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Shots - Health Blog
4:56 am
Wed August 1, 2012

Under Health Law, 'No-Cost' Birth Control Starts Today

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius joins Democratic senators at a news conference on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to announce new preventive health coverage for women that takes effect Wednesday.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Thu August 2, 2012 7:31 am

Beginning today, most new and renewing health insurance plans must begin offering a broad array of women's preventive health services, most notably coverage of birth control, at no upfront cost.

But even as they take effect, the new rules remain the subject of legal challenges.

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Remembrances
4:52 am
Wed August 1, 2012

Gore Vidal, American Writer And Cultural Critic, Dies

Author Gore Vidal in 1986. Vidal, whose prolific writing career spanned six decades, died Tuesday at age 86.
AP

Originally published on Thu August 2, 2012 7:31 am

Gore Vidal came from a generation of novelists whose fiction gave them a political platform. Norman Mailer ran for mayor of New York City; Kurt Vonnegut became an anti-war spokesman. And Vidal was an all-around critic. His novels sometimes infuriated readers with unflattering portraits of American history.

He also wrote essays and screenplays, and his play The Best Man currently has a revival on Broadway.

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Poetry Games
12:43 am
Wed August 1, 2012

'Once More,' Passing The Torch To One And All

Ron Tanovitz

Originally published on Mon August 13, 2012 10:14 am

Representing Europe in NPR's Poetry Games is Slovenian poet Ales Steger. Steger's first work translated into English, The Book of Things, won last year's Best Translated Book Award for Poetry. The translator was poet Brian Henry, who also translated Steger's Olympic poem, "Once More."

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The Torch
6:37 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

We've Got Olympic Spirit, Yes We Do; How 'Bout You?

Cheerleaders perform during the women's beach volleyball preliminary phase Pool B match on the Centre Court Stadium at Horse Guards Parade in London on Monday.
Daniel Garcia AFP/Getty Images

When I say citius, you say altius; when I say altius, you say fortius. Or don't. That's fine, too, traditional even. But these Olympics have conspicuously defied traditional notions by having cheerleaders, in a few different styles, at a few different venues. In basketball, dance teams perform between matches. In beach volleyball, highly choreographed teams delight attendees.

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The Torch
6:17 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Fed Up (As Usual) With NBC? Check Out The View From London On The BBC

On its website, NBC reported the U.S. women's gymnastics team's gold medal Tuesday. But if you were watching on American TV, you had to wait until prime time to see the competition.
NBC

'Morning Edition' executive producer Madhulika Sikka is back in her native Britain on vacation. And in contrast to what she's hearing from her American friends, the viewing choices there for the Olympics are staggering, she says.

The 2012 Summer Olympics are in full swing. And there is one gold medal America wins without fail, every four years. It's for the sport of complaining about NBC's tape-delayed coverage of the Olympic Games.

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The Two-Way
5:58 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

BP Posts $1.4 Billion Loss, Surprising The Market

The Wall Street Journal's Market Watch says today's earning report shows that BP, the British oil giant, is still "struggling to make things right."

BP posted a $1.4 billion loss for the second quarter of the year. The main reason for the loss is that BP took a $4.8 billion writedown — in other words it reassessed some of its assets and decided that they were worth less than the company thought.

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Media
5:48 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Newspaper Takes A Stand On Anonymous Commenters

Linda Cook eventually revealed herself as the commenter who made a disparaging remark about an Idaho Republican Party official online.
Sandy Clemons Courtesy of Linda Cook

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 7:09 pm

The Internet is slowly becoming a less anonymous place. YouTube has a new policy encouraging commenters to use their real names, and many news sites have switched to a login system run by Facebook.

News sites that still allow anonymous comments are finding there are legal risks. The Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, Wash., has spent the last few months trying to protect the identity of a reader who saw a photo of a Republican Party official in Idaho named Tina Jacobson, and then posted a disparaging comment.

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Election 2012
5:48 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Romney Tries To Shape Distinct Iran Policy

Mitt Romney speaks in Jerusalem on Sunday, backing "any and all measures" to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
Uriel Sinai Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 11:40 pm

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney says America's national security priority should be preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, and he was talking tough about this in his recent stop in Jerusalem.

"History teaches with force and clarity that when the world's most despotic regimes secure the world's most destructive weapons, peace often gives way to oppression, to violence, or to devastating war," Romney said. "We must not delude ourselves into thinking that containment is an option."

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The Two-Way
5:20 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Fannie, Freddie Regulator Holds Firm Against Mortgage Write-Downs

Many experts say reducing mortgage principal can help troubled homeowners avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes. But the regulator who oversees two of the nation's largest mortgage holders, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, has rejected the idea.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

A federal regulator is blocking the government-owned mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from reducing the principal that homeowners owe on their mortgages in order to avoid foreclosures.

Tuesday's decision came from Edward DeMarco, the acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

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It's All Politics
5:10 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Obama And Bush's Shared First-Term Obsession: Battleground States

What does President Obama have in common with his immediate White House predecessor?

Both men spent a disproportionate amount of their first terms making appearances in battleground states, Brendan Doherty, a political scientist at the U.S. Naval Academy, writes in a post on The Monkey Cage political-science blog.

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The Torch
4:58 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

With A Tiger's Help, Orange Juice Helps Lighten The Mood At Olympics

On their bottles, Innocent declares itself the juice of champions — before adding, "rather than bang on about it, we thought we'd show you a picture of a tiger running through his pre-swim checklist." The drinks are a welcome sight at the Olympic media center.
Vickie Walton-James NPR

When you spend hours on end at a media center, even if it's on an assignment as terrific as the Summer Olympics, the refreshments can get to be, well, familiar.

But no contempt has been bred here. That's partly because of Innocent brand juice — the "official smoothie and juice of the London 2012 Olympic games," as the label says.

And any drink that can make us chuckle on deadline is greatly appreciated. Especially if it's what's on the outside of the bottle that makes us laugh.

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The Torch
4:31 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Phelps Sets New Olympic Record With 19 Medals; America's Schmitt Wins Gold

U.S. swimmers Conor Dwyer (left), Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Ricky Berens poses on the podium with their gold medals after winning the men's 4x200m freestyle relay final at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Fabrice Coffrini AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 6:35 pm

The U.S. men's swimming team has won the 4x200m freestyle relay, in a race that also gave Michael Phelps a record 19 medals in the Olympics. He netted his 18th, a silver, earlier in the day.

Update at 4:05 p.m. EDT: For the relay final, the American team swam in the fourth lane, next to their greatest rivals, the French, who posted the fasted qualifying time. The French are led by Yannick Agnel, who soundly defeated Ryan Lochte and others in the men's 200m freestyle Monday.

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Shots - Health Blog
4:19 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

NIH Official Calls For Extension Of Moratorium On Bird Flu Experiments

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said a voluntary halt to bird flu research should stay in effect.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 5:11 pm

A voluntary moratorium on certain experiments involving forms of bird flu altered in laboratories should continue until there can be more public discussion of safety concerns, a prominent government official told flu researchers at a meeting in New York City Tuesday.

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World
4:13 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Opera Unfolds When A Cuban Caberat Is Shut Down

Cuban performers ranging from dancers to opera singers were packing in audiences at Havana's El Cabildo restaurant and cabaret. In a case seen as a test of Raul Castro's commitment to economic changes, government inspectors recently closed the restaurant.
Desmond Boylan Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Wed August 1, 2012 3:18 pm

Ulises Aquino was already one of Cuba's best-known baritones when he founded his own company, Opera de la Calle, or Opera of the Street, in 2006. By combining Cuban rhythms and dance with his formal musical training, he won fans at home and abroad.

Aquino also considers himself a good "revolucionario," meaning he's a loyal supporter of Cuba's socialist system. And when President Raul Castro urged Cubans to increase productivity by starting small businesses, Aquino answered the call.

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PG-13: Risky Reads
4:00 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Grotesque Horror Through A Kid-Sized Window

cover detail

Originally published on Fri June 14, 2013 4:15 pm

Erin Morgenstern is the author of The Night Circus.

There are still days when rain flooding the gutters conjures a picture in my mind of a paper boat being chased by a little boy in a yellow raincoat. The boy's name is Georgie and he is about to meet a rather gruesome fate, smiling up at him from a storm drain.

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Asia
3:59 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

India's Power Woes A Classic Story Of Supply, Demand

Muslim girls study by candlelight Monday inside a madrasa, or religious school, in Noida, on the outskirts of New Delhi. Three regional power grids collapsed, causing a massive power outage that blacked out more than half of India.
Parivartan Sharma Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Wed October 31, 2012 2:25 pm

It might be too early to say what the exact cause of India's latest massive power outage is, but in its simplest form, it probably has something to do with supply and demand –- not enough of the former and too much of the latter.

The outage, which left more than 670 million of the country's 1.2 billion people without power, snarled traffic, shut down electric trains and idled some businesses. Indian officials say they are rapidly restoring power, but it's unclear how soon the situation will be back to normal.

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The Salt
3:59 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Bhutan Bets Organic Agriculture Is The Road To Happiness

A Bhutanese farmer puts her harvest of chilies on the roof of a shed to dry and protect it from wild boars, deer, and monkeys in 2006.
James L. Stanfield National Geographic/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon October 22, 2012 11:32 am

The tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan drew international attention a few years back for saying gross national happiness should trump gross domestic product when measuring a nation's progress. If you're going to prioritize happiness, the Bhutanese thinking goes, you'd better include the environment and spiritual and mental well-being in your calculations.

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The Two-Way
3:55 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Microsoft Gives Hotmail A Facelift, Says It Will Transition It To Outlook

The new Outlook is incorporated with other services like Skype.
Microsoft

Originally published on Wed August 1, 2012 8:00 am

Microsoft announced that Hotmail — the email service with 324 million users — will transition into a web and more social version of Microsoft's Outlook.

Reuters reports that Microsoft made the announcement, as they showed off their free web version of the email program it is renowned for.

Reuters adds:

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The Two-Way
3:51 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

British Teen Arrested Over Tweet To Olympic Diver

Tom Daley (R) and Peter Waterfield of Great Britain compete in the Men's Synchronised 10m Platform Diving Tuesday in London, England.
Clive Rose Getty Images

A mean-spirited tweet has landed a 17-year-old British boy in jail.

It all started when British divers Tom Daley and Pete Waterfield placed fourth in the men's synchronized 10 meter diving event.

As the BBC tells it, Daley's father was "was instrumental in helping his son become one of the world's top divers." But in 2006, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor and 2011 he died.

"I'm doing it for myself and my dad," Daley, 18, told the BBC before the event. "It was both our dreams from a very young age."

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Music Reviews
3:33 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Fat Boys: A Hip-Hop Novelty Act Strikes Back

The Fat Boys in 1990. Left to right: Damon "Kool Rock-Ski" Wimbley, Darren "Buff Love" Robinson and Mark "Prince Markie Dee" Morales.
Ebet Roberts Redferns

Originally published on Fri August 3, 2012 10:33 am

Before there was Heavy D, Chubb Rock or The Notorious B.I.G., there were the Fat Boys: Prince Markie Dee, Kool Rock-Ski and Buff Love, a.k.a. The Human Beat Box.

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Architecture
3:31 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Want To Make A Creative City? Build Out, Not Up

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

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Afghanistan
3:27 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

U.S. Wages Sisyphean War Against Afghan Corruption

U.S. investigators allege that Afghan Gen. Ahmad Zia Yaftali stole tens of millions of dollars' worth of medicine from the Mohammad Daud Khan military hospital in Kabul. He has been removed from that post, but has not been prosecuted. He's shown here at the hospital on Dec. 18, 2010.
Altaf Qadri AP

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 6:35 pm

U.S. officials consider widespread corruption one of the main barriers to a stable Afghanistan. They say it undermines support for the government and helps fuel the Taliban insurgency.

The U.S. has trained Afghan investigators and assisted in high-level corruption probes, yet the U.S. has little to show for its efforts.

The U.S. has created several task forces, including a one that's currently being set up: the Illicit Activities Initiative for Afghanistan, based in Washington.

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Middle East
3:26 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

What Happens If And When Assad Falls In Syria

Originally published on Sun August 5, 2012 2:02 pm

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. The battle for Aleppo, Syria's largest city, continues into a second week. Rebels control more and more smaller towns, the defection of senior military officers and diplomats continues, all signs that the government's grip on power is slipping, and many analysts suspect that President Bashar al-Assad's fall is inevitable.

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The Two-Way
3:10 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Deal Struck To Avoid Possibility Of Government Shutdown In October

"Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced on Tuesday an agreement to avoid a government shutdown shortly before the November election," The Hill writes. "He said he, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and President Obama have all agreed to the deal."

Boehner confirmed the news in an email his staff just sent to reporters:

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Pop Culture
2:56 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Who Makes Stuff Up, And Why They Do It

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan, in Washington. The history of journalism is replete with sometimes celebrated figures who made stuff up: Janet Cooke, a rising star at the Washington Post, Stephen Glass at The New Republic and now Jonah Lehrer, who resigned his job yesterday as a staff writer at the New Yorker. And you may have heard Jonah Lehrer as a guest on several NPR programs.

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From Our Listeners
2:50 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Letters: Living With HIV And Violence In Your Town

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

It's Tuesday and time read from your comments. Last week, after the mass murder in a Colorado movie theater, listeners wrote and called in to tell us the lessons they've learned after a dramatic attack in their town.

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U.S.
2:43 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

America's 'Most Polluted' Lake Finally Comes Clean

Participants in a fishing derby cast lines from a pier near Onondaga Lake's outflow in Syracuse, N.Y.
David Chanatry for NPR

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 11:41 pm

Onondaga Lake in Syracuse, N.Y., has often been called the most polluted lake in America. It was hammered by a one-two punch: raw and partially treated sewage from the city and its suburbs, and a century's worth of industrial dumping. But now the final stage in a $1 billion cleanup is about to begin.

Standing in his office amid stacks of reports, scientist Steve Effler glances at an old front-page headline of the Syracuse Herald-Journal: "Divers find goo in Onondaga Lake."

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It's All Politics
1:39 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Obama Chooses San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro As Convention Keynoter

In what now looks like practice for the big show to come, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro gives the keynote address at the Texas Democratic Convention in Houston on June 8.
Pat Sullivan AP

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 4:29 pm

Get used to hearing the name Julian Castro. You're likely to be coming across it a lot in coming days and perhaps beyond.

President Obama chose Castro, the 37-year-old mayor of San Antonio, to be the keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., in September.

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The Torch
1:36 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

U.S. Women Gymnastics Team Wins Gold Medal

Young Skywalker: Gabby Douglas helped solidify the U.S. women's team grip on gymnastics gold. The Americans beat Russia and Romania.
Ronald Martinez Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 6:35 pm

The U.S. women's gymnastics team has won the team gold medal at the London 2012 Olympics, handily beating Russia, which took silver, and Romania, which took bronze. China finished fourth.

Update at 2:25 p.m. EDT: The U.S. women led off with their strength — the vault. The apparatus gives them an advantage, and not only because Maroney is the world champion and gold-medal favorite in the event.

The AP describes why:

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The Two-Way
1:28 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Dying Man's Wish To Leave $500 Tip Turns Into Nearly $50,000 Charity

Aaron Collins, who wanted to leave a big tip.
Facebook.com/AaronsLastWish

Originally published on Wed August 1, 2012 10:13 am

This good-news story began on July 9 with a blog post simply titled "My Brother."

Aaron Collins, wrote his brother Seth, "was the type of person that took great joy in unexpected kindness." And before his July 7 death, the nearly 30-year-old Aaron had made a request:

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