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10:01 pm
Mon December 12, 2011

Airplane Mechanics: A Farm Team For Everyone Else?

The best airplane mechanics are skilled at everything from metal part fabrication to electronics to lavatory plumbing. Other, better-paying companies soon become interested in their skills.
Courtesy AAR

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 6:21 pm

Talk of jobs — or lack of them — dominates the national conversation right now. But there are places in the economy where willing, qualified workers are hard to come by.

One such place is AAR Aircraft Services Corp., an aircraft maintenance facility in Oklahoma City. There, American capitalism is on display with all its strengths and weaknesses. AAR services jet aircraft, including passenger planes from carriers like Alaska Airlines, Mesa Air and Allegiant Air.

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Best Books Of 2011
10:01 pm
Mon December 12, 2011

7 Books With Personality: Nancy Pearl's 2011 Picks

Priscilla Nielsen for NPR

Although all works of fiction and narrative nonfiction have characters — be they animals, hobbits, dragons, humans, werewolves or whatever — I've found that there are some books in which these characters are three-dimensional and awfully interesting. (Whether or not they're likable is another question.) These characters become, as the story progresses, more and more real to me. It's as though they've become good friends.

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The Salt
4:15 pm
Mon December 12, 2011

Oregon Senator Pushes Local Pears For School Lunches

Comice pears are super-yummy, but not approved for schookids.
iStockPhoto.com

Originally published on Mon December 12, 2011 4:18 pm

Mike Naumes thinks Oregon schoolchildren should be eating more Oregon pears. And not just the D'Anjou, Bartlett and Bosc pears approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's School Lunch Program, but the lesser-known Comice pears of southern Oregon's Rogue Valley.

Anyone who's ever tasted a Comice pear would have a hard time arguing with that. They're fat and green, extraordinarily sweet and juicy — a world apart from your typical supermarket pear.

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Crisis In The Housing Market
4:03 pm
Mon December 12, 2011

In Mortgage Crisis, Some Banks Agree To Cut Losses

Sharon Jordan (lower left) and her family (clockwise from top left: Rydell, Nikera and Anisha) are working with Bank of America and a Boston nonprofit to repurchase their duplex at its current market price — about half of the original value.
Aarti Shahani NPR

There's an unfamiliar trend emerging in America's troubled housing market. Big banks are volunteering to lose money — hundreds of millions for themselves and investors — in order to save homes at risk of foreclosure. And they're doing it in record numbers.

The year closed with a new trend: In 30 percent of private loan modifications, banks are doing a principal writedown — that is, hacking away at the amount owed as far down as the current market value. They're doing it so borrowers can actually afford payments. Two years ago, that 30 percent was just at 2 percent.

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The Two-Way
3:48 pm
Mon December 12, 2011

U.S. Asks Iran For Spy Drone's Return; Iran Says It's Extracting Secret Data

A picture released by the official website of Iran's Revolutionary Guards on December 8, 2011 shows Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Brig. Gen. Amir-Ali Hajizadeh (R) looking at what Iranian officials claim is a U.S. RQ-170 Sentinel high-altitude reconnaissance drone that crashed in Iran on December 4.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 12, 2011 5:02 pm

The United States is officially asking Iran for the return of a drone surveillance aircraft lost earlier this month.

"We have asked for it back. We'll see how the Iranians respond," President Barack Obama said during a White House news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Monday.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, speaking at a State Department news conference, told reporters that the U.S. had "submitted a formal request" for the craft's return, but that "given Iran's behavior to date, we do not expect them to comply."

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NPR Story
3:30 pm
Mon December 12, 2011

Gingrich, Huntsman Hold Debate

Originally published on Mon December 12, 2011 4:33 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

One last note from the campaign trail. Two of Mitt Romney's opponents engaged today in a long conversation, a so-called Lincoln-Douglas style debate at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, discussed in a gentlemanly manner topics of foreign policy and national security. And Gingrich began with a short critique.

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Shots - Health Blog
3:24 pm
Mon December 12, 2011

ADHD Drugs Show Little Risk For Most Adults' Hearts

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 10:36 am

Kids aren't the only ones taking drugs for ADHD.

In fact, over the past decade or so, use of the drugs by adults has grown at a far faster rate than it has for children, according to data from drug benefits manager Medco.

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Opinion
3:17 pm
Mon December 12, 2011

For Nervous Seniors, Some Pre-Graduation Advice

istockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon December 12, 2011 4:33 pm

Mitchell Zuckoff is a professor at Boston University and the author of Lost in Shangri-La.

I taught my last class of the semester the other day. Inevitably, my students — all of them journalism majors and most of them seniors — hijacked the lesson plan to vent their hopes and fears about what awaits them after graduation.

This happens every December, and each year I do my best to calm and encourage them, to let them know it's OK to be worried but it's not OK to despair. I give them what I've come to consider my pre-commencement address.

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The Salt
2:37 pm
Mon December 12, 2011

Who Are The Young Farmers Of 'Generation Organic'?

Maryland farmer Josie Johnson listens to a lecture on extending the farming season using caterpillar tunnels. The lesson was part of a conference for young farmers held in Tarrytown N.Y., in early December.
Maggie Starbard NPR

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 9:12 am

For decades, as young people have been leaving farms behind, the average age of the American farmer has been rising. The last time the government counted farmers, in 2002, the average farmer was 55-years-old.

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Iraq
2:26 pm
Mon December 12, 2011

Obama, Maliki Pledge Cooperation After U.S. Pullout

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki shakes hands with President Obama in the Oval Office at the White House on Monday. The two leaders met as the U.S. prepares to withdraw the last of its combat troops from Iraq.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

President Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki met at the White House on Monday and pledged to maintain strong ties after the U.S. withdraws the last of its troops, but nagging concerns remain about Iraq's security and neighboring Iran.

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Middle East
2:19 pm
Mon December 12, 2011

Palestinians Bristle At Gingrich Comments

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, speaking here in a Republican debate on Saturday, has angered Palestinians by calling them "an invented people" and "terrorists."
Kevork Djansezian Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 19, 2011 10:07 am

It happens every four years: The Israeli-Palestinian conflict crops up as an issue in the U.S. presidential campaign.

Republican front-runner Newt Gingrich brought it to the fore this year when he told The Jewish Channel, a cable channel, that the Palestinians were "an invented people."

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The Two-Way
2:05 pm
Mon December 12, 2011

'Tebowing' Is So Hot It's Now A Word

Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow prayed in the end zone — tebowing — before the start Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears.
Julie Jacobson AP

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 4:43 am

He's the hottest topic in sports, and now Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow is a word, kind of.

The online Global Language Monitor, which professes to track what's hot in the world of words, announced today that is has declared "tebowing, the act of 'taking a knee' in prayerful reflection" during an athletic activity is now "an English language word."

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Shots - Health Blog
1:55 pm
Mon December 12, 2011

Care For Earliest Preemies Improves, But Low Birth Weight Remains Risky

It's the kind of news that parents of a premature baby would grasp at: One of the world's smallest preemies, born weighing a mere 9.8 ounces, is now a 22-year-old college student who's living a normal life.

But doctors who deal with low birth weight babies say parents shouldn't think that sort of bright future is assured.

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Law
1:49 pm
Mon December 12, 2011

High Court To Wade Into Immigration Debate

A U.S. Border Patrol agent patrols along the U.S.-Mexico border in Naco, Ariz., in September. On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a legal challenge to Arizona's tough new law on illegal immigration.
Joshua Lott Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Mon December 12, 2011 4:33 pm

The United States Supreme Court added another red-hot rocket to its docket on Monday, all but ensuring that it will resolve a major immigration case just weeks before the major parties hold their conventions next summer.

The court agreed to hear a challenge to a controversial Arizona law that targets people suspected of being illegal immigrants. This is a setback for the Obama administration, which had urged the justices to wait for the lower courts to thoroughly examine the constitutionality of the issues in the case.

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Around the Nation
1:31 pm
Mon December 12, 2011

Two Make It Through Five Layoffs In Five Years

Michelle and Al Ford relax at their home in St. Paul, Minn., before heading to work. The Fords suffered a combination of five layoffs in five years — including a time they each received a pink slip on the same day. Now they're happy to be working again.
Jeffrey Thompson Minnesota Public Radio

Over the course of the recession, 7.5 million Americans lost their jobs, and some of them were unfortunate enough to collect more than one pink slip. Serial layoffs can be personally devastating, but they can also darken a resume and raise concerns for potential employers.

Al and Michelle Ford of St. Paul, Minn., know about multiple layoffs all too well. Their version of the Great Recession started about a year before the official one was declared.

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The Salt
1:00 pm
Mon December 12, 2011

Safety Concerns Linger Around Genetically Modified Salmon

Originally published on Mon December 12, 2011 2:03 pm

This just in: After 15 years of deliberation, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has yet to decide whether it will approve a genetically modified salmon for human consumption.

Now there's a catchy lead. But the truth is, the long-running regulatory saga of AquaBounty's application to sell salmon with a growth hormone gene from one fish plus a promoter of an antifreeze gene from another — which help it grow twice as fast as typical farmed salmon — does not seem headed toward a conclusion.

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NPR Story
1:00 pm
Mon December 12, 2011

The Core Of The Russian Protests: The Middle Class

Large protests over the weekend in many Russian cities marked discontent with the results of the recent elections there. Melissa Block talks with one of those demonstrators — a 29-year-old real estate lawyer named Dmitry Raev. This was his first time taking part in a demonstration. Raev points out that the middle class — lawyers, scientists and other professionals — seem to be driving the protests. He says these are people who have something to lose, and yet they are turning out in droves to express their long-held frustration with the political system.

NPR Story
1:00 pm
Mon December 12, 2011

Book Review: 'Birds Of Paradise'

Birds of Paradise is a new novel by Diana Abu-Jaber. It depicts the complicated life of a family in Miami whose daughter runs away at 15.

The Two-Way
12:59 pm
Mon December 12, 2011

New Jersey Nets' Owner Announces Run For Russian Presidency

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's bid to return to his nation's presidency, an office he held from 2000 to 2008, picked up a surprise challenger Monday when Mikhail Prokhorov publicly declared his intention to run for the office, too.

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The Two-Way
10:58 am
Mon December 12, 2011

'Occupy' Protesters Disrupt Ports in Oakland And Portland

Occupy protesters clash with Long Beach Police Department officers after blocking the road leading to SSA Marine, a shipping company that is partially owned by investment bank Goldman Sachs, at the Port of Long Beach on Monday.
Kevork Djansezian Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 12, 2011 11:07 am

"Occupy" protesters on the West Coast moved Monday to disrupt ports in Los Angeles, San Francisco and elsewhere. The action fizzled in Los Angeles, as the AP reports:

"Heavy rain dampened the protest and the demonstrators, who were flanked by dozens of police, have now moved off, effectively making a peaceful end to a four-hour protest."

The AP says about 200 people showed up for the protest at the Port of Longbeach and that there was one arrest related to the gathering.

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The Two-Way
10:42 am
Mon December 12, 2011

U.S., Iraqi Leaders Mark 'New Day'

"A war is ending, a new day is upon us," President Obama said this afternoon at a joint news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki at which the two leaders are marking the departure of the last U.S. troops after nearly nine years in Iraq.

For his part, Maliki said the two nations' relations "will not end with the departure of the last American soldier ... it has only started."

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Television
10:37 am
Mon December 12, 2011

Michael C. Hall: Playing A Killer Role On 'Dexter'

Michael C. Hall plays Dexter Morgan, a forensics expert for the Miami Police Department who harbors a deep secret: He's a serial killer who channels his murderous impulses by hunting other serial killers.
Showtime

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 12:39 pm

On Dec. 18, the Showtime drama Dexter presents its sixth-season finale. The show stars Michael C. Hall — who played the repressed mortician David Fisher on HBO's Six Feet Under — as Dexter Morgan, a serial killer who kills other serial killers, and who also works for the Miami police as a blood-spatter expert.

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The Two-Way
9:30 am
Mon December 12, 2011

Lowe's Ignites Controversy By Pulling Ads From 'All-American Muslim'

A Lowe's store in Saugus, Mass.
Michael Dwyer AP

Originally published on Mon December 12, 2011 9:33 am

By deciding to stop advertising during the TLC network's All-American Muslim reality TV show after hearing that some conservatives object to the program, Lowe's Home Improvement is now hearing complaints from others who accuse it of religious bigotry.

California State Sen. Ted Lieu (D), The Associated Press says, may call for a boycott of the home improvement chain.

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Fresh Food
9:04 am
Mon December 12, 2011

Losing Virginity: Olive Oil's 'Scandalous' Industry

IFP iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon December 12, 2011 11:39 am

Extra-virgin olive oil is a ubiquitous ingredient in Italian recipes, religious rituals and beauty products. But many of the bottles labeled "extra-virgin olive oil" on supermarket shelves have been adulterated and shouldn't be classified as extra-virgin, says New Yorker contributor Tom Mueller.

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The Two-Way
8:40 am
Mon December 12, 2011

What A Sour Note: Thieves Target Tubas In Southern California

Who knew the big horn could be so valuable?
Jonathan Daniel Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 12, 2011 8:43 am

The high prices they command on the black market and "Southern California's banda music craze" have combined to make tubas a hot property, the Los Angeles Times writes today.

Hot, that is, in the sense that there's been a recent "rash of unsolved tuba thefts at high schools in southeast Los Angeles County."

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The Two-Way
8:21 am
Mon December 12, 2011

Supreme Court Will Hear Arguments On Arizona Immigration Law

Originally published on Mon December 12, 2011 8:27 am

Arizona's controversial immigration law will indeed be getting a hearing before the U.S. Supreme Court, it was just announced.

Long expected, the court's decision to weigh in could help settle whether the law — known as SB 1070 for its bill number in the Arizona Senate — encroaches on federal law because, in large part, of its provision that would require the police to determine the immigration status of a person they have detained and whether the suspect is in the country illegally.

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The Two-Way
7:09 am
Mon December 12, 2011

Here We Go Again: Has Misnamed 'God Particle' Finally Been Found?

This is what researchers at the ATLAS detector at the Large Hadron Collider expect a Higgs boson to look like. The Higgs boson is the subatomic particle that scientists say gives everything in the universe mass.
ATLAS Experiment/CERN

The news that scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Switzerland will talk Tuesday at 8 a.m. ET about "the status of their searches for the Standard Model Higgs boson" has reignited speculation that they might be about to say they've found the so-called God particle.

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Monkey See
6:57 am
Mon December 12, 2011

Beyblades: A New Spin Puts An Old Toy Back On Top

The hot holiday gift Beyblades are seen in the FAO Schwarz store in New York City.
Mario Tama Getty Images

It's toy season. For boys, one of the hottest items on the market this year builds on an ancient concept: the spinning top. The tops are called Beyblades, and I discovered them on the playground of my son's elementary school, where I saw this pack of boys, huddled around something that looked possibly illicit. I was suspicious, but now I let them do the same thing at home.

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The Two-Way
6:39 am
Mon December 12, 2011

Funeral Today For Virginia Tech Officer; Shooter's Family Offers Condolences

Family, friends, students, faculty members and government officials will gather today at 2 p.m. ET in Virginia Tech's Cassell Coliseum to remember campus police officer Deriek Crouse.

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