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The Salt
3:51 pm
Mon December 24, 2012

Christmas A Busy Season For Tamale-Makers

Tamales in Ofelio Crespo's home on Dec. 20.
Lauren Rock NPR

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 5:18 pm

For Christmas, Central and Mexican-American families don't crave a holiday turkey; they want a plate of steaming hot tamales.

Gustavo Arellano, author of the book Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America, says that to him, tamales are more than food. They transmit Latino culture during Christmas.

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NPR Story
3:33 pm
Mon December 24, 2012

No Breakthrough In Sight For Peaceful Transition In Syria

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 5:18 pm

Amid continued bloodshed in several parts of Syria, international envoy Lakhdar Brahimi held another round of talks with President Bashar Assad in Damascus. But there was no sign of progress toward a peace deal.

NPR Story
3:33 pm
Mon December 24, 2012

Firefighters Trapped And Shot After Responding To Blaze

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 5:18 pm

Two firefighters died and two others were hospitalized in western New York on Monday. They were shot after responding to a fire in the town of Webster, outside Rochester. Police say the gunman is also dead, and they're not ruling out the possibility that the firefighters were led into a trap.

Music
3:22 pm
Mon December 24, 2012

Another Year, Another 'Christmas With The Chipmunks'

The Chipmunks, left to right: Simon, Theodore, Alvin.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 6:37 pm

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Deceptive Cadence
3:03 pm
Mon December 24, 2012

Whatever Happened To The Classical Christmas Album?

A sampling of one listener's cherished classical Christmas albums from a few years back.
Mito Habe-Evans NPR

Originally published on Thu January 3, 2013 2:38 pm

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The Two-Way
2:03 pm
Mon December 24, 2012

One Comment Says A Lot: Here's Why We're Grateful

Mladen Antonov AFP/Getty Images

We want to say thank you.

Our colleague Kate Myers has been helping us look back on The Two-Way's year — the most popular posts, the most frequent commenters, the heaviest traffic days and other such measures. We'll share some of what she's found in coming days.

But something Kate just turned up strikes us as worth noting right away.

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All Tech Considered
1:24 pm
Mon December 24, 2012

Kenyan Women Create Their Own 'Geek Culture'

Kenyan Susan Oguya created an app to help farmers in her homeland. Shown here in the office of her company, M-Farm, she also belongs to the group Akirachix, which seeks to bring more Kenyan women into the tech world.
Gregory Warner

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 5:18 pm

When a collective of female computer programmers in Kenya needed a name for their ladies-only club, they took their inspiration from the Japanese cult film Akira.

"So akira is a Japanese word. It means energy and intelligence. And we are energetic and intelligent chicks," says Judith Owigar, the president of Akirachix.

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The Two-Way
1:17 pm
Mon December 24, 2012

A Moveable Feast: What Are You Leaving For Santa?

Aside from the traditional plate of cookies, some households planned to leave Santa gourmet surprises that would land most people on the naughty list at the local gym.
Larry Crowe AP

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 1:53 pm

Milk and cookies might be the traditional Santa offering on Christmas Eve, but in at least one household, St. Nicholas will be getting smoked salmon and scotch.

It's just one out-of-the-ordinary example we gleaned from a call out to fans of NPR's Facebook page. Many of them involved a different sort of Christmas "spirit" — the kind that could push Mr. Claus over the legal limit, at least during the U.S. leg of his annual aerial circumnavigation.

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The Two-Way
12:50 pm
Mon December 24, 2012

Christmas Day May Bring Tornadoes In Southeast

Looking ahead to Tuesday and Wednesday: the darker the shading, the greater the risk of severe weather.
National Weather Service

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 9:11 pm

Snow likely won't be the big weather story for much of the nation on Christmas Day, say the forecasters at the National Weather Service and The Weather Channel. But some potentially severe weather is in the forecast.

Tornadoes are possible along the Gulf Coast and in the Southeast. Here's what The Weather Channel says about Tuesday:

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Europe
12:06 pm
Mon December 24, 2012

A Showdown In Italy Over A Polluting Steel Plant

The ILVA steel plant in Taranto, Italy, provides some 20,000 badly needed jobs in a country with a weak economy. But it also spews carcinogens. A court has ordered a partial shutdown, which the government has rejected.
Yara Nardi Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Thu December 27, 2012 9:40 pm

In an effort to safeguard some 20,000 jobs at a time of rising unemployment,
the Italian government has taken an unprecedented step. It has reversed a court order that called for the partial shutdown of Europe's biggest steel plant because it spews cancer-producing dioxins.

The ILVA steel factory in the southern port city of Taranto pits the government versus the judiciary in a battle over health issues and the need for economic revival.

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The Salt
11:38 am
Mon December 24, 2012

Polish Christmas Wafer: A Flavorless Tradition That's Oh So Sweet

The oplatek, embossed with a Christmas scene, is shared among family members before Christmas Eve dinner.
iStockphoto.com

Nothing says "I love you," at least in my Polish-American family, quite like the sharing of a thin, flat, tasteless wafer called an oplatek at Christmas.

We're not alone. Before sitting down to Christmas Eve dinner, many families with roots in Poland and other Eastern European countries will take part in this tradition, which has roots dating back hundreds of years.

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Best Books Of 2012
11:31 am
Mon December 24, 2012

Graphic Novels That Flew Under The Radar In 2012

Nishant Choksi

Originally published on Tue December 25, 2012 4:20 pm

In 2012, several high-profile comics creators added landmark works to their already impressive legacies. With Building Stories, Chris Ware offered 14 volumes of comics, each with its own meticulous, anagrammatic take on despair, and stuffed them into a box.

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Politics
11:30 am
Mon December 24, 2012

Is Congress Making A 'Fiscal Bluff'?

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 1:56 pm

Transcript

CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee in for Michel Martin. Coming up, the U. S. economy has had an interesting year. I don't need to tell you that we're still facing huge hurdles. But on the other hand, the stock market shot up this year and some sectors are thriving. We'll talk about signs of hope in just a few minutes.

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Economy
11:30 am
Mon December 24, 2012

The 2012 Economy Brought Glad Tidings To Many

Construction workers build a home in Palo Alto, Calif. A real turnaround seemed to take hold in the housing sector in 2012 after years of fits and starts.
Paul Sakuma AP

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 1:56 pm

After years of recession and slow recovery, maybe you didn't notice. But it turns out, 2012 was a fairly good year for the U.S. economy.

The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index has risen nearly 14 percent this year and the unemployment rate has fallen to 7.7 percent, the lowest point in four years. Inflation and interest rates have stayed low, allowing families to cut their debt loads.

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Best Books Of 2012
11:08 am
Mon December 24, 2012

Recipe Rebellion: A Year Of Contrarian Cookbooks

Nishant Choksi

Originally published on Tue December 25, 2012 4:20 pm

"Just throw the whole lemon in the food processor for lemon bars."
"Don't just soak your dried beans — brine them!"
"You don't need a whole day (or two) to make a good sauce."

Some of the things this year's cookbooks said to me as I tested them were downright contrarian. But that's the brilliant thing about cooking in a global, crowdsourced, Web-fueled world: People no longer cook according to some received wisdom handed down by a guy in a white toque. They figure it out as they go along, and if they stumble on a shortcut, it's blogged and shared in no time flat.

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The Two-Way
10:39 am
Mon December 24, 2012

VIDEO: NRA's LaPierre Says No To Ban On Large Capacity Magazines

The National Rifle Association's Wayne LaPierre.
Molly Riley UPI /Landov

One of the sharpest exchanges during his more than 20-minute long appearance Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press came when National Rifle Association CEO and Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre was asked why it wouldn't make sense to ban high capacity magazines for guns such as the one used to kill 20 school children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

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Asia
10:32 am
Mon December 24, 2012

Jakarta's New Governor Seen As A Rising Star

Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo fields reporters' questions after meeting with residents of a Jakarta slum. Recent polls say Widodo is currently the most popular choice for Indonesia's president in 2014.
Yosef Riadi for NPR

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 7:24 pm

Residents give a boisterous welcome to Jakarta's newly elected governor, Joko Widodo, when he shows up for a town meeting with the residents of a Jakarta slum where residents' shacks overlook the muddy, garbage-strewn waters of the Ciliwung River.

The governor's administration plans to fix chronic flooding here by dredging the river and moving residents into subsidized apartments.

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The Two-Way
10:26 am
Mon December 24, 2012

Firefighters Responding To Blaze Near Rochester, N.Y., Shot And Killed

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 2:38 pm

Two firefighters responding to the scene of a blaze near Rochester, N.Y., were killed today and another two were wounded when a gunman opened fire.

The apparent ambush in Webster, N.Y., was carried out by convicted murderer William Spengler, police believe. He was found dead at the scene, from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Spengler, 62, spent 17 years in prison for the 1980 murder of his grandmother.

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The Two-Way
9:03 am
Mon December 24, 2012

Forget About Chimneys: Think Wormholes If You Want To See Santa

Science says Santa's been tricking us with that reindeer stuff.
Martti Kainulainen AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 2:40 pm

  • David Greene and Neil deGrasse Tyson on the "science of Santa'

Sorry, Google. Sorry, NORAD.

Your online "Santa trackers" are cool.

But that jolly old elf has you both fooled.

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The Two-Way
8:17 am
Mon December 24, 2012

Top Stories: 'Fiscal Cliff' Looms; NRA Sparks Controversy; Gun Sales Surge

At the Get Some Guns & Ammo store in Murray, Utah, over the weekend, sales were strong and there were empty spots beginning to appear on the wall display of weapons.
George Frey Landov

Good morning.

Our headlines from over the weekend and early today included:

-- Ho-Ho-Hum Last Shopping Weekend As 'Fiscal Cliff' Loomed.

-- Syrian Airstrikes Hit Bakery: 'Piles Of Bodies'.

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The Two-Way
7:41 am
Mon December 24, 2012

Romney Didn't Want To Run, Son Says

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on Election Night in Boston, as he conceded the race to President Obama.
Joe Raedle Getty Images
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Around the Nation
7:38 am
Mon December 24, 2012

Santa Suits Are Getting Bigger

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Around the Nation
7:31 am
Mon December 24, 2012

Chef Tries To Break Green Bean Casserole Record

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 7:33 am

Mark Shoopman is into green beans. The Illinois chef is cooking 270 pounds of beans and 75 pounds of onions. His goal, according to WMBD in Peoria, is the largest green bean casserole in Central Illinois.

The Two-Way
7:05 am
Mon December 24, 2012

Ho-Ho-Hum Last Shopping Weekend As 'Fiscal Cliff' Loomed

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 12:42 pm

On this Christmas Eve there's this not-so-cheery news from The Associated Press:

"Christmas shoppers thronged malls and pounced on discounts but apparently spent less this year, their spirits dampened by concerns about the economy and the aftermath of shootings and storms."

The wire service says that:

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Europe
6:30 am
Mon December 24, 2012

In Cornwall, Lisa Simpson Rivals Queen Elizabeth

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 6:41 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Now, while our politicians are consumed with the deficit deadline, many leaders around the world are taking a step back, putting quill to paper and carefully composing their Christmas messages. In Britain, particular attention will be paid to Queen Elizabeth's message, because this year she's celebrating 60 years on the throne.

NPR's Philip Reeves sent this letter, musing about what it meant to be British as 2012 comes to a close.

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