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4:53pm

Wed December 17, 2014
The Salt

Japan's Butter Shortage Whips Its Cake Makers Into A Frenzy

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 11:21 am

A customer picks up a block of butter at a food store in Tokyo on Nov. 10. 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.
Yoshikazu Tsuno AFP/Getty Images

We are well into the Christmas season, and if you live in Japan, that means sponge cake.

The traditional Japanese Christmas dish is served with strawberries and cream, and it is rich, thanks to lots and lots of butter. But the Japanese have been using even more butter for their Christmas cakes this year, exacerbating what was already a national butter shortage.

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4:39pm

Wed December 17, 2014
Movie Interviews

Angelina Jolie On Her Film's 'Unbroken' Hero: 'He Was Truly A Great Man'

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 9:05 am

During World War II, Louis Zamperini spent 47 days stranded in shark-infested waters before he was rescued by Japanese soldiers and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp.
Universal Pictures

The new film Unbroken, directed by Angelina Jolie, tells the story of an Olympic runner and World War II prisoner of war. Louis Zamperini shattered records at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, and when the war broke out, he enlisted. Then, on a routine mission, his plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean, leaving him stranded in shark-infested waters for 47 days. When he was eventually rescued by Japanese soldiers, he became a prisoner of war.

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3:26am

Tue December 16, 2014
U.S.

President's Task Force To Re-Examine How Police Interact With Public

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 3:09 pm

President Obama announces the creation of a policing task force Dec. 1 as Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey (left) and George Mason University criminology professor Laurie Robinson look on.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Earlier this month, after the events in Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island, N.Y, the White House announced the creation of what it's calling a Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

The group's job is to find ways to strengthen the relationship between police and the public, and to share recommendations with the president by late February.

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5:12pm

Mon December 15, 2014
Goats and Soda

Dr. Kent Brantly: Lessons Learned From Fighting Ebola

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 1:23 pm

Dr. Kent Brantly speaks about the world's response to Ebola during the Overseas Security Advisory Council's Annual Briefing in Washington, D.C. last month.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Dr. Kent Brantly considers himself a lucky man.

He was diagnosed with Ebola five months ago while working with Christian aid group Samaritan's Purse at a hospital in Liberia's capital, Monrovia. He became so sick that he thought he was going to "quit" breathing.

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3:31am

Mon December 15, 2014
World

Around-The-World Trek Hits Obstacles Both Natural And Man-Made

Originally published on Mon December 15, 2014 8:02 am

North into the Caucasus, into cold gunmetal skies. Eastern Turkey.
Paul Salopek National Geographic

Journalist Paul Salopek is on a seven-year trek around the world, retracing early humans' first great migration, out of Africa.

We first spoke to him two years ago, when he was in Ethiopia, at the very beginning of his odyssey. Since then, we've reached him in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Cyprus. Eventually, he plans to walk 21,000 miles in total — and make it all the way to Tierra del Fuego in South America.

On this last leg of his trip, he has faced all manner of obstacles — both natural and man-made.

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6:09pm

Sun December 14, 2014
Author Interviews

'El Deafo': How A Girl Turned Her Disability Into A Superpower

Originally published on Mon December 15, 2014 1:59 pm

Pages from El Deafo by Cece Bell. Click here to enlarge.
Abrams

Writer and illustrator Cece Bell has been creating children's books for over a decade, but in her latest, she finally turns to her own story — about growing up hearing-impaired, after meningitis left her "severely to profoundly deaf" at the age of 4.

The book, a mix of memoir, graphic novel and children's book, is called El Deafo. It's a funny, unsentimental tale that follows Cece from age 4 through elementary school, as she transforms from mild-mannered little girl into full-fledged superhero — the "El Deafo" of the title.

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5:41pm

Sun December 14, 2014
Around the Nation

LA's Unclaimed Dead Receive Prayers, And A Final Resting Place

Originally published on Sun December 14, 2014 5:57 pm

County employees, media and mourners gather for the ceremony honoring the 1,489 people whose unclaimed remains are being buried in the LA County Cemetery this year.
Arun Rath NPR

Every year since 1896, Los Angeles County has held a somber ceremony for the men, women and children who die there, but whose bodies are never claimed.

Some of those buried are unidentified; they are buried as Jane and John Does.

Many others have been identified, but for a variety of reasons, family and friends never picked up their cremated remains.

This year, in an interfaith ceremony on Dec. 9, the county buried the ashes of 1,489 people in a mass grave in the County Cemetery in LA's Boyle Heights.

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5:41am

Sun December 14, 2014
Book News & Features

This Weekend, Pick Up The Pieces With 'Gabi'

Originally published on Sun December 14, 2014 12:18 pm

cover crop
Cinco Puntos Press

When we meet 17-year-old Gabi Hernandez, she's a senior in high school who's suffering from all the typical teenage problems. Dysfunctional family: Check. Rampaging hormones: Check. Low self-esteem: Check.

On top of all that, Gabi has to negotiate two cultures and two very different sets of rules for girls and boys. She's the protagonist in our latest Weekend Read: Isabel Quintero's debut novel, Gabi, A Girl in Pieces.

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5:18pm

Sat December 13, 2014
Movie Interviews

Adapting 'Inherent Vice' Made Director Feel Like A Student Again

Originally published on Sat December 13, 2014 6:40 pm

Joaquin Phoenix stars as Larry "Doc" Sportello, a private investigator with a pot-smoking habit, in Inherent Vice, Paul Thomas Anderson's film adaptation of the novel by Thomas Pynchon.
Michael Muller Warner Brother Pictures

The new film Inherent Vice follows a stoner, hippie detective on a wild, wandering, pot-fueled adventure that ensues when his ex-lover Shasta brings him a new case to solve. Joaquin Phoenix plays that detective, Larry "Doc" Sportello, who, as he tries to tackle the mystery, is regularly at odds with an LAPD detective named "Bigfoot" Bjornsen, played by Josh Brolin.

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8:59am

Fri December 12, 2014
StoryCorps

Memories Of An Ironworker On The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

Originally published on Fri December 12, 2014 12:46 pm

An ironworker on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in the early 1960s.
©Bruce Davidson/Magnum Photos

It's been 50 years since New York City's Verrazano-Narrows Bridge opened. It was then — and still is — the longest suspension bridge in the country.

In 1964, author Gay Talese published a book about the construction called The Bridge. Here's an excerpt:

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