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The Two-Way
1:31 pm
Wed December 24, 2014

U.S. Strikes Have Killed 1,100 ISIS Fighters And Cost $1 Billion

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 5:15 pm

U.S.-led coalition airstrikes on Syria have killed more than 1,100 Islamic State fighters since the bombings began in September, according to a British-based monitoring group.

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Parallels
12:51 pm
Wed December 24, 2014

China's Fierce Anti-Corruption Crackdown: An Insider's View

China's President Xi Jinping, shown speaking in Bruges, Belgium, back in April, has made fighting corruption one of his top priorities. Many Chinese bureaucrats are angry, saying a loss of bribes has greatly reduced their incomes.
Yves Logghe AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 25, 2014 11:45 am

A government job in China used to be a gravy train: easy hours, little scrutiny and — usually — a chance to make good money through perks and corruption. This year, though, the 1.4 million candidates who signed up to take China's civil service exam marked a drop of more than 100,000 from the previous year.

Most people think the reason is the government's fierce anti-corruption drive, which has taken a lot of the profit out of public service. Recently, a low-level Shanghai official vented to NPR about life under China's toughest crackdown in modern memory.

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The Two-Way
12:38 pm
Wed December 24, 2014

Sony To Stream 'The Interview' On YouTube, Other Sites Starting Today

A poster for The Interview, which will now be shown on streaming services as well as some theaters.
Jim Ruymen UPI/Landov

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 1:40 pm

Sony Pictures' The Interview, the comedy that centers on a plot to assassinate North Korea's leader, will be shown on streaming services starting today, the studio said in a statement.

Starting at 10 a.m. PST, the comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco will be available to rent in HD on Google Play, YouTube Movies, Microsoft's Xbox Video and a dedicated website at a price of $5.99. The film can also be bought in HD for $14.99, the statement said.

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Movie Reviews
12:34 pm
Wed December 24, 2014

In A 'Depressing' Year For Films, Edelstein Finds Some Greats

Ellar Coltrane, who plays Mason in Boyhood, was 6 years old when director Richard Linklater picked him for the role. Made over the course of 12 years, the film is David Edelstein's favorite of the year.
Courtesy of Matt Lankes

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 2:06 pm

"This is a very, very depressing year for film," critic David Edelstein tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross, "because none of the great material came from Hollywood studios."

Studios, he says, direct their financial resources into sequels and comic-book movies, which leaves little room for "creative expression, and for doing something weird and potentially boundary-moving."

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Television
12:34 pm
Wed December 24, 2014

Bianculli's Top 10: 2014 Was A 'Good Year For Programming'

Allison Tolman plays Deputy Sheriff Molly Solverson in the FX TV series Fargo. It's a breakout role for the actress who had done only theater and commercials.
Chris Large

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 2:47 pm

Although it wasn't a great year for the shows themselves, it was a good year for programming, says TV critic David Bianculli.

"In terms of what was happening on television, in terms of new and old formats and new, exciting players coming into the mix — [it was] another good year," Bianculli tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "I'm actually kind of encouraged."

Bianculli reflects on how far TV has come.

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The Two-Way
12:08 pm
Wed December 24, 2014

Son's Death 'Doesn't Make Any Sense,' Say Parents Of Berkeley Teen

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 2:16 pm

The parents of Antonio Martin say their son was killed by police in Berkeley, Mo., last night. And while he had had problems, it "doesn't make any sense for them to kill my son like this," Toni Martin-Green tells the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She added, "I am trying to remain calm."

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The Protojournalist
11:57 am
Wed December 24, 2014

A Very Native American Christmas

A Native American family gathers around a Christmas tree in Montana, ca. 1900-1920.
Library of Congress

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 12:28 pm

With the spread of Christianity among some Native Americans in the early 20th century came certain Christmas rituals — trees and presents and jolly old Santa Claus — that were folded into traditional wintertime celebrations.

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The Two-Way
11:23 am
Wed December 24, 2014

Contractor Freed By Cuba Will Get $3.2M From U.S.

Alan Gross pauses during a news conference at his lawyer's office in Washington on Dec. 17. The federal government will pay him $3.2 million as part of a settlement with the company that employed Gross when he was arrested in Cuba in 2009.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 12:18 pm

Alan Gross, the former USAID subcontractor who spent five years in a Cuban prison before his release last week, will get $3.2 million from the federal government, part of a settlement with the Maryland-based company for which he worked at the time of his arrest.

The U.S. Agency for International Development, in a statement, said it had finalized a settlement, agreed to in principle in November, with Development Alternatives, Inc.

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The Two-Way
10:25 am
Wed December 24, 2014

Teacher Wins $150,000 Prize — And Donates It All To Her School

Third-grade teacher Nikki Bollerman, 26, won a contest that gave her students books for the holidays. When she also won $150,000, she decided it should go to her school.
YouTube

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 3:43 pm

One thing's for sure: Nikki Bollerman believes in her school and the kids who go there. How else to explain Bollerman, 26, giving a $150,000 windfall to the Boston area public charter school where she teaches third grade?

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Parallels
9:44 am
Wed December 24, 2014

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

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

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 5:09 pm

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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Code Switch
9:33 am
Wed December 24, 2014

New Blood Donation Rules Would Still Exclude Many Gay Men

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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Parallels
9:23 am
Wed December 24, 2014

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

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

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 5:09 pm

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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NPR Ed
8:08 am
Wed December 24, 2014

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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The Two-Way
8:06 am
Wed December 24, 2014

Jordanian Plane Goes Down Over Syria; Islamic State Captures Pilot

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 2:52 pm

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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The Two-Way
8:05 am
Wed December 24, 2014

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

Originally published on Thu December 25, 2014 3:30 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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