From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel.
Pitchers Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux were Atlanta Braves teammates, Cy Young Award winners and, as of this afternoon, they are the newest members of Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame. Also making the hall was the slugger known as the Big Hurt, Frank Thomas.
Cold weather this week has boosted demand for heating fuels across the country. Natural gas prices are up, especially in the Northeast. At one point prices for natural gas into New York City jumped nearly tenfold from an average winter price of $5.68 per million BTU to $55.49, according to Bentek Energy, an analytics company.
Reports from the Syrian city of Raqqa are dire. In the north-central provincial capital, "the atmosphere has gone from bad to worse," says one activist with a rare link to the Internet. He reports the city is "completely paralyzed," the hospital is abandoned, and there are bodies in the central square. There is no power or water for a city of more than half a million people. Even the critical bread ovens are shut.
Fifty years ago today, President Lyndon Johnson stood before Congress and declared an "unconditional war on poverty in America." His arsenal included new programs: Medicaid, Medicare, Head Start, food stamps, more spending on education and tax cuts to help create jobs.
In the coming year, NPR will explore the impact and extent of poverty in the U.S., and what can be done to reduce it.
The Senate surprised quite a few people in Washington today when it voted to proceed on a bill to temporarily extend emergency unemployment benefits. Six Republicans joined Democrats in voting to get the measure over a key procedural hurdle.
But it was only the first step, and the president is applying pressure to keep it moving.
For years, tech companies raced to make the smartphone a beautiful device with soft curves and bright screens. Now, the industry is racing to make clothes that free up your hands from the phone while still connecting you to streams of digital information.
Beloved sleuth Sherlock Holmes has stumbled onto a new conundrum: A federal judge in Chicago recently ruled that the characters in Arthur Conan Doyle's stories — including Holmes and his partner, Dr. John Watson — now reside in the public domain.
That means anyone who wants to write new material about the characters no longer needs to seek permission or pay license fees to the Doyle estate. That is, as long as you don't include any elements introduced in the last 10 Sherlock Holmes stories released in the U.S. after 1922.
In 2010, Peter Gabriel released the first half of a two-part project, singing favorite songs written by living musicians. He titled it Scratch My Back. Now comes the sequel, titled And I'll Scratch Yours. It features most of the acts whose songs he covered, returning the favor by performing Peter Gabriel songs.
Every year thousands of companies from all over the world flock to Las Vegas in the first week in January to show off the products they hope to sell in the coming year. What began as a trade show featuring the latest high-fidelity stereos 40 years ago has become an annual electronics circus.
The "Death Master File." It sounds like a ledger the Grim Reaper might keep, but in reality, it's a computerized list containing some 86 million names and other data kept by the Social Security Administration.
An obscure provision tucked into the budget deal that Congress approved last month would limit access to the list — and that has everyone from genealogists to bankers concerned.