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Economy
10:01 am
Wed August 17, 2011

Rating The Wall Street Ratings Agencies

Frank Partnoy is a law professor at the University of San Diego.
Fergus Greer courtesy of Frank Partnoy

Earlier this month, Standard & Poor's announced that it had downgraded the U.S. credit rating from AAA to AA+, citing political risks and the nation's rising debt burden. It was the first time in history that the U.S. credit rating was lowered.

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The Two-Way
9:03 am
Wed August 17, 2011

Report: Syrian Government Is Tracking, Intimidating Dissidents Abroad

The Wall Street Journal has an exclusive report today that sheds light on just how far the reach of Syria's police state extends: Talking to U.S. officials and Syrian expatriates in the U.S., the paper found that the regime of President Bashar Assad is tracking and intimidating dissidents living abroad.

The Journal reports:

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The Two-Way
8:28 am
Wed August 17, 2011

Stolen Rembrandt Found In A Church

Los Angeles Sheriff lead detective Clarence Williams, left, and Los Angeles County sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore, right, display the recovered $250,000 quill pen Rembrandt drawing known as "The Judgment."
Gus Ruelas AP

Originally published on Wed August 17, 2011 11:36 am

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Shots - Health Blog
8:05 am
Wed August 17, 2011

Bargain CT Scans For Smokers: More Harm Than Good?

A CT scan of a human lung.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed August 17, 2011 12:57 pm

Hospitals around the country have started offering deeply discounted CT scans for smokers worried about lung cancer.

Their pitches point to recent findings that screening current or former heavy smokers with CT scans before they show symptoms of lung cancer could modestly reduce their risk of dying from the disease. But some experts question whether the strategy is simply a marketing ploy that could bring more harm than good.

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The Two-Way
7:58 am
Wed August 17, 2011

China Denies Inspecting U.S. Stealth Helicopter In Pakistan

In a statement, yesterday, China denied a report that Pakistan allowed it to inspect the remnants of the specially modified Black Hawk helicopter that malfunctioned during the Osama bin Laden raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

The BBC reports:

"Those reports are entirely groundless and very ridiculous," the Chinese defence ministry said in a statement.

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The Two-Way
7:27 am
Wed August 17, 2011

Tobacco Firms Sue FDA Over Graphic Warning Labels

Coming next year to cigarette packs across the nation.
FDA

Four tobacco firms filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration arguing that new regulations that require them to put graphic warning labels on cigarette packages violate their constitutional rights.

In a statement, a lawyer who represents Lorillard, Inc., the third largest manufacturer of cigarettes in the U.S., said the regulations "violate the First Amendment."

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The Two-Way
6:47 am
Wed August 17, 2011

White House Overstates Rural Role In Military

There they sat with the President of the United States at the Old Market Deli in Cannon Falls, Minnesota, five veterans of our two most recent wars. With a turkey sandwich on his plate, Mr. Obama acknowledged their service, and the disproportionate sacrifice small towns and rural counties have made in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the military in general.

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The Two-Way
6:10 am
Wed August 17, 2011

'Straight Up Revenge' Drives University Of Miami Booster

Yahoo! Sports' investigation.
sports.yahoo.com

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

It's a story that has sent "shockwaves through the world of college sports," as NPR's David Greene said earlier today on Morning Edition:

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The Two-Way
5:25 am
Wed August 17, 2011

AP: After Labor Day, Obama To Roll Out New Ideas On Job Growth

Originally published on Wed August 17, 2011 6:31 am

Good morning.

President Obama will be in Illinois today, where he'll wind up a three-day bus tour of the Midwest that included stops in Iowa and Minnesota — key battleground states in the 2012 election.

As he wraps up that trip, The Associated Press reports that following his upcoming vacation on Martha's Vineyard, the president "will give a major speech in early September to unveil new ideas for speeding up job growth and helping the struggling poor and middle class."

According to the AP, it's been told by a "senior administration official" that:

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Shots - Health Blog
10:01 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

How The Merger Of Two Health Care Giants May Affect Your Wallet

Express Scripts and Medco Health Services say their merger will help control prescription drug costs. But many prescriptions may only be available by mail, which may not sit well with some consumers.
Sean Locke iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue August 23, 2011 9:42 am

You probably haven't heard of either Express Scripts or Medco Health Services, but their plans to merge in a $29 billion deal, announced last month, may have an impact on your pocketbook.

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Election 2012
10:01 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

Texas Job Growth Trend Stretches Back For Decades

Republican presidential candidate Texas Gov. Rick Perry meets with business leaders at a lunch in Dubuque, Iowa, on Tuesday.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Wed August 24, 2011 8:56 am

As Gov. Rick Perry of Texas campaigns for the Republican presidential nomination, he's promoting his record in his home state, which has created more than 265,000 jobs in the past two years.

Perry says he would do for the nation what he's done for the Lone Star State.

The economy of Texas is growing at roughly twice the national average, but the question is: How much did Rick Perry and his low-tax, low-regulation philosophy influence that growth?

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Politics
10:01 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

Supercommittee At Risk With Campaign Donors

The 12 lawmakers on the new deficit-cutting supercommittee have their hands full. They're under orders to bring Congress a plan for cutting the deficit by more than a trillion dollars, and to do it before Thanksgiving.

At the same time, they're also raising funds for their next campaigns, and that could be a problem if the supercommittee is under pressure to bite the hand that feeds them money.

Last week, White House spokesman Jay Carney said that concerns about supercommittee members and their fundraising are silly.

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Small Businesses, Big Problems
10:01 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

Big Business Freezes Out New York Ice Company

Given the obstacles faced by his ice company, John Natuzzi Jr. says he doubts whether the family business will pass on to a fifth generation.
Beth Fertig WYNC

Originally published on Tue August 23, 2011 9:35 am

Third of a five-part series

Small businesses are critical to the economy, especially as a source of jobs. But the recession has been hard on them: Consumers aren't spending, and banks aren't lending.

And one ice manufacturer in Queens, N.Y., is trying its best to not be frozen by the competition.

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National Security
10:01 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

Alleged Arms Dealer's Past Debated Before Trial

A Russian businessman accused of being one of the world's most notorious arms dealers is due in a federal court in New York on Wednesday for an important pretrial hearing.

Law enforcement authorities have been chasing Viktor Bout for decades, tracking how he went from a little-known Soviet military officer in the 1980s to a multimillionaire who allegedly provided assault weapons to brutal regimes in Angola and the Congo in the late 1990s.

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Sweetness And Light
8:00 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

You're Off The Team: The Most Unkindest Cut

Now is the time when The Turk appears –– he being that mythic figure in the NFL camps who materializes one night with those words of doom for the poor player before him: Pick up your playbook and go see the coach.

It is, of course, not the messenger who actually performs the dirty deed. But for decades now, the person who tells the player to report to the boss has been known as The Turk –– presumably because some old player with a vivid imagination envisioned an Ottoman warrior, wielding a scimitar sword that, more dramatically than any other, said cut.

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The Two-Way
5:42 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

Yes, That Jerk Really Does Make More Than You (And Research Might Prove It)

Is the guy on the left "highly disagreeable" or a "negotiating genius"?
iStockphoto.com

Anyone who's harbored suspicions that only mean people seem to get ahead in the business world may be glad (or perhaps not) to learn that a new study agrees with them.

While such beliefs are often whispered in the office — and declaimed at volume during happy hour — new research quantifies just how much the nasty seem to profit by the (non-) virtue of their nastiness.

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The Two-Way
3:57 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

SETI Plans To Resume Listening For Aliens Next Month, Thanks To Donations

The SETI Institute's mothballed Allen Telescope Array — which scans the universe for signs of alien life — will soon be up and running again, thanks to more than $200,000 in donations that came from people including actress Jodie Foster and former astronaut Bill Anders.

The telescope array has been shut down since late April, when the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute said it could no longer afford to keep the telescopes operational.

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U.S.
3:36 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

Hillary Clinton: U.S. Diplomacy Is Stretched Thin

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the bruising budget battles in Washington are "casting a pall" over US diplomacy abroad and may hurt America's ability to influence events at a crucial moment in the Middle East.

Clinton joined Defense Secretary Leon Panetta at the National Defense University in Washington on Tuesday to appeal to Congress to come up with a budget deal that doesn't undercut U.S. national security interests.

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The Two-Way
2:59 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

Two Brits Sent To Prison For Facebook 'Riot' Posts

Two British men have been sentenced to four years in prison for starting separate Facebook pages as a way to organize riots in Chesire, apparently inspired by events in London and other cities. The men were reportedly arrested early in the week of Monday, Aug. 8. The U.K. riots finally began to subside on Wednesday of that week.

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The Two-Way
2:52 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

ATF Promotes Supervisors Of Its Controversial 'Fast And Furious' Operation

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has promoted three managers who were involved in the agency's "Fast and Furious" operation, which allowed weapons to be illegally smuggled across the U.S. border into Mexico.

The Los Angeles Times, which broke the story, reports:

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Shots - Health Blog
2:50 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

As More Women Smoke, Their Risk of Bladder Cancer Grows

An increase in toxic chemicals in cigarettes may also be to blame for the high risk of bladder cancer for women who smoke.
iStockphoto.com

Smoking rates have dropped over the last several years, but they now seem to be stuck at about 20 percent for the nation. And nearly as many women now smoke as men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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It's All Politics
2:48 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

Ron Paul Wears Invisibility Cloak In News Media's Eyes

Busted. That's what we in the news media are in the matter of the presidential campaign of Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.

Famous and not so famous critics have pointed out in the past day that journalists for the most part have ignored Paul even when he succeeds at a level other Republican presidential candidates haven't.

As far as many political reporters have been concerned, the congressman might as well be wearing one of those Harry Potter invisibility cloaks. He's there but we apparently can't see him.

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Research News
2:26 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

Cups Down: Scientists Crack 'The Coffee Ring Effect'

Scientists now know why coffee rings have have dark, well-defined edges, as seen in the image above. The research finding may have implications on the development of inks and paints.
Marina Dominguez NPR

A lot of simple things in science turn out to be quite complicated. Take, for example, coffee: you may have noticed that a spilled drop of coffee doesn't dry as a brown blob, but rather as a clear blob with a dark ring around the edge.

It's taken physicists more than a decade to figure out why this effect, known technically as "the coffee ring effect," happens. But now they think they have an answer.

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All Tech Considered
2:12 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

Air Force Eyes Artificial Birds, Bugs That Can Spy

A carbon fiber tobacco moth wing created by Maj. Ryan O'Hara flaps 30 times per second and was photographed using a strobe light.
Noah Adams NPR

At the Wright–Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, some Ph.D. candidates are working on micro air vehicles, or tiny flying machines that are remotely piloted.

The micro machines are often "bio-inspired" — study a bird or an insect and then build one.

"If you close your eyes and think of a fat pigeon, that's about the biggest size that we want to use." says Leslie Perkins, who worked with the micro program at the Air Force Research Laboratory. She says the smallest would be about the size of a dragonfly.

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The Two-Way
2:09 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

Bill Frist: In Somalia, The World Is Responding But The Need Is Greater

Former Senator Bill Frist just came back from a fact finding-finding mission to the border of Kenya and Somalia. He and Jill Biden, the vice president's wife, visited the Dadaab camp, which was designed for 90,000 but its population of Somalian refugees has swollen to 430,000.

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Politics
1:00 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

Mixed Feelings Abound As Obama Visits Iowa

President Obama listens to questions during a Monday town hall meeting in Decorah, Iowa.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Wed August 24, 2011 10:38 am

As President Obama travels on a three-day, three-state Midwestern bus tour to talk about the economy and jobs, one of the places he has visited is the city of Decorah in northeast Iowa.

The tiny college town — whose economy is doing considerably better than the nation as a whole — is friendly territory for the president. Obama carried the county by a wide margin in 2008.

Among voters now, you'll find plenty of loyalists — but also plenty of frustration.

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The Two-Way
12:41 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

Congress' Approval Rating Plummets, Especially Among Independents

The new Gallup poll, which finds that only 13 percent of the U.S. public approves of how Congress is doing its job, is the group's first sampling since the debate over the federal debt ceiling. Many Americans watched an 11th-hour vote on that deal on TV, as pictured here.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

Only 13 percent of the American public approves of how Congress is doing its job, according to a new Gallup poll. The low-water mark ties the all-time low set this past December, when Americans grew tired of the lame-duck Congress.

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Around the Nation
12:39 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

Crumbling Viaduct Divides Seattle

Washington Department of Transportation surveyors Mark McDonald (left) and Richard Torres work atop Alaskan Way Viaduct in downtown Seattle in 2009. The viaduct, which was constructed in the 1950s, is slated to be replaced by a deep-bore tunnel. A 2001 earthquake seriously weakened the structure, and engineers say another hard shake could bring it down.
Stephen Brashear Getty Images

Downtown Seattle is one earthquake away from a transportation catastrophe. The city's last big quake in 2001 seriously weakened an elevated highway called the Alaskan Way Viaduct, and engineers say another good shake could bring the double-decker structure down. Although the city has been living with the threat for 10 years, residents and politicians still can't agree what to do about it.

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Hidden World Of Girls
12:09 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

From China To The U.S.: Student Juggles Two Worlds

Mandy with her parents at the Beijing airport.
Courtesy of Mandy Lu

The end of high school and the beginning of college is a momentous time for any teenager — a time of shifting identities and evolving family relationships. Now imagine going through all of that in a country other than your own. Mandy Lu, 19, did just that. Here are her reflections on the two worlds she straddles — as a college student in Greensboro, N.C., and as the daughter of migrant workers from northeastern China.

A couple months ago, I went back to China for the first time since before I started college in the U.S. It was my first trip home in two years.

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The Two-Way
11:46 am
Tue August 16, 2011

U.S. Public Health Service Official Clarifies Stance On Uniforms

Service members model the Modified Service Dress Blue Sweater. The Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service requires that members wear either the sweater or a windbreaker.
Commissioned Corps of The U.S. Public Health Service

We got an e-mail this morning from Lt. Cmdr. Kyle Lyons of the U.S. Public Health Service, asking that we straighten out a mess we created with our post on sweaters and windbreakers Monday.

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