6:33pm

Thu August 16, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Global Smoking Survey Paints A Grim Picture

A man smokes a bidi on "No Tobacco Day," May 31, in Allahabad, India. These small, hand-rolled cigarettes are popular in India and Bangladesh because they are far cheaper than regular cigarettes.
Rajesh Kumar AP

Today we have a fresh look at smoking rates around the world, and the news isn't good.

A survey covering 60 percent of the world's population shows high rates of tobacco use in some countries, with more than 50 percent of men in Russia, China and Ukraine smoking between 2008 and 2010.

Although the statistics for women are better — only 11 percent of woman reported using tobacco — the number of people quitting is shockingly low, dropping below 20 percent in China and India.

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6:19pm

Thu August 16, 2012
All Tech Considered

What's In Your Wallet? Wait, You Don't Need One

Originally published on Thu August 16, 2012 6:39 pm

A barista processes a customer's payment using Square, a device that turns a mobile device into a card swiper. More businesses are using the devices to simplify credit card payments. Others are embracing technology that allows consumers to pay with their cellphones.
Jeff Wheeler MCT/Landov

Most Americans pay with plastic or cash when they visit the grocery store, buy their daily coffee, or fill up the gas tank. But a growing number of large companies are trying to change that.

Google, Starbucks and Wal-Mart are among the many firms that are eager to replace consumers' wallets and stores' cash registers, with smartphones and other mobile devices.

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5:57pm

Thu August 16, 2012
The Two-Way

United Nations Will End Observer Mission In Syria

Originally published on Thu August 16, 2012 6:16 pm

With a political solution seemingly out of reach, the United Nations will begin recalling its military observers. They will, however, set up a political office in Damascus.

NPR's Michele Kelemen sent this report to our Newscast unit:

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5:29pm

Thu August 16, 2012
The Salt

Coffee Is The New Wine. Here's How You Taste It

Originally published on Mon October 15, 2012 11:03 am

Samantha Kerr prepares coffee at Artifact Coffee in Baltimore, MD.
Maggie Starbard NPR

The "know your farmer" concept may soon apply to the folks growing your coffee, too.

Increasingly, specialty roasters are working directly with coffee growers around the world to produce coffees as varied in taste as wines. And how are roasters teaching their clientele to appreciate the subtle characteristics of brews? By bringing an age-old tasting ritual once limited to coffee insiders to the coffee-sipping masses.

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5:18pm

Thu August 16, 2012
Middle East

Attack In Pakistan Puts Government On Defense

Originally published on Fri August 17, 2012 1:06 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

In Pakistan last night, Taliban militants attacked an air base near the capital. The attack came amid reported preparations for a Pakistani military offensive. The target of that offensive: the militants' hideouts along the border with Afghanistan.

NPR's Lauren Frayer reports from Islamabad.

LAUREN FRAYER, BYLINE: Nine Taliban men in army uniforms and suicide belts battled Pakistani troops for more than two hours, killing of security official before being gunned down themselves.

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5:18pm

Thu August 16, 2012
Politics

Rebutting Tax Criticism, Romney Gives A Number

Originally published on Thu August 16, 2012 6:19 pm

Mitt Romney told reporters Thursday that he has never paid less than a 13 percent tax rate over the past decade. Until now, the presumptive Republican nominee had sidestepped questions about his personal income taxes. Romney has come under withering criticism over the tax issue from President Obama's campaign and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

5:18pm

Thu August 16, 2012
Europe

Raid In Russia Brings Underground Sect To Light

Originally published on Thu August 16, 2012 6:41 pm

Gumar Ganiyev opens the gates of the compound where members of the Islamic sect he belongs to have lived in seclusion since the early 2000s outside Kazan, capital of the Russian province of Tatarstan, earlier this month.
Nikolay Alexandrov AP

The recent headlines in the Russian press were sensational: Members of a reclusive Islamic sect were said to be living in an isolated compound with underground burrows, some as deep as eight stories underground, without electricity or heat.

Reporters have descended on the compound, on the outskirts of the city of Kazan, but have had only limited access and have not been able to confirm all the allegations by Russian officials.

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5:16pm

Thu August 16, 2012
The Two-Way

After Review, 'Time Magazine' Will Reinstate Fareed Zakaria's Column

Originally published on Thu August 16, 2012 6:22 pm

Fareed Zakaria.
Emmanuel Dunande AFP/Getty Images

Time Magazine says it has completed a review of Fareed Zakaria's work and it has decided to reinstate his column.

A Time spokesman sent this statement to reporters:

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4:56pm

Thu August 16, 2012
The Two-Way

EBay Says Users Will No Longer Be Able To Sell Magic, Potions, Curses

Originally published on Thu August 16, 2012 5:04 pm

A "powerful" love potion for sale on eBay. The "buy it now" price is $21.
eBay

It's a tough day for the Harry Potters among us: Ebay said today that beginning in September it will no longer allow the sale of some, um, metaphysical products.

Among them: advice, spells, curses, hexing, conjuring, magic, prayers, blessing services, magic potions and healing sessions.

The Los Angeles reports:

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4:32pm

Thu August 16, 2012
It's All Politics

Romney Says He Paid A Tax Rate Of At Least 13 Percent

Originally published on Thu August 16, 2012 5:15 pm

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney writes on a whiteboard during a news conference Thursday in Greer, S.C.
Evan Vucci AP

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Thursday revealed a bit more about his tax history, telling reporters: "I never paid less than 13 percent" in the past 10 years.

The Obama campaign's response: "Prove it."

Romney's statement came during an appearance in South Carolina and followed weeks of demands — mostly from Democrats, but also from some Republicans — that Romney release several years of his tax returns.

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