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News Archive - November 20, 2013

'Good Lord Bird', 'The Unwinding' Win National Book Awards

A visibly shocked James McBride picked up the fiction prize for his novel The Good Lord Bird about a young slave who joins up with abolitionist John Brown. The nonfiction award was won by George Packer for The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America.

National Book Awards Go To McBride, Packer, Szybist, Kadohata

James McBride won the National Book Award for fiction Wednesday for The Good Lord Bird, about a young slave who meets and travels with abolitionist John Brown.

Beds Were Available For Creigh Deeds' Son, Contradicting Early Reports

Psychiatric beds were available for Gus Deeds, son of state Sen. Creigh Deeds, raising questions about how the tragedy could have been averted.

Analysis: Creigh Deeds And Virginia's Mental Health System

The stabbing of Virginia State Sen. Creigh Deeds by his son is raising questions about the mental health system in Virginia.

FAA Orders Apnea Testing For Overweight Pilots, Controllers

The FAA says physicians need to evaluate anyone with a body mass index of 40 or higher for possible obstructive sleep apnea which could cause fatigue on the job.

Montgomery County Man Convicted For Gang Affiliations

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A law passed three years ago makes having committing a crime while having gang affiliations a charge in itself in Montgomery County. One gang member was convicted on the charge in connection to a sexual assault case.

D.C. Considering Encrypting Fire Department's Radio Communications

A senior D.C. official says that an after-action report from September's Navy Yard shootings will recommend that D.C.'s Fire and Emergency Medical Services department encrypt its radio broadcasts.

Illinois Joins Growing List Of States With Same-Sex Marriage

After months of wrangling among lawmakers and opposition from powerful religious groups, Gov. Pat Quinn signed the law on Wednesday.

How A Vitamin D Test Misdiagnosed African-Americans

By a standard test most African-Americans have low levels of vitamin D. But most African-Americans also have strong bones. It turns out that the problem is with the test, which was looking for a form of D more common in Caucasians. The variation is a result of human evolution.

Justice Says FISA Was Used To Help Crack 2010 Oregon Bomb Plot

Prosecutors acknowledge they built their case against Somali-born U.S. citizen Mohamed Osman Mohamud partly with secret surveillance information — an admission that could delay his sentencing.

Moms-To-Be Are Eating Fish, But Choosing Low-Mercury Options

The blood mercury levels in women of childbearing age dropped 34 percent in the decade between 2000 and 2010, according to new research from the EPA. That suggests that potential moms and those expecting are making smarter choices at the fish counter, without avoiding seafood altogether.

U.S., Afghanistan Reach Tentative Security Pact

The agreement involves a continuing role for U.S. troops beyond 2014 — to train, equip and assist Afghan forces.

Can Congressman Trey Radel Survive A Drug Bust?

After pleading guilty to cocaine possession and admitting an addiction to alcohol, Florida Rep. Trey Radel's political future is unclear. Democrats are calling on the freshman Republican to resign his seat.

Under Proposed Bill Maryland Would Limit Cooperation With Feds On Immigration

In Maryland the American Civil Liberties Union is leading an effort to limit local police involvement in holding undocumented immigrants so they can be picked up by federal immigration authorities.

Federal Panel Opts To Keep D.C. Height Act Intact, Frustrating D.C. Officials

Yet another attempt to amend the 100-year-old law that restricts how tall buildings in D.C. can get has failed.

Kids Are Less Fit Today Than You Were Back Then

Around the world, children are slowing down. Researchers have found that kids don't run as fast as they did in the 1970s. The finding suggests a potential uptick in future heart problems because running speed is a proxy for aerobic fitness and a measure of overall cardiovascular health.

Education Secretary Loses Some Of His Luster

Arne Duncan has expressed regret for his dismissive comment about the opposition of "white suburban moms" to Common Core standards, but the flap won't soon be forgotten.

Repairs On Long-Delayed Silver Spring Transit Center Could Be Done Next Year

The Silver Spring Transit Center, years behind schedule and about $15 million over budget, finally may be ready to open to the public next year after additional repair work.

Can A Fish Farm Be Organic? That's Up For Debate

The federal government is struggling to figure out how to fit fish farms into the National Organic Program, which regulates organic land-based farms. Environmentalists argue that fish farms shouldn't quality for an organic label if they don't use organic feed.

Maryland Allows Extension Of Health Plans That Do Not Comply With Obamacare

Maryland's insurance commissioner says individual policies that don't comply with the federal health care overhaul can be extended through the end of next year.

Russian App Wants E-Book Piracy To End, Happily Ever After

In an attempt to turn a page on rampant literary piracy in Russia, one Moscow-based company created a subscription e-book service that it hopes will decrease the incentive for free, illegal downloads.

Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey Among 16 Honored At White House

Among others receiving the nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom: writer/activist Gloria Steinem, newspaper editor Ben Bradlee and jazz musician Arturo Sandoval. Posthumous honors went to astronaut Sally Ride, Sen. Daniel Inouye and civil rights activist Bayard Rustin.

Alexandria Sets 90-Day Ultimatum For Use Of Eminent Domain On Boat Club

Members of the Alexandria City Council are warning the Old Dominion Boat club they may use the power of eminent domain within the next three months to take some of its land at the foot of King Street.

Tech Team Podcast Episode 2: The Sharing Economy

If you missed any of the technology reporting team's reporting on the sharing, (or peer-to-peer) economy, you can catch up with our downloadable podcast of all the stories.

What You Need To Know About The Iranian Nuclear Talks

A nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers would be a major breakthrough after years of stalemate. But it's just a first step, and there are plenty of critics who don't think an agreement will work.

Montgomery County Council Moves Forward On 80-Mile Rapid Bus Network

The proposed Bus Rapid Transit system — still many years away from being a reality — would operate on 10 county corridors, prioritizing Rt. 29 and Rt. 355.

Labor Groups Want To Take $12.50 Minimum Wage Proposal To D.C. Voters

Labor groups are launching a referendum effort in D.C. to raise the minimum wage to $12.50 an hour, above the $11.50 being floated as part of a compromise D.C. Council bill.

Talk About An Error! We Put 'Mr. Cub' On The White Sox!

NPR messed up Wednesday, saying that Ernie Banks had played for the Chicago White Sox. Boy, did we hear from listeners about that. Banks was known for saying, "Let's play two," but he only ever played for one major league team.

Florida Congressman Pleads Guilty To Cocaine Possession

Rep. Henry "Trey" Radel, a Republican, was sentenced to one year of probation and fined $250. He's planning to seek treatment.

Hospitals Say They Had Room To Help Before Virginia Tragedy

Authorities are piecing together what happened at the home of Virginia lawmaker Creigh Deeds. They're also looking into whether Deeds' son Gus could have gotten more psychiatric help the day before he may have attacked his father and then killed himself.

World Headlines: Indonesia-Australia Spying Feud Deepens

Indonesia says it has downgraded its relations with Canberra following reports that Australia's security services spied on Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. In other news, Northern Ireland's attorney general wants criminal prosecutions in killings related to the Troubles stopped; and Venezuela's National Assembly gives the president sweeping new powers.

White Supremacist Murderer Who Shot Larry Flynt Is Executed

Joseph Paul Franklin, who was convicted of eight murders, suspected in as many as 20 others and who shot Hustler publisher Larry Flynt in 1978, was put to death Wednesday in Missouri. He also shot and seriously wounded civil rights leader Vernon Jordan in 1980.

'I Relied Upon My Faith,' George W. Bush Tells Jay Leno

The nation's 43rd president made a rare appearance on national TV. Told that he looks more relaxed now than when he was in the White House, Bush laughed and said, "No kidding ... duh!"

Life Is Slowly Returning To Shattered Philippine City

Tacloban was leveled by Typhoon Haiyan. "We have citizens, but no city," an official said. Twelve days later, people in the city of more than 200,000 are getting more help. But of the 13 million or so people affected by the storm, less than half may have received aid so far.

Historic Launch Puts Satellite Built By Fairfax Students Into Orbit

It was a momentous day at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia Tuesday night, as a group of current and former students from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology saw the satellite they built put into orbit.