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The Two-Way
6:46 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

New Research Affirms That Milky Way Has Four Spiral Arms

An image showing the distribution of massive stars in the new study. Our location within the Galaxy is circled in black.
J. Urquhart et al. Background image by Robert Hurt of the Spitzer Science Center.

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 5:05 am

Our Milky Way galaxy has four arms instead of two, according to just published results of a 12-year study by scientists in the U.K.

The findings, published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, affirm what astronomers surmised in the 1950s but began to doubt in 2008 after seeing images from the Spitzer Space Telescope that could only confirm two spiral arms.

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Number Of The Year
5:44 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Prices Are Low, And That Could Be Bad

Superlow inflation means workers often don't see big raises and consumers may delay buying, thinking prices will drop some more.
Kevork Djansezian Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 8:34 pm

2.

That's the number the Federal Reserve Board's policymakers wanted to see this year. Having an annual inflation rate of 2 percent would confirm that the U.S. economy is strengthening — workers are getting raises and companies are seeing enough customer demand to mark up prices.

But the 2 percent target turned out to be too high.

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It's All Politics
5:15 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Red State Retirement Takes Democratic House Seat Out Of Play

Utah Rep. Jim Matheson delivers a speech in October 2012. The veteran Democrat says he'll retire at the end of his seventh term.
Rick Bowmer AP

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 6:57 pm

Rep. Jim Matheson announced Tuesday that he will retire at the end of his term, providing Republicans with a likely House seat pickup in 2014.

With a tough re-election fight looming in his conservative Salt Lake City-area district, the Utah Democrat decided against seeking another term in the House.

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Shots - Health News
4:40 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Why Glaxo Won't Pay Doctors To Sell Its Drugs Anymore

British pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline is pledging to revamp its relationships with doctors.
Sang Tan AP

Doctors talking up drugs to other doctors has been quite lucrative for pharmaceutical companies — and the physicians who moonlight as their salesmen.

Drugmakers learned long ago that deputized doctors were effective pitchmen. A doctor paid by a company to give a dinner speech or to chat over lunch with colleagues can go a long way toward changing their prescribing habits.

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All Tech Considered
4:38 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

How This Bay Area Tech Boom's Different From The Last One

San Francisco's median home price hit $1 million this year.
Patrick Shyu Flickr

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 8:22 pm

This week, we're exploring the San Francisco Bay Area and the way income inequality is affecting the region. Check out the other pieces of the week, aggregated on this page.

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The Two-Way
4:37 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

NASA Orders Spacewalks To Fix Faulty Pump On Orbiting Station

Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio in the International Space Station's Columbus lab last month.
NASA

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 7:00 pm

NASA has decided to go ahead with a series of spacewalks to fix a broken cooling system aboard the International Space Station.

The decision was made Tuesday by station managers. They said the extra-vehicular activity should take place as soon as possible to replace a coolant pump that contains a bad valve.

The Associated Press says:

"The spacewalks are taking priority over the launch of a supply ship from Virginia. The delivery had been scheduled for this week, but is now delayed until January."

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Number Of The Year
4:28 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

A Majority In U.S. Favor Legal Pot, But Will That Stick?

Partiers celebrate marijuana legalization in Washington state at a pot party in Seattle earlier this month.
Elaine Thompson AP

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 12:49 am

As we near the end of 2013, NPR is taking a look at the numbers that tell the story of this year. They're numbers that, if you really understand them, give insight into the world we live in.

This year, for the first time, national polls show a majority of Americans support the legalization of marijuana. Gallup has been asking the question for four decades, and now it says 58 percent favor legalization.

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20 Years Of NAFTA
4:28 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

What Has NAFTA Meant For Workers? That Debate's Still Raging

An auto worker tightens bolts on a Focus at a Ford plant in Michigan in October. Labor unions predicted in 1993 that NAFTA would send many U.S. manufacturing jobs to Mexico, and they continue to argue that the pact prompted a race to the bottom for workers.
Mira Oberman AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 11:31 pm

Two decades ago, the strongest critics of the North American Free Trade Agreement were members of labor unions. They warned that the trade deal would mean the loss of manufacturing jobs to Mexico and lower wages for U.S. workers.

Today, 20 years since NAFTA's passage, unions feel as strongly as ever that the deal was a bad idea.

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The Two-Way
4:23 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Angela Merkel Is Sworn In For Third Term As Chancellor

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a ceremony in which German President Joachim Gauck appointed the new German government cabinet on Tuesday in Berlin, Germany.
Adam Berry Getty Images

After months of negotiations to create a grand coalition, Angela Merkel was sworn in by Parliament on Tuesday to serve a third term as chancellor.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

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All Tech Considered
3:43 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

In A Divided San Francisco, Private Tech Buses Drive Tension

Protesters in San Francisco block a Google bus, which shuttles employees from the city to its location in Silicon Valley.
cjmartin Flickr

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 11:31 pm

Part of a series on income inequality in the San Francisco Bay Area

If you want to understand the tension between tech workers in San Francisco, who often make six figures, and many of the city's other residents, try standing on the southwest corner of 24th Street and Valencia around 7:30 on a weekday morning.

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