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6:21 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

The Truth Behind The Lies Of The Original 'Welfare Queen'

The Chicago press covered Linda Taylor's 1977 trial extensively, and she dressed to court the cameras.
Charles Knoblock Associated Press

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 10:36 am

If you haven't read Josh Levin's amazing story at Slate — the woman upon whom the term "welfare queen" was originally bestowed — you're missing out on a fascinating and disturbing profile of an unlikely political figure.

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All Tech Considered
6:18 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Robot 'Olympics' Test Machines On Human Skills

Atlas, a humanoid robot, is competing against 16 other robots in a Pentagon-sponsored contest this weekend.
Greg Allen NPR

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

Under throbbing loudspeakers at a NASCAR track south of Miami, vaguely humanoid robots with two legs, four legs and tank treads take up garages that normally house race cars.

The robots, along with researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lockheed Martin, NASA and 13 other teams from around the world, are in Homestead, Fla., for the robot Olympics on Friday and Saturday.

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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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Planet Money
5:01 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Will A Computer Decide Whether You Get Your Next Job?

In an effort to hire better job candidates, some companies are replacing paper resumes with tests designed to collect big data from job applicants.
Mark Lennihan AP

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

Xerox runs 175 call centers around the world. In all, the centers employ more than 50,000 customer service agents who deal with questions about everything from cellphone bills to health insurance.

Teri Morse, who is in charge of recruiting all those people, says the company had a problem: It was hiring people who just weren't a good fit.

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Number Of The Year
5:00 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

The Cost To Keep The Home Team At Home May Not Be Worth It

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announces that the city will demolish Turner Field after Major League Baseball's Atlanta Braves leave for a new stadium in the suburbs in 2017. Reed says it was a hard decision but he thinks the city will be better for it.
David Goldman AP

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 7:52 pm

$498 million — that's how much the state of Minnesota and the city of Minneapolis have agreed to pay as their share of a new, nearly $1 billion football stadium for the Minnesota Vikings. Team owner Ziggy Wilf says he believes Minnesotans got a fair deal.

And as it turns out, the deal is pretty standard. But is it fair? Increasingly, privately owned sports teams aren't just asking for newer, fancier digs. They're also asking the public to pay half — or more — of the bill.

Hidden Costs Add Up

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Around the Nation
4:53 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Bankruptcy Casts Shadow Over Detroit's Plan To Fix Streetlights

In Detroit, fewer than half of the city's 88,000 street lights actually work anymore.
Quinn Klinefelter WDET

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

Many neighborhoods in Detroit are in the dark — not because of a power outage but because fewer than half of the city's 88,000 streetlights actually work.

In some parts of town, city block after city block is filled with streetlights that never come on.

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NPR Story
4:53 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Meet The Original Welfare Queen

Melissa Block talks with Josh Levin, executive editor at Slate, about his article about "Welfare Queen" Linda Taylor. She became notorious in the 1970s for her abuses of the welfare system but, as Levin discovered, she also committed far worse crimes.

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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Parallels
4:01 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Uganda Passes Anti-Gay Bill That Includes Life In Prison

David Bahati, a member of Uganda's Parliament, is interviewed in 2011. Bahati was the driving force behind a controversial anti-gay bill that was approved Friday.
Ronald Kabuubi AP

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

Uganda's Parliament ignored Western criticism and passed a bill on Friday that punishes acts of homosexuality with prison terms that can include life in prison.

The bill has been a source of controversy for years. Western governments and leaders, including President Obama, have criticized the measure, which President Yoweri Museveni must sign for it to take effect.

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill, it's actual name, also makes it a crime to "promote" homosexuality, which could mean simply offering HIV counseling.

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It's All Politics
3:38 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Black GOP Hopefuls See Promise In Retirement Flurry

Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love addresses the Utah Republican Party's annual organizing convention in May.
Rick Bowmer AP

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 7:49 pm

It's not every day that three long-serving House members announce their retirements within hours of each other. It's rarer still that two of those seats have a distinct possibility of being filled by a black Republican after next year's election.

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All Tech Considered
3:05 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

The 'Blacks In Tech' Series Wraps, But Let's Keep Talking

Omar Wasow founded BlackPlanet, one of the earliest social networks, but isn't as widely recognized as the founders of Facebook or Myspace.
Willi Wong

Editor's Note: As part of Tell Me More's three-week-long Twitter exploration of black innovators in the tech sector, digital lifestyle expert Mario Armstrong analyzed the tweets and the conversations going on under the hashtag #NPRBlacksinTech. The series wraps today. Below, he looks back on what we've learned.

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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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All Tech Considered
2:19 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Week That Was: Bay Area Economy, NSA Ruling, Tech Execs In D.C.

President Obama and Vice President Biden met with tech executives at the White House on Wednesday.
Jim Watson AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 2:42 pm

Before we slow things down for the final two weeks of 2013 — you'll still get fresh stories and posts here, but at a slower clip — let's look back at tech in one of the last weeks of the year.

ICYMI

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Architecture
2:11 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Makeover USA: Short, 'Dowdy' D.C. Considers High Heels

The skyline of Washington, D.C., including the Capitol building, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and National Mall. The tall buildings in the distance are in Virginia.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 4:06 pm

The powers that be in Washington are typically, though certainly not always, wrestling with weighty issues.

Recently, they've also been debating height, and whether they prefer a stout, familiar dowager, or a taller, sleeker model.

Building heights, people: We're talking building heights in your nation's capital, where for more than a century the 1910 Building Height Act has kept the city's profile low.

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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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Remembrances
1:26 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Fresh Air Remembers Country Music Artist Ray Price

Country Music Hall of Famer Ray Price, pictured above in 1983, died Monday at age 87.
AP

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 3:24 pm

Pioneering country music artist Ray Price — who created hits like "Heartaches by the Number" — died Monday of pancreatic cancer. He was 87 years old. Price was born in Cherokee County, Texas, in 1926. When he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1996, he was described by musician Kris Kristofferson as a living link from Hank Williams to the country music of today.

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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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Interviews
12:18 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Jason Isbell Locates His Musical Compass On 'Southeastern'

Jason Isbell was previously a member of Drive-By Truckers. His solo albums include Sirens of the Ditch and Here We Rest.
Eric England Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 3:24 pm

This interview was originally broadcast on July 17, 2013.

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Movie Reviews
12:18 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

A Man And His Machine, Finding Out What Love Is

In the sci-fi romance Her, a lonely man (Joaquin Phoenix) finds love in a rather unexpected place — with a computer operating system named Samantha.
Warner Bros.

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 3:24 pm

Her is the best film of the year by a so-wide margin. It's gorgeous, funny, deep — and I can hear some smart aleck say, "If you love it so much, why don't you marry it?" Let me tell you, I'd like to!

I certainly identify with the protagonist, Theodore Twombly, who falls in love with his computer operating system, his OS, which calls itself — sorry, I gotta say "who calls herself" — Samantha, and who sounds like a breathy young woman.

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Shots - Health News
12:11 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Angelina Didn't Help Educate People About Breast Cancer Risk

A celebrity's efforts to educate the public about health risk may have very limited effects.
Evan Agostini AP

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 4:47 pm

Remember when Angelina Jolie decided to have a double mastectomy to reduce her risk of breast cancer? The Hollywood star revealed her experience in The New York Times in May.

Her story got a lot of people talking about preventive mastectomies. But it didn't do much to increase people's understanding of breast cancer risk, a study found.

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Parallels
11:43 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Rebel Leader: Nuns Were Led To Safety, Not Seized, In Syria

Nuns from the Mar Takla convent in Maaloula, Syria.
YouTube

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 1:53 pm

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It's All Politics
11:33 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Protesters Greet Scott Brown At New Hampshire GOP Event

Republican Scott Brown (center) waves to the crowd at the conclusion of his Massachusetts Senate race concession speech Nov. 6 as his daughter Ayla Brown (left) and wife Gail Huff applaud.
Steven Senne AP

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 2:43 pm

Scott Brown still knows how to make an entrance.

The former Massachusetts senator — and a soon-to-be official resident of Rye, N.H. — arrived at the New Hampshire GOP's holiday party in his trademark pickup truck Thursday evening, and was greeted by more than 100 chanting protesters.

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Shots - Health News
11:32 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Feds Drop Mandate For People Whose Insurance Was Canceled

Only hours before the deadline to sign up for health insurance that will begin Jan. 1, the Obama administration has offered people whose plans have been canceled a new option. They can sign up for catastrophic coverage instead.

These little-noticed plans cover only three primary care visits, specified preventive services and medical costs that exceed a catastrophic amounts. In 2014, that's $6,300 for an individual.

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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 Protojournalist
11:13 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Have Yourself A Tacky Little Christmas

Solid Color Neckties

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 10:55 am

Maybe it all started with ugly Christmas sweaters. Or with cheesy inflatable Santas. Or hideously inappropriate tree ornaments. But Christmastime – at least its visible trappings and accoutrements – seems to be getting tackier.

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