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National News from NPR

Bearing the message "The Greatest Gift is Knowledge," a holiday display by the Satanic Temple will accompany a Christian Nativity scene on the grounds of the Michigan State Capitol.
Wed, 12/17/2014 - 18:16

The situation has brought controversy — and energized Christians who realized that a planned Nativity scene was in danger of being canceled.

A customer picks up a block of butter at a food store in Tokyo on Nov. 10th. Japanese shoppers are up in arms over a serious butter shortage that has forced Tokyo to resort to emergency imports, as some grocers limit sales to one block per customer.
Wed, 12/17/2014 - 16:19

For the Japanese, Christmastime means sponge cake. But a nationwide butter shortage has lead to mandatory butter rationing, forcing cake bakers to seek out substitutes.

Wed, 12/17/2014 - 15:34

President Obama commuted the prison sentences of eight people who were convicted of drug-related crimes Wednesday, in a move that also saw 12 presidential pardons issued.

Alan Gross and his wife, Judy, in Washington on Wednesday after his release from a Cuban prison.
Wed, 12/17/2014 - 15:31

American Alan Gross had spent more than five years in a Cuban prison where he suffered ill health. Then, on Tuesday, his lawyer, Scott Gilbert, told him in a phone call that he was going home.

The Islamist group Hamas, shown here in a rally in the Gaza Strip on Dec. 12, is the strongest faction in the Gaza Strip. The Islamic State, or ISIS, is not believed to be in the territory, though fliers purporting to be from the group have circulated in Gaza. They are widely believed to be fake, but both Israel and Hamas have tried to use them to their advantage.
Wed, 12/17/2014 - 15:18

The Islamic State is not believed to be in the Gaza Strip. But a flier in its name was recently sent around the territory. Both Israel and Hamas are trying to use it to their advantage.

This design of this new anti-Ebola suit will make health workers more comfortable and could also save lives.
Wed, 12/17/2014 - 15:17

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University are revamping the Ebola suit. They've come up with a design that's safer, cooler and easier to take off than the space suits currently in use in West Africa.

Najin, a female northern white rhino, gets a pat from keeper Mohamed Doyo. Najin, who lives at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, is one of only five of its subspecies left in the world.
Wed, 12/17/2014 - 15:17

With the death of a northern white rhino in San Diego's zoo this week, researchers are working to see whether they can save the species. They'd better hurry — only five remain.

This graphic lays out the possible outcomes for 10,000 women if they start getting annual screening mammograms at age 50 and continue that for 10 years.
Wed, 12/17/2014 - 15:06

What are the odds that you'll get a false positive when you get a mammogram? How likely is it that it will detect cancer? Here's one way to look at it.

A sign posted Wednesday on the box office window at the Sunshine Cinema in New York. The New York premiere of <em>The Interview</em>, a Sony Pictures comedy about the assassination of North Korean President Kim Jong Un, has been canceled.
Wed, 12/17/2014 - 14:39

The move follows the decision by major U.S. theater chains not to screen the comedy that centers on a plot to assassinate North Korea's leader.

Cuban leader Fidel Castro looks up at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington on April 16, 1959. The Cuban leader visited Washington several months after seizing power. But U.S.-Cuban relations quickly frayed and the U.S. imposed an embargo on the island in 1960. President Obama announced an overhaul of the U.S. policy on Wednesday.
Wed, 12/17/2014 - 14:02

The stalemate has outlasted 10 U.S. presidents, a failed invasion, a nuclear crisis and countless boatloads of Cuban asylum seekers. All that changed on Wednesday.

Alan Gross addresses a news conference in Washington on Wednesday hours after his release from Cuba.
Wed, 12/17/2014 - 13:56

Havana freed Gross, who spent five years in a Cuban prison, as a humanitarian gesture. The former USAID contractor said he hoped the U.S. and Cuba move past their "mutually belligerent" policies.

President Obama speaks with President Raul Castro of Cuba from the Oval Office on Tuesday.
Wed, 12/17/2014 - 13:44

A conversation between Presidents Obama and Castro preceded a plan to normalize diplomatic relations between historical foes.

Wed, 12/17/2014 - 13:01

Sen. Marco Rubio and other prominent Cuban-American lawmakers issued blistering rebukes of plans to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba.

Wed, 12/17/2014 - 12:43

President Obama called the unnamed man "one of the most important intelligence agents that the United States has ever had in Cuba." The agent spent nearly two decades in a Cuban prison.

A nurse checks a man's blood pressure during a health clinic In Los Angeles.
Wed, 12/17/2014 - 12:30

Though blacks still lag whites nationwide in health, disparities have been largely eliminated in the western states, a study finds. Kaiser Permanente's Medicare HMOs did best on that.

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