Opinion
1:56 pm
Wed December 21, 2011

Appreciating The Ugliness Of The Christmas Tree

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed December 21, 2011 3:03 pm

Ken Harbaugh is a former Navy pilot and an NPR commentator.

Our Christmas tree gets uglier every year. It's not the tree's fault. This year we sprung for a Fraser fir, cut fresh at a local farm. It has soft needles, that ideal pine-cone shape, and a pointy top perfect for holding a star. But when we got home, I felt like apologizing. This tree did not deserve what we were about to do. We re-cut the bottom, mounted it in its holder, and gave it water. For about five minutes, our tree looked beautiful. Then came the decorations.

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The Two-Way
1:38 pm
Wed December 21, 2011

BofA's Countrywide To Pay $335 Million, Settling Lending Discrimination Case

The Countrywide logo.
AP

Originally published on Wed December 21, 2011 3:18 pm

The Justice Department is calling it the "largest residential fair lending settlement in history:" Bank of America's Countrywide Financial has agreed to pay $335 million to settle a lawsuit that claimed it discriminated against black and Latino borrowers.

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Environment
1:07 pm
Wed December 21, 2011

Turbulence As Europe Passes Fee On Plane Emissions

Air travel contributes only 2 to 4 percent of carbon dioxide emissions worldwide. A new ruling says airlines flying into an out of European airports will have to pay a price for the carbon dioxide they emit from burning jet fuel. Above, a plane takes off from the Geneva airport on March 11, 2010.
Fabrice Coffrini AFP/Getty Images

A European court ruled Wednesday that airlines flying into and out of European airports will have to pay a price for the carbon dioxide they emit when they burn jet fuel.

U.S. airlines, which had been fighting the idea in court, say the European Union is trying to force other countries to reduce carbon emissions. Europe currently limits carbon dioxide emissions from its major industries to curb global warming. The ruling cannot be appealed, and the decision likely to end the dispute.

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The Two-Way
12:33 pm
Wed December 21, 2011

EPA Issues Rule Limiting Arsenic, Mercury Emissions From Power Plants

New regulations issued by the Obama administration will force the country's coal- and oil-fired power plants to reduce the emission of pollutants such as arsenic and mercury or shut down.

In a statement, the Environmental Protection Agency said the new standards "will protect millions of families and children from harmful and costly air pollution and provide the American people with health benefits that far outweigh the costs of compliance."

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Shots - Health Blog
12:27 pm
Wed December 21, 2011

Lack Of Autopsies After Elderly Die Conceals Health Flaws

Death investigations among seniors are often skipped, leaving the growing population vulnerable to neglect and abuse.
Andres Cediel Frontline

Abuse in nursing homes and suspicious deaths among seniors often go undetected because postmortem examinations are becoming few and far between.

Earlier this year, an NPR News investigation found that many jurisdictions stopped doing autopsies on people who died over the age of 60, unless it was obvious that a violent death occurred. A lack of resources, both financial and staffing, was often to blame.

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Politics
12:11 pm
Wed December 21, 2011

Mass. Senate Race A Battle Over Who's More Populist

Elizabeth Warren speaks in October during a debate for the U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts held by Republican Scott Brown. The race has become a contest of who is the "real" populist.
Elise Amendola AP

Originally published on Wed December 21, 2011 3:35 pm

Republican Scott Brown of Massachusetts made a point of calling Ted Kennedy's old U.S. Senate seat the "people's seat," and he won it in large part by casting himself as the opposite of that glamorous and privileged dynasty.

Brown won in a special election in 2010. Now, Democrat Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard Law professor and Wall Street watchdog, is raising Democrats' hopes they can win the seat back. Just months after announcing her first-ever candidacy, polls show Warren pulling out ahead of Brown.

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The Two-Way
12:00 pm
Wed December 21, 2011

For First Time, Women Share 'First Kiss' At A Navy Homecoming

When Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta kissed Petty Officer 3rd Class Citlalic Snell today in Virginia Beach, a little bit of history was made.

As The Virginian-Pilot explains:

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Monkey See
11:55 am
Wed December 21, 2011

Callin' Oates: The Hotline You Don't Need (But Might Call Anyway)

John Oates (left) and Daryl Hall (right) of pop duo Hall & Oates, seen here in 1987. These days, they're available on your phone.
Dave Hogan Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 29, 2011 4:08 pm

Is it pure whimsy that makes something like "Callin' Oates" appealing?

If you pick up your phone and call 719-26-OATES — at least as of this writing — you'll get a computerized woman's voice telling you what numbers to press to hear one of four Hall & Oates songs.

The question, of course, is ... why?

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World Cafe
11:46 am
Wed December 21, 2011

The Goat Rodeo Sessions On World Cafe

Left to right: Chris Thile, Aoife O'Donovan, Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer and Stuart Duncan of The Goat Rodeo Sessions.
Jeremy Cowart

Four string virtuosos, each hailing from bluegrass or classical backgrounds, recently came together to bring the world a wonderful mix of the two genres in The Goat Rodeo Sessions.

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The Two-Way
11:40 am
Wed December 21, 2011

Iraqi Prime Minister Urges Kurds To Turn Over Vice President

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called on Kurdish athorities to turn over Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, who sought refuge in the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan in northern Iraq after a warrant was issued for his arrest.

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