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8:29 am
Thu August 18, 2011

Obama Calls For Syria's President To Resign

Originally published on Thu August 18, 2011 8:30 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, host:

President Obama today released a written statement calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to resign. In his statement, President Obama condemned, quote, "the disgraceful attacks on Syrian civilians." Secretary of State Hillary Clinton echoed that call in an announcement from the State Department.

Secretary HILLARY CLINTON (State Department): Assad is standing in their way. For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for him to step aside and leave this transition to the Syrians themselves.

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Around the Nation
8:28 am
Thu August 18, 2011

Seneca Nation's New Chief Seeks To 'Change Course'

Seneca Nation president Robert Odawi Porter has sued New York several times to prevent the state from taxing native tobacco sales. And he's pressing the state to pay millions in rent for two Interstates that cross Seneca land. Even so, he's made few enemies.
David Sommerstein for NPR

Earlier this month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he's "actively" considering legalizing gambling in the state to raise revenue. That would create competition for casinos owned by New York's native nations.

Casino and tobacco sales have turned the Seneca nation, south of Buffalo, from an impoverished territory to the fifth-largest employer in the region.

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The Two-Way
8:21 am
Thu August 18, 2011

Markets Plunge On Worries About A Wold Economy Slowdown

Just when you thought the markets had stabilized, it looks like today will bring another rough and tumble day on Wall Street.

The Dow plunged 500 points, more than 4 percent, in early trading, while the S&P was down 4.5 percent and Nasdaq was down close to 5 percent.

The tumble follows a poor day for world markets. ABC News reports the selloff comes in response to worries about the stability of European lenders and worries about a world economic slowdown:

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The Two-Way
8:11 am
Thu August 18, 2011

ATF Denies 'Fast And Furious' Supervisors Received Promotions

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives denied a report from The Los Angeles Times that supervisors of ATF's controversial "Fast and Furious" operation were promoted.

The ATF said the supervisors were "laterally transferred."

"Fast and Furious" was a sting operation that sold weapons and allowed them to cross the U.S./Mexico border in an effort to bring in the bigger fish. What happened, however, is that the guns sold by the operation ended up being used in killings. The operation is now facing legal scrutiny.

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The Two-Way
7:38 am
Thu August 18, 2011

White House Calls On Syrian President To Step Down

In his first explicit demand, President Obama called on Syrian President Bashar Assad to leave power. The White House issued a written statement praising the protesters' "pursuit of a peaceful transition" and "strongly condemning" the Syrian regime's "brutality."

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The Two-Way
6:20 am
Thu August 18, 2011

Developing: Attacks Kill Several, Wound Dozens In Israel

Bus 392 sits on the highway running from Beersheva to Eilat, with windows broken following a gun attack near the Israel-Egypt border.
Yehuda Ben Itah Getty Images

"Five people were killed and dozens were wounded Thursday in a series of terrorist attacks on Israeli targets approximately 20 kilometers [12 miles] north of the southern city of Eilat, close to the border with Egypt," Israel's Haaretz.com is reporting.

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The Two-Way
5:55 am
Thu August 18, 2011

VIDEO: Christine O'Donnell Walks Out on CNN's Piers Morgan

Piers Morgan, left, and Christine O'Donnell before she left the set last night.
CNN.com

It's been a while since we checked in on Christine O'Donnell, the Tea Party/Republican candidate for Senate last year in Delaware.

Last night, she landed back in the news because of an on-air dust-up with CNN's Piers Morgan that ended when O'Donnell removed her microphone and walked off the show mid-broadcast.

CNN has posted video of the departure moment here and made it available for others to embed, so we'll add it below.

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The Two-Way
5:20 am
Thu August 18, 2011

Reports: U.S. To Call On Assad To Step Down; S&P Being Investigated

Good morning.

Among the interesting stories that broke overnight:

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Politics
2:36 am
Thu August 18, 2011

Can Low-Key Sen. Murray Guide Supercommittee?

Get ready to hear the word supercommittee a lot this fall. It's the bipartisan committee created by the recent debt ceiling deal, which has until Thanksgiving to figure out how to cut more than $1 trillion from the deficit.

One of the panel's co-chairman is Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington. With Congress in recess, Murray is back home, doing the obligatory factory tours. She was at Machinists, Inc. on Seattle's industrial south side on Wednesday.

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Games & Humor
10:01 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

The Addictive Appeal Of Bananagrams

Players form words from a pile of tiles in the center. Once all the tiles have been picked, the first to finish yells "Bananas!"
Flickr/moonlightbulb

A game out of Rhode Island is fast becoming a major player in the board game industry. Bananagrams, as the company and game are called, is an anagram puzzle built for speed; think of Scrabble with no board or complicated scoring.

And despite the down economy, the company that makes the game is thriving.

More Fun Than A ...

The first time Seth Snyder played Bananagrams, he became an addict. It made sense — the 25-year-old industrial designer is into word games and puzzles — but nothing had him this hooked.

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Law
10:01 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

Verdict In Katrina Shooting Buoys Police Reform

Ted Jackson The Times-Picayune /Landov

On Aug. 5, a federal jury handed down one of the most sweeping verdicts in the modern history of American police brutality cases. Five New Orleans police officers were convicted of various roles in gunning down civilians in the days after Hurricane Katrina, and then covering it up. Five other officers pleaded guilty.

The Danziger Bridge case, as it's called, adds momentum to a reform effort already under way. The Department of Justice says it's committed to cleaning up the New Orleans Police Department, once and for all.

'This Will Not Stand'

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Small Businesses, Big Problems
10:01 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

Wage Rules Twist Steel Company's Growth Plans

Precision Ironworks President Steve Leighton, right, says government regulations are keeping his company from growing.
Wendy Kaufman NPR

Fourth of a five-part series

Despite the weak economy, Precision Iron Works — a small business in Pacific, Wash. — is hoping to expand, but government rules and regulations are making it more difficult, its president says.

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Economy
10:01 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

Why Does The U.S. Sneeze When Europe Gets A Cold?

The crisis in Europe is one of the underlying causes of recent wild swings in U.S. stock markets. U.S. bank stocks in particular suffer badly with any sign that Europe's debt crisis might be worsening.

But the U.S. financial sector's vulnerabilities in Europe are hard to quantify.

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Health
10:01 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

Benefits For Severely Disabled Children Scrutinized

To those who believe the federal Supplemental Security Income program for severely disabled children is a lifesaver and not a boondoggle, Hulston Poe is a great example.

The 4-year-old was diagnosed with severe ADHD last October, after more than a year of violent temper tantrums, and kicked out of preschool. Case workers said there wasn't much they could do for him.

"We were at a standstill," says his mother, Suzanne Poe, who was scraping by as a single parent of two in Des Moines, Iowa.

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The Two-Way
5:23 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

Riot Planner 'Somewhat Shocked' At Four-Year Sentence; Plans Appeal

It seems likely that two British men sentenced to serve four years in prison for plotting riots — which did not take place — will appeal their sentences. Their punishments were handed down less than a week after Britain was seized by fiery riots.

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Law
4:33 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

States May Have To Re-Adopt Deportation Program

There was heated testimony on Wednesday night in Chicago at a hearing about a key Obama Administration immigration program. The public meetings are providing a noisy venue for protesters who want the program dismantled. Immigrant advocates, meanwhile, are challenging the very existence of the federal Secure Communities program and are pinning many of their hopes on the governor of Illinois who opposes the federal plan.

Program Has Vocal Critics, Supporters

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The Two-Way
4:29 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

Libyan Rebels Make Gains, And The U.S. Sends More Drones To Region

A Libyan rebel fighter leans on a bicycle as he patrols the empty streets of the residential area of the port of Brega Monday. The city represents the eastern front of the rebels' attempt to isolate Moammar Gadhafi in Tripoli.
Gianluigi Guercia AFP/Getty Images

Libyan rebels are fighting to isolate Moammar Gadhafi in Tripoli, as their offensive in the strategic city of Zawiya continues to gain ground. Rebel forces launched their fight for the western port this past weekend, hoping to cut one of Gadhafi's main supply lines from Tunisia.

In another development Wednesday, the United States sent two more Predator drones to its military force near Libya, which has helped take control of the country's skies. The AP reports:

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Conflict In Libya
3:43 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

As Libyan Rebels Advance, Civilians Flee The Coast

A Libyan rebel prays with his weapons in the coastal town of Zawiya, 30 miles west of Tripoli, Libya, on Aug. 16. The rebels have entered many parts of the town, but Moammar Gadhafi's forces are battling to prevent a full rebel takeover.
Giulio Petrocco AP

After weeks with little movement on the battlefield, the dynamic of the Libyan war has changed.

As the rebels came charging down from the Western Mountains and pushed into the important coastal town of Zawiya, they are no longer the ones who appear vulnerable.

Increasingly, Moammar Gadhafi's strongholds, including the capital Tripoli, appear isolated.

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The Record
3:40 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

Who Is Inspecting Outdoor Stages?

The stage collapses at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis on Aug. 13. The stage fell just before country duo Sugarland were scheduled to perform, killing at least four people and injuring as many as 40.
Joey Foley Getty Images

Investigators are looking for clues about what led to the tragic collapse of an outdoor concert stage at the Indiana State Fair. Five people were killed on Saturday when a 60-mph gust of wind blew the roof and metal scaffolding onto a crowd that was waiting for the band Sugarland to start playing.

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Environment
3:00 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

Caribbean Coral Catch Disease From Sewage

White pox disease on a frond of the endangered elkhorn coral on Carysfort Reef in the Florida Keys. The bacteria the overlying coral tissue, exposing the coral's white limestone skeleton underneath.
James W. Porter University of Georgia

Human beings occasionally get diseases from animals, such as swine flu, rabies and anthrax. A new study finds that humans can also spread disease to wildlife, with grim results. A bacterium from our guts is now rampaging through coral reefs in the Caribbean.

Those reefs were already in slow decline, but they took a huge hit starting in 1996, when a disease called white pox appeared in the Florida Keys.

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Shots - Health Blog
2:53 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

For Love Or Insurance? Rabbi Seeks Young Wife To Lower Health Costs

Insurance is a top priority for Rabbi Craig Ezring.
Courtesy of Rabbi Craig Ezring

When Rabbi Craig Ezring's annual health insurance costs soared 38 percent this year to a whopping $18,636, he did more than just complain.

He went looking for a young wife.

For several years, the Boca Raton, Fla., rabbi had been getting coverage through a small corporation he formed with his wife. When she died four years ago, he thought the cost of his insurance coverage would drop. Instead it rose.

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The Two-Way
2:41 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

Thousands Of South Koreans Join Suit Against Apple Over Location Tracking

The law firm handling a new suit seeking damages for Apple's location tracking gathered plaintiffs at a website called"sue apple," seen here in a screengrab.
sueapple.co.kr

In July, a South Korean court awarded $932 in damages to a man who sued Apple over the iPhone's ability to track users' location — and store the data for up to a year. Now, around 27,000 South Koreans are making the same complaint, and seeking the same award.

If Apple loses in court, it may have to pay a total of $25.7 million, to match the original judgment of 1 million Korean won in damages for each plaintiff.

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The Two-Way
2:32 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

Ambassador Locke Picks Up His Own Coffee, Gains 'Hero' Status Among Chinese

Some pictures of the brand new U.S. ambassador to China are causing quite a stir. There's no scandal, instead the pictures have the Chinese reconsidering how their own public servants should act.

And it's all because of a coffee break.

We'll explain: Someone took a picture of Ambassador Gary Locke buying his own coffee at Starbucks in the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. And, then, later pictures showed Locke and his family arriving at a Chinese airport carrying their own bags.

Many Chinese were incredulous.

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Politics
2:09 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

Pa. Senator On Deficit Panel A Tea Party Favorite

The legislation that finally resolved the debt-ceiling debate earlier this summer also created a panel of 12 lawmakers charged with finding more than $1 trillion in cuts to the federal deficit.

The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, dubbed the "supercommittee," has a big job to finish by a Thanksgiving deadline.

Among the six Democrats and six Republicans appointed to the group is Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), a Tea Party favorite who was swept into office with the GOP tide last year.

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Middle East
2:04 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

In Syrian Conflict, Tactics Grow Increasingly Brutal

This screen grab, taken from an amateur YouTube video, shows a crowd beating a man in the eastern Syrian city of Deir al-Zour. This video cannot be independently verified.
YouTube

Originally published on Wed August 17, 2011 7:40 pm

Syrian tanks and gunships are attacking neighborhoods in towns and cities around the country that have been hotbeds of anti-government protest, as the government pushes ahead with what's being called a Ramadan offensive.

Activists say the latest, most grisly trend is to detain protesters, torture them to death, then release their bodies for all to see. Activists say of the 70 deaths in detention they've documented so far, nearly 40 have been in the central city of Homs.

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It's All Politics
1:45 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

Obama Prepares Ground For Campaign Against 'Do-Nothing Congress'

President Obama works rope line in Atkinson, Ill., Aug. 17, 2011.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Wed August 24, 2011 10:39 am

It's safe to say President Obama probably isn't going to get much of anything that can be seen as an initiative of his administration through Congress in the next 15 months.

Obama and congressional Republicans have two entirely different prescriptions for how to create jobs, for instance. Obama emphasizes investments in infrastructure that would employ construction workers, for instance.

Meanwhile, congressional Republicans argue that their agenda of tax cuts and fewer regulations would cure a too-high jobless rate.

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The Two-Way
1:11 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

In India, Thousands Protest In Support Of Anti-Corruption Activist

Tens of thousands of Indians took the streets in a peaceful protest today. The protesters came out in support of Anna Hazare, an anti-corruption crusader, who has captured the imagination of the country and forced the government into a corner.

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Business
12:52 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

Companies Sit On Cash; Reluctant To Invest, Hire

Google plans to buy Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion in cash. At the end of 2010, Google was sitting on nearly $35 billion, and it's not alone.
Paul Sakuma AP

Originally published on Wed August 17, 2011 7:40 pm

Google's plans to buy Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion might seem like a lot of money, but the Web giant can easily afford it. At the end of last year, Google was sitting on nearly $35 billion in cash.

And it's not alone. The U.S. economy may be slowing to a crawl, but a lot of individual companies are richer than ever. They're being cautious about how they spend their cash, though.

"Companies are generating and maintaining more cash than they have aggregate uses for," says Rick Lane, a senior vice president at Moody's.

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The Two-Way
12:44 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

Swiss Shoppers Flock To Euro Zone, Boosted By Franc's Surge In Value

After a day of shopping, residents of Geneva get on a bus to head home this past Saturday, carrying 250 euros' worth of groceries they bought at the Carrefour supermarket in Ferney-Voltaire, France.
John Heilprin AP

Originally published on Wed August 17, 2011 2:03 pm

The Swiss franc has emerged as a safe haven currency for investors spooked by economic uncertainty in the U.S. and the European Union's euro zone. In the past year, the franc's value has soared — and now Swiss shoppers are going bargain-hunting in Europe's malls and shops.

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Science
12:10 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

Fresh Allegations Leveled Against Polar Bear Scientist

The polar bear researcher who was suspended from his government job last month has received a new letter from investigators that lays out actions he took that are described as being "highly inappropriate" under the rules that apply to managing federal contracts.

According to the letter, wildlife biologist Charles Monnett told investigators that he assisted a scientist in preparing that scientist's proposal for a government contract. Monnett then served as chair of a committee that reviewed that proposal.

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