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5:03 am
Fri December 19, 2014

When A Hospital Bill Becomes A Decade-Long Pay Cut

Keith Herie is swamped in debt from medical issues he and his wife encountered starting about a decade ago. Heartland hospital is seizing 10 percent of his paycheck and 25 percent of his wife's wages, and has placed a lien on their home.
Steve Hebert for ProPublica

On the eastern edge of St. Joseph, Mo., lies the small city's only hospital, a landmark of modern brick and glass buildings. Everyone in town knows Heartland Regional Medical Center — many residents gave birth to their children here. Many rush here when they get hurt or sick.

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NPR Story
5:02 am
Fri December 19, 2014

Cuban-American Congressional Leaders Vow To Fight Obama's Proposals

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Around the Nation
5:02 am
Fri December 19, 2014

Transparency Vs. Privacy: What To Do With Police Camera Videos?

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NPR Story
5:02 am
Fri December 19, 2014

Exchange Of Spies Was Critical To U.S.-Cuba Deal

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Business
5:02 am
Fri December 19, 2014

Tourism Industry Gears Up For Cuban Travel Ban To Be Lifted

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

All Tech Considered
4:03 am
Fri December 19, 2014

For An Island Trapped In The '50s, An Instant Digital Revolution

Cubans try to connect to the Etecsa server during a May 9 service outage as they wait with other customers outside the offices of the state telecom monopoly in Havana, Cuba. Cuba's government has blamed technological problems on a U.S. embargo. Critics of the government have said it deliberately strangles the Internet to mute dissent. Normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations may prove who's right.
Franklin Reyes AP

This week's historic agreement between the U.S. and Cuba to reinstate diplomatic relations after decades of silence could launch a digital revolution in the island nation.

According to the White House, only 5 percent of Cubans have access to the open Internet, comparable to North Korea. As part of the deal, that could change overnight.

Status Check

Maribel Fonseca a teacher in Miramar, Cuba, has never seen the Internet. A few of her more privileged students have been online.

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Science
4:02 am
Fri December 19, 2014

7 Miles Beneath The Sea's Surface: Who Goes There?

The research vessel Falkor in August 2013.
Courtesy of Mark Schrope

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 5:02 am

A ship full of marine scientists is floating over the deepest part of the world: the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench. They're sending down probes to study life in one of the most hostile environments on the planet.

This week the researchers are targeting the two deepest spots in the trench — the Sirena Deep and the Challenger Deep — which each extend down about seven miles beneath the ocean's surface.

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Movie Interviews
4:01 am
Fri December 19, 2014

The Eye-Opening Saga Of Walter And Margaret Keane, Now On Screen

Amy Adams stars as painter Margaret Keane in the new movie Big Eyes.
Leah Gallo The Weinstein Company

It's a story almost too strange to be true: Throughout much of the 1960s and 70s, the wistful, wide-eyed children of painter Walter Keane were absolutely everywhere.

Paintings and posters of the big-eyed waifs, often in rags, their hair unkempt, brought fame and fortune to the charming, smooth-talking artist — along with widespread critical disdain.

But years later, it emerged that the art was actually the work of Walter's wife Margaret Keane. She painted in secret, behind closed doors, and he publicly claimed the work as his own.

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NPR Ed
3:59 am
Fri December 19, 2014

The Administration's College Ratings: How It Looks On Campus

Main Hall on the campus of Randolph College in Lynchburg, Va.
Parker Michels-Boyce Randolph College

It's late afternoon. Most classes at Randolph College are done for the day but students have begun gathering in the lobby of the elegant, century-old main hall.

A student taps on a piano while he and four classmates wait for their philosophy professor. After-hour sessions like these are a key feature of this small, private liberal arts college in Lynchburg, Va.

It markets itself nationally as a "unique, nurturing community of learners", well worth the $45,000 a year in tuition, room and board.

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Economy
6:08 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Opportunity, Caution Seen For U.S. Banks As Cuba Rules Ease

President Obama announces changes to U.S. policy on Cuba, including relaxing restrictions on U.S. banking in the country, in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday.
Doug Mills / Pool EPA/Landov

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 6:32 pm

Among the changes to U.S. restrictions on Cuba President Obama announced Wednesday was a relaxation of the rules barring U.S. banks from doing business there.

Americans traveling in Cuba will now be able to use their credit cards and ATM cards, but many U.S. banks see the new rules as something of a legal minefield.

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Asia
6:07 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

North Korea Has Invested Heavily In Cyberattacks

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 6:32 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Latin America
6:01 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

What Will Full Diplomatic Relations With Cuba Look Like?

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 6:32 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Energy
5:43 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

No Fracking In New York? That's OK With Pennsylvania

Leslie Roeder of New York City cheers outside New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office on Wednesday after the state announced a ban on hydraulic fracturing.
Andrew Kelly Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 7:16 pm

Pennsylvania's fracking boom has led to record-breaking natural gas production, but its neighbor, New York, announced Wednesday it was banning the practice. Industry and environmental groups say New York's decision could be good for Pennsylvania.

New York's ban comes six years after the state placed a temporary moratorium on fracking to study the gas drilling technique. Now, officials question fracking's economic benefits and cite environmental risks.

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World Cafe
5:42 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Latin Roots Essentials: Latin Alternative

Los Fabulosos Cadillacs.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 7:19 pm

Another segment in our new Latin Roots series on the Essentials, the songs you need to know in each genre. We have a pretty good guide for our Latin alternative segment today. It is Josh Norek, who is the co-founder of the annual Latin Alternative Music Conference, and former head of Nacional Records.

He discusses the evolution from the original term "Rock En Espanol" and shows the variety of music under the name alternative.

Monkey See
5:38 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Sarah Koenig On Serial: 'I Think Something Went Wrong With This Case'

Adnan Syed
Courtesy of Serial

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 6:32 pm

It's hard to believe that not only was there no Serial six months ago, there was no Serial three months ago. The hugely popular podcast, a spinoff production of This American Life, didn't even premiere until early October, but since then, it has made its way with great speed into worlds from Sesame Street to Funny Or Die.

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The Salt
5:36 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

What The Change In U.S.-Cuba Relations Might Mean For Food

Sugar, coffee, fruit juice for babies, oil and salt inside a market subsidized by the government in Havana on July 11, 2013.
Enrique De La Osa Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 5:47 pm

It took a few hours for some Cubans to realize the magnitude of President Obama's announcement on Wednesday about changes in the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba, according to Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez.

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World Cafe
5:33 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Parquet Courts On World Cafe

Parquet Courts.
Ben Rayner Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 8:52 pm

It has been a prolific year for our guests today, the punk band Parquet Courts. They have released two albums this year: Sunbathing Animal under their own name and Content Nausea as Parkay Quarts. We will talk with two founders of the band, Andrew Savage and Austin Brown, and hear performances from the stage of World Cafe Live. We also find out that the new songs are inspired by influences as diverse as Russian history and Louisiana prison songs.

Around the Nation
5:32 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Aftereffects Of W.V. Chemical Spill Still Felt Months Later

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 6:32 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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As 2014 winds down, we're revisiting some of this year's big stories. And we wanted to check in on the aftermath of the chemical spill in West Virginia.

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The Two-Way
5:21 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

In List Of Changes For Secret Service, A New Fence Comes First

A review panel says changes are needed at the Secret Service — along with a better fence at the White House. Here, members of the Secret Service Uniformed Division stand in front of the White House.
Kevin Dietsch UPI /Landov

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 7:46 pm

The Secret Service must both change the way it trains agents and hire more of them, according to a panel that reviewed the agency that has endured a string of embarrassing lapses in recent months. The panel says its suggestions are "a road map for reform" under a new director.

Some of those suggestions are inherently practical — such as one that states "the fence around the White House needs to be changed as soon as possible to provide better protection."

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The Two-Way
4:55 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

U.S. Announces Protections For Transgender Workers

The Justice Department is broadening a civil rights law to include protections for transgender workers, a reversal from how the Bush administration interpreted the measure.

Attorney General Eric Holder said the law, Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, will now ensure that workers who sue over discrimination in the workplace will get fair and consistent treatment.

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Law
4:53 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Justice Department Sues Over Conditions At Rikers Island Jail

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 6:32 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Music
4:53 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Music A Longtime Feature Of Cuba-U.S. Cultural Exchange

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 6:32 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Business
4:53 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

New Popularity Of L.L. Bean Boots Sparks Scramble To Fill Orders

A surge in popularity of L.L. Bean boots has the Maine company scrambling to fill orders.
Murray Carpenter NPR

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 6:32 pm

L.L. Bean's iconic rubber and leather boots — long worn by practical and preppie New Englanders — have swung back into fashion with young people and are more popular than ever.

The recent surge in demand has the company scrambling to fill orders, upgrading its manufacturing equipment and adding a third shift at its Maine boot factories.

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The Two-Way
4:24 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Administration Won't Rule Out Raul Castro Visit To White House

The White House today said it "wouldn't rule out a visit from President Raul Castro" to Washington, a day after President Obama announced the U.S. and Cuba would begin talks to normalize relations and open embassies following more than five decades of hostility.

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The Two-Way
4:10 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Immigration Is Driving Broad Demographic Shifts In U.S., Report Says

Navy Petty Officer Jimmy Dial (left) sits with his daughter, Kimberly, beside U.S. Army soldier Henri Blandon and his daughter as the men's wives and the girls' mothers become U.S. citizens at a naturalization ceremony last month in Ontario, Calif.
Nick Ut AP

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 7:38 pm

Native-born Americans are making up a smaller percentage of those living in some areas of the U.S. as immigration moves to become the key factor in population growth within the next quarter-century, according to a new analysis by the Pew Charitable Trusts that examined county-level census data.

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Parallels
4:05 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

In Latin America, Not Everyone Is Thrilled With The U.S.-Cuba Thaw

Cuban President Fidel Castro (left) and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in Barinas, Venezuela, in 2000. The two formed a close partnership, which has continued with their successors. However, the prospect of normal ties between the U.S. and Cuba may also have an impact on relations between Cuba and Venezuela.
Jose Goitia AP

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 8:18 pm

Latin American governments have long viewed Cuba as the region's David facing off against the Goliath of the United States. So from Mexico to Argentina, leaders are endorsing Wednesday's announcement that the two nations intend to normalize relations.

But this could prove awkward for Venezuela, which has been Cuba's closest ally and a fierce critic of Washington.

In public, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is praising the rapprochement between the U.S. and Cuba.

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Goats and Soda
3:56 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

And The Award For Most Offensive Fund-Raising Video Goes To...

The "Rusty Radiator" award for most offensive or stereotypical portrayal of the developing world in a fund-raising video went to Feed A Child South Africa.
Feed A Child South Africa

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The Two-Way
3:54 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

5 Defining Moments In The U.S.-Cuba Relationship

Obama shakes hands with Castro during a memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela in Soweto, South Africa, on Dec. 10, 2013. Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro says his brother introduced himself to Obama in English, telling him, "Mr. President, I'm Castro," as the two leaders shook hands.
AP

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 7:32 pm

1. Obama, Raul Castro Announce Normalization Of Relations

President Obama said Wednesday the U.S. and Cuba will normalize relations, which have been strained since being severed in 1961. He spoke to Cuban President Raul Castro on Tuesday to finalize details of the announcement.

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Television
3:24 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

A Tribute To Stephen Colbert, A Self-Proclaimed 'Junkie For Exhaustion'

Stephen Colbert will host his final episode of The Colbert Report Thursday after nine years on air.
Pool Getty Images

After nine years, Stephen Colbert is retiring the character he created for The Colbert Report, the conservative, self-important blowhard who opines about the news and the media. The final episode airs Thursday. Colbert will take over as host for The Late Show, replacing the retiring David Letterman.

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The Two-Way
3:02 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

White House Says Any Response To Sony Attack Needs To Be 'Proportional'

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 3:26 pm

The White House says the devastating cyber attack on Sony Pictures was done with "malicious intent" and was initiated by a "sophisticated actor" but it would not say if that actor was North Korea.

Spokesman Josh Earnest says the matter is still under investigation.

"Regardless of who is found to be responsible for this, the president considers it to be a serious national security matter," Earnest says.

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