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Planet Money
12:01 am
Fri October 21, 2011

France And Germany: A Love Story

Philippe Wojazer AP

France and Germany are trying to come up with a bailout plan for Europe. This isn't the first time they've fought over money.

Like any bickering couple, they've spent centuries fighting over finances. In fact, the history of their relationship is so dramatic — so theatrical — it's best to tell it in song.

(Read the lyrics, and see the credits, here.)

Our story begins in 1870.

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Economy
12:01 am
Fri October 21, 2011

School Debt A Long-Term Burden For Many Graduates

Students attend graduation ceremonies at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Two-thirds of college students now graduate with debt, owing an average amount of $24,000.

Butch Dill AP

With the nation's student-loan debt climbing toward $1 trillion, it's taking many young people longer than ever to pay off their loans. Two-thirds of college students now graduate with debt, owing an average of $24,000. But some borrow far more and find this debt influencing major life decisions long after graduation.

"I was very naive, and I realize that now," says Stephanie Iachini, of Altoona, Pa. She was the first in her family to go to college and financed it herself. "Basically I was just signing papers because the education part meant a lot to me."

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Research News
12:01 am
Fri October 21, 2011

'Living Fossils' Just A Branch On Cycad Family Tree

A giant dioon, seen at the United States Botanic Garden, is part of the cycad family and can be found growing in Mexico and Central America.

Maggie Starbard NPR

Originally published on Fri October 21, 2011 8:46 am

Although dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago, there are still thought to be a few species left over from those days. Plants called cycads are among these rare "living fossils" — they have remained pretty much unchanged for more than 300 million years, but a study in Science magazine suggests that glamorous title may not be deserved.

There's no time machine in Washington, D.C., but Harvard botanist Sarah Mathews leads me to what's arguably the next best thing — a room made of glass in the U.S. Botanic Garden, just downhill from the U.S. Capitol.

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The Salt
6:25 pm
Thu October 20, 2011

Panel Proposes Nutrition Labels That Reach For The Stars

The Institute of Medicine wants the FDA to adopt new food labels that make it easier for consumers to compare the healthfulness of food products.

iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri October 21, 2011 8:24 am

The Institute of Medicine sympathizes with us consumers and the confusion we suffer weighing health claims on food packaging at the grocery store. Our convoluted food labels might have something to do with why so many Americans aren't eating as healthfully as they could, and are shouldering too much weight and diet-related health problems, the IOM says.

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It's All Politics
5:51 pm
Thu October 20, 2011

Ohio's Upcoming 'Issue 2' Vote Carries Larger Political Implications

Protesters against Senate Bill 5 during a rally in February 2011 in Columbus.

J.D. Pooley Getty Images

Originally published on Thu October 20, 2011 10:46 pm

Early voting is underway in Ohio, where a fierce fight with political and economic implications is forcing voters to pick sides between Republican budget-cutters and public workers' unions. At issue is whether to keep or repeal SB 5, a controversial bill supported by Gov. John Kasich and passed by the GOP-dominated legislature this spring. Among other things, SB 5 dramatically restricts Ohio's public sector workers collective bargaining rights. Under SB 5, public employees cannot strike or negotiate for wages or working conditions.

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The Two-Way
5:35 pm
Thu October 20, 2011

Protest Role Does Not Cost Public Radio Host Her Job On Opera Program

The host of a public radio opera show that is distributed nationally by NPR will keep her job after drawing criticism for her involvement with an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street protests.

Lisa Simeone, the freelance host of the show World of Opera, also has been acting as a spokeswoman for Washington, D.C., protesters affiliated with the "October 2011" group.

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Shots - Health Blog
5:25 pm
Thu October 20, 2011

Crash Rates Don't Tell the Whole Story Of Risky Teen Driving

Gene Blythe AP

Originally published on Thu October 20, 2011 6:18 pm

Teenage drivers have fewer crashes after they've been driving for a while, but new research suggests that a few months behind the wheel doesn't improve their driving skills all that much.

Researchers persuaded 42 newly licensed teen drivers to have data-recording systems installed in their cars — a camera, a GPS, and an accelerometer to measures rapid stops, sharp turns and swerves. They also checked up on how their parents did when driving the same cars.

The idea was to compare the driving habits of novices with those of more experienced drivers under similar conditions.

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Conflict In Libya
4:59 pm
Thu October 20, 2011

Gadhafi's Last Days Still A Mystery

Libyan Transitional National Council fighters said Moammar Gadhafi was captured Thursday in this graffitti-filled culvert in Sirte.

Philippe Desmazes AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:19 am

Moammar Gadhafi proved true to his word that he would remain in Libya and "die as a martyr," though his final hours were an ignominious end for a man who long ruled from a fortress-like compound in the heart of Tripoli.

His last moments were reportedly spent holed up in a culvert under a road in his hometown of Sirte as loyalist forces waged a losing battle to keep control of the city.

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The Two-Way
4:47 pm
Thu October 20, 2011

In Upcoming Memoir, Condoleeza Rice Recounts Encounter With Gadhafi

Moammar Gadhafi (R) poses with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice prior to a meeting in Tripoli on Sept. 5, 2008.

Mahmud Turkia AFP/Getty Images

Former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice held a special place for Col. Moammar Gadhafi. We know that because he once referred to her her as "my darling black African woman," and said, "I love her very much."

We also know that because after he was toppled, his compound was ransacked and among the things found was a scrapbook packed with photos of Rice.

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Afghanistan
4:33 pm
Thu October 20, 2011

Despite Recent Killings, Kandahar Appears Stable

The assassination of Ahmed Wali Karzai (center, shown in 2009), the half-brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, prompted fears of a security breakdown in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar. Ahmed Wali Karzai was rumored to have a hand in everything that went on in the region: tribal affairs, politics and business.

Banaras Khan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu October 20, 2011 4:42 pm

This past summer, two assassinations paralyzed the southern Afghan city of Kandahar with fears of a power vacuum.

In the first incident, President Hamid Karzai's half-brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, considered the unofficial kingpin of the south, was gunned down in July by a close associate. Two weeks later, a Taliban assassin killed the city's mayor, Ghulam Hamidi, with a bomb concealed in his turban.

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The Two-Way
3:59 pm
Thu October 20, 2011

Crash Leaves 5,000 Chickens On Northern Calif. Highway

About 5,000 chickens spilled onto Northern California's I-80.

screenshot KTXL-TV

Commuters on Northern California's I-80, which connects the Bay Area to Sacramento, saw something unexpected early this morning. Two rigs collided and about 5,000 chickens spilled onto the highway near Vacaville.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

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Animals
3:51 pm
Thu October 20, 2011

What Slew An Ancient Mastodon? DNA Tells Tale

A museum employee stands beneath a mastodon skeleton on display at the U.S. National Museum, now the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, circa 1917. A new study revisits an old debate about the evidence for an early mastodon hunt in North America.

Smithsonian Institution Archives

Originally published on Fri October 21, 2011 9:14 pm

More than 13,000 years ago, hairy elephant-like creatures with giant tusks roamed North America. These mastodons were hunted by some of the earliest people to live here, and scientists recently learned a bit more about those mysterious cultures by taking a new look at an old mastodon bone.

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Mitt Romney
3:30 pm
Thu October 20, 2011

In Iowa, Mitt Romney Makes His Presence Known

Mitt Romney, shown here at the Iowa State Fair in August, was back in the state on Thursday — his first visit since summer. At one point during his town hall on Thursday, he was asked why he's spent so little time in the state.

Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Mitt Romney's current run for the White House has not included a big presence in the first state that will actually vote: Iowa, which holds its caucuses on Jan. 3.

He failed to meet expectations at the Iowa caucuses in 2008. So for 2012, his campaign has focused instead on New Hampshire as the key to a series of primary victories that, they believe, will result in the former Massachusetts governor winning the GOP nomination.

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The Two-Way
3:26 pm
Thu October 20, 2011

Gadhafi Was Killed In Crossfire, Interim Prime Minister Says

Moammar Gadhafi was killed in the crossfire of a battle between his supporters and fighters loyal to the opposition that topped the dictator's regime, Libya's interim prime minister told NPR this afternoon.

"Nobody can tell if the [fatal] shot was from the rebel fighters or from his own security guard," Interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril told All Things Considered host Robert Siegel.

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It's All Politics
2:55 pm
Thu October 20, 2011

Is Herman Cain In Trouble With Social Conservatives?

Part of Herman Cain's appeal to GOP presidential primary voters was that he seemed to have more street cred with social conservatives than the putative front runner, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Doubts about Romney have helped fuel Cain's recent rise in the polls, putting him in a virtual dead-heat with Romney.

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Religion
2:32 pm
Thu October 20, 2011

Controversy Erupts Over Sex-Segregated Brooklyn Bus

Originally published on Fri October 21, 2011 9:14 pm

It's been a few decades since Americans were engaged in a back-of-the-bus controversy. Now a popular bus route between two New York City neighborhoods is reviving the issue.

Last Wednesday, Melissa Franchy boarded the B110 from Williamsburg to Boro Park, two Hasidic Jewish neighborhoods in Brooklyn. She was accompanying her friend, Sasha Chavkin, a reporter for The New York World, a Columbia Journalism School publication. Their mission: Find out what would happen if Franchy sat at the front of the bus.

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The Two-Way
2:20 pm
Thu October 20, 2011

France's First Family Welcomes Baby Girl

A file photo of France's President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy.

Michel Euler AP

Originally published on Thu October 20, 2011 4:07 pm

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife, the chanteuse Carla Bruni-Sarkozy welcomed a baby girl yesterday.

France's first family has been very secretive about the pregnancy, so the AFP reports Elysee Palace released few details.

The AFP says government sources did say that Sarkozy was able to see his baby girl in between "talks on the eurozone sovereign debt crisis."

And Sarkozy said both mom and baby are "doing very well."

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The Two-Way
2:16 pm
Thu October 20, 2011

Obama: Libya's 'Dark Shadow Of Tyranny Has Been Lifted'

A year ago, President Obama just said, "the notion of a free Libya" seemed far-fetched.

But today, with the death of ousted dictator Moammar Gadhafi, the "dark shadow of tyranny has been lifted" in that North African nation, the president added.

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The Salt
1:56 pm
Thu October 20, 2011

A Coconut Cake From Emily Dickinson: Reclusive Poet, Passionate Baker

A daguerreotype of Emily Dickinson, taken in 1846.

William C. North University of Illinois at at Urbana-Champaign

Nelly Lambert is a PhD student in English at Catholic University. She's writing her dissertation on Emily Dickinson's poetry.

Poet Emily Dickinson withdrew from society for most of her adult life. And yet, she was known to lower a basket full of cakes from the window of the home she rarely left to crowds of expectant children on the street below. Dickinson probably never met these children, yet she connected with them through her baking.

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The Two-Way
1:49 pm
Thu October 20, 2011

Gadhafi's Death: The View From The Arab World

Libyan children waving National Transitional Council (NTC) flags celebrate in the streets of Tripoli following news of Moammar Gadhafi's death.

Marco Longari AFP/Getty Images

The killing of Col. Moammar Gadhafi will most certainly go down as one of the important chapters of what's come to be known as the Arab Spring, or the popular uprisings across North Africa and the Middle East that have deposed three dictators.

In the region, one big question that will be answered in the coming weeks is how Gadhafi's killing will affect the opposition movements firmly in place in Syria and Yemen.

NPR's Ahmed Al-Omran, a production assistant on NPR's social media desk, has been sifting through social networks to gauge reaction from the region.

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Shots - Health Blog
1:09 pm
Thu October 20, 2011

Advice For The Golden Years: 'Don't Ever Retire Mentally'

iStockphoto.com

Retirement can be an endless golf game or constant trips to the doctor, depending on a whole host of factors, including luck. But either way, it's a stage of life that's usually more difficult and expensive than people expect.

Tell Me More's series on end-of-life issues continues today, with a roundtable discussion at a retirement home in Washington, D.C.

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Planet Money
12:59 pm
Thu October 20, 2011

What If We Paid Off The Debt? The Secret Government Report

This Feb. 1, 2010, file photo shows the National Debt Clock in New York.

Mark Lennihan AP

Originally published on Fri October 21, 2011 9:14 pm

Planet Money has obtained a secret government report outlining what once looked like a potential crisis: The possibility that the U.S. government might pay off its entire debt.

It sounds ridiculous today. But not so long ago, the prospect of a debt-free U.S. was seen as a real possibility with the potential to upset the global financial system.

We recently obtained the report through a Freedom of Information Act Request. You can read the whole thing here. (It's a PDF.)

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The Two-Way
12:27 pm
Thu October 20, 2011

Foreign Heads Of State, U.S. Politicians React To Gadhafi's Death

As news of the killing of Col. Moammar Gadhafi spread, politicians, world leaders and dignitaries have been issuing statements. We've collected some them on this post and we'll add more as we get them:

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said this in a statement at U.N. headquarters in New York:

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The Two-Way
12:00 pm
Thu October 20, 2011

Unemployment Claims Dip To Lowest Monthly Average In 6 Months

The Labor Department said today that claims of unemployment insurance dipped by 6,000 to 403,000. That brings the monthly average to to its lowest point in six months.

But careful, says The Wall Street Journal, the number still remains above 400,000, "indicating the labor market still is weak."

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Africa
11:43 am
Thu October 20, 2011

Gadhafi's Death A 'Historic Transition' For Libya

Ousted Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was killed Thursday as revolutionary forces overan his hometown of Sirte. U.N. General-Secretary Ban Ki-Moon called it a "historic transition for Libya."

Shots - Health Blog
10:54 am
Thu October 20, 2011

After A Half-Million Cholera Cases, Vaccination Will Begin In Haiti

A Haitian protester in Port-au-Prince last month spray-paints a wall, equating the UN mission in Haiti (abbreviated here as MINISTA) with cholera.

Thony Belizaire AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu October 20, 2011 11:38 am

A year after cholera burst upon earthquake-weary Haiti, plans are afoot to begin vaccinating people against the highly contagious disease.

Nearly half a million Haitians — about 5 percent of the population — have already been afflicted and more than 6,500 have died.

But the goal of the vaccinators isn't to stop cholera in its tracks. They can't do that in Haiti with just 200,000 doses — enough for only 100,000 people — that's all the manufacturer can offer.

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Africa
10:32 am
Thu October 20, 2011

Moammar Gadhafi Ruled Libya With An Iron Fist

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, shown in a 2008 file photo, ruled Libya for 42 years. Libya's new leaders say he was killed Thursday in his hometown of Sirte.

Sergei Grits AP

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 12:19 pm

Moammar Gadhafi ruled Libya with an iron fist for more than four decades. He was an unpredictable, often brutal leader with a grand vision of himself. In the end, he squandered his country's wealth and lost the support of his people.

During his 42 years of rule, Gadhafi reinvented his image many times — from revolutionary to Arab nationalist, freedom fighter and self-styled leader of Africa.

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Africa
10:07 am
Thu October 20, 2011

On The Scene In Tripoli: Reports Of Gadhafi's Demise

Multiple reports say Libya's Moammar Gadhafi may be dead. A photo of a body purported to be Ghadafi has been shown on television and websites after earlier reports that he had been captured and wounded. NPR News producer Grant Clark is in Tripoli and joins Renee Montagne by phone.

The Salt
10:05 am
Thu October 20, 2011

The Historic Allure Of A Late Night Oyster

Late night oysters may be discounted, but they're usually no less fresh than oysters served at any other hour.

Maggie Starbard NPR

Originally published on Thu October 20, 2011 10:25 am

Despite its proximity to the Chesapeake Bay, Washington, D.C. isn't a seafood town in its own right, with a proper port. But just steps away from the White House, in the most straight-laced section of a straight-laced town, is a kind of temple to the most sensual of seafood – the raw oyster.

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Africa
10:00 am
Thu October 20, 2011

Developments In Libya: Sirte Defeated; Gadhafi Dead?

Reports streamed in Thursday morning that Libya's Moammar Gadhafi had been captured and killed. A Libyan transitional government official told CNN that Gadhafi is dead. A NATO official cautioned that it will take time to confirm the reports. NPR foreign editor Loren Jenkins talks with Renee Montagne about the latest developments.

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