santa has a secret he wants to keep.

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