The Two-Way
6:30 am
Tue December 20, 2011

Blizzard Pounds Great Plains, Northeast May See White Christmas

It's slick out there: The scene Monday along U.S. 550 near Rio Rancho, N.M.
Susan Montoya Bryan AP

Originally published on Tue December 20, 2011 6:34 am

Stranded motorists. Closed highways. Packed hotels.

It's winter and the Great Plains has gotten walloped:

"From northern New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle through Oklahoma and northwestern Kansas," The Associated Press writes, "blizzard conditions [on Monday and into today] put state road crews on alert and had motorists taking refuge and early exits off major roads."

Some reports from the stricken states:

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Ina Jaffe is a National desk correspondent based at NPR West, NPR's production center in Culver City, Calif.

Covering California and the West, Jaffe has reported on nearly all of the major news events, elections, and natural disasters in the region. Currently, she covers issues related to aging. She also reports on regional and national politics, contributing election coverage in 2008, 2010, and 2012.

Religion
11:01 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

Vatican Declares Boy's Recovery A 'Miracle'

Barbara Bradley Hagerty NPR

Originally published on Tue December 20, 2011 10:57 am

In February 2006, 5-year-old Jake Finkbonner fell and hit his head while playing basketball at his school in Ferndale, Wash. Soon, he developed a fever and his head swelled. His mother, Elsa, rushed him to Seattle Children's Hospital, where the doctors realized Jake was battling a flesh-eating bacterium called Strep A.

"It traveled all around his face, his scalp, his neck, his chest," she recalls, "and why it didn't travel to his brain or his eyeballs or his heart? He was protected."

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Africa
11:01 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

New Law Aims To Shine Light On Conflict Metals

Workers dig at a mine in Chudja, near Bunia, north eastern Congo. The conflict in the Congo, a nation rich in mineral resources such as gold, diamonds, tin, and cobalt, has often been linked to a struggle for control over its minerals resources.
Lionel Healing AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 20, 2011 7:14 am

Delly Mawazo Sesete wants American consumers to know what is in their smart phones, computers and other electronics and where U.S. companies like Apple are getting those rare metals.

Sesete says that, without knowing, consumers in the U.S. could be fueling conflicts in Eastern Congo. The human rights activist is from a remote part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where armed groups are wreaking havoc and get much of their funding from mining rare metals.

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Violence At California's Psychiatric Hospitals
11:01 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

In Calif. Mental Hospitals, Assaults Rarely A Crime

Metropolitan State Hospital employees and supporters gathered outside the hospital in Norwalk, Calif., this summer to protest repeated assaults at the hands of mental patients, and what they called dangerous working conditions.
Nick Ut AP

Originally published on Wed December 21, 2011 1:16 pm

Part of an ongoing series

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Asia
11:01 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

India's Techies Angered Over Internet Censorship Plan

An activist of Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena hold placards and roses outside the residence of Communications and IT Minister Kapil Sibal in New Delhi.
Sajjad Hussain AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 28, 2011 12:20 pm

India has the world's largest democracy, and one of the most rambunctious. Millions of its young people are cutting edge when it comes to high-tech.

Yet the country is still very conservative by Western standards, and a government minister recently said that offensive material on the web should be removed.

The way it was reported in India, Communications Minister Kapil Sibal started the whole row by assembling the heads of social networking sites at a meeting in his office in New Delhi.

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The Two-Way
5:05 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

As Crackdown Continues, Syria Agrees To Arab League Observers

A boy stands in a water fountain as he holds up the Syrian national flag during a rally in Damascus, Syria.
Muzaffar Salman AP

Originally published on Mon December 19, 2011 5:09 pm

Today, Syria signed an agreement that would allow Arab League observers into the country. It's all in a bid to end its isolation and the nine-month standoff between the government of President Bashar Assad and protesters who are demanding his ouster.

The Guardian reports:

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The Two-Way
4:21 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

AT&T Drops Bid To Purchase T-Mobile USA

This June 2, 2010, file photo shows the AT&T logo in Washington, D.C.
Etienne Franchi AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 19, 2011 4:27 pm

After the federal regulators raised questions about AT&T's bid to buy T-Mobile USA, the telecommunications company said it was scrapping its $39 billion bid. The merger would have made AT&T the largest wireless carrier in the United States.

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Economy
3:53 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

Some Jobless Saved By The Salvation Army Bell

Lynn Smith has been ringing a Salvation Army bell since Thanksgiving outside a grocery store in Ventura, Calif. A former travel agent, she works 8 hours a day for minimum wage.
Glorida Hillard For NPR

The Salvation Army bell ringers and their iconic red kettles have been a familiar sight during the holidays for more than 120 years. Although in the past bell ringers were primarily volunteers, for many behind the kettle today, the temporary job has become a life saver.

For first-time bell ringers Lynn and Rusty Smith, it's helping keep them afloat during tough economic times. They work 8 hours a day ringing a Salvation Army bell for minimum wage.

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Newt Gingrich
3:16 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

To Win Over Iowans, Gingrich Aims At Judges

In the final leg of the campaign in Iowa, the Republican presidential candidates are talking about judges. No one has made them a bigger issue than Newt Gingrich.

Overhauling the judiciary has become one of his key proposals on the stump.

Conservatives have used "activist judges" as a battle cry for many election cycles now. But in Iowa, the issue has special resonance since the judiciary became a potent political issue two years ago.

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