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Superstorm Sandy: Before, During And Beyond
2:06 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

Free Toy Shop Brings Cheer To Sandy's Displaced Families

Each FEMA-registered family with kids can pick out toys at the volunteer-run Staten Island store.
Margot Adler NPR

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 6:21 pm

The New York borough of Staten Island was hard-hit by Hurricane Sandy. Almost two months after the storm hit, many residents will not be back in their homes by the Christmas holiday.

One organization is trying to make the season a bit brighter for uprooted families with a free toy store on the island. This all-volunteer effort looks like a real toy store, but it feels more like a community of neighbors.

The shop boasts shelves filled with toys like model cars, Monopoly, dolls, craft supplies and books — almost everything you would want in a regular toy store.

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Asia
2:06 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

Japan's Economic Woes Offer Lessons To U.S.

Japan's economy has been struggling for two decades and faces some of the same problems the U.S. has. Here, a man in Tokyo passes an electronic board displaying falling global markets.
Yuriko Nakao Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 6:21 pm

In the 1980s, Japan appeared to be a world beater — the China of its day. Japanese companies were on a tear, buying up firms in the U.S. and property around the world.

But these days, Japan is considered a cautionary tale for post-industrial economies around the world. The country is facing its fourth recession in what are commonly known as the "lost decades."

Japan's story resonates this holiday season as American politicians try to reach a debt deal.

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Asia
2:06 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

Australians Urge U.S. To Look At Their Gun Laws

After a 1996 mass killing, Australia tightened its gun laws. Here, graffiti covers the wall of the hospital holding the suspect of the massacre that left 35 people dead.
Rick Rycroft AP

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 6:21 pm

A the U.S. wages a debate on its gun laws, some Australians are urging Americans to consider their experience.

For Australia, the turning point came on April 28, 1996, when a lone gunman opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle in Port Arthur, a popular tourist destination in the state of Tasmania.

Cathy Gordon was there that day, escorting six visiting musicians as part of her job with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. They were leaving a cafe just as the shooter, Martin Bryant, pulled out an AR-15 assault rifle.

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It's All Politics
1:43 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

House GOP Leaves 'Lump Of Coal' In 'Fiscal Cliff' Negotiations

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, joined by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., speaks to reporters about the "fiscal cliff" negotiations at the Capitol on Friday.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 6:21 pm

In 10 days, virtually all Americans will be hit with a tax increase and deep government spending cuts will follow shortly behind. That is, unless Congress and President Obama can find a way to avert the "fiscal cliff."

It's not looking very promising at the moment. On Thursday night, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, pulled the plug on a measure he was calling his "Plan B" and sent his members home for Christmas.

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Shots - Health News
1:25 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

Online Education Didn't Boost Colon Cancer Screening Much

Kristen Miller, a colonoscopy patient, sits with Dr. Stephen Hanauer at the University of Chicago Medical Center in Chicago in 2010. They're looking at an interactive computer program describing benefits and risks of the procedure.
Brian Kersey AP

Turn 50, and you can pretty much count on an invitation to join the AARP and a referral to the gastroenterologist to be screened for colon cancer.

Two-thirds or less of people ages 50-75, the target range for colorectal cancer screening, are up-to-date on testing, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

That's better than it used to be, but still isn't up to par. The national screening goal is 70.5 percent of eligible people in 2020.

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U.S.
1:18 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

For NRA, There's Nothing To Debate About Guns

Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, holds a news conference in Washington, D.C., on Friday.
Paul J. Richards AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 1:33 pm

The National Rifle Association won itself no new converts with its news conference Friday.

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The Two-Way
1:00 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

Darwin The 'IKEA Monkey' Can't Go Home For Christmas, Judge Rules

Darwin, when he was on the lam at IKEA.
ABC News

(Now, for something completely different.)

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Shots - Health News
12:27 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

Killer's DNA Won't Explain His Crime

A person's DNA can say a lot about a person, but not why someone has committed a horrific crime like mass murder.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 6:21 pm

Connecticut's chief medical examiner, Wayne Carver, has raised the possibility of requesting genetic tests on Adam Lanza, the man responsible for the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Carver hasn't said precisely what he may want geneticists to look for, but scientists who study the links between genes and violence say those tests won't reveal much about why Lanza did what he did.

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NPR News Investigations
12:16 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

Dismissed Case Raises Questions On Shaken Baby Diagnosis

Jennie and Kristian Aspelin pose in a pumpkin patch with their children two weeks before three-month-old Johan died.
Courtesy of the Aspelin family

Originally published on Tue January 29, 2013 12:27 pm

When San Francisco prosecutors dismissed charges against Kristian Aspelin in early December, it became just the latest case to raise questions about how shaken baby syndrome is diagnosed. Aspelin, who was accused of causing the death of his infant son, had one thing in his favor: He had enough money to pay for medical experts who cast doubt on the prosecution's theory.

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National Security
10:51 am
Fri December 21, 2012

John Kerry Already A Familiar Face To World Leaders

U.S. Sen. John Kerry (left), who was nominated Friday to be secretary of state, is shown shaking hands with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani during a trip to Pakistan last year.
Aamir Qureshi AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 6:21 pm

Long before President Obama nominated John Kerry as the country's top diplomat, the Massachusetts senator was seen as a secretary of state in waiting.

He has been chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and has frequently jetted off to Afghanistan and Pakistan whenever the Obama administration needed him.

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