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Shots - Health Blog
11:36 am
Tue August 2, 2011

Even A Little Exercise Can Help Your Heart

Even 15 minutes off the couch would help.
iStockphoto.com

We all know that exercise is good for us, but sometimes it's can seem too hard to even detach from the couch.

Plus, let's be honest, having the federal government tell us it's a terrific idea to get 2 1/2 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week doesn't really help our motivation much. Sorry.

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The Two-Way
11:35 am
Tue August 2, 2011

In Light Of Budget Deal, Fitch Ratings Says U.S. Keeps Triple-A Rating

The budget deal struck by President Obama and congressional leaders is enough to merit a triple-A credit rating from Fitch Ratings, one of the three big ratings agencies.

Politico reports:

"Agreement was reached on an increase in the United States' debt ceiling and, commensurate with its 'AAA' rating, the risk of sovereign default remains extremely low," the agency said.

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Conflict In Libya
10:52 am
Tue August 2, 2011

Libyan Rebels Wage 'Mad Max' War In The Mountains

A Libyan rebel poses with his antique bolt-action rifle.
Jonathan Levinson for NPR

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 9:36 am

The sleepy towns in the Western Mountains of Libya come to life right before the country's rebels engage in a fight with the forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. The mostly deserted roads suddenly fill with pickup trucks. The rebel fighters bristle with the makeshift weapons that they rely on. The vehicles, some monster trucks, then peel off into the front lines deep in the desert, covered in dried mud that serves as camouflage.

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The Two-Way
10:43 am
Tue August 2, 2011

Senate Approves Bipartisan Debt Ceiling Plan

A screengrab of CSpan's coverage of the Senate vote.
CSpan

Update at 2:07 p.m. ET. President Signs Bill:

President Obama has signed into law a bi-partisan bill that raises the debt ceiling and avoids a government default that analysts as well as the White House warned could have had catastrophic effects on the American economy.

Earlier today, the Senate voted 74-26 to send the bill to the president's desk. The AP reports Obama signed the bill privately in the Oval Office.

Our Original Post:

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The Two-Way
10:41 am
Tue August 2, 2011

U.S. May Alter Rules To Let More Aid Into Somalia

Somali refugees wait at dawn at a registration center at the Dadaab refugee complex in Kenya Tuesday, to receive aid after having been displaced from their homes in southern Somalia by famine.
Tony Karumba AFP/Getty Images

Efforts to help people in southern Somalia, where famine relief efforts have been stymied by al-Shabaab, a group on the U.S. terrorism watchlist, may get easier in the coming weeks. That's because pending changes to U.S. rules will allow aid groups to deliver food in those areas, according to an AP report.

Citing sources who wished to remain anonymous, the AP says:

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The Picture Show
10:36 am
Tue August 2, 2011

Where Does Money Go When It Dies?

Photographs show money that has been removed from circulation.
Will Steacy Courtesy of Michael Mazzeo Gallery

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 9:36 am

We've all desperately tried to force a crumpled dollar bill into a vending machine to no avail. Fortunately, when your dollar is that decrepit, it's on death's door and will likely be removed from circulation.

The average lifespan of a $1 bill, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, is 21 months. Eventually, money is destroyed — either by the Federal Reserve itself, or by the places that create it to begin with: the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and the U.S. Mint. On average, 5 million unfit currency notes are destroyed each day.

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The Two-Way
10:03 am
Tue August 2, 2011

U.S. Consumers Cut Spending; First Decline In Nearly Two Years

Americans put more of their money into savings in June, at the expense of consumer spending — and that came as a surprise to analysts. The month's drop in spending was the first in nearly two years (20 months).

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Health Care
10:00 am
Tue August 2, 2011

Sebelius Defends Birth Control Without Co-Pays

The federal government recently announced that starting Aug. 2012, insurers must offer female preventive health services without extra costs to patients. Host Michel Martin discusses the controversial plan with the Health and Human Services Secretary. Martin also explores what the debt deal means for the Affordable Care Act with a Senior Correspondent from Kaiser Health News.

Economy
10:00 am
Tue August 2, 2011

After Debt Fight, States Crave Stability

The House voted to pass the compromise spending plan Monday night, but drops in federal and state credit ratings remain possible, particularly for South Carolina. To learn about the bill's local ramifications, host Michel Martin speaks with S.C.'s House Rep. for the sixth district, S.C.'s Treasurer, and the mayor Columbia, S.C.

13.7: Cosmos And Culture
9:57 am
Tue August 2, 2011

The Physics Of Real Debt Ceilings: When Nature Says No

Pity the politicians as they struggle to a hammer out a deal on the US debt: the endless negotiations, the late agreements that collapse by the morning news cycle. Everywhere they turn they seem to constrained - hemmed in – by forces pulling in every direction.

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The Two-Way
9:40 am
Tue August 2, 2011

Study Suggests Internet Explorer Users Are, Um, Kind Of Slow

A graph comparing IQs by browser.
AptiQuant

The browser wars are getting personal. A new study gave IQ tests to more than 100,000 English-speaking Internet users from the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia, and New Zealand. Those results were then compared to what browser each person was using to take the test.

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The Two-Way
8:42 am
Tue August 2, 2011

Democratic Party Prepping For Giffords Re-Election Bid

In an interview with CBS' The Early Show, the head of the Democratic party said they expect Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) to "come back to help us full time."

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) said the Democratic National Committee was prepping for a re-election bid in case Giffords decides to run.

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Politics
8:36 am
Tue August 2, 2011

One Final Hurdle: Debt-Ceiling Bill Faces Senate Vote

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid speaks to the media after a meeting of Democratic senators Monday at the U.S. Capitol.
Nicholas Kamm AFP/Getty Images

It seems to be all over but the voting.

Hours before the deadline to avert a U.S. default, the Senate was expected to pass legislation Tuesday in time to send it to President Obama and end the self-inflicted debt-ceiling crisis that has shaken confidence in the nation's credit and its political leaders.

The compromise bill, which easily passed the House on Monday night, is virtually assured to clear the Senate by a bipartisan tally. The president has promised to sign it into law almost immediately.

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Politics
8:20 am
Tue August 2, 2011

Inside The Tea Party's Rising Influence

The battle over the debt ceiling may be over, but Congress remains deeply divided.

"Republicans are now taking a well-deserved victory lap while the Democrats are in a state of near total dejection," says journalist Robert Draper. "The Republicans got some cuts, they kept some revenue off the table but most of all, what they've done is dramatically shift the ethos in Washington."

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Shots - Health Blog
8:02 am
Tue August 2, 2011

FDA: Wake Up, People, Those Lazy Brownies Are Unsafe

Lazy Cakes, now sold as Lazy Larry, contain melatonin. The Food and Drug Administration says that ingredient, which helps regulate sleep, is not an approved additive for food.
herbalcity.com/lazycakes

The Food and Drug Administration has given the maker of Lazy Larry relaxation brownies a wake-up call.

The Associated Press reported the agency has warned HBB LLC, the Memphis-based company that sells the brownies, that the melatonin in them has not been deemed a safe food additive. And the FDA says it can seize the brownies, which it considers adulterated, if HBB keeps making and selling them.

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Humans
8:01 am
Tue August 2, 2011

Under Pressure, Soccer Goalies Tend To Dive Right

Team USA's Goalkeeper Hope Solo fails to save Japan's defender Saki Kumagai's goal during the FIFA Women's Football World Cup final match Japan vs. USA on July 17, in Germany. Japan won 3-1 in a penalty shoot-out after the final finished 2-2 in extra-time.
John MacDougall AFP/Getty Images

The Japanese women's soccer team stunned the United States a few weeks ago. After a tense match where Team America seemed to have the upper hand throughout, Japan leveled the game with a late equalizer and then went on to win a penalty shoot-out.

New psychological research suggests that soccer goalkeepers and teams aren't only affected by the high stakes pressure of a penalty shoot-out. Without their awareness, goalkeepers also appear to be biased to dive to the right in some situations.

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The Two-Way
7:49 am
Tue August 2, 2011

FBI Reveals More About New Possible Skyjack Suspect

An undated FBI sketch of D.B. Cooper.
AFP/Getty Images

As we reported yesterday, the FBI jump-started D.B. Cooper mania with its revelation it has a new suspect in the unsolved skyjacking that occurred 40 years ago this November.

New details continue to trickle out with each interview with FBI Special Agent Fred Gutt. Among the new bits of information about the man who may or may not prove to be D.B. Cooper:

-- The "suspect" died more than 10 years ago of natural causes

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The Two-Way
7:30 am
Tue August 2, 2011

FAA Shutdown Could Cost $1.2 Billion

Construction crews working on a new FAA air traffic control tower at Oakland International Airport were told last Friday to stop working after the U.S. House of Representatives refused to reauthorize routine funding of the FAA.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Tue August 2, 2011 12:24 pm

After last night's vote on the debt ceiling compromise, the House adjourned for the summer but left nearly 4,000 Federal Aviation Administration employees, who have been furloughed because of a funding impasse, in limbo.

Reuters reports that because of the House recess and the fact that a compromise in the Senate faltered last night, it is now near certain that the FAA could be shut down through August.

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Opinion
7:20 am
Tue August 2, 2011

The Nation: Sports Don't Need Sex To Sell

Lindsey Vonn, of the United States, speeds down the course during the first run of an alpine ski, World Cup women's giant slalom, in Arber-Zwiesel, Germany, Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011. Defending champion Vonn finished outside the top 10.
Alessandro Trovati AP

Mary Jo Kane is the director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sport at the University of Minnesota.

"The newest kid on the women's sports block is finding that the old formula for attention-getting is as robust as ever. 'Sex sells,' says Atlanta Beat defender Nancy Augustyniak, who was astonished to learn she finished third in a Playboy.com poll of the sexiest female soccer players." — Wendy Parker, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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Opinion
6:49 am
Tue August 2, 2011

Foreign Policy: Influencing A Murderer's Manifesto

Two young women stand in silence after placing flower near Sundvollen close to the Utoya island, near Oslo, Norway, Tuesday, July 26, 2011, where a gunman Anders Behring Breivik killed at least 68 people. The defense lawyer for the man who confessed to the mass killings told The Associated Press on Tuesday that there's no way his client will walk free and is likely insane.
Ferdinand Ostrop AP

Phillip Longman, a fellow at the New America Foundation, is author of The Empty Cradle: Why Falling Birthrates Threaten World Prosperity and What to Do About It.

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Opinion
6:43 am
Tue August 2, 2011

Weekly Standard: Going Forward, Five Fiscal Lessons

Tax hikes and spending cuts are one of the most contentious parts of the budget debate in Washington.
iStockphoto.com

Fred Barnes is the executive editor for The Weekly Standard.

We've learned a lot from the fight to attach spending cuts to the debt limit increase. Here are five of the lessons:

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Opinion
6:43 am
Tue August 2, 2011

New Republic: Capitulate In Debt Debate? Not Clinton

President Clinton, accompanied by sixth grade students from Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Arlington, Va., gestures while speaking in the Oval Office of the White House Monday Dec. 18, 1995 after vetoing two spending bills. With negotiators mired in a broader budget debate, the president vetoed the bills arguing they would undermine the nation's environment.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Kara Brandeisky is an intern at The New Republic.

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The Two-Way
6:42 am
Tue August 2, 2011

Deepening Crisis In Somalia; Crackdown Continues In Syria

Good morning!

As we wrote earlier, the big news of the day is the debt ceiling compromise that's making its way through Congress. We'll be following that story throughout the day, but here are some other headlines:

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The Two-Way
6:00 am
Tue August 2, 2011

Amid Grumbling From Both Sides, Senate Scheduled To Vote On Debt Deal

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) speaks with reporters after the House voted to raise the debt ceiling.
Win McNamee Getty Images

After the House passed the debt ceiling deal with a surprising lopsided 269-161 vote, yesterday, the Senate is scheduled to vote on the bill at noon, today. If it passes, it heads to the president's desk and with a signature the debt ceiling is immediately raised by $400 billion. And it would all happen just hours before the day the Treasury said the country would run out of money.

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Politics
5:37 am
Tue August 2, 2011

After 15 Years, GOP Revives Balanced Budget Idea

Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole on Capitol Hill on March 1, 1995 after he came up one vote short in his quest to pass a balanced budget amendment in the Senate.
John Duricka ASSOCIATED PRESS

It's an idea whose time may have come again.

There was lively debate about amending the Constitution to require a balanced budget throughout much of the 1980s and 1990s, but the issue seemed to die off in the face of the federal surpluses that marked the end of the Clinton years.

"The reason it fell off the radar screen then is we actually did it," says Robert S. Walker, who served on the House Budget Committee as a Pennsylvania Republican during the Clinton administration. "We simply said, look, if it's not possible to pass the amendment, let's balance the budget."

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Europe
3:00 am
Tue August 2, 2011

Some Worry French Military Stretched Too Thin

France has been engaged on numerous military fronts this year as the country's armed forces back up President Nicolas Sarkozy's active foreign policy. The French military's quick success in ousting Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo was lauded, but other interventions — like the one in Libya — drag on, leaving many to wonder if public support and the country's budget will be able to keep pace.

Analysts say the French military is in crisis, strained by restructuring and budget cuts, and tested by three simultaneous conflicts abroad.

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Energy
2:59 am
Tue August 2, 2011

Worries Over Water As Natural Gas Fracking Expands

Workers move a section of well casing into place at a natural gas drilling rig near Burlington, Pa. The industry is expected to drill as many as 10,000 new wells in the next few years.
Ralph Wilson AP

Originally published on Thu June 28, 2012 12:24 pm

Drive through northern Pennsylvania and you'll see barns, cows, silos and drilling rigs perched on big, concrete pads.

Pennsylvania is at the center of a natural gas boom. New technology is pushing gas out of huge shale deposits underground. That's created jobs and wealth, but it may be damaging drinking water. That's because when you "frack," as hydraulic fracturing is called, you pump millions of gallons of fluids underground. That cracks the shale a mile deep and drives natural gas up to the surface — gas that otherwise could never be tapped.

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The Two-Way
5:49 pm
Mon August 1, 2011

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Pays House A Surprise Visit For Debt Vote

The House of Representatives' vote to approve a bill raising the U.S. federal debt ceiling ended weeks of uncertainty and bitter debate. But even as the vote tally came in, the loudest cheers in the chamber were heard when Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) made her first appearance on the House floor since she was severely wounded by a gunman in January.

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The Two-Way
5:10 pm
Mon August 1, 2011

House Approves Bill To Raise Federal Debt Limit

The House voted Monday to extend the federal debt limit and enact spending cuts. Here, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi arrives for a meeting with House Democrats and Vice President Joe Biden at the Capitol.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

The House of Representatives has approved legislation to raise the federal debt ceiling and prevent a possible U.S. default, as the nation moves toward ending a bitter standoff.

The bill passed by a vote of 269 to 161; it required only a simple majority to pass.

A loud round of applause broke out on the House floor as the votes came in — apparently prompted by the sudden appearance of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

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The Two-Way
3:57 pm
Mon August 1, 2011

Obama, U.N Secretary-General, E.U. Condemn Syria After Deadly Attacks

A pro-Islamic human rights group chants slogans as they call for the removal of Syrian president Bashar al Assad and his regime during a demonstration outside the Syrian Embassy in Ankara.
Adem Altan AFP/Getty Images

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon condemned Syria's use of violence against anti-government protesters, urging Damascus to halt its military attacks on those unhappy with the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. In a statement, Ban said that Syrian officials "are accountable under international human rights law for all acts of violence perpetrated by them against the civilian population."

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