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The Two-Way
4:31 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Alan Gross' Release: How It Went Down

Alan Gross and his wife, Judy, in Washington on Wednesday after his release from a Cuban prison.
Algerina Perna Baltimore Sun/TNS /Landov

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 9:44 am

American Alan Gross had spent more than five years in a Cuban prison, where he lost five teeth, 100 pounds and much of the sight in his right eye. He could barely walk because of chronic pain and was, his wife Judy Gross said in June, "despondent and very hopeless" because he had 10 years to go in his sentence for crimes against the Cuban state. Then, on Tuesday, his lawyer, Scott Gilbert, told him in a phone call that he was going home.

There was a long pause, his spokeswoman Jill Zuckman said today in Washington, and then Gross said, "I'll believe it when I see it."

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Movie Interviews
4:28 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Major Movie Theater Chains Drop 'The Interview' After Threats

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 9:07 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

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Global Health
4:28 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Dreaming Up A Safer, Cooler PPE For Ebola Fighters

This design of this new anti-Ebola suit will make health workers more comfortable and could also save lives.
Courtesy of Clinvue and Roy Heisler

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 5:56 pm

Here's what it takes to design a better Ebola suit: a roomful of university students and professors, piles of canvas and Tyvek cloth, sewing machines, glue guns ... and chocolate syrup.

Even Youseph Yazdi, head of the Johns Hopkins University Center for Bioengineering Innovation and Design (CBID), still isn't sure what the syrup was for.

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Code Switch
4:28 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

An Updated 'Annie' And The Tradition Of Nontraditional Casting

Quvenzhane Wallis (second from right) stars in an updated version of Annie, produced by Jay Z.
Barry Wetcher Sony Pictures Entertainment

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 9:07 pm

That lovable moppet with the red dress, the curly hair, the big dog, and the even bigger voice is back.

This time, though, Little Orphan Annie is back with a difference: Quvenzhane Wallis is playing an African-American orphan in an ethnically diverse, up-to-date world. And that got us thinking about other instances where producers have breathed fresh life into familiar shows by making them dance to a new beat.

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Shots - Health News
4:10 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

What Happens After You Get That Mammogram

This graphic lays out the possible outcomes for 10,000 women if they start getting annual screening mammograms at age 50 and continue that for 10 years.
Courtesy of JAMA

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 11:50 am

Women and their doctors have a hard time figuring out the pluses and minuses of screening mammograms for breast cancer. It doesn't help that there's been fierce dissent over the benefits of screening mammography for women under 50 and for older women.

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The Two-Way
3:23 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Sony Cancels Christmas Day Release Of 'The Interview' Amid Threats

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 12:32 pm

Updated at 5:10 p.m. ET

Sony Pictures has canceled the Christmas Day release of The Interview, the comedy that centers on a plot to assassinate North Korea's leader. The move came after the largest U.S. movie theater chains said they won't screen the film in the wake of threats against them by a group that also allegedly hacked Sony's internal documents.

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The Two-Way
2:56 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Alan Gross, U.S. Contractor Freed By Cuba, Says 'It's Good To Be Home'

Alan Gross addresses a news conference in Washington on Wednesday hours after his release from Cuba.
Gary Cameron Reuters /Landov

American Alan Gross, who spent five years in a Cuban prison before his release today as a humanitarian gesture, said "it's good to be home," and that he hoped the U.S. and Cuba move past their "mutually belligerent" policies.

"Two wrongs never made a right," Gross said in Washington shortly after he returned to the U.S. aboard a government plane.

Gross appeared frail but cheerful. Some of his front teeth were missing.

Gross thanked President Obama and his national security team for working toward his freedom.

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NPR Story
2:40 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Obama: U.S. Ending 'Outdated' Approach To Cuba

President Barack Obama declared the end of America’s “outdated approach” to Cuba Wednesday, announcing the re-establishment of diplomatic relations as well as economic and travel ties with the communist island – a historic shift in U.S. policy that aims to bring an end to a half-century of Cold War enmity.

“Isolation has not worked,” Obama said in remarks from the White House. “It’s time for a new approach.”

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NPR Story
2:40 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

In The Media: Torture By Any Other Name

We hear it called “brutal questioning,” “enhanced interrogation,” sometimes even “torture,” and when the Senate Intelligence Committee released the findings of its report on the CIA’s interrogation techniques, the longstanding debate on what to call the practice reignited.

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NPR Story
2:40 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

DJ Sessions: Best Songs Of 2014

Pictured are artists featured in this week's DJ Sessions. Clockwise from top left: Cherub (cherubmusica.com), Shamir (Facebook), Ty Segall (alan/Flickr) and Courtney Barnett (Facebook).

In today’s installment of DJ Sessions, DJs Anne Litt and Travis Holcombe of KCRW join Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson to listen back to some of the best sounds of 2014, including songs from Courtney Barnett, Ty Segall, Caribou, Shamir and Cherub.

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NPR Story
2:40 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

After Prisoner Release, Obama Announces Seismic Shift In U.S.-Cuba Relations

First came the announcement that Cuba had released American Alan Gross and an unnamed American intelligence official, and news that the U.S. had released three Cubans who had been in jail since 2001 for spying.

Then came the news that the U.S. and Cuba will now work toward normalizing full diplomatic relations, including expanding trade, banking and travel, and opening a U.S. embassy in Havana.

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NPR Story
2:40 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Worries Rise In Russia As Ruble Falls

A man holds a laptop in a mall in central Moscow on December 15, 2014. The slumping ruble has unleashed a spending spree as consumers snap up electronics, furniture and cars before prices soar. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images)

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 2:03 pm

Inflation is going up and purchasing power is falling sharply for Russians as the country’s currency drops in value.

The Russian government has taken strong measures this week, sharply increasing interest rates to 17 percent, and selling off a chunk of its dollar reserves to shore up the falling ruble.

None of the moves have worked, and the ruble is trading at about half its value from the beginning of the year.

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NPR Story
2:40 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Drone On Your Christmas List? Here Are A Few Things You Should Know.

In the course of testing various drones for his piece in Slate, Seth Stevenson got one drone stuck in a chain-link fence. (Screenshot from Slate video)

With Hanukkah upon us and just eight shopping days left before Christmas, drones are emerging as an increasingly popular big-ticket gift item this year.

If you’ve been toying with the idea of getting someone a drone for Christmas (or asking for one yourself), where to begin? What’s out there? And what rules do you need to know if you pull one out of a box this holiday season?

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NPR Story
2:40 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

'Saving Private Ryan' Among Films Being Preserved

"Saving Private Ryan" is one of 25 movies being inducted this year into the National Film Registry for long-term preservation.

“Saving Private Ryan” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” are among 25 movies being inducted this year into the National Film Registry for long-term preservation, the Library of Congress announced Wednesday.

The library selected films for their cultural, historic or aesthetic qualities. This year’s selections span the years 1913 to 2004. They include such familiar and popular titles as “The Big Lebowski” and “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” while others were milestones in film history.

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NPR Story
2:40 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

School Tries To Help Students By Coaching Parents

Moms gather at a classroom in Morales Elementary for a morning charla, or chat. They watch a training video about how to support their kids’ education and share their own experiences. (Houston Public Media)

For more than a decade, federal education policies have pushed schools to get parents more involved on campus. The idea is that if parents are more involved, then their children will do better academically — especially kids who struggle.

In one Texas school district, that idea is taking a new form. From the Here & Now Contributors Network, Laura Isensee of Houston Public Media visits an elementary school to find out more.

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