2:03pm

Thu December 20, 2012
Energy

Next In Line For A Fracking Boom, California Looks At The Rules

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 7:18 pm

Most hydraulic fracturing in California is done to extract to oil in areas like this field in Kern County. The state is drafting fracking regulations for the first time.
Craig Miller KQED

The controversial drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing has created an oil and gas boom around the country. In states like Texas, Pennsylvania and Colorado, there's been heated debate about rules that protect groundwater and public health.

California is now wading into that arena with the release of the state's first fracking regulations. The state's earthquake-prone geology, however, could bring particular concerns.

Fracking itself isn't new. The technology behind it, though, has changed.

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1:36pm

Thu December 20, 2012
Latin America

'Lost Jews' Of Colombia Say They've Found Their Roots

Originally published on Sun December 23, 2012 9:38 am

Baruj Cano, 4, watches as his father and other men from Bello's Jewish community read from the Torah.
Paul Smith for NPR

They are called "crypto-Jews" or "lost Jews," and in recent years they have emerged in remote places as scattered as India, Brazil, the American Southwest and here in Colombia.

They were raised as Christians but believe they have discovered hidden Jewish roots, prompting many to return to Judaism. Many say their ancestors were Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain more than 500 years ago, as the Spanish crown embarked on a systematic persecution of Jews.

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1:34pm

Thu December 20, 2012
Space

In Calif. Gold Country, A Rush That's Out Of This World

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 7:18 pm

A section of the Sutter's Mill meteorite, dubbed "Darth Vader," is studied at a lab at the University of California, Davis. The meteorite is made of carbonaceous chondrite, which contains materials that formed the planets of the solar system.
UC Davis

On the crisp, clear morning of April 22, a 50-ton asteroid slammed into the Earth's atmosphere and shattered into countless pieces. Remarkably, they rained down onto Sutter's Mill, Calif., the exact spot where gold was discovered back in 1848, triggering the gold rush. And so follows a story of serendipity and scientific discovery.

"I was out on my hillside burning some branches and so forth, and I heard this sonic boom," says Gold Country resident Ed Allen. "It wasn't just one boom. It was a series of booms, literally right over my head."

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1:02pm

Thu December 20, 2012
The Salt

Big Food And The Big, Silent Salt Experiment

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 7:18 pm

Food companies have begun quietly reducing salt in regular foods because low-salt items like these don't sell as well.
Mel Evans AP

Have you noticed, perhaps, that some of your store-bought salad dressings or spaghetti sauces taste a little less salty lately?

Probably not. The companies that make those products are doing their best to keep you from noticing. Yet many of them are, in fact, carrying out a giant salt-reduction experiment, either because they want to improve their customers' health or because they're worried that if they don't, the government might impose regulations that would compel more onerous salt reductions.

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12:05pm

Thu December 20, 2012
It's All Politics

Cory Booker Eyes (Chris Christie-Free) Path To His Political Future

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 12:25 pm

Newark Mayor Cory Booker greets a 13-year-old at a relief center for those affected by Superstorm Sandy, in November.
Julio Cortez AP

Here was the choice facing Newark Mayor Cory Booker: Run next year against New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, whose popularity would have made the Republican exceedingly difficult to beat; or fix his gaze on the Senate seat now occupied by an 88-year-old fellow Democrat, Sen.

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11:56am

Thu December 20, 2012
The Two-Way

Gun Control: 'Only Modest Change' In Opinion Since Newtown Shootings

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 6:25 am

A Sig Sauer handgun on sale at a shop in Tucker, Ga.
Erik S. Lesser EPA /LANDOV

"The public's attitudes toward gun control have shown only modest change in the wake of last week's deadly shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.," the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press reported Thursday afternoon.

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11:29am

Thu December 20, 2012
The Two-Way

Former Official Sentenced To 35 Years For Role In Rwanda's Genocide

An international criminal court has found a former Rwandan government official guilty of genocide and other crimes, sentencing him to 35 years in prison for his role in the Hutu-led government's murder of ethnic Tutsis on an epic scale. The trial is the last stemming from events 18 years ago.

As Gregory Warner reports for NPR's Newscast unit:

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11:10am

Thu December 20, 2012
Politics

Assault-Style Weapons In The Civilian Market

According to Tom Diaz of the Violence Policy Center, more people in the United States die every year from gun-related incidents than have been killed in all terrorist attacks worldwide since the 1960s.
iStockPhoto

As the country reels after Friday's massacre in Newtown, Conn., the question of how assault rifles like the one used at Sandy Hook Elementary School entered the civilian market is front and center.

The semi-automatic weapon found at the site where Adam Lanza shot to death 20 children and six adults, for example, is a variant of a type of gun developed for troops during Vietnam.

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11:10am

Thu December 20, 2012
Commentary

Geoff Nunberg's Word Of The Year: Big Data

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 1:18 pm

Adam Gryko iStockphoto.com

"Big Data" hasn't made any of the words-of-the-year lists I've seen so far. That's probably because it didn't get the wide public exposure given to items like "frankenstorm," "fiscal cliff" and YOLO.

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10:54am

Thu December 20, 2012
The Two-Way

At Benghazi Hearing, Sen. Kerry Urges More Diplomatic Resources

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 11:28 am

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., led a Senate hearing Thursday on the Sept. 11 attacks in Benghazi, Libya.
Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images

Sen. John Kerry is considered the leading candidate to become the next secretary of state, and that gave added weight to his remarks Thursday as he oversaw testimony on the most volatile foreign policy issue in recent months: the deadly Sept. 11 attacks in Benghazi.

The two top deputies of the current secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, acknowledged that the State Department failed to provide adequate security in Benghazi, which has remained extremely volatile following last year's ouster of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

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