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10:58am

Sat December 20, 2014
The Two-Way

U.N. Reports More Than 7,000 Ebola Deaths Since March

Originally published on Sat December 20, 2014 11:58 am

Health workers rest outside a quarantine zone at a Red Cross facility in the town of Koidu, Kono district in Eastern Sierra Leone on Friday. The World Health Organization says the number of Ebola deaths in the current outbreak has exceeded 7,000.
Baz Ratner Reuters/Landov

The number of people who have died from the worst-ever outbreak of Ebola has crossed the 7,000 mark, the World Health Organization reports, after it recorded another 392 deaths from its previous total of 6,900 earlier this week.

The total number of infected, nearly all of them in West Africa, is at 19,031, up from 18,569 in the previous report. More than 99 percent of all infections and deaths have occurred in three countries — Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

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9:30am

Sat December 20, 2014
Fresh Air Weekend

Fresh Air Weekend: Timothy Spall, Review Of D'Angelo's 'Black Messiah,' John Cleese

Timothy Spall says he had to use a lot of empathy to play a character like Mr. Turner, who wasn't always "very pleasant" and was a "man of massive contradictions."
Simon Mein Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors, and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

Timothy Spall Takes On Painter J.M.W. Turner, A 'Master Of The Sublime': The 19th century painter wasn't always "very pleasant" and he was a "man of massive contradictions," Spall says. So Spall says he had to "dig deep" to play the title role in Mr. Turner.

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8:59am

Sat December 20, 2014
Movies

Hollywood Pros Fear A Chilling Effect After Sony Bows To Hackers

Originally published on Sat December 20, 2014 10:05 am

A worker carries a poster for the movie The Interview away from its display case at a theater in Atlanta. "It feels like the margin's narrowed about what kind of movies Hollywood will be making," says veteran Hollywood producer Stephanie Striegel.
David Goldman AP

President Obama is not the only one thinking about the precedent set when Sony decided not to release the comedy The Interview. Around Hollywood, the action drew immediate rebuke as celebrities took to Twitter — like director and producer Judd Apatow:

Late night host Jimmy Kimmel agreed, writing, "An un-American act of cowardice that validates terrorist actions and sets a terrifying precedent."

In writing rooms and comedy clubs in Los Angeles, however, the conversations are more nuanced.

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8:36am

Sat December 20, 2014
The Two-Way

4 Gitmo Prisoners Released For Return To Afghanistan

Originally published on Sat December 20, 2014 12:02 pm

The entrance to Camp 5 and Camp 6 at the U.S. military's Guantanamo Bay detention center at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba, in a photograph taken earlier this year.
Ben Fox AP

Updated at 10:45 a.m. ET

The United States has released four Afghan detainees from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who were returned to Afghanistan — the latest in a series of releases of inmates in recent weeks.

Reuters says: "The men were flown to Kabul overnight aboard a U.S. military plane and released to Afghan authorities, the first such transfer of its kind to the war-torn country since 2009, a U.S. official said."

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7:48am

Sat December 20, 2014
The Two-Way

Russia Says It Won't 'Cave In' To New Western Sanctions

Originally published on Sat December 20, 2014 1:30 pm

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks in front of the map of the Russian Federation, with Crimea on the left of the map, during his annual news conference in Moscow, Russia, on Thursday. The Kremlin has responded angrily to the latest round of U.S.-EU sanctions over the annexation of Crimea.
Alexei Druzhinin AP

Russia, battered by the falling price of oil, its chief export, and a tumbling ruble, lashed out against the U.S. and EU for new sanctions that President Vladimir Putin says already account for "25 to 30 percent" of his country's eroding currency.

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7:13am

Sat December 20, 2014
Animals

A Snail So Hardcore It's Named After A Punk Rocker

Originally published on Sat December 20, 2014 9:39 am

This spiky mollusk is called Alviniconcha strummeri, named after Joe Strummer, the late frontman for the Clash.
Taylor & Francis Online

Shannon Johnson, a researcher at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, found that when she talked to youngsters about sea snails, she communicated a little more effectively if she skipped the technical description and called them "punk-rock snails."

"Their entire shells are covered in spikes," Johnson explains. "And then the spikes are actually all covered in fuzzy white bacteria."

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7:03am

Sat December 20, 2014
Michel Martin, Going There

'Going There' in 2014

Ferguson resident Frankie Edwards shows a rubber bullet wound he suffered during one of the nights of protests to NPR's Michel Martin (right) and Ferguson Mayor James Knowles (second from right) during the community conversation at Wellspring Church.
Whitney Curtis for NPR

We've been privileged in these last few months to share the stories of many Americans, some of them famous, but most of them not. We came together through some avenues we know well — books, music and theater. Sometimes, we found each other through pathways that have only recently become a big part of our lives, such as the #BeyondFerguson hashtag that brought so many young people to an August community meeting in that city. Our New Year's Resolution is to keep these honest and vital conversations going. We are going there.

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6:40am

Sat December 20, 2014
The Two-Way

North Korea Has An Interesting Offer. And Another Threat

Originally published on Sat December 20, 2014 2:34 pm

A banner for The Interview is posted outside Arclight Cinemas, in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles on Wednesday. The theatrical release of the film has been cancelled following cyber attacks and threats believed to originate in North Korea.
Damian Dovarganes AP

North Korea, which denies that it had anything to do with a hack against Sony Pictures Entertainment, now wants to help the U.S. root out the real culprit. But true to form for Pyongyang, the dubious offer comes tinged with a threat of "serious" consequences should Washington decline.

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6:03am

Sat December 20, 2014
NPR Ed

12 Weeks To A 6-Figure Job

Originally published on Sun December 21, 2014 3:44 pm

A student at the coder boot camp at General Assembly in New York City learns more than "Hello, world."
Courtesy of General Assembly

Marlon Frausto is in pursuit of the new American dream. Just a few weeks ago he left his job, in Hispanic marketing for the legal industry, and moved to San Francisco.

Every day he wakes at 5:30 a.m., commutes 45 minutes by train, and studies until 9 or 10 at night. He's spending down his savings and says he's getting help from "my loving family."

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5:35am

Sat December 20, 2014
Europe

Suddenly, Russia's Confidence Stumbles

Originally published on Sat December 20, 2014 9:39 am

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

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5:35am

Sat December 20, 2014
U.S.

Obama Wraps Up A 'Breakthrough' 2014

Originally published on Sat December 20, 2014 9:33 am

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

5:35am

Sat December 20, 2014
Africa

Excavation Reveals Regular Citizens Who Really Ran Ancient Egypt

Originally published on Sat December 20, 2014 9:39 am

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

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5:35am

Sat December 20, 2014
Africa

Designing State Symbols For The World's Newest Country

Originally published on Sat December 20, 2014 9:39 am

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

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5:35am

Sat December 20, 2014
Science

3-D Scanning Sonar Brings Light To Deep Ocean Shipwrecks

Originally published on Sat December 20, 2014 9:39 am

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

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5:35am

Sat December 20, 2014
Asia

Obama: Sony Should Have Talked To Him Before Pulling 'The Interview'

Originally published on Sat December 20, 2014 9:28 am

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

5:35am

Sat December 20, 2014
Middle East

Youth Who Led Tunisia's Uprising Frustrated With Pace Of Change

Originally published on Sat December 20, 2014 9:39 am

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

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5:35am

Sat December 20, 2014
Iraq

Kurdish Troops Free Yazidis, But Major Battles Remain

Originally published on Sat December 20, 2014 9:39 am

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

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5:35am

Sat December 20, 2014
Latin America

Author: Cuban Dissidents Feel Betrayed By Obama's Action

Originally published on Sat December 20, 2014 9:39 am

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

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

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5:03am

Sat December 20, 2014
Goats and Soda

The Africa I Know Isn't The Africa In The Headlines Today

Todd Moss on a 1992 visit to Tanzania.
Courtesy of Todd Moss

Stepping off the plane in Zimbabwe a quarter century ago was a huge shock. A college student on my very first visit to Africa, I was surprised how familiar everything felt.

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3:17am

Sat December 20, 2014
The Salt

Antarctic Holiday: A Christmas Feast In The Loneliest Spot On Earth

The author, Dr. Gavin Francis, arrived at Halley base on Christmas Eve 2002, at the height of the Antarctic midsummer, when 24-hour sunlight illuminates the vast swathes of empty ice.
Courtesy of Gavin Francis

It was Christmas Eve 2002, at the height of midsummer, when I arrived to take up a year-long job as doctor at Halley base – the most remote research station operated by the British in Antarctica.

As we cruised up to the Caird Coast of Antarctica, a crowd of us stood out on the deck of the supply ship RRS Ernest Shackleton, singing Christmas carols in the 24-hour sunlight, wearing Santa hats and reindeer antlers.

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