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2:47 pm
Thu August 18, 2011

Obama's Jobs Problem: Government To The Rescue?

President Obama speaks Wednesday at a town hall-style meeting at Wyffels Hybrids Inc. in Atkinson, Ill. He is expected to unveil plans to stimulate the economy after Labor Day.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Wed August 24, 2011 10:40 am

As President Obama embarks on vacation, he leaves behind roiling domestic markets, dismal unemployment numbers and speculation about what he'll propose in a planned jobs-and-economy speech after Labor Day.

While he's expected to lay out some familiar strategies when he returns, from extending payroll tax cuts to new infrastructure spending, economists are looking for more — and for how Obama will balance election-year politics with the imperative to get something done and quickly in bitterly divided Washington.

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Business
2:23 pm
Thu August 18, 2011

SEC Documents Destroyed, Employee Tells Congress

A staff member at the Securities and Exchange Commission has complained to Congress that thousands of investigative documents have been destroyed by the agency.

Longtime SEC staffer Darcy Flynn says some of those missing papers relate to huge investment banks under the spotlight for their role in the 2008 mortgage crisis.

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The Two-Way
1:33 pm
Thu August 18, 2011

Orange Goo At Alaskan Village Found To Be Fungal Spores, Not Eggs

This sample of orange goo has been identified as fungal spores.
NOAA

The orange goo that took over the shore of a remote Alaskan village is actually a mass of fungal spores — not microscopic eggs, as scientists at the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration first believed.

"At this point, the best identification we can give to as the origin of these spores is a rust fungus," says Steve Morton, Ph.D., who works in the NOAA lab in Charleston, S.C., that conducted the full analysis. "The spores are unlike others we and our network of specialists have examined; however, many rust fungi of the Arctic tundra have yet to be identified."

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Europe
1:27 pm
Thu August 18, 2011

Pope Visits A Changing Spain

Young Catholics welcome Pope Benedict XVI as he arrives at Cibeles Square during World Youth Day celebrations on Aug. 18, in Madrid, Spain.
Denis Doyle Getty Images

Pope Benedict XVI visited Spain on Thursday to celebrate World Youth Day with Catholic pilgrims from around the globe. But a country that was solidly Catholic for centuries has become much more secular, and not everyone extended a warm welcome.

Regal music is piped through the streets of Madrid as the popemobile rolls by. The faithful fall to their knees. Up to a million Catholics are present, including Sara Vallarta from Laredo, Texas.

"It's been an awesome experience. It's incredible, the amount of people here, coming all together with their faith," she says.

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The Two-Way
1:12 pm
Thu August 18, 2011

Can New Sanctions Help Topple Assad's Regime?

As soon as President Obama announced new sanctions on Syria, a lot of the reaction was a big, "So what?"

It's a natural question to wonder if cutting off economic ties with a country can truly stop an authoritarian regime from attacking its own people and if it can truly get it to give up power after four decades of family rule, as Obama demanded.

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NPR Story
1:00 pm
Thu August 18, 2011

Politics Still A Factor For Independent Re-Districting Group

Arizona voters approved a constitutional amendment establishing an "independent" commission to decide where the lines get drawn. The intent was to avoid the self-interest of having the Legislature draw its own districts. But the commission is taking political flak — even before it releases any maps.

Research News
12:58 pm
Thu August 18, 2011

Don't Throw It Out: 'Junk DNA' Essential In Evolution

iStockphoto.com

There's a revolution underway in biology. Scientists are coming to understand genetics isn't just about genes. Just as important are smaller sequences of DNA that control genes.

These so-called regulatory elements tell genes when to turn on and off, and when to stop functioning altogether. A new study suggests that changes in these non-gene sequences of DNA may hold the key to explaining how all species evolved.

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The Two-Way
11:44 am
Thu August 18, 2011

Brawl Between U.S. College, Chinese Teams Ends Basketball Exhibition

An exhibition basketball game between Georgetown University's Hoyas and the Bayi Rockets descended into a brawl and then a full-on melee Thursday, one day after visiting Vice President Joe Biden stopped by to watch Georgetown play another team, the Shanxi Brave Dragons, in Beijing.

Both the Rockets and the Brave Dragons are professional teams. In Wednesday's game, the Hoyas beat the Brave Dragons, 98-81.

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Shots - Health Blog
10:59 am
Thu August 18, 2011

Skin Cancer Drug Gets Quick Approval

Roche Genentech developed a new melanoma drug for people with advanced cases.
FABRICE COFFRINI AFP/Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new drug to treat advanced melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. The drug got the green light faster than many other drugs under review, and advocates of personalized medicine say this bodes well for other gene-based drugs in development.

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The Two-Way
10:33 am
Thu August 18, 2011

Anti-Corruption Crusader Strikes Deal With Indian Police, Ending Standoff

Anna Hazare will be allowed to stage a 15-day public hunger strike in New Delhi. As we reported yesterday, Hazare was in a standoff with the Indian government, which arrested him for planning a protest without a permit.

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The Two-Way
10:13 am
Thu August 18, 2011

Tiny Pacific Island Hit By First Bank Robbery

Police have been flown into the tiny Pacific resort island of Aitutaki, where officials say their bank has been robbed — a first for the small, tight-knit community. Part of the Cook Islands, Aitutaki is famous for its beaches, which ring a large lagoon full of clear, ice-blue water.

Tourism is the island's biggest industry — and that has local officials thinking that the shocking bank robbery was perpetrated by a visitor, not a resident.

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Technology
10:00 am
Thu August 18, 2011

Technology: Help Or Hindrance To Law Enforcement?

The Bay Area Rapid Transit agency suspended cellular service to prevent a protest in San Francisco's subway last week. Such news prompts the question of how police can best enforce the law in the digital world. Guest host Tony Cox speaks with a San Francisco Chronicle journalist and an Electronic Frontier Foundation senior staff attorney.

Business
10:00 am
Thu August 18, 2011

There's Always Work At The Post Office? Maybe Not

The U.S. Postal Service proposed this month to cut 120,000 jobs. Guest host Tony Cox speaks with two former postal workers about what the USPS means to them, whether Americans still need the post office like they used to, and what the the future of USPS may entail.

Monkey See
9:16 am
Thu August 18, 2011

The Fine Art Of Walking Out

Television image via CNN

Originally published on Fri May 25, 2012 11:54 am

Last night, Christine O'Donnell, who was a much-discussed Senate candidate in Delaware last year and author of a new book, walked out on her interview with CNN's Piers Morgan after he asked her to talk about gay marriage, which she said was rude, because she was there to discuss — in her words — one of "the issues that I choose to talk about in the book." Ultimately, their disagreement came down to her assertion that as a host, it's rude to ask her things other than the things she wants to be asked about.

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Business
8:36 am
Thu August 18, 2011

S&P Faces Inquiry Over Mortgage Security Ratings

The Justice Department is investigating whether Standard & Poor's improperly boosted ratings on mortgage securities that later turned out to be toxic, helping trigger the worst financial crisis in decades.

NPR has confirmed the investigation, first reported Wednesday by The New York Times.

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Middle East
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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