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Shots - Health Blog
5:08 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

Shape Up, America, Before It's Too Late

America's Health Rankings

You might find it hard to believe, but we Americans are, by and large, in better health today than we were 20 years ago.

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History
5:03 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

A Birds-Eye History Of Walking On Stilts

French stilt dancers from Landes, in southwestern France, walk through London on their way to the 1937 Silver Jubilee Festival of the English Folk Dance and Song Society.
Fox Photos Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:12 am

A couple of years ago, NPR's Robert Siegel had a 5-year-old kid moment.

He was in the new wing of a hospital watching a workman put up drywall and, as drywall installers are wont to do, the workman reached the top of the wall by walking on stilts.

The 5-year-old inside the radio host was suddenly enchanted by the thought of stilts, so Siegel set out to learn more; first through Google, then from Joe Bowen, who walked more than 3,000 miles across the country on stilts in 1980.

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Europe
5:00 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

The Latest Greek Drama: Government Statistics

Andreas Georgiou was picked last year to run Greece's statistical agency. He promised more accurate financial data. He has won praise, though now he is under investigation following claims the country's budget deficit was artificially inflated.
Petros Giannakouris AP

Originally published on Tue February 7, 2012 5:31 pm

Greece fudged its budget numbers to enter the euro club, and its reputation as a source of accurate financial figures never really improved. As the country's financial crisis has worsened, the joke about its suspect fiscal numbers comes with the punch line, "lies, damn lies ... and Greek statistics."

The country sought to improve its standing last year when it created a new and independent statistical service, the Hellenic Statistical Authority.

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Education
4:52 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

Friendly Advice For Teachers: Beware Of Facebook

Teachers have been fired for comments they posted on Facebook, which raises free speech issues and questions about how teachers should interact on social media.
Sturti IStockPhoto

The new and ever-changing world of social networking has blurred the lines between private and public, work and personal, friend and stranger. It's becoming a particular challenge for teachers who can quickly rile students and parents by posting comments or photos online.

In some cases, teachers have been fired for statements they've made on Facebook, which is raising free speech issues.

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Middle East
4:09 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

A Brutal Detention, And A Defiant Syrian Activist

This summer, NPR told the story of a young man in Syria who worked a regular job by day and was a protester by night. At the end of that story, the activist made a prediction that was later tweeted to thousands of people: "One day my time is coming. Until the world realizes what's happening in Syria, they will try and get us all."

Many weeks later, his prediction came true.

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The Two-Way
4:06 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

As Protests Face Hurdles, Gorbachev Calls For New Elections In Russia

Reuters reports that today protesters in Moscow faced a huge increase in security presence that essentially stopped a mass protest against last weekend's parliamentary elections.

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Middle East
4:01 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

Islamist Parties At Odds In Egypt's Ongoing Elections

Egyptian soldiers stand in front of campaign posters for candidates from the hard-line Islamist Salafist Al-Nour party, in the coastal city of Alexandria.
AFP/Getty Images

As the Egyptian elections roll on over the course of several more weeks, the incoming parliament looks likely to be dominated by Islamists. But the two leading Islamist blocs have little in common and are doing their best to undermine each other.

The Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists do not get along in Alexandria's working-class slum of Abu Suleiman. Outside one polling station, the tension is thick as campaign workers for each group's political party hand out fliers.

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Author Interviews
4:01 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

A New Look At The Man Behind U.S. Cold War Policy

Originally published on Wed December 7, 2011 5:55 pm

For much of the Cold War, George F. Kennan was America's best-known diplomat and a leading Soviet scholar. His reputation was based in large part on the 1947 essay he wrote on containment, the Cold War policy that said the U.S. should neither forcefully confront nor meekly appease the Soviets.

Rather, the U.S. should seek to contain Soviet expansion, power and influence in the belief that the communist system would eventually collapse on its own. The U.S. largely adhered to Kennan's road map until the Soviet Union crumbled in 1991.

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Planet Money
4:00 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

Can Eurozone Countries Actually Follow Their Own Rules This Time?

Protestors in front of the Greek Parliament in Athens in 2010, demonstrating against the EU's Growth and Stability Pact.
Aris Messinis AFP/Getty Images

When the euro was set up in the late 1990s, the Stability and Growth Pact clearly spelled out the criteria for membership: Countries could not have huge debts, and they needed to keep deficits small. And there was no question — the rules explicitly excluded a little country named Greece.

"If you asked someone in Europe whether Greece would join the eurozone, the answer would have been you are mad, " says Loukas Tsoukalis with the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy.

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Shots - Health Blog
3:51 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

Why Observing Prostate Cancers Is Gaining Ground On Surgery

Originally published on Wed December 7, 2011 4:26 pm

A federally convened panel of experts says most men with newly diagnosed prostate cancer should be offered the chance to put off treatment in favor of medical monitoring of their condition.

In fact, the panel went so far as to say doctors should stop calling most of these low-risk tumors cancer at all.

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The Salt
3:01 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

Bonbons For Breakfast? Most Kid Cereals Pack Enough Sugar To Be Dessert

To many a mom, you can't go much lower than a Twinkie. The famous snack sort of epitomizes nutritional bankruptcy.

So now we learn that breakfast cereals such as Kellogg's Honey Smacks are even worse — in terms of sugar content — than a Twinkie. One cup of the cereal has 20 grams of sugar, compared with 18 grams in the cake. (The recommended serving size on the label is three-fourths of a cup.) Well, that gets our attention.

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Presidential Race
3:00 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

GOP Candidates Affirm Their Support Of Israel

The GOP presidential contenders addressed the Republican Jewish Coalition Forum Wednesday. Lynn Neary talks to NPR's Ari Shapiro for more.

It's All Politics
2:57 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

New Mitt Romney Iowa Ad Makes Claim Newt Gingrich Can't: One Marriage

Mitt Romney had a handy counterargument for all those who have called him a political flip flopper: his apparent steadfastness in all his personal commitments, like his 42-year marriage to his wife Anne.

Turns out, that argument can do double duty since it helps Romney draw a contrast with Newt Gingrich who is on his third marriage.

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The Two-Way
2:50 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

Italy Arrests Major Mafia Boss Who Was Hiding In Underground Bunker

Italian policemen escort fugitive mobster Michele Zagaria, center, at the police headquarters in Naples.
Salvatore Laporta AP

Originally published on Wed December 7, 2011 3:14 pm

Italian police had to drill into a concrete bunker underground to get to Michele Zagaria. As NPR's Sylvia Poggioli tells our Newscast unit, the arrest of the mob boss is "huge."

Sylvia adds that Michele Zagaria "is the head of one of the bloodiest clans of the Neapolitan mafia called the Camorra and they've been involved in an enormous number of illegal activity. Probably the most prominent is the illegal transport and disposal of toxic waste, which has become a huge problem in the whole Naples area."

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NPR Story
2:36 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

The 'Codebreaker' Who Made Midway Victory Possible

The attack on Pearl Harbor 70 years ago this December set in motion a series of battles in the Pacific between the Japanese and the United States. The turning point in the Pacific came in June of 1942, when the U.S. surprised and defeated the Japanese fleet in the Battle of Midway.

That decisive victory was possible, in large part, because of the work of a little-known naval codebreaker named Joe Rochefort. His work deciphering codes revealed the details of when and how the Japanese planned to attack and handed a tremendous advantage to the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

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The Two-Way
2:22 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

Senator Calls For Justice's Criminal Division Chief To Step Down

Iowa Republican Charles Grassley took to the Senate floor Wednesday to declare that a senior Justice Department official "needs to go immediately" for allegedly misleading Congress in its 11-month-old investigation of a gun trafficking operation gone bad.

"It's past time for accountability at the senior levels of the Justice Department," Grassley said. "That accountability needs to start with the head of the criminal division, Lanny Breuer."

In a 15-minute speech, Grassley set out two main reasons for demanding Breuer's ouster.

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Newt Gingrich
2:06 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

Gingrich's Most Important Adviser: Himself

Newt Gingrich, whose run for president nearly derailed earlier this year when many of his top staffers quit, now sits atop the polls. As a result, his campaign organization is growing. Here, he arrives at a town hall meeting last week in Staten Island, N.Y.
Michael Nagle Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 7, 2011 10:29 pm

Back in June, the news out of the Newt Gingrich presidential campaign was dire.

Top staffers quit over differences about strategy, with some citing doubts about the candidate's seriousness — especially when he and his wife went on a cruise to the Greek Islands while his rivals stumped through New Hampshire and Iowa.

But now it's December, and Gingrich suddenly sits atop the polls. As a result, his organization is growing — as is the campaign brain trust. But Gingrich's most important adviser remains himself.

A Front-Runner's Staffing Needs

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It's All Politics
2:01 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

Rick Perry Wears Faith On (Barn Coat) Sleeve In New Iowa Ad

Originally published on Wed December 7, 2011 2:48 pm

In the latest reminder that he's still in the race (if apparently not in the hunt) for the Republican presidential nomination, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has a new TV ad in Iowa in which he makes a naked appeal to the state's religious conservatives who are expected to play an important role in the upcoming caucuses.

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The Two-Way
1:53 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

Ex-Penn State Coach Sandusky Arrested On New Charges

Jerry Sandusky.
Pennsylvania Attorney General

Originally published on Wed December 7, 2011 4:29 pm

Multiple media outlets, including the AP and CNN, are reporting that former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky has been arrested again, as new charges of sexual molestation have emerged.

Sandusky is already facing 40 counts related to the sexual assault of children. Sandusky has said repeatedly that he is innocent, but the case has engulfed the Penn State football program in controversy.

The AP reports:

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The Two-Way
1:30 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

'Col. Potter' Has Died: Actor Harry Morgan Was 96

Harry Morgan, as Col. Potter.
AP

Originally published on Wed December 7, 2011 2:01 pm

Harry Morgan, who came into our living rooms as Col. Potter in M*A*S*-H, as Officer Bill Gannon in Dragnet and in guest star roles on other TV series from Murder, She Wrote to The Love Boat, has died. He was 96.

The Associated Press reports that the actor's daughter-in-law, Beth Morgan, said he died at his home in Brentwood, Calif., after a bout with pneumonia.

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Shots - Health Blog
1:10 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

Teenage Girls Will Still Need A Prescription For 'Plan B'

In a surprising twist, the Obama administration has overruled the Food and Drug Administration and will not allow teenage girls to buy the emergency contraceptive Plan B One-Step without a prescription.

The decision punctuates one of the longest-running public health sagas in recent memory. The FDA had decided that a version of the morning-after emergency contraceptive pill could be sold without a prescription regardless of the age of the buyer.

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World
1:00 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

War And Violence On The Decline In Modern Times

Despite news of terrorist bombings, U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and crackdowns in Syria, two recent books argue the world has never seen so little war and violence. Steven Pinker, author of The Better Angels of Our Nature, and Joshua Goldstein, author of Winning the War on War, discuss.

World
1:00 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

Conservative Wins Make Liberal Egyptians Wary

Originally published on Fri August 3, 2012 2:18 pm

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

Roughly one-third of Egyptians voted in that country's first round of parliamentary elections, the first since Hosni Mubarak's ouster last spring, and Islamist parties scored big wins. The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, considered Egypt's mainstream Islamic party, announced today it won 40 percent of the votes, while the ultra-conservative Salafists surprised many by winning about a quarter of the vote. Those victories and that of the Salafists in particular leave many liberal Egyptians and foreign observers deeply worried.

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Politics
1:00 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

Gingrich Enjoys Lead With Iowa On The Horizon

Newt Gingrich has risen to the top of the polls at a pivotal moment. With less than one month until the Iowa Caucuses, he has a double-digit lead in the state. Political junkie Ken Rudin and columnist Michael Gerson talk about how the field of GOP candidates is faring in the final stretch.

The Two-Way
12:53 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

Morning-After Pill Won't Be Available Without Prescription To Younger Girls

The Food and Drug Administration will not be removing age restrictions for a morning-after birth control pill — a decision that's likely to prolong a fight that has raged for more than eight years.

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The Two-Way
12:50 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

At Sentencing, Rod Blagojevich Says He's 'Unbelievably Sorry'

Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich arrives for the verdict in his corruption retrial at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse in Chicago on June 27.
John Gress Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 7, 2011 3:00 pm

Update at 1:33 p.m. ET. Judge James Zagel has sentenced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich to 14 years in prison. The AP reports that it is "one of the stiffest penalties for corruption in a state with a history of crooked politics."

On his way out of the courthouse, Blagojevich said "we're going to keep fighting on through this adversity. This is a time to be strong."

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Around the Nation
12:24 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

Dozens Arrested As Police Clear Occupy S.F. Camp

Police officers surrounded the Occupy San Francisco encampment at Justin Herman Plaza early Wednesday.
Kimihiro Hoshino AFP/Getty Images

Dozens of police officers cleared Occupy protesters from a camp in San Francisco early Wednesday, giving them a five-minute warning before dismantling the tent city and arresting at least 70 people.

Police cars, fire engines and ambulances surrounded the campsite and blocked off the area around Justin Herman Plaza during the raid, which began shortly after 1 a.m.

A few officers lingered at daybreak Wednesday as trash crews raked up paper and plastic bottles, removed chairs and other belongings that had accumulated at the camp over the past two months.

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News
12:14 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

Joining Forces With The Left, Occupy Swarms Capitol

Hundreds of demonstrators marched on Capitol Hill Tuesday to occupy the offices of their members of Congress during the "Take Back the Capitol" protest in Washington, DC. On Wednesday, they plan to target K Street.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

After bringing their grievances to the doors of Congress on Tuesday, protesters from across the nation plan to take aim at Washington's other vilified powerbrokers: lobbyists.

By lunchtime on Wednesday, storied K Street, which is home to the lobbying arms of many large corporations and industries, is expected to be choked with as many as 3,000 community activists, unemployed protesters, union members and Occupy Wall Street participants.

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Commentary
11:49 am
Wed December 7, 2011

'Occupy': Geoff Nunberg's 2011 Word Of The Year

Originally published on Wed December 7, 2011 4:04 pm

Geoff Nunberg, the linguist contributor on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross, is the author of the book The Years of Talking Dangerously.

If the word of the year is supposed to be an item that has actually shaped the perception of important events, I can't see going with anything but occupy. It was a late entry, but since mid-September it has gone viral and global. Just scan the thousands of hashtags and Facebook pages that begin with the word: Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Slovakia. Occupy Saskatoon, Sesame Street, the Constitution. Occupy the hood.

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Fresh Food
11:43 am
Wed December 7, 2011

Tried And True Tricks From 'America's Test Kitchen'

Want the perfect pie crust? Christopher Kimball from America's Test Kitchen says the secret is to substitute half of the recipe's water with vodka, for a dry, flaky crust.
iStockphoto.com

The mission of America's Test Kitchen is simple: to make "recipes that work." The syndicated PBS cooking show, hosted by Christopher Kimball, simplifies recipes in ways that home chefs can easily replicate with a fairly high degree of success.

Making sure amateur chefs can recreate recipes designed by professional chefs is of utmost importance, Kimball tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

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