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Middle East
2:29 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

As Rebels Fight Rebels, Grim Reports From A Syrian City

The flag of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, flutters on the dome of an Armenian Catholic Church in the northern rebel-held Syrian city of Raqqa on Sept. 28, 2013. At first, Syrian rebels and civilians welcomed the experienced Islamist fighters, and the groups fought together to take over the city from Syrian troops. Now, many Syrians fear and resent ISIS.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 7:29 pm

Reports from the Syrian city of Raqqa are dire. In the north-central provincial capital, "the atmosphere has gone from bad to worse," says one activist with a rare link to the Internet. He reports the city is "completely paralyzed," the hospital is abandoned, and there are bodies in the central square. There is no power or water for a city of more than half a million people. Even the critical bread ovens are shut.

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The Two-Way
2:25 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Same-Sex Marriages No Longer Recognized, Utah Tells Agencies

Utah is instructing state officials to put services and paperwork for same-sex couples on hold, reflecting a recent U.S. Supreme Court order that halted gay marriages in the state. Utah is appealing a district court's ruling last month that its ban on same-sex marriage is not constitutional. The state was granted a stay as it pursues the matter.

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The Two-Way
2:13 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

White House Defends War Policy Against Memoir's Harsh Critique

White House press secretary Jay Carney fields questions Wednesday about former Defense Secretary Robert Gates' new memoir.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 3:13 pm

The White House rebuffed a largely critical assessment of administration policymaking presented in a new memoir by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, saying disagreements over the course of action in the Afghan war were part of a "robust" internal process.

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Economy
2:11 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Coal-Mining Area Grapples With How To Keep 'Bright Young Minds'

Colby Kirk of Inez, Ky., is a junior at the University of Kentucky, studying to be a financial analyst. He says there aren't many opportunities for college grads in his hometown.
Pam Fessler NPR

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 7:29 pm

Fifty years ago today, President Lyndon Johnson stood before Congress and declared an "unconditional war on poverty in America." His arsenal included new programs: Medicaid, Medicare, Head Start, food stamps, more spending on education and tax cuts to help create jobs.

In the coming year, NPR will explore the impact and extent of poverty in the U.S., and what can be done to reduce it.

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It's All Politics
1:47 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Gallup: Record Number Of Americans Identify As Independents

Voters wait to cast ballots at a school in New York City on Nov. 6.
John Minchillo AP

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 3:38 pm

A record-high percentage of Americans identified as political independents last year, according to a Gallup poll released Monday.

The survey, based on more than 18,000 interviews conducted throughout the year, found that 42 percent identified as independent, the highest figure since the polling firm began conducting interviews by telephone 25 years ago.

In 2013, 31 percent identified as Democrats, while 25 percent identified as Republican.

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NPR Story
1:29 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

A Look At One Ordinary, Beautiful Life

Shelagh Gordon died suddenly at 55 in February, 2012, leaving an ordinary but magical life. (Courtesy)

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 2:14 pm

In our busy lives — we tend to overlook the simple acts of kindness around us. For the past few weeks, WBUR has been highlighting some of these as part of a series called “Kind World.”

In this edition we hear about an idea reporters at the Toronto Star came up with: Is it possible to capture the life of a person you’ve never met through the stories of their friends and family… after their death?

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NPR Story
1:29 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Are We On The Titanic Or The Olympic?

Olympic (left) returning to Belfast for repairs in March 1912, and Titanic (right). This was the last time the two sister ships would be seen together. (Robert John Welch/Wikimedia Commons)

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 2:14 pm

Are we on the Titanic or the Olympic? That’s the question New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik asks in his piece “Two Ships,” as he looks at the last time Western civilization went from ’13 to ’14.

Gopnik is re-visiting the turn from 1913 to 1914, to think about the turn from 2013 to 2014.

He writes that 1913 was “full of rumbling energy and matchless artistic accomplishment,” which included achievements for Cubism in art, Proust in literature and Stravinsky in music.

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NPR Story
1:29 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

2014 Consumer Electronics Show Begins

Visitors check Audi's Concept Vision of Tomorrow during the 2014 International CES at the Las Vegas Convention Center on January 7, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images)

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 2:14 pm

The 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show opened this week at the Las Vegas Convention Center. More than 3,200 exhibitors will present both retailers and the media with the latest in consumer technology.

NPR technology correspondent Steve Henn joins Here & Now’s Meghna Chakrabarti to discuss what items are already selling and what the next major technological breakthrough will be.

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The Two-Way
1:28 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Germany's Merkel To Visit U.S. Amid Anger Over NSA Spying

President Obama walks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Sept. 6, 2013. Relations between the two allies are strained after documents leaked by Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, suggested the agency had spied on Merkel and other world leaders.
Ivan Sekretarev AP

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 7:09 pm

German Chancellor Angela Merkel accepted an invitation Wednesday from President Obama to visit the U.S., just months after relations between the two allies hit a low following revelations the U.S. was spying on Merkel and other world leaders.

Obama made the invitation during a conversation Wednesday with the German chancellor. Steffen Seibert, a German government spokesman, said the visit would occur in the next few months.

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NPR Story
1:28 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Listener Thoughts On Laser Beam Headlights

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 2:14 pm

Earlier this week, Paul Eisenstein, publisher of the car news website The Detroit Bureau, joined us to talk about all the high-tech car innovations at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. (See the interview here.)

There was one thing he said that drew some pretty strong listener reaction. It was about a new device from Audi.

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