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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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It's All Politics
11:40 am
Tue August 16, 2011

Rick Perry Stirs Firestorm By Accusing Fed Chair Bernanke Of Near Treason

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Aug. 15, 2011.
Charles Dharapak AP

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

Texas Gov. Rick Perry only officially entered the race for the Republican presidential nomination Saturday and already by Tuesday he was raising plenty of eyebrows with his warning that he would consider it an act of treason if Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke took further extraordinary steps to boost the sagging economy.

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The Two-Way
11:25 am
Tue August 16, 2011

U.S. Drone Missiles Reportedly Kill Four In Tribal Area Of Pakistan

A U.S. drone missile strike has reportedly killed at least four suspected militants and wounded two others in Miramshah, Pakistan, the main city in the tribal area of North Waziristan, according to Pakistani officials. The United States does not normally confirm its drone strikes.

From Islamabad, Julie McCarthy filed this report for our Newscast unit:

According to the office of the political agent, the drone missiles struck a house and a nearby parked car in Miramshah as residents were beginning the pre-dawn Ramadan fast.

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Latin America
11:24 am
Tue August 16, 2011

Colombian Cyclists Dream Of Racing Out Of Poverty

In the rural mountains of central Colombia, young cyclists such as these train in hopes of competing on the professional cycling circuit. Colombian riders are famous for their ability to withstand pain.
Courtesy of Adam Liebendorfer

On a warm, clear, breezy day in the highlands of central Colombia, Luis Cardenas' boys are moving fast, breathing hard, legs pumping, eyes focused on the asphalt ahead, 8,000 feet above sea level.

Cardenas is the coach of a cycling club for teenagers. And he pushes them hard.

"Go, go, go Johan, 500 more meters," Cardenas says.

He's talking to Johan Cardenas, one of the best teenage cyclists in this swath of emerald green mountains and potato farms.

This is a sparsely populated state called Boyaca, and it's a cycling mecca.

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The Two-Way
10:56 am
Tue August 16, 2011

France, Germany Propose 'True European Economic Government'

With the sovereign debt crisis deepening, the leaders of France and Germany announced that they would seek a "true European economic government" made up of all the heads of state of eurozone countries but led by European Union President Herman Van Rompuy.

The AP reports that French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who met in France after a turbulent week in the world markets, also want the 17 nations to make a balanced budget part of their constitutions.

Reuters adds:

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The Two-Way
10:24 am
Tue August 16, 2011

Evergreen Files For Chapter 11; State 'Clawback' Attempts Loom

Evergreen Solar has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy relief, hoping to reorganize its debt and continue as a smaller company. Here, its panels are seen on a rooftop near Rome.
PR NEWSWIRE

Seven months after it fired 800 employees, Evergreen Solar is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy relief. The company, which has received tens of millions of dollars in grants and incentives from the state of Massachusetts, will also face calls to return at least some of that money.

In the language of failed businesses, those calls are termed a "clawback" effort.

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Africa
10:00 am
Tue August 16, 2011

Debt At Home, Famine Abroad: America's Aid Dilemma

Despite media reports that food aid for Somalians is being stolen, a bipartisan congressional committee is calling for more U.S. dollars to be sent to the African country. Guest host Tony Cox speaks with members of the House Subcommittee on African and Global Health: Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) and Rep. Donald Payne (D-N.J.).

The Two-Way
9:56 am
Tue August 16, 2011

$360 Million In Military Contracts Went To Taliban, Other Afghan Criminals

In a trickle-down effect, about $360 million spent by the United States on combat support and reconstruction contracts in Afghanistan ended up in enemy hands. As the AP reports, the U.S. military said the money was handed down by contractors to "the Taliban, criminals and local power brokers with ties to both."

The AP adds:

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Author Interviews
9:24 am
Tue August 16, 2011

America's 'Secret Campaign' Against Al-Qaida

After the Sept. 11 attacks, America responded immediately with a militarized strategy to defeat al-Qaida. But it quickly became clear to analysts in the Pentagon that using warfare alone couldn't counter the terrorist group. In 2005, a group of eclectic analysts at Central Command began looking for a broader, more holistic strategy they could use to target al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden.

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Shots - Health Blog
9:17 am
Tue August 16, 2011

From Betel Leaf Chew To Tobacco, Indians Swap One Vice For Another

A vendor sells betel leaf wrapped in silver foil in Lucknow, India.
AJAY KUMAR SINGH ASSOCIATED PRESS

Our colleague over at NPR's foreign desk, Corey Flintoff, filed this radio piece for today's Morning Edition on a rich tradition in India of making and chewing spice and nut packets wrapped in betel leaves called paan. It turns out that paan is being threatened by an influx of cheaper commercially prepared packets containing tobacco.

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Planet Money
8:54 am
Tue August 16, 2011

Germany: From Hero To (Almost) Zero

Frank Rumpenhorst Getty Images

Strong economic growth takes the sting out of debt. When a nation's income increases, tax revenues go up. Existing debts become more manageable.

By the same token, when economic growth stalls, debt problems become tougher to solve.

So this morning's news out of Europe is cause for concern: Overall, the EU economy grew by just 0.2 percent between the first and second quarter of this year, officials reported.

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The Two-Way
8:18 am
Tue August 16, 2011

Rebels Encircle Tripoli, Threaten To Cut Off Gadhafi Supplies

The Libyan opposition is the closest it's ever been to Tripoli since the civil war began six months ago. According to multiple news outlets, the rebels have slowly worked their way around the city and are now in a position to cut off supplies to Muammar Gaddafi's regime.

That news was paired with the apparent defection of Nassr al-Mabroul Abdullah, Libya's head of public security as well as news that Gaddafi's army fired its first scud missile.

The AP reports:

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The Two-Way
7:45 am
Tue August 16, 2011

Fitch Ratings Affirms United States' AAA Rating

Fitch Ratings, one of the big three ratings agencies, announced today that it was keeping a AAA rating for the United States.

The agency said in a press release that the affirmation "reflects the fact that the key pillars of US's exceptional creditworthiness remains intact." The agency added:

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Shots - Health Blog
7:44 am
Tue August 16, 2011

'Ankle Phone Call' Could Save Time And Money In The ER

In 2009, more than 30 percent of ER visits for lower limb injuries came from sprains and strains, a study found.
iStockphoto.com

Got a bum leg or ankle?

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The Two-Way
7:24 am
Tue August 16, 2011

Letter: Phone Hacking 'Was Widely' Discussed At U.K. Tabloid

A letter made public today by Britain's House of Commons puts into question just how much top brass at News of the World knew about illegal phone hacking practices. The letter, written by Clive Goodman, a former News of the World royal correspondent convicted of phone hacking, says the "practice was widely discussed in the daily editorial conference, until explicit reference to it was banned by the Editor."

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The Two-Way
6:30 am
Tue August 16, 2011

Survivor Of Bataan Death March Dies; Albert Brown Was 105

We'll pause for a moment to consider a remarkable life:

"Albert Brown, the oldest living World War II veteran and survivor of the 65-mile forced World War II trek known as the Bataan Death March, has died," Illinois' The Southern Illinoisan newspaper reports.

He was 105 and passed away Sunday at a nursing home in Nashville, Ill.

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The Two-Way
5:55 am
Tue August 16, 2011

Suspect In Australian Bomb Hoax Arrested In Kentucky

The suspect was arrested halfway around the world, in Kentucky.
David R. Lutman AFP/Getty Images

"An Australian man was arrested in Oldham County [Ky.] on Monday in connection with a fake bomb that authorities said was placed around the neck of a teenager halfway around the world as part of an alleged extortion plot," the Louisville Courier-Journal reports.

According to the newspaper:

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The Two-Way
5:25 am
Tue August 16, 2011

Obama's Midwest Tour Continues; Rivals Focus On Iowa, N.H. And S.C.

Good morning.

President Obama continues his Midwest bus tour. Today's focus will be a "White House Rural Economic Forum" being held at Northeast Iowa Community Colllege in Peosta, Iowa.

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Race To The Arctic
3:00 am
Tue August 16, 2011

Russia Pushes To Claim Arctic As Its Own

Murmansk, Russia, is the largest city above the Arctic Circle. If Russia follows through with plans to explore for oil and natural gas offshore in the Arctic Ocean, the city and its port could see significant economic benefits.
David Greene NPR

Four years ago, Russian researchers made a bold, if unseen, move. From a submarine, deep beneath the icy waters of the North Pole, they planted a Russian flag on the ocean floor.

Russia has the world's longest Arctic border, which stretches more than 10,000 miles. And for Russia, that 2007 research mission was only the beginning of a major drive to claim ownership of vast portions of the Arctic, as well as the oil and gas deposits that are beneath.

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Around the Nation
10:11 pm
Mon August 15, 2011

BART Defends Cutting Off Cellphone Service

Authorities in San Francisco had to shut down several city subway stations Monday after demonstrators tried to stop a train from leaving a downtown station.

The protesters were upset that the Bay Area Rapid Transit agency last week shut down cellphone access in the subway to prevent a protest.

BART police have been the target of protests over alleged brutality. Most recently, two BART officers shot Charles Hill, a transient man they said threatened them with a knife.

That shooting is one of the reasons that Jevon Cochran has come to this and other protests.

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Small Businesses, Big Problems
10:01 pm
Mon August 15, 2011

Credit Troubles Teach Entrepreneur Better Business

Daphne Wilson (center) and her engineering team review plans for project at Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee, Wis.
Erin Toner WUWM

As the country continues to dig out of the recession, many small businesses are still having trouble getting back on their feet. That's in part because most banks severely tightened lending to small firms.

In Milwaukee, Wis., one entrepreneur was turned down for credit by four banks and says the experience has actually helped her become a better business person.

The heat and humidity are relentless in Jones Island, a peninsula just south of downtown Milwaukee.

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Asia
10:01 pm
Mon August 15, 2011

Chew On This: Indians Trading Betel For Tobacco

In India, the centuries-old tradition of chewing betel leaves, or paan, spread with spices and sweeteners is losing popularity. In this file photo from 2006, an Indian shopkeeper arranges silver foils of paan at his roadside shop in New Delhi.
Manan Vatsyayana AFP/Getty Images

For centuries, Indians have chewed betel leaves, or paan, regardless of caste or economic lines. It's been the daily chew of everyone from the poorest farmer and rickshaw puller to the richest maharaja and gold merchant.

A plump little bundle of flavor, paan consists of various spices and sweeteners, spread on a betel leaf and folded into a neat packet.

But the leaf and the traditional ritual of preparing it are rapidly giving way to an even more dangerous habit: chewing tobacco.

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National Security
10:01 pm
Mon August 15, 2011

Next In Line For The TSA? A Thorough 'Chat-Down'

Boston's Logan Airport will become the first in the nation this week to require every single traveler to go through a quick interview with security officials trying to spot suspicious behavior.

Until now, the so-called behavioral profiling — used successfully in Israel — has been used only sporadically in U.S. airports. As the system expands, so are questions about how behavioral profiling works, and how effective it might be in the U.S.

Unlike the usual security pat-down, the profiling process is what you might call a "chat-down."

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Law
10:01 pm
Mon August 15, 2011

Cell Service Shutdown Raises Free Speech Questions

The shutdown of mobile phone service in Bay Area subway stations has got constitutional experts hitting the law books.

Authorities for Bay Area Rapid Transit, or BART, blocked wireless signals in certain stations on August 11 in an attempt to prevent protests opposing the July 3 shooting death of Charles Blair Hill by BART police. Police say Hill came at them with a knife.

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Around the Nation
10:01 pm
Mon August 15, 2011

Heat, Drought Pressure Oklahoma's Water Supplies

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin talks about the state's response to the drought during a news conference Monday in Oklahoma City. At right is state Emergency Management Director Albert Ashwood.
Sue Ogrocki AP

Originally published on Tue August 16, 2011 9:28 am

It's been so hot and dry this summer that climatologists say the southern part of the United States is going through an "exceptional drought."

Parts of Oklahoma have seen little rain since October — not to mention a string of 100-degree days. The steamy conditions are pressuring the state's water needs.

About 1.2 million people live in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, and they are putting a drain on the city's water supplies.

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Around the Nation
10:01 pm
Mon August 15, 2011

Study: Are Cohabiting Parents Bad For Kids?

iStockphoto.com

As more and more U.S. couples decide to have children without first getting married, a group of 18 family scholars is sounding an alarm about the impact this may have on those children.

In a new report out on Tuesday, they say research shows the children of cohabiting parents are at risk for a broad range of problems, from trouble in school to psychological stress, physical abuse and poverty.

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The Two-Way
5:16 pm
Mon August 15, 2011

Boy Makes $50K Hockey Shot, But It's The Wrong Boy

Pat Smith and his twin sons, Nate and Nick, were at a charity hockey game Thursday when he purchased three $10 raffle tickets for a chance to hit a near-impossible hockey shot, with a $50,000 prize. One of his sons hit that shot — but as Pat told organizers the next day, it wasn't the one whose name was on the ticket.

The Faribault, Minn., arena was in a state of pandemonium after Nate Smith sent a hockey puck from center ice into the goal — the 3-inch puck traveled 89 feet down the ice and into a 3.5-inch hole in a board laid over the mouth of the goal.

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