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11:58 am
Sun January 5, 2014

The Campaign For Jobless Benefits Begins In Congress

Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., along with Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., is co-sponsoring the three-month extension of unemployment benefits up for a vote in Congress this week.
Win McNamee Getty Images

The Senate gets back to work Monday after a two-week holiday break. Just as Majority Leader Harry Reid promised, the first piece of legislation getting a vote will be a three-month extension of the long-term unemployment benefits that ran out a week ago for 1.3 million jobless Americans.

Though the Senate unemployment measure is bipartisan, it's not clear it has enough votes to beat a GOP filibuster. Regardless, Democrats are banging the drum on the issue as a midterm election year begins.

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The Two-Way
11:50 am
Sun January 5, 2014

Pope Francis Says He'll Visit Holy Land In May

Pope Francis arrives for the Angelus noon prayer Sunday, during which he announced he would travel to Israel, the West Bank and Jordan on May 24-26. It would be Francis' first visit to the Holy Land.
Alessandra Tarantino AP

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 12:21 pm

The pope says he'll visit the Holy Land in May.

Pope Francis made the announcement Sunday while giving his weekly blessing at the Vatican.

"In the climate of joy, typical of this Christmas season, I wish to announce that from 24 to 26 May next, God willing, I will make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land," he said.

The pope is expected to visit Israel, Jordan and the West Bank.

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The Two-Way
11:26 am
Sun January 5, 2014

Israel's Sharon Fights For Life, But Doctors 'Pessimistic'

Former Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has been in a coma since 2006, but his condition is now deteriorating.
Oded Balilty AP

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 3:41 pm

The outlook for Ariel Sharon's survival is "pessimistic," but the former Israeli prime minister is "fighting like a lion."

That's according to Dr. Zeev Rotstein, the head of the Chaim Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv where Sharon is being treated.

At a news conference this weekend, Rotstein said Sharon's condition was still critical, and that his organs weren't functioning. But, he added, doctors had stabilized the former leader's blood pressure and pulse.

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The Two-Way
10:52 am
Sun January 5, 2014

U.S. Icebreaker On The Way To Rescue Ships Trapped In Antarctic

The U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Polar Star, seen here in 1999, has been sent to help free Russian ship Akademik Shokalskiy and Chinese icebreaker Xue Long, which are gripped by Antarctic ice.
U.S. Coast Guard Handout Photo Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 6:09 am

A U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker is sailing to Antarctica to rescue more than 120 crew members still aboard two ships trapped in the frozen continent. That's after the news that 52 scientists and paying passengers trapped aboard one of those vessels — the Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy — were on their way home.

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Food
10:51 am
Sun January 5, 2014

Eating Tea And Other Food Predictions For 2014

Tea leaves will be big in entrees and desserts in 2014.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 12:44 pm

At the beginning of every year, we read the tea leaves to see what new food trends we'll be tasting in the coming months. This year, the tea itself is the trend.

Tea leaves will be big in entrees, desserts and, of course, cocktails. Starbucks has opened its first tea shop.

We won't be just drinking tea; Artisan distilling keeps on growing. This could be the year of gin, made with local botanicals as well as the traditional juniper berry.

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Around the Nation
10:12 am
Sun January 5, 2014

No Relief Forecast After One Of California's Driest Years Ever

Downtown Los Angeles peeps through the distance and dry brush. Many cities in California closed out 2013 as the driest year since record-keeping began more than a century ago.
Nick Ut AP

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 11:13 am

It's a near-perfect morning on Venice Beach in Southern California, temperatures in the 60s, with a breeze. You can hear the waves of the Pacific crash against the sand. Only a layer of clouds mars the scene.

Scott and Sue Nolan, visiting from Houston, play kickball in the sand with their son. They are grateful to be in this mild, if not perfectly sunny weather, but Sue Nolan has noticed something's not right.

"One of the thoughts, when we were driving through town was, how are they sustaining all this with what you see so dry everywhere?" she says.

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Bonus Round: Ask Me Another
10:02 am
Sun January 5, 2014

Day 12: It's A New Year, So Keep Your Brain Sharp

Puzzle guru Art Chung has a question or two for you.
Steve Petrucelli
  • Listen to 'Replacement Math'

This is the twelfth day of Ask Me Another's 12 Days of Xmas series.

What do you get when you add Jay-Z's 'Problems' to Three Dog Night's 'Loneliest Number'? In this Season One bonus round, titled "Replacement Math," puzzle guru Art Chung challenges contestants to solve simple arithmetic problems using numbers found in pop culture. Calculus is a lot less scary when it involves your favorite band.

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The Two-Way
9:58 am
Sun January 5, 2014

At Least 20 Dead In Baghdad Blasts; Fighting In Anbar Continues

An Iraqi riot police officer flashes the V-sign as his unit returns to its headquarters from clashes with al-Qaida fighters in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, in the restive Anbar Province.
Nabil al-Jurani AP

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 4:24 pm

More news Sunday of violence in Iraq: At least 20 people are dead in the capital, Baghdad, following a wave of bombings.

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The Two-Way
9:11 am
Sun January 5, 2014

New York Weighs Easing Limits On Marijuana Use

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is reportedly considering allowing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Tim Roske AP

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 4:03 pm

New York may join a group of states that have loosened restrictions on marijuana: Gov. Andrew Cuomo is reportedly considering allowing the use of the drug for medicinal purposes.

The New York Times first reported the story. Here's more from the paper:

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The Two-Way
8:22 am
Sun January 5, 2014

'Polar Vortex' Brings Bitter Cold, Heavy Snow To U.S.

A woman cross-country skis in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Saturday. The National Weather Service is warning of "life-threatening wind chill" amid a record-breaking cold spell that has enveloped much of the nation.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 12:08 pm

When the National Weather Service warns of "life-threatening wind chill" affecting the Northern and Central parts of the country, you'd better pay attention.

Here's what it says:

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It's All Politics
8:10 am
Sun January 5, 2014

How Media Outlets Sometimes Agree To Agree

Nelson Mandela was not always the universally revered figure he's become.
Filippo Monteforte AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 9:42 am

When former South African President Nelson Mandela died last month, he was celebrated around the world, lauded in this country by politicians who range as far apart on the ideological spectrum as President Obama and Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz.

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Around the Nation
8:01 am
Sun January 5, 2014

Despite Scandals, Nation's Crime Labs Have Seen Little Change

Annie Dookhan, a former chemist, during her arraignment in Brockton, Mass., in January 2013.
Jessica Rinaldi Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 12:33 pm

The nation's crime labs are no strangers to scandal. Last year in Massachusetts, bogus testing by former chemist Annie Dookhan called into question tens of thousands of cases and led to the release of more than 300 people from the state's prisons.

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Music Interviews
8:01 am
Sun January 5, 2014

Nash, Ronstadt Remember The Everlys' 'Sibling Sound'

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 8:55 am

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Phil Everly, half of the whole that was the Everly Brothers, died on Friday at the age of 74. The brothers were rock pioneers, and their style, including those close, unmistakable vocal harmonies, influenced a generation of musicians.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WAKE UP LITTLE SUSIE")

THE EVERLY BROTHERS: (Singing) Wake up little Susie, wake up. Wake up little Susie, wake up. We've both been sound asleep. Wake up little Susie and weep...

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Research News
8:01 am
Sun January 5, 2014

Searching For The Science Behind Reincarnation

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 11:13 am

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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Digital Life
8:01 am
Sun January 5, 2014

Wistful For Atari? Internet Archive Supplies Classic Games

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 11:13 am

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

These days, the middle aged gamer who enjoys Call of Duty after putting the baby to bed probably grew up on the games of the Atari - or maybe even maybe the Apple IIe. Nostalgic? Well, there is a cure out there. The Internet Archive is an archive of historically important software. And it's made hundreds of classic video games available for free play right in your browser. Casey Johnston writes for Ars Technica. It's an online tech news magazine. And she played some of these games. She's here to chat with us about it. Hey, Casey.

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Sports
8:01 am
Sun January 5, 2014

It's Winter, Time For NFL Teams To Shed Their Coaches

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 11:13 am

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Time now for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: And it is coach firing season in the NFL. A new year brings in a batch of new head coaches. More on who's gotten the axe and who's signing shiny new contracts in a moment, but first we have some of last night's games to talk about.

NPR's Mike Pesca joins us to run through them. Hey, Mike.

MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Hey.

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Education
8:01 am
Sun January 5, 2014

GED Gets A Makeover To Keep Pace With Changing Workforce

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 11:13 am

The GED test is getting an overhaul. The exam has historically served adults who have fallen through the cracks of the educational system. NPR's Rachel Martin talks with Anthony Carnevale, director of the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University, about the impact of the new GED exams.

Interviews
8:01 am
Sun January 5, 2014

A Novice Reporter Begins His Journey In The Congo

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 11:13 am

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Anjan Sundaram had all kinds of options in the late summer of 2005. He had a master's in mathematics from Yale, a lucrative job offer from Goldman Sachs; and he was just about to begin a Ph.D. But he left all that behind and made a dramatically different choice. He headed to the Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the worst conflict zones in the world, to try to start a career in journalism. At the time, the death count in that war was more than 4 million people. That number continues to rise.

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Africa
8:01 am
Sun January 5, 2014

Peace Talks Delayed As Conditions In South Sudan Worsen

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 11:13 am

After a short delay, peace talks between mediators and delegates for the warring parties in South Sudan have opened in Ethiopia. NPR's Rachel Martin talks with The New York Times' Nicholas Kulish about the violence there and prospects for the negotiations.

Politics
8:01 am
Sun January 5, 2014

Debt Ceiling, Immigration Confrontations Loom In Congress

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 11:13 am

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

As we just heard, jobless benefits are a top priority for Congress when lawmakers get back to work tomorrow. But of course, there are more big issues to resolve. And joining us to run through the rest of the 2014 congressional agenda is NPR's political correspondent Mara Liasson. Hi, Mara.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Hi, Rachel.

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