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The Two-Way
5:49 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

U.S. Says Satellite Images Show Weaponry Syria Is Using Against Civilians

A satellite image taken Feb. 6.
U.S. State Department

The United States has declassified a series of satellite images it says show the kinds of weaponry the Syrian regime is using against its own people.

The first image was released on the Facebook page of the U.S. Embassy in Damascus. It was accompanied by a note from Embassador Robert Ford, who in the past has taken to Facebook to criticize the regime of President Bashar Assad.

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Music Interviews
5:02 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

An Understudy Turned Star Shines On The Met Stage

Jay Hunter Morris has received glowing reviews for his role as Siegfried in the Metropolitan Opera's most recent production of Wagner's Ring Cycle.
Ken Howard Metropolitan Opera

Originally published on Sat February 11, 2012 11:46 am

Siegfried is a Norse hero, and one of the most demanding roles in all of opera. He slays dragons and has to sing about it — in Gotterdammerung, The Twilight of the Gods, the last opera in Wagner's Ring Cycle.

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Animals
4:53 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

Return Of Gray Wolves Renews Debate Over Hunting

A gray wolf in the wild. Park officials say hunting restrictions in place in parts of of Montana have protected Yellowstone's wolves from a repeat of a 2009 hunt in which four Yellowstone wolves were shot.
MacNeill Lyons/National Park Service AP

Originally published on Fri February 10, 2012 6:24 pm

Gray wolves were taken off the endangered species list in Idaho and Montana last year and put under state control. But they're still on the list in neighboring Wyoming. That's because Wyoming has been the most aggressive about wanting to kill wolves.

Wyoming has finally struck a deal with the federal government regarding how wolves will be treated once the state takes over. But environmentalists believe the agreement denies wolves an important refuge.

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Politics
4:50 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

On The Trail, Romney Avoids His French Connection

Mitt Romney with his then fiancee, Ann (right), and Romney's parents, in Washington, D.C., in 1969. Romney had returned from Mormon missionary work in France the previous year.
JH AP

Mitt Romney waxed eloquent in French as he promoted the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, calling the two years he spent as a young man in France an "enriching experience."

But now that he's running for president of the United States, Romney doesn't talk a lot about his time as a Mormon missionary in France.

"Voilà," says Philippe Brillaut, as he points to the site of what would be France's first Mormon temple.

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Business
4:49 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

Angel Investors And Startups Mingle In Milwaukee

HarQen CEO Kelly Fitzsimmons delivers a presentation to Silicon Pastures, a Milwaukee-based angel investment group that has already put more than $1 million into her company.
Jeff Fitzsimmons HarQen

Originally published on Fri February 10, 2012 6:03 pm

Thirty-five well-dressed men and women are sipping wine and chatting in the lounge of one of Milwaukee's oldest and most exclusive social clubs. A century ago, this is where the city's beer and banking giants mixed and mingled. Tonight's crowd isn't all that different — many of these men and women are worth at least a million dollars. Once a month, they pool their money to invest in high-tech, fast-growth startups. They call themselves the Silicon Pastures Angel Investment Network.

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Religion
4:44 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

Catholics Split On Obama's Birth Control Decision

Archbishop Thomas Wenski, shown celebrating Mass at the Cathedral of St. Mary in Miami last month, says the new birth control policy is a "smoke screen."
Lynne Sladky AP

Originally published on Fri February 10, 2012 10:21 pm

Reaction from the Catholic community to the Obama administration's decision to revise its birth control policy was swift and mixed.

Under the new rule, employers with a religious objection to offering contraceptive coverage as part of their health care plans wouldn't have to provide it directly. Instead, the requirement to provide that coverage free of charge would fall on the insurance companies.

Some Catholics believe the president's new rule resolves the religious liberty issues. But others, including key bishops, say it is smoke and mirrors.

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Religion
4:36 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

With Vatican's Backing, Catholics Address Sex Abuse

Cardinal Marc Ouellet presides over a penitential mass at St. Ignatius Church in Rome, Feb. 7, 2012. The mass, which asked the forgiveness of victims of clerical sexual abuse, was part of a Vatican-backed symposium addressing the scandal of pedophile priests and the church culture that enabled such abuse to take place.
Andreas Solaro AFP/Getty Images

A decade after the clerical sex abuse scandal erupted in the United Sates, Catholic religious officials from all over the world met in Rome this week to tackle the painful topic.

The Vatican endorsed the symposium — called "Toward Healing and Renewal" — the aim of which was changing the culture of how the church deals with cases of pedophile priests.

One of the highlights was a late-afternoon penitential mass on Feb. 7 — apparently the first time a senior Vatican official conducted a service to ask the forgiveness of abuse victims.

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Shots - Health Blog
4:21 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

C-Sections May Be Risky For Smaller Preemies

A cesarean section may not be risky for a small preemie than a vaginal birth.
Matthew Scherf iStockphoto.com

When a fetus isn't growing as expected, doctors get worried. Often they decide to deliver a baby like that early by cesarean section, figuring it's the safer way to go.

But C-sections aren't always best for baby, according to new research.

Preemies who were small for their gestational age did better when they were delivered vaginally, researchers found. The babies delivered by C-section were 30 percent more likely to have trouble breathing, a big problem in preemies.

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Animals
4:13 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

Saved From Extinction, Darwin's Crocs Are Now King

Crocodile ranger Tom Nichols stands beside the crocodile traps used in Darwin Harbour. Nichols' left hand was mangled by an irate "salty" nine years ago.
John Burnett NPR

It's appropriate that Darwin, the tropical capital of Australia's Northern Territory, is named for the English naturalist.

The massive, powerful and deadly saltwater crocodile — the world's largest living reptile — is the evolutionary triumph of 50 million years of natural selection. And in Darwin, the crocodile is equally dreaded and beloved.

Crocodylus porosus was hunted to near extinction in the last century. But in 1974, the Australian government put the species, known affectionately as the "Australian salty," under federal protection.

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The Two-Way
3:40 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

Judge Sets Trial Date For Jerry Sandusky In Abuse Case

Jerry Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant football coach charged with sexually abusing boys, pauses while speaking to the media at the Centre County Courthouse.
Alex Brandon AP

A Pennsylvania judge set a tentative trial date of May 14 for Jerry Sandusky, who is facing 50 counts of sex abuse of 10 boys.

Sandusky was in court in part to ask Judge John Cleland for greater freedom while he awaits a trial.

The AP reports:

"The attorney general's office wants him confined to the inside of his home while on house arrest awaiting trial, while the defense asked that he be allowed out occasionally to help with the case.

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It's All Politics
3:37 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

In Plea To The Right, Romney Bills Himself As 'Severely Conservative'

Hoping to inspire the conservative base that hasn't warmed to him, Mitt Romney made his case to the American Conservative Union's annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington on Friday.
Jim Bourg Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri February 10, 2012 3:49 pm

They may not be ready to accept GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's invitation to stand with him "shoulder to shoulder," but conservatives at their biggest annual gathering gave him a reception Friday that at times rose to rousing.

Tacitly acknowledging that his past positions on abortion rights and health care mandates have made him suspect with a swath of his party's base, Romney used his speech to describe his "path to conservatism" as a mix of family values, faith and his "life's work" in business.

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The Salt
3:36 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

Wilderness On A Plate: A California Chef On His Foraged Feasts

In this dish, Coi's Daniel Patterson combines California clam, bull kelp, wild fennel, and Meyer lemon.
Coi Restaurant

Originally published on Sat February 11, 2012 6:09 pm

We at The Salt did our fair share of foraging last year: Allison Aubrey gathered pawpaws in Maryland, and Nancy Shute scavenged nutritious greens in the abandoned lots right near our office.

As the trend attracts more enthusiasts, home cooks are learning local botany, and high-end chefs are turning this most traditional method of gathering food into a glamorous sport.

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NPR Story
3:00 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

'Political Intelligence' Congress' Topic Of The Week

The House ethics bill has stirred up conversation on Capitol Hill about how closely regulated the "political intelligence" industry should be. Robert Siegel talks with Wall Street Journal investigative reporter Brody Mullins about what the political intelligence industry does and why Senator Chuck Grassley and others feel strongly that it should be regulated.

NPR Story
3:00 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

Lemonheads Creator Prosecuted Nazis, Loved Singing

Nello Ferrara, the creator of the candies Lemonheads and Atomic Fireballs, died Feb. 3. Audie Cornish talks to his son, Salvatore Ferrara II, about his father's legacy.

The Two-Way
2:58 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

Germany Puts Off Signing Global Anti-Piracy Agreement

Protesters, some wearing Guy Fawkes masks, take part in a demonstration in Stockholm on Saturday to protest the Swedish government's plan to ratify the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.
Fredrik Persson AFP/Getty Images

Germany is putting off signing an international anti-piracy accord known as the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.

ACTA, as the agreement is known, has been controversial for years. In many ways, it's been controversial in the same way that the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) has been in the United States.

We reported about the accord back in 2009, but slowly it's been watered down and signed by many countries including the United States, Japan and many European countries.

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The Two-Way
1:40 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

VIDEO: NASA Releases Spectacular View Of Aurora Borealis From Space

The Northern Lights as seen from space.
NASA

Using a new time-lapse technique, NASA was able to capture a spectacular view of how astronauts aboard the International Space Station see the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights.

As the AP says, NASA has released many videos of this before — just take a look at this stunning one released a couple of months ago — but this is time-lapse footage taken with high resolution cameras.

In any case, here's the video via BBC Mundo:

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Health Care
1:18 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

White House Offers 'Accommodation' On Contraception

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

On a Friday morning, it's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

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NPR Story
1:00 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

The Science Of Yoga: The Risks And The Rewards

In his book The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards, New York Times science writer and long-time yoga practitioner William Broad investigates popular health claims about yoga--that it boosts metabolism, for example--and finds that scientific studies tell a different story.

NPR Story
1:00 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

Next Supercontinent Could Form At The North Pole

Several times in earth's history continents have collided to form supercontinents only to later break apart. Geologist Ross Mitchell discusses a new study in Nature that predicts in 50 to 200 million years time the Americas and Eurasia will collide to form a supercontinent over the Arctic.

NPR Story
1:00 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

Valentine's Day Special: Look Of Love

Originally published on Fri February 10, 2012 1:58 pm

Transcript

JOHN DANKOSKY, HOST:

And now it's time for the Video Pick of the Week, and Flora's here. Hi, Flora.

FLORA LICHTMAN, BYLINE: Hi, John.

DANKOSKY: So what do you have for us?

LICHTMAN: This week, we have a Valentine's Day special, getting ready for next week's Valentine's Day, in case you didn't remember.

DANKOSKY: How romantic.

LICHTMAN: Yes, of course, always on SCIENCE FRIDAY.

DANKOSKY: Yeah.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

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NPR Story
1:00 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

Drug Rapidly Counters Effects of Alzheimer's In Mice

Originally published on Fri February 10, 2012 1:58 pm

Transcript

JOHN DANKOSKY, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm John Dankosky, sitting in for Ira Flatow. Scientists have long been studied amyloid beta, those sticky protein fragments that build up in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. What you may not know is that amyloid beta is produced in everyone's brain, including my brain as I speak to you right now.

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NPR Story
1:00 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

Notes From A Former 'Guitar Zero'

NYU psychology professor Gary Marcus took up guitar at the relatively ancient age of 38, by starting with the video game Guitar Hero. Marcus shares his experiences and insights on the science of learning, which he's gathered in a new book Guitar Zero: The New Musician and the Science of Learning.

NPR Story
1:00 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

Why Vinyl Sounds Better Than CD, Or Not

According to Rolling Stone magazine, sales of vinyl albums continue to grow, setting a new record in 2010. Does vinyl reproduce sound better, or is it just a trend? Two audio experts join guest host John Dankosky to talk about the science of audio, and how perceptions can shape the sound experience.

The Two-Way
12:50 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

Deal With Banks Isn't Only Way For Homeowners To Get Help, HUD Chief Says

For sale signs on a foreclosed house in Glendale, Calif., last September.
Kevork Djansezian Getty Images
  • Michel Martin talks with HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan

The $25 billion settlement with five banks unveiled Thursday, which aims to give some mortgage relief and other help to homeowners who got hurt when the housing bubble burst before the 2007-2009 recession, has been viewed with skepticism by some folks in the nation's hardest-hit housing markets, as NPR's Greg Allen reported.

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The Two-Way
12:36 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

Stocks Take Dive, As Greek Bailout Deal Remains Uncertain

Protesters write on the wall of the National Bank of Greece during a demonstration involving thousands in Athens on Friday.
Milos Bicanski Getty Images

Just a day after it appeared that Greece and its eurozone partners had reached a deal, we're back where we've been for months: There are fiery protests on the streets of Athens, the markets and the euro are in turmoil and negotiations are at a tense point with four Greek Cabinet ministers tendering resignations over their opposition to austerity measures.

Here's the how the AP rounds up the latest:

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Politics
12:00 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

Secretary Donovan Talks Multi-Billion Deal

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan talks with host Michel Martin about the settlement reached yesterday between federal and state officials and major banks. It was an effort to address unfair banking practices that led to the mortgage crisis. President Obama praised the deal, but critics say the settlement is inadequate.

Shots - Health Blog
11:49 am
Fri February 10, 2012

White House Bends On Birth Control Requirement For Religious Groups

Originally published on Fri February 10, 2012 12:30 pm

Under increasing pressure, the White House has offered what it's calling an "accommodation" to religious groups on a requirement to cover birth control free of charge.

Even some Democrats, who generally support the policy of requiring most employers to offer no-cost contraception, were unhappy with the rule's reach.

But the change unveiled by the White House isn't expected to completely quell the uproar raised by Catholics and others who say the policy violates their freedom of religion.

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Planet Money
11:26 am
Fri February 10, 2012

The Undertaker Who Helps Big Banks Write Death Plans

Nobody lives forever.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri February 10, 2012 6:03 pm

The nation's big banks are writing death plans — living wills that spell out how, in a future crisis, they could be safely dismantled. The idea is that the death plans will help avoid another government bailout of the banks.

"You're technically writing your own funeral, down to the color of the flowers" says Dolores Atallo.

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The Two-Way
10:25 am
Fri February 10, 2012

White House To Detail Changes To Controversial Contraception Rule

Originally published on Fri February 10, 2012 12:21 pm

Hospitals and organizations operated by religious institutions will not have to pay for or provide free contraception coverage to their employees, but the insurance companies that offer coverage to those workers will have to do that, White House officials just told reporters during a conference call.

They're explaining changes to a controversial plan the administration unveiled in recent days. The goal of the change appears to be to provide the coverage, but at the same time to not force religious groups to violate their principles.

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Politics
10:23 am
Fri February 10, 2012

A Conservative's Tips For Finding The Right Mate

Neil Harrison iStockphoto

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