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Parallels
1:06 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Brazil's Post Offices Help Deliver Christmas Wishes

Volunteers look through children's letters to Santa at a post office in Salvador in northeastern Brazil's Bahia state. The campaign is part of a more than 20-year tradition to help those less fortunate to have gifts for the holiday.
Raul Spinasse DPA /Landov

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 6:47 pm

"Dear Father Christmas," the letter reads, "my name is Larissa. I know that you are very busy and that you live a long way away in the North Pole, but I'd like to ask you for a gift because my mother doesn't have enough money to buy what I want."

There are piles of similar letters — many decorated with stickers, drawings and hand prints — lying on makeshift tables in the main hall of the post office in downtown Sao Paulo.

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Animals
1:05 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Russian Demand Fuels Comeback Of North American Fur Market

A model displays a creation by Russian designer Igor Gulyaev during the Volvo Fashion Week in Moscow on Oct. 27, 2011.
Mikhail Metzel AP

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 10:08 am

North American fur is booming.

Not in North America, necessarily, but "you can't keep fur in stock in Russia," says furrier Greg Tinder. "The higher the price tag you put on it, the faster it sells."

Tinder, who left Saks Fifth Avenue to start his own label, says the East has always been a furrier's dream — think big, plushy Soviet-era hats. But now, with Russia's economy on the rise, there's some new money on the block, and designers know that.

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All Tech Considered
1:04 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Bay Area's Steep Housing Costs Spark Return To Communal Living

Residents of the Embassy House, a communal home near San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district, eat dinner together every Sunday.
Elise Hu NPR

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 10:08 am

This week, we're exploring the San Francisco Bay Area and the way income inequality is affecting the region. Check out the other pieces of the week, aggregated on this page.

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The Salt
1:00 am
Thu December 19, 2013

This Stanford Ph.D. Became A Fruit Picker To Feed California's Hungry

Sarah Ramirez runs an organization that brings excess produce to the hungry. Here, she gleans apples from a front yard.
Scott Anger KQED

Originally published on Sun December 22, 2013 8:16 am

By some estimates, we Americans throw away about 40 percent of our food, from the cabbage that's wilting in our refrigerators, to the fruit that's falling off the orange tree in our neighbor's backyard.

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Planet Money
3:49 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

A Tiny Taper, In 2 Graphs

Tapir
Flickr

In the past five years, the Federal Reserve has created roughly $3 trillion out of thin air.

The Fed uses the money it creates out of thin air to buy bonds. The idea is to drive down interest rates, which encourages people and businesses to borrow and spend money. It's called quantitative easing.

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The Two-Way
3:46 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Top SAC Capital Manager Guilty Of Insider Trading

Michael Steinberg (left) departs federal court in Manhattan on Wednesday after being found guilty on charges that he traded on insider information.
Lucas Jackson Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 5:42 pm

Michael Steinberg, a top portfolio manager at SAC Capital Advisors, has been found guilty of insider trading — the latest conviction stemming from a years-long federal investigation into the hedge fund's activities.

Steinberg was found guilty on five counts of conspiracy and securities fraud.

Reuters writes:

"Prosecutors said he traded on confidential information that was passed to him by an employee, who later admitted to swapping illegal tips with friends at other firms."

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Politics
3:46 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Push For Release Of CIA Interrogation Report Continues

Mark Udall of Colorado is one of the Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee pressing for the so-called torture report to be declassified.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 5:31 pm

For more than a year, the Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA have been engaged in a tug of war over the release of the so-called torture report.

Chairman Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, says the $40 million, 6,000-page report demonstrates that CIA treatment of detainees was all but useless in terms of gathering actionable intelligence.

For its part, the CIA says the classified committee report contains significant errors and that no one at the agency was interviewed by Senate investigators.

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Commentary
3:46 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

I Love To Shop, But Do I Have A Shopping Problem?

Sophie Varon loves to shop. But lately, she's been wondering if her shopping habit has become a shopping problem.
Brett Myers Youth Radio

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 8:36 am

Whether you love buying gifts or dread trips to the mall, good luck avoiding some kind of shopping during the holiday season. But I don't need the excuse of a holiday to get me to the stores. I'm obsessed with shopping.

The question is, am I a shopaholic? The technical term is "compulsive buyer," according to psychologist April Benson.

"Simply put," says Dr. Benson, compulsive buying is "when we spend so much time, energy and/or money shopping ... or even thinking about shopping and buying that it is impairing our life in a significant way."

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Shots - Health News
3:46 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

HIV Treatment Keeps A Family Together And Growing In Kenya

When Benta Odeny was diagnosed with HIV, she started to protect her husband Daniel from the virus by taking antiretroviral medications. The same drugs also helped her give birth to an HIV-negative daughter, Angelia.
Gregory Warner NPR

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 3:17 pm

Daniel and Benta Odeny married late by African standards: Both were in their 30s. And they'd only just hit their third anniversary when Benta started coughing blood.

The cough lasted a couple of weeks. So Benta went to the doctor. She had HIV. But Daniel was still HIV negative.

"She thought it was the end of the world," Daniel says.

Benta thought that Daniel would leave her and she would die alone. She had seen it happen many times to other women in her situation.

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The Two-Way
3:36 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Senate Approves Budget Deal, Reducing Chances Of A Shutdown

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), walks to the chamber for the final votes on the bipartisan budget deal on Wednesday.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 4:24 pm

The Senate passed a two-year bipartisan budget deal aimed at easing automatic spending cuts and avoiding a government shutdown, following a House vote on the measure last week.

The vote by a simple majority was absent the partisan brinksmanship that has become a hallmark of budget deals in recent memory.

The appropriations committees in both chambers must now set in stone a $1.012 trillion fiscal 2014 spending bill before current spending authority expires. Congress also faces a spring 2014 to raise the debt ceiling — another potential partisan standoff.

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