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A day after Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney spoke to the nation's oldest civil right organization, Vice President Joe Biden appeared at the NAACP's annual convention. He quickly tackled one issue that drew Romney sustained boos — the 2010 health care overhaul.

Biden appeared in place of President Obama, who made a brief videotaped address thanking the group for its work. He walked out to warm applause, and several of his remarks were interrupted by shouts of agreement.

Fresh Air Celebrates Woody Guthrie At 100

Jul 12, 2012

Lots of people know Woody Guthrie's classic 1940 ballad "This Land Is Your Land," but the story behind the tune may not be as familiar.

Guthrie, who would have turned 100 this week, wrote "This Land" as a response to Irving Berlin's "God Bless America," a song he felt was overly patriotic and not directed at ordinary Americans like himself.

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MARIA HINOJOSA, HOST:

I'm Maria Hinojosa and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Michel Martin is away. Coming up, California's governor has signed a landmark bill meant to protect homeowners from unfair bank and mortgage practices. We'll speak with state attorney general Kamala Harris about that in just a few minutes.

Guest Host Maria Hinojosa talks with Kamala Harris, California's Attorney General about the state's newly passed "Homeowner Bill of Rights." The law, which was signed yesterday by Governor Jerry Brown, makes it harder for lenders to seize a property and allows homeowners to sue to stop a foreclosure process.

This week, a federal panel is hearing arguments for and against a voter ID law in Texas. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says the Texas voter ID law is like a modern poll tax. Guest host Maria Hinojosa talks more about the issue with Rep. Jose Aliseda, who testified at the hearing. He's a Republican State Representative for Texas who was born in Mexico.

If you only knew about America from watching TV, the last few months might lead you to think that women here wield enormous political power. First you had Game Change, the story of Sarah Palin's attempt to become vice president. Then you had Veep, in which Julia Louis-Dreyfus's character has accomplished just that. Now comes Political Animals, a new USA network series about a strong female secretary of state who I suspect even a Martian would realize is based on Hillary Clinton.

It's well-known that exercise is good for our bones, even as we age, but how about that nightly glass of wine?

A new study of women in their 50s and early 60s finds that moderate alcohol consumption may help prevent bone loss. The women in the study consumed about 1 1/2 drinks per day.

Man Tries To Benefit From Fake Cat's Death

Jul 12, 2012

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep. Prosecutors say no cats were harmed in the making of this news story. A man in Tacoma, Washington told a sad tale. He was involved in a car crash and two years later he said that collision had killed his cat named Tom. He filed a $20,000 insurance claim. But now, according to KOMO, he's been accused of fraud. Authorities say the cat never existed. The man allegedly backed up his claim with cat photos from the Internet. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.

Giant Mushroom Found In British Columbia

Jul 12, 2012

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In a scathing report that takes to task former head football coach Joe Paterno and other top Penn State officials, an independent report from investigators led by former FBI director Louis Freeh says there was a "total disregard for the safety and welfare" of Jerry Sandusky's child victims "by the most senior leaders" at the school.

That is "our most saddening and sobering finding," Freeh concludes about his investigation into the scandal that rocked the school last year.

Mobile Ad Networks Accused Of Invasive Apps

Jul 12, 2012

Mobile apps are aggressively placing unwanted ads on phones. Lookout, a mobile security firm in San Francisco, tested mobile apps and found some disturbing practices. Those include transmitting consumer phone numbers and email addresses and transmitting to third parties and placing ads on the mobile phone's desktop.

Penn State Braces For Sex Abuse Report

Jul 12, 2012

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

It's a sobering morning at Penn State University. Today, former FBI Director Louis Freeh release released a scathing report on how Penn State dealt with a series of shocking allegations that led to the by Jerry Sandusky scandal.

Sandusky was the revered former defensive coach for the Penn State football team. He was found guilty last month of 45 counts of child sexual abuse.

Contents Of Ireland's 'Big House' Auctioned

Jul 12, 2012

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We are following other stories around the world this morning, including this one from Ireland, where because of the eurozone crisis many people don't trust the banks anymore. They'd rather put their money, if they still have some, in art or antiques, and they had an opportunity to just that when an Irish aristocrat named Ambrose Congreve died last year at the age of 104. He left behind a mansion full of treasures, and the contents of his estate have gone up for auction. Here's NPR's Philip Reeves.

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You might think that Americans, renowned for consuming a disproportionate share of the Earth's resources, would feel the most guilty about using up those resources. Not so, according to a new study. NPR's Richard Harris reports on the latest findings from a National Geographic project called Greendex.

United To Place Major Order With Boeing

Jul 12, 2012

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NPR's business news starts with a giant deal for Boeing.

It's a big deal that would be worth billions of dollars for Boeing. United Airlines is set to buy about 100 of its planes - the single-aisle 737s. Boeing would still be behind Europe's Airbus when it comes to new orders for the next generation of narrow body jets.

Today's announcement on United's Boeing purchase has long been rumored. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Almost 20 million subscribers of the country's largest satellite TV provider are now unable to access dozens of channels.

NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports that DirecTV ordered the blackout after its distribution agreement with Viacom ended.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: If you believe this Viacom video, the sky is about to fall because DirecTV viewers can no longer tune into the antics of "SpongeBob SquarePants," Jon Stewart, or Snooki.

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The Last Word In Business

Jul 12, 2012

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Sometimes friends become more than friends and Facebook just won't do. And if the friend in question are dogs, they may want to hear today's last word in business.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PUPPY LOVE")

PAUL ANKA: (Singing) And they called it puppy love, oh I...

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Brazil's dog population is second only to the U.S. Two entrepreneurs - a brother and sister team - are hoping to capitalize on that by building an eight-story hotel for pets. With one floor apparently is dedicated to mating.

GOP Courts Republicans Living In Israel

Jul 12, 2012

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Both Republicans and Democrats will tell you, the Jewish vote is vital in the upcoming presidential election. And this year, one party is going very far in its efforts to woo Jewish voters, all the way to Israel. Israel is home to a large American community, and for the first time, the Republican Party has crossed the Atlantic to actively campaign.

NPR's Middle East correspondent Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports that Republican Party envoys find themselves on fertile ground.

The Turkish border is a key link for the revolt in neighboring Syria. Turkish ambulances are stationed at border crossings to cope with the flood of injured Syrians, often as many as 30 a day. And now, Syrian-American doctors are volunteering in a humanitarian effort to help the wounded and to bring crucial medicines for field hospitals inside Syria.

New Online Users Have A Longer Timeline

Jul 12, 2012

Facebook started as a social network for college students. But now that anyone can join, here's a status update: Many of its newest members are senior citizens.

At 101 years old, Florence Detlor is one of the oldest people on Facebook. She says she's always been someone who wants to keep up on the cutting edge of technology.

"Because that's what makes one time different from another," she says.

An unusual terrorism case started in Nigeria late last week. Prosecutors in the capital city of Abuja accused two local men of being members of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP. They were charged with accepting thousands of dollars from the group to recruit potential terrorists inside Nigeria and then send them to Yemen. Olaniyi Lawal, 31, and Luqman Babatunde, 30, have pleaded not guilty.

AIDS researchers, policymakers and advocates are increasingly convinced that treating HIV is one of the best ways of preventing its spread.

The rallying cry is "treatment as prevention," and it's the overarching theme of this month's International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C.

Most Americans use electricity, gas or oil to heat and cool their homes. But the small city of Brainerd, Minn., is turning to something a bit less conventional: the sewer.

As it turns out, a sewer — the place where a city's hot showers, dishwashing water and organic matter end up — is a pretty warm place. That heat can generate energy — meaning a city's sewer system can hold tremendous potential for heating and cooling.

It's just that unexpected energy source that Brainerd hopes to exploit.

Fake Pot Is A Real Problem For Regulators

Jul 12, 2012

This week, President Obama signed a law banning synthetic marijuana and other synthetic drugs. Dozens of states and local governments have already tried to outlaw fake marijuana, which has been blamed for hundreds of emergency room visits and a handful of fatalities.

But the bans have proved largely ineffective, and there are fears that the federal law won't be any different.

Synthetic marijuana looks a bit like dried grass clippings. It's readily available on the Internet and in convenience stores and smoke shops, where it's sold as herbal incense or potpourri.

From Our Readers: A Tale of Two Cities

Jul 11, 2012

In San Bernardino, Calif. the city government is suddenly seeking bankruptcy, while in Scranton, Pa. city workers have seen their salaries reduced to minimum wage. One of our readers disparages San Bernardino's actions while another advocates bankruptcy for Scranton.

Marking him the most senior diplomat to defect from the Bashar Assad regime, Syria's ambassador to Iraq said he has joined the revolution.

Reuters reports that Nawaf Fares posted a video on Facebook announcing his resignation.

"I declare that I have joined, from this moment, the ranks of the revolution of the Syrian people," Fares said according to Reuters.

The AP, which reported the defection earlier quoting the opposition, says this is the second prominent Syrian to defect in less than a week. The AP adds:

VIDEO: When A Shark Steals Your Catch

Jul 11, 2012

We dare say that fishing is rarely the most exciting of spectator sports. But a video that is just now going viral makes fishing look like a Hollywood film.

For years, Maricopa County, Ariz., has been ground zero in the debate over immigration.

On one hand, the massive county, which includes the state capital of Phoenix, has a growing Latino population. On the other, it's home to publicity savvy Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has made his name by strictly enforcing, some say overstepping, immigration laws.

Single mothers have an especially hard time getting out of poverty. Households headed by single mothers are four times as likely to be poor as are families headed by married couples.

Still, many of these women are trying to get ahead. Some know instinctively what the studies show: Children who grow up in poor families are far more likely to become poor adults.

At 100, Woody Guthrie Still Resonates

Jul 11, 2012

Woody Guthrie would have been 100 years old on Saturday. The singer and songwriter wrote "This Land Is Your Land," among thousands of other songs.

Even though Guthrie died almost 45 years ago, his lyrics and message continue to appeal to new generations of Americans.

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