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The Salt
3:05 am
Sun December 22, 2013

Grasslands Get Squeezed As Another 1.6 Million Acres Go Into Crops

Retired farmer Joe Govert looks at a parcel of family land near Tribune, Kan. It has been enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program.
Charlie Riedel AP

Originally published on Sat December 28, 2013 4:59 pm

As the year winds down, we here at NPR are looking at a few key numbers that explain the big trends of 2013.

Today's number: 1.6 million.

That's 1.6 million acres — about the area of the state of Delaware.

That's how much land was removed this year from the federal Conservation Reserve Program, or CRP, which pays farmers to keep land covered with native grasses or sometimes trees. Most of that land now will produce crops like corn or wheat.

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Code Switch
3:57 pm
Sat December 21, 2013

Reporter's Notebook: 'What Part Of Sacred Don't You Understand?'

Navajo activist Klee Benally chains himself to an excavator on the San Francisco Peaks, which he and 13 tribes consider sacred.
Ethan Sing

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 8:48 am

Laurel Morales covers Indian Country as a reporter for NPR member station KJZZ from a base in Flagstaff, which is on the edge of the country's largest reservation.

The Paris auction of 27 sacred American-Indian items earlier this month marks just the latest in a series of conflicts between what tribes consider sacred and what western cultures think is fair game in the marketplace.

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Around the Nation
3:55 pm
Sat December 21, 2013

Camels Trek In The Texas Desert, Just Like Old Times

The camel trek guides insist everything Americans think they know about camels is wrong.
Wade Goodwyn NPR

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 8:28 pm

At 10 on a crisp West Texas morning, five camel-trekkers stand under the open sky of the Davis Mountains. A few feet away, guide Doug Baum and Jason Mayfield load up five camels.

Baum, a former zookeeper, runs the Texas Camel Corps. The group guides camel treks around the world. In the Big Bend region, camels were for a brief time widespread, and the guides have brought them back.

'As Good As They Come'

You have to like a man who brings his own camel to a camel trek. On Mayfield's arm is a tall, beautiful blond named Butter.

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Technology
3:51 pm
Sat December 21, 2013

55 Years Later: Commemorating First Space Broadcast

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 8:28 pm

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

Before we come back to Earth, here's a little space history with a holiday touch. Fifty-five years ago this week on December 19, 1958, the first radio broadcast was transmitted from space. An American satellite beamed down the voice of Dwight D. Eisenhower via shortwave.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER: This is the president of the United States speaking. Through the marvels of scientific advance, my voice is coming to you from a satellite circling in outer space.

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Space
3:51 pm
Sat December 21, 2013

Astronauts On Spacewalk Begin Space Station Repair

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 8:28 pm

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

This morning, astronauts Michael Hopkins and Richard Mastracchio stepped outside the International Space Station. Their mission: to conduct one of three urgent spacewalks to repair a coolant system. Mission Control seemed happy with today's effort.

(SOUNDBITE OF MISSION CONTROL RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: OK. Really nice work, guys. We're about an hour and a half ahead. Let's take some steps beforehand. First, we want to do an ammonia inspection.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Copy that.

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Law
3:51 pm
Sat December 21, 2013

1979 Supreme Court Ruling Becomes Focus Of NSA Tactics

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 8:28 pm

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

Throughout this debate over the NSA, the government has maintained that this collection of phone records for millions of Americans is legal and constitutional. And the government has sided a key Supreme Court case decided in 1979.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Case is submitted, and we'll hear arguments next in Smith against Maryland.

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U.S.
3:51 pm
Sat December 21, 2013

NSA Under More Scrutiny As Year Ends

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 8:28 pm

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

Turning back to this country and the controversy surrounding the National Security Agency. This week, it became clear that President Obama will likely make some changes to how the spy agency does its work. How far those changes go? Well, that's an open question. Will they, for example, adjust or even end the bulk collection of phone records? At his press conference yesterday, the president said that is part of the discussion.

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Africa
3:51 pm
Sat December 21, 2013

U.S. Troops Wounded In South Sudan Rescue Mission

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 8:28 pm

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

From NPR West, this is ALL THING CONSIDERED. I'm Arun Rath.

We're going to begin the program tonight in Africa where four U.S. servicemen were injured when their aircraft was fired on while flying over South Sudan. They were there to rescue Americans trapped in South Sudan where a political conflict threatens to escalate into a full-blown civil war.

NPR's Gregory Warner is in Nairobi where the injured soldiers were taken. Greg, what can you tell us about what happened today?

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All Tech Considered
3:51 pm
Sat December 21, 2013

How An Obscure Government Code — 834 — Became Big In 2013

Oregon is still using paper applications to enroll people in coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 8:28 pm

Monday is the last day Americans in most states will be able to enroll in Affordable Care Act health exchanges if they want coverage to start in January. But technical problems have foiled sign-ups from the start, which led an otherwise obscure number to become a big deal in 2013.

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The Two-Way
2:11 pm
Sat December 21, 2013

JPMorgan Chase Places Limits On Cards Used At Target Stores

Justin Sullivan Getty Images

JPMorgan Chase says it is placing some limits on debit cards used at Target stores recently.

NBC News and Reuters report that some customers would be limited to $100 in cash withdrawals and $300 in total purchases per day.

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