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When it comes to taxes, the field of Republican presidential candidates is unified: Keep them low and certainly don't raise them.

In both his runs for the White House, Mitt Romney has hewed to this Republican line. But whether he cut or actually raised taxes as governor of Massachusetts is a subject for debate.

All politicians like to talk about cutting taxes. But at the state level during tough economic times, many end up cutting spending while raising taxes because they have to balance their budgets.

Gary, Ind., is among the most troubled cities in the Midwest, but some residents are starting to feel a bit more optimistic.

That's because they've just elected a new mayor with an Ivy League pedigree and some big ideas. Her name is Karen Freeman-Wilson and when she's sworn in at the beginning of the new year, she'll become the first African-American female mayor in the history of the state of Indiana.

But Freeman-Wilson isn't interested in the symbolism. She says her first job will be to promote Gary.

Hear ye, hear ye: The court of public opinion will now come to order in the class-action suit by disturbed football fans against dopey football players who act like imbeciles in the end zone after scoring a touchdown.

Your honor, the plaintiffs call to the stand a man of great taste, good manners and exquisite judgment –– namely, me.

What is this?

The Iowa caucuses — the first contest of the 2012 presidential nominating season — take place in three weeks. That means there's precious little time for candidates to make their case and close the deal with Hawkeye State Republicans.

But candidates were tough to find in Iowa on Tuesday. Only former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum — a big underdog in the race — was there. In fact, many Iowans note that this year candidates have spent fewer hours in the state than before recent presidential caucuses.

Second of two stories, which are part of an ongoing series on obesity in America. The first part begins in August as students start their weight-loss journey at Wellspring Academy, a boarding school in Brevard, N.C. The second checks in with students in late October.

With three weeks to go until the Iowa caucuses kick off the Republican nominating contest, the candidates are not registering much of a presence in Iowa.

Scratch just a little below the surface of American writing, and you'll find a substratum of stories that revolve around an impostor, a figure at once sinister and fascinating. This charlatan moves fluidly between personae, and in doing so, proves that identity is — especially in America — up for grabs. The impostor thus is everything we insist we are not. But he's also, I think, everything we wish we could be as the inheritors of our open, yet easily manipulated, American culture.

A camera that captures images at the rate of one trillion exposures per second is a device with amazing potential, according to researchers at MIT. The tradeoffs required to reach that speed also mean its a camera with some real drawbacks.

In an unusual move, the Food and Drug Administration has warned a marketing company and eight surgery centers in Southern California that their billboards and other advertisements touting weight-loss surgery are misleading because they don't adequately describe the risks from the procedure.

The agency's letters ask the surgery centers and the marketing firm 1-800-GET-THIN to pull the allegedly misleading advertising.

Saying that the U.S. is not looking for Iraq to be an ally, Vice President Biden told NPR's Robert Siegel this afternoon that the U.S. now views that country as a partner.

"We're looking for a stable, democratic government that is not beholden to anyone in the region and is able to be secure within its own borders and have its own policy ," he said during an interview in Washington's Eisenhower Executive Office Building, adjacent to the White House.

The final American troops are set to leave Iraq in a matter of days. Just a few thousand remain, and they will be heading south toward Kuwait — the starting point for a war that began nearly nine years ago.

The last American military unit out of Iraq will be part of the 1st Cavalry Division from Fort Hood, Texas. The division fought in some of the war's toughest battles and suffered nearly 300 killed.

As snowstorms hit the country today, All Things Considered revisits a vivid story that choreographer and dancer Bill T. Jones shared about one winter song. It originally aired Dec. 13, 2011.

The mountains along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan would be cruel enough without the war raging on below — cliffs drop from 8,000-foot peaks that are spotted with only a few trees among the rocks.

But Afghanistan's eastern border has become the focus of the conflict as militants plot their attacks inside Pakistan, then slip across the rugged frontier to carry them out.

In Afghanistan's southeast Paktika province, Forward Operating Base Tillman looks across toward Pakistan over craggy peaks that American troops have nicknamed "Big Ugly" and "Big Nasty."

Remember when the space shuttle — aka "space truck" — was going to make make trips into Earth orbit a routine thing? It really didn't turn out the way people had hoped. Now there's a new pretender to throne, another team ready to try and make bring flights into space a little closer to an everyday reality.

How Alabama Banned Holiday Gifts For Teachers

Dec 13, 2011

This time of year, you might be thinking about what sort of gift or tip you'd like to offer your child's teacher for Christmas.

In Alabama, they won't let you get away with that kind of illegal behavior.

Alabama's new ethics law, which took effect in March, bans nearly all gifts to government workers — not just elected officials, but all state, county and municipal employees. That includes schoolteachers, as a lengthy opinion from the state ethics commission makes clear.

The plan European leaders agreed on last week to save the euro doesn't seem to have reassured the markets.

Two ratings agencies said the plan worked out in Brussels, which calls for greater fiscal integration, failed to address the immediate crisis of rising debts and the crushing costs of borrowing.

And some economists worry that the EU leaders are wrong to put so much emphasis on austerity without any real plans to stimulate economic growth.

For example, Portugal's growth rate last year was anemic, and the economies of Greece and Ireland shrank.

"No call, no text, no update, is worth a human life."

That's the message from the National Transportation Safety Board, which today recommended that states "ban the nonemergency use of portable electronic devices (other than those designed to support the driving task) for all drivers."

That means put the phone down and leave it there.

Srdja Popovic, a lanky biologist from Belgrade, helped overthrow a dictator in Serbia a decade ago. Since then, he's been teaching others what he learned, and his proteges include a host of Arab activists who have played key roles in ousting Arab autocrats over the past year.

"This is a bad year for bad guys," Popovic says with a broad grin in a New York cafe.

Human rights advocates are calling on the Obama administration to do more to protect people in immigration detention centers from sexual assault. A new federal rule that will take effect next year covers inmates in jails and prisons, but some Homeland Security officials want an exemption for facilities that house illegal immigrants.

He'd hinted that this might happen.

Physicists have a grand theory that describes how tiny particles interact to form all the stuff we see in the universe — everything from planets to toasters to human beings.

But there is one particle predicted by this theory that has never been detected in experiments. It's called the Higgs boson. Scientists are dying to know if it really exists — and now researchers are closer to finding out than ever before.

Facebook Aims To Prevent Suicides With Online Help

Dec 13, 2011

If you're considering suicide, Facebook now stands ready to get you some help.

The gigantic social-networking site said Tuesday that if any of its 800 million users type a post saying they are contemplating suicide, the site will offer to connect them to a crisis counselor through the site's chat system.

According to many polls, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is now leading the Republican pack. His plan to rewrite the nation's tax policy hasn't gotten as much attention as some of his other proposals, but, according to a new analysis, it would require sweeping changes to the government.

Signs suggest "that the economy has been expanding moderately" in recent months, "notwithstanding some apparent slowing in global growth," Federal Reserve Policymakers just reported.

And, as expected, they announced no policy changes that would either add or subtract to the amount of help the central bank gives the economy.

In "Fed speak":

Saying it can save taxpayers $50 million a year, the Treasury Department announced today that it is suspending almost all production of presidential dollar coins.

One day after the United Nations said that more than 5,000 people have died in nine months of protests and clashes against the Syrian government, the AP quotes activists saying that at least 28 more people died Tuesday at the hands of Syrian security forces.

Fighting between the government and the opposition was heaviest along the country's northwestern border with Turkey.

A bill before Congress that would allow some types of "robocalls" to be made to cellphones if consumers have given companies their numbers doesn't have many sponsors and wouldn't seem to be the kind of legislation that would stand much of a chance of passing when an election year looms.

But it's getting an increasing amount of attention this week thanks to something that's very rare these days — bipartisan opposition.

The federal government will stop minting unwanted $1 coins, the White House said Tuesday. The move will save an estimated $50 million a year.

Earlier this year, we reported on the mountain of $1 coins sitting unused in government vaults. The pile-up — an estimated 1.4 billion coins — was caused by a 2005 law that ordered the minting of coins honoring each U.S. president.

You can talk about the global village, a mobile society and the World Wide Web all you want, but many in our country seem to be turning toward a New American Localism.

These days, we are local folks and our focus is local. We are doing everything locally: food, finance, news, charity. And maybe for good reasons.

"One bedrock thing that is going on," says Brad Edmondson, founder of ePodunk and former editor of American Demographics magazine, is that "because of aging and the recession, people aren't moving around as much."

When Eleni Nikolaidou began studying the survival diets of World War II Greece a couple of years ago, she never expected to turn the research for her master's thesis into a cookbook.

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