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Planet Money
12:01 am
Fri January 27, 2012

Jack Abramoff Explains The 'Lobbyist Safecracker Method'

Jack Abramoff in 2004. He's the one on the right.
Dennis Cook AP

Originally published on Fri January 27, 2012 10:39 am

Disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff has been making the rounds lately. He's out of prison. He has a new book. He's in a talkative mood. So I figured it was a good time to ask him about the business of lobbying — not about what he did that was illegal, but about the ordinary, legal stuff.

The firm he worked for was called Greenberg Traurig. I chose a year at random when Abramoff was working there, and picked a client I hoped would be fairly typical. I chose Tyco International, a multinational corporation that in 2003 gave Abramoff's firm $1.3 million.

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Latin America
12:01 am
Fri January 27, 2012

State-Of-The-Art Hospital Offers Hope For Haiti

A worker pushes a wheelbarrow past the new National Teaching Hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti, on Jan. 10. When it opens this summer, the 320-bed facility will be Haiti's largest hospital and provide services and a level of care well beyond what's currently available.
Dieu Nalio Chery AP

Originally published on Fri January 27, 2012 10:04 am

Even before the devastating earthquake in 2010, Haiti's public health care system was perhaps the worst in the Western Hemisphere. Then the quake knocked down clinics, killed medical workers and severely damaged the General Hospital in Port-au-Prince, the capital.

Now, the Boston-based group Partners in Health has set out to build a world-class teaching hospital in what used to be a rice field in the Haitian countryside.

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Business
12:01 am
Fri January 27, 2012

Other File-Sharing Sites: 'We're Not Megaupload'

Folder background.
alengo iStockPhoto.com

Originally published on Tue January 31, 2012 10:50 pm

A week has passed since the landing of an indictment that shut down the website Megaupload for copyright infringement and racketeering. But it seems like it's still easy for people like college student Bobby Azarbayejani to find whatever music he wants.

He has used Megaupload before, but because that site is gone, he is using MediaFire. It's one of the many sites on the Internet where people share all types of files.

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Latin America
12:01 am
Fri January 27, 2012

Reading The Tea Leaves: Cuba's Communists Convene

Fidel Castro made a surprise appearance at the 6th Communist Party Congress in Havana, Cuba, held April 19, 2011. This weekend, the party will meet for the first time since then, and observers will be looking for insight into who may be on the ascendant in the party leadership.
Javier Galeano AP

In Cuba this weekend, President Raul Castro will preside over the first meeting of the island's all-powerful Communist Party since last April. Castro has lowered expectations for any new economic reform announcements, saying that internal party affairs will be the business at hand.

But many Cubans will be watching for signs of who is rising in the party's ranks — and who could take over after Raul and Fidel Castro, both in their 80s, are gone.

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Television
12:01 am
Fri January 27, 2012

For 'Black Nerds Everywhere,' Two Comedy Heroes

Key & Peele, premiering Jan. 31 on Comedy Central." href="/post/black-nerds-everywhere-two-comedy-heroes" class="noexit lightbox">
Jordan Peele (left) plays President Obama and Keegan-Michael Key (right) plays his "anger translator" in a sketch from Key & Peele, premiering Jan. 31 on Comedy Central.
Comedy Central

Originally published on Fri January 27, 2012 12:28 pm

Comics Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele have known each other for years. They were both in the cast of MadTV. Now they're starting their own sketch-comedy series, due to launch on Comedy Central on Tuesday.

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StoryCorps
10:00 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

After Son's Sudden Death, Shock, Grief And Coping

Buelah and Dennis Apple spoke about their son Denny during a visit to StoryCorps in Kansas City, Mo.
StoryCorps

Originally published on Fri January 27, 2012 10:04 am

Nearly 21 years ago, Dennis Apple and his wife, Buelah, were thrust into a situation parents dread. Their son Denny had come down with mononucleosis. And as they recall, just before bed one night, Denny took his medicine and then talked about where he wanted to sleep.

At the time, Denny was 18; he had begun competing in triathlons near the family's home in Olathe, Kan., outside Kansas City.

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The Two-Way
6:50 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

Later Tonight: Live Blogging The Latest GOP Debate

With just four full days to go before Tuesday's crucial Florida primary, the four remaining major Republican presidential candidates gather tonight for another debate.

This time the setting is the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. The host network is CNN. The network's Wolf Blitzer will moderate. The other sponsors are the Republican Party of Florida and the Hispanic Leadership Network, a center-right advocacy group.

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It's All Politics
6:38 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

In A Campaign Defined By Debates, Some Moments That Really Mattered

Texas Gov. Rick Perry was searching for the words "Department of Energy" during the CNBC debate Nov. 9, 2011 in Auburn Hills, Mich.
Paul Sancya AP

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Shots - Health Blog
6:07 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

Blood Doctors Call Foul On NCAA's Screening For Sickle Cell

University of Central Florida wide receiver Ereck Plancher died in 2008, after taking part in voluntary strength and conditioning drills. A lawsuit by his family claimed his death was related to complications from sickle cell trait that weren't properly treated. The university is appealing the decision against it.
AP

If you're a college athlete who's talented enough to play a Division I sport, the NCAA requires that you get a blood test to see if you have sickle cell trait.

People with sickle cell trait carry one copy of a gene that can lead to an abnormal type of hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying molecule in red blood cells. (Two copies of the gene lead to sickle cell disease.)

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Energy
5:33 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

Panel Charts Path To New Home For Nuclear Waste

Without a centralized national repository for nuclear waste, the radioactive material is currently being kept at various sites across the country. Above, large concrete canisters, each holding 14 55-gallon drums of waste, are loaded on a truck in Richland, Wash., in June 2005 where they were later shipped to a facility in New Mexico.
Jeff T. Green Getty Images

A panel of experts today set forth a plan for getting rid of thousands of tons of highly radioactive nuclear waste.

Most of it is spent fuel from nuclear power reactors. It was supposed to go to a repository in Nevada called Yucca Mountain, but the government has abandoned that plan.

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The Two-Way
5:10 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

McCain Says History Will Judge Obama Harshly On Policy Toward Iran

Sen. John McCain, right, as he endorsed Mitt Romney's bid for the presidency earlier this month.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

President Obama has made the case that his administration spoke out forcefully when Iran's government used deadly force to suppress protests in the spring of 2009.

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Presidential Race
5:08 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

Gingrich Fights Against The Lobbyist Label

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich speaks Thursday during a Lakeside Inn Tea Party rally in Mount Dora, Fla.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

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

In the race for the Republican presidential nomination, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich continues to fend off accusations that he should wear the scarlet "L" — for "lobbyist." This week, he released two of his consulting contracts and said they didn't call for any lobbying.

Like many other former lawmakers, Gingrich was advocating for paying clients, while not officially registering as a lobbyist.

The two contracts disclosed this week came from Gingrich's work for Freddie Mac, the mortgage giant. Between 1999 and 2007, Freddie Mac paid his firm $1.6 million.

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NPR's Backseat Book Club
5:04 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

'Birmingham': A Family Tale In The Civil Rights Era

Originally published on Fri January 27, 2012 1:40 pm

Welcome to the fourth installment of NPR's Backseat Book Club, where we select a book for young readers — and invite them to read along with us and share their thoughts and questions with the author.

Our selection for January — The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis — describes the civil rights era from the perspective of a young (and extremely mischievous) boy and his family.

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The Salt
4:51 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

Coop D'Etat: Farmers, Humane Society Partner On Chicken-Cage Revolution

At the JS West egg farm, south of Modesto, Calif., one chicken house has the new, spacious cages that egg producers and animal welfare advocates say keep chickens happier.
Big Dutchman

Originally published on Fri January 27, 2012 10:45 am

When I first saw the press release, I figured it had to be an April Fools' joke. The Humane Society of the United States, a voice of outrage against all heartless exploitation of animals, joining hands with the United Egg Producers, which represents an industry that keeps 200 million chickens in cages?

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Presidential Race
4:44 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

Republican Debates Become Must-See TV

This election cycle, one factor stands above all others in driving the dynamics of the race for the Republican presidential nomination: televised debates.

All Tech Considered
4:38 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

Apple Continues To Be Plagued By Reports On Labor Conditions

A new iPhone 4S at Apple's Beijing flagship store.
Feng Li Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 26, 2012 6:05 pm

Apple has been taking a lot of heat lately for working conditions at plants making its products in China.

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The Picture Show
4:30 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

A Lens On Life In The Kentucky Hollows

Frankie
Shelby Lee Adams Courtesy of Candela Books

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:08 am

"A lot of my work is visiting," says photographer Shelby Lee Adams. "A quarter is actually photographing."

In fact, Adams has spent some 30 years visiting and building relationships with the people in and around Hazard, a small city in eastern Kentucky where he was born.

The visits started well before he was a photographer. As a young boy, Adams would tag along with his uncle, a country doctor, tending to families tucked up in mountain hollows, or "hollers."

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It's All Politics
4:29 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

Candidates Campaign On An Economic Silver Bullet: Worker Retraining

President Barack Obama waves after speaking at a UPS facility in Las Vegas on Thursday. Nevada is one stop on the president's latest road trip focusing on the economy.
Julie Jacobson AP

There are not many things that Barack Obama, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney agree on, but when it comes to job training there is common ground.

"It is time to turn our unemployment system into a reemployment system that puts people to work," President Obama said during his State of the Union address Tuesday.

Earlier in the week, Newt Gingrich offered a similar solution for helping those facing long-term unemployment.

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The Two-Way
4:03 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

An Emotional Moment: Sen. Mitch McConnell Meets Myanmar's Suu Kyi

U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell talks as Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi listens during a press conference after their meeting at her home in Yangon, Myanmar on Monday.
Khin Maung Win AP

Originally published on Thu January 26, 2012 6:21 pm

Mitch McConnell, the senate Republican leader from Kentucky, was the original author of the United States' sanctions on Myanmar.

So these last six months have been astounding for him. Myanmar, which is also known as Burma, has gone through an amazing transformation. Aung San Suu Kyi, the country's leading opposition figure, has announced she will seek public office and the U.S. has reestablished diplomatic ties with Myanmar.

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The Two-Way
3:45 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

Americans Barred From Leaving Egypt Include Secretary LaHood's Son

Egyptian authorities' efforts to prevent organizations that promote democracy from freely working inside their country have now ensnared the son of a U.S. cabinet secretary.

Sam LaHood, the son of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and at least five other Americans have been barred from leaving Egypt.

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It's All Politics
3:42 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

Romney To Highlight Olympic 'Rescue' At 10th Anniversary Of Salt Lake Games

Mitt Romney, then the president of the 2002 Salt Lake Organizing Committee, greets attendees at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Utah.
Roberto Schmidt AFP/Getty Images

The Romney campaign has confirmed that the Republican presidential hopeful will attend an event in Salt Lake City next month commemorating the 10th anniversary of the 2002 Olympics.

The event gives the struggling campaign the chance to underscore one of Mitt Romney's signature accomplishments. "I worked at one company, Bain, for 25 years," Romney said in a debate and campaign ad. "And I left that to go off and help save the Olympic Games."

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Shots - Health Blog
3:39 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

How Health Care Dropped Out Of The Presidential Conversation

Courtesy of The Advisory Board Co.

Health wonks were miffed about the lack of attention their beloved issue got in President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night.

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Theater
3:33 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

In Broadway's 'Wit,' A Documentary Of Our Demise

In a revival of Wit on Broadway, Cynthia Nixon plays Vivan Bearing, a brilliant John Donne scholar forced to consider her own mortality when she's diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
Manhattan Theatre Club

Originally published on Thu January 26, 2012 6:35 pm

In her dressing room at the Friedman Theatre, Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon has a nightly ritual: She rubs Nivea cream all over her scalp to soothe the razor burns.

Being completely bald is just one of the many demands of the character she plays in Wit -- a brilliant college professor named Vivian Bearing, who's battling ovarian cancer.

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Presidential Race
3:00 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

Republicans Prepare To Debate In Florida

Melissa Block talks with NPR's Mara Liasson about Thursday night's Republican debate in Jacksonville, Fla.

World
3:00 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

McConnell Praises White House's Actions On Myanmar

The Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnnell was on the floor Thursday, offering rare praise for the Obama administration. He agrees with the actions of the White House and the State Department in responding to signs of reform in the southeast Asian nation of Myanmar, also known as Burma. McConnell talks about this rare instance of bipartisanship.

Energy
3:00 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

Obama Discusses Details From His Energy Agenda

The Obama administration released more details Thursday about the energy plan he previewed at the State of the Union this week. He announced an oil-and-gas-lease sale on nearly 38 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico — and proposals for new incentives to increase the use of natural gas in heavy trucks and buses.

Politics
2:24 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

The Public Respects Civility, But Rewards Rudeness

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer points at President Obama after he arrived at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport on Wednesday.
Haraz N. Ghanbari AP

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Middle East
2:10 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

The State Of Syria: Civil War Or Vicious Stalemate?

Syrian army defectors wave the Syrian revolution flag Thursday, shortly after they defected to join the anti-regime protesters.
STR AP

Originally published on Tue January 31, 2012 12:00 pm

One thing that's certain about the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad is that there is nothing romantic about it.

Unlike Egypt, there's no Tahrir Square filled with hundreds of thousands of people calling for democracy. Unlike Libya, there's no Mad Max warriors in the desert fighting a dictator with guns they've welded to the backs of their pickup trucks.

Instead, grim news seeps out piecemeal from unofficial sources. Most of the reports are little more than body counts, with most of the fatalities blamed on the Syrian security forces.

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Shots - Health Blog
2:09 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

Working Long Hours Can Be Depressing, Truly

Working long hours may get you more than a paycheck.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri February 3, 2012 1:12 pm

Putting in a lot of of overtime can make a person more vulnerable to depression.

You might have guessed that. But now there are some hard numbers, thanks to a study that tracked the health of civil service workers in Great Britain.

People who worked 11 hours a day or more, more than doubled their risk of major depression compared with colleagues putting in eight hours a day.

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The Two-Way
2:09 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

To Shrink Budget, Pentagon Proposes Cutting 100,000 Ground Troops

Originally published on Thu January 26, 2012 3:18 pm

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that the the Pentagon will propose a $33 billion cut in the military's budget, for the 2013 fiscal year.

The AP reports that will be achieved by reducing ground forces by 100,000 and by eliminating older aircraft.

The AP reports:

"Defense Secretary Leon Panetta tells a Pentagon news conference the administration will request a 2013 budget of $525 billion, plus another $88 billion for operations in Afghanistan. Combined, those totals are about $33 billion less than the Pentagon is spending this year.

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