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All Tech Considered
5:18 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Robot 'Olympics' Test Machines On Human Skills

Atlas, a humanoid robot, is competing against 16 other robots in a Pentagon-sponsored contest this weekend.
Greg Allen NPR

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 5:46 pm

Under throbbing loudspeakers at a NASCAR track south of Miami, vaguely humanoid robots with two legs, four legs and tank treads take up garages that normally house race cars.

The robots, along with researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lockheed Martin, NASA and 13 other teams from around the world, are in Homestead, Fla., for the robot Olympics on Friday and Saturday.

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Book Reviews
5:18 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

This British Spy Thriller Shows How Thrill-Less Spying Can Be

Then-Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte walks the hallways of the Threat Operations Center inside the National Security Agency in 2006.
Paul J. Richards AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 5:46 pm

Thanks to the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies, a panel appointed by President Obama, the practice of spying has been thrust back into headlines this week. The panel recommended that the NSA should stop collecting nearly all phone records, suggesting that a third party take responsibility instead for the database of records.

Tapping phones, searching records, international intrigue — these acts are not new events unfolding with the NSA. In fact, all this espionage has been a staple in novel and film for the better part of a century.

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The Two-Way
4:07 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Federal Court Strikes Down Utah's Gay Marriage Ban

Derek Kitchen (left) and his partner, Moudi Sbeity, talk with the media outside Frank E. Moss United States Courthouse earlier this month, where a challenge to Utah's same-sex marriage ban by three gay couples was decided on Friday.
Rick Bowmer AP

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 6:03 pm

A federal judge has struck down Utah's ban on same-sex marriage, saying it's unconstitutional.

The 53-page ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby says a 2004 ban passed by the state's voters violates the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The Associated Press says:

"Attorneys for the state argued that Utah's law promotes the state's interest in 'responsible procreation' and the 'optimal mode of child-rearing.'

"The lawsuit was brought by three gay and lesbian couples in Utah.

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Planet Money
4:01 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Will A Computer Decide Whether You Get Your Next Job?

In an effort to hire better job candidates, some companies are replacing paper resumes with tests designed to collect big data from job applicants.
Mark Lennihan AP

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 5:46 pm

Xerox runs 175 call centers around the world. In all, the centers employ more than 50,000 customer service agents who deal with questions about everything from cellphone bills to health insurance.

Teri Morse, who is in charge of recruiting all those people, says the company had a problem: It was hiring people who just weren't a good fit.

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Number Of The Year
4:00 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

The Cost To Keep The Home Team At Home May Not Be Worth It

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announces that the city will demolish Turner Field after Major League Baseball's Atlanta Braves leave for a new stadium in the suburbs in 2017. Reed says it was a hard decision but he thinks the city will be better for it.
David Goldman AP

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 6:52 pm

$498 million — that's how much the state of Minnesota and the city of Minneapolis have agreed to pay as their share of a new, nearly $1 billion football stadium for the Minnesota Vikings. Team owner Ziggy Wilf says he believes Minnesotans got a fair deal.

And as it turns out, the deal is pretty standard. But is it fair? Increasingly, privately owned sports teams aren't just asking for newer, fancier digs. They're also asking the public to pay half — or more — of the bill.

Hidden Costs Add Up

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