The Two-Way
5:00 am
Fri August 19, 2011

Stock Futures Point Down; New Attacks In Afghanistan, Pakistan

Good morning.

After Thursday's sharp drops on Wall Street, lots of folks are wondering what's going to happen in the stock market today.

Well, according to Reuters: "Stock index futures pointed to a sharply weaker open for equities on Wall Street on Friday."

Translation: Expect a drop.

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Pam Fessler is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk, where she covers poverty and philanthropy.

In her reporting, Fessler covers homelessness, hunger, and the impact of the recession on the nation's less fortunate. She reports on non-profit groups, how they're trying to address poverty and other social issues, and how they've been affected by the economic downturn. Her poverty reporting was recognized by a 2011 First Place Headliner Award in the human interest category.

David Kestenbaum is a correspondent for NPR, covering science, energy issues and, most recently, the global economy for NPR's multimedia project Planet Money. David has been a science correspondent for NPR since 1999. He came to journalism the usual way — by getting a Ph.D. in physics first.

In his years at NPR, David has covered science's discoveries and its darker side, including the Northeast blackout, the anthrax attacks and the collapse of the New Orleans levees. He has also reported on energy issues, particularly nuclear and climate change.

David has won awards from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Physical Society and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Politics
10:01 pm
Thu August 18, 2011

For Debt Panel's Becerra, No Egos While Negotiating

California Rep. Xavier Becerra was one of six Democrats chosen to join six Republicans on a panel tasked with finding a way to cut about $1 trillion from the federal deficit.
Kris Connor Getty Images

As politicians go, California Rep. Xavier Becerra has a relatively low profile considering that he's been in Congress for 18 years. He's the vice chairman of the Democratic Caucus, the former head of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the first Latino to serve on the powerful Ways and Means Committee.

When the Democrats had the House majority, Nancy Pelosi appointed him to the new post of assistant to the speaker. And earlier this month, she chose him to join the supercommittee tasked with finding a way to cut $1 trillion from the federal deficit.

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Middle East
10:01 pm
Thu August 18, 2011

Activist: It's Time For Syrian Opposition To Unify

Syrian President Bashar Assad addresses a meeting of his Baath Party in Damascus, Syria, on Wednesday. President Obama called on Assad to step down, though it's not clear who would replace Assad if he quit or was ousted.
SANA AP

President Obama has now called on Syrian President Bashar Assad to quit. But if he did, or if he is toppled, who would replace Assad?

There's no clear answer. Assad and his late father, Hafez Assad, have ruled Syria for four decades and have not tolerated anything that resembles a genuine opposition inside the country's borders.

"There is no opposition in Syria. There are opposition groups," said Lebanon's Wissam Tarif, who has been a prominent campaigner for democracy and human rights in the Middle East.

Divided Opposition

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Race To The Arctic
10:01 pm
Thu August 18, 2011

In The Arctic Race, The U.S. Lags Behind

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy breaks ice to support scientific research in the Arctic Ocean near Barrow, Alaska, in this file photo from July 2006 provided by the Coast Guard. In addition to the medium-class Healy, the U.S. just has two polar-class icebreakers — one of which will be decommissioned soon.
Prentice Danner AP

Seattle is the home of the U.S. Coast Guard's entire fleet of polar-class icebreakers.

Both of them.

Capt. George Pellissier commands both the Polar Sea and the Polar Star. He has spent much of his career on these ships, which were built in Seattle in the 1970s.

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Economy
10:01 pm
Thu August 18, 2011

In Hard Times, Welfare Cases Drop In Some States

Monday marks 15 years since President Clinton signed an overhaul of the nation's welfare system into law. The president said the measure wasn't perfect, but provided a historic opportunity to fix a system that didn't work.

"Today we are ending welfare as we know it," he said in a Rose Garden ceremony on Aug. 22, 1996. "But I hope this day will be remembered not for what it ended, but for what it began."

What it was supposed to begin was a program that would get the poor into the workforce and end their dependence on public aid.

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Politics
10:01 pm
Thu August 18, 2011

For Supporters, Ron Paul's Message Strikes A Chord

Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul, a Texas congressman, reacts after seeing several hundred people show up to see him Wednesday in Concord, N.H.
Jim Cole AP

Originally published on Wed August 24, 2011 8:54 am

On a balmy August evening in Concord, N.H., the smells of summer float through the air: cooking meat, freshly cut grass and bug spray. A few hundred Ron Paul supporters have gathered under a white tent to hear their candidate speak at the opening of his state campaign headquarters.

They're excited about the Texas congressman's close second-place finish at the Republican presidential straw poll in Ames, Iowa. They're also a little frustrated that it hasn't been getting more attention.

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Planet Money
10:01 pm
Thu August 18, 2011

A Big Bridge In The Wrong Place

Why the long bridge?
Stuart Ramson AP

You would never look at a map of the Hudson River, point to the spot where the Tappan Zee Bridge is, and say, "Put the bridge here!"

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Research News
10:01 pm
Thu August 18, 2011

Black Researchers Getting Fewer Grants From NIH

A new study finds that when applying for scientific research grants from the National Institutes of Health, white researchers succeeded 25 percent of the time, while blacks about 15 percent of the time. Above, the Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research Center at the NIH Campus in Bethesda, Md.
NIH

If you glance around university corridors or scientific meetings, it's obvious that African-Americans are uncommon in the world of science. A study in Science magazine now finds that the black scientists who do start careers in medical research are at a big disadvantage when it comes to funding.

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