World

The Two-Way
1:31 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Prisoner Exchange With Cuba Led To Freedom For Top U.S. Intelligence Agent

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 2:22 pm

Today's announcement that Cuba freed USAID contractor Alan Gross as a humanitarian gesture came with news of a separate prisoner exchange: Three convicted Cuban spies were traded for a U.S. intelligence asset who spent nearly two decades in Cuban prisons.

President Obama called the unnamed man "one of the most important intelligence agents that the United States has ever had in Cuba."

Read more
The Two-Way
1:26 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

New Cuba Policy Is Met With Cheers And Jeers On Both Sides Of The Aisle

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 3:46 pm

Updated at 3:42 p.m.

The Obama administration announced today that it would begin the process of re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba.

It's a contentious issue, and reaction has been swift. Here's a roundup:

Read more
NPR Story
1:22 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

In The Media: Torture By Any Other Name

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 2:40 pm

We hear it called “brutal questioning,” “enhanced interrogation,” sometimes even “torture,” and when the Senate Intelligence Committee released the findings of its report on the CIA’s interrogation techniques, the longstanding debate on what to call the practice reignited.

Read more
NPR Story
1:22 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

DJ Sessions: Best Songs Of 2014

Pictured are artists featured in this week's DJ Sessions. Clockwise from top left: Cherub (cherubmusica.com), Shamir (Facebook), Ty Segall (alan/Flickr) and Courtney Barnett (Facebook).

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 2:40 pm

In today’s installment of DJ Sessions, DJs Anne Litt and Travis Holcombe of KCRW join Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson to listen back to some of the best sounds of 2014, including songs from Courtney Barnett, Ty Segall, Caribou, Shamir and Cherub.

Read more
The Salt
1:13 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

A Holy Land Christmas Porridge Honors A Damsel In Distress

In Jerusalem, Syrian Orthodox Christian Nadia Ishaq prepares her burbara porridge with boiled what kernels, raisins, dried plums and dried apricots, topped with ground coconut in the shape of a cross. The holiday honors St. Barbara, an early convert to Christianity whose story is echoed in the Rapunzel tale.
Daniella Cheslow for NPR

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 4:19 pm

The winter holidays are a time of abundance, but for Christians in the Middle East, the official start of the Christmas season is marked by a decidedly rustic dish: porridge.

Archbishop Swerios Murad of the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem says his congregation will eat boiled wheat kernels this week to mark the Feast of St. Barbara, or Eid el-Burbara in Arabic.

"It's a simple porridge," Murad tells The Salt, "but it's very important that it be sweet."

Read more
The Two-Way
1:01 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Book News: Sci-Fi Writer Signs On As 'Chief Futurist' For Secretive Startup

In a blog post, Neal Stephenson says it's time that people develop a new medium, "one in which three-dimensionality is a reality and not just an illusion laboriously cooked up by your brain."
Madeleine Ball NPR

It seems we have a new case of life following art. Over two decades ago, in his seminal novel Snow Crash, science fiction author Neal Stephenson imagined a virtual world he called a "metaverse," a collective virtual reality that brought its users together in a single shared space. Now, Stephenson is trying his hand at helping sculpt another kind of alternate reality--this time not in print, but in life at large.

Read more
Goats and Soda
12:13 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Medical Workers In Conflict Zones Have Never Faced Greater Risks

Dr. Mohammed Arif helps treat a wounded patient at a field hospital in Kobani, Syria. Most of the clinics in this besieged Syrian border town are now in ruins. Only one still stands, its location kept secret lest it be targeted.
Jake Simkin AP

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 4:26 pm

Last month, American aid worker Peter Kassig was executed in Syria by the Islamic State militant group. The 26-year-old emergency medical technician had worked in hospitals, clinics and refugee camps throughout the region for more than two years. He was known for treating anyone who needed him, regardless of political affiliation. In a country like Syria, that kind of openness is both a statement of integrity and a huge personal risk.

Read more
Shots - Health News
12:06 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Behind The Scenes At The Lab That Fingerprints Microbiomes

Rob Knight, co-founder of the American Gut Project at the University of Colorado in Boulder, works in the lab where the samples are processed.
The American Gut Project

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 5:32 pm

The gut microbiome may soon reveal important answers to questions about our health. But those answers aren't yet easy to spot or quick to obtain.

Read more
The Salt
11:32 am
Wed December 17, 2014

Way Beyond Brownies: Vice Launches A Marijuana Cooking Show

Aurora Leveroni, 91, is also known as "Nonna Marijuana."
Vice

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 1:03 pm

On Sunday, my mother sent me an email: "OMG! Watch this unbelievable cooking show!"

It wasn't spam, and my mother, who's 65, does not use OMG lightly.

The fuss was over a 20-minute video about a 91-year-old grandmother who cooks Italian classics in marijuana-infused butter.

Read more
U.S.
11:29 am
Wed December 17, 2014

Cuba, U.S. Agree To Prisoner Release Including American Alan Gross

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

Parallels
11:19 am
Wed December 17, 2014

A Tweet On Women's Veils, Followed By Raging Debate In Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabian women wear their traditional face covering, the niqab, at a coffee and chocolate exhibition in the capital Riyadh on Monday. A prominent religious figure said on Twitter that the face veil is not mandatory, sparking a heated national debate.
Fayez Nureldine AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 1:48 pm

The man at the eye of the storm in Saudi Arabia is Ahmad Aziz Al Ghamdi. He's a religious scholar, the former head of the religious police in Mecca, a group officially known as the Committee for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.

Read more
The Two-Way
11:05 am
Wed December 17, 2014

Polls Show Cuban-American Views On U.S.-Cuba Relations Are Nuanced

Men play chess at the Maximo Gomez Domino park in Little Havana in Miami, where political opinions are shifting.
Roberto Schmidt AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 12:07 pm

With news that the United States will work toward re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba and easing the embargo, there is already talk about the reaction in the Cuban-American community.

In political terms, this is a major voting bloc in the hugely important swing state of Florida.

Read more
13.7: Cosmos And Culture
10:48 am
Wed December 17, 2014

Black Holes And Our Cosmic Future

iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 10:06 am

With the movies Interstellar and The Theory of Everything out, black holes are in the news, exciting people's imagination.

Read more
The Two-Way
9:59 am
Wed December 17, 2014

Church Of England Names Its First Female Bishop

The Rev. Libby Lane will be consecrated on Jan. 26.
Nigel Roddis Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 10:54 am

The Church of England has named its first female bishop.

The Rev. Libby Lane, who has been a parish priest for 20 years, will be consecrated on Jan. 26, becoming the first woman to hold that position since the church was founded five centuries ago.

Read more
The Two-Way
9:28 am
Wed December 17, 2014

Obama Unveils 'New Approach' On Cuba As Former Foes Chart New Course

President Obama announced Wednesday that the U.S. will work with Cuba to normalize diplomatic ties.
Doug Mills UPI /Landov

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 2:41 pm

Updated at 2:39 p.m. ET

President Obama announced today the most significant change in U.S. policy toward Cuba in more than 50 years, paving the way for the normalization of relations and the opening of a U.S. Embassy in Havana.

Obama said "we will end an outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries."

Read more
All Songs TV
8:03 am
Wed December 17, 2014

Watch 'Road Dawgs,' A Mini-Documentary About Future Islands

Winners chronicles Future Islands' success following the band's performance of "Seasons (Waiting On You)" on Letterman.
Courtesy of the artist

Read more
The Two-Way
8:01 am
Wed December 17, 2014

In Pictures: After Horrific Attack, Pakistan Picks Up The Pieces

The uncle and cousin of injured student Mohammad Baqair (center) comfort him as he mourns the death of his mother, who was a teacher at the school that was attacked.
Mohammad Sajjad AP

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 12:15 pm

Pakistan is picking up the pieces today after an attack on a school by Taliban militants left 145 people dead.

It's a heart-wrenching story. We've collected the news in a different post. Here, we'll tell the story visually, but fair warning — the photographs are representative of the horrific attack, so they're tough to look at:

Read more
Animals
7:26 am
Wed December 17, 2014

Stray Cat In Russia Feasts On Fish

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 11:29 am

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

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Read more
The Two-Way
7:20 am
Wed December 17, 2014

As Pakistan Mourns, Prime Minister Removes Moratorium On Death Penalty

Chairs are upturned and blood stains the floor at the Army Public School auditorium the day after Taliban gunmen stormed the school in Peshawar, Pakistan.
B.K. Bangash AP

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 8:27 am

A day after a horrific Taliban attack on a school that left 145 people dead, Pakistan began to take stock.

Read more

Pages