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Asia
3:53 pm
Wed November 2, 2011

Will Cheap Computer Bridge India's Digital Divide?

Indian students pose with the supercheap Aakash tablet computers, which they received during the Oct. 5 product launch in New Delhi. The Indian government intends to deliver 10 million tablets to college students across India at a subsidized price of $35.
Gurinder Osan AP

India has unveiled what its government says is the world's cheapest tablet computer, along with a promise to make the device available to the country's college students, and possibly, to those in high school as well. The government says it's a major step toward bridging the country's gigantic digital divide.

The tablet is called "Aakash," the Hindi word for "sky," and boosters say it could give Internet access to billions of people.

The Aakash was developed for the government by Datawind, a London-based company founded by two brothers from India's Punjab state.

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Shots - Health Blog
3:16 pm
Wed November 2, 2011

Rising Health Costs Lead Companies To Drop Part-Time Benefits

A man pushes carriages outside a Walmart store in Valley Stream, N.Y., early this year. The company is scaling back on health benefits for part-time workers.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Wal-Mart's recent decision to cut benefits for new, part-time employees may be part of a trend, as companies grapple with higher health costs.

That's the view of John Rother, the new president of the nonpartisan National Coalition on Health Care, who chatted with All Things Considered host Robert Siegel about the country's growing pack of part-time workers and why companies are rolling back their benefits.

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The Two-Way
3:10 pm
Wed November 2, 2011

Reports: Aid To Greece Won't Be Paid Without Reassurances

German Chancellor Angela Merkel talks to French President Nicolas Sarkozy on the eve of the G-20 summit in Cannes, France, earlier today.
Lionel Bonaventure AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 2, 2011 7:40 pm

Update at 6:56 p.m. ET. French President Nicolas Sarkozy says that the next round of rescue loans will not be paid, until after Greeks vote on whether to accept the terms of the bailout package.

This is significant, because Greece has said it will run out of money some time this month and the referendum is so far slated for early December.

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Asia
3:07 pm
Wed November 2, 2011

Japanese Town Hopes For Post-Tsunami Reinvention

A fishing boat washed ashore by the tsunami that hit Japan March 11 sits in the deserted port area in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, northeastern Japan, in September. Residents of Kesennuma are now trying to rebuild their town from scratch.
Koji Ueda AP

Long before the March 11 tsunami swallowed downtown Kesennuma, the city of 70,000 on Japan's northeast coast was on the skids.

Kesennuma, in Miyagi Prefecture, built its fortunes around the sea: building, outfitting and repairing small boats; harvesting and processing seafood; even serving up shark fin and sushi to tourists.

But over the past decade, overfishing, soaring gas prices and an aging workforce have taken their toll. Shopkeepers watched their once-thriving town fade into irrelevance.

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The Two-Way
2:55 pm
Wed November 2, 2011

Bernanke: Pace Of Progress 'Likely To Be Frustratingly Slow'

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke speaks during a press briefing at the Federal Reserve building in Washington, DC.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

In a press conference following a two-day meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke painted a mixed picture of the economy.

The bottom line, he said is that "the pace of progress is likely to be frustratingly slow."

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Shots - Health Blog
2:39 pm
Wed November 2, 2011

Secret To A Long, Healthy Life: Bike To The Store

Putting the shopping bags in the bike basket rather than in the car trunk could deliver big health benefits.
Hajime Ando Flickr

What would you say to a cheap, easy way to stay slim, one that would help avoid serious illness and early death? How about if it made your neighbors healthier, too? It could be as simple as biking to the store.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin were wondering if getting people out of their cars just a wee bit would create measurable improvements in health. health. So they gathered up data sets on obesity, health effects of pollution, and air pollution caused by automobiles in 11 Midwestern cities, and did a mashup.

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The Salt
2:25 pm
Wed November 2, 2011

Should Farm Kids Be Allowed To Drive A Tractor? Some Say It's Too Dangerous

Drew Wilber, 14, works on his parents' 20-acre farm near Boone, Iowa, during his day off from school on Columbus Day.
Peggy Lowe for NPR

Originally published on Wed November 2, 2011 7:11 pm

For a lot of farm kids, "learning to drive" means learning to drive a tractor before ever driving a car.

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It's All Politics
1:56 pm
Wed November 2, 2011

Herman Cain And The Race Card

Here we go again with the race-card business.

Questioning the motives of those seeking the truth about the sexual harassment allegations against him when he led the National Restaurant Association, Herman Cain said he suspects critics on the political left of attacking him for racial reasons.

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Politics
1:34 pm
Wed November 2, 2011

In Kansas, Politics Over 'Obamacare' Strains Policy

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback answers questions in July about his policy regarding the new federal health care law. During his campaign for the governor's office last year, he said: "What we'll do in Kansas is we'll do what we're required to do, but we're gonna fight it all the way."
John Hanna AP

Originally published on Wed November 2, 2011 6:40 pm

A few months ago, Kansas seemed ahead of the game in preparing for an important requirement of the federal health law. The state had started to plan for exchanges — online marketplaces to help individuals and small businesses compare and buy health insurance.

But politics is intervening.

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Middle East
1:29 pm
Wed November 2, 2011

Syria Accepts Arab League Plan To End Crisis

Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi and Qatari Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassim listen during a meeting to discuss the situation in Syria, in Cairo on Wednesday.
Mohammed Hossam AFP/Getty Images

Syria accepted an Arab League proposal calling for it to withdraw armored vehicles from the streets and stop violence against protesters in a bid to end the country's seven-month-old political crisis that has led to the deaths of some 3,000 people.

The agreement was announced by Qatar's Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassim, who urged Damascus to follow through with action on the ground. Syria has continued its bloody crackdown on anti-government protesters despite international condemnation and previous promises of reform.

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The Two-Way
1:22 pm
Wed November 2, 2011

Syria Agrees To Withdraw Military From Cities; Free Prisoners

Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi (L) sits next to Qatari Premier and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani during a ministerial meeting at the 22-nation organization's Cairo headquarters on the situation in Syria.
Mohammed Hossam AFP/Getty Images

The Arab League, which had sent a delegation to Syria to try and bring the seven-month conflict between protesters and the government to an end, announced that Syria had agreed to withdraw its military from residential areas and release political prisoners.

The AP reports:

The proposal calls on Syria to withdraw all tanks and armored vehicles from the streets, stop violence against protesters, release all political prisoners and begin a dialogue with the opposition within two weeks.

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Shots - Health Blog
12:52 pm
Wed November 2, 2011

Study: Regular Drinking Appears To Boost Breast Cancer Risk

A woman at a wine tasting in Napa Valley, Calif., in 2005.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Women who raise a glass just a few times a week appear to have a higher risk of getting breast cancer than those who are teetotalers.

A study that looked at the drinking habits and development of breast cancer in more than 100,000 nurses found those who drank more had a small but detectable increase in breast cancer compared with those who drank less.

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The Two-Way
12:39 pm
Wed November 2, 2011

Federal Reserve Holds Off On Any New Economic Policy

Originally published on Wed November 2, 2011 2:39 pm

Citing stronger economic growth, the Federal Reserve announced it is not making any changes to its monetary policy.

As the AP reported earlier, economists were expecting this wait-and-see approach because they figured the Fed would want time to assess whether its policy from August and September was spurring growth.

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It's All Politics
12:15 pm
Wed November 2, 2011

New Hampshire Chooses Jan. 10 As Primary Date

The schedule for the first four Republican presidential caucuses and primaries appeared officially set Wednesday with New Hampshire announcing that it would hold its first-in-the-nation primary on Jan. 10.

That would come exactly seven days after the Iowa caucuses, which were moved to Jan. 3, the first Tuesday of the new year, and which will kick off the process by which Republicans will choose their party's nominee to contest President Obama for the White House.

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The Salt
11:30 am
Wed November 2, 2011

How Fear Drove World Rice Markets Insane

Nothing is more basic and simple than food. Yet it comes to us courtesy of a long, complicated supply chain that spans the globe.

That chain delivers food cheaply — but it can break. Four years ago, it blew up in most spectacular fashion, affecting hundreds of millions of people who rely on rice for sustenance. That crash — the great rice crisis of 2008 — was a true disaster for some of the poorest people in Asia and West Africa.

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The Two-Way
11:07 am
Wed November 2, 2011

Pakistan Gives India 'Most Favored Nation' Trade Status

Indian Border Security Force soldiers (in khakhi) and Pakistani Rangers (in black) perform the daily retreat ceremony at the India-Pakistan border in Wagah. It's hoped that freer trade will reduce tensions between their two nations.
Narinder Nanu AFP/Getty Images

The news today that Pakistan's cabinet has moved to normalize trade with India — giving its neighbor "Most Favored Nation" status — is being viewed as a positive first step toward the possible normalization of diplomatic relations between the two nuclear rivals.

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Politics
11:00 am
Wed November 2, 2011

In Voter ID Debate, A Few Go Against Party Lines

Former Democratic Rep. Artur Davis of Alabama is in favor of voter ID laws. He says that over the years there have been numerous allegations of absentee voter fraud — and even a handful of convictions — in Alabama.
Dave Martin AP

Originally published on Wed November 2, 2011 6:42 pm

The debate over requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls has been a heated one. Democrats accuse Republicans, who support such laws, of wanting to suppress the votes of minorities, the elderly and the poor. Republicans accuse Democrats, who oppose ID rules, of condoning voter fraud.

It's a sharp partisan divide. But a few people have gone against the tide — and they're getting some political heat for doing so.

A Democrat Criticized For Fraud Concerns

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The Two-Way
10:45 am
Wed November 2, 2011

Audie Cornish Will Fill In For Michele Norris On 'All Things Considered'

Audie Cornish
Steve Barrett NPR

Originally published on Wed November 2, 2011 10:46 am

Weekend Edition Sunday host Audie Cornish will be filling in for Michele Norris on All Things Considered for a year, starting in January, NPR just announced.

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The Two-Way
8:35 am
Wed November 2, 2011

French Newspaper Firebombed After Satire Involving Prophet Muhammad

Charlie Hebdo's publisher, known only as Charb, talked to journalists today (Nov. 2, 2011) in front of his publication's burned-out offices.

Alexander Klein AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 2, 2011 8:36 am

The Paris offices of a French newsweekly that in its latest issue "invited" the Prophet Muhammad to be a guest editor and satirically wrote of what a "soft version" of Sharia law might be like, were burned early today.

According to The Associated Press:

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The Two-Way
7:45 am
Wed November 2, 2011

Lawyer: One Of Cain's Accusers Wants Her Story Told

Republican presidential contender Herman Cain on Monday (Oct. 31, 2011) in Washington, D.C.

Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images

The lawyer for one of two women who in the late 1990s accused Republican presidential contender Herman Cain of sexual harassment wants her side of the story to come out because she believes Cain has not been telling the truth about what happened, a lawyer who represents her said Tuesday on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360.

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The Two-Way
7:19 am
Wed November 2, 2011

WikiLeaks' Julian Assange Loses Extradition Appeal

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as he arrived at London's High Court this morning (Nov. 2, 2011).

Leon Neal AFP/Getty Images

British judges ruled this morning that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can be extradited from the U.K. to Sweden, where authorities want to question him about allegations from two women that he sexually assaulted them in August 2010.

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7 Billion And Counting
5:15 am
Wed November 2, 2011

Asian, European Nations Fret Over Birthrate Swoon

A South Korean man takes a photo of his baby during a picnic in Seoul, in 2009. After years of promoting family planning, South Korea is seeing unprecedented numbers of women staying single into their 30s — up from a handful a generation ago to 40 percent.
Jung Yeon-Je AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 2, 2011 2:40 pm

Right now, many people are nervous about the challenges presented by a global population that has reached 7 billion and is still rising. But for a lot of countries, a lack of babies is the bigger worry.

The so-called birth dearth is starting to cause problems across much of Europe and a substantial portion of Asia. With fewer children born, populations in many countries are aging rapidly. Soon, they may also be shrinking.

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Middle East
5:03 am
Wed November 2, 2011

With Protests, Syrians Are Learning Politics

Anti-government protesters march in the village of Amouda, Syria on Sept. 30. For many Syrians, the protests mark the first time they have taken part in anything resembling politics.

Shaam News Network AP

Originally published on Wed November 2, 2011 8:38 am

Government opponents in Syria have not been able to dislodge President Bashar Assad, but they are doing something the country has rarely if ever seen: they are organizing by themselves, outside of government control.

The massive street protests, demanding the end of Assad's regime, have defined the revolt over the past eight months.

But other things are happening as well, far from public view. In one quiet office in Damascus, Ashraf Hamza, 28, is leading a group of men at a session on community organizing.

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National Security
4:59 am
Wed November 2, 2011

Stuxnet Raises 'Blowback' Risk In Cyberwar

Instructor Mark Fabro leads an exercise at the Department of Homeland Security's cyberdefense facility at the Idaho National Laboratory in September. Training at the lab is intended to help protect the nation's power, water and chemical plants, electrical grid and other facilities from computer viruses such as Stuxnet.
Mark J. Terrill AP

Originally published on Fri November 4, 2011 7:53 pm

The Stuxnet computer worm, arguably the first and only cybersuperweapon ever deployed, continues to rattle security experts around the world, one year after its existence was made public.

Apparently meant to damage centrifuges at a uranium enrichment facility in Iran, Stuxnet now illustrates the potential complexities and dangers of cyberwar.

Secretly launched in 2009 and uncovered in 2010, it was designed to destroy its target much as a bomb would. Based on the cyberworm's sophistication, the expert consensus is that some government created it.

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Around the Nation
4:54 am
Wed November 2, 2011

In Wis., Focus Shifts From Union Law To Governor

A sign that reads "recall" hangs on a statue in front of the Wisconsin state Capitol last month in Madison. Labor groups are making an effort to recall Gov. Scott Walker for his controversial union rights law.

Justin Sullivan Getty Images

A Wisconsin law on union bargaining rights signed by Gov. Scott Walker shows no signs of disappearing.

In February and March, there was a shocking, sometimes strange sight at the Wisconsin capitol: By day, protesters marched shoulder-to-shoulder. By night, they lived in the capitol, sleeping on the building's marble floors.

It began after Walker, a Republican, broke 50 years of Wisconsin precedent, announcing he would not bargain with public employee unions. He said the state was broke and he had nothing to negotiate with. The rest is the stuff of political folklore.

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Law
4:52 am
Wed November 2, 2011

Court To Decide If Texas Voting Maps Discriminate

A sign in Spanish and English tells residents of El Paso, Texas, where to vote.

Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 2, 2011 2:56 pm

Lawyers for President Obama's Justice Department and Texas Gov. Rick Perry will be squaring off in federal court in Washington on Wednesday.

The state has sued the federal government to try to win court approval for its new legislative maps. There are big stakes: Texas stands to gain four new seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. But minorities in Texas, with a boost from the Justice Department, say the new boundaries amount to a step backward for Latino voting power.

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Election 2012
4:51 am
Wed November 2, 2011

Nonprofit Seeks To Be New Political Force

If you want to know just how unhappy Americans are with their two-party government, a group called Americans Elect is ready to tell you.

The nonprofit group has scheduled a press conference in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday in a bid to show the Democratic and Republican establishments that voters want a third choice in presidential candidates.

It's a choice Americans Elect hopes to provide. This might sound like a third political party taking the field, but the group says that's not what it is.

'A New Force'

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Law
4:50 am
Wed November 2, 2011

Miss. Set To Vote On Measure Making Fetus A Person

An anti-abortion activist holds a sign at the annual March for Life event in Washington, D.C. Mississippi's statehood amendment would ban abortion with no exceptions for rape or incest.

Alex Wong Getty Images

Next week Mississippi voters will decide whether to pass a constitutional amendment that redefines a person. Under the proposal, fertilized human eggs would be considered human beings, which would ban all abortions in the state. But abortion-rights activists say it would also limit contraception and threaten fertility treatments.

Les Riley has worked on the initiative for years, gathering signatures to get it on the ballot. Now, in northwest Mississippi, he's talking to voters and assembling yard signs that urge the passage of Amendment 26.

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