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Around the Nation
3:29 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

New Orleans' Rat Fighters Go Beyond Baiting Traps

A rat forages for food in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans in 2006, a year after Hurricane Katrina. Blighted buildings and fewer people led to an increase in the city's rat population.
Alex Brandon AP

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 11:30 am

Marvin Thompson knew he faced a difficult task when he was hired last year as principal at John McDonogh High School in New Orleans.

"The day that I pulled up to this building, I thought it was condemned," Thompson says.

The structure, built in 1898, was sagging and leaky and missing entire window panes. Inside, students were underperforming academically.

And then, there were the rats. Thompson and his two children didn't even finish unpacking his office before they discovered that problem.

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Parallels
3:29 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

As Inflation Soars, Venezuela's Leader Opts For Drastic Steps

A woman and her child are barred from a supermarket that was closing its doors to ration milk products in Caracas on Nov. 15. Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, who was elected after the death of Hugo Chavez in March, is facing growing criticism over economic problems that include shortages of basic goods and inflation that's topped 50 percent this year.
Jorge Silva Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 11:30 am

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro has closely followed the economic policies of his predecessor, and by one measure, he has already outpaced Hugo Chavez — inflation.

Inflation has hit 54 percent this year, giving Venezuela one of the highest rates in the world and far surpassing the relatively high rates under Chavez, which sometimes topped 20 percent a year.

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Shots - Health News
3:29 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Despite Big Market In Florida, Obamacare Is A Hard Sell

Enroll America outreach workers talk to congregants at the Mt. Calvary Church in Jacksonville, Fla.
Eric Whitney

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 1:39 pm

Getting people to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act remains an uphill battle in much of Florida.

Politicians in the state erected roadblocks to the law from the beginning — from joining in the 2010 lawsuit to thwart the law to placing restrictions on what insurance helpers called navigators can tell people seeking advice.

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Music
3:29 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Indie-Pop Albums That Make The Cut Are More Than Mere Collections

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 11:30 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

At NPR Music, they're wrapping up the year the best way they know how, with their hotly contested list of their 50 favorite albums of 2013. Now, all this week, we'll get a peak of that list from our in-house experts, including NPR Music writer and editor Stephen Thompson, whose beat is the ever amorphous indie pop, which - Stephen, what exactly is that these days?

STEPHEN THOMPSON, BYLINE: I have absolutely no idea. It used to mean accessible but unpopular.

CORNISH: OK. So...

(LAUGHTER)

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Around the Nation
3:29 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Texas Ice Storm Plus Sand, Traffic Equals 'Cobblestone Ice'

Cobblestone ice has made travel downright dangerous. Over the weekend, Ross Hailey of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram captured this truck driving over cobblestone ice in Haltom City.
Ross Hailey Star-Telegram via KERA

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 11:30 am

The ice storm that's blanketed North Texas streets and highways has spawned a new name: cobblestone ice.

Cobblestone ice — sounds poetic, doesn't it?

Not if you've had to drive through it.

So what is it?

Ryan LaFontaine of the Texas Department of Transportation says cobblestone ice is a combination of ice accumulation and sand laid down by TxDOT and city trucks — which traffic compresses together to form a cobblestone-type surface, a thick layer of frozen ruts and potholes. In some places, it's several inches deep.

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