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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish. Happy New Year.

We begin this hour with big change in New York City. As of today, it has a new mayor, its 109th. Bill de Blasio is the first Democrat at the helm of city hall in two decades. At his inauguration, de Blasio talked up his progressive agenda.

From member station WNYC, Brigid Bergin reports on the beginning of this new era in New York City government.

The use of social media is exploding in Brazil. It's the third largest market for Facebook and the fifth largest for Twitter.

The controversial women-only app Lulu recently launched here and quickly became the top downloaded app in the country, making Brazil Lulu's biggest market.

"I think it is cool because it's a social network for what all women throughout history have always done — talk about the guys we like, the guys we think are handsome," says 20-year-old Marcela, as she taps away at the Lulu app on her iPhone.

Earlier in December, the normally sedate Japanese Parliament disintegrated into chaos. Opposition party members screamed, pounded the speaker's desk and flapped papers in his face — but all in vain.

In a shocking display of brute force, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling party, the Liberal Democratic Party, railroaded into law a sweeping, vague and hastily drafted secrets protection bill.

Across the country, there's a wave of interest in local food. And a new generation of young farmers is trying to grow it.

Many of these farmers — many of whom didn't grow up on farms — would like to stay close to cities. After all, that's where the demand for local food is.

The problem is, that's where land is most expensive. So young farmers looking for affordable land are forced to get creative.

One year ago, many were pointing to the growth of massive open online courses, or MOOCs, as the most important trend in higher education. Many saw the rapid expansion of MOOCs as a higher education revolution that would help address two long-vexing problems: access for underserved students and cost.

In theory, students saddled by rising debt and unable to tap into the best schools would be able to take free classes from rock star professors at elite schools via Udacity, edX, Coursera and other MOOC platforms.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

Residents of Casselton, North Dakota are starting to return to their homes. That's after yesterday's fiery crash of two freight trains, one carrying crude oil. From Fargo, Prairie Public's Todd McDonald reports.

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It's the last night of the year, a big night for party-hopping and, of course, some bubbly. And that also means it's the biggest night of the year for cab companies. The surge in demand starts right after the clock strikes 12 and quickly outstrips supply. That mismatch can send prices soaring, depending on who's doing the driving. NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports several ride services have come up with some solutions to try to manage the crunch.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. Both sides in the conflict in South Sudan agreed to meet tomorrow in Ethiopia to discuss a cease-fire. It's hoped that a speedy end to the power struggle between President Salva Kiir and his ousted deputy Riek Machar can avert an all-out ethnic civil war. But even as both sides prepare to negotiate, a fierce battle was underway for control of the strategic city of Bor. NPR's Gregory Warner reports.

Zero. That's the total amount of revenue created by Snapchat in 2013. It's the total profit collected by Twitter. And it's roughly how much Apple's stock price has increased between early last December and now.

Which makes you wonder: With all these zeros piling up, how are so many people in Silicon Valley making so much money from technology?

This is one of the best times of the year to spot gray whales off the coast of Southern California as they migrate south for the winter. But recently, there have been an unusually high number of sightings of other whales.

"We've had so many whales," Dan "The Whale Man" Salas tells the guests on his boat. "This is all in the last two weeks. We've had orcas, we had a sperm whale, we've got humpback whales, blue whales, fin whales. Yesterday we had a massive pod of gray whales, so we never know what we're going to see out here."

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