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As night fell recently over the Spanish city of Toledo, Hanukkah candles lit up empty streets outside the medieval El Transito synagogue.

Folk songs in Ladino — a blend of Spanish and Hebrew — wafted across the garden of the synagogue, which is now the Sephardic Museum.

Sefarad means Spain in Hebrew, and the term refers to Jews of Spanish descent.

Sierra Leone, the country hardest-hit by an ongoing Ebola outbreak, has imposed a lockdown in the country's north in an effort to contain the spread of the deadly virus.

The BBC quotes local officials as saying that shops, markets and non-Ebola related travel would be shut down. Many public Christmas celebrations had already been banned, according to Reuters.

A vigil and a march in Berkeley, Mo., were largely peaceful overnight after confrontations between police and protesters Tuesday in the wake of the fatal shooting of an 18-year-old black man by a white police officer.

Antonio Martin was shot and killed on Tuesday after police say he pointed a gun at the officer.

Pope Francis, in his Christmas Day blessing in St. Peter's Square, denounced the "brutal persecution" of religious and ethnic minorities and condemned conflicts in Ukraine, Libya and elsewhere.

It was his second "Urbi et Orbi" ("to the city and to the world") message since becoming pope last year, the pontiff also lamented the deadly Taliban attack on a school in Pakistan that killed 149 people, mostly children, and the deaths of thousands due to Ebola in West Africa.

"Truly there are so many tears this Christmas," he said.

NYPD Sorts Out Threats, Plans Funerals For Liu And Ramos

Dec 25, 2014

Authorities in New York City are monitoring threats made against police since two officers were fatally shot on Saturday, and are upping security at some stationhouses.

The gunman, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, shot and killed Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos in their patrol car before committing suicide. He had posted messages on social media suggesting the assault was revenge for deaths of two unarmed black men at the hands of authorities.

The Interview, the comedy that centers on a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, will open today in nearly 300 independent theaters nationwide.

The movie is already available to watch on streaming services such as YouTube, Google Play, Microsoft's Xbox Video and a dedicated website.

Dr. Senga Omeonga met us under a huge mango tree outside St. Joseph's Catholic Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia. Behind the main building, several dozens of disinfected rubber boots worn by health care workers were propped upside down on stakes planted on a patch of lawn.

This is the hospital where Omeonga works as general surgeon and the head of Infection Prevention Control. It's also where he came down with Ebola on Aug. 2.

He says his days in treatment were "a living hell." And the experience has changed his view of the world — and the way he treats patients.

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Dog Races To Catch Up With Ambulance

Dec 25, 2014
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Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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

Copyright 2014 WYSO-FM. To see more, visit http://www.wyso.org.

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

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

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

As always, we have a lot of news to cover today. But on this holiday, we thought it was worth devoting a good bit of time to some Christmas music.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS")

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

When you step into the bright red barn at Claybrooke Farm in Louisa, Va., it instantly feels like Christmas. A pot of hot cider bubbles on the stove. Friends, neighbors and extended family make wreaths while owner John Carroll hauls in wood for the fire. It's gray outside, but the barn is full of holiday cheer.

Parisians are going gaga over An American in Paris, the first-ever stage production of the 1951 Hollywood film starring Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron and with a musical score by George Gershwin.

The performance at Paris' Chatelet theater is getting rave reviews and has completely sold out. It's not hard to see why: The stage comes alive with the story of an American artist and the young French dancer he falls in love with. It's filled with fabulous dancing and all those great Gershwin tunes.

Coca-Cola got a lot of attention in November when it announced that it was going into the milk business. Not just any milk, mind you: nutritious, reformulated supermilk.

It also invited ridicule. "It's like they got Frankenstein to lactate," scoffed Stephen Colbert on his show. "If this product doesn't work out, they can always re-introduce Milk Classic."

When Ammar Nsaif was 8, in Iraq, he often thought about his future wife and kids, about the car and house and business he'd own. As an adult, he became an electrical engineer and made his 8-year-old self proud.

"Before the war, I did many things," Nsaif says. "My cousins, my friends, my neighbors, they know Ammar. He's working, making business. I did very well."

But he lost everything when he fled Bagdad suddenly, in 2006. Nsaif, 39, says he received a death threat from terrorists over his work with an American company. They already had killed one of his older brothers.

In the 21 months since his election, the first pope to take the name of Saint Francis has emerged as a moral leader on the global stage, addressing both Catholics and the world beyond.

A recent Pew worldwide survey showed an overwhelmingly favorable view of the pope. And that was before his crucial role in the U.S.-Cuba thaw was revealed.

A century ago, young men in Europe were killing each other by the tens of thousands. World War I, which had erupted just a few months earlier, was raging. Yet on a frozen Christmas Eve, the guns briefly fell silent.

The Christmas Truce of 1914 has become the stuff of legend, portrayed in films, television ads, and songs. On this 100th anniversary of the cease-fire, it is possible to reconstruct the events of that day from letters, diaries, and even the recorded spoken words of the men who experienced the truce.

Denzil Saldanha is over 80 but far from retired.

He takes orders on the phone, surrounded by workers, newspapers spread out in front of them, cutting slices of fruitcake with thick almond icing.

The family-run Saldanha Bakery and Confectionery is making 600,000 pounds of cake this Christmas. Denzil's daughter Debra Saldanha, who gave up banking to join the family business, says customers appreciate that it's all made to order.

"They get the smell of hot cake coming out of the oven and literally wafting in the air," she says.

Federal health officials are investigating an incident involving the mishandling of the Ebola virus at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's headquarters in Atlanta.

The incident involved the material used in an experiment with the Ebola virus, the CDC said in a statement released late Wednesday. The material was accidentally moved from a high-security lab to a low-security lab on Monday. As a result, there's a possibility that one lab technician may have been exposed to the virus. That person will be monitored for 21 days for any symptoms.

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

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

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

All this week, we're hearing about the music behind the movies.

(SOUNDBITE OF VARIOUS MOVIE THEME SONGS)

SIEGEL: We've been hearing from composers across the genres. And today, we add screams.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "HALLOWEEN")

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