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The U.S. Supreme Court, by a 7-to-2 vote, ruled in favor of a fired air marshal on Wednesday. In a decision of great interest to federal employees and air travelers, the court said that the air marshal's alert about safety concerns was shielded by the federal whistleblower protection law.

Researchers at Harvard and Yale have used some extreme gene-manipulation tools to engineer safety features into designer organisms.

This work goes far beyond traditional genetic engineering, which involves moving a gene from one organism to another. In this case, they're actually rewriting the language of genetics.

The goal is to make modified organisms safer to use, and also to protect them against viruses that can wreak havoc on pharmaceutical production.

In times of turmoil, Russians turn to their great writers for inspiration.

One of those writers is Mikhail Bulgakov, who died 75 years ago. Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin liked some of Bulgakov's work, but he considered most of it too dangerous to publish. A museum in Moscow shows that the work is just as relevant as ever.

House Speaker John Boehner has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress on Iran on Feb. 11. The White House, which was not consulted about the invitation, called it a departure from diplomatic protocol.

NPR's Ailsa Chang tells our Newscast unit that Boehner, R-Ohio, defended his decision not to consult with the White House.

Shin Dong-hyuk told a powerful story about the misery of life in a North Korean prison camp, becoming the most famous defector from that notoriously reclusive country.

It's been a good year for Benedict Cumberbatch. The English actor has earned an Oscar nomination for his starring role in the film The Imitation Game, and he's won critical acclaim — and a big following — for his performance on TV's Sherlock.

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DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Sleater-Kinney is one of the most widely-praised rock bands of the last 20 years. The band formed in the mid-90s in Olympia, Wash., and went on to record seven albums. The group split up in 2006, but have reunited to release a new album, called No Cities to Love, and Fresh Air rock critic Ken Tucker says it's a strong comeback.

Over the years, NPR has done many stories on Internet passwords and how to come up with a secure one.

Lazy About Your Online Passwords? Take Control With These New Tips

The Most Secure Password In The World Might Be You

Organizers say as many as 60,000 people could attend an anti-Islamization rally in the eastern German city of Leipzig, in what could be one of the biggest protests there since pro-democracy marches a quarter-century ago.

NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, who is in Leipzig, tells our Newscast unit:

Right off the bat, the president touted the fact that more kids are graduating from high school and college than ever before. "We believed we could prepare our kids for a more competitive world," he said in Tuesday's State of the Union speech. "And today, our younger students have earned the highest math and reading scores on record."

Google's massive investment in SpaceX gives the tech giant another avenue for its goal of providing Internet access to remote parts of the Earth, and it gives Elon Musk's company money to continue its research on space transport, re-usability and satellite manufacturing.

If you want to be a pessimist about the shape the world's in, just turn on the news. It seems as if we're living in an age of terrorism, war, refugees, hostages and natural disasters.

The Shanghai government has fired four local officials for failing to prevent a stampede that killed three dozen people on New Year's Eve. Those who lost their jobs include Shanghai's Huangpu district Communist Party chief, its director and its top two police officials.

Investigators say that as huge crowds packed the riverfront in the Huangpu district, district party Chief Zhou Wei and other officials were busy enjoying a banquet at an opulent Japanese restaurant nearby.

A Palestinian man is accused of stabbing at least 11 people on a bus in central Tel Aviv today, wounding three of them seriously, before he was shot in the leg by Israeli police who took him in for questioning.

The Associated Press, citing a hospital spokeswoman, said 11 people had been stabbed. But the newspaper Haaretz, citing the ambulance service, put the number at 12.

Update, at 8:10 p.m. ET

Yemen's besieged president appeared to have acceded to demands by Shiite Houthi rebels, potentially defusing a political crisis that has engulfed the U.S. ally.

The rebels had seized the presidential palace and surrounded President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi's home, which is in a different part of the city. Hadi himself was unharmed.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

All morning, we're hearing reaction to President Obama's State of the Union address. We're joined now by Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. Welcome to the program.

SENATOR HEIDI HEITKAMP: Good morning, Renee.

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Obama's Speech Included Historic Words

Jan 21, 2015
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

In the first minute of his hourlong State of the Union address, President Barack Obama summed up his theme in single sentence: "Tonight, we turn the page."

The president then detailed a page of history filled with the financial crisis of 2008, the recession and unemployment and deficits that followed and the two distant and difficult wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

It was a reminder of the ills that helped elevate young Sen. Obama to the Oval Office six years ago. And now, after many battles, he was ready to declare he had turned that page.

War Over Obamacare Heats Up In States

Jan 21, 2015

Oklahoma state Rep. Mike Ritze is a foot soldier — one of hundreds — in a passionate war over the Affordable Care Act that is reigniting as state legislatures convene across the country.

The Republican lawmaker, a family doctor, has stood behind three anti-Obamacare bills supported by conservative groups in Oklahoma and other states. None has made it into law, but Ritze plans to pick up the fight in the 2015 legislative session that convenes in the Sooner State next month.

President Obama revved up quickly for his economic victory lap.

"After a breakthrough year for America, our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999," President Obama said less than a minute into his State of the Union address Tuesday night.

The lap was fueled by cheap gas: "We are as free from the grip of foreign oil as we've been in almost 30 years," he said.

Democrats roared.

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Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Are you thinking about tax day yet? Your friendly neighborhood tax preparer is. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen declared this tax season one of the most complicated ever, partly because this is the first year that the Affordable Care Act will show up on your tax form.

Tax preparers from coast to coast are trying to get ready. Sue Ellen Smith manages an H&R Block office in San Francisco, and she is expecting things to get busy soon.

"This year taxes and health care intersect in a brand-new way," Smith says.

Facing a Republican-controlled Congress in his sixth State of the Union speech, President Obama took credit Tuesday for an improving economy and focused on proposals aimed at advancing the middle class.

After years of recession and war, Obama claimed "the shadow of crisis has passed." In its place, he asserted, is a future marked by "a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry, and booming energy production."

Here's what Obama proposed on the policy front:

Economy

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