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Election 2012
5:50 pm
Thu April 26, 2012

In Battleground Iowa, Even Office Space Up For Grabs

President Obama arrives to speak at the University of Iowa in Iowa City on Wednesday.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Thu April 26, 2012 6:27 pm

In Iowa, President Obama's re-election campaign is already in gear, with staff and volunteers on the ground.

The Obama campaign hopes its head start over the campaign of Republican Mitt Romney — who until recently had been focused on fending off GOP opponents — will make the difference in November in this swing state.

The Obama campaign headquarters in Des Moines is a former Blockbuster Video store, where this week a couple of dozen 20-somethings tapped away at laptops, painted signs by hand and worked the phones.

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It's All Politics
5:48 pm
Thu April 26, 2012

Biden Foreign-Policy Counterattack On Romney Highlights GOP Challenge

Vice President Joe Biden, March 2012.
Madalyn Ruggiero AP

Originally published on Fri April 27, 2012 4:24 pm

Foreign policy isn't expected to pave the path to the White House in 2012 though, of course, that could all change in a literal flash.

Still, a president seeking re-election against a backdrop of a lackluster economy would be remiss if he didn't stress his unique role as the nation's top policymaker in the international relations arena and the military's commander-in-chief.

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Digital Life
5:30 pm
Thu April 26, 2012

What We Have Here: A Failure To Communicate

Commuters immersed in their smartphones ride the subway in Beijing.
Nelson Ching Bloomberg via Getty Images

Originally published on Fri April 27, 2012 7:45 am

It is the weirdest thing. There are more ways than ever to communicate with people, yet it sometimes seems like it is more difficult to connect — and stay connected — with anyone.

Should you shoot off an email? Tap out a text? Post a private message on Facebook? Write on their Facebook wall? Skype, poke, ping or conjure them up on a digital tin can phone?

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You Must Read This
5:14 pm
Thu April 26, 2012

Something Wicked: A Haunting Must Read

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter." href="/post/something-wicked-haunting-must-read" class="noexit lightbox">
Seth Grahame-Smith is the author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
Matthew Rudenberg

Originally published on Thu April 26, 2012 6:27 pm

Seth Grahame-Smith is the author of Unholy Night.

I know it's strange to be thinking about October right now, but whenever I write, in a way that's always where I am. Growing up in Connecticut, it always held a special place in my heart — "a rare month for boys," as Ray Bradbury begins Something Wicked This Way Comes.

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London 2012: The Summer Olympics
5:08 pm
Thu April 26, 2012

American Whiz Rises Up In The World Of Ping-Pong

Originally published on Thu April 26, 2012 8:21 pm

The United States has never won an Olympic medal in table tennis. China has long dominated the sport, winning almost every medal since 1992. That's not likely to change at this year's Summer Olympics in London, but a group of young American women may be on their way to competing at the sport's highest levels.

Ariel Hsing, 16, already has the attributes of a fine table tennis player — quick hands, perfect balance and strong lungs. While she plays, she'll often shout "Sa!" — a meaningless word — to help relieve stress, something she's been dealing with a lot lately.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu April 26, 2012

A 'Five-Year Engagement' Leaves A Bitter Taste

Tom (Jason Segel) and Violet (Emily Blunt) celebrate their impending nuptials with their families before Violet drops a bomb: She's been accepted at a program at the University of Michigan, and wants to move there and postpone their wedding day.
Universal Pictures

Originally published on Fri April 27, 2012 9:38 am

There are many dramas and comedies in which career trajectories take couples to different corners of the country, complicating or ending romantic relationships. There will be many more, at least until someone invents a teleportation machine. What's different about each work is how the problem gets interpreted.

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Statewide Races
4:50 pm
Thu April 26, 2012

N.C. Gay Marriage Amendment Has Unlikely Foes

Jennifer Cockrham, a nurse from Walkertown, N.C., holds her hand over her heart for the Pledge of Allegiance during a rally supporting a constitutional ban on gay marriage Friday in Raleigh.
Allen Breed AP

Originally published on Thu April 26, 2012 6:27 pm

North Carolina is the only Southern state without a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. But that could change next month.

On May 8, voters will decide whether to change the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage, as well as civil unions and domestic partnerships. Leading Republican lawmakers think it's one of the most important issues facing voters.

But some conservatives worry that the measure goes too far.

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Environment
4:48 pm
Thu April 26, 2012

Countries Losing Steam On Climate Change Initiatives

Germany plans to take all of its nuclear power plants offline by 2022, which means coal-fired power plants like the Kraftwerk Westfalen, in Hamm, Germany, will be a key component of the country's energy infrastructure.
Lars Baron Getty Images

Originally published on Thu April 26, 2012 6:27 pm

Energy ministers from around the world met in London this week and got a scolding. The International Energy Agency warned the ministers that they are falling way behind in their efforts to wean the world from dirty sources of energy. Nations are nowhere near being on track to avert significant climate change in the coming decades.

It turns out that right now, just about everything is conspiring to make it harder to clean up the world's energy supply.

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The Salt
4:15 pm
Thu April 26, 2012

Stone Age Mediterranean Farmer ISO Hungry Nordic Hunter-Gatherer?

A family near Karsta, Sweden, in the 1930s. Did their ancient forebears hail from the Mediterranean?
Swedish Heritage Board

Farming transformed Europe when it arrived from the Near East about 6,000 years ago. But was it the agricultural know-how that traveled, or the farmers themselves?

By comparing DNA from Stone Age farmers and hunter-gatherers, Swedish researchers say it's clear that the farmers traveled north through Europe, bringing their agrarian skills with them.

How else would a farmer with Mediterranean DNA end up in Sweden?

I'm imagining suave dark-eyed farmers seeking out Nordic maidens tired of all that berry picking and hide scraping.

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Africa
4:06 pm
Thu April 26, 2012

At Last, Egypt Settles On Presidential Candidates

Amr Moussa, the front-runner in the Egyptian presidential race, speaks during a press conference in Cairo on Apr. 22. The country's election commission said Thursday that Moussa and 12 other candidates are eligible to compete in next month's election.
Khaled Desouki AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu April 26, 2012 6:27 pm

After months of anticipation, and just a few weeks before the voting, Egypt now has a list of 13 officially approved presidential candidates.

Amr Moussa, the former secretary-general of the Arab League, is one of the 13, and he is ahead in most opinion surveys in advance of the May 23-24 election.

And in a reversal, Egyptian election officials agreed Thursday to let one of Hosni Mubarak's former prime ministers run for president.

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The Salt
3:56 pm
Thu April 26, 2012

Nutella Maker May Settle Deceptive Ad Lawsuit For $3 Million

The fact that Nutella's parent company, Ferrero, is known for its chocolates might be a tip-off that the sweet hazelnut spread isn't exactly "health" food.
STEFANO RELLANDINI Reuters /Landov

Remember that California mom who sued Nutella maker Ferrero over misleading advertising that made the addictive and gooey chocolate-hazelnut spread seem healthy?

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The Two-Way
3:50 pm
Thu April 26, 2012

PHOTO: Like Hawaii, Mars Has Coils Thought Formed By Volcanic Flow

This image provided by NASA shows lava flows in the shape of coils located near the equatorial region of Mars.
AP

Originally published on Thu April 26, 2012 3:52 pm

Take a look at this picture:

Those same coils — the ones that look like the side of a snail — are also found on the Big Island of Hawaii, which were formed by lava flows.

As Wired reports, the difference is that some of the Martian coils are 100 feet across — giant compared the Earth-bound ones.

Still scientists found that they are "morphologically consistent with terrestrial lava coils."

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Shots - Health Blog
3:50 pm
Thu April 26, 2012

Colorado Extends Medicaid To Some Adults Without Kids

The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless runs the Stout Street Clinic in Denver, helped Dale Miller get a CT scan.
Colorado Coalition for the Homeless

Originally published on Thu April 26, 2012 6:27 pm

Dale Miller spends his days on the streets of downtown Denver selling a newspaper called The Homeless Voice. He's been having some health problems, but he can't afford to see a doctor on the $10 to $15 a day he makes selling papers.

A local charity clinic called the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless recently helped him get a CT scan at no cost to him. Miller fully understands, though, that someone has to pay for his care.

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Shots - Health Blog
3:34 pm
Thu April 26, 2012

Health Insurers Set To Pay $1.3 Billion In Rebates

Come summer, mailboxes of 1 in 3 buyers of individual health insurance buyers could get rebate checks.
JS Callahan/tropicalpix iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu April 26, 2012 3:51 pm

If you buy your own health insurance, there's nearly a 1 in 3 chance that come this summer you'll get a nice little surprise in the mail: money back from your health insurance company.

At least that's the prediction from an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

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The Two-Way
3:07 pm
Thu April 26, 2012

Court Says Florida Governor's Order To Drug Test Employees Is Unconstitutional

Originally published on Thu April 26, 2012 3:54 pm

A district judge ruled that Florida Gov. Rick Scott cannot mandate random drug testing for state employees.

CNN reports:

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The Record
2:27 pm
Thu April 26, 2012

Marooned In L.A. For A Week, Coachella Bands Make Do

Ian St. Pe of the band Black Lips performs at this year's Coachella festival in Indio, Calif. Like many of the artists on the bill, the band agreed not to book other shows in Southern California within months of the event.
Michael Buckner Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 10:51 am

The massive Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival came to a close in California on Sunday after two weekends worth of sold-out shows by over 150 artists.

One of those acts was the Austin, Texas, band Explosions in the Sky, which first played Coachella back in 2007 and has seen its profile grow since then.

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World
2:09 pm
Thu April 26, 2012

The Charles Taylor Case And International Justice

Originally published on Thu April 26, 2012 2:43 pm

Former Liberian President Charles Taylor was found guilty by an international tribunal of planning, aiding and abetting war crimes during the 1990s. This marks the first time since World War II that a current or former head of state was convicted by a tribunal of crimes committed while in office.

NPR Story
2:03 pm
Thu April 26, 2012

'Ball Four': The Book That Changed Baseball

New York Yankees pitcher Jim Bouton holds two balls that his teammates hope will lead them to victory in the 1964 World Series.
AP

Originally published on Fri April 27, 2012 12:53 pm

Fifty years ago, a young pitcher won his first major league game for the New York Yankees. Jim Bouton went on to become a top-flight player.

But he became famous, or notorious, for Ball Four, a memoir that described the petty jealousies on the team, as well as camaraderie, raucous tomcatting, game-winning heroics, routine drug use and the pain professional athletes endure.

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It's All Politics
2:02 pm
Thu April 26, 2012

Some Campaign Donors Putting Their Money Where Their Mouth Isn't

Originally published on Thu April 26, 2012 2:09 pm

Much of the attention on money in politics this election cycle has been focused on the new superPACs, and with good reason.

Recent court rulings allow superPACs — which officially are independent of specific candidates — to raise and spend unlimited money to support their favorite politician or cause.

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NPR Story
1:59 pm
Thu April 26, 2012

America's 'Great Divergence' Is Relatively New

Originally published on Fri April 27, 2012 12:05 pm

Thirty years ago, CEOs of America's largest businesses earned an estimated 42 times as much as their average employee. These days, that number has jumped to more than 200 times as much, by many counts. Since the economic crisis of 2008, there has been much more focus on income inequality, not just from economists and social scientists, but also from politicians and from protesters who occupied Wall Street.

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Theater
1:56 pm
Thu April 26, 2012

'Best Man' John Larroquette Takes Broadway

Sen. Joseph Cantwell, played by Eric McCormack (left), is an ambitious striver who throws mud at his rival, Secretary William Russell, played by John Larroquette, who debates whether to use some dirt of his own in The Best Man.
Joan Marcus

Originally published on Fri April 27, 2012 10:38 am

Perhaps most recognizable for his role as despicable but lovable lawyer Dan Fielding on Night Court, John Larroquette has recently taken to the stage. He earned a Tony Award for his role in the 2011 production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

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The Two-Way
1:01 pm
Thu April 26, 2012

With A Tweet, A's Player Unleashes Debate: Is 'Kiss Cam' Homophobic?

The video board at Busch Stadium is seen during a popular between-inning feature known as "Kiss Cam."
Jeff Roberson AP

Yesterday, in the San Francisco Chronicle, columnist Gwen Knapp hailed a tweet from an Oakland Athletics' player as the dawn of the "age of enlightenment."

In short, pitcher Brandon McCarthy sent out a tweet that suggested the "Kiss Cam" — a feature shown on scoreboards across the country in which a camera focuses on couples in hopes of a kiss — was anti-gay.

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The Salt
12:42 pm
Thu April 26, 2012

Your 'Food Porn' Verdict? Keep The Photos Coming

NPR's Keith Jenkins has been known to document an especially tasty meal, like this pho tai from Pho DC.
Keith Jenkins NPR

Originally published on Fri April 27, 2012 8:25 am

Snarky comedians who mock people who share food photos on Facebook and Twitter (see this video) may be good for a chuckle, but they don't have the will of the people behind them.

That's what we've learned from our online survey this week, which asked: "Are your friends bombarding you with 'food porn'?"

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Education
11:45 am
Thu April 26, 2012

Boehner: House Will Vote On Student Loans

The House is set to vote Friday on a GOP proposal to keep some student loan interest rates at current levels. Many students have been concerned at news that the current 3.4 percent rate could double if Congress fails to extend the 2007 College Cost Reduction and Access Act. Host Michel Martin talks with Jason Delisle of the New America Foundation.

Business
11:45 am
Thu April 26, 2012

Is Bribery 'Business As Usual' South Of Border?

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now, we turn to a business scandal that could have repercussions on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. Wal-Mart, America's biggest retailer, is also Mexico's largest retailer and there, the company has been accused of paying more than $24 million in bribes to Mexican officials to obtain construction permits to build new stores.

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Law
11:45 am
Thu April 26, 2012

Sybrina Fulton: 'I Can Wait A Year' For Justice

Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, the parents of Trayvon Martin, walk with attorney Benjamin Crump and others as they leave the Seminole County courthouse after the bond hearing for George Zimmerman.
Roberto Gonzalez Getty Images

Days after George Zimmerman was freed on bail to await a second-degree murder trial for shooting Trayvon Martin, Sybrina Fulton, Martin's mother, says she's "willing to wait for justice to be served" in her son's case.

Speaking with Tell Me More host Michel Martin, Fulton also says that she feels like "I have a little hole in my heart. And that little hole is caused by the tragedy of Trayvon's death."

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Music Reviews
11:40 am
Thu April 26, 2012

Howlin' Wolf: A Blues Legend With An Earthy Sound

Howlin' Wolf's masters from the Chess label have just been released on a four-disc set titled Smokestack Lightning: The Complete Chess Masters 1931-1960.

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The Two-Way
11:26 am
Thu April 26, 2012

VIDEO: Norwegians Stand Up To Killer's Hate By Joining In Song

People gathered in Oslo today to sing Children of the Rainbow, in a demonstration against the views of killer Anders Behring Breivik.
Kyrre Lien AFP/Getty Images

Anders Behring Breivik, who last summer killed 77 people in Norway, thinks a folk song called Children of the Rainbow is brainwashing young Norwegians.

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The Two-Way
11:09 am
Thu April 26, 2012

New Allegations Surface Of Secret Service Misbehavior In El Salvador

U.S. Secret Service

Originally published on Thu April 26, 2012 1:24 pm

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano pledged on Wednesday the investigation into Secret Service agents who allegedly hired prostitutes this month in Cartagena, Colombia, "will be complete and thorough and we will leave no stone unturned."

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Book Reviews
10:57 am
Thu April 26, 2012

Lillian Hellman: A 'Difficult,' Vilified Woman

Originally published on Thu April 26, 2012 12:17 pm

"Difficult" is probably the most tactful word one could use in characterizing Lillian Hellman. If ever there were an author safer to meet through her art rather than in real life, she was the one. Born in New Orleans into a Jewish family, Hellman came of age in the Roaring '20s, liberated by flappers and Freud. Hellman drank like a fish, swore like a sailor and slept around like, well, like most of the men in her literary circle, chief among them Dashiell Hammett, with whom she had an open relationship spanning three decades. She was, recalled one observer, a "tough broad ...

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