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4:45pm

Tue December 13, 2011
The Two-Way

Biden: Iraq Will Be A Partner; History Will Judge If War Was Worth It

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 7:49 pm

Vice President Joe Biden is interviewed by NPR's Robert Siegel in the Secretary of War Suite of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Dec. 13.
David Lienemann The White House

Saying that the U.S. is not looking for Iraq to be an ally, Vice President Biden told NPR's Robert Siegel this afternoon that the U.S. now views that country as a partner.

"We're looking for a stable, democratic government that is not beholden to anyone in the region and is able to be secure within its own borders and have its own policy ," he said during an interview in Washington's Eisenhower Executive Office Building, adjacent to the White House.

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4:39pm

Tue December 13, 2011
Iraq

U.S. Troops (But Not Their TVs) Prepare To Leave Iraq

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 9:34 am

A day after leaving Iraq last week, U.S. Army soldiers from the 1st Cavalry Division lined up their armored vehicles near Kuwait City, Kuwait. Armored equipment will not stay behind after troops leave Iraq, but other property may.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

The final American troops are set to leave Iraq in a matter of days. Just a few thousand remain, and they will be heading south toward Kuwait — the starting point for a war that began nearly nine years ago.

The last American military unit out of Iraq will be part of the 1st Cavalry Division from Fort Hood, Texas. The division fought in some of the war's toughest battles and suffered nearly 300 killed.

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4:22pm

Tue December 13, 2011
Music

Schubert's 'Winterreise' Paints Bleak Landscape For Bill T. Jones

Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 7:55 pm

Choreographer Bill T. Jones at an appearance earlier this year.
Frederick M. Brown Getty Images

As snowstorms hit the country today, All Things Considered revisits a vivid story that choreographer and dancer Bill T. Jones shared about one winter song. It originally aired Dec. 13, 2011.

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4:20pm

Tue December 13, 2011
Afghanistan

For U.S. Troops, Fighting Starts At Afghan Border

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 11:37 pm

Staff Sgt. Joshua White (center), Command Sgt. Maj. John Troxell (left) and Brigade Sgt. Maj. Mike Boom (right) observe a joint patrol of U.S. Army and Afghan National Army soldiers and Afghan police in Paktika province, Afghanistan, on Oct. 3. The mountainous border between Afghanistan and Pakistan has become a new front line in the Afghan war.
Matt Ford AP

The mountains along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan would be cruel enough without the war raging on below — cliffs drop from 8,000-foot peaks that are spotted with only a few trees among the rocks.

But Afghanistan's eastern border has become the focus of the conflict as militants plot their attacks inside Pakistan, then slip across the rugged frontier to carry them out.

In Afghanistan's southeast Paktika province, Forward Operating Base Tillman looks across toward Pakistan over craggy peaks that American troops have nicknamed "Big Ugly" and "Big Nasty."

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4:04pm

Tue December 13, 2011
The Two-Way

Billionaire Dreamer, Aviation Pioneer Aim For Orbit

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 4:26 pm

A computer-generated image provided by Stratolaunch shows the planned carrier aircraft, with a rocket attached on its centerline and six jet engines suspended beneath its wings.
Stratolaunch Systems

4:03pm

Tue December 13, 2011
Around the Nation

How Alabama Banned Holiday Gifts For Teachers

A new ethics law in Alabama bans all government workers — including teachers — from receiving gifts.
Lisa Thornberg iStockphoto.com

This time of year, you might be thinking about what sort of gift or tip you'd like to offer your child's teacher for Christmas.

In Alabama, they won't let you get away with that kind of illegal behavior.

Alabama's new ethics law, which took effect in March, bans nearly all gifts to government workers — not just elected officials, but all state, county and municipal employees. That includes schoolteachers, as a lengthy opinion from the state ethics commission makes clear.

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3:55pm

Tue December 13, 2011
Europe

Europe Gets Austerity, But With Few Signs Of Growth

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 8:20 pm

A French man holds a flare during a protest against the government's austerity measures on Tuesday in Lille, northern France. European governments are proposing austerity measures, but critics say there should also be a plan for economic growth.
Philippe Huguen AFP/Getty Images

The plan European leaders agreed on last week to save the euro doesn't seem to have reassured the markets.

Two ratings agencies said the plan worked out in Brussels, which calls for greater fiscal integration, failed to address the immediate crisis of rising debts and the crushing costs of borrowing.

And some economists worry that the EU leaders are wrong to put so much emphasis on austerity without any real plans to stimulate economic growth.

For example, Portugal's growth rate last year was anemic, and the economies of Greece and Ireland shrank.

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3:30pm

Tue December 13, 2011
The Two-Way

Do You Ignore Your Phone While Driving?

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 3:32 pm

Just put it in the cupholder.
Michael Smith Getty Images

"No call, no text, no update, is worth a human life."

That's the message from the National Transportation Safety Board, which today recommended that states "ban the nonemergency use of portable electronic devices (other than those designed to support the driving task) for all drivers."

That means put the phone down and leave it there.

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3:23pm

Tue December 13, 2011
Middle East

For Some Arab Revolutionaries, A Serbian Tutor

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 7:21 pm

Srdja Popovic, who runs the Center for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies, speaks in Belgrade in February. He played a prominent role in ousting Serbia's dictator in 2000, and has worked with Arabs involved in uprisings in their countries during the past year.
Darko Vojinovic AP

Srdja Popovic, a lanky biologist from Belgrade, helped overthrow a dictator in Serbia a decade ago. Since then, he's been teaching others what he learned, and his proteges include a host of Arab activists who have played key roles in ousting Arab autocrats over the past year.

"This is a bad year for bad guys," Popovic says with a broad grin in a New York cafe.

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3:15pm

Tue December 13, 2011
Law

Immigration Detainees Seek Prison-Rape Protection

Human rights advocates are calling on the Obama administration to do more to protect people in immigration detention centers from sexual assault. A new federal rule that will take effect next year covers inmates in jails and prisons, but some Homeland Security officials want an exemption for facilities that house illegal immigrants.

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3:00pm

Tue December 13, 2011
The Two-Way

You're Fired, Trump Tells Himself; He Won't Be Moderating Any Debate

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 3:59 pm

Donald Trump on the FOX & Friends set last week.
Astrid Stawiarz Getty Images

He'd hinted that this might happen.

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2:58pm

Tue December 13, 2011
Research News

No 'God Particle' Yet, But Scientists Say Stay Tuned

This image, from a sensor at the particle accelerator at CERN, is an example of the data signature a Higgs particle might generate. Researchers will spend into 2012 sifting through data in an attempt to find the Higgs.
CERN

Physicists have a grand theory that describes how tiny particles interact to form all the stuff we see in the universe — everything from planets to toasters to human beings.

But there is one particle predicted by this theory that has never been detected in experiments. It's called the Higgs boson. Scientists are dying to know if it really exists — and now researchers are closer to finding out than ever before.

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2:44pm

Tue December 13, 2011
Shots - Health Blog

Facebook Aims To Prevent Suicides With Online Help

iStockPhoto.com

If you're considering suicide, Facebook now stands ready to get you some help.

The gigantic social-networking site said Tuesday that if any of its 800 million users type a post saying they are contemplating suicide, the site will offer to connect them to a crisis counselor through the site's chat system.

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2:37pm

Tue December 13, 2011
Newt Gingrich

Analysis: Gingrich's Tax Plan Would Benefit The Rich

Former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, seen here during Saturday's ABC debate, is currently leading in GOP polls. His tax plan would introduce a 15 percent flat income tax.
Kevork Djansezian Getty Images

According to many polls, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is now leading the Republican pack. His plan to rewrite the nation's tax policy hasn't gotten as much attention as some of his other proposals, but, according to a new analysis, it would require sweeping changes to the government.

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2:25pm

Tue December 13, 2011
The Two-Way

Fed: Economy 'Expanding Moderately,' Policy Unchanged

Signs suggest "that the economy has been expanding moderately" in recent months, "notwithstanding some apparent slowing in global growth," Federal Reserve Policymakers just reported.

And, as expected, they announced no policy changes that would either add or subtract to the amount of help the central bank gives the economy.

In "Fed speak":

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2:15pm

Tue December 13, 2011
The Two-Way

The Buck Stops: Treasury Suspends Production Of Presidential Dollars

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 4:05 pm

The $1 George Washington coin.
U.S. Mint AP

Saying it can save taxpayers $50 million a year, the Treasury Department announced today that it is suspending almost all production of presidential dollar coins.

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2:10pm

Tue December 13, 2011
NPR Story

Slipping Out Of The Middle Class Can Hit Kids Hard

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 2:10 pm

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. The Department of Agriculture reports that the number of students receiving free or reduced lunch soared by 17 percent last year. That's up to 21 million. Given the state of the economy, the statistics may come as no surprise, but each new child who qualifies for free lunch means another family fallen out of the middle class.

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1:59pm

Tue December 13, 2011
The Two-Way

Death Toll Rises In Syria, Adding To U.N. Estimate Of 5,000 Killed So Far

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 2:40 pm

An image grab taken from a video uploaded on YouTube shows Syrian mourners carrying the coffin of a woman who was reportedly killed in the al-Hula region of central Homs province on December 12, 2011.
YouTube AFP/Getty Images

One day after the United Nations said that more than 5,000 people have died in nine months of protests and clashes against the Syrian government, the AP quotes activists saying that at least 28 more people died Tuesday at the hands of Syrian security forces.

Fighting between the government and the opposition was heaviest along the country's northwestern border with Turkey.

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1:40pm

Tue December 13, 2011
The Two-Way

Robocalls To Cellphones? States Marshal Opposition

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 2:51 pm

"No, I don't want to renew my subscription." What if they could reach you anywhere?
Mario Tama Getty Images

A bill before Congress that would allow some types of "robocalls" to be made to cellphones if consumers have given companies their numbers doesn't have many sponsors and wouldn't seem to be the kind of legislation that would stand much of a chance of passing when an election year looms.

But it's getting an increasing amount of attention this week thanks to something that's very rare these days — bipartisan opposition.

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1:09pm

Tue December 13, 2011
Planet Money

White House Kills Dollar Coin Program

Originally published on Wed December 14, 2011 5:24 pm

Dollar coins gathering dust in the Fed's Baltimore brach.
John W. Poole NPR

The federal government will stop minting unwanted $1 coins, the White House said Tuesday. The move will save an estimated $50 million a year.

Earlier this year, we reported on the mountain of $1 coins sitting unused in government vaults. The pile-up — an estimated 1.4 billion coins — was caused by a 2005 law that ordered the minting of coins honoring each U.S. president.

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1:04pm

Tue December 13, 2011
News

Home Sweet Home: The New American Localism

Americans are craving food grown locally: There are now more than 6,000 farmers markets across the country. Here Ron Samascott organizes apples from his orchard in Kinderhook, N.Y., at the Union Square Greenmarket in New York.
Mark Lennihan AP

You can talk about the global village, a mobile society and the World Wide Web all you want, but many in our country seem to be turning toward a New American Localism.

These days, we are local folks and our focus is local. We are doing everything locally: food, finance, news, charity. And maybe for good reasons.

"One bedrock thing that is going on," says Brad Edmondson, founder of ePodunk and former editor of American Demographics magazine, is that "because of aging and the recession, people aren't moving around as much."

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1:00pm

Tue December 13, 2011
NPR Story

Troop Pullout Not The End Of US Presence In Iraq

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. About 5,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq, and they will all leave by the end of this month. Yesterday, President Obama marked the end of the nearly nine-year-long war as a campaign promise kept. He stood beside Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki yesterday and reflected on the costs and said U.S. troops will leave with their heads held high.

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1:00pm

Tue December 13, 2011
NPR Story

Medicare, Medicare Hard To Change, Says Former Head

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

Until the beginning of this month, Donald Berwick served as administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Dr. Berwick's nomination got caught up in the partisan politics that accompany passage of the health care law, and he took office under a controversial recess appointment. His mission was to make the centers more efficient, to cut costs and to deliver more patient-centered care. On his way out of office, he said that as much as a third of the money spent on Medicare and Medicaid is wasted.

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1:00pm

Tue December 13, 2011
NPR Story

Op-Ed: Protests In Russia Can't Sideline Putin

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

And now the Opinion Page, which was moved - which we moved from its regular Monday slot this week because of our special broadcast yesterday from National Geographic. After big demonstrations in Moscow and other cities in Russia over the weekend, we heard comparisons to the Arab Spring. Some predicted the protests could herald sweeping change. In an op-ed for The New York Times, Kathryn Stoner-Weiss argues that the protests are not completely meaningless, but she concluded that things will go on, much as they did before.

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1:00pm

Tue December 13, 2011
NPR Story

Letters: The Postal Service,Why We Gossip

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

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12:00pm

Tue December 13, 2011
NPR Story

Does School Choice Really Help Students?

More than 2 million children currently attend charter schools, and that number is growing. But not everyone thinks the move away from public schools is best for students. Host Michel Martin speaks with one critic, Natalie Hopkinson. She's a contributing editor for The Root, and has two kids attending schools in the Washington, D.C. area.

12:00pm

Tue December 13, 2011
NPR Story

Good Food With A Side Of Social Justice

Andy Shallal, owner of the popular Busboys & Poets restaurants in the D.C. metro area, is much more than a restaurateur. The latest Washington Post Magazine chronicles how Shallal promotes his political interests, while creating a successful business model. Host Michel Martin speaks to Shallal.

12:00pm

Tue December 13, 2011
NPR Story

Keeping First Generation College Kids On Track

For freshman college students, it's the end of first semester. For many first generation college kids, grades, work and money are already a struggle. In fact only 15 percent complete their degrees within 6 years. Host Michel Martin and a panel of moms and education experts discuss how parents can help their students succeed.

12:00pm

Tue December 13, 2011
Education

Michelle Rhee On 'Take No Prisoners' Approach

Host Michel Martin checks in with Michelle Rhee, the former chancellor of Washington, D.C. Public Schools. As chancellor, she made a number of controversial changes that were both applauded and denounced. A year ago, she started StudentsFirst, a group formed in response to increasing demands for a better public education system in America.

11:58am

Tue December 13, 2011
The Salt

Greeks Stomach Economic Crisis With Help Of 'Starvation Recipes'

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 3:53 pm

Historian and cookbook author Eleni Nikolaidou with her book Starvation Recipes. Recession-hit Greeks are fascinated with the book's World War II-era survival tips and recipes.
Thanassis Stavrakis ASSOCIATED PRESS

When Eleni Nikolaidou began studying the survival diets of World War II Greece a couple of years ago, she never expected to turn the research for her master's thesis into a cookbook.

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