6:45am

Wed December 24, 2014
Dispatches from Kolkata for 12/24/2014

Sandip Roy: Andamanese Tongues

Andaman natives
jaredpeace.hubpages.com

When the 2004 Christmas tsunami swept through the Indian Ocean, it left devastation in its wake. Buildings, hotels, shipyards all laid to waste. Thousands dead or missing, and along with them ancient languages and cultures.  

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6:44am

Wed December 24, 2014
Parallels

25 Years After Death, A Dictator Still Casts A Shadow In Romania

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 2:09 pm

Romanians burn a portrait of Nicolae Ceausescu in Denta on Dec. 22, 1989, as residents take to the streets to celebrate the downfall of the dictator.
Joel Robine AFP/Getty Images

Twenty-five years ago, the Communist leaders of Eastern Europe were falling like dominoes. And on Christmas Day in 1989, Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife, Elena, were executed by firing squad. The deaths of the despised couple ended a quarter-century of iron-fisted rule that translated into oppression and misery for most Romanians.

Yet many in that country — including some of their opponents — question the summary nature of the Ceausescus' trial and sentence.

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6:33am

Wed December 24, 2014
Code Switch

New Blood Donation Rules Would Still Exclude Many Gay Men

Originally published on Fri December 26, 2014 5:46 am

On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration recommended a change in the discriminatory and unscientific policy that effectively prohibited men who have sex with men from donating blood for life. Those guidelines kept any man who had sex with another man — even just once — since 1977 from donating blood forever.

While gay discrimination has been reduced in so many other areas of life, up until now, there hasn't been enough medical or political will to intervene on the blood ban. That policy perpetuated stigma without improving safety.

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6:23am

Wed December 24, 2014
Parallels

Turkey's President And His 1,100-Room 'White Palace'

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 2:09 pm

Turkey's new presidential palace in the capital, Ankara, has an official price tag of $615 million and more than 1,000 rooms. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Ak Saray, or the White Palace, is not his palace, but that of Turkey. But not everyone is so sure.
Aykut Unlupinar Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

On the outskirts of the Turkish capital, a new landmark looms over what was once Ankara forestland. It's a new presidential palace complex, with at least 1,100 rooms and an official price tag of $615 million — although critics suggest both figures are probably higher.

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5:27am

Wed December 24, 2014
Daily Almanac

December 24, 2014

Today is Wednesday December 24, 2014
358 day of 2014, 7 remaining

Sunrise: 7:23am
Sunset: 4:56 pm
9 hours and 33 minutes of daylight today
Moonrise: 9:21 a.m.
Moonset: 8:24 p.m.

Special Celebrations today:

Today is Christmas Eve. It's also Egg Nog Day, Chocolate Day and The Feast of the Seven Fishes today.

on this day in....

1818 - Franz Gruber of Oberndorf, Germany composed the music for "Silent Night".

1851 - A fire devastated the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.

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5:08am

Wed December 24, 2014
NPR Ed

An Update On For-Profit Colleges

A person walks past an Everest Institute sign in an office building in Silver Spring, Md., on July 8.
Jose Luis Magana AP

NPR Ed is updating readers on some of the top stories we've been following in 2014.

There was lots of news coming out of the for-profit education sector this year, most of it related to regulatory action.

As we reported earlier,

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5:05am

Wed December 24, 2014
The Two-Way

Former President George H.W. Bush To Remain In Hospital

Originally published on Thu December 25, 2014 12:30 am

In what his staff is calling a precautionary measure, former President George H.W. Bush was taken to a hospital in Houston by ambulance Tuesday night after experiencing shortness of breath.

Bush, 90, is being kept at Houston Methodist Hospital for observation, his staff says.

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4:50am

Wed December 24, 2014
All Tech Considered

In Its Strange Journey, 'The Interview' Becomes An Art House Film

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 5:59 am

The Alamo Drafthouse theater chain will show The Interview starting on Christmas Day.
Paul J. Richards AFP/Getty Images

A buddy flick about killing North Korean dictator Kim Jung Un will be shown on Christmas Day after all, at least in about 200 independent theaters. This kind of small-scale distribution model and the politics surrounding The Interview give what was once a big-budget Hollywood release the spirit of an art house film.

In the satirical film, which is at the center of a geopolitical tussle, Seth Rogen and James Franco play television producers who get an interview with Kim but are then hired by the CIA to "take him out."

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4:42am

Wed December 24, 2014
The Two-Way

Jordanian Plane Goes Down Over Syria; Islamic State Captures Pilot

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 11:52 am

Update at 2:32 p.m.

Jordan's military says one of its pilots has been captured by militants of the Islamic State after his plane crashed in northern Syria.

In a statement, the Jordanian military said the Islamic State "bears responsibility" for the safety of the pilot, identified as Flight Lt. Moaz Youssef al-Kasasbeh.

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4:40am

Wed December 24, 2014
The Two-Way

Police Kill Young Man In Missouri; 'It's Not What People Portray,' Mayor Says

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 9:36 am

Surveillance video shows a scene leading up to a police officer shooting and killing an armed man at a gas station in Berkeley, Mo. The St. Louis County Police Department is investigating the case, in which an 18-year-old man died.
Reuters/Landov

Updated at 12 p.m. ET

Protests over a police killing have returned to the St. Louis area, after a Berkeley, Mo., police officer shot and killed an 18-year-old black man Tuesday night. The authorities say he was armed; the shooting took place shortly after 11 p.m. outside a gas station in the St. Louis suburb that's just 2 miles west of Ferguson.

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