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Economy
12:35 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Time For The Fed To Take Away The Punch Bowl?

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testifies before the Senate Banking Committee in Washington last month. Some analysts wonder if he and other policymakers have kept interest rates too low for too long.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 6:49 am

The stock market's long climb from its recession bottom has some people concerned it may be a bubble about to burst — a bubble artificially pumped up by the Federal Reserve's easy-money policy. That's led to calls — even from within the Fed — for an end to the central bank's extraordinary efforts to keep interest rates low.

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It's All Politics
12:21 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Obama's Outreach To GOP: More Optics Than Opportunity?

Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire at the Capitol last month. The senators are among a group invited to dine Wednesday with President Obama.
Alex Wong Getty Images

President Obama recently acknowledged the obvious: He doesn't have the supernatural powers necessary to do a mind meld, Jedi or otherwise, with Republican congressional leaders that would lead to pacts on fiscal policy or anything else for that matter.

But if he doesn't have the power to force meetings of the minds with his Republican opponents, he can at least still get meetings with them.

Popping up on the president's schedule all of a sudden was a Wednesday night dinner at a Washington, D.C., hotel with a group of GOP senators.

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The Salt
12:13 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Salami Suicide: Processed Meats Linked To Heart Disease And Cancer

Delicious. Also potentially deadly.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 1:32 pm

Bacon and bologna are hardly health food. But a huge new study offers the strongest evidence yet that eating processed meat boosts the risk of the two big killers, cancer and heart disease.

A multinational group of scientists tracked the health and eating habits of bacon-loving Brits, wurst-munching Germans, jamon aficionados in Spain, as well as residents of seven other European countries — almost a half-million people in all.

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Latin America
12:09 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Venezuela-U.S. Relations Could Thaw After Chavez

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 6:49 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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The Salt
12:06 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Can Milk Sweetened With Aspartame Still Be Called Milk?

Morgan Barnett, 7, drinks from containers of 1 percent milk and chocolate milk during lunch at a school in St. Paul, Minn., in 2006.
Eric Miller AP

Originally published on Fri March 8, 2013 5:45 am

The dairy industry has a problem. Despite studies demonstrating milk's nutritional benefits, people are drinking less and less of it.

Even children are increasingly opting for water or other low-cal options — including diet soda and artificially sweetened sports drinks.

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The Two-Way
12:03 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Loved Or Loathed, Hugo Chavez Was The Ultimate Showman

Always a showman, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who died Tuesday, sings folk songs with a mariachi group in the capital, Caracas, in 2005.
Andrew Alvarez AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 1:26 pm

I first encountered Hugo Chavez in Caracas, starring in his own television show, Hello, Mr. President. I couldn't take my eyes of the program, which began at 11 a.m. and ended after 7 p.m.

It was an endurance test for even the most die-hard sycophants and terrific entertainment for a first-time viewer. While the camera would pan droopy-eyed Cabinet members seated in the front row, El Presidente showed no signs of flagging.

At the seven-hour mark, he chirped, "Bueno!" and declared, "It's early! Let's keep talking."

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Music News
11:49 am
Wed March 6, 2013

Britain's Brass Bands: A Working-Class Tradition On The Wane

Cornetist Adam Rosbottom rehearses with the Grimethorpe Colliery Band in January. The band was founded in South Yorkshire, England, in 1917.
Christopher Werth

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 6:49 am

The world often feels full of fading traditions, from drive-in movie theaters to the dying art of good old-fashioned letter writing.

For the British, add brass bands to that list. Traditional brass bands have played an important cultural role in working-class British communities for centuries. But some warn that without funding, they could become a thing of the past.

Take the Grimethorpe Colliery Band in South Yorkshire. The band was originally formed in 1917, and nearly 100 years later, a group of tuba, euphonium and other horn players still bears the band's name.

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The Two-Way
11:28 am
Wed March 6, 2013

Arkansas Legislature Embraces Strictest U.S. Abortion Law

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 1:42 am

Arkansas has approved a law banning most abortions after 12 weeks of gestation, as both houses of the state's legislature vote to override a veto by Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe. The Republican-backed Human Heartbeat Protection Act will become the nation's most restrictive law.

In vetoing the Senate version of the bill Monday, Beebe said that it "would impose a ban on a woman's right to choose an elective, nontherapeutic abortion well before viability."

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Shots - Health News
11:23 am
Wed March 6, 2013

Hear That? In A Din Of Voices, Our Brains Can Tune In To One

Scientists say that understanding how the cocktail party effect works could help people who have trouble deciphering sounds in a noisy environment. Guests make it look easy at a Dolce and Gabbana Lounge party in London in 2010.
Paul Jeffers AP

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 6:49 am

Scientists are beginning to understand how people tune in to a single voice in a crowded, noisy room.

This ability, known as the "cocktail party effect," appears to rely on areas of the brain that have completely filtered out unwanted sounds, researchers report in the journal Neuron. So when a person decides to focus on a particular speaker, other speakers "have no representation in those [brain] areas," says Elana Zion Golumbic of Columbia University.

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NPR Story
11:17 am
Wed March 6, 2013

Snow Storm Doesn't Live Up To Its Hype In Nation's Capital

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 6:49 am

Transcript

CLAUDIO SANCHEZ, BYLINE: This is Claudio Sanchez in Washington, D.C. By mid-afternoon, some parts of west and northern Virginia had gotten a foot of snow. Washington, D.C. was expecting at least half that, so area airports cancelled more than a thousand flights. Schools closed. So did federal and local government offices. Things look bad.

CHRIS VACCARO: This is certainly a significant storm and a dangerous storm.

SANCHEZ: That's Chris Vaccaro with the National Weather Service.

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Planet Money
10:27 am
Wed March 6, 2013

If The Catholic Church Were A Business, How Would You Fix It?

Now that Pope Benedict XVI has officially gone into retirement, the next leader of the Catholic Church has a lot to consider, including finances.
Oli Scarff Getty Images

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 6:49 am

The next pope will be the spiritual leader of the world's Catholics. He will also be leading a multibillion-dollar financial empire. And from a business perspective, the Catholic Church is struggling.

We talked to several people who study the business of the church. Here are a few of the issues they pointed out.

1. Globally, the church's employees are in the wrong place.

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The Two-Way
10:23 am
Wed March 6, 2013

Sen. Rand Paul Launches An Old-Fashioned Filibusterer On Brennan Nomination

Sen. Rand Paul.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 6:31 pm

Sen. Rand Paul has been talking for hours on the floor of the Senate today in an effort to delay the nomination of John Brennan for CIA chief.

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The Two-Way
10:23 am
Wed March 6, 2013

Missing Soviet Soldier Found Alive In Afghanistan After 33 Years

Destroyed Soviet tanks and armored vehicles in Afghanistan, a grim legacy of Moscow's decade-long occupation that began in 1979.
Joel Saget AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 10:26 am

More than three decades ago, Soviet soldier Bakhretdin Khakimov went missing in Afghanistan after he was wounded in battle with Afghan mujahedeen forces.

His whereabouts remained unknown until two weeks ago, when he was tracked down by a team from the Warriors-Internationalists Affairs Committee, a Moscow-based nonprofit that looks for Soviet MIAs in Afghanistan.

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Latin America
9:56 am
Wed March 6, 2013

Cubans Wonder If Aid Will Still Flow Following Death Of Chavez

Cuba's Fidel Castro was a mentor to Hugo Chavez, and the Venezuelan leader provided oil and other assistance to Cuba. The two men met in Havana in June 2011 when Chavez went for cancer treatment.
Granma AP

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 6:49 am

The death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is an especially tough blow for Cuba, whose feeble state-run economy has been propped up for more than a decade with Venezuelan oil shipments and other subsidies.

The Castro government has declared three days of mourning, calling Chavez "a son" of Cuba, but privately Cubans are quietly fretting about the potential loss of billions in trade and the threat of a new economic crisis.

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The Two-Way
9:56 am
Wed March 6, 2013

Economy Growing At 'Modest To Moderate Pace,' Fed Says

There was "modest to moderate" economic growth across the nation as the year began, the Federal Reserve says in its latest "beige book" review of conditions around the nation.

According to the central bank, five of its 12 districts "reported that economic growth was moderate in January and early February." Those five: Dallas, New York, Minneapolis, Richmond and St. Louis.

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The Two-Way
9:24 am
Wed March 6, 2013

Guys, Your Colorblindness Might Be Messing With Kenya's Elections

Kenyan election observers and voters in the mixed slum of Kiambiu — where the first fires started in Nairobi after the disputed presidential election of 2007 — vote in this year's elections. Could something as innocent as the color of the ballots and ballot boxes be contributing to voting "irregularities"?
Gregory Warner NPR

Originally published on Mon March 25, 2013 9:44 am

In Kenya, colorblindness may be contributing to more than just questionable sartorial combinations. Some observers say it may have something to do with the hundreds of thousands of spoiled ballots — a term for disqualified or invalidated votes — in Monday's presidential election, adding new delays to declaring a winner and raising the possibility of a costly and contentious runoff election in April.

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The Two-Way
9:22 am
Wed March 6, 2013

Yes Mississippi, You Can Homebrew (If Governor Signs New Bill)

Home-brewing will become legal in Mississippi in July, if the governor signs a newly approved bill. Mississippi and Alabama are the last two states in which brewing beer at home is illegal or in a gray area.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed May 8, 2013 2:00 pm

Mississippi is poised to make home brewing legal, after its Legislature approved a beer-brewing measure Wednesday. The bill now heads to Gov. Phil Bryant, who last year approved a move to raise the state's maximum alcohol limits on beer — something the current bill's supporters point to with optimism. The governor's office has not indicated whether he intends to sign the bill.

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All Tech Considered
9:22 am
Wed March 6, 2013

Spring Break For Geeks: SXSW Interactive Starts Friday

At SXSW 2012, the app "Highlight" was touted but failed to break out like Foursquare or Twitter in years prior.
Jack Plunkett AP

Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 10:01 am

Every year, the South By Southwest music, film and interactive festival gets larger, and navigating the blur of panels, parties and shows gets more daunting. The girth of it all is enough to keep many SXSW old-timers away from Austin this year.

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The Two-Way
9:15 am
Wed March 6, 2013

Thousands Line The Streets Of Caracas, Paying Respects To Hugo Chávez

Supporters of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez wait for the passage of the funeral cortege on its way to the Military Academy, on Wednesday, in Caracas.
Juan Barreto AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 1:16 pm

A coffin holding the body of Hugo Chávez moved through the streets of Caracas, today.

The 58-year-old leader died yesterday after a battle with cancer. The flag-draped casket was moved from the military hospital where Chávez died to a military academy, where he will lie in state. The whole way there, his casket was flanked by thousands of adoring supporters dressed in red and waving the tri-colored Venezuelan flag.

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The Two-Way
8:54 am
Wed March 6, 2013

Alvin Lee Is Going Home: 'Ten Years After' Guitarist Dies

Alvin Lee performing with Ten Years After in the early 1970s.
Lebre Sylvie Dalle /Landov

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 4:18 am

Guitarist Alvin Lee, whose incendiary performance with the British band Ten Years After was one of the highlights of the 1969 Woodstock festival, has died.

He was 68. Lee's website says he "passed away early this morning [Wednesday] after unforeseen complications following a routine surgical procedure." An assistant to his daughter also confirmed the news to NPR.

His band's biggest hit — "I'd Love to Change the World" — came a couple years after Woodstock. We'll embed a clip from that.

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The Two-Way
8:18 am
Wed March 6, 2013

Portland City Employee Is Arrested, Accused In Pakistan Terror Attack Of 2009

Reaz Qadir Khan, 48, was accused Tuesday of giving money and advice to terrorists. The U.S. Department of Justice alleges that Khan helped plan a suicide bomb attack on Pakistan's intelligence headquarters in 2009.
Multnomah County Sheriff's Office

A Portland, Ore., resident was arrested Tuesday on charges of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists. The FBI alleges that Reaz Qadir Khan, 48, gave money and advice to a man involved in a deadly 2009 suicide bomb attack on the headquarters of Pakistan's intelligence service in Lahore.

The attack resulted in an estimated 30 deaths and 300 injuries. Khan, a naturalized U.S. citizen, could face a maximum sentence of life in prison if he is found guilty. FBI agents arrested him at his home Tuesday morning.

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The Two-Way
7:52 am
Wed March 6, 2013

Under Its Frozen Exterior, Scientists Say Europa's Ocean Is Salty Like Ours

The mosaic was constructed from individual images obtained by the Solid State Imaging (SSI) system on NASA's Galileo spacecraft during six flybys of Europa between 1996 and 1999.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 7:56 am

Here's a quote we found awe-inspiring:

"If you could go swim down in the ocean of Europa and taste it, it would just taste like normal old salt."

That's California Institute of Technology (Caltech) astronomer Mike Brown talking about Jupiter's moon Europa. Brown and his colleague Kevin Hand from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory believe that if you could drill your way through the moon's frozen exterior, the ocean beneath it would taste a lot like our own sea water.

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The Two-Way
7:27 am
Wed March 6, 2013

VIDEO: Mount Etna Lights Up The Night Sky

The sky glowed red above Sicily's Mount Etna early Wednesday.
Salvatore Allegra AP

The activity at Sicily's Mount Etna, as we've said, can be seen from space.

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The Two-Way
7:18 am
Wed March 6, 2013

Europe Hits Microsoft With $731 Million Fine Over Browser Options

Microsoft Corp CEO Steve Ballmer speaks during a keynote address at the 2013 International CES in January.
David Becker Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 7:37 am

Some sloppy coding on an update to Microsoft's Windows 7 two years ago has cost the computer giant a $731 million fine to the European Commission.

Microsoft said Wednesday it would not contest the fine, imposed for what the commission said was the company's abuse of its market dominance to stifle competitors' Web browsers.

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The Salt
7:04 am
Wed March 6, 2013

Eating Eyeballs: Taboo, Or Tasty?

Fish Eyes
istockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 7:58 am

It wasn't the fish heads poking out of the Stargazy Pie that stopped more than a few of our readers cold. It was the eyeballs.

"Not a lot of food nowadays has eyes; what's up with that?" one reader asked in commenting on a recent Salt post that featured a photo of the historic dish, which involves whole fish (eyes and all) poking out of a pie.

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Shots - Health News
7:03 am
Wed March 6, 2013

Why ER Docs In The Big Apple Won't Replace That Painkiller Prescription

Posters like this one tell patients in New York City emergency rooms what to expect when it comes to painkiller prescriptions.
New York City Health Department

Early this year, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said public hospitals there would take steps to reduce overdoses and abuse of opioid painkillers.

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The Two-Way
7:02 am
Wed March 6, 2013

Pro Wrestling's Paul Bearer Dies At Age 58

William Moody, who brought a sense of ghoulish danger to the WWE as manager Paul Bearer, died Tuesday at age 58.
WWE, Inc.

William Moody, who as the pro wrestling character Paul Bearer embodied a sense of theater that was equal parts morbid and absurd, has died at age 58. A portly man known for his wild-eyed stare and habit of carrying a brass urn under his arm, Paul Bearer was most notably the manager of The Undertaker and Kane.

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Education
6:55 am
Wed March 6, 2013

Where Kids Go When Neighborhood Schools Close

A rash of public school closings in some U.S. cities has parents and teachers reeling. School officials say the closings are needed to save money, but some argue it's a form of discrimination. Host Michel Martin talks with a Chicago reporter and a Philadelphia activist about how the closings could affect students and local communities.

Latin America
6:55 am
Wed March 6, 2013

Any Praise For Hugo Chavez?

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Coming up, officials in a number of major cities around the country are looking to close public schools to save money, but some parents and activists say the cost of that move is higher than you might think. We'll talk with a reporter and an activist in her city in just a minute.

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Politics
6:55 am
Wed March 6, 2013

Exit Interview: US Trade Representative Ron Kirk

Look around your kitchen table and you'll see the work of Ambassador Ron Kirk. He's the United States Trade Representative, which is a cabinet-level position, and he's negotiated trade deals all around the world. Host Michel Martin talks to him about why he's choosing to step down from his post and the importance of U.S. trade.

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