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The Two-Way
2:27 pm
Fri December 23, 2011

Britain's Prince Philip Is Hospitalized

(FILES) A file picture taken in June shows Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, attending a reception at Buckingham Palace.
John Stillwell AFP/Getty Images

After experiencing chest pains, Britain's Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, has been hospitalized.

The AP reports:

Prince Philip, 90, was taken from Sandringham, the queen's sprawling estate in rural Norfolk, to the cardiac unit at Papworth Hospital in Cambridge for "precautionary tests," a spokeswoman for Buckingham Palace said.

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The Two-Way
2:10 pm
Fri December 23, 2011

Another Mass Protest Expected In Russia This Weekend

Alexei Navalny, a leader of Russia's political opposition, speaks at a meeting to discuss a Dec. 24 opposition rally protesting election results in Moscow.
Mikhail Metzel AP

Originally published on Fri December 23, 2011 2:15 pm

Tens of thousands are expected on the streets of Moscow tomorrow. As The Guardian reports, 50,000 have said they will show up on "Moscow's Sakharov Prospect, named after the late leading Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov," and thousands more will march across the country.

As we've reported, the protests stem from disputed parliamentary elections and come months before a crucial presidential election that will test Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's 12-year hold on power.

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Monkey See
2:00 pm
Fri December 23, 2011

For 'Downton' Fans, A New Season And A New Book

Brendan Coyle is John Bates and Joanne Froggatt is Anna Smith in Downton Abbey, which returns January 8 to PBS.
Nick Briggs PBS/Masterpiece

Originally published on Thu December 29, 2011 6:08 am

It's almost here. And by "it," we mean the new season of Downton Abbey, the UK-produced drama about the Crawley family and their servants that PBS imported for Masterpiece Classic with great success. Series two has already run in the UK, but if you've been good and patient and resisted the urge to obtain it by illicit means, your wait is nearly over: the new season begins on PBS on January 8th.

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Science
1:50 pm
Fri December 23, 2011

Taj Hotel Staff Were Mumbai's Unlikely Heroes

Indian firefighters attempt to put out a fire as smoke billows out of the historic Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai, which was stormed by armed gunmen in November 2008.
Indranil Mukherjee AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 23, 2011 8:18 pm

On Nov. 26, 2008, terrorists simultaneously attacked about a dozen locations in Mumbai, India, including one of the most iconic buildings in the city, the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel.

For two nights and three days, the Taj was under siege, held by men with automatic weapons who took some people hostage, killed others and set fire to the famous dome of the hotel.

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Music Interviews
1:30 pm
Fri December 23, 2011

Songs To Annoy You This Holiday Season

Twisted Sister in 2008, posing backstage at a live performance of its holiday album, A Twisted Christmas.
Mark Weiss WireImage

This is the time of year that either has you humming about a one-horse open sleigh or bah-humbugging the various versions of "Jingle Bells" you've heard in stores, on hold and in commercials. Wherever you reside on the Christmas cheer spectrum, we have something to annoy even those who wear reindeer sweaters.

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Shots - Health Blog
1:13 pm
Fri December 23, 2011

Poked and Prodded For 65 Years, In The Name Of Science

Experiences in youth shape our health in old age. That's the key lesson from the world's longest-running medical study.
iStockPhoto.com

One night in early March, well over a hundred people gathered together in the British Library in central London to celebrate their collective 65th birthday.

I was lucky enough to tag along.

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Commentary
1:00 pm
Fri December 23, 2011

Week In Politics: Tax Break Extension

Robert Siegel speaks with our regular political commentators, E.J. Dionne, of the Washington Post and Brookings Institution, and David Brooks, of the New York Times. They discuss the two-month extension for a tax break and unemployment benefits signed into law.

The Impact of War
12:48 pm
Fri December 23, 2011

Marines Say Afghanistan Forever Changed Their Lives

Josh Apsey, then an 18-year-old lance corporal, bumps fists with his dad through a bus window as he begins his trip to Afghanistan in 2009. Apsey is still in the Marines, serving in Virginia, and says the war in Afghanistan made him a different person.
John W. Poole NPR

Daron Diepenbruck and Josh Apsey were members of the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment — called "America's Battalion." NPR followed that battalion in 2009, on the homefront and in battle in Afghanistan. The two Marines are back home now. One left the military; the other stayed in. Their lives have changed dramatically, as Catherine Welch found out.

Daron Diepenbruck was on his last deployment when something happened that changed his life. One of his good friends was out on patrol.

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Shots - Health Blog
12:43 pm
Fri December 23, 2011

Two Strengths Of Infant Acetaminophen Boost Confusion, Risk

At first glance, the new safer concentration looks like the old.
Melissa Forsyth NPR

When makers of acetaminophen for infants said back in May that they were reducing the strength of the medicine so it would be less likely that babies would be accidentally given too much, it all made sense.

Some infant acetaminophen had as much as 80 milligrams of acetaminophen in a milliliter, while products for older children had less than half that.

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The Two-Way
12:40 pm
Fri December 23, 2011

Turns Out, Pigeons Are Just As Good As Monkeys When It Comes To Math

A pigeon counting.
William van der Vliet University of Otago

Scientists have found that pigeons are much smarter than we give them credit for and can be taught some complex abstract math. This is stunning because it's trait that has only been shown in primates. But according to a report in the current issue of the journal Science, researchers were able to teach pigeons abstract rules about math.

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Remembrances
12:00 pm
Fri December 23, 2011

Remembering Some Remarkable Lives Lost In 2011

Clockwise From Top: Courtesy Sondra Russell; Al Pereira/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images; Martin Cohen; kaiscapes via Flickr.

Originally published on Thu January 3, 2013 10:22 am

Each year, Talk of the Nation reaches out to colleagues and friends at NPR for their help in remembering some of the men and women who died during the previous 12 months. They responded with personal stories about the people who inspired them.

In our sixth annual obituary show, we talk about the lives and careers of remarkable men and woman who did not make headlines when they died, but whose lives still made an indelible impact. NPR's Neda Ulaby, Sonari Glinton and Andy Carvin are among those who share their remembrances.

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The Salt
11:11 am
Fri December 23, 2011

Feds Trash Old Proposal on Animal Antibiotics

Adrian Mesa protests the overuse of antibiotics in meat production outside a Burger King in Coral Gables, Fla. in 2003.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Have you ever come across a dust-covered "to-do" list, filled with tasks that you never actually finished because they were unpleasant, you just weren't in the mood, or you found something easier to do instead?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has one of those lists. It's 34-years-old. And the agency decided this week to throw it in the garbage.

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Shots - Health Blog
11:11 am
Fri December 23, 2011

Critics Say Obama's Efforts To Protect Science Are Slow and Weak

Did politics trump science when it came to Plan B?
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Originally published on Tue December 27, 2011 9:00 am

Critics cried foul when Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled the Food and Drug Administration earlier this month, saying that teenage girls can't buy the emergency contraceptive plan B without a prescription. Their complaint: That the move went against the Obama administration's stated goal of protecting science from the taint of politics.

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The Two-Way
11:10 am
Fri December 23, 2011

Dozens Killed In Syria: Regime Blames Terrorists, Opposition Blames Regime

A crater left by an explosion at the site of a suicide attack today in Damascus.
Louai Beshara AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 23, 2011 2:59 pm

"Twin suicide car bomb blasts ripped through an upscale Damascus district Friday, targeting security and intelligence buildings and killing at least 40 people" according to authorities, The Associated Press writes.

NPR's Deborah Amos says it's the "first such attack since the beginning of a 10-month revolt" against President Bashar Assad's regime.

Now there's the question of who is responsible.

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The Two-Way
11:02 am
Fri December 23, 2011

In Tough Times, A Simple Request Of Santa

A letter to Santa from six-year-old Jaelynn Riden.
Salvation Army

With the economy the way it is, we've heard plenty of stories about the heartbreaking requests children are making to Santa.

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Politics
9:50 am
Fri December 23, 2011

What's Behind House GOP's Payroll Tax Reversal?

Originally published on Fri December 23, 2011 10:01 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

And I'm Linda Wertheimer.

A bitter fight in Congress is come to an end just in time for Christmas. The House and the Senate this morning, approved an extension of payroll tax cuts for every worker and benefits for the long-term unemployed. This required a major reversal for House Republicans who, earlier this week, voted to reject a nearly identical compromise.

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The Salt
9:46 am
Fri December 23, 2011

Senator Finds Government-Funded Food Waste Far Beyond The Compost Bin

The Washington State Fruit Commission received $100,000 in federal money to promote cherries in Indonesia, but Sen. Tom Coburn says this is a waste of taxpayer money.
Jeff Goulden iStockphoto.com

As Eater reported this week, some politicians believe this country is awash in food waste. But this isn't the stuff in the garbage — it's the way we pour money into building restaurants, promoting American food products abroad, and encouraging the purchase of local foods.

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Opinion
9:37 am
Fri December 23, 2011

Bittersweet Anticipation: Expecting The Expected

iStockphoto.com

Ben Dolnick is a writer based in Brooklyn.

Lately, just in time for Christmas, I've discovered that I've been acting in a play. A kind of holiday pageant, really. Working title: Things Are Always Better Before You Have Them.

Act One: I learn about the existence of something I want. Say, a book. (Ooh, a book of letters between William Maxwell and Eudora Welty!)

Act Two: I add the book to my Amazon wish list, which I proceed to circulate shamelessly to my family.

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It's All Politics
9:23 am
Fri December 23, 2011

Boehner's 2012 Challenges Highlighted By Payroll Tax Misstep

House Speaker John Boehner announces a payroll tax cut extension agreement, December 22, 2011.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Mon December 26, 2011 10:09 am

When the histories of the current 112th Congress are finally written, maybe it all will become clear.

But for right now, there seem to be many more questions than answers.

For instance, why did House Republicans ever think it was a good idea to stake out a position on the payroll-tax issue that would leave them holding the bag for a new year's tax increase for 160 million workers? That has now been averted with Congress' passage Friday morning of a two-month extension of the current payroll-tax holiday.

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The Two-Way
9:10 am
Fri December 23, 2011

Cue The Scary Music: 'Space Ball' Crashes In Namibia

The space ball. What is it?
Namibia's National Forensic Science Institute AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 23, 2011 10:43 am

It's said to be made of a "metal alloy known to man," according to Agence France Presse. (We enjoyed that Spock-like line.)

But there's much that isn't known about what's being called a "space ball" that came down in Namibia last month: Such as where or what it came from.

Officials from NASA and the European Space Agency have been contacted.

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Shots - Health Blog
9:06 am
Fri December 23, 2011

What's Sharing An Egg (Or Sperm) Among Friends?

Should she know that this moment was made possible by an egg donor?
iStockPhoto.com

Though there are more ways today to create a baby than ever before – with help from a friend or stranger's sperm, egg, embryo or womb, just to name a few—questions continue to swirl about what and when to tell the resulting children about how they're related to whom.

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The Fresh Air Interview
8:54 am
Fri December 23, 2011

Singer Darrell Scott Reflects On His Father's Death

Darrell Scott released his father Wayne's first album in 2006. Wayne also wrote two of the songs on Darrell's forthcoming album, Long Road Home.
Scott Simontacchi Thirty Tigers

Originally published on Fri December 23, 2011 9:23 am

Country singer-songwriter Darrell Scott grew up playing with his father, Wayne, and helped his father release a debut album at age 71. They continued to collaborate in recent years.

Last month, Darrell was in Texas in between gigs when he learned that his father had died in a car accident.

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The Two-Way
8:20 am
Fri December 23, 2011

Revisiting Istalif, Famed For Pottery And Picnics

A man in Istalif last year.
Shah Marai AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 23, 2011 8:24 am

Hearing Renee Montagne's Morning Edition report today about the village of Istalif, Afghanistan, brought back memories for this blogger.

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The Two-Way
6:55 am
Fri December 23, 2011

Vaclav Havel, Hero Of The 'Velvet Revolution,' Laid To Rest

A picture of former Czech President Vaclav Havel lay among candles and floral tributes as people gathered in Prague on Thursday to honor him.
Odd Andersen AFP/Getty Images

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Shots - Health Blog
6:55 am
Fri December 23, 2011

Americans Say Security Checks Are A Bigger Health Concern Than Flights

A Transportation Security Administration volunteer demonstrates a full-body scanner at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport in March 2010.
Scott Olson Getty Images

If you're heading for the airport humming I'll Be Home For Christmas, all of us at Shots hope your trip goes without a hitch.

With all the comings and goings of the holiday season on our minds, we recently asked Americans a few questions and air travel and health.

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The Two-Way
6:00 am
Fri December 23, 2011

Arlington Cemetery: Possible Problems With 64,230 Graves Or Records

A review of 259,978 gravesites and more than 510,000 records at Arlington National Cemetery has identified 64,230 cases of potential problems that range from minor mistakes in files to errors on gravestones, according to a U.S. Army report delivered to Congress on Thursday.

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Europe
5:58 am
Fri December 23, 2011

100-Year-Old Christmas Letter Printed In 'Irish Times'

Originally published on Fri December 23, 2011 6:01 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Good morning, I'm Renee Montagne. An Irish man received a touching Christmas gift when 100-year-old letter from his mother to Santa was printed in the Irish Times. He had never seen the letter. The slightly-scorched note had been stuck in the chimney of his mother's childhood home in Dublin for more than 80 years until the current owner discovered it. Annie Howard was just 10 in 1911 when she asked Santa for gloves, toffee and a baby doll.

It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Around the Nation
5:51 am
Fri December 23, 2011

Pa. Rhyming Judge Pens Again

Originally published on Fri December 23, 2011 5:55 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Good morning, I'm Linda Wertheimer. In Pennsylvania, a State Supreme Court judge known for writing opinions in rhyme is at it again. Justice Michael Eakin was writing for the majority in an insurance fraud case. He produced six pages of verse with gems like: Convictions for the forgery and theft are approbated; the sentence for insurance fraud, however, is vacated. A colleague wrote a dissent which did not rhyme. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

The Two-Way
5:15 am
Fri December 23, 2011

Payroll Tax Cut's Last Hurdle Cleared: House Gives 'Unanimous Consent'

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Capitol Hill Thursday (Dec. 22, 2011).
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Fri December 23, 2011 11:35 am

(This post was retopped with the latest news at 1:30 p.m. ET.)

Marking the end of the latest pitched political battle in Washington, President Obama said this afternoon that Congressional approval of measures to extend for another two months a payroll tax cut and benefits for the long-term unemployed is "good news just in the nick of time for the holidays."

"I said it was critical for Congress not to go home without preventing a tax increase" and the expiration of the long-term jobless benefits, Obama said, "and I'm pleased to say they've got it done."

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