Morning Edition for Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Tech Execs Complain About NSA During Obama Meeting

Leaders of some of this country's largest technology companies were at the White House on Tuesday to meet with President Obama. While the administration said the meeting would touch on a range of topics, including issues with the health care website, many of the tech executives had another matter on their minds: the National Security Agency.
Employees at Silicon Valley companies such as Apple, Google and Facebook are highly paid and enjoy a wide range of perks on the job. The security guards who watch over their workplaces earn around $16 an hour, a tough wage to get by on in the high priced San Francisco Bay Area.
The Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs aren't scheduled to play each other during this NFL season — unless both happen to make it to the Super Bowl. But the two cities are in competition with each other over the title of having the world's loudest outdoor stadium.

Retail Workers Forced To Deal With Holiday Tunes

Morning Edition reports on retail workers who are subject to holiday music for hours on end.
NPR's David Greene and Linda Wertheimer are asking listeners to send in recordings of themselves singing "Deck the Halls." We'll pull them all together into one crazy chorus and play it next week.

Why N.Y. Mets Should Avoid Donning Santa's Suit

The Santa suit is cursed, according to The Wall Street Journal. Consider these former Santa Mets: Center-fielder Mike Cameron got badly injured, right-fielder Jeff Francoeur was traded and pitcher John Maine's career tanked. The list stretches back a decade.

'60 Minutes' Criticized For NSA Report

CBS is once again facing criticism over a story aired on 60 Minutes — this one about the National Security Agency. This new controversy over the show's journalism comes on the heels of a false story the show aired on the attacks against the U.S. diplomatic installation in Benghazi, Libya.

Factional Fighting Flares In South Sudan

Two years ago, South Sudan split from its northern neighbor Sudan. Linda Wertheimer talks to reporter Andrew Green in Juba about the fighting in South Sudan.

Is The Primary System To Blame For Partisanship?

Many observers say increasing partisanship in America is the result of gerrymandered districts, which allow partisan voters to determine candidates for Congress. A new analysis tests this theory.

Virtual Currency Bitcoin Drops In Value

The tumble is due in part to China's central bank which had issued a warning about the currency.

Law Schools See Drop In First-Year Students

Law schools are seeing their lowest enrollment numbers of first-year students since the 1970s. It's partly due to the recent recession and partly due to the high cost of law school, according to the president of the American Bar Association.
A German brewers association is seeking UNESCO World Heritage status for a 500-year-old law that dictates how to make beer. The brewers argue that the law ensures purity in German beers. But others say the law is from a bygone era.

British Monetary Officials Announces Changes

The Bank of England is announcing it will begin circulating plastic money in 2016 — polymer versions of the paper bank notes Britons have used for more than three centuries. Bank officials say the currency should last longer and be harder to counterfeit.
Federal Reserve officials end a two-day meeting on Wednesday amid signs that the U.S. economy is slowly mending. David Greene talks to David Wessel, economics editor of The Wall Street Journal, about the Fed's last meeting of the year.

A 'Tale Of Two Cities' As Detroit Looks To 2014

It became the largest city in U.S. history to file for bankruptcy. Its former mayor was sentenced to 28 years in prison. And a TV personality compared it to Chernobyl. But a new year is on the horizon, and for some parts of Detroit, things are looking up. Really.
The San Joaquin Valley in California produces fresh fruits and vegetables that feed the whole country. But it ranks among the highest in the nation when it comes to food insecurity. Many farmworkers can't afford to buy the fresh produce that grows all around them.

Senators Laugh And Joke During Secret Santa Exchange

In the Senate, partisan bickering was put on hold for a brief time as senators held a holiday gift exchange Tuesday night. The idea for the Senate Secret Santa gift exchange, which is in its third year, came from Minnesota Democrat Al Franken.

Want More Holiday Music? Ring Up Dial-A-Carol

Missing the Christmas spirit? Dial-a-Carol may help you get into the holiday mood.

Jersey City Spends Big To Find Out What's Inside Safe

A new boss comes in and wants to clean house. For Jersey City's new mayor Steven Fulop, that meant cracking some dusty old safes in City Hall. What would he find? No stash of cash or anything interesting — just an extension cord.
As pro-Europe protests continue in Ukraine, the country's president signs a deal getting billions of dollars worth of loans and gas discounts from Russia. It's the latest move in a tug-of-war over whether that brawny country will align itself economically with Europe or Russia.

Fla. School To Change Name Tied To Ku Klux Klan Leader

A school board in Jacksonville, Fla., has decided that one of its schools should no longer be named after Ku Klux Klan grand wizard Nathan Bedford Forrest. He was also a general in the Civil War. Nathan Bedford Forrest High School received its name in the 1950s, and for decades the decision has been debated.

Calif. Law Regarding Students Gender To Be Challenged

Those against a new California law that aims to accommodate transgender students say they've gathered enough signatures to try to overturn it on next year's ballot. In August, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the law requiring schools to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms and join the sports teams that match their gender identity.

Questions Persist Regarding Affordable Care Act

The federal government's health care website seems to be working much more smoothly. But many people still have questions about the Affordable Care Act. For answers, they can go to NPR.org/ACA.

Hear, Here: Four Audiobooks With A Brand New Sound

Forget the taped readings of yore. Today's audiobooks feature integrated musical performances, movie-quality sound effects and all-star casts of rotating narrators. Take a peek at the new world of listenable literature with AudioFile magazine founder Robin Whitten's list of four notable audiobooks from 2013.

Why The American Dream Is Still Alive In Sports

These days, with salary caps and benevolent socialism, if a team has wise management, it has a chance, observes Frank Deford, even if it's a franchise in an itsy-bitsy market. That's a big change from when the leagues were invariably dominated by dynasties.
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