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Around the Nation
2:16 pm
Wed August 31, 2011

Phila. Police Enlist Private Cameras To Capture Crime

A camera is mounted on a building near Temple University in Philadelphia. Humberto Fernandini, with the company that owns the building, says the owners plan to register their cameras for the police department's new program.
Elizabeth Fiedler for NPR

The Philadelphia Police Department is building a new crime-fighting weapon: a map of privately owned security cameras across the city. Police are encouraging residents and businesses to register their own cameras through a program called SafeCam. It could be the early stages of Big Brother, but it's also a cost-effective way for police to have more eyes on the streets.

A large white camera stands out against the brick front of a row house near Temple University in Philadelphia. Humberto Fernandini works for the company that owns the building with the camera.

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U.S.
2:08 pm
Wed August 31, 2011

Panel Finds Widespread Waste In Wartime Contracts

Waste and fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan has cost U.S. taxpayers as much as $60 billion and the tally could grow, according to a government study released Wednesday.

In its final report to Congress, the nonpartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting said lax oversight of contractors, poor planning and corruption resulted in losses of "at least $31 billion, and possibly as much as $60 billion" out of some $206 billion in total payments to contractors by the end of the current fiscal year.

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Shots - Health Blog
2:01 pm
Wed August 31, 2011

Odds Of Drinking A Soda Are A Coin-Flip For Americans

How much soda is in your cart?
Tim Boyle Getty Images

Did you have a sugary soda today? How about a full-calorie sports drink?

Chance are pretty good that you consumed something sugary (or high fructose corn syrupy) in the last 24 hours, according to findings just out from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On any particular day, half the people in the U.S. drink a soda, fruit or sports drink, or similar calorie-rich beverage.

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It's All Politics
1:30 pm
Wed August 31, 2011

Ron Paul: 'Philosophy Of Liberty And The Constitution' Has Been Vindicated

Republican presidential candidate and Texas congressman Ron Paul at Iowa State University in Ames on Aug. 13, 2011.
Scott Olson Getty Images

The Republican presidential candidate who's been ignored by many in the news media spent 20 minutes on the air with Talk of the Nation's Neal Conan and Political Junkie Ken Rudin this afternoon.

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Food
1:21 pm
Wed August 31, 2011

Some U.S. Farms Trade Tobacco For A Taste Of Africa

A Liberian immigrant picks African peppers on the Bowling family farm in Charles County, Md. It's one of a handful of farms experimenting with growing African produce to cater to the D.C. region's large African immigrant community.
Marina Dominguez NPR

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 9:28 am

For the past 10 years, farmers in tobacco-growing states have been slowly saying goodbye to that old leaf in favor of other crops.

Of course, there's lots of corn and soy replacing tobacco, but some farms are testing out specialty crops that appeal to recent immigrants.

George Bowling's farm in southern Maryland is one such place. He started growing African vegetables about a year ago, but he has worked on farms growing corn and tobacco for much of his 70-something years.

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The Two-Way
1:04 pm
Wed August 31, 2011

Would An AT&T, T-Mobile Merger Hurt Consumers?

This June 2, 2010 file photo shows the AT&T logo in Washington DC. The US Justice Deparment will seek to block AT&T's proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile.
Etienne Franchi AFP/Getty Images

When two big companies announce plans to merge, there's always grumbling about what it will do to the market and especially the consumer.

The Justice Department said today that it would try to block the merger of AT&T Inc. and T-Mobile USA Inc. because it would "substantially lessen competition" in the wireless market.

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It's All Politics
12:54 pm
Wed August 31, 2011

GOP Primary Scramble Could Mean 2012 Voting Starts Early. Maybe Even In 2011.

Campaign posters are seen in a snowbank outside a polling place in Jan. 2008 in Manchester, N.H.
Mario Tama Getty Images

Chaos.

Crisis.

And Christmas....in Keokuk, or Keene?

Yes, political junkies, we're talking about the completely-up-in-the-air 2012 Republican presidential contest calendar.

On paper, it's scheduled to kick off Feb. 6 with the Iowa caucuses, followed a week later by New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary.

But those of you keeping score at home would be well advised to use a pencil.

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Around the Nation
12:40 pm
Wed August 31, 2011

As Water Recedes, Clean Up Of A Soupy Mess Begins

Employees at Barber's Farm in Windburgh, N.Y. shovel muddy tomatoes left in the wake of flooding from Hurricane Irene.
Jeff Brady NPR

Much of the nation may have moved on from last week's hurricane, but about two million people are still without electricity in the northeast. And now that flood waters from Hurricane Irene have mostly receded, residents are shoveling muck from their houses.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo estimates damage in his state at about $1 billion.

"Over 600 homes destroyed. Six towns inundated. One hundred fifty major highways have been damaged. Twenty-two state bridges closed," reported Cuomo at a press conference.

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The Two-Way
12:05 pm
Wed August 31, 2011

In Vermont, Rough Roads Reconnected To All But One Community

Some of the damage: Route 107 near Bethel, Vt.
Chip Allen Getty Images

"Extremely rough" roads have been reopened to all but one of the communities in Vermont that were devastated by floods after Hurricane Irene passed over New England, the state's Emergency Management agency reports.

Wardsboro, which is still cut off, could be reconnected later today, officials add.

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National Security
12:04 pm
Wed August 31, 2011

Report: U.S. Safer Than On 9/11, But Not Safe Enough

A newspaper left by visitors on May 2 in Shanksville, Pa., at the fence surrounding the crash site of Flight 93. The chairmen of the 9/11 Commission say the U.S. has improved security over the past decade, but gaps in the system remain.
Jeff Swensen Getty Images

Ten years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the United States is "undoubtedly safer and more secure," but gaps in coordination among the government agencies responsible for security remain a problem.

That's the conclusion reached by two highly influential analysts of American security, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton.

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The Picture Show
12:03 pm
Wed August 31, 2011

Hubble Captures Time-Lapse Videos Of Stars Being Born

Stop-motion videos show footage of star formation.
NASA

The birth of star is just as traumatic as the birth of a person, only on a much larger scale.

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The Two-Way
11:35 am
Wed August 31, 2011

Provocative Read: 10 'More Important' Events Than The Sept. 11 Attacks

As the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks nears, news outlets and blogs are taking their turns at anniversary stories.

Foreign Policy offers this from blogger/author David J. Rothkopf: "10 events that were more important than 9/11." Counting down, Rothkopf says they are:

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The Two-Way
11:15 am
Wed August 31, 2011

140 Mexican Schools Shut Down Amid Extortion Fears

Originally published on Wed August 31, 2011 1:40 pm

The casino arson last week in Monterrey in which 52 people were killed really put a face on just how serious the drug violence in Mexico has become. Police believe that arson was likely the result of extortion.

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Shots - Health Blog
10:57 am
Wed August 31, 2011

Latest Frontier In Reducing Childhood Mortality: Neonatal Deaths

Changes by country in neonatal mortality rates between 1990 and 2009.
PLoS Medicine

If you want to live a long life, it's critical to survive the first month after birth, when humans are especially vulnerable.

Neonatal mortality — death within the first 28 days of birth — is getting more public health attention, as countries around the world strive to meet a United Nations goal of dramatically reducing childhood mortality by 2015.

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It's All Politics
10:20 am
Wed August 31, 2011

Obama's Address To Joint Session Would Be Same Time As GOP Debate

President Obama just told House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) that he wants to address a joint session of Congress on Sept. 7, at 8 p.m. ET, to lay out his latest jobs plan.

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The Two-Way
10:09 am
Wed August 31, 2011

Obama Asks To Address Congress Next Week To Lay Out Jobs Plan

President Obama wants to lay out his latest jobs plan before a joint session of Congress next Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET.

In a letter sent to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and just released to the news media, the president writes that:

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Economy
9:43 am
Wed August 31, 2011

What's Left To Fix The Economy If It Gets Worse?

With the U.S. economy stuck in neutral, analysts are busy adjusting their forecasts to include the possibility of another recession. Most aren't predicting another downturn, they're just saying that the odds have increased.

Meanwhile, policymakers at the Federal Reserve are divided about what to do next. Some are arguing for more aggressive action while others think that would be a mistake, according to minutes from their last meeting released on Tuesday.

Both the Fed and Congress are running out of ideas that they haven't already tried.

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The Two-Way
9:15 am
Wed August 31, 2011

Justice Dept. Sues To Block AT&T's Acquisition Of T-Mobile

The Justice Department just confirmed that it has "filed a civil antitrust lawsuit to block AT&T Inc.'s proposed acquisition of T-Mobile USA Inc."

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The Two-Way
8:55 am
Wed August 31, 2011

As Much As $60 Billion Of 'Waste And Fraud' In War-Related Contracts

"At least $31 billion, and possibly as much as $60 billion, has been lost to contract waste and fraud in America's contingency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan," the independent and bipartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan reported this morning.

That's out of the $206 billion that's expected to have been spent on contracts and grants in those two countries by the end of September, the commission says.

In its report, the commission adds that:

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Economy
8:14 am
Wed August 31, 2011

Demand For Autos Drives Up Factory Orders

U.S. factory orders rose strongly in July on the biggest jump in demand for autos in more than eight years and a surge in commercial airplane orders. The increase suggests supply chain disruptions created by the Japan crisis are easing.

Factory orders climbed 2.4 percent, the largest increase since March, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. Orders for motor vehicles and parts rose 9.8 percent, the largest one-month gain since January 2003.

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The Two-Way
8:00 am
Wed August 31, 2011

Mucho Congratos To 'ElBloombito'

twitter.com/ElBloombito

One guy on The Two-Way's masthead speaks Spanish, and it isn't this blogger.

So I can't really poke fun at New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) for his efforts to hablar espanol during the news conferences he held before, during and after Hurricane Irene.

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The Two-Way
7:10 am
Wed August 31, 2011

'9/11 Commission' Leaders: Nation's Security Isn't What It Should Be

National Security Preparedness Group

Originally published on Wed August 31, 2011 7:13 am

While they believe "our country is undoubtedly safer and more secure than it was a decade ago," the co-chairman of the 9/11 Commission warn today that some of their panel's most important recommendations remain unfilled.

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The Two-Way
6:15 am
Wed August 31, 2011

Layoffs Slowed In August, But Were Still Far Above Year Ago

Originally published on Wed August 31, 2011 6:44 am

Government agencies and private employers said this month that they plan to lay off 51,114 workers, the outplacement consultants Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported this morning.

And while that's down 23 percent from the 66,414 layoffs announced in July, the August total was still "up 47 percent from a year ago," the firm said.

What's more, it added:

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The Two-Way
5:55 am
Wed August 31, 2011

Today's Headlines: Irene's Aftermath; Sept. 11 Panel's Report

Good morning.

States from North Carolina north to New England continue to cope with the aftereffects of Hurricane Irene, as we reported earlier. The Associated Press says 2.5 million customers still don't have power and that the death toll now stands at 44 people in 13 states. Flood waters continue to be huge problems in New Jersey and states to the north.

Meanwhile, other stories making headlines include:

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The Two-Way
5:30 am
Wed August 31, 2011

Rebuilding After Irene Is Not Going To Boost The Economy

Originally published on Wed August 31, 2011 6:40 am

While Hurricane Irene may, according to The New York Times, "prove to be one of the 10 costliest catastrophes in the nation's history," the recovery efforts as work gets going to repair the estimated $7 billion to $10 billion in damages are not going to give the overall U.S. economy a much-needed lift, our Planet Money colleague Adam Davidson says.

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Around the Nation
10:01 pm
Tue August 30, 2011

N.J. Chef: 'It's A Disaster In Here' After Irene

Sallee Tee's restaurant in Monmouth Beach, N.J. was flooded following Hurricane Irene.
Courtesy of Andrew West

Many of the places in Hurricane Irene's path were big tourist destinations: North Carolina's Outer Banks; Cape Cod; Ocean City, Md. Some businesses in those areas escaped relatively unscathed, allowing managers to breathe a sigh of relief and hope for a big turnout on Labor Day weekend.

Others weren't so lucky — places like Sallee Tee's Grille, blocks from the ocean in Monmouth Beach, N.J. It's a big operation that serves everything from jumbo sea scallops, to deli fare, to sushi.

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Politics
10:01 pm
Tue August 30, 2011

Perry Revives Social Security 'Ponzi Scheme' Rhetoric

When Texas Gov. Rick Perry was asked about Social Security during a campaign stop in Ottumwa, Iowa, last weekend, he didn't mince words. He suggested that younger workers who are required to pay into the retirement system are the victims of a government swindle.

"We need to have a conversation with America, just like we're having right here today, and admit that is a Ponzi scheme for these young people," Perry said. "The idea that they're working and paying into Social Security today, the current program, that it's going to be there for them, is a lie."

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Closing Walter Reed
10:01 pm
Tue August 30, 2011

In 2007, Walter Reed Was The Army's Wakeup Call

At Walter Reed, Oscar Olguin and his family were visited by President Bush and first lady Laura Bush. But Olguin says that when he left the hospital, he had to fend for himself.
Courtesy of Oscar Olguin

For more than a century, the Walter Reed Army Medical Center was known as the hospital that catered to presidents and generals. Eisenhower was treated and died there. So too did Generals "Black Jack" Pershing, Douglas MacArthur and George Marshall.

But in recent years, Walter Reed was shorthand for scandal.

A 2007 series that dominated the front page of The Washington Post told of decrepit housing and wounded soldiers left to fend for themselves.

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Your Money
10:01 pm
Tue August 30, 2011

A Push To Curb Auto Service Contract Scams

iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed August 31, 2011 10:01 pm

You've likely seen the commercials for vehicle service contracts on TV promising to save customers thousands of dollars in repairs to their older cars and trucks.

And St. Louis is like the Silicon Valley of those vehicle service contract companies. But while the industry continues to thrive, Missouri's Better Business Bureau logged almost 1,000 complaints about it last year alone.

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Shots - Health Blog
10:01 pm
Tue August 30, 2011

Cell Phones Could Help Doctors Stay Ahead Of An Epidemic

Two women check their cell phones as they hawk their wares on a bridge over the Artibonite river, whose waters are believed to be the source of Haiti's 2010 cholera outbreak.
NICHOLAS KAMM AFP/Getty Images

The year 2010 was a very bad one for Haiti. It started with an earthquake that killed over 300,000 people, mostly in the crowded capital of Port-au-Prince. After that, cholera originating in a U.N. camp broke out in a northern province and eventually spread to the city.

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