The Two Way

The Two-Way
6:55 am
Mon December 23, 2013

Their Release Is Just A 'PR Stunt,' Pussy Riot Member Says

Maria Alyokhina, after her release from prison on Monday in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia.
Sergei Karpukhin Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 1:03 pm

The remaining members of the punk rock band Pussy Riot have been released from prison in Russia, a few months short of serving their full two-year sentences for "hooliganism" — a charge that the band's supporters say was just a trumped-up effort to quash free speech.

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The Two-Way
4:53 pm
Sun December 22, 2013

With 51 Touchdowns, Peyton Manning Breaks Season Record

Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos celebrates after throwing his fourth touchdown during the game against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on Sunday in Houston.
Scott Halleran Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 8:17 am

Throwing his 51st touchdown pass of the season, the Denver Broncos' Peyton Manning set a new NFL record on Sunday.

Manning bested Tom Brady's record for most touchdown passes in a single NFL season.

As ESPN reports, the record pass was Manning's fourth during a 37-13 win against the Houston Texans. The AP reports:

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The Two-Way
4:01 pm
Sun December 22, 2013

Americans Are Safely Airlifted Out Of South Sudan

Originally published on Sun December 22, 2013 5:41 pm

A day after abandoning a rescue mission because of incoming fire, American citizens were safely airlifted from Bor, South Sudan, on Sunday.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement:

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The Two-Way
2:41 pm
Sun December 22, 2013

Something Cool: Photos Of Huge Snow Sculptures In China

People pose beside a large snow sculpture at the 26th Harbin International Snow Sculpture Art Expo in Sun Island Park on Sunday in Harbin, China.
Hong Wu Getty Images

Originally published on Sun December 22, 2013 5:38 pm

The 26th Harbin International Snow Sculpture Art Expo is in full swing in China. Known as the largest festival of its kind the world, it's always pretty spectacular.

We thought we'd round up some pictures to give you a sense of the wonder:

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The Two-Way
1:39 pm
Sun December 22, 2013

Raúl Castro: U.S. And Cuba Can Have 'Civilized Relationship'

Cuba's President Raúl Castro speaks during the memorial service of former South African president Nelson Mandela.
Alexander Joe AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun December 22, 2013 5:28 pm

Cuban President Raúl Castro says the U.S. and Cuba could have a "civilized relationship."

BBC Mundo reports that in a rare speech, Castro said that over the past year U.S. and Cuban officials have met to talk about immigration and restarting mail service between the two countries.

That proves, Castro said, that relations between the two counties could be civilized.

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The Two-Way
11:10 am
Sun December 22, 2013

Edgar M. Bronfman, Longtime Leader Of World Jewish Congress, Dies

Edgar Bronfman (center), president of the World Jewish Congress, meets with Swiss bankers about a historic agreement to pay victims of the Holocaust restitution.
Richard Drew AP

Originally published on Sun December 22, 2013 12:21 pm

Edgar M. Bronfman, the former CEO of Seagrams and the philanthropist who led the charge as the leader of the World Jewish Congress to bring justice for victims of the Holocaust, died on Saturday.

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The Two-Way
9:52 am
Sun December 22, 2013

Huge Storm May Mean Snow And Ice For Holiday Travelers

A traveler walks through Terminal 3 at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago on Saturday.
Nam Y. Huh AP

Originally published on Sun December 22, 2013 12:21 pm

A huge storm currently moving through the country's midsection means holiday travelers will face snow, ice and thunderstorms.

As Accuweather explains, this is a spring-like storm moving into a winter pattern, so the prospect is for "nasty" severe weather, "especially across the lower Mississippi Valley."

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The Two-Way
8:18 am
Sun December 22, 2013

Freed Russian Oil Tycoon Says He'll Work For Release Of Prisoners

Russian former oil tycoon and Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky speaks during a press conference at the Wall Museum at Checkpoint Charlie on Sunday in Berlin.
John MacDougall AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun December 22, 2013 12:15 pm

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former oil tycoon who was pardoned by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday after serving a decade in prison, says he will dedicate the rest of his life working for the release of other political prisoners.

"I would like to devote this time to pay off my debt to people who are worst off," Khodorkovsky said through an interpreter provided by Russia Today, a state-funded, English language news outlet.

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The Two-Way
9:13 pm
Sat December 21, 2013

17-Year-Old Colorado School Shooting Victim Claire Davis Dies

Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson holds a picture of Claire Davis, 17, at a briefing at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., the day after the Dec. 13 shooting. Davis died Saturday.
Ed Andrieski AP

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 5:56 am

The teenager shot in the head by a classmate at a high school outside Denver died Saturday after being hospitalized for eight days.

Claire Davis, 17, was shot at point blank range with a shotgun on Dec. 13 and had been hospitalized in critical condition.

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The Two-Way
4:11 pm
Sat December 21, 2013

JPMorgan Chase Places Limits On Cards Used At Target Stores

Justin Sullivan Getty Images

JPMorgan Chase says it is placing some limits on debit cards used at Target stores recently.

NBC News and Reuters report that some customers would be limited to $100 in cash withdrawals and $300 in total purchases per day.

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The Two-Way
3:44 pm
Sat December 21, 2013

New NSA Documents Make Case For Keeping Surveillance Programs Secret

U.S. Army Gen. Keith Alexander, commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, director of the National Security Agency (NSA), testifies during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, in June.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

The Director of National Intelligence declassified a set of 10 court documents on Saturday, in which both the Bush and Obama administrations argue that sensitive NSA programs should be kept secret.

The administration declassified the documents under a court order related to two lawsuits filed the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

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The Two-Way
11:39 am
Sat December 21, 2013

Closure: 94-Year-Old Widow Receives Remains Of Fallen Husband

Clara Gantt, the 94-year-old widow of U.S. Army Sgt. Joseph Gantt, weeps in front of her husband's casket.
Andrew Renneisen AP

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 9:42 am

The sun had not yet risen, when the United Airlines jetliner made its way into Los Angeles International Airport on Friday.

Clara Gantt, 94, had been waiting for this moment for six decades. Of course, for six decades, she expected that this would be a happy reunion. She expected that the love of her life would come bounding off an airplane after two wars and come back home, resuming the life they had planned for each other.

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The Two-Way
10:25 am
Sat December 21, 2013

Epic Spacewalk To Replace Cooling Equipment On ISS Goes Well

The degraded pump module as seen from the helmet cam of Rick Mastracchio.
NASA

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 6:31 pm

Updated 6 p.m. ET

NASA reports that things went well in Saturday's 5-1/2-hour spacewalk, with two American astronauts removing a pump from the International Space Station Saturday in an effort to repair a faulty piece of cooling equipment.

Astronauts Michael Hopkins and Rick Mastracchio completed more of the fixes in less time than had been anticipated.

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The Two-Way
9:43 am
Sat December 21, 2013

Four U.S. Service Members Injured In South Sudan

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 2:42 pm

This post was last updated at 11:50 a.m. ET.

Three U.S. military aircraft running evacuation flights out of South Sudan were fired upon on Saturday, leaving four service members injured, a spokesman for U.S. Africa Command said.

United States Africa Command says all four service members have been treated and are in stable condition.

The three CV-22 Ospreys were fired on while flying out of Bor, which NPR's Gregory Warner reports is not under government control.

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The Two-Way
8:09 am
Sat December 21, 2013

Utah Seeks Emergency Stay Of Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Chris Serrano, left, and Clifton Webb kiss after being married, as people wait in line to get licenses outside of the marriage division of the Salt Lake County Clerk's Office in Salt Lake City on Friday.
Kim Raff AP

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 2:34 pm

Officials in Utah are asking for an emergency stay of a federal court ruling that found the state's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.

Reporting from Salt Lake City, NPR's Howard Berkes filed this report for our Newscast unit:

"Within minutes of the federal court decision, the Salt Lake County Clerk's office was inundated with gay couples seeking marriage licenses.

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The Two-Way
8:19 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Police Recover Heroin Packets Stamped 'Obamacare'

Police in Massachusetts on Friday pulled over a suspicious automobile and after conducting a search, recovered more than a thousand small packets of heroin stamped "Obamacare" and "Kurt Cobain."

Four people were arrested after the traffic stop in Northampton in which 1,250 of the packets were found.

Police say the car driver committed several violations, prompting the stop. He was later found to be unlicensed.

The Associated Press says a state police dog found the contraband:

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The Two-Way
7:03 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Man Who Shot Reagan Allowed Longer Stays Out Of Mental Hospital

In a Nov. 18, 2003 file photo, John Hinckley Jr. arrives at U.S. District Court in Washington.
Evan Vucci AP

John Hinckley Jr., the man who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981, has been granted more time outside the mental hospital where he's been confined for almost three decades.

U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman ordered that Hinckley be allowed to visit his mother's home in Williamsburg, Va., for up to 17 days at a time, tacking a week on to the 10-day visits that were already permitted away from St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, D.C.

Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity after he shot Reagan and three others on March 30, 1981.

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The Two-Way
6:23 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Astronauts Ready For Marathon Spacewalks

NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy performs a spacewalk in May to inspect and replace a pump controller box on the International Space Station. On Saturday, two astronauts will perform the first in a series of similar spacewalks to fix a broken cooling line on the ISS.
AP

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 6:46 pm

NASA astronauts will be heading out to conduct critical repairs on the International Space Station early Saturday morning. The 6 1/2-hour spacewalk, the first in a series, will replace a faulty piece of cooling equipment.

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The Two-Way
5:07 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Federal Court Strikes Down Utah's Gay Marriage Ban

Derek Kitchen (left) and his partner, Moudi Sbeity, talk with the media outside Frank E. Moss United States Courthouse earlier this month, where a challenge to Utah's same-sex marriage ban by three gay couples was decided on Friday.
Rick Bowmer AP

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 7:03 pm

A federal judge has struck down Utah's ban on same-sex marriage, saying it's unconstitutional.

The 53-page ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby says a 2004 ban passed by the state's voters violates the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The Associated Press says:

"Attorneys for the state argued that Utah's law promotes the state's interest in 'responsible procreation' and the 'optimal mode of child-rearing.'

"The lawsuit was brought by three gay and lesbian couples in Utah.

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The Two-Way
4:28 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Gov. Christie Signs New Jersey 'DREAM Act' Into Law

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at a news conference Thursday.
Mel Evans AP

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 7:52 pm

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill on Friday that will give some students who are in the U.S. illegally a break on their tuition.

Christie inked New Jersey's version of the DREAM Act, which the Republican governor supported in his last re-election bid.

The state's Legislature passed the bill after a compromise that dropped a provision that would also have allowed students in the country illegally to be eligible for state financial aid if they qualified under income guidelines, according to The Associated Press.

The AP reports:

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The Two-Way
2:29 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Obama On Health Care Rollout: 'We Screwed It Up'

Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 5:46 pm

President Obama, in his final news conference of the year, sought to put the best face on a difficult first year of his second term.

Speaking a few hours before he heads to Hawaii for a two-week vacation, Obama is meeting with reporters at the White House.

He touted the improving economy, saying 2 million jobs had been added in 2013, with the unemployment rate now at its lowest level in five years.

"2014 can be a breakthrough year," he said.

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The Two-Way
2:09 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

President Orders Review Of Sexual Assault In Military

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey brief reporters at the Pentagon in Washington, on Thursday.
Charles Dharapak AP

President Obama has ordered a one-year review of the military's response to sexual assault within the ranks, saying his administration has "an urgent obligation" to respond to the problem.

"If I do not see the kind of progress I expect, then we will consider additional reforms that may be required to eliminate this crime from our military ranks," the president said in a statement on Friday.

As Reuters says:

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The Two-Way
12:22 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Yellen Nomination To Fed Clears Hurdle; Confirmation Likely

Janet Yellen, who is poised to move from the No. 2 to the No. 1 post at the Federal Reserve.
Alex Wong Getty Images

By a vote of 59-34 the Senate on Friday moved the nomination of Janet Yellen to be the next chairman of the Federal Reserve past a key procedural hurdle.

The vote invoked "cloture" — effectively preventing Republicans from filibustering President Obama's nominee.

Next up for Yellen's nomination: A confirmation vote, set for Jan. 6. With the Democratic caucus controlling 55 of the Senate's 100 seats, she's expected to get a majority and then become the first woman to head the central bank.

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The Two-Way
11:21 am
Fri December 20, 2013

No Widespread Misconduct In Secret Service, Investigators Say

U.S. Secret Service

"Although individual employees have engaged in misconduct or inappropriate behavior, we did not find evidence that misconduct is widespread," concludes a report from the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general. The IG's investigation was launched after the 2012 scandal over some agents' behavior while they were on a mission in Colombia.

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The Two-Way
10:38 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Sen. Baucus Tapped To Be Ambassador To China

Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Confirming one of the week's less-secret secrets, the White House announced Friday morning that President Obama intends to nominate Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., to be the next ambassador to the People's Republic of China.

The 72-year-old Baucus has been in the Senate since 1978. He is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

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