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Middle East
5:54 am
Wed December 28, 2011

Judaism Strands Could Be Tearing Israel Apart

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man (left) and a secular man argue during a protest against the strict religious codes favored by the ultra-Orthodox in the Israeli city of Beit Shemesh.
Stringer Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri December 30, 2011 2:34 pm

According to Israel's President Shimon Peres, a fight is under way, for "the soul of the nation and the essence of the state." But the threat isn't coming from outside Israel. It's over differing interpretations of Judaism.

Recently, a bespectacled 8-year-old girl was filmed by a local TV station being harassed by ultra-Orthodox Jews for — in their view — not dressing modestly enough. The episode took place in Beit Shemesh, a city between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem that has become a symbol of this growing battle in Israel.

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Asia
5:16 am
Wed December 28, 2011

Pyongyang Stages Dramatic Funeral For Kim Jong Il

For analysis of the political dynamics at play during the funeral of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, Steve Inskeep talks to Stephen Bosworth, Dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University. From 2009 until October 2011 he was the U.S. Special Envoy to North Korea.

Asia
5:13 am
Wed December 28, 2011

North Korea's Power Transfer Moving Smoothly

This photo provided by Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows Kim Jong Un, center, with his hand on the limousine bearing his father Kim Jong Il's body during the funeral procession in Pyongyang.
Korean Central News Agency

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:10 am

Capping more than a week of public mourning, North Korea staged a dramatic state funeral for its late leader, Kim Jong Il. Leading the ceremonies was Kim's third son and apparent successor, Kim Jong Un.

North Korean media reports portray the younger Kim, who is reportedly in his late 20s, in full control of the impoverished, nuclear-armed country. But while consolidating his political power may be easy, establishing his legitimacy will be tougher.

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Business
4:09 am
Wed December 28, 2011

New England Fishermen Brace For Cod Restrictions

Originally published on Wed December 28, 2011 1:20 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

And I'm Linda Wertheimer.

In New England, fishermen are bracing for what may be unprecedented restrictions, or even a shutdown, of cod fishing in the Gulf of Maine. Federal regulators say new data show cod as dangerously overfished. But fishermen say they don't believe that, and say drastic restrictions would be catastrophic. NPR's Tovia Smith reports.

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NPR Story
4:00 am
Wed December 28, 2011

Business News

Originally published on Wed December 28, 2011 1:20 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with Iran shaking the oil markets.

Oil prices are higher this morning after a top Iranian official threatened to block a considerable part of the world's oil supply, if new economic sanctions are imposed on his country. The official spoke of blocking oil tankers from moving through the Straits of Hormuz; that's the opening from the Persian Gulf, a major transit route for a number of nations, and it goes right past the Iranian shore.

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NPR Story
4:00 am
Wed December 28, 2011

Wendy's Re-Enters Japan's Fast-Food Market

Originally published on Wed December 28, 2011 1:20 pm

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Wendy's is reentering the world's second largest fast food market, Japan. The burger chain left Japan in 2009 in a dispute with its local business partner. Now it's coming back in style. Our last word in business today is fancy fast food.

Instead of a basic burger, Wendy's wants to appeal to Japan's more finicky fast food eaters with a new, luxurious menu, featuring a truffle and forchini-grilled chicken sandwich and a foie gras burger, goose liver pate on top of the beef patty.

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Election 2012
4:00 am
Wed December 28, 2011

For Some Iowa Voters, Immigration Is Decisive

Originally published on Wed December 28, 2011 1:20 pm

GOP presidential candidates are touring Iowa ahead of next week's caucuses. The main issue for many voters there is the economy, but another hot topic is emerging: overhauling immigration policies. Iowa's Hispanic population is surging, and Republican candidates are struggling with how best to deal with voter concerns.

Economy
12:01 am
Wed December 28, 2011

'Smart Decline': A Lifeline For Zombie Subdivisions?

Unfinished subdivisions like this one in the Phoenix suburb of Gilbert, Ariz., have led urban planners to suggest "smart decline" strategies that sometimes even dismantle existing infrastructure.
Laura Segall Bloomberg via Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 28, 2011 8:22 pm

On the western edge of Phoenix, it's easy to find vast tracts of empty land once prepped for two-by-fours and work crews. Utility stanchions emerge like errant whiskers from the desert floor.

This is the land of zombie subdivisions. Some experts believe up to 1 million dirt lots in central Arizona were in some stage of approval for new homes when the market crashed.

"It's tragic," says Realtor Greg Swann. "It's heartbreaking."

Urban planners are floating a radical solution for areas like this. It's known as "smart decline."

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Animals
12:01 am
Wed December 28, 2011

60 Years After Leaving, Porpoises Again Play In SF Bay

A harbor porpoise comes up for air near the Golden Gate Bridge. The porpoises are returning to the bay in growing numbers after a 60-year absence.
Isidore Szczepaniak Golden Gate Cetacean Research

Originally published on Wed December 28, 2011 1:20 pm

Something that has been missing from San Francisco Bay since World War II appears to be making a comeback: Harbor porpoises are showing up in growing numbers, and researchers are trying to understand why they're returning.

The walkway across the Golden Gate Bridge is almost always packed with people taking photos. But Bill Keener isn't here for snapshots of the stunning views. He's aiming his massive telephoto lens at a dark shape in the water 200 feet below.

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It Was A Good Year For...
12:01 am
Wed December 28, 2011

IBM Sees A Big Boost As It Turns 100

Reason To Smile: Samuel Palmisano, president and CEO of IBM, walks by an IBM logo at the CeBIT technology fair in Hanover, Germany. Palmisano is set to step down later this month, and Virginia Rometty will take over on Jan. 1.
Sean Gallup Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 29, 2011 11:56 am

Far from a relic, IBM has been one of the best stocks on the Dow this year, rising more than perennial tech hotshots Google and Apple. The company may be 100, but it has totally remade its business for the 21st century.

The company sold its PC business 6 years ago, and now, more than 83 percent of its business is services and software. Sign a contract with Big Blue and you get consulting, cloud computing, servers, analytics, even financing.

"There is no such thing as an IBM PC," says IBM managing partner Adam Klaber.

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