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The 5 Business Stories That Made 2014 A Memorable Year

59 min 3 sec ago
As the year's end approaches, economists are looking back and assessing the news stories that shaped 2014.

Though their lists may vary, most analysts are pointing to five developments that had very big impacts on the U.S. economy. These were the biggies for 2014:

Oil Prices Plunge

No one saw this one coming. When 2014 began, a barrel of crude oil was selling for about $110. It hovered there until late spring, when the price ticked up to nearly $115.

And then, down, down, down went oil.

Calling U.S. A 'Cesspool,' North Korea Warns Against Escalation

1 hour 43 min ago
"The "whole U.S. mainland" would be under threat of attack if America seeks vengeance for last month's Sony hacking, North Korea says. An official at its defense commission called the U.S.

Wash. Class Size Reduction Plan As Tough To Fund As It Is To Repeal

1 hour 46 min ago

Supporters of a sweeping plan to reduce K-12 class sizes in Washington public schools cheered its passage in November, hailing it as not only an opportunity for schools to hire badly-needed staff but also as a chance for the state to fix a broken revenue system.

Yet Initiative 1351 has landed with a thud in Olympia. The Senate's GOP leadership will attempt to garner the votes to suspend the class-size initiative. Top House Democrats say they can't cover its massive $2 billion price tag. And the budget Gov. Jay Inslee released Thursday only covers a portion of it.

But Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn warned last week this chilly reception won't satisfy Washington state Supreme Court justices, who've already held lawmakers in contempt over school funding.

Two Actors Playing Opposite Real-Life Spouses In 'A Christmas Story: The Musical'

1 hour 46 min ago

Seattle actors Jessica Skerritt and Dane Stokinger have played opposite one another before. There was the time last year in Arizona, when they were in a production of “Xanadu, the Musical.” He played some roller-skating guy and she played some sort of Greek goddess.

They actually met in a production at Village Theater; he played Elvis and she his girlfriend. But for the first time, the two are playing what they are in real life: husband and wife.

Marysville Pilchuck Families Access State Fund To Cope With School Shooting Aftermath

1 hour 46 min ago

It’s been nearly two months since the deadly shooting at Marysville Pilchuck High School. Five students died, including the 15-year-old gunman.

Since then, 68 families have turned to the state of Washington for financial help to deal with the tragedy. They've received $23,000 from Washington’s Crime Victim Compensation Fund.

An Update On LA's iPad Program

2 hours 23 min ago
NPR Ed is updating some of the top stories we've been following in 2014.

Nuns On The Ranch Give A Heavenly Twist To Beef

6 hours 1 min ago
Many beer aficionados are familiar with the rare breweries run by Trappist monks. The beer is highly sought after, but it's not the only food or drink made by a religious order. Many abbeys and convents have deep roots in agriculture, combining farm work with prayer.

Just five miles south of the Colorado-Wyoming border you'll find one of these places. Idyllic red farm buildings sit in the shadow of the main abbey, all tucked in a stony valley.

Heating New England Homes: The Good And Bad News

6 hours 2 min ago
Falling oil prices are perhaps nowhere more welcome than in northern New England, where most homes burn heating oil in their furnaces. But cheaper heating oil is refilling consumer's pockets just as high electric prices are emptying them out.

For example, a heating oil truck delivers 600 gallons of heating oil every two weeks to an old, four-story brick building in Concord, N.H. At last year's oil prices, each refill would have cost around $2,200.

A Family's Long Search For Fragile X Drug Finds Frustration, Hope

6 hours 3 min ago
For a few weeks last year, Michael Tranfaglia and Katie Clapp saw a remarkable change in their son, Andy, who'd been left autistic and intellectually disabled by Fragile X syndrome. Andy, who is 25, became more social, more talkative, and happier. "He was just doing incredibly well," his father says.

The improvements came while Andy was taking an experimental drug — a drug made possible by the efforts of his parents.

Jay Thomas & Friends Concert At SAM On Jazz Northwest

Sun, 12/21/2014 - 15:00

An all-star sextet led by saxophonist and trumpeter Jay Thomas is featured in highlights from an Art of Jazz concert at The Seattle Art Museum on Jazz Northwest.  The group played jazz classics ranging from Miles Davis in the 50s to an original by Jay Thomas.  

The Whiteness Project: Facing Race In A Changing America

Sun, 12/21/2014 - 14:24
The voices in the Whiteness Project vary by gender, age and income, but they all candidly express what it is like to be white in an increasingly diverse country.

"I don't feel that personally I've benefited from being white. That's because I grew up relatively poor," a participant shared.

Celebrating Hanukkah In A Palestinian City

Sun, 12/21/2014 - 14:24
Amelia Wolf, an American Jewish college student, was living in the Palestinian city of Ramallah when the holiday of Hanukkah rolled around last year.

She liked the Palestinian family that was hosting her in the West Bank, but she felt a little lonely. She wasn't going to celebrate in Israel, where she had friends and relatives, as she had other Jewish holidays.

And in Ramallah, she didn't think it would be a good idea to put a holiday menorah in the window, in line with Jewish tradition.

Man Who Killed Officers Told Passersby: 'Watch What I Am Going To Do'

Sun, 12/21/2014 - 14:12
The gunman who ambushed and killed two officers in a Brooklyn neighborhood of New York on Saturday told passersby moments before the shooting to "watch what I am about to do," a senior police official says.

NYPD Director of Investigations Robert Boyce, speaking at an afternoon news conference about the killings that have rocked the city, says the shooter, identified as Ismaaiyl Brinsley, briefly spoke to two people on the street in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area wher

Kurdish Forces Push Offensive To Retake Sinjar From ISIS

Sun, 12/21/2014 - 13:00
Kurdish fighters, supported by coalition warplanes, pushed into the town of Sinjar in northern Iraq, days after breaking a siege of a mountain where ethnic Yazidis had been trapped for months by Islamist extremists.

Massoud Barzani, an Iraqi Kurdish leader claimed his peshmerga forces had already taken a "large area" of the town of Sinjar, which has been held since August by fighters of the so-called Islamic State.

NPR's Deborah Amos reports that breaking the months-long siege of Moun

GOP Sens. Rubio, Paul Square Off Over Cuba Policy Shift

Sun, 12/21/2014 - 09:18
In what could prove a sneak peek at the 2016 Republican presidential primaries, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a strong critic of President Obama's decision to open relations with Cuba, appears to be stepping up an attack on fellow Republican Sen.

BirdNote: Solstice Fires

Sun, 12/21/2014 - 09:00

In The Golden Bough, Sir James Frazer describes early Europeans building solstice fires at year's end to strengthen the sun.

Seeing the sun steadily weakening, steadily falling in its arc across the sky, they did what they could to restore it to health.

Birds and other creatures of the natural world respond to the length of winter days. Much of the rhythm and timing of birds' behavior, including migration and breeding, is determined by the length and intensity of the sun's light.  

Tunisia, Cradle Of 'Arab Spring,' In Historic Presidential Vote

Sun, 12/21/2014 - 07:36
Tunisians are going to the polls today to choose a president in a runoff election that represents a choice between the country's interim leader, swept to power in the wake of the 2011 Arab Spring revolution, or a candidate with ties to the ousted regime.

An aging Beji Caid Essebsi, who represents the secular-leaning Nidaa Tounes (Tunisia Calls) party and who served under Tunisia's deposed President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali,

Obama Calls North Korean Hack 'Cybervandalism'

Sun, 12/21/2014 - 06:58
President Obama tells CNN that he doesn't consider North Korea's hack of Sony Pictures an act of war, but instead a case of "cybervandalism." But, he stands by his criticism of the movie studio for pulling the satirical film The Interview because its plot angers Pyongyang.

"If we set a precedent in which a dictator in another country can disrupt through cyber, a company's distribution chain or its products, and as a consequence we start censoring ourselves, that's a problem," Ob

A History Lesson On The Philippines, Stuffed In A Christmas Chicken

Sun, 12/21/2014 - 06:40
Noche buena, the Christmas Eve feast in fervently Catholic Philippines, is deeply steeped in tradition. One of the mainstays of this decadent meal, usually eaten after midnight mass, is rellenong manok (rel-ye-nong ma-nok). It's a hybrid name: In Spanish, relleno means stuffed, and in Tagalog, manok means chicken.

Ready To Hit The Cuban Beach? Americans Still Have To Wait

Sun, 12/21/2014 - 06:36
With President Obama beginning the process of normalizing relations with Cuba this week, many may envision soon soaking up the sun on a warm Cuban beach, sipping a refreshing rum drink.

In reality, that's not likely to happen for quite a while. But just the increased opportunity for travel between the two countries has those with longtime ties to Cuba already thinking about the possibilities it will bring.

Tom Popper is thinking about it. As president of the New York-based travel company, Insight Cuba, Popper has fought long and hard for an end to the U.S.