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Stories for December 18, 2013

More San Diego Groups Add To Debate Over Proposed Plastic Bag Ban

Dec. 18
By Erik Anderson
2 Comments
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A local group representing grocery, convenience, and liquor stores is speaking out against the plastic bag ban being considered by San Diego City Council.

San Diego faces $4 Million In Claims For Filner Lawsuits

Dec. 18
Associated Press
1 Comment
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Claims totaling $4 million have been filed against the city of San Diego in the sexual harassment scandal involving former Mayor Bob Filner.

Obama's Jab At Russia In Keeping With Olympic Tradition

Dec. 18
Alan Greenblatt / NPR
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When it comes to the Olympics, politics intrudes more often than not.

1,000 firefighters battling Big Sur blaze

Dec. 18
Associated Press
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Officials are hopeful that a late fall wildfire in California's Big Sur region will soon be fully contained, after the flames destroyed more than a dozen homes and forced about 100 people to flee.

Push For Release Of CIA Interrogation Report Continues

Dec. 18
Carrie Johnson / NPR
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For more than a year, the Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA have been engaged in a tug of war over the release of the so-called torture report.

Top SAC Capital Manager Guilty Of Insider Trading

Dec. 18
Scott Neuman / NPR
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Michael Steinberg, a top portfolio manager at SAC Capital Advisors, has been found guilty of insider trading -- the latest conviction stemming from a years-long federal investigation into the hedge fund's activities.

Senate Approves Budget Deal, Reducing Chances Of A Shutdown

Dec. 18
Scott Neuman / NPR
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The Senate passed a two-year bipartisan budget deal aimed at easing automatic spending cuts and avoiding a government shutdown, following a House vote on the measure last week.

Judge Softens Utah's Anti-Polygamy Law To Mixed Reactions

Dec. 18
Dan Bammes / NPR
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A federal judge's decision to strike down a key part of Utah's ban on polygamy over the weekend came as welcome news to Joe Darger.

What Santa Gave Your Senator This Year

Dec. 18
Tamara Keith AND Adam Wollner / NPR
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In a year that featured divisive fights over the budget, health care and presidential nominations, the United States Senate took a break from partisan bickering Tuesday night to get in the Christmas spirit.

Intelligence Panel Recommends Limits On NSA Surveillance

Dec. 18
Scott Neuman / NPR
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A panel looking into U.S. electronic surveillance activities in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations has recommended removing the NSA's authority to collect and store Americans' telephone data.

Seeking Wonderful Young Adult Novels That Deal With Race

Dec. 18
Kat Chow / NPR
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At Code Switch, we receive a whole bunch of emails and messages from readers and listeners. And many times, folks ask questions that get us buzzing during our editorial discussions.

People Buying Health Insurance Get A Bit More Time To Pay

Dec. 18
Julie Rovner / NPR
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There are seven shopping days left until Christmas. But there are just five days until another important deadline -- the last day to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act if you want coverage to start January 1.

$5.8M settlement in Calif. off-road race crash

Dec. 18
Associated Press
1 Comment

A lawyer says an agreement has been reached to pay $5.8 million to the families of eight people killed and 12 injured in a California desert off-road race crash.

Rants And Raves: Peter O'Toole

Dec. 18
By Beth Accomando
4 Comments
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Peter O’Toole passed away over the weekend. He will be dearly missed but thankfully film will forever preserve his electric talent.

The Man Who Duped Millionaires Into Paying Big Bucks For Fake Wine

Dec. 18
Ben Goldstein / NPR
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He was the man with "the nose of a blood hound," as one wine critic once put it.

San Diego Lawmaker Wants State Community Colleges To Award 4-Year Degrees

Dec. 18
Midday Edition
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California's community college system is considering a proposal to offer four-year degrees. And one San Diego lawmaker is getting ready to introduce legislation that would make it happen.

From Barrio Logan To San Diego's Economy, An Update From Interim Mayor Todd Gloria

Dec. 18
Midday Edition
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The Barrio Logan plan heads to the ballot, and San Diego pays out $98,000 in legal fees for its former mayor. We get an update on city business from Interim Mayor Todd Gloria.

Costumed Crusaders Patrol Downtown San Diego In The Name Of Justice

Dec. 18
Midday Edition
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In Metropolis or Gotham City, seeing a superhero downtown wouldn't be abnormal. But in San Diego, the sight of crime fighters dressed up in masks and capes can cause something of a stir.

Fed Says It Will Begin Tapering Off Its Stimulus In January

Dec. 18
Scott Neuman / NPR
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The Federal Reserve has decided to reduce by $10 billion its monthly bond-buying program beginning in January.

Navy Broadcaster's Mysterious Death Under Investigation (Video)

Dec. 18
By Beth Ford Roth
1 Comment
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U.S. and German authorities are investigating the death of U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dmitry Chepusov. The 31-year-old, who worked as a broadcaster for American Forces Network-Europe, was found dead Dec. 14 in Kaiserslautern, Germany.

Weather To Help Crews Battling Big Sur Blaze

Dec. 18
Associated Press
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Firefighters expected to get some help Wednesday from the weather as they battle an unusual late fall wildfire that has destroyed more than a dozen homes and forced about 100 people to flee the scenic Big Sur region overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Beijing: Near Miss As U.S. Warship 'Harassed' Chinese Vessel

Dec. 18
Scott Neuman / NPR
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China has confirmed that one of its warships -- reportedly the newly deployed aircraft carrier Liaoning -- had an "encounter" with a U.S. guided missile cruiser in the South China Sea earlier this month.

Explosion At Júarez Candy Factory Ruled Accidental

Dec. 18
Monica Ortiz Uribe / Fronteras Desk
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Mexican authorities have ruled that a deadly explosion at a candy factory in Ciudad Juárez two months ago was accidental.

San Diego Schools Scores Go Up On National Exams Yet Racial Gap Remains

Dec. 18
By Kyla Calvert
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San Diego results on national tests of math and reading show higher scores for all students, but gaps between racial and socioeconomic groups remain.

San Diego Artist Turns Rush Hour Into A Rainbow

Dec. 18
By David Wagner
2 Comments
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By rearranging cars according to color, San Diego filmmaker Cy Kuckenbaker invented a whole new way to see the Cabrillo Freeway.

5 Things We Learned From The Budget Debate

Dec. 18
Frank James / NPR
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Now that the bipartisan budget agreement has passed the Senate and is headed for the president's desk, it's a good time to consider some of the takeaways from the past two weeks of congressional Sturm und Drang.

15-Year-Old Who Wants Braces Asks: Will Obamacare Cover Them?

Dec. 18
Michelle Andrews / NPR
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It turns out that readers of all ages -- from teenagers to seniors -- have questions about the health law. We try to answer the latest batch.

Ex-BP Engineer Found Guilty Of Obstructing Justice

Dec. 18
Mark Memmott / NPR
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The first of four current or former BP employees charged with crimes related to the 2010 Gulf oil spill has been found guilty of obstructing justice because he deleted text messages from his cellphone that contained information about the worst offshore spill in the nation's history.

Navy Seabee Dies In Germany From A Non-Combat Related Incident

Dec. 18
By Beth Ford Roth
0 Comments
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Navy Petty Officer 1st Class James L. Smith, 38, died Dec. 11 of "natural causes" at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. Smith's unit had been deployed to Afghanistan.

Winter Weather May Bring Poor Driving Conditions To Mountains, Forecasters Warn

Dec. 18
City News Service
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The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory for the mountains from 7 a.m. Thursday to 1 a.m. Friday, saying snow showers could begin as early as late Wednesday night before tapering off Thursday night.

NCIS Agent Pleads Guilty To Charges Stemming From Navy Bribery Scheme

Dec. 18
Kelly Wheeler / City News Service
1 Comment

A special agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service admitted Tuesday that he shared confidential information about ongoing criminal probes into a foreign Navy contractor's billing practices in exchange for prostitutes, cash and luxury travel.

MTS Buses, Trolleys And Stations Tapped By An $18 Million Surveillance Network

Dec. 18
By Brad Racino
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inewsource examined the extent of surveillance throughout San Diego’s public transportation network, along with the implications for privacy.

State Legislature To Consider Doing Away With Special Elections

Dec. 18
By Claire Trageser
5 Comments
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A retired California lawmaker is proposing an alternative to costly special elections: empty state legislature seats would be filled by the governor, not voters.

San Clemente Doesn't Want San Onofre's Nuclear Waste Sticking Around

Dec. 18
By David Wagner
2 Comments
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Elected officials in San Clemente are expressing concern about how long waste will be stored in their backyard.

Student Is Charged In Harvard Bomb Scare

Dec. 18
Mark Memmott / NPR
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The initial suspicion of many -- that Monday's bomb scare at Harvard University was the work of a student who wanted to avoid taking a test -- may have been correct.

Your Questions About The American Health Care Act

Dec. 18
Matt Stiles, Christopher Groskopf, Danny DeBelius, Julie Rovner
0 Comments
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In recent months, NPR staff has published a serious of questions-and-answer stories related to the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Now we've compiled them into an interactive so you can explore answers that are most relevant to you.

Winning Mega Millions Tickets Sold In California And Georgia

Dec. 18
Mark Memmott / NPR
0 Comments
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If you know somebody in Atlanta or San Jose, Calif., this might be a good time to get in touch.

Amid Fields Of Plenty, Farmworkers Struggle To Feed Their Families

Dec. 18
Sasha Khokha / NPR
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California's San Joaquin Valley is one of the most productive farm regions in the world. But many farmworkers struggle to feed their families fresh and healthy food because they can't afford to buy the produce that grows all around them.

A 'Tale Of Two Cities' As Detroit Looks To 2014

Dec. 18
Sarah Hulett / NPR
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The streets outside Avalon Bakery in Detroit's Midtown are a snowy, slushy, mostly unplowed mess, and all these customers want to do is pay for their loaf of Motown Multigrain or Poletown Rye.