NPR News

Pages

2:31pm

Wed December 17, 2014
The Two-Way

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

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."

Read more

2:18pm

Wed December 17, 2014
Parallels

In Gaza, The Specter Of ISIS Proves Useful To Both Sides

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 7:15 pm

The Islamist group Hamas, shown here in a rally in the Gaza Strip on Dec. 12, is the strongest faction in the Gaza Strip. The Islamic State, or ISIS, is not believed to be in the territory, though fliers purporting to be from the group have circulated in Gaza. They are widely believed to be fake, but both Israel and Hamas have tried to use them to their advantage.
Mahmud Hams AFP/Getty Images

Earlier this month, more than a dozen writers, poets and activists in Gaza got threatening fliers signed with the name ISIS, the Sunni extremists fighting with brutal violence in Iraq and Syria.

But a few days later, a new flier, also signed ISIS, also known as the Islamic State, denied responsibility and apologized.

The incident is raising the question of whether ISIS is taking root in Gaza — or if someone is just playing around.

Read more

2:17pm

Wed December 17, 2014
Movies

Studios Hope Holiday Family Movies Will Grab Slice Of Shrinking Box Office

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 7:07 pm

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

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Hollywood likes to roll out their big family movies around the holidays. This season the lineup includes "Big Hero 6," "Annie," "Penguins Of Madagascar," and the offbeat fairy tale musical, "Into The Woods."

Read more

2:17pm

Wed December 17, 2014
Around the Nation

Some Cuban-Americans Angry With Release Of Spies

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 7:21 pm

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

2:17pm

Wed December 17, 2014
Movie Interviews

Major Movie Theater Chains Drop 'The Interview' After Threats

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 7:07 pm

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

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Read more

2:17pm

Wed December 17, 2014
Global Health

Dreaming Up A Safer, Cooler PPE For Ebola Fighters

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 7:21 pm

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

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.

Read more

2:17pm

Wed December 17, 2014
Goats and Soda

We're Down To 5 Northern White Rhinos: Is It Too Late For Babies?

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 7:07 pm

Najin, a female northern white rhino, gets a pat from keeper Mohamed Doyo. Najin, who lives at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, is one of only five of its subspecies left in the world.
Ben Curtis AP

A 44-year-old northern white rhino named Angalifu died this week at the San Diego Zoo of old age.

Now only five animals remain in this subspecies, all in captivity. Four are females. The lone male lives in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.

So it would seem the northern white rhino is doomed to extinction. Poachers are to blame — they've slain thousands of the rhinos to get their horns, which are hawked in Asia as a health tonic.

Read more

2:10pm

Wed December 17, 2014
Shots - Health News

What Happens After You Get That Mammogram

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 6:37 pm

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

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.

Read more

1:39pm

Wed December 17, 2014
The Two-Way

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

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

A sign posted Wednesday on the box office window at the Sunshine Cinema in New York. The New York premiere of The Interview, a Sony Pictures comedy about the assassination of North Korean President Kim Jong Un, has been canceled.
Andrew Kelly Reuters /Landov

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.

Read more

1:02pm

Wed December 17, 2014
Parallels

The U.S. And Cuba: A Brief History Of A Complicated Relationship

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 8:49 pm

Fidel Castro looks up at the Jefferson Memorial on April 16, 1959. The Cuban leader visited Washington several months after seizing power. But U.S.-Cuban relations quickly frayed, and the U.S. imposed an embargo of the island in 1960.
AP

Just months after he seized power in Cuba, Fidel Castro visited Washington in April 1959. He placed a wreath at the base of both the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials and was photographed looking up in seeming admiration of both U.S. presidents.

For U.S.-Cuba relations, it was all downhill after that.

Read more

12:56pm

Wed December 17, 2014
The Two-Way

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.

Read more

12:44pm

Wed December 17, 2014
The Two-Way

PHOTO: The Meaning In A Phone Call

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 6:25 am

President Obama speaks with President Raul Castro of Cuba from the Oval Office on Tuesday.
Pete Souza The White House

On Tuesday, President Obama picked up the phone and talked to Cuban President Raul Castro.

Read more

12:12pm

Wed December 17, 2014
The Two-Way

New Cuba Policy Is Met With Cheers And Jeers On Both Sides Of The Aisle

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 1:46 pm

Updated at 3:42 p.m.

The Obama administration announced today that it would begin the process of re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba.

It's a contentious issue, and reaction has been swift. Here's a roundup:

Read more

11:43am

Wed December 17, 2014
The Two-Way

Prisoner Exchange With Cuba Led To Freedom For Top U.S. Intelligence Agent

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 12:22 pm

Today's announcement that Cuba freed USAID contractor Alan Gross as a humanitarian gesture came with news of a separate prisoner exchange: Three convicted Cuban spies were traded for a U.S. intelligence asset who spent nearly two decades in Cuban prisons.

President Obama called the unnamed man "one of the most important intelligence agents that the United States has ever had in Cuba."

Read more

11:30am

Wed December 17, 2014
Shots - Health News

Managed Care Plans Make Progress In Erasing Racial Disparities

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 2:25 pm

A nurse checks a man's blood pressure during a health clinic In Los Angeles.
Patrick Fallon Bloomberg via Getty Images

Years of efforts to reduce the racial disparities in health care have so far failed to eliminate them. But progress is being made in the western United States, due largely to efforts by managed care plans to identify patients who were missing out on management of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

While management of blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar improved nationwide, African-Americans still "substantially" trailed whites everywhere except the western U.S., an area from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific as well as Alaska and Hawaii.

Read more

11:13am

Wed December 17, 2014
The Salt

A Holy Land Christmas Porridge Honors A Damsel In Distress

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 1:51 pm

In Jerusalem, Syrian Orthodox Christian Nadia Ishaq prepares her burbara porridge with boiled what kernels, raisins, dried plums and dried apricots, topped with ground coconut in the shape of a cross. The holiday honors St. Barbara, an early convert to Christianity whose story is echoed in the Rapunzel tale.
Daniella Cheslow for NPR

The winter holidays are a time of abundance, but for Christians in the Middle East, the official start of the Christmas season is marked by a decidedly rustic dish: porridge.

Archbishop Swerios Murad of the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem says his congregation will eat boiled wheat kernels this week to mark the Feast of St. Barbara, or Eid el-Burbara in Arabic.

"It's a simple porridge," Murad tells The Salt, "but it's very important that it be sweet."

Read more

11:12am

Wed December 17, 2014
Music

D'Angelo's 'Black Messiah' Collapses Years, Genres

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 11:32 am

D'Angelo has built a considerable reputation on the basis of three albums: 1995's Brown Sugar, 2000's Voodoo, and now Black Messiah, unexpectedly released early Monday morning. The singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist has been widely praised for connecting many decades of different rhythm & blues styles, and Fresh Air rock critic Ken Tucker says Black Messiah is as adventurous as any fan could hope for.

Read more

11:12am

Wed December 17, 2014
Author Interviews

Between World Wars, Gay Culture Flourished In Berlin

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 11:32 am

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

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WILLKOMMEN")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Singing) Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome.

Read more

10:06am

Wed December 17, 2014
Shots - Health News

Behind The Scenes At The Lab That Fingerprints Microbiomes

Rob Knight, co-founder of the American Gut Project at the University of Colorado in Boulder, works in the lab where the samples are processed.
The American Gut Project

The gut microbiome may soon reveal important answers to questions about our health. But those answers aren't yet easy to spot or quick to obtain.

Read more

9:55am

Wed December 17, 2014
Goats and Soda

Medical Workers In Conflict Zones Have Never Faced Greater Risks

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 2:26 pm

Dr. Mohammed Arif helps treat a wounded patient at a field hospital in Kobani, Syria. Most of the clinics in this besieged Syrian border town are now in ruins. Only one still stands, its location kept secret lest it be targeted.
Jake Simkin AP

Last month, American aid worker Peter Kassig was executed in Syria by the Islamic State militant group. The 26-year-old emergency medical technician had worked in hospitals, clinics and refugee camps throughout the region for more than two years. He was known for treating anyone who needed him, regardless of political affiliation. In a country like Syria, that kind of openness is both a statement of integrity and a huge personal risk.

Read more

Pages