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Stories for January 7, 2014

California Democrats Announce Plans For Transitional Kindergarten

Jan. 7
Katie Orr, Capital Public Radio
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California Senate Democrats announced legislation that would ensure all 4-year-olds in the state have a chance to enroll in "transitional kindergarten."

California Water Resource Director Expects Governor To Declare Drought

Jan. 7
Amy Quinton, Capital Public Radio

The director of the California Department of Water Resources said he believes Gov. Jerry Brown likely will declare a drought.

San Diego Chargers Fans Prepare For Playoff Game Against Denver Broncos

Jan. 7
By Dwane Brown
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San Diego Chargers fans are stocking up on team gear in preparation for the AFC Divisional playoff game against the Denver Broncos on Sunday.

Mexico's Tax Hikes Hit Border Residents Hard

Jan. 7
By Jill Replogle
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In Mexico, the new year brought in new and higher taxes for many consumers and business owners. Residents of the border region are being hit particularly hard.

Catholic bishops pray to relieve dry California

Jan. 7
Associated Press

The California Conference of Catholic Bishops asked people of all faiths to join in prayers for rain as reservoirs in the state dipped to historic lows after one of the driest calendar years on record.

Chasing Shackleton

Jan. 7
By Jennifer Robinson
Chasing Shackleton Tease photo

This new three-part series follows a modern expedition that re-creates Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Trans-Antarctic Expedition, which launched in 1914. The series joins a crew of five intrepid explorers, led by renowned adventurer, scientist and author Tim Jarvis, as they duplicate Shackleton’s epic sea-and-land voyage in a replica of the original explorers’ lifeboat, James Caird, using only the tools and supplies his team used. When the ship The Endurance was crushed by ice and sank, Shackleton’s heroic leadership in the face of almost certain death saved the lives of 27 men stranded in the Antarctic for more than 500 days.

Twitter Founder Unveils Search App Tied To Photos

Jan. 7
Associated Press
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Twitter co-founder Biz Stone hopes to demonstrate that a picture can be worth even more than 140 characters of text.

Lindsey Vonn Is Out, But Some Advertisers May Still Win

Jan. 7
NPR Staff / NPR
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Lindsey Vonn's decision to sit out next month's Olympic Games due to a knee injury is surely a personal and professional disappointment for the Alpine skiing star. But Olympic athletes with Vonn's star power also mean big advertising dollars -- and not competing in Sochi may create winners and losers among the skier's sponsors.

Skiing Siblings Hope To Make It To Sochi, Together

Jan. 7
Tom Banse / NPR
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As snowboarders, skiers and skaters finish their qualifying events to get to the Winter Olympics next month, cross-country skiing siblings Erik and Sadie Bjornsen are waiting to find out if their special edge -- each other -- will get them both to the games.

50 Years After Landmark Warning, 8 Million Fewer Smoking Deaths

Jan. 7
Richard Knox / NPR
50 Years After Landmark Warning, 8 Million Fewer Smoking Deaths Tease photo

Saturday marks an important milestone in public health - the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health.

Ex-Defense Secretary Gates Takes Aim At Obama In New Book

Jan. 7
Scott Neuman / NPR
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Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, in a book due out later this month, describes President Obama as "a man of personal integrity" who nonetheless was skeptical of his administration's "surge" strategy in Afghanistan and openly distrustful of the military leadership, The Washington Post and The New York Times report Tuesday.

Meditation Can Help Manage Anxiety, Depression and Pain

Jan. 7
Allison Aubrey / NPR

People are increasingly turning to mindfulness mediation to manage health issues, and meditation classes are being offered through schools and hospitals.

Chris Kluwe On What Cost Him His Job With The Minnesota Vikings

Jan. 7
NPR

Just before a big playoff weekend, the sports website Deadspin published an open letter by former Minnesota Viking Chris Kluwe, titled "I Was An NFL Player Until I Was Fired By Two Cowards And A Bigot." Kluwe, a straight man, says his outspoken support of same-sex marriage cost him his job.

GOP's 2014 Resolution: Keep Pounding Democrats On Obamacare

Jan. 7
Frank James / NPR

When a reporter asked Reince Priebus Tuesday if Republicans would respond to a question about any issue by somehow directing the conversation back to the Affordable Care Act, the Republican National Committee chairman answered tongue-in-cheek.

Cold Snap, Wildfires, Earthquakes: How Prepared Is San Diego?

Jan. 7
Midday Edition
Evening Edition
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As a polar vortex paralyzes most of the nation, it's a reminder of the importance of emergency planning. While those extreme weather conditions aren't common for San Diego, we do face a threat from wildfires and earthquakes. How prepared are you?

New Study Provides Motivation To Get Healthy And Fit In 2014

Jan. 7
Midday Edition
Evening Edition
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Losing weight, toning up and getting healthy frequently top New Year's resolution lists. A recent study seems to give us some extra reasons to shed pounds a 2014 goal.

It's So Cold That You Might Need A Sweater To Read This

Jan. 7
Emily Siner / NPR
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It was in the single digits in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday morning, and that seems warm compared with some places around the country. Cities in the northern part of the country, like Minneapolis, saw the temperature dip well below zero -- and coupled with wind chills, it felt like minus 60 in some places.

Extreme Cold Convinces Escaped Convict To Give Up: VIDEO

Jan. 7
Mark Memmott / NPR

Sunday night, 42-year-old Robert Vick escaped from the minimum security Blackburn Correction Complex in Kentucky.

Start Your Engines: San Diego Mayoral Race Back In High Gear

Jan. 7
By Sandhya Dirks
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The race for mayor, which went quiet over the holidays, is back in action with both candidates sprinting toward election day on Feb. 11.

Drinking Too Much? Don't Count On Your Doctor To Ask

Jan. 7
Nancy Shute / NPR
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Most of the people who have problems with drinking aren't alcoholics, and having a brief chat with a doctor is often all it takes to prompt excessive drinkers to cut back.

Conviction Overturned For Ex-Marine Accused Of Smuggling Hussein Guard's Gun

Jan. 7
Associated Press

A former Marine from Southern California has been released from prison after an appellate court overturned his conviction for possessing a chrome-plated AK-47 that may have belonged to a member of Saddam Hussein's royal guard.

San Diego's Casbah Celebrates 25 Years Of Music

Jan. 7
Midday Edition
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San Diego's iconic music venue, the Casbah is turning 25 in January, and it's throwing a monthlong party to mark the milestone.

Frolicking Fido, Cozy Cats: How Your Pets Are Chilling Out

Jan. 7
NPR Staff / NPR

We asked you for photos of how your pets are dealing with the frigid weather -- and you folks sure did deliver. Here are some of the images you tagged #nprfrostypaws on Instagram.

What Is The Polar Vortex And Why Is It Doing This To Us?

Jan. 7
Mark Memmott / NPR
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We've mentioned the polar vortex several times in recent days.

Experts: challenges remain for 'brain dead' teen

Jan. 7
Associated Press

The family of a 13-year-old California girl who was declared brain dead after suffering complications from sleep apnea surgery has achieved its goal of moving the girl to a new facility for long-term care, but medical experts say the ventilator she's on will not work indefinitely.

Judge Tentatively Approves SDG&E Plan To Purchase Power From Proposed Otay Mesa Plant

Jan. 7
By City News Service

San Diego Gas & Electric's plans to purchase power from a proposed power plant in Otay Mesa were given tentative approval by an administrative law judge, the California Public Utilities Commission announced Monday.

FBI: Voices Drove Man Accused Of San Francisco Consulate Fire

Jan. 7
Associated Press

After turning himself in to police, a Chinese national told federal authorities that he started a blaze at the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco because he was hearing voices.

Sexual Assault Probe Prompts USS Germantown Master Chief Reassignment

Jan. 7
By Beth Ford Roth
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The Navy temporarily relieved Command Master Chief Jesus Galura of his duties Jan. 7 on the USS Germantown, due to an investigation into sexual assault charges made against him by a crew member. Galura has been reassigned to Amphibious Squadron 11.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Baca Says He Will Retire At End Of January

Jan. 7
By City News Service
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Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca announced Tuesday that he will retire as head of the beleaguered Sheriff's Department at the end of January.

Port of San Diego Joins Alpha Project To Tackle Homelessness Along Bayfront

Jan. 7
Midday Edition
By City News Service
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The Port of San Diego and the nonprofit Alpha Project plan to form a partnership Tuesday aimed at reducing homelessness along the bayfront.

Deaths Are Bitter Reminder Of Cold Snap's Dangers

Jan. 7
Mark Memmott / NPR
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While this week's super-cold conditions across much of the nation are fascinating and fun for many of us, there is a far more serious side to the story.

California Gets Failing Grade In Children's Health Report Card

Jan. 7
By Kenny Goldberg
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Nonprofit Children Now issues its annual report card on the wellbeing of California children, but the scores aren't the kind of grades you’d want to show your parents.

Health Officials Urge Flu Shot As H1N1 Rises In San Diego County

Jan. 7
By Susan Murphy
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Influenza is on the rise across San Diego County and health officials are urging people, especially young adults, to get vaccinated.

Senate Votes To Move Ahead On Extending Unemployment Benefits

Jan. 7
Scott Neuman / NPR
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A three-month extension of federal unemployment benefits for 1.3 million jobless Americans won a key procedural vote in the Senate on Tuesday.

Hang In There Another Day Or So -- Warmer Air Is Coming

Jan. 7
Mark Memmott / NPR
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Yes, it's going to be awfully cold again Tuesday for 150 million or so Americans.

Sunday Assembly: A Church For The Godless Picks Up Steam

Jan. 7
Mandalit del Barco / NPR
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It sometimes feels like church in the auditorium of the Professional Musicians union in Hollywood. It's a Sunday morning, and hundreds of people are gathered to meditate, sing and listen to inspirational poetry and stories.

CIA Lawyer: Waterboarding Wasn't Torture Then, And Isn't Torture Now

Jan. 7
NPR Staff / NPR
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In the years following Sept. 11, many Americans heard the term waterboarding for the first time -- a technique aimed to simulate the act of drowning. Waterboarding was at the center of the debate about what the CIA called "enhanced interrogation techniques" -- and what critics called "torture."

The Secret Burglary That Exposed J. Edgar Hoover's FBI

Jan. 7
Carrie Johnson / NPR
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More than 40 years ago, on the evening of March 8, 1971, a group of burglars carried out an audacious plan. They pried open the door of an FBI office in Pennsylvania and stole files about the bureau's surveillance of anti-war groups and civil rights organizations.