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The Two-Way
3:20 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Fannie, Freddie Regulator Holds Firm Against Mortgage Write-Downs

Many experts say reducing mortgage principal can help troubled homeowners avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes. But the regulator who oversees two of the nation's largest mortgage holders, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, has rejected the idea.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

A federal regulator is blocking the government-owned mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from reducing the principal that homeowners owe on their mortgages in order to avoid foreclosures.

Tuesday's decision came from Edward DeMarco, the acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

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It's All Politics
3:10 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Obama And Bush's Shared First-Term Obsession: Battleground States

What does President Obama have in common with his immediate White House predecessor?

Both men spent a disproportionate amount of their first terms making appearances in battleground states, Brendan Doherty, a political scientist at the U.S. Naval Academy, writes in a post on The Monkey Cage political-science blog.

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The Torch
2:58 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

With A Tiger's Help, Orange Juice Helps Lighten The Mood At Olympics

On their bottles, Innocent declares itself the juice of champions — before adding, "rather than bang on about it, we thought we'd show you a picture of a tiger running through his pre-swim checklist." The drinks are a welcome sight at the Olympic media center.
Vickie Walton-James NPR

When you spend hours on end at a media center, even if it's on an assignment as terrific as the Summer Olympics, the refreshments can get to be, well, familiar.

But no contempt has been bred here. That's partly because of Innocent brand juice — the "official smoothie and juice of the London 2012 Olympic games," as the label says.

And any drink that can make us chuckle on deadline is greatly appreciated. Especially if it's what's on the outside of the bottle that makes us laugh.

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World
2:41 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Opera Unfolds When A Cuban Cabaret Is Shut Down

Cuban performers ranging from dancers to opera singers were packing in audiences at Havana's El Cabildo restaurant and cabaret. In a case seen as a test of Raul Castro's commitment to economic changes, government inspectors recently closed the restaurant.
Desmond Boylan Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Wed August 1, 2012 1:18 pm

Ulises Aquino was already one of Cuba's best-known baritones when he founded his own company, Opera de la Calle, or Opera of the Street, in 2006. By combining Cuban rhythms and dance with his formal musical training, he won fans at home and abroad.

Aquino also considers himself a good "revolucionario," meaning he's a loyal supporter of Cuba's socialist system. And when President Raul Castro urged Cubans to increase productivity by starting small businesses, Aquino answered the call.

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The Torch
2:34 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Phelps Sets New Olympic Record With 19 Medals; America's Schmitt Wins Gold

U.S. swimmers Conor Dwyer (left), Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Ricky Berens poses on the podium with their gold medals after winning the men's 4x200m freestyle relay final at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Fabrice Coffrini AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 4:35 pm

The U.S. men's swimming team has won the 4x200m freestyle relay, in a race that also gave Michael Phelps a record 19 medals in the Olympics. He netted his 18th, a silver, earlier in the day.

Update at 4:05 p.m. EDT: For the relay final, the American team swam in the fourth lane, next to their greatest rivals, the French, who posted the fasted qualifying time. The French are led by Yannick Agnel, who soundly defeated Ryan Lochte and others in the men's 200m freestyle Monday.

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Shots - Health Blog
2:19 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

NIH Official Calls For Extension Of Moratorium On Bird Flu Experiments

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said a voluntary halt to bird flu research should stay in effect.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 3:11 pm

A voluntary moratorium on certain experiments involving forms of bird flu altered in laboratories should continue until there can be more public discussion of safety concerns, a prominent government official told flu researchers at a meeting in New York City Tuesday.

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Asia
1:59 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

India's Power Woes A Classic Story Of Supply, Demand

Muslim girls study by candlelight Monday inside a madrasa, or religious school, in Noida, on the outskirts of New Delhi. Three regional power grids collapsed, causing a massive power outage that blacked out more than half of India.
Parivartan Sharma Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Wed October 31, 2012 12:25 pm

It might be too early to say what the exact cause of India's latest massive power outage is, but in its simplest form, it probably has something to do with supply and demand –- not enough of the former and too much of the latter.

The outage, which left more than 670 million of the country's 1.2 billion people without power, snarled traffic, shut down electric trains and idled some businesses. Indian officials say they are rapidly restoring power, but it's unclear how soon the situation will be back to normal.

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The Salt
1:59 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Bhutan Bets Organic Agriculture Is The Road To Happiness

A Bhutanese farmer puts her harvest of chilies on the roof of a shed to dry and protect it from wild boars, deer, and monkeys in 2006.
James L. Stanfield National Geographic/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon October 22, 2012 9:32 am

The tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan drew international attention a few years back for saying gross national happiness should trump gross domestic product when measuring a nation's progress. If you're going to prioritize happiness, the Bhutanese thinking goes, you'd better include the environment and spiritual and mental well-being in your calculations.

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The Two-Way
1:55 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Microsoft Gives Hotmail A Facelift, Says It Will Transition It To Outlook

The new Outlook is incorporated with other services like Skype.
Microsoft

Originally published on Wed August 1, 2012 6:00 am

Microsoft announced that Hotmail — the email service with 324 million users — will transition into a web and more social version of Microsoft's Outlook.

Reuters reports that Microsoft made the announcement, as they showed off their free web version of the email program it is renowned for.

Reuters adds:

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The Two-Way
1:51 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

British Teen Arrested Over Tweet To Olympic Diver

Tom Daley (R) and Peter Waterfield of Great Britain compete in the Men's Synchronised 10m Platform Diving Tuesday in London, England.
Clive Rose Getty Images

A mean-spirited tweet has landed a 17-year-old British boy in jail.

It all started when British divers Tom Daley and Pete Waterfield placed fourth in the men's synchronized 10 meter diving event.

As the BBC tells it, Daley's father was "was instrumental in helping his son become one of the world's top divers." But in 2006, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor and 2011 he died.

"I'm doing it for myself and my dad," Daley, 18, told the BBC before the event. "It was both our dreams from a very young age."

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Afghanistan
1:27 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

U.S. Wages Sisyphean War Against Afghan Corruption

U.S. investigators allege that Afghan Gen. Ahmad Zia Yaftali stole tens of millions of dollars' worth of medicine from the Mohammad Daud Khan military hospital in Kabul. He has been removed from that post, but has not been prosecuted. He's shown here at the hospital on Dec. 18, 2010.
Altaf Qadri AP

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 4:35 pm

U.S. officials consider widespread corruption one of the main barriers to a stable Afghanistan. They say it undermines support for the government and helps fuel the Taliban insurgency.

The U.S. has trained Afghan investigators and assisted in high-level corruption probes, yet the U.S. has little to show for its efforts.

The U.S. has created several task forces, including a one that's currently being set up: the Illicit Activities Initiative for Afghanistan, based in Washington.

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The Two-Way
1:10 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Deal Struck To Avoid Possibility Of Government Shutdown In October

"Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced on Tuesday an agreement to avoid a government shutdown shortly before the November election," The Hill writes. "He said he, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and President Obama have all agreed to the deal."

Boehner confirmed the news in an email his staff just sent to reporters:

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U.S.
12:43 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

America's 'Most Polluted' Lake Finally Comes Clean

Participants in a fishing derby cast lines from a pier near Onondaga Lake's outflow in Syracuse, N.Y.
David Chanatry for NPR

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 9:41 pm

Onondaga Lake in Syracuse, N.Y., has often been called the most polluted lake in America. It was hammered by a one-two punch: raw and partially treated sewage from the city and its suburbs, and a century's worth of industrial dumping. But now the final stage in a $1 billion cleanup is about to begin.

Standing in his office amid stacks of reports, scientist Steve Effler glances at an old front-page headline of the Syracuse Herald-Journal: "Divers find goo in Onondaga Lake."

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It's All Politics
11:39 am
Tue July 31, 2012

Obama Chooses San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro As Convention Keynoter

In what now looks like practice for the big show to come, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro gives the keynote address at the Texas Democratic Convention in Houston on June 8.
Pat Sullivan AP

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 2:29 pm

Get used to hearing the name Julian Castro. You're likely to be coming across it a lot in coming days and perhaps beyond.

President Obama chose Castro, the 37-year-old mayor of San Antonio, to be the keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., in September.

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The Torch
11:36 am
Tue July 31, 2012

U.S. Women Gymnastics Team Wins Gold Medal

Young Skywalker: Gabby Douglas helped solidify the U.S. women's team grip on gymnastics gold. The Americans beat Russia and Romania.
Ronald Martinez Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 4:35 pm

The U.S. women's gymnastics team has won the team gold medal at the London 2012 Olympics, handily beating Russia, which took silver, and Romania, which took bronze. China finished fourth.

Update at 2:25 p.m. EDT: The U.S. women led off with their strength — the vault. The apparatus gives them an advantage, and not only because Maroney is the world champion and gold-medal favorite in the event.

The AP describes why:

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The Two-Way
11:28 am
Tue July 31, 2012

Dying Man's Wish To Leave $500 Tip Turns Into Nearly $50,000 Charity

Aaron Collins, who wanted to leave a big tip.
Facebook.com/AaronsLastWish

Originally published on Wed August 1, 2012 8:13 am

This good-news story began on July 9 with a blog post simply titled "My Brother."

Aaron Collins, wrote his brother Seth, "was the type of person that took great joy in unexpected kindness." And before his July 7 death, the nearly 30-year-old Aaron had made a request:

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The Two-Way
11:26 am
Tue July 31, 2012

Online Poker Companies Strike Deal With Justice, Will Reimburse U.S. Customers

Federal prosecutors shut down the three most popular online poker sites Friday.
iStockphoto.com

Pokerstars, an online gambling site, says that it has reached a deal with the U.S. Department of Justice in which it has agreed pay the government $547 million over three years, part of which will be used to reimburse customers of the site Full Tilt Poker.

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The Torch
11:25 am
Tue July 31, 2012

London 2012 Lives Up To 'Social Games' Title, In Unwelcome Ways

The London Games have lived up to their hype as the first truly "social" Olympics. But social media like Twitter have also brought embarrassments, and even an arrest.
NPR

The London 2012 Games have been touted as the first Olympics to live fully in the age of social media. After all, the organization's Twitter feed has nearly 1.4 million followers, as it lists on its special portal for Facebook and other social sites. But a rash of scandals and news related to Twitter has put a new mark on the face of these games. And, as they say, it ain't pretty.

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Music
11:14 am
Tue July 31, 2012

Boban i Marko Markovic: Irresistible Party Music

Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar performs onstage in 2008.
Roger Kisby Getty Images

A dozen years ago, if someone told me that one of the liveliest, most inventive party albums of the year would come from a band originally associated with wedding celebrations and beer festivals, I would have been all, "Yeah, sure, you bet." If it was further explained that the band's roots were much closer to polka than rock, funk or hip-hop, I would have responded, "Don't push it." But nowadays, I'm familiar with the Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar, whose retrospective Golden Horns will lighten the heart and lift the feet as surely as anything you'll hear in 2012.

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Fresh Air Interviews
11:14 am
Tue July 31, 2012

Facing The Fiscal Cliff: Congress' Next Showdown

Bill Ingalls/NASA Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 10:35 pm

In December, Congress is poised for another showdown on the deficit and taxes. If Congress doesn't act, 2013 will mark the end to Bush-era tax cuts that have been in place for a dozen years, and the beginning of automatic cuts to domestic and defense programs that would total $1.2 trillion over 10 years. The Congressional Budget Office says the combination of higher taxes and deep spending cuts could create a 4 percent reduction in economic output, a number big enough to throw the country into another recession.

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The Two-Way
10:19 am
Tue July 31, 2012

Julián Castro, San Antonio Mayor, Will Deliver Democratic Convention Keynote

Mayor Julian Castro his daughter Carina, 2, and wife Erica (background) greet supporters at his campaign headquarters in 2011.
EDWARD A. ORNELAS AP

Julián Castro, the mayor of San Antonio, will become the first Latino to deliver the keynote address at Democratic National Convention.

Castro, 37, is scheduled to speak Sept. 4 to open the convention, a slot usually reserved to showcase promising politicians.

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Politics
10:01 am
Tue July 31, 2012

Chick-fil-A Comments Still Churning Some Stomachs

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 1:00 pm

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE, from NPR News. As the world watches Olympic athletes go for the gold, we decided to check in with some dedicated sports moms about how parents can encourage their kids in sports without becoming, you know, those people. That's later in the program.

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News
10:01 am
Tue July 31, 2012

Is Chick-fil-A Controversy A Civil Rights Debate?

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 12:59 pm

We continue our conversation with Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell. Host Michel Martin asks if Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy's comments amount to hate speech.

Food
10:01 am
Tue July 31, 2012

The Chick-fil-A Dilemma: To Eat or Not To Eat?

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 12:58 pm

The controversy surrounding Chick-fil-A has left some consumers wondering whether they should eat there or not. Ahead of "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day" host Michel Martin speaks with ethicist Jack Marshall about the implications of spending decisions and what role businesses and political leaders have to play.

The Two-Way
9:38 am
Tue July 31, 2012

Romney Aide To Reporters: 'Kiss My ... This Is A Holy Site'

Mitt Romney, at the top right, as he prepared to get into his car even as reporters were shouting questions.
Politico

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 12:02 pm

Note: there is a mild obscenity in this post.

We have a feeling this quote will loom large in campaign 2012 lore:

"Kiss my ass; this is a holy site for the Polish people."

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It's All Politics
9:25 am
Tue July 31, 2012

As Romney Heads Home, Campaign Steers Talk Back To Running Mate

Mitt Romney speaks at the University of Warsaw Library in Warsaw, Poland, on Tuesday.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 11:40 am

After a weeklong international trip took the focus off of Bain Capital and taxes, the Mitt Romney campaign may be ready to take the focus off of its international trip.

On Tuesday, Romney wrapped up his three-nation tour with a speech in Poland, while back home, his campaign announced a new app to keep track of the running mate selection process: "The historic announcement is getting closer," said campaign adviser Beth Myers.

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The Torch
8:57 am
Tue July 31, 2012

Missy Franklin On Winning Gold: 'Someone Needs To Pinch Me'

Missy Franklin stands on the podium with her gold medal, after winning the 100m backstroke at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Of that moment, she says, "I was trying to sing, but I was like, crying, at the same time."
Adam Pretty Getty Images

Missy Franklin couldn't contain herself — in the pool, on the medals stand and at her first gold medal news conference — after a dramatic finish in the 100 meter Olympic backstroke Monday night in London.

It wasn't an easy race. Out front and pulling hard with her graceful but powerful strokes, Emily Seebohm of Australia led in the last 50 meters, with the American Franklin a few strokes back.

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The Torch
8:13 am
Tue July 31, 2012

Let's Catch Up: Olympics Set Record Ratings; Venus Rolls To Third Round

Venus Williams of the United States returns a shot to Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada in their Olympic singles tennis match, played at Wimbledon. Williams won, 6-1, 6-3.
Clive Brunskill Getty Images

Good morning. Today will be another big one in London — we'll have a preview of the action in a jiffy. For now, here are some stories that caught our eye:

- The London Olympics are a ratings hit, as NBC's coverage has broken records. "Through the weekend NBC averaged 35.8 million viewers in London, five million more than Beijing, and over a million more than the previous record-holder, Atlanta," says the TVNewser blog.

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The Two-Way
8:11 am
Tue July 31, 2012

Share Your Stories: Did You Do 'Bedtime Math' Or Something Like It?

A bedtime story is a longtime tradition. What about a math, science or history quiz, though?
George Marks Getty Images

Originally published on Wed August 1, 2012 5:14 am

  • Ashley Milne-Tyte reporting for 'Morning Edition'

Morning Edition catches up today with one New Jersey mom's way of teaching math to her children: bedtime problems "that soon became a beloved routine."

Laura Overdeck, as it says on her Bedtime Math website, "along with her husband, John, started giving math problems to their two older kids. ... [And] when their 2-year-old started hollering for his own math problem, they knew they were onto something."

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The Salt
7:40 am
Tue July 31, 2012

Thank The Simple Wasp For That Complex Glass Of Wine

The European hornet, or vespa crabro, helps make wine by kickstarting the fermentation process while the grapes are still on the vine.
Otto Hahn Getty Images/Picture Press RM

Originally published on Mon October 22, 2012 9:33 am

The next time you take a sip of your favorite wine, you might want to make your first toast to hornets. Or, more precisely, European hornets and paper wasps.

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