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Hosts: Melissa Block, Audie Cornish, Robert Siegel &
Thom Kokenge

NPR's afternoon radio newsmagazine brings you breaking news and compelling analysis, insightful commentaries, interviews, and special - sometimes quirky - features. Thom Kokenge also updates you on regional news, and weather forecasts on your drive home.

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U.S.
2:53 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Is The Border Secure Enough To Tackle The Immigration System?

A hilltop view of the 18-foot fence along the U.S.-Mexico border west of Nogales, Ariz.
Ted Robbins NPR

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 5:10 pm

Since the mid-1980s, the U.S. Border Patrol has quintupled in size — growing from about 4,000 to more than 20,000 agents.

The government has constructed some 700 miles of fencing and vehicle barriers. It has placed thousands of ground sensors, lights, radar towers and cameras along the border. And Customs and Border Protection is now flying drones and helicopters to locate smuggles and rescue stranded immigrants.

So here's the question: Is the Southwest border secure?

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The Picture Show
2:28 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

'Miss Subways': A Trip Back In Time To New York's Melting Pot

Selsey was Miss Subways January-March 1964
Courtesy of Fiona Gardner

Originally published on Thu May 2, 2013 4:13 pm

For more than 35 years, riders on the New York City subways and buses during their daily commute were graced with posters of beaming young women. While the women featured in each poster — all New Yorkers — were billed as "average girls," they were also beauty queens in the nation's first integrated beauty contest: Miss Subways, selected each month starting in 1941 by the public and professionally photographed by the country's leading modeling agency.

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It's All Politics
2:27 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

House Republicans Face Threat Of Primary Challenges In 'Plan B' Vote

Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., shown in 2010, has said he would deserve a primary challenge if he voted for House Speaker John Boehner's "fiscal cliff" proposal, which would extend the Bush-era tax cuts only on income of less than $1 million.
John Hanna AP

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

House Republicans are under a lot of pressure.

House Speaker John Boehner and his leadership team are urging them to support his "Plan B" to avoid the automatic tax hikes of the "fiscal cliff." But they're also facing pressure from outside groups that could mount primary challenges against them if they do.

Boehner argues his plan — which would allow the Bush-era tax cuts to stay in place for income under $1 million a year — isn't a tax increase. But a number of conservative groups have come to a very different conclusion.

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NPR Story
1:53 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Letters: Southern Baptist Convention Leader On Guns

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

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Now, your letters and we heard from many of you about my conversation yesterday with Dr. Richard Land. He's director of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. And the moment that seemed to get most of you writing was Reverend Land's theological justification for gun ownership and the use of lethal force.

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Latin America
1:36 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

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

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

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

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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Space
1:34 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

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

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

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

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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The Salt
1:02 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Big Food And The Big, Silent Salt Experiment

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

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

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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The Two-Way
11:56 am
Thu December 20, 2012

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

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

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

"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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It's All Politics
2:07 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Robert Bork's Supreme Court Nomination 'Changed Everything, Maybe Forever'

Robert Bork, nominated by President Reagan to the Supreme Court, is sworn in before the Senate Judiciary Committee at his confirmation hearing, Sept. 15, 1987.
John Duricka AP

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 5:31 pm

Robert Bork, whose failed Supreme Court nomination provoked a lasting partisan divide over judicial nominations, died Wednesday at age 85.

A former federal judge and conservative legal theorist, he subsequently became a hero to modern-day conservatives. And as solicitor general in the Nixon administration, he played a small but crucial role in the Watergate crisis. In what came to be known as the Saturday Night Massacre, he fired Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox after the attorney general and deputy attorney general refused President Nixon's firing order and quit.

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Planet Money
2:06 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Without Magic, Santa Would Need 12 Million Employees

Lam Thuy Vo / NPR

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 1:31 pm

There are 760 million Christian children in the world, according to the Pew Research Center. Suppose Santa delivers one gift to each child. What kind of delivery workforce would Santa need?

We couldn't get an interview with Santa. But we did get Paul Tronsor from FedEx and Mike Mangeot from UPS. They helped us go through the numbers.

Here are just a few of the positions Santa would need to fill to pull off Christmas. (Note: For the complete list, see the graphic at the bottom.)

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