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The Salt
2:16 am
Mon December 29, 2014

Ladies Lead Whiskey Renaissance As Distillers And New Tipplers

Women at a whiskey tasting at the W South Beach Hotel & Residences on May 3, 2012 in Miami Beach, Fla.
Aaron Davidson Getty Images for W South Beach Hotel & Residences

What do Lady Gaga and Rihanna have in common with founding father George Washington? Whiskey.

Yes, our first commander-in-chief distilled the popular spirit. And these pop icons are helping to fuel a new female-driven whiskey renaissance.

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Environment
2:02 am
Mon December 29, 2014

Road Salt Contributes To Toxic Chemical Levels In Streams

Salt is unloaded at a maintenance yard in Scio Township, Mich., in September.
Carlos Osorio AP

This is the time of year when it's not uncommon to see big trucks barreling down highways and streets spreading road salt.

Steve Corsi, a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, says that translates into high levels of chloride concentrations for rivers like the Milwaukee in Wisconsin or 18 other streams near urban areas in Illinois, Ohio, Colorado and several other states.

"At many of the streams, concentrations have now exceeded those that are harmful to aquatic life," he says.

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Animals
4:43 pm
Sun December 28, 2014

Scientists Discover That Drunk Birds Sing Like Drunks

Recent research has shown that zebra finches sing differently when drunk, but not whether they know enough of the lyrics to get through "Don't Stop Believin' " or "I Will Survive."
Liza Gross Courtesy Public Library of Science

Originally published on Sun December 28, 2014 5:02 pm

If you've ever listened to karaoke at a bar, you know that drinking can affect how well someone can sing. Christopher Olson and his colleagues at Oregon Health and Science University recently set out to find if the same was true for birds, specifically zebra finches.

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Author Interviews
4:42 pm
Sun December 28, 2014

From Her Dad To Her 'Jamish' Roots, A Poet Pieces Her Story Together

Originally published on Sun December 28, 2014 5:02 pm

Growing up in 1970s England, Salena Godden stood out. Her mother was Jamaican and her father was an Irish jazz musician who mysteriously disappeared from her life when she was very young.

In her memoir, Springfield Road, the writer, poet and musician tells the story of finding her personal identity, beginning with the word she made up to describe her race: Jamish.

"It's kind of ... a mix of being Jamaican, Irish, English," she tells NPR's Arun Rath. "It's the name I gave myself."

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Remembrances
4:42 pm
Sun December 28, 2014

Remembering The Pioneering Audiologist Who Tested Hearing At Birth

For more than 30 years, Dr. Marion Downs pushed for newborns to be screened for hearing loss soon after birth.
Marion Downs Center

Originally published on Sun December 28, 2014 5:02 pm

Before turning the page on 2014, All Things Considered is paying tribute to some of the people who passed away this year whose stories you may not have heard — including Dr. Marion Downs.

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Health
4:42 pm
Sun December 28, 2014

Mae Keane, The Last 'Radium Girl,' Dies At 107

Employees of the U.S. Radium Corporation paint numbers on the faces of wristwatches using dangerous radioactive paint. Dozens of women, known as Radium Girls, later died of radium poisoning. The last radium girl died this year at 107.
Argonne National Laboratory

Originally published on Sun December 28, 2014 9:05 pm

Before turning the page on 2014, All Things Considered is paying tribute to some of the people who passed away this year whose stories you may not have heard — including Mae Keane.

In the early 1920s, the hot new gadget was a wristwatch with a glow-in-the-dark dial.

"Made possible by the magic of radium!" bragged one advertisement.

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The Two-Way
2:54 pm
Sun December 28, 2014

Pope John Paul II's Would-Be Assassin Lays Roses At His Tomb

In this image taken from a video provided by Adnkronos International, Ali Agca stands in front of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, on Saturday. Agca, who tried to assassinate Pope John Paul II in 1981, laid flowers at the late pontiff's tomb.
AP

The Turkish man who tried to kill Pope John Paul II and subsequently spent three decades in jail, has laid flowers at the tomb of the former pontiff.

Mehmet Ali Ağca shot John Paul twice at close range on May 13, 1981 as the pope was traveling in an open car through St. Peter's Square in Vatican City, an attack that left the pope in critical condition.

The gunman was quickly arrested. John Paul recovered and later met Ağca in prison, where the pontiff forgave his would-be killer.

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The Two-Way
1:44 pm
Sun December 28, 2014

Thousands Of Motorists Stranded By Snow In French Alps

Drivers park to put on snow chains in the middle of a massive traffic jam in the Savoie region of France. Thousands of motorists are stranded for a second day.
Muscio Sylvain EPA/Landov

Thousands of vehicles are stranded in the French Alps unable to come or go from ski resorts in southeastern France due to particularly heavy snowfall and icy conditions.

One man was reportedly killed when his car slid off into a ravine.

The BBC reports that as many as 15,000 motorists who spent Saturday night unable to move due to the snow and ice, are still unable to move in the region of Savoie, west of Turin, Italy.

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Parallels
12:51 pm
Sun December 28, 2014

Which World Leader Had The Best And The Worst Year In 2014?

A T-shirt bearing the image of Russian President Vladimir Putin reads "The most polite man" at a St. Petersburg market in Russia on Wednesday. Putin began the year in dramatic fashion by hosting the Winter Olympics and seizing the Crimea. However, his year ended with Russia's economy in turmoil and forecasts of a recession for 2015.
Dmitry Lovetsky AP

Originally published on Sun December 28, 2014 2:32 pm

Wars raged in the Middle East and beyond. Economic woes stretched across continents. Crashing oil prices boosted some countries and slammed others. World leaders had a lot on their plate this past year. They were responsible for some of their trouble, and some of it just happened to them.

Whether they earned their good fortune or got hammered by bad luck, here's a look at the leaders who fared the best and the worst in 2014, plus a peek at what they can expect next year:

Vladimir Putin's Bipolar Year

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The Two-Way
10:36 am
Sun December 28, 2014

Iranian General Reportedly Killed By ISIS Sniper In Northern Iraq

Originally published on Sun December 28, 2014 11:07 am

A senior commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards was killed by a sniper's bullet in the northern Iraqi city of Samarra as he was training Iraqi troops and Shiite militiamen fighting militants of the self-declared Islamic State, Iran says.

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History
10:07 am
Sun December 28, 2014

Fleeing To Dismal Swamp, Slaves And Outcasts Found Freedom

Great Dismal Swamp, in Virginia and North Carolina, was once thought to be haunted. For generations of escaped slaves, says archaeologist Dan Sayers, the swamp was a haven.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Originally published on Sun December 28, 2014 2:50 pm

Most Americans know about the Underground Railroad, the route that allowed Southern slaves to escape North. Some slaves found freedom by hiding closer to home, however — in Great Dismal Swamp.

The swamp is a vast wetland in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. In George Washington's time, it was a million acres of trees, dark water, bears, bobcats, snakes and stinging insects. British settlers, who first arrived in 1607, believed the swamp was haunted.

By 1620, some of their slaves may have overcome that fear to find freedom there.

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Health Care
10:07 am
Sun December 28, 2014

Tennessee's Medicaid Deal Dodges A Partisan Fight

Gov. Bill Haslam announces his proposal to expand Medicaid in Tennessee on Dec. 15. Under the plan, the hospital association would pay the state's portion of the program.
Erik Schelzig AP

Tony Smith's disability check puts him over the income limit to receive standard Medicaid, but it's too little for him to qualify for a subsidy.

Sitting next to a federal health-care navigator at a Nashville, Tenn., clinic, he said he hopes lawmakers think of his plight and that of thousands of others when considering Medicaid expansion.

"I'm not looking for a handout," Smith says. "I'm just looking for some help ... because I need it."

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The Two-Way
8:43 am
Sun December 28, 2014

Ceremony In Afghanistan Officially Ends America's Longest War

Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Gen. John Campbell opens the "Resolute Support" flag during a ceremony at the ISAF headquarters in Kabul on Sunday.
Massoud Hossaini AP

Originally published on Sun December 28, 2014 3:31 pm

U.S. troops and their NATO allies in Afghanistan have formally ended what became America's longest war, furling their flag 13 years after a 2001 invasion to topple the country's Taliban regime in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

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The Two-Way
7:44 am
Sun December 28, 2014

1 Dead, Hundreds Evacuated From Burning Ferry In Adriatic Sea

The car ferry Norman Atlantic burns in waters off Greece on Sunday.
HANDOUT Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Sun December 28, 2014 9:38 pm

Updated at 10:35 p.m. ET

Gale-force winds and rough seas were hampering an effort to evacuate nearly 500 passengers and crew from a ferry that caught fire off the Greek island of Corfu early this morning.

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NPR Ed
6:39 am
Sun December 28, 2014

'Military Children': Their Struggles, Sacrifices And Strengths

Military Children from WAMU's Breaking Ground project sheds light on the challenges of being the child of soldiers.
Kavitha Cardoza/WAMU

Originally published on Sun December 28, 2014 2:19 pm

We've all seen the photo: A soldier in fatigues stoops down to hug his child one last time before heading off to a war zone.

We may have an idea of what comes next for the soldier, but rarely do we discuss what's next for the child.

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