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The Salt
5:19 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Japan's Butter Shortage Whips Its Cake Makers Into A Frenzy

A customer picks up a block of butter at a food store in Tokyo on Nov. 10th. Japanese shoppers are up in arms over a serious butter shortage that has forced Tokyo to resort to emergency imports, as some grocers limit sales to one block per customer.
Yoshikazu Tsuno AFP/Getty Images

We are well into the Christmas season, and if you live in Japan, that means sponge cake.

The traditional Japanese Christmas dish is served with strawberries and cream, and it is rich, thanks to lots and lots of butter. But the Japanese have been using even more butter for their Christmas cakes this year, exacerbating what was already a national butter shortage.

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Latin America
5:19 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Sen. Marco Rubio: Obama's Cuba Deal Is Bad Foreign Policy

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 5:47 pm

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

World
5:19 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

U.S. Deal May Not Change Life Much For Everyday Cubans

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 5:47 pm

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

Economy
4:46 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Fed: Interest Rates Could Rise As Early As May 2015

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 5:19 pm

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

Parallels
4:44 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

In Gaza, The Specter Of ISIS Proves Useful To Both Sides

The Islamist group Hamas, shown here in a rally in the Gaza Strip on Dec. 12, is the strongest faction in the Gaza Strip. The Islamic State, or ISIS, is not believed to be in the territory, though flyers purporting to be from the group have circulated in Gaza. They are widely believed to be fake, but both Israel and Hamas have tried to use them to their advantage.
Mahmud Hams AFP/Getty Images

Earlier this month, more than a dozen writers, poets and activists in Gaza got threatening flyers signed with the name ISIS, the Sunni extremists fighting with brutal violence in Iraq and Syria.

But a few days later, a new flyer, also signed ISIS, also known as the Islamic State, denied responsibility and apologized.

The incident is raising the question of whether ISIS is taking root in Gaza — or if someone is just playing around.

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World
4:40 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Alan Gross Release Paves Way For New Chapter In U.S.-Cuba Relations

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 5:19 pm

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

Middle East
4:39 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Pakistani Editorial Calls For Unified Strategy Against Extremists

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 5:19 pm

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

Global Health
4:39 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Dreaming Up A Safer, Cooler PPE For Ebola Fighters

This design of this new anti-Ebola suit will make health workers more comfortable and could also save lives.
Courtesy of Clinvue and Roy Heisler

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 5:19 pm

Here's what it takes to design a better Ebola suit: a roomful of university students and professors, piles of canvas and Tyvek cloth, sewing machines, glue guns ... and chocolate syrup.

Even Youseph Yazdi, head of the Johns Hopkins University Center for Bioengineering Innovation and Design (CBID), still isn't sure what the syrup was for.

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Goats and Soda
4:39 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

We're Down To 5 Northern White Rhinos: Is It Too Late For Babies?

Najin, a female Northern White Rhino, gets a pat from keeper Mohamed Doyo. Najin, who lives at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, is one of only five of its subspecies left in the world.
Ben Curtis AP

A 44-year-old Northern White Rhino named Angalifu died this week at the San Diego Zoo of old age.

Now only five animals remain in this subspecies, all in captivity. Four are females. The one male lives in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.

So it would seem the Northern White Rhino is doomed to extinction. Poachers are to blame — they've slain thousands of Northern White Rhinos to get their horns, which are hawked in Asia as a health tonic.

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Around the Nation
4:39 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

National Parks In Maryland, New York To Honor Harriet Tubman

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 5:19 pm

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

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