12:20pm

Wed January 4, 2012
Presidential Race

U.S. Politics: Hurrah For The Red, White And Screwy

Voters register to cast their ballots during Republican caucuses at a school in Des Moines, Iowa, on Tuesday.
Jewel Samad AFP/Getty Images

The American political system — as corny, eclectic, chaotic and screwed up as it is with its straw polls, caucuses, primaries and contested elections — somehow gets the job done time after time.

It's weird, really: In this country that celebrates unity and national spirit, a president is chosen via quirky, jerky state-by-state (sometimes precinct-by-precinct) methods. In this society that seeks perfection, the leader is selected in a painfully imperfect process.

But, to paraphrase the old saw: Our funky form of democracy may just be the least worst way to govern.

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12:18pm

Wed January 4, 2012
Presidential Race

Iowa A Virtual Tie For Romney, Decisive For Bachmann

Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum finished virtually even in Iowa's caucuses Tuesday, but after Rep. Michele Bachmann's sixth-place finish, she announced Wednesday that she is suspending her campaign. For more on the GOP race and the next contest — Tuesday's New Hampshire primary — Linda Wertheimer talks with NPR's Brian Naylor, who's in the city of Manchester.

12:15pm

Wed January 4, 2012
The Two-Way

Bishop Resigns After He Acknowledges Fathering Two Children

San Gabriel Region Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Zavala leads a mass in this file photo from 2005. Zavala resigned from the ministry in December, after revealing that he fathered two children.
David McNew Getty Images

A Catholic bishop in California has resigned his post after revealing in December that he has two children.

"The Vatican announced the bishop's resignation Jan. 4 in a one-line statement that cited church law on resignation for illness or other serious reasons," reports the Catholic News Service from Vatican City.

Pope Benedict reportedly accepted the resignation of Gabino Zavala, an auxiliary bishop for the San Gabriel Pastoral Region, in December.

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12:10pm

Wed January 4, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

In US, Hospital Round Trips More Common For Heart Attack Patients

In the U.S., hospitalized heart attack patients go home sooner than in other countries. They are more likely to return to the hospital within a month of being discharged.
iStockphoto.com

If a heart attack sends you to an American hospital, you'll probably go home after only two or three nights. That's faster than virtually anyplace else in the world.

But your chances of needing to go back into the hospital within the next month are also higher than they are for heart attack patients in 16 other countries. That's the finding from a Duke University-led study in this week's JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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12:06pm

Wed January 4, 2012
The Salt

When 'Budget' Foods Start To Eat Away At The Wallet

Ground beef used to be a cheap, go-to dinner meat, but no longer.
iStockphoto.com

If the grocery bill hurts more now than it used to, you're not alone. The cost of staples like ground beef, chicken, eggs and potatoes has spiked over 10 percent in the past year, three times the cost of inflation overall.

Ironically, if you were trying to be thrifty by eating at home instead of eating out, you probably felt it most.

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12:01pm

Wed January 4, 2012
Business

To Climb In U.S., Volkswagen Gets Less German

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:09 am

Jonathan Browning, president of Volkswagen Group of America, attends the U.S. unveiling of the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle, a new version of the iconic car. Volkswagen saw a 26.3 percent increase in U.S. sales in 2011, and has its sights on becoming the world's No. 1 carmaker.
Jamie McCarthy Getty Images

Last year was a very good year for the German automaker Volkswagen, but 2012 could be even better.

Sales for Volkswagen Group's brands — including Audi, Bentley and Lamborghini — increased by 20 percent in the U.S. last year. For the Volkswagen brand itself, sales rose 26.3 percent. And if things continue to go Volkswagen's way, it could become the No. 1 carmaker in the world.

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12:00pm

Wed January 4, 2012
Music

The Tuba Takes Its Spotlight In Mexican Bandas

Traditional Mexican music, known as 'banda,' has been popular in Southern California for decades. And now, the tuba has gone from carrying the bass line in the back of the band, to stepping out front and leading dance trains. Host Michel Martin speaks with musician Jesse Tucker and Sam Quinones, who's been reporting on the so-called tuba revolution.

12:00pm

Wed January 4, 2012
Technology

Outsmarting Your Spying Smartphone

That shiny new smartphone you got for Christmas boasts cool features and games, but buried deep in the software are tools that collect personal information. What exactly is being collected, and how should you take caution? Host Michel Martin speaks with John Verdi, senior counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

12:00pm

Wed January 4, 2012
NPR Story

Beauty Shop: Virginia Ballot, Bachmann Quits Race

Host Michel Martin and the Beauty Shop ladies discuss controversial requirements for Virginia's presidential primary ballot, Michele Bachmann's suspension of her presidential bid, sports-related concussions, and black divas hawking weight-loss products.

12:00pm

Wed January 4, 2012
Politics

Republicans' Road Ahead, After Close Iowa Caucuses

Tuesday's Iowa caucuses shook up the GOP field as Mitt Romney won by just eight votes and Rick Santorum took second. Michele Bachmann finished sixth, then withdrew from the race on Wednesday. Host Michel Martin discusses the results and looks ahead with journalism professor Cynthia Tucker and contributing editor of The Weekly Standard Matthew Continetti.

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