Morning Edition for Monday, January 6, 2014

In Syria, militias linked to al-Qaida have taken the lead in the fight against the Assad government. In Iraq, they've caused a wave of violence including bombings against civilians and attacks on government forces.

An Honorable Last Wish For A Dying Marine

Hal Faulkner was kicked out of the Marines in 1956 for homosexuality. He's now terminally ill, and the Marine Corps expedited his dying wish to correct his status to "honorable discharge." Since the Pentagon changed its policy, tens of thousands of gay veterans are navigating a maze of red tape to correct their discharges status and gain access to VA benefits.
Alex Atala's Sao Paulo restaurant, D.O.M., is ranked among the top 10 restaurants in the world. His cuisines, which showcases irridescent insects, delicate jungle herbs and other ingredients from the Amazon, is pushing the frontiers of gastronomy.
A new noise reduction law in Spain's capital also prohibits amplifiers and requires entertainers to move along every two hours. The city's famed buskers who pass an audition get a free, one-year renewable permit to perform outdoors; those who don't pass muster could face fines for disturbing the peace.

Kids Don't Try This At Home

A New Hampshire girl learned the hard way: don't lick anything metal. Maddie Gilmartin, 12, wondered what would happen if she touched her tongue to the flagpole in her front yard. Anyone who has seen A Christmas Story knows how that turned out.
With only two slots on the U.S. men's Olympic figure skating team, the competition is tough. But three-time U.S. champion Jeremy Abbott — who has yet to deliver on the world stage — wants 2014 to be the year he takes a medal.
Children automatically get dental coverage through Affordable Care Act policies, and adults can buy dental insurance if they wish. That's one of the big changes under the health care law. And everyone has until March 31 to buy insurance and avoid penalties.

Senate To Vote On Yellen's Fed Nomination

Janet Yellen is President Obama's pick to succeed Ben Bernanke as the chairman of the Federal Reserve. If Yellen is confirmed as expected on Monday, she'll take over for Bernanke at the end of this month.

Wearable Technology Generates Buzz Before CES Opens

The largest show of gadgets, gear and anything electronic kicks off Tuesday in Las Vegas. The Consumer Electronics Show is a glitzy, high profile opportunity for thousands of entrepreneurs and established companies to show off their newest stuff.
Google and big automakers including Audi, GM, Hyundia and Honda are creating an open automobile alliance. That is, a framework that will allow Google Android software to work with theses cars creating connected mobile experiences.

Australian Olympic Athletes Face Social Media Ban

The Australian Olympic Committee has placed a social media ban on its athletes at the Sochi Winter Games. Tweeting, Facebooking and snap-chatting join "partying" as officially forbidden activities. Winter athletes can thank their summer colleagues for the new social media ban.
Congress returns to Washington this week, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has pledged the first item on the agenda will be restoring long-term unemployment benefits. Those benefits expired last week, and an estimated 1.3 million people stopped receiving checks.
Unemployment insurance is at the top of the list for President Obama as Congress returns to Washington, but the big budget battles still loom.

Venezuela's Department Of Happiness Criticized

Venezuela is a nation with leaders known for bellicose rhetoric and quirky decisions. But the latest government office is raising the most eyebrows. It's called the Vice Ministry for the Supreme Social Happiness of the Venezuelan People.

First Latino Bachelor Debuts On ABC's Hit Show

Juan Pablo Galavis is the first Latino to star in The Bachelor. American-born and Venezuelan-raised, he's bilingual, bicultural and a dad. ABC has received criticism over the years for excluding people of color when casting the popular reality show. But Galavis has such a fair complexion, some question if he really brings more diversity to the show.

'Save To Win' Makes Saving As Much Fun As Gambling

One of the most common resolutions people make at the start of each year is to save more money. Researchers concluded if you want to help people save money, preaching isn't gonna cut it. You have to make saving money as fun as a visit to a casino.
Secretary of State John Kerry is wrapping up his latest trip to the Middle East. He's trying to get Israeli and Palestinian leaders to agree on a "framework" deal.
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul has commissioned a series of polls to see who Afghans favor in the April election. But between security challenges and "social desirability" biases, it can be difficult to impossible to get a clear read of the Afghan people.

23 Years Later, Message In A Bottle Answered

When she was 10 years old, Zoe Averianov tossed a bottle into the North Sea with a letter talking about her love of the flute and hamsters. Now 33, she's hard back from a Dutch couple who found her bottle.

Financial Benefits Of A College Degree Accumulate

It's been said that having more education usually leads to higher pay. A study suggests the advantage continues even into retirement years. That's in part because those with more education tend to stay in the work force longer.

Dangerously Cold Weather Felt Across Much Of U.S.

Historically cold weather is moving through the Midwest. In some areas, forecasters predict the coldest temperatures since 1996.

Florida State Meets Auburn In Final BCS Game

College football's champion will be decided Monday night at the Rose Bowl. No. 1 Florida State plays No. 2 Auburn in the last Bowl Championship Series game. It will be replaced next year with a playoff.
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