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1:12 pm
Thu December 8, 2011

Black Atlantans Struggle To Stay In The Middle Class

Foster Smith (left) and his best friend, Mark Ballard (right), met when they were 12 years old. After losing his job, and his ability to make rent, Smith moved into a room in Ballard's College Park, Ga., home.
Courtesy of Foster Smith

Originally published on Fri December 9, 2011 11:28 am

There's no question that the Great Recession has meant hard times all around, but from 2007 to 2009, it sent black America into an economic tailspin.

According to the Pew Research Center, the median net worth — that's assets minus debts — of black households decreased by more than 50 percent from 2005 to 2009.

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NPR Story
1:00 pm
Thu December 8, 2011

EPA Connects 'Franking' With Water Contamination

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has for the first time implicated a connection between "fracking" and contamination of ground water. The controversial method of natural gas and oil extraction consists of injecting high-pressure water and chemicals into the ground in order to more easily access the oil and gas. Robert Siegel speaks with NPR's Elizabeth Shogren about the report.

The Two-Way
12:57 pm
Thu December 8, 2011

AP: Black Site Where CIA Held Al-Qaida Operatives Was In Plain View

An exterior view of the Office of the National Register for Secret State Information, or ORNISS, which stores confidential information and ensures only authorised people gain access to it, taken in Bucharest on December 8.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 8, 2011 12:59 pm

That the Central Intelligence Agency had a so-called "black site" in Romania was well known. It was known that it was in one of those secret prisons that intelligence officials conducted harsh interrogations with major Al-Qaida operatives, including Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammad.

Today, the result of a joint investigation with German public television, the AP reports it has found the site where Mohammad was held and interrogated. And it's not where you would think it is. The AP reports on the prison in Bucharest known as "Bright Light":

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It's All Politics
12:55 pm
Thu December 8, 2011

Professor Gingrich And The Lessons (And Lecture Notes) Of History

Newt Gingrich used these lecture notes and similar pamphlets as part of the 1994 college course that became central to a later House ethics investigation.

Newt Gingrich once called himself "the most seriously professorial politician since Woodrow Wilson."

But that was 1995, and the "Contract with America" co-author had just helped to propel Republicans into power in the House for the first time in 40 years, and Gingrich himself into the speaker's role. Even the rarely modest Gingrich had reason to gloat.

Just two years later, of course, he had become the first speaker ever punished by the House for ethics violations, and the end was in sight for both his leadership and congressional career.

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Animals
12:48 pm
Thu December 8, 2011

Cagebreak! Rats Will Work To Free A Trapped Pal

Science/AAAS

Originally published on Fri December 9, 2011 8:35 am

Calling someone a "rat" is no compliment, but a new study shows that rats actually are empathetic and will altruistically lend a helping paw to a cage mate who is stuck in a trap.

Not only will rats frantically work to free their trapped cage mate; they will do so even when there's a tempting little pile of chocolate chips nearby, the study reveals. Instead of leaving their pal in the trap and selfishly gobbling the candy all by themselves, rats will free their cage mate and share the chocolate.

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Humans
12:42 pm
Thu December 8, 2011

Grass Mattress Was A Stone Age Bed And Breakfast

Christopher Miller samples sediments from an excavation site in South Africa. Archaeologists found layers upon layers of burned bedding material, indicating that the hunter-gatherers who lived here 77,000 years ago stayed for a long time.
Courtesy of Lyn Wadley

In archaeology, you get special bragging rights when you can lay claim to the oldest specimen of something.

Scientists in South Africa may now qualify for what they say is the world's oldest bed. Well, not a bed exactly, but more like a mattress made of grass.

What Lyn Wadley, an archaeologist at the University of Witswatersrand, found were mats of grass and sedge piled half an inch thick on the floor of a cavelike rock shelter in South Africa.

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U.S.
12:42 pm
Thu December 8, 2011

Fast And Furious Questions For U.S. Attorney General

Attorney General Eric Holder testifies before the House Judiciary Committee. He faces tough questions about the Justice Department's "Fast and Furious" gun-control program.
Jim Watson AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 8, 2011 8:08 pm

Attorney General Eric Holder got a bruising reception from the Republican-dominated House Judiciary Committee that put the Justice Department on the defensive.

Holder answered questions about the botched gun trafficking operation known as "Fast and Furious" in which federal agents tried to build cases against drug cartels. Instead, they lost track of hundreds of weapons that turned up at crime scenes along the Southwest border.

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The Two-Way
11:06 am
Thu December 8, 2011

Virginia Tech On Alert After Report Of Shots

Virginia Tech has advised everyone on campus to "seek shelter or stay where you are" because of reports about shots being fired there.

It adds that:

"[A] suspect described as white male, gray sweat pants, gray hat w/neon green brim, maroon hoodie and backback" was seen "on foot towards McComas" — the university's athletics facility.

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The Two-Way
10:56 am
Thu December 8, 2011

Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio Under Fire For Mishandled Sex-Crime Cases

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio discusses the latest in the document release on his office's handling of many sexual assault cases over the years in El Mirage, Ariz., during a news conference Monday.
Ross D. Franklin AP

Originally published on Thu December 8, 2011 1:51 pm

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is under fire. The sheriff is known for his aggressive stance on immigration and his tough treatment of inmates.

Yesterday, two state lawmakers called for his ouster, but Arpaio stood his ground during a press conference.

The lawmakers were reacting to an AP report from Sunday that found his office had botched a series of sex-crime cases. Here's part of that AP report:

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The Salt
10:39 am
Thu December 8, 2011

Environmental Claims For Farmed Fish Don't Hold Up To Scrutiny

Originally published on Thu December 8, 2011 10:40 am

Are shoppers getting their money's worth when they choose a salmon filet wearing an eco-sticker?

A study released this week by the University of Victoria's Seafood Ecology Research Group found that most eco-labels on farmed seafood don't reflect better fish farming practices than other products on the market.

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Music Reviews
10:38 am
Thu December 8, 2011

The Black Keys: A Reinvention On 'El Camino'

Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney released El Camino, their latest album as The Black Keys, earlier this week.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu December 8, 2011 11:12 am

Careening into your ears like the theme to a bank-heist flick is "Lonely Boy," the first single from El Camino. Except the lyric tucked inside the roaring, curve-hugging melody isn't about anything so action-packed as robbing a bank or making a getaway. Instead, Dan Auerbach sings about stasis: "I got a love that keeps me waiting." And, being the sensible raucous rocker that he is, Auerbach is willing to wait out his love, because he knows in his heart that she's worth it.

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The Two-Way
10:20 am
Thu December 8, 2011

Obama: 'Ask Osama Bin Laden' If I'm An Appeaser

Republican presidential candidates have said President Obama practices "appeasement" when it comes to foreign policy.

At the White House a short time ago, the president had this response:

"Ask Osama bin Laden and the 22 out of 30 top al-Qaida leaders who've been taken off the field whether I engage in appeasement. Or whoever's left out there. Ask them about that."

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Politics
10:15 am
Thu December 8, 2011

GOP Senators Block Consumer Protection Pick

Republicans joined together to stop a vote on the nomination of former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to run the new federal consumer protection agency.

Shots - Health Blog
10:13 am
Thu December 8, 2011

Experimental Vaccine For Stomach Flu Might Work

In early 2007, health officials boarded the Queen Elizabeth 2 (seen here in Honolulu) to investigate a stomach flu outbreak that sickened more than 300 people.
Marco Garcia AP

Originally published on Thu December 8, 2011 10:15 am

Nothing ruins a nice cruise or a gluttonous run down the office party buffet like the norovirus.

The obnoxious virus causes the euphemistically-named stomach flu and is one of the most common foodborne illnesses. If you catch it, there's no drug to make you better. You pretty much have to ride out the diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pain for a few days.

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Monkey See
10:03 am
Thu December 8, 2011

So The Mythbusters Punched A Hole In A House With A Cannonball. Now What?

The exit hole from a misfired cannonball is seen in the second story wall after it traveled through a Dublin, Calif., home on Cassata Place on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011.
Doug Duran AP

Originally published on Thu December 8, 2011 2:59 pm

So ... now what?

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The Two-Way
9:46 am
Thu December 8, 2011

Obama's Choice To Head Consumer Protection Agency Blocked

Originally published on Thu December 8, 2011 10:16 am

A vote to move forward on the nomination of former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to run the new federal consumer protection agency fell seven votes short in the Senate this morning. Republicans banded together to make sure there weren't the 60 votes needed to invoke cloture and move on to a vote on the nomination itself.

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Newt Gingrich
9:29 am
Thu December 8, 2011

Gingrich's Path From 'Flameout' To D.C. Entrepreneur

In 1995, Time magazine named Newt Gingrich "Man of the Year" for his role in ending the four-decades-long Democratic majority in the House of Representatives.
Craig Ruttle AP

Originally published on Thu December 8, 2011 11:12 am

A new poll released Wednesday by Time magazine and CNN finds Newt Gingrich staying ahead of Mitt Romney in three out of the four states with January primaries or caucuses.

Gingrich's lead in the key primary states has sparked private discussions among President Obama's advisers about the former House speaker's "realistic chance" of winning the Republican presidential nomination, CBS News reported.

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The Two-Way
8:40 am
Thu December 8, 2011

Reports: Albert Pujols Has Signed To Play For The Angels

Albert Pujols, then of the St. Louis Cardinals, during the World Series in October.
Jamie Squire Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 8, 2011 8:43 am

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The Two-Way
7:45 am
Thu December 8, 2011

Pusuke, World's Oldest Dog, Dies At Age 26 (Or 125 In 'Human Years')

Pusuke and his human, Yumiko Shinohara, in December 2010.
Yomiuri Shimbun AFP/Getty Images

Pusuke, a Shiba mix who last year was recognized by Guinness World Records as the planet's oldest dog, has died.

He was 26 years, eight months old. Or, about 125 in "human years," according to his owner.

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The Two-Way
7:04 am
Thu December 8, 2011

Cricket's Sehwag Smashes Tendulkar's Record

India's captain Virender Sehwag celebrates his "double century."
Aijaz Rahi AP

Less than two years after India's Sachin Tendulkar achieved cricket superstardom by recording a "double century" in an international match, his record has been broken.

Here's how the BBC reports the news:

"India opener Virender Sehwag has hit the record one-day international score after smashing 219 from 149 balls against West Indies in Indore."

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The Two-Way
7:00 am
Thu December 8, 2011

Top News Memes Of 2011: Pepper Spray Cop, Bin Laden, Steve Jobs

Spraying the Declaration of Independence (John Trumbull's "Declaration of Independence").
jockohomo.tumblr.com

Originally published on Thu December 8, 2011 7:02 am

Video of a police officer dousing Occupy protesters with pepper spray was one of the top three news-related memes of 2011, according to the analysts who follow this sort of thing at Know Your Meme.

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The Two-Way
6:20 am
Thu December 8, 2011

European Central Bank Cuts Rates To Match Record Low

Originally published on Thu December 8, 2011 6:26 am

It's a widely expected move, but still noteworthy:

"The European Central Bank cut interest rates by a quarter of a point on Thursday to counter the twin threats of recession and deflation in the euro zone, and is expected to unveil fresh measures to help banks hurt by the bloc's debt crisis," Reuters reports.

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Strange News
6:08 am
Thu December 8, 2011

Michiganders Get Territorial About Mitten Comparison

The lower part of Michigan is shaped like a mitten, which helps people recognize the state on a map. But now nearby Wisconsin has an official website featuring a picture of a mitten, saying Wisconsin is mitten-shaped. That might be true, if the thumb is smashed. Michiganders are furious, and officials accuse Wisconsin of "mitten envy."

The Two-Way
6:03 am
Thu December 8, 2011

Corzine Apologizes, Defends Actions Of MF Global, May Invoke Fifth

Former New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine (D).
Mario Tama Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 8, 2011 11:11 am

Former New Jersey senator and governor Jon Corzine, who led MF Global as it spectacularly collapsed in a bankruptcy that has left $1.2 billion in client money missing, is due at a House Agriculture Committee hearing this morning to face questions about what happened.

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Strange News
6:00 am
Thu December 8, 2011

New Treat For Grown-Ups: Frozen Cocktails On A Stick

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Good morning. I'm Linda Wertheimer with news of a cocktail on a stick. It's coming from an ice cream company - popsicles laced with booze, dreamed up during a night of drinking and eating ice cream, says a spokeswoman. They're trying out margarita and cosmopolitan flavors.

And KPHO-TV in Phoenix says kids can't tell they're spiked by looking at them. That's another reason they'll only be sold at liquor stores. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.

The Two-Way
5:15 am
Thu December 8, 2011

Report: Hundreds Of Troops' Ashes Were Dumped In Landfill

"The Air Force dumped the incinerated partial remains of at least 274 American troops in a Virginia landfill," The Washington Post reports this morning, adding that it's "far more than the military had acknowledged, before halting the secretive practice three years ago, records show."

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Author Interviews
3:04 am
Thu December 8, 2011

In 'Pemberley,' James Picks Up Where Austen Left Off

British author P.D. James has written more than 20 books. She is a former employee of the British Civil Service, including the Police and Criminal Law Departments. In 2008, she was inducted into the International Crime Writing Hall of Fame.
Ulla Montan Knopf

British mystery writer P.D. James is best known for her creation Adam Dalgliesh — a pensive, private Scotland Yard detective shaped by his own personal tragedy. Dalgliesh populates many of James' stories, but not her latest. In her new book, Death Comes to Pemberley, P.D. James inhabits the world of Jane Austen — specifically, Pride and Prejudice.

"I had this idea at the back of my mind that I'd like to combine my two great enthusiasms," James tells NPR's Linda Wertheimer. "One is for the novels of Jane Austen and the second is for writing detective fiction."

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Shots - Health Blog
3:03 am
Thu December 8, 2011

When 'Critical Access Hospitals' Aren't So Critical

Shirley Holden, 78, has been coming to Hood Memorial Hospital since 1971. She says if the hospital were to close, she'd mostly stay home. "I would not be going ... anywhere else unless I went on a stretcher."
Jenny Gold for NPR

Originally published on Thu December 8, 2011 10:27 am

Hood Memorial Hospital, in Amite, La., hasn't been full in at least two decades. Some people say that makes it's a perfect target for efforts to reduce federal spending.

On an average day, fewer than four of the hospital's 25 beds are occupied. Last year, Hood posted a $700,000 loss on its $7.5 million in total operating expenses. One of the few bright spots on Hood's balance sheet: the extra money it receives from the federal government through a program for critical access hospitals — small facilities that receive a higher Medicare reimbursement rate to help keep them afloat.

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Presidential Race
3:02 am
Thu December 8, 2011

Gingrich, Romney Offer Stark Immigration Choice

Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney (left) and Newt Gingrich shake hands after a Republican presidential debate in Tampa, Fla.
Mike Carlson AP

There are many flashpoints between Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney as they battle for the Republican presidential nomination. Most of them are about character or leadership: Who can beat President Obama? Who's the real conservative?

But Gingrich and Romney do have one big policy difference — and that's on immigration.

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