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The Race Card Project: Six-Word Essays
11:29 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Six Words: Ask Who I Am, Not What

A submission to the Race Card Project, which asks people to describe their experience with race in six words.
Cliff Owen AP

Originally published on Thu March 14, 2013 4:46 am

This month NPR begins a series of occasional conversations about The Race Card Project, where people can submit their thoughts on race and cultural identity in six words. Thousands of people have shared their six-word stories and every so often NPR Host/Special Correspondent Michele Norris will dip into the trove of six-word stories to explore issues surrounding race and cultural identity for Morning Edition.

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Middle East
11:28 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Syrian Cyber-Rebel Wages War, One Hack At A Time

Ahmad "Harvester" Heidar is a computer software engineer whose work for the Syrian rebels includes sweeping the hard drives of detained anti-government activists, and trying to develop a robot that will help extract sniper victims in Syria. Turkish officials have given Heidar the green light to develop a prototype of his robot, which he calls Tina.
Jodi Hilton for NPR

Originally published on Wed March 13, 2013 3:27 pm

The Internet is a battleground in Syria, a place where President Bashar Assad's regime has mounted a sophisticated surveillance campaign that includes monitoring and arresting activists by tracking their Facebook pages.

The Syrian Electronic Army, an arm of the Syrian military, is in charge of the monitoring.

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Middle East
11:26 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

With Official Wink And Nod, Young Saudis Join Syria's Rebels

Mohammad al-Qahtani, a human rights and democracy activist, speaks at his home in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in 2011.
Hassan Ammar AP

Originally published on Wed March 13, 2013 12:36 pm

Following a circuitous route from Saudi Arabia up through Turkey or Jordan and then crossing a lawless border, hundreds of young Saudis are secretly making their way into Syria to join groups fighting against the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad, GlobalPost has learned.

With the tacit approval from the House of Saud and financial support from wealthy Saudi elites, the young men take up arms in what Saudi clerics have called a "jihad," or "holy war," against the Assad regime.

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Health Care
11:24 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

'We Shouldn't Have To Live Like This'

Linwood Hearne, 64, and his wife, Evelyn, 47, stand near Interstate 83 in Baltimore where they have slept on and off for the past four years. According to the local nonprofit Health Care for the Homeless (HCH), a growing percentage of homeless patients nationally are 50 or older, with complex mental and physical conditions.
Kainaz Amaria NPR

Originally published on Thu March 14, 2013 7:05 am

If aging is not for sissies, that's especially true if you're homeless. You can be on your feet for hours, or forced to sleep in the frigid cold or seriously ill with no place to go. But, increasingly, the nation's homeless population is getting older. By some estimates, more than half of single homeless adults are 47 or older.

And there's growing alarm about what this means — both for the aging homeless and for those who have to foot the bill. The cost to society, especially for health care and social services, could mushroom.

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It's All Politics
10:06 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Republicans Face Off Over Strategy For Picking Candidates

Karl Rove and the big donors behind his Crossroads superPAC have formed a new group, the Conservative Victory Project, to vet and recruit Republican Senate candidates.
Rich Pedroncelli AP

Originally published on Wed March 13, 2013 12:36 pm

Republicans have a steep hill to climb if they want to take control of the Senate next year. The GOP would need to pick up six seats in 2014.

There are plenty of open seats and vulnerable Democrats up for re-election, but Republicans are debating the best way to win.

Last year's Senate results were disappointing for the GOP: The party ended up losing a number of seats it thought were winnable — and now it's trying to figure out what to do differently next year.

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Sweetness And Light
8:53 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

School Bands Should Not Be Entertainment Adjunct For Sports

A marching band performs at halftime on the field during a high school football game.
Jani Bryson iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed March 13, 2013 12:36 pm

Several years ago I gave a speech in which I mentioned that athletes tended to be the only college students who were awarded scholarships for what is an extracurricular activity.

Afterward, Myles Brand, the late president of the NCAA, told me I was wrong, that many music extracurricular scholarships were awarded at colleges.

Brand and I seldom agreed on much of anything, but I've always found him to be a gentleman. So, I expressed surprise at this claim.

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It's All Politics
1:48 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Ryan's Budget Plan Leaves Obamacare Taxes Alone

Originally published on Tue March 12, 2013 2:23 pm

As he has said many times in recent years, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan is no fan of President Obama's health care law. The Republican repeated his view again Tuesday as he laid out the House Republicans' proposed budget:

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The Two-Way
1:48 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

L.A. Archdiocese Agrees To $10 Million Settlement Over Abuse Claims

Cardinal Roger Michael Mahony arrives to attend a mass at St Peter's basilica on March 12, 2013 at the Vatican.
Gabriel Bouys AFP/Getty Images

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles has agreed to pay $9.9 million to four men who allege they were abused by former priest Michael Baker, the men's attorney tells the AP.

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The Salt
1:35 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Can Dunkin' Donuts Really Turn Its Palm Oil Green?

Dunkin' Donuts plans to go green by committing to purchasing all of its palm oil from sustainable sources.
Andrew Huff/via Flickr

Originally published on Tue March 12, 2013 2:13 pm

Dunkin' Donuts is changing its recipes — though you may not notice much difference the next time you bite into a cruller. In response to pressure from one of New York's top elected officials, the company recently announced that it will set a goal of using only 100 percent sustainable palm oil in making its donuts.

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The Two-Way
1:32 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Labor Relations Board Will Take Recess Appointment Decision To Supreme Court

The National Labor Relations Board says it will ask the Supreme Court to review a lower court decision that invalidated three of President Obama's recess appointments, casting a legal cloud over more than 1,000 board actions over the past year.

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The Two-Way
1:00 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Ewald-Heinrich Von Kleist, Who Plotted To Kill Hitler, Dies

Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist-Schmenzin, right, a former German army officer and a member of the July 20 Plot, talks with German Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg during a ceremony for new recruits on July 20, 2010 in Berlin on the occasion of the 66th anniversary of the failed attempted assassination on Hitler on July 20, 1944.
Rainer Jensen AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 12, 2013 1:49 pm

Ewald-Heinrich Von Kleist, the last survivor of a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, has died, the Associated Press reports quoting his wife.

Von Kleist, a former German army lieutenant, first volunteered to wear a suicide vest in 1944. He was scheduled to meet Hitler to model a new uniform and that's when he would detonate.

According to the AP, Von Kleist told his father, an early opponent of Hitler, about the suicide plot.

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It's All Politics
12:47 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

'Unprecedented': Budget Cuts Could Hit Some Airport Towers

A statue of golf legend Arnold Palmer stands outside Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Latrobe, Pa.
Brian Naylor NPR

Originally published on Mon March 25, 2013 8:45 am

Control towers at many small and medium-sized airports around the country are set to shut down next month because of the across-the-board federal budget cuts. The towers have been operated under contract to the Federal Aviation Administration.

One of the airports affected is in Latrobe, Pa., southeast of Pittsburgh — the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport, named after the golf great who grew up a well-placed drive from the runway. A statue of Palmer watches over the small terminal.

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National Security
12:25 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Cyberattacks, Terrorism Top U.S. Security Threat Report

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper (center), accompanied by FBI Director Robert Mueller (left) and CIA Director John Brennan, testifies on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Tue March 12, 2013 1:42 pm

James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, went before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday in a bit of a sour mood. He led off complaining that he had to speak publicly at all.

"An open hearing on intelligence matters," Clapper said, "is a contradiction in terms." And then, before getting to any international problems Clapper hit a domestic one: the spending cuts mandated under the sequestration package.

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Shots - Health News
12:22 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Ryan Budget Proposal Echoes Obamacare While Rejecting It

House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., holds up a copy of the 2014 Budget Resolution as he speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 12, 2013.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Health policy watchers might have been amused reading the latest blueprint for the federal budget, out Tuesday.

That's because once again House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan proposes a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans refer to as "Obamacare." But this time, the proposal describes the changes it envisions to the Medicare program in very Obamacare-like terms.

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The Two-Way
12:06 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Sharpton 2.0: From Outsider To Insider

The Rev. Al Sharpton, founder and president of National Action Network, prepares for his MSNBC show PoliticsNation in January.
Shiho Fukada for NPR

Originally published on Wed March 13, 2013 5:34 am

Although he's been a public figure for three decades, the Rev. Al Sharpton is more visible these days than ever, often in ways even he wouldn't have dreamed when he was leading protests on the streets of New York in the 1980s.

If you watched the inauguration ceremony for President Barack Obama, you probably saw the dais behind him filled with the usual lot of past presidents, members of Congress and so on. You also may have caught sight of a new, and improbable, addition: Sharpton.

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The Two-Way
12:06 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Justice's Voting Rights Unit Suffers 'Deep Ideological Polarization' Says Watchdog

Attorney General Eric Holder (R) and Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Thomas Perez in 2010 in Washington, D.C.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 12, 2013 12:53 pm

The Justice Department's voting rights unit suffers from "deep ideological polarization" and a "disappointing lack of professionalism" including leaks of sensitive case information, harassment and mistreatment among colleagues who have political differences, department watchdogs concluded Tuesday.

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Animals
11:55 am
Tue March 12, 2013

Quick Brown Fox Can't Find Camouflaged Quail Eggs

Researchers wanted to know if Japanese quail were aware of the colors and patterns on their eggs.
Courtesy of Lovell et al.

Originally published on Tue March 12, 2013 8:57 pm

It's almost spring, and for many animals, warmer weather means it's time to find a mate. If you're a bird, finding that mate means a new clutch of eggs won't be far behind.

But keeping those eggs safe until they hatch can be a challenge, especially if you're a Japanese quail — a small ground-nesting bird that counts foxes among its predators.

The eggs of Coturnix japonica are tiny — not much bigger than a quarter. They're off-white or tan in color, with darker speckles.

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All Tech Considered
11:38 am
Tue March 12, 2013

Dad's 'Donkey Kong' Hack Recasts Female As Hero For Daughter

A screenshot shows game designer Mike Mika's Donkey Kong: Pauline Edition he created for his daughter show she could play as a female hero.
Screengrab via YouTube

Originally published on Tue March 12, 2013 1:42 pm

The world of video games has a long history of damsels in distress. It's the go-to framework for endless heroic adventures where fabulous male heroes journey to save [insert female captured by villain here].

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Business
11:10 am
Tue March 12, 2013

The Reclusive Spanish Billionaire Behind Zara's Fast Fashion Empire

A notorious recluse, Amancio Ortega founded the Zara clothing chain and is No. 3 on Forbes magazine's billionaire list.
Inditex AP

Originally published on Tue March 12, 2013 3:18 pm

He's the richest man you've never heard of: Amancio Ortega, founder of the Spanish clothing chain Zara. He's a notorious recluse who is rumored to wear the same plain shirt every day, but his Zara empire has come to define the concept of fast fashion.

And now he's taken Warren Buffett's No. 3 spot on Forbes' billionaires list.

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It's All Politics
10:10 am
Tue March 12, 2013

Ryan's Budget: The First Of The DOA Proposals

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) (second from right), arrives with other GOP members of the House Budget Committee he chairs, for a news conference, March 12, 2013.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Like the famous cherry blossoms forecast to bloom in a few weeks, this time of year is also marked by the arrival of competing, partisan federal budget proposals that political foes immediately declare dead-on-arrival, though not so dead that they can't be used as campaign fodder.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) got the process underway Tuesday by introducing the House Republican budget for the coming fiscal year, DOA because it has no chance of getting through the Democratic Senate or to be signed by President Obama.

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Shots - Health News
10:09 am
Tue March 12, 2013

Can Kidney Transplants Ease Strain On Gaza's Health System?

A Palestinian dialysis patient is treated at the Shifa hospital in Gaza City in 2010. Many kidney patients in Gaza struggle to get proper dialysis therapy because machines are often overbooked.
Khalil Hamra AP

Originally published on Sun March 17, 2013 4:54 am

It's no picnic being a kidney patient even in the best conditions. But coming in for dialysis in a place like the Gaza Strip calls for a special kind of patience.

Years of war have placed a constant stress on the health system there. Thanks to a host of factors, Gaza's main hospital, Shifa Hospital, regularly faces supply shortages of medications that kidney patients need to manage nausea and other symptoms.

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The Two-Way
9:53 am
Tue March 12, 2013

5 Things About Popes And Their Names; Like, Why Do They Change Them?

Pope John II, whose name at birth was Mercurius. When he became pope in 533 he changed his name — starting a tradition that continues.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 13, 2013 11:53 am

Update at 5 p.m., March 13: The new pope's name will be Francis — one that hasn't been used before.

Our original post, written before Pope Francis was chosen:

It's not required, but it's almost surely going to happen:

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The Two-Way
9:52 am
Tue March 12, 2013

In Secular Syria, Top Muslim Cleric Picks Sides In Civil War

Syria's Grand Mufti Ahmad Hassoun (right) prays with President Bashar Assad in Damascus on Feb. 5, 2012. The grand mufti has called on Syrians to join the army and fight for the government, his most partisan statement since the country's uprising began two years ago.
Anonymous AP

Originally published on Tue March 12, 2013 10:28 am

This story was written by a Syrian citizen in Damascus who is not being further identified out of safety concerns.

In a surprising religious decree, Syria's government-appointed grand mufti has issued a fatwa calling on Muslims to fight on the side of President Bashar Assad's regime against the rebels who have been waging an uprising for two years.

In a televised statement Sunday, Syria's Grand Mufti Ahmad Hassoun said: "I urge the sons of Syria to join the army and fight for the unity of this great country."

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Planet Money
9:41 am
Tue March 12, 2013

4.2 Million Americans Were Hired In January (And 4.1 Million Quit Or Got Fired)

Calculated Risk

Originally published on Tue March 12, 2013 1:42 pm

One jobs number gets all the attention: The number of jobs lost or gained in the previous month.

That number is important. But focusing too much on the net change in jobs can be misleading. It gives the impression that a job is like a widget — it's something that gets made in a factory somewhere, and that we hope exists forever.

That's not how it works. Even in good economic times ,new jobs are constantly being created and old jobs are constantly being destroyed. (Of course, you do want the number of jobs created to exceed the number of jobs destroyed.)

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The Two-Way
9:36 am
Tue March 12, 2013

NASA: Rover Data Indicates Ancient Mars Could Have Supported Life

This image from NASA's Curiosity rover shows the first sample of powdered rock extracted by the rover's drill.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Originally published on Tue March 12, 2013 1:50 pm

The group of scientists working with NASA's Curiosity rover made a big announcement during a press conference today: "We have found a habitable environment that is so benign" if there was water there, "you be able to drink it," John P. Grotzinger, professor of geology at Caltech, said summing up the rover's latest findings.

That is, at one point Mars had the right conditions to support living microbes.

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The Two-Way
9:09 am
Tue March 12, 2013

Google Will Pay $7 Million To Settle Street View Data Capturing Case

The camera mounted on a Google Street View car used to photograph whole streets obscures part of the U.S. Internet giant's logo.
Daniel Mihailescu AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 12, 2013 9:37 am

Google has agreed to pay a $7 million fine to settle claims from 37 states and the District of Columbia that the search giant improperly collected data from unsecured wireless networks across the United States using its "Street View" vehicles.

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It's All Politics
9:01 am
Tue March 12, 2013

Why Obama (And Any President) Fails To Meet Expectations

As with other recent presidents, Barack Obama is disliked and distrusted by roughly half the public. But some of his perceived failings may be the result of an inflated expectations game that all modern presidents must play.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 12, 2013 10:06 am

Whether President Obama attacks members of Congress, takes them out to dinner or pays them visits on Capitol Hill, he needs their support in order to achieve major parts of his agenda.

That presidents are at the mercy of Congress when it comes to budgets and legislation is an obvious point, and one deeply embedded in the U.S. constitutional system.

But it's a truism that often gets overlooked in the rush to assume that what a president wants, a president can get.

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Shots - Health News
8:00 am
Tue March 12, 2013

When It Comes To Health Care, Patients Don't Want To Weigh Costs

Patients say they feel little personal responsibility for keeping health costs lower.
Andrei Tchernov iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu March 14, 2013 12:06 pm

People willingly drive across town to save 50 cents on a carton of milk. But when it comes to health care, they don't want to think about how much it costs, and they don't want their doctors to think about it either, according to a recent study in the journal Health Affairs.

That's not good news for those who hope to nudge people into being more cost-conscious health care consumers.

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The Two-Way
7:37 am
Tue March 12, 2013

Palestinian Rocket Likely Killed 11-Month Old In Gaza, UN Report Says

Jihad Masharawi weeps while he holds the body of his 11-month old son Ahmad.
Majed Hamdan AP

Originally published on Sun March 17, 2013 4:54 am

It became the iconic photograph of Israel's military strikes in Gaza last November:

It showed Jihad Misharawi, a BBC Arabic journalist, carrying the body of his 11-month-old son, Ahmad. Misharawi is wailing, asking "What did my son do to die like this?"

An easy inference to make from the photograph was that the boy died because of an Israeli airstrike.

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The Two-Way
7:21 am
Tue March 12, 2013

Judge Enters Not Guilty Plea For Accused Colorado Theater Shooter

After his attorneys said they need more time to prepare to respond to the 166 counts of murder, attempted murder and other crimes he faces, a Colorado judge on Tuesday entered a not guilty plea on behalf of accused movie theater gunman James Holmes.

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