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Energy
12:01 am
Wed November 16, 2011

Solyndra Highlights Long History Of Energy Subsidies

Windmills and solar panels in Atlantic City, N.J., power a wastewater treatment plant, with surplus energy going to the area power grid. Solar and wind energy companies receive $370 million in federal subsidies annually, which is less than 1 percent of what oil and gas industries receive.
Mel Evans AP

Originally published on Wed November 16, 2011 2:11 pm

When Energy Secretary Steven Chu appears on Capitol Hill on Thursday to defend the Obama administration's solar energy subsidy program, he will face questions about the solar panel firm Solyndra, which went belly up this summer.

The Energy Department has drawn stiff criticism over a government loan guarantee program that lent the company half a billion dollars, but the government has a long history of subsidizing many forms of energy.

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Politics
12:01 am
Wed November 16, 2011

Gun Violence Survivors Push For Tighter Restrictions

Patricia Maisch, one of the people who helped halt the Tucson shooting that killed six and wounded 13, including Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, holds up a photograph of victim John Roll, a federal judge, while testifying before a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday. Maisch testified in support of legislation that would strengthen federal power over the states' handling of background checks.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 16, 2011 8:33 am

Dozens of gun violence survivors and family members of victims traveled to Capitol Hill this week to try to convince lawmakers to pass a bill that would tighten loopholes in the background check system for people who buy firearms.

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Sweetness And Light
10:00 pm
Tue November 15, 2011

Is Football Culture The Core Of The Problem?

Originally published on Wed November 16, 2011 12:01 am

As confounding as was the failure of Penn State officials to act, the consensus explaining the motives for their ignoble behavior is that, first, Joe Paterno didn't want to scar the reputation of himself or his football program; and then, university executives wanted to protect the reputation of the dear old coach and his moneymaking team.

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The Salt
6:49 pm
Tue November 15, 2011

Pizza As A Vegetable? It Depends On the Sauce

Pizza for sale at a Chicago public school. Under a House spending bill, this would still count as a vegetable serving β€” without extra sauce.
Tim Boyle Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 17, 2011 1:06 pm

When it comes to the politics of school lunch programs, the easy part is agreeing that kids should be eating more fruits and vegetables.

The hard part? Determining what counts as a vegetable. Take, for instance, the tomato sauce on pizza. As part of new nutrition standards proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, schools would need to use about one-half cup of tomato paste on pizza in order for the sauce to count as a vegetable serving.

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NPR Story
6:04 pm
Tue November 15, 2011

Lawmakers Consider Counting Pizza As a Veggie

Lawmakers say pizza and french fries deserve to keep their place in school cafeterias. New nutrition standards aimed at putting more fresh and healthy food in front of kids are being revised in a current House agriculture appropriations bill. The latest version says the tomato sauce on a slice of pizza is the equivalent of a vegetable. Critics are likening it to the "ketchup-as-a-vegetable-controversy" during the Reagan administration.

The Two-Way
5:51 pm
Tue November 15, 2011

Energy Secretary Chu Defends How Administration Handled Solyndra

In an interview with NPR, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu vigorously defended the actions of the Department of Energy with regards $528 million in loans it gave the now-bankrupt solar energy company Solyndra.

Chu told All Things Considered's Melissa Block that neither he nor any of his staff working on DOE loans program was swayed by politics and that even in hindsight there was no way to know that Solyndra would fail.

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Newt Gingrich
5:27 pm
Tue November 15, 2011

Why Did Freddie Mac Pay Newt Gingrich $300,000?

Polls continue to show former House Speaker Newt Gingrich solidly in the top tier of Republican presidential contenders. But at the same time, he is dogged by questions about a job he had after leaving Congress: consulting for the mortgage giant Freddie Mac β€” but not, he says, lobbying.

The questions began at the candidates' debate in Michigan last Wednesday, when CNBC's John Harwood asked Gingrich what he did for a $300,000 contract with Freddie Mac in 2006.

"I offered them advice on precisely what they didn't do," Gingrich said last week.

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The Two-Way
5:22 pm
Tue November 15, 2011

Siding With Mayor, Judge Rules Against Occupy Wall Street Encampment

Protester Leina Bocar stands outside Zuccotti Park after police removed the Occupy Wall Street protesters from the park early this morning.
Mario Tama Getty Images

A State Supreme Court judge has backed New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the owners of Zuccotti Park, saying police had a right to enforce rules that prohibit camping at the park overnight. In the pre-dawn hours, Bloomberg ordered the removal of protesters from the park.

Earlier, another Supreme Court judge had issued a temporary injunction and ruled the protesters could return to the park with tents and sleeping bags.

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It's All Politics
5:11 pm
Tue November 15, 2011

'Obamacare' Will Rank Among The Longest Supreme Court Arguments Ever

The US Supreme Court announced this week that it will hear arguments over President Obama's health care reform law.
KAREN BLEIER AFP/Getty Images

When the United States Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear a challenge to the health care reform law, the Court also announced that the parties would have more than the usual one hour to argue the case before the justices. That is not unheard of in particularly important cases β€” Bush v. Gore was allotted ninety minutes. But at five and a half hours, the length of time given for the health care case is nearly unprecedented in the modern Court.

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Middle East
5:11 pm
Tue November 15, 2011

Syria Faces Growing Pressure As Bloodshed Spikes

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Syrian President Bashar Assad that his brutal crackdown on opponents threatens to place him on a list of leaders who "feed on blood."
Adem Altan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 15, 2011 7:19 pm

Army defectors ambushed dozens of Syrian troops, and regime forces gunned down civilians during one of the bloodiest days of the country's 8-month-old uprising, which appeared Tuesday to be spiraling out of President Bashar Assad's control.

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Asia
5:10 pm
Tue November 15, 2011

From Crushing Poverty To South Korea's Presidency

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak (shown here as a young accountant, working for Hyundai's office in Thailand in the early 1960s) overcame a poverty-stricken childhood to become a student activist, successful business executive and, ultimately, leader of his country.
Courtesy of Lee Myung-bak

Originally published on Wed December 28, 2011 4:29 pm

When Lee Myung-bak was inaugurated as the 10th president of South Korea in February 2008, it was an astonishing outcome for a poor boy from Pohang, whose No. 1 dream had been simply to get a job.

Lee's life journey is a literal rags-to-riches story. He has made a political journey, too, from a student radical imprisoned for his activism to a conservative head of state.

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Shots - Health Blog
4:38 pm
Tue November 15, 2011

Fluoride In Drinking Water? No Thanks, Says Florida County

Public health officials say the evidence is solid that fluoridated drinking water helps protect teeth.
Jim Cole AP

Originally published on Fri November 18, 2011 10:15 am

The federal Centers for Disease Control calls fluoridated water one of the top 10 public health achievements of the 20th century. But many people still aren't convinced.

In Florida, opponents recently persuaded Pinellas County commissioners to stop adding fluoride to the water supply β€” a practice the county began in 2003. By the end of the year, Pinellas will once again be the largest county in Florida without fluoridated water.

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Television
4:01 pm
Tue November 15, 2011

Filmmaker Woody Allen Gets The 'Masters' Treatment

Woody Allen's career goes under the American Masters microscope on Sunday and Monday.
MGM/Brian Hamill PBS

Woody Allen: A Documentary is the result, though not the culmination, of three very long and distinguished careers.

First, there's Robert Weide, the writer-director whose examination of Allen's life and art follows similar β€” and similarly impressive β€” documentaries on the Marx Brothers, Mort Sahl and Lenny Bruce.

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Around the Nation
3:59 pm
Tue November 15, 2011

As Occupy Camps Close, What's Next For Movement?

Occupy Wall Street protesters regroup in Foley Square after New York City police in riot gear removed the protesters from Zuccotti Park early Tuesday. The evacuation followed similar moves in Oakland, Calif., and Portland, Ore.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 16, 2011 11:09 am

As pressure mounts in cities across the country to evict Occupy protesters from parks and squares, the movement's supporters face a decision about what to do next.

After months-long sit-ins that have brought international attention to the movement's demand for greater economic equality, as well as occasional clashes between demonstrators and police, cities in recent days have moved in force to end the protests.

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Shots - Health Blog
3:55 pm
Tue November 15, 2011

The Pill: Not Just For Pregnancy Prevention

iStockphoto.com

Well, here's another twist in the debate over whether birth control is an essential health benefit. More than 1.5 million American women use birth control pills for reasons other than preventing pregnancy, a new analysis finds.

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Business
3:35 pm
Tue November 15, 2011

NYC Taxi Medallions Fetch 'Unbelievable' Returns

A New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission medallion adorns the hood of a taxi. The value of a medallion has increased 1,000 percent since 1980.
Chip East Bloomberg via Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 15, 2011 6:50 pm

It's been a bumpy ride these past few years for investors looking for easy ways to make money. Stocks, bonds and real estate have all seen wild swings or simply delivered disappointing results.

But a taxi medallion is one investment that keeps going up in value: Two of them recently sold for a record $1 million each.

A taxi medallion gives the bearer the right to pick up rides for hire. It turns out it's also a great investment vehicle. When New York cab driver Sushil Maggoo bought his in 2003, for example, he paid around $215,000.

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The Two-Way
3:30 pm
Tue November 15, 2011

Is Lying On The Internet Illegal?

A screen shot of Facebook's terms of service.
Facebook

Originally published on Tue November 15, 2011 3:52 pm

Today, a subcommittee of the Committee On The Judiciary heard some fascinating testimony about the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). (We know what that sounds like, but bear with us.)

The hearing, titled "Cyber Security: Protecting America's New Frontier," really focused on big cyber threats to the country's infrastructure, but there was another juicier question that came out of the hearing: The way the Justice Department wants to interpret a current law, lying on the Internet would amount to a crime.

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Middle East
3:14 pm
Tue November 15, 2011

Islamist Parties Proliferate In Post-Mubarak Egypt

Demonstrators from a Salafi group chant slogans and hold posters that read, in Arabic, "Islamic Egypt," during a Sept. 23 protest against emergency law in Cairo. Salafi political parties will be among those vying in upcoming elections.
Khalil Hamra AP

Originally published on Tue November 15, 2011 8:34 pm

Egypt holds parliamentary elections this month and many people expect the outcome to be similar to recent polls in Tunisia, where an Islamist party won the largest bloc of seats.

Nearly a dozen official parties with ties to Islamist groups have sprung up in Egypt since the summer, and most analysts predict they will do well.

Gamal Ashry is one parliamentary candidate. He's with the Freedom and Justice Party, the political offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Arab world's largest and oldest Islamist movement.

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NPR Story
3:00 pm
Tue November 15, 2011

Panetta Addresses Iraq Troop Withdrawal

Top Pentagon leaders went to Capitol Hill Tuesday and took tough questions from lawmakers on the future of the U.S. relationship with Iraq. Specifically, they addressed how the decision to withdraw all U.S. combat troops by the end of this year will impact Iraq's stability and U.S. national security interests in the region. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told a congressional committee that, while U.S. military commanders wanted to keep a contingency force on the ground, it was Iraq's decision to make.

Afghanistan
3:00 pm
Tue November 15, 2011

Controversial Afghan Assembly To Discuss U.S. Relations

Originally published on Tue November 15, 2011 6:50 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Delegates from across Afghanistan will convene tomorrow in Kabul. The Loya Jirga, or Grand Assembly, will discuss a long term strategic partnership with the United States. The issue is controversial in Afghanistan because it could involve permanent American military bases. The meeting itself is also controversial. President Hamid Karzai says the Loya Jirga will provide him with advice from the public, but his political opponents say Karzai is trying to use the assembly to extend his mandate.

NPR's Quil Lawrence reports from Kabul.

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From Our Listeners
3:00 pm
Tue November 15, 2011

Letters: Eurozone Lifeboat; Buffalo

Melissa Block reads emails from listeners.

NPR Story
2:19 pm
Tue November 15, 2011

Businesses Reeling In Wake Of NBA Lockout

After weeks of game postponements, the NBA league made a final offer to players β€” and the players rejected it. Cancelling games affects the players and the fans, but it can also be devastating for the many businesses that revolve around the industry.

The Two-Way
1:45 pm
Tue November 15, 2011

The Citadel Faces Abuse Scandal Similar To Penn State's

Note: There are some details of alleged sexual activity with minors in this post.

There's a story unfolding in Charleston, S.C., that sounds depressingly similar to the scandal that has rocked Penn State University.

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The Two-Way
1:25 pm
Tue November 15, 2011

The Occupy Movement And The First Amendment: 'A Classic Collision'

NYPD officers pull down signage as they clear out Occupy Wall Street activists from a private park next to Duarte Square in New York City.
Preston Rescigno Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 15, 2011 1:34 pm

When New York Police moved to dismantle the Occupy Wall Street encampment at Zuccotti Park in the pre-dawn hours, one of the first questions aired on the Web was, "What about the First Amendment?"

Juan Cole, a professor of history at the University of Michigan, quickly penned a blog post, concluding:

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Mental Health
1:00 pm
Tue November 15, 2011

Meeting Child Victims' Needs After Sexual Abuse

In the wake of high-profile child sex abuse scandals, the public often focuses on the accused. Victims and their needs often draw far less attention. Experts who work with young victims explain how children respond to abuse, and what treatment options can help them cope with the aftermath.

Opinion
1:00 pm
Tue November 15, 2011

Op-Ed: GOP Should Recast Its Message On Inequality

Occupy Wall Street and reports on the nation's growing income gap have helped rally the political left, argues Matthew Continetti of The Weekly Standard. It is not the government's responsibility to redress wealth disparities, he says, and the GOP must do a better job of communicating that message.

From Our Listeners
1:00 pm
Tue November 15, 2011

Letters: Reporting Abuse, Finding Personal Renewal

Transcript

BRIAN NAYLOR, host: It's Tuesday, and time to read from your comments. When we talked to author P.J. O'Rourke about his new book "Holidays in Heck," many of you offered suggestions of where P.J. should go next. Wu Nyen Proul(ph) in Franklin, Kentucky, wrote: Visit Easter Island. It's such a humbling experience to stand before the Moai, sleep to the sound of waves, pure unpolluted air and great fish. Even a 4G iPhone can't get a connection. You and your family will enjoy what it's like to live without the Worldwide Web - these days, something one can only imagine.

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NPR Story
1:00 pm
Tue November 15, 2011

Re-Telling The Story Of 'The Trail Of Tears'

The trail of tears β€” The forced migration of thousands of Native Americans from their ancestral homeland in the south West to Oklahoma β€” is taught in many classrooms as one of the darkest moments in American history.

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Author Interviews
12:18 pm
Tue November 15, 2011

Mark Kelly Tells Of Giffords' 'Courage' In Recovery

Mark Kelly has a new book about his wife, Rep. Gabby Giffords, and her road to recovery since she was shot in the head on Jan. 8.
Courtesy of P.K. Weis

Originally published on Tue November 15, 2011 8:35 pm

Earlier this year, on Jan. 8, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) was shot in the head as she met with constituents in Tucson, Ariz. She was one of 13 people injured that day. Six people were killed.

It had been four years since Giffords arrived in Washington as a wide-eyed freshman and told NPR: "Life's good and [I'm] very, very excited β€” so optimistic about taking our country in a new direction."

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NPR Story
11:31 am
Tue November 15, 2011

Occupy Demonstrators Upset By Camp Clearings

Police officers removed Occupy Wall Street protesters from Zuccotti Park in New York City early Tuesday morning. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the operation took place at night to "reduce the risk of confrontation." But clashes erupted and about 70 people were arrested.

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