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It's All Politics
6:02 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

With Nation's Eyes On Newtown, Washington Distracted By Fiscal Cliff

President Obama, with Vice President Biden at his side on Wednesday, at a news conference about gun violence that became dominated by questions of the fiscal cliff.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 6:34 pm

Anyone hoping that the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre might change dynamics in the nation's capital when it comes to the issue of guns met some level of Washington reality on Wednesday.

President Obama held a news conference to announce his response to the Connecticut killings of 26 grade-schoolers and educators, including his naming of Vice President Joe Biden to head a team that will recommend in a month actions that might help prevent future Sandy Hooks.

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Shootings In Newtown, Conn.
6:02 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

In Faith, Finding Answers To 'The Mystery Of Evil'

People gather for a prayer vigil at St. Rose Church in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14. In the aftermath of such tragedies, many people ask how a benevolent God and suffering can coexist.
Emmanuel Dunand Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 6:47 pm

When a human tragedy occurs on the scale of the Newtown shootings, clergy are invariably asked an ancient question: If God is all-knowing, all-powerful and benevolent, why does he allow such misfortunes?

There's even a word for reconciling this paradox: theodicy, or attempting to justify God's goodness despite the existence of evil and suffering.

A World Both Beautiful And Shattered

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The Salt
5:41 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Mealworms Beat Meat For A Place On The Menu In Environmental Study

A woman takes a bite of a mealworm pie in the Hague, Netherlands.
Ed Oudenaarden AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 9:04 am

Want to eat sustainably? Then eat bugs.

That's the word from the Dutch, who are doing their best to make a scientific case for the environmental benefits of insect proteins. Reduce greenhouse gases? Check. Produce more edible protein while using less land than more traditional livestock? Check.

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The Two-Way
5:36 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Newtown Teacher And Students Remembered For The Light They Brought

A child peers through firefighters standing as the procession heads to the cemetery outside the funeral for school shooting victim Daniel Barden at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Newtown, Conn.,
Charles Krupa AP

Mourners attended funerals for three children and a first-grade teacher in Newtown, Conn., Wednesday, the third day of services for the victims of a mass shooting that has reignited debate over gun control in the U.S.

Victoria Leigh Soto, 27, is the first Sandy Hook Elementary School teacher to be laid to rest.

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It's All Politics
5:07 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Robert Bork's Supreme Court Nomination 'Changed Everything, Maybe Forever'

Robert Bork, nominated by President Reagan to the Supreme Court, is sworn in before the Senate Judiciary Committee at his confirmation hearing, Sept. 15, 1987.
John Duricka AP

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 8:31 pm

Robert Bork, whose failed Supreme Court nomination provoked a lasting partisan divide over judicial nominations, died Wednesday at age 85.

A former federal judge and conservative legal theorist, he subsequently became a hero to modern-day conservatives. And as solicitor general in the Nixon administration, he played a small but crucial role in the Watergate crisis. In what came to be known as the Saturday Night Massacre, he fired Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox after the attorney general and deputy attorney general refused President Nixon's firing order and quit.

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Around the Nation
5:00 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

What Are The Odds Of Gun Control Changes?

A clerk peers out from a gun shop in Seattle on Wednesday.
Elaine Thompson AP

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 7:35 pm

Advocates of stricter gun control legislation are hoping that history will not repeat itself.

Last Friday's shootings at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., have shaken the country, but it's unclear whether the intense feelings of the moment will translate into legislative action. Many times in the past, outrage over gun violence has dissipated before Congress has chosen to act.

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Shootings In Newtown, Conn.
4:41 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Trauma Can Stay With First Responders Long After Events Pass

"We're holding up the best that we can" after Friday's shootings, says Sandy Hook volunteer firefighter Anthony "Chip" Carpenter.
David Schaper NPR

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 8:33 pm

The police officers, firefighters and emergency medical teams who rushed to Sandy Hook Elementary School Friday are trying to cope with what they saw there, even as they work to investigate the awful crime that transpired and help their community cope with its aftermath.

The first responders are also struggling with the fact that they weren't able to save anyone, as they had been trained to do.

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Politics
4:39 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Boehner: House Will Pass 'Plan B' Fiscal Cliff Legislation

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 5:43 pm

With days ticking down to the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts deadline, President Obama took his case to the American public again on Wednesday — and House Republicans were not happy about it. House Speaker John Boehner responded with a statement that barely lasted a minute as the House prepared to vote on competing plans to avert the tax hikes but which do not address the spending cuts.

Shootings In Newtown, Conn.
4:37 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Southern Baptist Leader: 'Gun-Free Zones Are A Fantasy'

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 5:43 pm

Robert Siegel talks to Dr. Richard Land, director of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and whether Friday's school shooting in Newtown, Conn., has changed his views on gun control.

Shootings In Newtown, Conn.
4:36 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Obama Moves Forward On New Gun Legislation

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 5:43 pm

President Barack Obama said that gun control would be a "central issue" in his second term on Wednesday. He also announced that Vice President Joe Biden will head up a panel that will offer proposals by mid-January to curb gun violence. The announcement, however, turned to an impromptu press conference, in which the president pivoted to questions about the fiscal cliff. He said the events in Newtown, Conn., should "give us some perspective" on the debate and urged quick action in Congress.

Shots - Health News
4:35 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

How The U.S. Stopped Malaria, One Cartoon At A Time

The U.S. Army distributed a monthly pinup calendar to GIs, which encouraged them to protect themselves from malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
Cartoon by Frank Mack for the U.S. Army. Courtesy of the Images from the History of Medicine.

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 1:28 pm

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Planet Money
4:31 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Without Magic, Santa Would Need 12 Million Employees

Lam Thuy Vo / NPR

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 4:31 pm

There are 760 million Christian children in the world, according to the Pew Research Center. Suppose Santa delivers one gift to each child. What kind of delivery workforce would Santa need?

We couldn't get an interview with Santa. But we did get Paul Tronsor from FedEx and Mike Mangeot from UPS. They helped us go through the numbers.

Here are just a few of the positions Santa would need to fill to pull off Christmas. (Note: For the complete list, see the graphic at the bottom.)

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World
4:29 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

In Pakistan, Tax Evaders Are Everywhere — Government Included

An investigative report found that less than a third of Pakistani lawmakers filed tax returns for 2011. The report said Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari, photographed in Paris in December, did not file a return, though his spokesman says he did.
Kenzo Tribouillard AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 8:32 pm

Tax evasion is a chronic problem in Pakistan — only about 2 percent of the population is registered in the tax system, and the government collects just 9 percent of the country's wealth in taxes, one of the lowest rates in the world.

But now a new investigative report is making headlines. It says that just a third of the country's 446 federal lawmakers bothered to file income tax returns last year.

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NPR's Backseat Book Club
3:58 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

In 'Red Pyramid,' Kid Heroes Take On Ancient Egypt

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 5:43 pm

If there was a recipe for the best-selling writer Rick Riordan, it would go something like this — start with a love of storytelling, fold in more than a decade of teaching middle school English, combine that with two sons of his own who don't quite share their dad's love of literature, and marinate all of that with a deep passion for mythology.

Riordan has sold tens of millions of kids' books. He hit pay dirt with the Percy Jackson series — it's about an everyday kid who has superhero powers because he's the secret son of Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea.

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Music Reviews
3:55 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Homeboy Sandman: A Rapper Leaves Law Behind

Homeboy Sandman's fourth album is called First of a Living Breed.
Gavin Thomas Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 5:43 pm

The bare facts of Homeboy Sandman's back story don't sound very hip-hop: prep school in New Hampshire, Ivy League B.A., even some pieces for The Huffington Post. But, as is often the case with class and race in America, bare facts don't tell the whole story.

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