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The Two-Way
4:50 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

President Obama Signs Budget, Defense Bills

President Obama speaks to current and retired members of the U.S. military and their families as they eat a Christmas Day meal in the Anderson Hall mess hall at Marine Corps Base Hawaii on Wednesday.
Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 5:58 pm

President Obama on Thursday signed the bipartisan budget bill agreed upon earlier this month, setting the stage for an easing of mandatory spending cuts over the next two years.

The Senate approved the spending measure last week, following its passage in the Republican-dominated House.

The president also signed the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2014.

As The Associated Press reports:

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Parallels
4:50 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

Syria's War Creates A Demand For Artificial Legs

A staff member at the clinic in southern Turkey works on a prosthetic leg that will be given to a victim of Syria's civil war.
Deborah Amos NPR

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 8:53 am

In a clinic in southern Turkey, Mohammed Ibrahim helps 23-year-old Syrian Mustapha Abu Bakr take his first steps since he lost his legs, holding on to a set of bars for balance.

"He can't express his feelings," Ibrahim says. "It's a new thing completely for him."

Ibrahim explains that patients who have lost a leg below the knee can walk out of the clinic without crutches after a day of practice. For double amputees like Abu Bakr, who was injured in Syria's civil war, the adjustment takes more time.

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Shots - Health News
4:50 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

Iowa Opens The Doors To Medicaid Coverage, On Its Own Terms

iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 5:52 pm

At the Central Iowa Shelter and Services in Des Moines, Iowa, health insurance navigator Andrea Pearce stood in a crowded dining hall on a recent day, shouting instructions on how residents can sign up for Medicaid.

"If you do not have insurance and you want to enroll and you have an e-mail address where you know the password," she said, "come to the computer lab we will guide you through the application."

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Music News
4:44 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

Quiet As Kept, Women Dominated Country Music In 2013

Kacey Musgraves' Same Trailer, Different Park is one of several country music albums released by women this year.
Kristin Barlowe Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 6:14 pm

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Parallels
4:36 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

Venezualan Flights Are Dirt Cheap ... If You Can Get A Ticket

At the official rate, 1 U.S. dollar is worth 6.3 Venezuelan bolivars. But in a country with runaway inflation, the black market rate is about 60 bolivars to the dollar. This has made airfares extremely cheap for those using currency acquired on the black market.
Juan Barreto AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 7:35 pm

Reporter John Otis was looking for a flight to Venezuela. That may sound like a simple task, but air travel to and from that Latin American country turns out to be extremely complicated these days. Here's his story.

A direct flight from my home in Bogotá, Colombia, to Caracas, Venezuela, takes about 90 minutes. But when I tried to buy a ticket recently, none were available. I was offered a flight with an overnight stop in Miami, but that would have cost $5,000.

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Business
4:36 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

With More Online Shopping, Expect More Holiday Shipping Delays

As the volume of online orders surged, some retailers and package delivery companies were unable to fulfill promises to deliver gifts by Christmas. UPS acknowledged it was overwhelmed by all the late traffic. In response to complaints, Amazon says it is offering gift cards and refunds for shipping charges.

Economy
4:36 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

Manufacturing 2.0: Old Industry Creating New High-Tech Jobs

Unlike the smoky, eardrum-damaging factories of yesterday, today's manufacturing is going high-tech. That can mean more robots and automated machines than workers. But companies like Machine Inc. in Stoughton, Mass., are still growing and hiring.
Chris Arnold NPR

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 6:07 pm

As the U.S. economy continues to recover, it has been getting some help from an unexpected place. After decades of massive job losses, manufacturing firms have been steadily creating jobs — many of them well-paying. One particularly bright spot is a new generation of high-tech manufacturers.

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Middle East
4:36 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

In Gas-Rich And Fast-Growing Qatar, A Focus On Food Security

The Gulf nation of Qatar has nearly depleted its groundwater, and will increasingly need to import food. Some farms still operates on ground water, but in the long haul, Qatar is counting on desalination and using money to import food.

Shots - Health News
4:36 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

Experimental Tool Uses Light To Tweak The Living Brain

A technique called optogenetics is being used in the laboratory to observe and control what brain circuits are doing in real time.
Henning Dalhoff Getty Images/Science Photo Library RM

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 8:09 am

When President Obama announced his BRAIN Initiative in April, he promised to give scientists "the tools they need to get a dynamic picture of the brain in action."

An early version of one of those tools already exists, scientists say. It's a relatively new set of techniques called optogenetics that allows researchers to control the activity of brain cells using light.

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Science
4:36 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

Are We Genetically Inclined To Be Materialistic?

People tend to hate to lose stuff they already own. This trait, known as the endowment effect, is likely handed down to us by evolution, since it is visible cross-culturally as well as in non-human primates. However, new research suggests certain cultures place a brake on this evolutionary trait, whereas capitalistic societies put it on steroids.

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