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Obama administration officials have announced another round of grants to states to help build the insurance marketplaces, called "exchanges," that will help individuals and small businesses buy health insurances beginning in 2014.

But the real news is who's getting the $220 million. Nine of the 13 states in this round of grants are headed by GOP governors.

The Superdome is one of those pieces of distinctive architecture that immediately gives you a sense of place. Obviously, most recently the Superdome was the backdrop for tragedy, when it became a shelter-of-last-resort during Hurricane Katrina.

But over the past few years, it's gotten quite a makeover. It culminated last month, when new LED lights were installed on its exterior and it was emblazoned with the corporate logo of Mercedes-Benz, which acquired naming rights this year.

Despite the sluggish economy, it's been a pretty good year for luxury carmakers. Deluxe brands such as Mercedes, Volvo and BMW have seen double-digit growth.

But the German carmaker Audi is the standout. It's seen a near tenfold growth in the past 20 years, and the company has also become the new status car for young urban professionals.

Herman Cain's decision to reassess the status of his Republican presidential campaign in the wake of allegations he engaged in a long-term extramarital affair raises questions beyond will-he-or-won't-he drop out.

One of the big ones?

Which candidate in the still-crowded GOP field would benefit most if Cain ends his White House quest?

We put that question to Republicans in the early contest states of Iowa, which will hold its caucuses Jan. 3, and New Hampshire, where the nation's first primary will be held Jan. 10. What we heard wasn't all that surprising.

A Dissolving Fruit Sticker That Claims Super Soap Powers

Nov 29, 2011

Scott Amron really doesn't like peeling those little stickers off fruit from the grocery store. "They're pesky and annoying and they create waste," he tells The Salt. So, he decided to do something about it.

Political Affairs Now An Open Book

Nov 29, 2011

There's a difference between news that's in the public interest and news that the public is interested in. But that difference has been eradicated when it comes to sex scandals involving presidential candidates.

There was a time when affairs involving candidates for the nation's highest office were not generally considered fit subjects for media scrutiny. In the current media environment, however — and in the wake of dozens of sex scandals involving politicians in recent years — that's no longer the case.

It's Sunday in Volos, a fishing village nestled in a large bay in central Greece, and fishermen display their daily catch, which this day includes codfish, sardines and octopus.

Prices have been slashed, but customers are few.

Fisherman Christos Xegandakis laughs bitterly. He says business is so bad, it's time to start swapping goods.

"Give me two kilos of potatoes, and I give you a kilo of fish," he says. "Why not?

As American Airlines struggled to keep up with its rivals in recent years, it could at least boast something that competitors could not: The Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier had never gone bankrupt. Not anymore.

On Tuesday, American's parent, AMR Corp., filed for bankruptcy protection, citing $10 billion in loses over the past decade. In a statement, it said it took the step in hopes of bringing down costs and emerging more competitive.

They say lightning doesn't strike in the same place twice, right? It's also a popular belief that you're more likely to get hit by lightning than to win the lottery.

So, I think we're safe in saying that Delma Kinney, an Atlanta man who will turn 51 Dec. 5, has beat the odds, winning a million-dollar lottery twice in three years.

The AP reports:

An independent commission has released a blistering human rights report that says Syria's security forces have carried out widespread abuses against protesters, including murder and torture.

The commission, appointed by the U.N.'s Human Rights Council, based its report on interviews with more than 220 witnesses or victims of abuse by Syrian security forces. The panel says it collected a solid body of evidence and identified patterns of human rights violations.

Welcome to the second installment of NPR's Backseat Book Club! Every month, we invite kids to read a book along with us, and then send in their questions for the author.

Our book club selection for November is a classic that's celebrating a big anniversary. The Phantom Tollbooth — written by Norton Juster and illustrated by Jules Feiffer — was published 50 years ago. Juster tells NPR's Michele Norris that the story sprang from his own childhood.

Thanhha Lai was 10 years old the day in 1975 that North Vietnamese tanks crashed through the gates of the presidential palace in Saigon and fear spread through the city on rumors that Communist troops were about to begin a massacre. Lai recalls fleeing with her eight older siblings and her mother to the nearby port and boarding a crowded South Vietnamese Navy ship that then headed to sea.

Will Sanctions Help Syrians?

Nov 29, 2011

A package of tough new economic sanctions imposed this week by the Arab League is another blow to the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad. But will international pressure really help the people of Syria? Melissa Block talks with Kimberly Ann Elliott, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development. Elliott co-authored a case study on sanctions against Syria that was published by the Peterson Institute.

American Airline's parent company AMR has filed for bankruptcy protection. American will continue to operate its flights as usual. The airline will use bankruptcy to off-load some of the debt that is weighing it down.

Part of a monthlong series

NPR's Hard Times series features stories of economic hardship and also stories of hope. We asked for ideas from listeners, and Emily Nugent of Berea College in Kentucky responded, writing: "With a student body composed entirely of students from low socio-economic backgrounds, Berea students know about the challenges Americans are facing." Noah Adams went in search of Emily and the Berea College story.

As diplomats from around the world gather in Durban, South Africa, for talks about climate change, a big question looms: What will become of the Kyoto climate treaty, which was negotiated with much fanfare in 1997. The treaty was supposed to be a first step toward much more ambitious actions on climate change, but it is now on the brink of fading into irrelevance. That could have major implications for the future of United Nations climate talks.

Twitter already beat us to all the good puns, including the one in the headline. But, yes, it is true, you will either love or hate this news story from England: A tanker carrying 20 tons of yeast extract — the main ingredient in the loved-or-reviled Marmite — was involved in a late night accident, yesterday, spilling its contents and shutting down the M1, which connects London to the northern part of England.

Politicians and food executives have been talking about ending the problem of child labor in the West African cocoa industry for the last decade. After shocking revelations that hundreds of thousands of children were forced to harvest cacao beans under abusive conditions, companies pledged to address the practice as "fair trade" entered their lexicon.

Florida A&M's famed "Marching 100" band has been rocked by the death of one of its drum majors on Nov. 19. Police still haven't released all the details of his death, but they said Robert Champion had been throwing up and hazing had something to do with it.

Why Do Airlines Keep Going Bankrupt?

Nov 29, 2011

American Airlines is filing for bankruptcy protection. The airline is the last of the so-called legacy carriers, airlines that flew interstate routes before de-regulation of the industry, to reach this step. Delta, Northwest, United and US Airways all went through bankruptcy proceedings in the last 10 years.

The Federal Trade Commission said today that it come to a settlement with Facebook over charges that the social network had deceived consumers about their privacy.

The FTC claims that Facebook "deceived consumers by telling them they could keep their information on Facebook private, and then repeatedly allowing it to be shared and made public."

The doctor found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the 2009 death of pop star Michael Jackson was just sentenced to four years in prison.

Protesters In Iran Storm British Embassy

Nov 29, 2011

In Iran on Tuesday, students and other protesters stormed the British Embassy in the capital Tehran, smashing windows, throwing firebombs and burning the British flag. The crowd had gathered at the embassy to protest new severe economic sanctions imposed by Britain, cutting off all banking with Iran. Renee Montagne talks with Washington Post reporter Thomas Erdbrink, who is in Tehran.

(New material based on NPR reporting added to the top of this post at 12:30 p.m. ET.)

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain is reassessing his campaign but still plans to move ahead at this time, his Iowa campaign director tells The Associated Press and NPR.

Imagine being able to access the Internet through the contact lenses on your eyeballs. Blink, and you'd be online. Meet someone, and you'd have the ability to immediately search their identity. And if your friend happens to be speaking a different language, an instantaneous translation could appear directly in front of you.

That might sound farfetched, but it's something that might very well exist in 30 years or less, says theoretical physicist Michio Kaku.

In October, President Obama announced that most U.S. troops would be out of Iraq by the end of 2011, after negotiations with Iraqi leaders failed to extend the troops' presence. Only Marine embassy guards and liaison troops will stay behind in the country, where more than a million troops, in total, have served over the past eight years.

Five days later, video of two 70-plus year old guys trading blows on stage during a Canadian Football League alumni luncheon in Vancouver is still getting clicks and still drawing lots of attention from the cable news networks, blogs and websites.

The sort of offenses that might land a student in the principal's office in other states often send kids in Texas to court with misdemeanor charges. Some schools have started rethinking the way they punish students for bad behavior after watching many of them drop out or land in prison because of tough disciplinary policies.

In a downtown Houston municipal court, Judge David Fraga has presided over thousands of cases involving students "ticketed" by school police. His docket is still relatively small at the moment, with only 45 to 65 cases per night.

Though "overall readings remain historically weak," consumer confidence went up sharply this month, the private research group known as The Conference Board just reported.

Home prices across the U.S. are still only "back to their first quarter of 2003 levels" and "drifted lower in September and the third quarter," according to the widely watched S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, which were just released.

As The Associated Press says, the news is "the latest evidence that the troubled housing market won't recover any time soon."

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