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12:01am

Fri August 19, 2011
Race To The Arctic

In The Arctic Race, The U.S. Lags Behind

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy breaks ice to support scientific research in the Arctic Ocean near Barrow, Alaska, in this file photo from July 2006 provided by the Coast Guard. In addition to the medium-class Healy, the U.S. just has two polar-class icebreakers — one of which will be decommissioned soon.
Prentice Danner AP

Seattle is the home of the U.S. Coast Guard's entire fleet of polar-class icebreakers.

Both of them.

Capt. George Pellissier commands both the Polar Sea and the Polar Star. He has spent much of his career on these ships, which were built in Seattle in the 1970s.

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12:01am

Fri August 19, 2011
Middle East

Activist: It's Time For Syrian Opposition To Unify

Syrian President Bashar Assad addresses a meeting of his Baath Party in Damascus, Syria, on Wednesday. President Obama called on Assad to step down, though it's not clear who would replace Assad if he quit or was ousted.
SANA AP

President Obama has now called on Syrian President Bashar Assad to quit. But if he did, or if he is toppled, who would replace Assad?

There's no clear answer. Assad and his late father, Hafez Assad, have ruled Syria for four decades and have not tolerated anything that resembles a genuine opposition inside the country's borders.

"There is no opposition in Syria. There are opposition groups," said Lebanon's Wissam Tarif, who has been a prominent campaigner for democracy and human rights in the Middle East.

Divided Opposition

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12:01am

Fri August 19, 2011
Politics

For Debt Panel's Becerra, No Egos While Negotiating

California Rep. Xavier Becerra was one of six Democrats chosen to join six Republicans on a panel tasked with finding a way to cut about $1 trillion from the federal deficit.
Kris Connor Getty Images

As politicians go, California Rep. Xavier Becerra has a relatively low profile considering that he's been in Congress for 18 years. He's the vice chairman of the Democratic Caucus, the former head of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the first Latino to serve on the powerful Ways and Means Committee.

When the Democrats had the House majority, Nancy Pelosi appointed him to the new post of assistant to the speaker. And earlier this month, she chose him to join the supercommittee tasked with finding a way to cut $1 trillion from the federal deficit.

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10:32pm

Thu August 18, 2011
StoryCorps

Homemade Planetarium Reflects One Man's Dream

The Kovac Planetarium is dedicated to Frank's father, Frank Kovac Sr., seen in the inset photo on the sign, who inspired his son to gaze at the stars.
StoryCorps

Deep in the North Woods of Wisconsin, more than 200 miles north of Milwaukee, sits the world's largest handmade planetarium.

It isn't easy to find. A sign points down a dirt road toward Frank Kovac's backyard, where he built the planetarium over a period of 10 years. His lifelong fascination with the stars turned into a project of cosmic proportions.

As a child, Kovac looked at the sky through his father's small telescope.

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6:06pm

Thu August 18, 2011
The Two-Way

Obama Administration Shifts Focus On Deportations

The Department of Homeland Security will no longer target people who are in the United States illegally but have done nothing else wrong, under a new policy announced today by the Obama administration.

According to the White House, DHS and the Justice Department will review pending deportation cases on a case-by-case basis, and "clear out" the queue of people deemed to be low priority.

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5:57pm

Thu August 18, 2011
Around the Nation

Gun Makers Set Sights On Female Buyers

Pink and purple handguns are for sale at Hyatt Gun Shop in Charlotte, N.C. Gun store owners reported a 73 percent increase in female customers in 2009 from the year before — a trend reflected by the growing number of guns made just for women.
Scott Graf NPR

For years, gun stores were predominantly patronized by men. But these days, shooting ranges and shops selling firearms are seeing more female customers than ever before, and that has them changing the way they do business.

In one brand-new shooting range at Eagle Gun in Concord, N.C., shots from Sharon Skoff's handgun boom behind glass that separates the range from the rest of the shop.

"I just refuse to be a victim if I possibly can in life," Skoff says. "I actually went and got my concealed permit a couple months ago so I can carry."

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5:17pm

Thu August 18, 2011
Shots - Health Blog

Goodbye, Mystery Meat? School Lunches Get More Healthful

Healthy fare is becoming more common in school cafeterias.
iStockPhoto.com

Kids may claim that Tater Tots are the only edible food in the school cafeteria, but in reality, school lunches are getting more healthful.

Almost all cafeterias now serve fresh fruits and vegetables, according to a survey of school food directors released Thursday. Whole grains are readily accessible in 97 percent of schools, and 89 percent of districts offer salad bars or pre-packaged salads. Gone are the days of full fat milk; virtually all districts offer skim or 1 percent.

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5:03pm

Thu August 18, 2011
Economy

Fears Over Europe, U.S. Weigh On Banks, Markets

Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America all have billions of dollars invested in troubled European countries.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

The stock market is at it again. After bouncing back last week, there was a huge sell-off Thursday.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 419 points — more than 3.5 percent on the day — and once again, Europe's debt crisis was a big factor. It's affecting European banks which, in turn, affect the U.S. financial sector.

European bank stocks had lost as much as 14 percent of their value by the time the U.S. markets opened.

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4:47pm

Thu August 18, 2011
Politics

Obama's Jobs Problem: Government To The Rescue?

Originally published on Wed August 24, 2011 12:40 pm

President Obama speaks Wednesday at a town hall-style meeting at Wyffels Hybrids Inc. in Atkinson, Ill. He is expected to unveil plans to stimulate the economy after Labor Day.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

As President Obama embarks on vacation, he leaves behind roiling domestic markets, dismal unemployment numbers and speculation about what he'll propose in a planned jobs-and-economy speech after Labor Day.

While he's expected to lay out some familiar strategies when he returns, from extending payroll tax cuts to new infrastructure spending, economists are looking for more — and for how Obama will balance election-year politics with the imperative to get something done and quickly in bitterly divided Washington.

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4:23pm

Thu August 18, 2011
Business

SEC Documents Destroyed, Employee Tells Congress

A staff member at the Securities and Exchange Commission has complained to Congress that thousands of investigative documents have been destroyed by the agency.

Longtime SEC staffer Darcy Flynn says some of those missing papers relate to huge investment banks under the spotlight for their role in the 2008 mortgage crisis.

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3:33pm

Thu August 18, 2011
The Two-Way

Orange Goo At Alaskan Village Found To Be Fungal Spores, Not Eggs

This sample of orange goo has been identified as fungal spores.
NOAA

The orange goo that took over the shore of a remote Alaskan village is actually a mass of fungal spores — not microscopic eggs, as scientists at the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration first believed.

"At this point, the best identification we can give to as the origin of these spores is a rust fungus," says Steve Morton, Ph.D., who works in the NOAA lab in Charleston, S.C., that conducted the full analysis. "The spores are unlike others we and our network of specialists have examined; however, many rust fungi of the Arctic tundra have yet to be identified."

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3:27pm

Thu August 18, 2011
Europe

Pope Visits A Changing Spain

Young Catholics welcome Pope Benedict XVI as he arrives at Cibeles Square during World Youth Day celebrations on Aug. 18, in Madrid, Spain.
Denis Doyle Getty Images

Pope Benedict XVI visited Spain on Thursday to celebrate World Youth Day with Catholic pilgrims from around the globe. But a country that was solidly Catholic for centuries has become much more secular, and not everyone extended a warm welcome.

Regal music is piped through the streets of Madrid as the popemobile rolls by. The faithful fall to their knees. Up to a million Catholics are present, including Sara Vallarta from Laredo, Texas.

"It's been an awesome experience. It's incredible, the amount of people here, coming all together with their faith," she says.

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3:12pm

Thu August 18, 2011
The Two-Way

Can New Sanctions Help Topple Assad's Regime?

As soon as President Obama announced new sanctions on Syria, a lot of the reaction was a big, "So what?"

It's a natural question to wonder if cutting off economic ties with a country can truly stop an authoritarian regime from attacking its own people and if it can truly get it to give up power after four decades of family rule, as Obama demanded.

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3:00pm

Thu August 18, 2011
NPR Story

Politics Still A Factor For Independent Re-Districting Group

Arizona voters approved a constitutional amendment establishing an "independent" commission to decide where the lines get drawn. The intent was to avoid the self-interest of having the Legislature draw its own districts. But the commission is taking political flak — even before it releases any maps.

2:58pm

Thu August 18, 2011
Research News

Don't Throw It Out: 'Junk DNA' Essential In Evolution

iStockphoto.com

There's a revolution underway in biology. Scientists are coming to understand genetics isn't just about genes. Just as important are smaller sequences of DNA that control genes.

These so-called regulatory elements tell genes when to turn on and off, and when to stop functioning altogether. A new study suggests that changes in these non-gene sequences of DNA may hold the key to explaining how all species evolved.

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1:44pm

Thu August 18, 2011
The Two-Way

Brawl Between U.S. College, Chinese Teams Ends Basketball Exhibition

An exhibition basketball game between Georgetown University's Hoyas and the Bayi Rockets descended into a brawl and then a full-on melee Thursday, one day after visiting Vice President Joe Biden stopped by to watch Georgetown play another team, the Shanxi Brave Dragons, in Beijing.

Both the Rockets and the Brave Dragons are professional teams. In Wednesday's game, the Hoyas beat the Brave Dragons, 98-81.

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12:59pm

Thu August 18, 2011
Shots - Health Blog

Skin Cancer Drug Gets Quick Approval

Roche Genentech developed a new melanoma drug for people with advanced cases.
FABRICE COFFRINI AFP/Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new drug to treat advanced melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. The drug got the green light faster than many other drugs under review, and advocates of personalized medicine say this bodes well for other gene-based drugs in development.

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12:33pm

Thu August 18, 2011
The Two-Way

Anti-Corruption Crusader Strikes Deal With Indian Police, Ending Standoff

Anna Hazare will be allowed to stage a 15-day public hunger strike in New Delhi. As we reported yesterday, Hazare was in a standoff with the Indian government, which arrested him for planning a protest without a permit.

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12:13pm

Thu August 18, 2011
The Two-Way

Tiny Pacific Island Hit By First Bank Robbery

Police have been flown into the tiny Pacific resort island of Aitutaki, where officials say their bank has been robbed — a first for the small, tight-knit community. Part of the Cook Islands, Aitutaki is famous for its beaches, which ring a large lagoon full of clear, ice-blue water.

Tourism is the island's biggest industry — and that has local officials thinking that the shocking bank robbery was perpetrated by a visitor, not a resident.

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12:00pm

Thu August 18, 2011
Technology

Technology: Help Or Hindrance To Law Enforcement?

The Bay Area Rapid Transit agency suspended cellular service to prevent a protest in San Francisco's subway last week. Such news prompts the question of how police can best enforce the law in the digital world. Guest host Tony Cox speaks with a San Francisco Chronicle journalist and an Electronic Frontier Foundation senior staff attorney.

12:00pm

Thu August 18, 2011
Business

There's Always Work At The Post Office? Maybe Not

The U.S. Postal Service proposed this month to cut 120,000 jobs. Guest host Tony Cox speaks with two former postal workers about what the USPS means to them, whether Americans still need the post office like they used to, and what the the future of USPS may entail.

11:16am

Thu August 18, 2011
Monkey See

The Fine Art Of Walking Out

Originally published on Fri May 25, 2012 1:54 pm

Television image via CNN

Last night, Christine O'Donnell, who was a much-discussed Senate candidate in Delaware last year and author of a new book, walked out on her interview with CNN's Piers Morgan after he asked her to talk about gay marriage, which she said was rude, because she was there to discuss — in her words — one of "the issues that I choose to talk about in the book." Ultimately, their disagreement came down to her assertion that as a host, it's rude to ask her things other than the things she wants to be asked about.

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10:36am

Thu August 18, 2011
Business

S&P Faces Inquiry Over Mortgage Security Ratings

The Justice Department is investigating whether Standard & Poor's improperly boosted ratings on mortgage securities that later turned out to be toxic, helping trigger the worst financial crisis in decades.

NPR has confirmed the investigation, first reported Wednesday by The New York Times.

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10:29am

Thu August 18, 2011
Middle East

Obama Calls For Syria's President To Resign

Originally published on Thu August 18, 2011 10:30 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, host:

President Obama today released a written statement calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to resign. In his statement, President Obama condemned, quote, "the disgraceful attacks on Syrian civilians." Secretary of State Hillary Clinton echoed that call in an announcement from the State Department.

Secretary HILLARY CLINTON (State Department): Assad is standing in their way. For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for him to step aside and leave this transition to the Syrians themselves.

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10:28am

Thu August 18, 2011
Around the Nation

Seneca Nation's New Chief Seeks To 'Change Course'

Seneca Nation president Robert Odawi Porter has sued New York several times to prevent the state from taxing native tobacco sales. And he's pressing the state to pay millions in rent for two Interstates that cross Seneca land. Even so, he's made few enemies.
David Sommerstein for NPR

Earlier this month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he's "actively" considering legalizing gambling in the state to raise revenue. That would create competition for casinos owned by New York's native nations.

Casino and tobacco sales have turned the Seneca nation, south of Buffalo, from an impoverished territory to the fifth-largest employer in the region.

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10:21am

Thu August 18, 2011
The Two-Way

Markets Plunge On Worries About A Wold Economy Slowdown

Just when you thought the markets had stabilized, it looks like today will bring another rough and tumble day on Wall Street.

The Dow plunged 500 points, more than 4 percent, in early trading, while the S&P was down 4.5 percent and Nasdaq was down close to 5 percent.

The tumble follows a poor day for world markets. ABC News reports the selloff comes in response to worries about the stability of European lenders and worries about a world economic slowdown:

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10:11am

Thu August 18, 2011
The Two-Way

ATF Denies 'Fast And Furious' Supervisors Received Promotions

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives denied a report from The Los Angeles Times that supervisors of ATF's controversial "Fast and Furious" operation were promoted.

The ATF said the supervisors were "laterally transferred."

"Fast and Furious" was a sting operation that sold weapons and allowed them to cross the U.S./Mexico border in an effort to bring in the bigger fish. What happened, however, is that the guns sold by the operation ended up being used in killings. The operation is now facing legal scrutiny.

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9:38am

Thu August 18, 2011
The Two-Way

White House Calls On Syrian President To Step Down

In his first explicit demand, President Obama called on Syrian President Bashar Assad to leave power. The White House issued a written statement praising the protesters' "pursuit of a peaceful transition" and "strongly condemning" the Syrian regime's "brutality."

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8:20am

Thu August 18, 2011
The Two-Way

Developing: Attacks Kill Several, Wound Dozens In Israel

Bus 392 sits on the highway running from Beersheva to Eilat, with windows broken following a gun attack near the Israel-Egypt border.
Yehuda Ben Itah Getty Images

"Five people were killed and dozens were wounded Thursday in a series of terrorist attacks on Israeli targets approximately 20 kilometers [12 miles] north of the southern city of Eilat, close to the border with Egypt," Israel's Haaretz.com is reporting.

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7:55am

Thu August 18, 2011
The Two-Way

VIDEO: Christine O'Donnell Walks Out on CNN's Piers Morgan

Piers Morgan, left, and Christine O'Donnell before she left the set last night.
CNN.com

It's been a while since we checked in on Christine O'Donnell, the Tea Party/Republican candidate for Senate last year in Delaware.

Last night, she landed back in the news because of an on-air dust-up with CNN's Piers Morgan that ended when O'Donnell removed her microphone and walked off the show mid-broadcast.

CNN has posted video of the departure moment here and made it available for others to embed, so we'll add it below.

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