Col. Claus
7:11 am
Fri December 19, 2014

NORAD's Santa Tracker Began With A Typo And A Good Sport

Terri Van Keuren (from left), Rick Shoup and Pamela Farrell, children of Col. Harry Shoup, commander of the Continental Air Defense Command, visited StoryCorps in Castle Rock, Colo., to talk about how their dad helped to create the U.S. military's Santa Tracker.
StoryCorps

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

This Christmas Eve people all over the world will log on to the official Santa Tracker to follow his progress through U.S. military radar. This all started in 1955, with a misprint in a Colorado Springs newspaper and a call to Col. Harry Shoup's secret hotline at the Continental Air Defense Command, now known as NORAD.

Shoup's children, Terri Van Keuren, 65, Rick Shoup, 59, and Pam Farrell, 70, recently visited StoryCorps to talk about how the tradition began.

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Public Health
8:56 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Does a New Surgeon General Mean a New Conversation About Guns?

Dr. Vivek Murthy testifies at a hearing before the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, February 4, 2014, on the matter of Murthy's nomination to the office of Surgeon General of the United States.
United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
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Defense Industry
8:43 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

U.S. Defense Budget Benefits Connecticut Contractors

A Sikorsky helicopter.
mitchell.alaska Creative Commons

Connecticut's U.S. senators visited Pratt and Whitney in East Hartford on Thursday to highlight the impact the 2015 defense budget will have on the state. 

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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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Demographics
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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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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Cyber Attack
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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Viral Research
2:22 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

NIH Allows Restart Of MERS Research That Had Been Questioned

A transmission electron micrograph shows Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus particles (colorized yellow).
NIAID

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

Some researchers who study the virus that causes Middle East respiratory syndrome got an early Christmas present: permission to resume experiments that the federal government abruptly halted in October.

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Nigeria
1:28 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Boko Haram Suspected In New Round Of Killing And Kidnapping

Members of the Abuja "Bring Back Our Girls" protest group sit during a march in continuation of the Global October movement. Once again, Boko Haram militants are implicated in killings and mass kidnapping in northeastern Nigeria.
Afolabi Sotunde Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 4:37 pm

Updated at 4:30 p.m. ET

Islamist extremists are being blamed for an attack in northeastern Nigeria that killed at least 33 people and resulted in the kidnapping of about 200 others.

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Art Exhibit
12:37 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Art Installation Imagines Iconic New York Buildings as Rockets

The multimedia film "Plan of the City" presumes that all buildings in New York City are equipped with rocket thrusters.
Joshua Frankel

A new installation at Hartford's Real Art Ways imagines New York City lifting off to Mars, building by building. 

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Entrepreneurial Ecosystem
11:55 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Website Partners With Connecticut Startups

LaunchEZ's website aims to act as a one-stop portal.

A new website for Connecticut entrepreneurs aims to launch 500 new companies in the state. The grassroots effort connects inventors with investors and help services.

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Metcalf on Music
9:49 am
Thu December 18, 2014

S. Claus Mulls Grants to Music Folk

Scott Parrish Creative Commons

With Christmas just days away, I thought Santa, busy guy that he is just now, might appreciate some last-minute gift suggestions for some of the more deserving music folk on his list. 

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Casinos
8:48 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Consultant: Schenectady Casino Will Have Minimal Impact on MGM Springfield

Regions for casino gaming development in New York state.
New York State Gaming Facility Location Board

A New York State Gaming Board Wednesday selected developers and sites for three new casinos to be built upstate. 

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Climate Change
7:45 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Arctic Is Warming Twice As Fast As World Average

A lone polar bear poses on a block of arctic sea ice in Russia's Franz Josef Land.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 12:36 pm

The latest word from scientists studying the Arctic is that the polar region is warming twice as fast as the average rise on the rest of the planet. And researchers say the trend isn't letting up. That's the latest from the 2014 Arctic Report Card — a compilation of recent research from more than 60 scientists in 13 countries. The report was released Wednesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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Cuba
7:35 am
Thu December 18, 2014

New Era For Cuba? Voices From Miami And Havana

Anti-Castro protester Lazaro Lozano (left) argues with an unidentified pro-Obama supporter in the Little Havana area of Miami on Wednesday.
Alan Diaz AP

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 12:22 pm

Just hours after the United States and Cuba announced they were moving toward normalizing relations, crowds gathered in Havana and Miami trying to come to grips with a historic shift.

NPR covered the reaction in those two places with two pieces on Morning Edition.

NPR's Greg Allen reported from Miami:

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Insurance
5:13 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

State Officials Pleased With Affordable Care Act Enrollment Numbers

Jim Wadleigh, executive director of Access Health CT.
Credit Twitter

This is the second year of open enrollment in the Affordable Care Act. The state said it has nearly exceeded its goals. 

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Freedom
4:25 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Alan Gross, U.S. Contractor Freed By Cuba, Says 'It's Good To Be Home'

Alan Gross addresses a news conference in Washington on Wednesday hours after his release from Cuba.
Gary Cameron Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 2:56 pm

American Alan Gross, who spent five years in a Cuban prison before his release today as a humanitarian gesture, said "it's good to be home," and that he hoped the U.S. and Cuba move past their "mutually belligerent" policies.

"Two wrongs never made a right," Gross said in Washington shortly after he returned to the U.S. aboard a government plane.

Gross appeared frail but cheerful. Some of his front teeth were missing.

Gross thanked President Obama and his national security team for working toward his freedom.

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Infrastructure Investment
4:01 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Gov. Malloy Pledges Transportation Focus in Second Term

Gov. Dannel Malloy speaking at a Middlesex Chamber of Commerce event.
Credit CT-N

Governor Dannel Malloy said he'll turn the focus onto solving Connecticut's transportation challenges in his second term.

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Natural Gas
2:47 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

New York State to Ban Fracking Over Health Concerns

From left, Dr. Howard Zucker, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio at an October meeting.
Kevin P. Coughlin Office of Governor Cuomo

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's administration announced on Wednesday that it will ban hydraulic fracturing in the state, following a long-awaited health impact study.

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Diplomacy
12:25 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Obama Unveils 'New Approach' On Cuba As Former Foes Chart New Course

President Obama announced Wednesday that the U.S. will work with Cuba to normalize diplomatic ties.
Doug Mills UPI /Landov

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 2:41 pm

Updated at 2:39 p.m. ET

President Obama announced today the most significant change in U.S. policy toward Cuba in more than 50 years, paving the way for the normalization of relations and the opening of a U.S. Embassy in Havana.

Obama said "we will end an outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries."

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Jazz Corridor
11:19 am
Wed December 17, 2014

Blues Legend Spotlights Young Saxophonist’s Soulful Side at Collinsville’s Bridge Street Live

Grace Kelly

If you’re looking for a house-rocking, soul-drenched, exuberantly emotional concert, the place to be is Collinsville’s Bridge Street Live on Thursday, December 18, as blues master James Montgomery and his super blues band jam with the skyrocketing, young jazz saxophonist Grace Kelly in a funk-filled funfest.

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Metro-North
9:01 am
Wed December 17, 2014

Engineer Files Lawsuit Over Train Derailment

A 2013 Metro-North train derailment in Bridgeport injured 65 commuters.
Credit NTSB

A second Metro-North engineer has filed a federal negligence lawsuit against the railroad as a result of the May 2013 derailment in Bridgeport that injured dozens of people. 

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Massachusetts
8:24 am
Wed December 17, 2014

A Closing Conversation With Gov. Deval Patrick

Gov. Deval Patrick with WBUR's Bob Oakes (left). (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 10:48 am

With only a few weeks now remaining now in Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration, WBUR’s Bob Oakes sat down with the outgoing Massachusetts governor for the last time in his executive office on Beacon Hill.

The conversation began with a look back to Patrick’s first inaugural address in 2007. In that speech, Patrick spoke of lifting up the poor and stabilizing the middle class.

Listen above to Gov. Patrick’s full conversation on WBUR’s Morning Edition.

Interview Highlights

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New York
8:20 am
Wed December 17, 2014

Former New York Governor George Pataki 'Very Seriously' Considering Presidential Run

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 8:06 am

Former New York Gov. George Pataki says he is "very seriously" considering a run for the White House.

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Massachusetts
8:20 am
Wed December 17, 2014

Springfield City Council Sets New Property Tax Rates

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 12:10 pm

New property tax rates have been set in Springfield, Massachusetts.  For the first time in many years, the rates for both homeowners and business property owners have been reduced, as property values continue to recover from the Great Recession

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Congress
1:45 am
Wed December 17, 2014

Senate OKs Judicial Nominees, Tax Extensions Before Republican Takeover

Senator Harry Reid of Nev. on Tuesday, walks to one of his final meetings as the Senate Majority Leader. In January, Republicans take over the majority.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 4:27 am

In what The Associated Press called a "final flurry of accomplishment" Tuesday night, lawmakers were able to push through a bill that extended a package of tax breaks, which had expired at the end of 2013, and confirmed 12 more judicial nominees. NPR's Ailsa Chang reported the confirmations also marked a big accomplishment for the Obama administration.

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Hospitals
5:56 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Waterbury Hospital CEO Calls on Gov. Malloy to Help Salvage Tenet Deal

Darlene Stromstad, CEO of Waterbury Hospital.
Credit fosters.com

Five hospitals in Connecticut are contemplating their next steps after Texas-based Tenet Healthcare withdrew a bid to buy the hospitals last week.

The CEO of one of the biggest hospitals in the failed deal said they're now looking to Hartford for help. 

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Labor
4:29 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Metro-North Gets Record Fine in Retaliation Case

A Metro-North car.
Susan Sermoneta Creative Commons

The U.S. Labor Department has ordered the Metro-North Railroad to pay a record fine for taking disciplinary action against an employee who reported getting injured on the job. 

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Rhode Island
3:58 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Rhode Island Governor-Elect Taps Stefan Pryor as First Commerce Secretary

Stefan Pryor in a WNPR file photo.
Chion Wolf WNPR

Rhode Island's governor-elect Gina Raimondo has picked Connecticut Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor, a fellow Yale alum with experience leading economic-development efforts in New York and New Jersey, as her choice to be Rhode Island's first commerce secretary.

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Pennsylvania
3:02 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Suspect In Shooting Spree Near Philadelphia Has Been Found Dead

Police cordon off a wooded area during the search for suspect Bradley William Stone in Pennsburg, Pa., Tuesday.
Matt Rourke AP

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 5:12 pm

Bradley Stone, who police say went on a shooting rampage that killed six people in Montgomery County, Pa., has been found dead. Police had been looking for Stone, 35, for more than 24 hours; they found his body today.

Member station WHYY passes along this update from the Bucks County District Attorney's office:

"Authorities have confirmed that suspected mass killer Bradley Stone is dead, his body found in the woods near his Pennsburg home."

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