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12:01am

Thu March 15, 2012
Planet Money

China's Giant Pool Of Dollars

Originally published on Thu March 15, 2012 11:08 am

There is an advantage to strengthening the currency for people in China: It makes their imports cheaper. A clerk counts bank notes in a bank in Nantong, east China's Jiangsu Province.
Xinhua /Landov

China's central bank is sitting on a giant pool of U.S. dollars. It's the world's biggest holder of foreign reserves, worth over $3 trillion at last count.

All that money has piled up because every year, China exports more than it imports; it runs a trade surplus.

There are lots of reasons for China's trade surplus. In the past few decades, China has built an amazing manufacturing ecosystem. It's become the factory to the world.

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12:01am

Thu March 15, 2012
Energy

Surging Gas Prices Have Drivers Fuming

A driver pumps gas in Los Angeles, where prices are among the highest in the country, topping $4 a gallon.
Frederic J. Brown AFP/Getty Images

Gasoline prices have risen about 50 cents a gallon since January. The national average for regular gas stands at just above $3.80 per gallon.

Pity the drivers on the West Coast. Prices there have been much higher. At a Chevron station in Culver City, Calif., the price on Tuesday was $4.45 a gallon.

"I do building maintenance," Ursula Matthews said as she filled her tank. "I do a lot of driving from place to place. It's hurting me. I cannot raise the prices [of my services] with the economy what it is."

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12:01am

Thu March 15, 2012
Middle East

Iranians Feel The Bite Of Tougher Sanctions

Originally published on Thu March 15, 2012 8:42 am

Iranians wait to enter a currency exchange shop in Tehran on Jan. 3. The Iranian rial fell to a record low against the dollar in early January after President Obama signed a bill imposing fresh sanctions on the country's central bank.
Morteza Nikoubazl Reuters/Landov

No nation has been sanctioned so frequently, and so thoroughly, as the Islamic Republic of Iran. For more than 30 years, the country has been under some kind of punitive economic measure.

The goal has been to prevent Iran from receiving and using the billions of dollars in oil profits that finance its nuclear program.

But none have been tougher, according to President Obama, than the sanctions his administration has imposed on Iran's banking system.

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12:01am

Thu March 15, 2012
Presidential Race

Campaign Videos: A Time-Tested Election Tactic

Originally published on Thu March 15, 2012 8:34 am

A screen shot of President Obama from the trailer for his campaign's movie The Road We've Traveled.
BarackObama.com/YouTube

12:01am

Thu March 15, 2012
Sports

Murray State Racers Fans Revved Up Over NCAA

Murray State fans celebrate a 3-point shot by Murray State's Donte Poole during the first half of a game St. Mary's on Feb. 18. Since January, every Racers home game has sold out.
Stephen Lance Dennee AP

On the Murray State University campus in Kentucky, warm weather has arrived. Students are out on the quad skateboarding, riding bikes, playing Frisbee and listening to music. But what are they talking about? Basketball.

"I think Murray State can go to the Final Four," one student says.

The MSU Racers have been in the tournament before, but with just a single loss this season and the highest tournament seed in the program's history, expectations are greater than ever.

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6:08pm

Wed March 14, 2012
The Two-Way

Santorum: Puerto Rico Must Adopt English If It Wants Statehood

Carlos Diaz, 84, reads local newspaper "El Vocero" with a front page depicting both Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum and a headline reading, "The National Battle Arrives on the Island."
Christopher Gregory Getty Images

Rick Santorum waded into a controversial issue today when he gave an interview to El Vocero, one of the biggest newspapers in Puerto Rico.

The issue? The island's primary language.

The paper asked the former Pennsylvania senator if he would back Puerto Rican statehood if Spanish along with English remained its official languages.

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5:29pm

Wed March 14, 2012
House & Senate Races

King Returns: Ex-Gov. Fights For Snowe's Senate Seat

Former Maine Gov. Angus King has been out of office since 2003. He currently teaches at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.
Joel Page AP

5:05pm

Wed March 14, 2012
It's All Politics

Romney Might Like The View From Peoria

Originally published on Wed March 14, 2012 10:10 pm

Peoria, Ill., as seen from across the Illinois River.
Jeff Haynes Reuters /Landov

Mississippi and Alabama were big wins for Rick Santorum in the fight for the GOP presidential nomination.

While never considered strong for Mitt Romney, those states further revealed the vulnerabilities of his campaign, specifically, problems identifying with many elements of the Republican base.

The next big contest is Tuesday in Illinois.

It's a state rich in delegates (69) and in something else that should be good news for Romney: more moderate Republicans. But he still needs to connect with even those voters.

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5:03pm

Wed March 14, 2012
The Two-Way

'Whitey' Bulger's Girlfriend Pleads Guilty Of Helping Him Evade Police

This undated file photo provided by the U.S. Marshals Service shows Catherine Greig, the longtime girlfriend of Whitey Bulger.
AP

In a deal with prosecutors, the longtime girlfriend of mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger pleaded guilty to helping him evade capture from police.

Bulger, if you remember, was captured in Santa Monica, Calif., last June. He is the most notorious mob boss in Boston and was wanted for his alleged role in 19 murders.

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5:01pm

Wed March 14, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Doctors Revamp Guidelines For Pap Smears

Cells gathered during a Pap test. Those on the left are normal, and those on the right are infected with human papillomavirus.
Ed Uthman Wikimedia Commons

Women should get screened for cervical cancer far less frequently than doctors have long recommended, according to new guidelines released Wednesday.

More than 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year in the United States, and more than 4,000 die from the disease.

For years, doctors have recommended that women start getting Pap smears every year or two to try to catch signs of cancer early, when it's easiest to prevent and treat.

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4:56pm

Wed March 14, 2012
The Salt

Fish And Spices Top List of Imported Foods That Make Us Sick

Originally published on Wed March 14, 2012 4:58 pm

More than 75 percent of the fish consumed in the U.S. is imported.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Disease outbreaks with imported foods are on the rise, and fish and spices are the foods most likely to cause problems.

It's not that imported foods are any nastier than home-grown, according to a presentation today from researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It's that we're eating a lot more of them.

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4:39pm

Wed March 14, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Mississippi Builds Insurance Exchange, Even As It Fights Health Law

Originally published on Fri March 16, 2012 9:24 am

Mississippi, unlike some of its neighbors, is moving ahead with an insurance exchange.
iStockphoto.com

Mississippi, a deeply red Southern state that is part of the Supreme Court case against the health law, is moving full speed ahead with one of the key provisions of that law: an online health insurance exchange.

Unlike Louisiana, Alabama, Florida and other conservative states in the South, Mississippi is well on its way to having an insurance exchange ready for operation by the 2014 deadline laid out by the health overhaul law.

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4:34pm

Wed March 14, 2012
Looking Up: Pockets Of Economic Strength

Optimism Rising Along With The Number of New Jobs

Originally published on Wed March 14, 2012 10:10 pm

Economists say job growth plays a big role in how consumers are feeling about the U.S. economy.
Robert Galbraith Reuters/Landov

Part of a series

As 2011 was winding down, consumer spirits were starting to rise. Now the momentum has carried into the new year, with polls showing consumer sentiment continuing to improve.

Economists say that negative factors, such as falling home values or rising meat prices, are nowhere near as important as the growth in jobs.

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4:28pm

Wed March 14, 2012
It's All Politics

Gingrich's SuperPAC Ally Tells How His Candidate Can Still Be Nominee

Originally published on Wed March 14, 2012 6:02 pm

Newt Gingrich could still be his party's salvation, according to a former aide who advises a pro-Gingrich superPAC.
David Goldman AP

Time for a few unconventional thoughts:

  • Newt Gingrich is still in good enough shape to win the Republican presidential nomination at a brokered convention in Tampa.
  • By staying in the race, Gingrich actually helps, not hurts, his rival Rick Santorum.
  • Gingrich's situation resembles Abraham Lincoln's in 1860.
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4:16pm

Wed March 14, 2012
The Two-Way

Reports: New York Knicks Head Coach D'Antoni Resigns

Head coach Mike D'Antoni of the New York Knicks during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at in January.
Christian Petersen Getty Images

Several news organizations are reporting that what had at one point been a story-book run by the New York Knicks is crashing back to reality: With the return of star Carmelo Anthony and a six-game losing streak behind him, head coach Mike D'Antoni has resigned.

Yahoo! Sports, which first reported the story, says D'Antoni has clashed with Anthony in the past. They report:

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3:47pm

Wed March 14, 2012
Fine Art

800-Year-Old Frescoes Leave Texas For Cyprus

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 10:57 am

In the 1980s, this dome from the 13th century was stolen out of the church of St. Evphemianos in Lysi in the Turkish occupied section of Cyprus. The fresco portrays Christ in heaven, surrounded by 12 angels. The Archangels Michael and Gabriel flank the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist as a medallion illustrates the throne that's been prepared for the Lord.
Kevin Keim Charles Moore Foundation

A set of 13th-century Byzantine frescoes — plundered after Turkey invaded Cyprus and on display in Houston for the last 15 years — is headed home at last. It's the closing chapter in what turns out to be a remarkable odyssey.

It all started in the summer of 1974, when the Turkish army invaded Cyprus and nearly 200,000 Greek Cypriots became refugees fleeing south.

"And so all the churches and homes and art was left behind," says Josef Helfenstein, director of the Menil Collection in Houston. "And after years, some of these churches began to be looted."

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3:37pm

Wed March 14, 2012
The Two-Way

The Spotlight Shines On Another Central African Warlord

Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga (center) at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, where he was convicted Wednesday of war crimes, including recruiting child soldiers.
Evert-Jan Daniels AP

There's been a major development involving a notorious warlord from Central Africa who snatched thousands of children and sent them to war on his behalf.

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3:32pm

Wed March 14, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Get To Know 'Number Needed To Treat'

A single number can help show how beneficial, or not, a treatment is.
iStockphoto.com

While reading over an analysis of decades-old studies of LSD as a treatment for alcoholism last week, I found that the so-called number needed to treat was 6 to prevent alcohol misuse. In other words, treat six people and one would benefit.

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3:24pm

Wed March 14, 2012
The Two-Way

On Last Day As A Free Man, Blagojevich Will Hold News Conference

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich in December.
Scott Olson Getty Images

A day before he begins serving his prison sentence, former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich will give one final press conference. As The Chicago Tribune puts it, talking into a microphone was, after all, one of his favorite things to do as governor.

The disgraced governor was sentenced to 14 years in prison back in December, after he was convicted of, among other things, trying to sell President Obama's vacated Senate seat.

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3:00pm

Wed March 14, 2012
Business

Goldman Faces Criticism From One Of Its Own

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. Goldman Sachs is once again defending itself against allegations that the company makes money by putting its own interests ahead of clients. This time, the accusation comes from one of Goldman Sachs' own.

Greg Smith, a Goldman employee in London, resigned publicly today on the op ed page of the New York Times. He wrote that the bank's culture is toxic and its employees talk callously about ripping off clients.

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2:33pm

Wed March 14, 2012
Movie Reviews

On DVD: Inside Bill Clinton's Campaign 'War Room'

George Stephanopoulos (left) and James Carville advised President Clinton during the 1992 election. Their strategic sessions in Clinton's "War Room" were filmed by Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker.
October Films/Everett Collection

I think everyone can agree that the Republican Party's search for its presidential nominee has been a long, strange trip. For me, one of the strangest things about it is that, after all this time, I barely know who's running Mitt Romney's, Rick Santorum's and Newt Gingrich's campaigns. You see, over the past 30 years, political strategists have gone from being shadowy figures to being celebrities in their own right.

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2:12pm

Wed March 14, 2012
The Two-Way

Global Warming Could Cause More Frequent Flooding For 3.7 Million In U.S.

According to the report, by 2050, there is a 1 in 6 chance a storm could force water above the 4 foot level. That would mean most of South Florida would be under water.
Climate Centeral

According to new research, 3.7 million Americans who live at elevations close to high tide could face more frequent flooding because of the sea rise caused by global warming.

The New York Times reports:

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1:49pm

Wed March 14, 2012
It's All Politics

Pew Poll: Good News, Bad News For Romney

The cacophony of hoots being directed at Mitt Romney Wednesday for his poor performances in Alabama and Mississippi primaries is somewhat curious, especially since it was the conventional wisdom as recently as last week that the Deep South was likely to be very tough going for him.

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1:19pm

Wed March 14, 2012
Afghanistan

For Afghans, Two Outrages, Two Different Reactions

The Afghan response to Sunday's shooting deaths of 16 Afghan civilians has been limited compared with the recent outrage over the burning of Qurans. In one of the few protests, demonstrators chanted anti-U.S. slogans in the eastern city of Jalalabad on Tuesday.
Rahmat Gul AP

After U.S. troops inadvertently burned Qurans in Afghanistan last month, Afghans staged nationwide riots that left 40 dead and hundreds injured in unrest that lasted days.

In the days since 16 Afghan civilians were shot dead on Sunday, apparently by a lone U.S. soldier, the Afghan reaction has been relatively restrained so far.

Why such different responses? It can seem especially confounding to Americans, who consider the shooting a far graver offense than the Quran burnings.

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1:08pm

Wed March 14, 2012
U.S.

Please Read This Story, Thank You

Politeness seems to be falling by the wayside these days, with phrases like "you're welcome" replaced by the more casual "you bet" or "no problem." Good manners were more the norm in 1960, when these kids at a junior theatrical school learned how to curtsy and bow.
Chris Ware Keystone Features/Getty Images

Listen to the conversations around you — colleagues at the office, customers in the coffeehouse line, those who serve you, those you serve, the people you meet each day. "Give me a tall latte." "Hand me that hammer." "Have a good one."

Notice anything missing? The traditional magic words "please" and "thank you" that many people learn as children appear to be disappearing.

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1:00pm

Wed March 14, 2012
Politics

Santorum's Wins Shake Up GOP Leader Board

Rick Santorum swept the Mississippi and Alabama primaries on Tuesday, leaving Mitt Romney a distant third. Newt Gingrich maintains he'll carry on, and third-place finisher Mitt Romney faces renewed doubts about his ability to win over conservative Republicans, though he's leading the delegate race.

1:00pm

Wed March 14, 2012
NPR Story

Medical Students Cross Fingers For Match Day

iStockphoto.com

For many fourth-year medical students, the future arrives, sealed in an envelope, during the third week of March. On what's known as Match Day, med students find out where they'll spend their residencies. It's a nerve-wracking wait for many that has played out on med school campuses since 1952.

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1:00pm

Wed March 14, 2012
Animals

When Wild Animals Stalked Zanesville's Streets

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Last October, Terry Thompson released 50 exotic animals on his farm in Ohio and then shot himself in the head. Neighbors soon reported lions, tigers, bears, leopards, monkeys and wolves on the loose, and sheriff's deputies from the city of Zanesville nearby hunted them down in the gathering darkness.

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1:00pm

Wed March 14, 2012
Middle East

A Renewed Push To End Violence In Syria

President Bashar Assad and his opposition continue to crack down on rebels in Syria. U.N. envoy Kofi Annan met with Assad to try to broker a cease fire, but failed. The U.N. Security Council is drafting another resolution to support the Arab League request to have Assad step down from power.

12:51pm

Wed March 14, 2012
Books

Bad Girls Of History, How Wicked Were They?

Cleopatra: Serpent of the Nile is one in a collection for children called The Thinking Girl's Treasury of Dastardly Dames.
Courtesy of Goosebottom Books

With great power comes not-so-great nicknames. At least, that was the case for some of the most notorious queens and female rulers in history:

Egypt's Cleopatra: "Serpent of the Nile."

Rome's Agrippina: "Atrocious and Ferocious."

England's Mary Tudor: "Bloody Mary."

France's Catherine de Medici: "The Black Queen."

France's Marie Antoinette: "Madame Deficit."

China's Cixi: "The Dragon Empress."

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