11:52am

Wed December 26, 2012
World

Brazil's Drug Epidemic: Welcome To 'Crackland'

Originally published on Tue January 8, 2013 11:19 am

A member of Rio de Janeiro's Social Work Department speaks with crack addicts in a slum area known as "Crackland," during a police operation in the city in November.
Christophe Simon AFP/Getty Images

Brazilian health officials say an epidemic is taking hold — an outbreak of crack cocaine use nationwide, from the major cities on the coast to places deep in the Amazon.

It's an image at odds with the one Brazil wants to project as the country prepares to host soccer's World Cup in 2014 and the Summer Olympics two years later. But the problem has become too big to ignore.

The Luz district of central Sao Paulo was once grand, with its old train station and opulent buildings. Now, this neighborhood is known as Cracolandia — Crackland.

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11:44am

Wed December 26, 2012
The Salt

Smartphone Apps Offer Few Shortcuts For Those With Food Allergies

Originally published on Mon December 31, 2012 12:42 pm

The iTube platform, left, uses colorimetric assays and a smartphone-based digital reader to detect potential food allergen. A screen capture of the iTube App appears on the right.
UCLA

Managing food allergies can be a pain, requiring lots of sleuthing of ingredients in restaurants and supermarkets. But people with potentially lethal allergies to nuts and other foods don't have much choice.

Dozens of smartphone apps offer to make that task easier. Doctors say, though, the apps now on the market just aren't reliable enough.

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11:40am

Wed December 26, 2012
U.S.

Airlines Fear Pilot Shortage Amidst New Federal Safety Rules

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 5:05 pm

Starting next summer, aspiring commercial pilots will need 1,500 hours of flight training before they can be hired. This dramatic increase, among other factors, is making airlines worry that there will not be enough pilots to maintain current service.
iStockphoto.com

Some airlines — especially the smaller ones — worry they won't have enough pilots. They're a number of factors in play, but they point to new federal safety rules as a big part of the problem.

In February 2009, a Colgan Air commuter jet crashed, killing 50 people. Investigators cited inadequate pilot training; Congress responded with new legislation. Beginning next summer, those who want to pilot commercial jets will need dramatically more hours of flight training before they can be hired.

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11:24am

Wed December 26, 2012
It's All Politics

Minorities May Spurn The GOP, But The Party Welcomes Them

Originally published on Tue January 1, 2013 9:03 am

Incoming Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who spoke during the Republican National Convention this summer in Tampa, Fla., is among a number of minority politicians seen as rising stars in the GOP.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

As the nation's first African-American president, Barack Obama benefited from and expanded his party's enormous advantage among minority voters.

But as he prepares to start his second term, Obama hasn't managed to usher in behind him many Democrats who are minorities to top elected office. Conversely, Republicans — despite their highly limited support among non-Anglo voters — have managed to elevate more top politicians from minority backgrounds.

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11:22am

Wed December 26, 2012
The Two-Way

'Thunderbirds' TV Show Creator Anderson Dies At 83

Thunderbirds creator Gerry Anderson has died at age 83. Here, he poses with puppets Parker and Lady Penelope from the series, shortly before a 2001 auction in London.
Dave Caulkin AP

11:11am

Wed December 26, 2012
The Two-Way

'Fiscal Cliff' Deadline Looms, But Sense Of Urgency Seems To Be Lacking

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 11:49 am

Will the lights be on late at the White House for the next few nights, or will talks about the "fiscal cliff" be less than dramatic?
Larry Downing Reuters /Landov

President Obama is "cutting short" a vacation that he'd already said he would cut short. "See you next week," he told reporters last week before leaving for Hawaii. The president is now due back at the White House on Thursday, which is pretty much what was expected. His family will stay in Hawaii until after the New Year.

Senators are also coming back to Washington, but many aren't likely to get to the Capitol until Thursday evening.

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9:54am

Wed December 26, 2012
Middle East

Syria's War Leaves Its Scars On The Children

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 4:57 pm

Maysam Selmo, 8, during her first week at Albashayer School for Syrian Refugee Children in Antakya, Turkey. She and her extended family fled their village in northwestern Syria, and now live in a crowded apartment.
Jodi Hilton for NPR

The war in Syria is taking a huge toll on the children. An international team of researchers that interviewed Syrian kids in a refugee camp in Turkey found that 3 out of 4 have lost a loved one. Almost half have post-traumatic stress disorder and elevated levels of depression.

There are efforts to help, but it's challenging. In the southern Turkish city of Gaziantep, the bell rings at 8 a.m. at the Friendship Elementary School. Syrian kids, in fresh school uniforms, cram into desks, with more than 40 students in every classroom.

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9:33am

Wed December 26, 2012
The Two-Way

N.Y. Website Posts Map Of People With Gun Permits, Draws Criticism

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 11:49 am

The Journal News' map of gun owners in Rockland County, N.Y. At its website, the image is interactive so that users can see who has handgun permits and where they live.
The Journal News

The website of New York's Journal News newspapers has posted an interactive map showing the names and addresses of people with licenses to own handguns in three counties just to the north of New York City — Westchester, Rockland and Putnam.

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8:17am

Wed December 26, 2012
Around the Nation

A Lull Until New Year's? Not So These Days

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 10:32 am

The CambridgeSide Galleria was bustling with people exchanging gifts and taking advantage of sales the day after Christmas 2011.
Suzanne Kreiter The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Time was, the stretch following Christmas Day until New Year's Day was a quiet, sleepy spot on the American calendar. The six-day span hung like a lazy hammock between the holidays.

Not anymore.

Nowadays, the WAC — Week After Christmas — is busy and abuzzing. All around the country, Americans continue to celebrate — Kwanzaa, the Christmas afterglow and the coming New Year.

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8:14am

Wed December 26, 2012
The Two-Way

Gunman Who Killed Two Firefighters Left Chilling Note

William Spengler, in an undated image released by the Monroe County (N.Y.) Sheriff's Office.
Reuters /Landov

We're learning more about Monday's shooting deaths of two firefighters in Webster, N.Y., and the man who police say lured the first responders to the scene by setting fire to his home.

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