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For the Northwest wine industry this is crunch time. A massive rail and trucking facility in southeast Washington is pushing its final shipments out to arrive on store shelves before the New Year.

An environmental cleanup company with engineering headquarters in Richland, Washington, has just flown its second water treatment system to Japan with a massive plane.

Among the changes to U.S. restrictions on Cuba President Obama announced Wednesday was a relaxation of the rules barring U.S. banks from doing business there.

Americans traveling in Cuba will now be able to use their credit cards and ATM cards, but many U.S. banks see the new rules as something of a legal minefield.

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Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Last month's cyberattack on Sony pictures is now a national security matter. U.S. intelligence officials believe North Korea is behind the incident and today the White House said it's taking hacking attacks seriously.

Pennsylvania's fracking boom has led to record-breaking natural gas production, but its neighbor, New York, announced Wednesday it was banning the practice. Industry and environmental groups say New York's decision could be good for Pennsylvania.

New York's ban comes six years after the state placed a temporary moratorium on fracking to study the gas drilling technique. Now, officials question fracking's economic benefits and cite environmental risks.

Enrique De La Osa/Reuters

President Barack Obama’s announcement of a "new chapter" in relations with Cuba was made possible thanks to help from a surprising partner in the lengthy secret negotiations with Havana: the Vatican.

According to an official statement from the Catholic Chuch, Pope Francis issued a personal appeal to leaders of both countries, encouraging them to pursue a closer relationship. The Vatican also hosted the discussions that ensued. President Obama specifically thanked the pope for his part in pushing the new policy.

How ISIS uses catchy, violent tunes for propaganda

Dec 18, 2014

ISIS, the militant group that also calls itself the Islamic State, often grabs the attention of the world with shocking videos of beheadings. But it also relies on pro-jihadi songs — called "nasheeds" in Arabic — to spread its message.

"My people, dawn has arrived. Await the expected victory," goes one of the group's best-known songs. It was released at the end of last year, and it has become the soundtrack for so many of the group's videos that some even consider it their anthem.

It took a few hours for some Cubans to realize the magnitude of President Obama's announcement on Wednesday about changes in the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba, according to Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez.

All too often, war violently intersects with the lives of average people. In Syria, sadly, those people are often children.

This summer, two best friends, we'll call them Mohammed and Omar, were exploring outside — as 9-year-olds anywhere are wont to do — in their Syrian hometown of Daraa. They stumbled upon an electronic device and began to play with it. That device turned out to be unexploded ordnance — which didn't stay unexploded for long. The two boys were critically wounded — Mohammed lost both his legs and his left hand and Omar had severe abdominal and leg injuries.

It's hard to believe that not only was there no Serial six months ago, there was no Serial three months ago. The hugely popular podcast, a spinoff production of This American Life, didn't even premiere until early October, but since then, it has made its way with great speed into worlds from Sesame Street to Funny Or Die.

The US-Cuba thaw is bad news for American fugitives

Dec 18, 2014
FBI

For years, Cuba's Castros have provided a tropical hideaway for some of America's Most Wanted.

For this rogue's gallery of cop killers and bank robbers, an easing in relations between Washington and Havana is none too pleasing. The list of fugitives includes the first woman on the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorist list, who carries a $1 million bounty on her head.

The Secret Service must both change the way it trains agents and hire more of them, according to a panel that reviewed the agency that has endured a string of embarrassing lapses in recent months. The panel says its suggestions are "a road map for reform" under a new director.

Some of those suggestions are inherently practical — such as one that states "the fence around the White House needs to be changed as soon as possible to provide better protection."

The Justice Department is broadening a civil rights law to include protections for transgender workers, a reversal from how the Bush administration interpreted the measure.

Attorney General Eric Holder said the law, Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, will now ensure that workers who sue over discrimination in the workplace will get fair and consistent treatment.

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