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12:25 am
Thu December 20, 2012

In A French Village, Protection From The Apocalypse

Doomsayers claim the French village of Bugarach, population 200, will be spared when the world supposedly ends Friday.
Guillaume Horcajuelo EPA /LANDOV

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 8:37 am

Friday is the last day of a 5,125-year cycle in the Mayan calendar, sparking talk about the possible end of the world. About two years ago, a rumor began circulating on the Internet that the French village of Bugarach, population 200, would be the only place to survive this apocalypse.

But despite many news stories of people flocking to the village, less than two weeks before "doomsday," there was no one on the streets. Houses were shuttered against the cold.

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Music News
12:25 am
Thu December 20, 2012

Joe Strummer's Life After Death

Joe Strummer performs with his solo project, The Latino Rockabilly War, in 1989. The Clash frontman died of heart failure in December 2002.
Mark Baker Sony Music Archive/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 8:37 am

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The Two-Way
12:24 am
Thu December 20, 2012

Maya Expert: The 'End Of Times' Is Our Idea, Not The Ancients'

Tourists are seen in front of the "Gran Jaguar" Mayan temple at the Tikal archaeological site in Guatemala, where ceremonies will be held to celebrate the end of the Mayan cycle known as Baktun 13 and the start of the new Maya Era on December 21.
Johan Ordonez AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 21, 2014 1:05 pm

Update at 7 a.m. ET, Dec. 21: We're Still Here.

Our original post continues:

It is Dec. 20, 2012 — and citizens of Earth are panicking, consumed by the idea that the world will end Friday, something they say was predicted by Mayan astronomers. Of course, most people are not panicking, and Maya expert David Stuart says no one should. The calendar, he says, has plenty of room to go.

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It's All Politics
12:23 am
Thu December 20, 2012

FAA Pressured To Give E-Readers A Pass During Takeoff, Landing

The Federal Aviation Administration is under pressure to allow more widespread use of e-readers on commercial flights — including during takeoff and landing.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 8:37 am

As the holiday travel season approaches, the Federal Aviation Administration is under pressure to allow more widespread use of e-readers on commercial flights.

Passengers can now use devices such as Kindles, iPads and Nooks while in flight, but not during takeoffs and landings. The FAA says it is studying the matter, but the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and a U.S. senator say it's time to act.

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The Salt
4:54 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Unitaskers And Other Foodie Gifts We Don't Need Or Want

A man takes a closer look at kitchen appliances while shopping at a Bed Bath & Beyond store in New York.
Lucas Jackson Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 5:59 am

Call us Grinchy, but as Christmas rushes towards us, we at The Salt have been overwhelmed with foodie gift ideas that frankly give us pause. So if you're confronting a long Christmas list that will have to be dealt with at the last minute, we have some advice.

Resist the food baubles and frippery that await you on Amazon.com and in nearly every retail outlet.

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It's All Politics
3:27 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 3:34 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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The Two-Way
3:22 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

News Of Sandy Hook's New Principal Brightens Parents' Day

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 3:44 am

When the students of Sandy Hook Elementary return to class after the holiday break, they'll be attending a different school. They'll also have an interim principal who will be a familiar face to some: Donna Page, who retired from Sandy Hook two years ago.

As NPR's Zoe Chace reports, the news was announced by a voicemail sent to the parents of Sandy Hook's students, in which Page (pronounced Pa-jhay), told them, "It is with a heavy heart full of love that I connect with you today. You may not know me, but I know you. I was principal of Sandy Hook School for 14 years."

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The Salt
3:16 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 6:04 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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Shootings In Newtown, Conn.
3:03 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 3:47 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 Two-Way
2:36 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
2:07 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 5:31 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
2:00 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 4:35 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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Shots - Health News
1:35 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 10:28 am

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World
1:29 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 5:32 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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Planet Money
1:28 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Without Magic, Santa Would Need 12 Million Employees

Lam Thuy Vo / NPR

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 1:31 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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Commentary
1:06 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

When Someone You Know Loses A Child

The grief a bereaved parent feels resides deep within and is individually expressed. Different people respond in different ways.
Brendan Smialkowski Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 6:21 pm

Amid the aftershocks of the senseless shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., our ever-more-complex society goes on to publicly discuss what happened and how to avoid such tragedy in the future.

But there are also private considerations and quieter questions of how to respond — on a personal level — to suffering parents.

What can you say to parents who have lost a child? What can you do?

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NPR's Backseat Book Club
12:58 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

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

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 2:43 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
12:55 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 2:43 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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The Two-Way
11:57 am
Wed December 19, 2012

South Korea To Get Its First Female Leader

South Korea's Park Geun-hye claimed victory Wednesday in the country's presidential election. Park, the daughter of a former military dictator, will be the first female leader of the country. Here, she greets supporters at party headquarters.
Kim Jae-hwan AP

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 3:47 am

Conservative candidate Park Geun-hye claimed victory Wednesday in South Korea's closely contested presidential election, an outcome that will make her the first woman to lead the Asian nation.

In addition, Park boasts a fascinating personal history that's deeply intertwined with South Korea's evolution in recent decades.

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The Two-Way
11:29 am
Wed December 19, 2012

Death Penalty Possible In Court Martial Of Army Sgt. Accused Of Afghan Killings

Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales during an August 2011 training exercise at Fort Irwin, Calif.
Spc. Ryan Hallock AFP/Getty Images

The Army staff sergeant accused in the March 11 murders of 16 Afghan civilians and shooting of six others could be given the death penalty if he's convicted of all the charges officially filed against him this week, a General Court-Martial Convening Authority announced Wednesday.

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, 39, prosecutors say, attacked two villages near his base in southern Afghanistan. Among the 16 people killed, nine were children.

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