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Planet Money
3:49 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

A Tiny Taper, In 2 Graphs

Tapir
Flickr

In the past five years, the Federal Reserve has created roughly $3 trillion out of thin air.

The Fed uses the money it creates out of thin air to buy bonds. The idea is to drive down interest rates, which encourages people and businesses to borrow and spend money. It's called quantitative easing.

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The Two-Way
3:46 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Top SAC Capital Manager Guilty Of Insider Trading

Michael Steinberg (left) departs federal court in Manhattan on Wednesday after being found guilty on charges that he traded on insider information.
Lucas Jackson Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 5:42 pm

Michael Steinberg, a top portfolio manager at SAC Capital Advisors, has been found guilty of insider trading — the latest conviction stemming from a years-long federal investigation into the hedge fund's activities.

Steinberg was found guilty on five counts of conspiracy and securities fraud.

Reuters writes:

"Prosecutors said he traded on confidential information that was passed to him by an employee, who later admitted to swapping illegal tips with friends at other firms."

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Politics
3:46 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Push For Release Of CIA Interrogation Report Continues

Mark Udall of Colorado is one of the Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee pressing for the so-called torture report to be declassified.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 5:31 pm

For more than a year, the Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA have been engaged in a tug of war over the release of the so-called torture report.

Chairman Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, says the $40 million, 6,000-page report demonstrates that CIA treatment of detainees was all but useless in terms of gathering actionable intelligence.

For its part, the CIA says the classified committee report contains significant errors and that no one at the agency was interviewed by Senate investigators.

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Commentary
3:46 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

I Love To Shop, But Do I Have A Shopping Problem?

Sophie Varon loves to shop. But lately, she's been wondering if her shopping habit has become a shopping problem.
Brett Myers Youth Radio

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 8:36 am

Whether you love buying gifts or dread trips to the mall, good luck avoiding some kind of shopping during the holiday season. But I don't need the excuse of a holiday to get me to the stores. I'm obsessed with shopping.

The question is, am I a shopaholic? The technical term is "compulsive buyer," according to psychologist April Benson.

"Simply put," says Dr. Benson, compulsive buying is "when we spend so much time, energy and/or money shopping ... or even thinking about shopping and buying that it is impairing our life in a significant way."

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The Two-Way
3:36 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Senate Approves Budget Deal, Reducing Chances Of A Shutdown

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), walks to the chamber for the final votes on the bipartisan budget deal on Wednesday.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 4:24 pm

The Senate passed a two-year bipartisan budget deal aimed at easing automatic spending cuts and avoiding a government shutdown, following a House vote on the measure last week.

The vote by a simple majority was absent the partisan brinksmanship that has become a hallmark of budget deals in recent memory.

The appropriations committees in both chambers must now set in stone a $1.012 trillion fiscal 2014 spending bill before current spending authority expires. Congress also faces a spring 2014 to raise the debt ceiling — another potential partisan standoff.

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It's All Politics
3:31 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

What Santa Gave Your Senator This Year

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 5:12 pm

In a year that featured divisive fights over the budget, health care and presidential nominations, the United States Senate took a break from partisan bickering Tuesday night to get in the Christmas spirit.

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The Two-Way
2:50 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Intelligence Panel Recommends Limits On NSA Surveillance

The National Security Agency campus in Fort Meade, Md.
Patrick Semansky AP

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 5:31 pm

(This post was updated at 6:30 p.m. ET)

A panel looking into U.S. electronic surveillance activities in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations has recommended removing the NSA's authority to collect and store Americans' telephone data.

The key recommendation was one of dozens that the panel put forward; however, it did not propose a wholesale scaling back of domestic spying by the National Security Agency and other intelligence branches.

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Code Switch
2:28 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Seeking Wonderful Young Adult Novels That Deal With Race

What books about race or culture would you recommend to a not-so-bookish teen?
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 2:49 pm

At Code Switch, we receive a whole bunch of emails and messages from readers and listeners. And many times, folks ask questions that get us buzzing during our editorial discussions.

One Code Switch reader sent us a note seeking book recommendations for a multiracial teen. The emailer described the teen as not very "bookish" but still a good reader.

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Africa
2:16 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

U.S. Envoy: Time For Intervention In Central African Republic

Soldiers from Burundi arrive at the airport in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, on Dec. 15 to join the African Union and French efforts to restore security in the troubled nation.
Sia Kambou AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 5:57 pm

The Obama administration's ambassador to the U.N. says this is a pivotal moment for the Central African Republic and time for the international community to take steps to prevent further atrocities there.

Samantha Power, a former journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, is well-known as an advocate for humanitarian intervention. How she and the Obama administration handle the conflict in the CAR is a major test of that.

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Shots - Health News
2:05 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

People Buying Health Insurance Get A Bit More Time To Pay

Oregon is still using paper applications to enroll people through the Affordable Care Act.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 4:34 pm

There are seven shopping days left until Christmas. But there are just five days until another important deadline — the last day to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act if you want coverage to start January 1.

After a slow start, activity on the federal website HealthCare.gov has been heavy all month. And with the deadline approaching, some people are getting worried that they won't get signed up in time.

And this being the health care law, it's complicated. There is more than one deadline.

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