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Participation Nation
7:09 am
Sat September 1, 2012

Americans In Action, Helping Each Other And Making The Whole Country Better

With your help, we spent a month sharing stories about Americans taking action to make their world a better place.
Milos Luzanin iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sat September 1, 2012 9:32 am

Like a quietly efficient operating system whirring away in the innards of a supercomputer, a vast array of Americans — mostly unseen and unsung — spend hours and hours of every week working together to find ways to make their communities — and the whole country — better.

This is Participation Nation.

In a monthlong blog that ended Aug. 31, NPR collected stories of people actively helping other people, animals and the planet. Here is an executive summary of what we discovered.

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Music Interviews
7:03 am
Sat September 1, 2012

Garfunkel Defends His Art

Art Garfunkel performs at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in 2010.
Barry Brecheisen WireImage

Originally published on Sat September 1, 2012 1:40 pm

Art Garfunkel is best known as half of the legendary duo Simon & Garfunkel. The harmonies he created with Paul Simon left an indelible mark on American music, but less remembered is his string of Top 40 hits as a solo artist.

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Presidential Race
5:06 am
Sat September 1, 2012

Romney Visits Storm-Stricken La. Ahead Of Obama

Originally published on Sat September 1, 2012 10:31 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. And there are a little more than 60 days left until the presidential election. Democrats are gearing up for their nominating convention, in North Carolina next week. Republicans, of course, held their convention this week, in Florida. And in a moment, we'll hear a report on President Obama's visit to a U.S. military base.

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The Salt
3:03 am
Sat September 1, 2012

Want To Grill Like A Zillionaire? There's An App For That

The iGrill on display at Macworld 2011in San Francisco.
Tony Avelar Bloomberg via Getty Images

Originally published on Wed September 19, 2012 11:14 am

There are so many cooking apps out there, it's easy to get lost. Good thing the iGrill has Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg on its side.

Sales of the $80 device spiked by 400 percent after Zuckerberg updated his Facebook status on Aug. 19 with an enthusiastic thumbs up for the iGrill, a cooking thermometer that uses Bluetooth to connect to the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

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It's All Politics
1:30 am
Sat September 1, 2012

Republicans Gear Up To Thwart An Obama North Carolina Two-Peat

Romney-Ryan campaign volunteers Will Moore and Mindy Moorman in the Greensboro, N.C., office.
Frank James NPR

Blindsided is what North Carolina Republicans felt four years ago when President Obama won the state, though by the slightest of margins — a mere 14,177 votes out of 4.3 million cast.

Republicans admit they had taken as a given a 2008 North Carolina victory by Sen. John McCain. And who could blame them? No Democratic presidential candidate had won the state since Jimmy Carter in 1976.

But as McCain learned to his grief, history isn't always destiny. Obama's campaign had an effective strategy to win the state, and did.

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Your Money
1:12 am
Sat September 1, 2012

Saving For Retirement? Here's A Tip

Originally published on Tue September 4, 2012 12:05 pm

Anyone with a 401(k) retirement plan has been painfully aware of the gyrations in the stock market in recent years. The market has come back up lately, but the economy is still in low gear, so many analysts aren't too bullish in the short term. Also, treasuries and CDs are offering tiny returns.

So what's the average American trying to save for retirement to do? Answers are percolating at an annual economics retreat in Maine.

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Europe
1:12 am
Sat September 1, 2012

In Bike-Friendly Copenhagen, Highways For Cyclists

Many Copenhagen residents already travel by bike, and now the city is building high-speed routes designed to encourage commuters even in the outlying suburbs.
Slim Allagui AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat September 1, 2012 5:17 pm

Every day, one-third of the people of Copenhagen ride their bikes to work or school. Collectively, they cycle more than 750,000 miles daily, enough to make it to the moon and back. And city officials want even more people to commute, and over longer distances.

So a network of 26 new bike routes, dubbed "the cycling superhighway," is being built to link the surrounding suburbs to Copenhagen.

Lars Gaardhoj, an official with the Copenhagen capital region, says the routes will be straight and direct.

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Europe
1:12 am
Sat September 1, 2012

For Sale: Greek Government Assets — Slightly Used

Striking Hellenic Postbank workers chat outside the state-owned bank's headquarters in Athens on Thursday. The union is protesting the government's plan to sell its majority share in the lender.
Petros Giannakouris AP

Originally published on Sat September 1, 2012 10:31 am

Greece is trying to raise cash by reviving an ambitious program to privatize state assets. The country's lenders, which include the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, hope the sell-off will cut the country's enormous debt.

But Antonis Tsifis, who runs a betting shop in a working-class neighborhood in Athens, is upset that the government is going to sell its stake in OPAP, the giant gaming firm that oversees his betting shop.

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U.S.
1:12 am
Sat September 1, 2012

Obama To Troops: 'We're Here To Help You'

Members of the military listen to President Obama during his visit to Fort Bliss, Texas, on Friday.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Sun September 2, 2012 6:09 pm

On Friday, President Obama was at Fort Bliss, Texas, where he spoke to troops and met with military families, including some who lost loved ones in Afghanistan.

As that war winds down, the president is ordering additional help for those with invisible battle scars. A rash of suicides has shown mental injuries can be just as deadly as a roadside bomb.

Surrounded by soldiers in camouflage fatigues, Obama recalled his last visit to Fort Bliss, exactly two years earlier. That was the day he announced a formal end to combat operations in Iraq.

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Education
1:12 am
Sat September 1, 2012

What's A Charter School If Not A Game Changer?

In less than 20 years, charter schools have grown to the point where more than 2 million students will be attending this fall. But not all of the schools are living up to expectations.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sat September 1, 2012 10:31 am

The charter school movement is now at a crossroads. More than 2 million students will be enrolled in charter schools in the fall — a big number for a movement that's barely 20 years old. The publicly funded, privately run schools have spread so fast, they operate more like a parallel school system in some places.

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Around the Nation
1:12 am
Sat September 1, 2012

Gone But Not Forgotten, Isaac Leaves Messy Wake

Originally published on Sat September 1, 2012 10:31 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News, I'm Scott Simon. The remnants of Hurricane Isaac have now moved north, dumping heavy rain in Arkansas and Missouri. In Louisiana and Mississippi, it will take many weeks - if not months - to clean up the mess from the flooding and torrential downpours. As NPR's Russell Lewis reports, residents there are taking things kind of in stride, even as they need to rebuild yet again.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPLASHING WATER)

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Sports
1:12 am
Sat September 1, 2012

Week In Sports: U.S. Open To Be Roddick's Last

Originally published on Sat September 1, 2012 10:31 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

And I wait all week to say time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: The 2012 tennis season is in the home stretch - or is it the last set? What do we call it? The U.S. Open in New York, and it's been eventful. We'll also hit the gridiron in a moment. First, Howard Bryant of ESPN.com and ESPN the Magazine joins us now from New York. Howard, good morning.

HOWARD BRYANT: Good morning, Scott. How are you?

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Economy
1:12 am
Sat September 1, 2012

The Economy: What Are The Central Bankers Saying?

Originally published on Sat September 1, 2012 10:31 am

Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Every year at this time, many of the world's central bankers gather in Jackson Hole, Wyoming for an annual economic policy symposium, within sight of snow-capped mountain peaks. The economy continues to be weak in much of the world. A select group of journalists is allowed to attend - and Robin Harding, the U.S. Economics Editor of the Financial Times, is one of those journalists.

He joins us from Jackson Hole. Mr. Harding, thank you for being with us.

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Politics
1:12 am
Sat September 1, 2012

The GOP Convention Is Done, But The Swag Lives On

Originally published on Sat September 1, 2012 10:31 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Finally, a story of a couple of guys on a road trip to find a few things that may be priceless. Remember, it's a road trip. Our two stars are...

LARRY BIRD: I'm Larry Bird.

HARRY RUBENSTEIN: Hi, this is Harry Rubenstein.

SIMON: Larry Bird and Harry Rubenstein are curators at the National Museum of American History. They've been in Tampa this week and will be in Charlotte next to collect stuff.

BIRD: I mean, it could be anything - banner, badges, buttons, ribbons.

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Book Reviews
1:12 am
Sat September 1, 2012

'Headbangers' And The New American Pastime

Originally published on Tue September 4, 2012 5:24 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

Baseball is still called the national pastime, and poets still compose paeans to its subtlety and gentle pace. But in the 1970s, pro football began to become America's defining game, and it was about as subtle as a kick in the head. As Kevin Cook suggests in his new book, the '70s - the days of Mean Joe, "Mad Dog" John Madden, buttoned-up Tom Landry and Howard Cosell - the days when football was raw and unfiltered.

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'Weekend Edition's' Taste Of Summer
12:47 am
Sat September 1, 2012

Swimming And Snacking On Egypt's North Coast

Freska are small, sweet treats — thin, crispy wafers sandwiching patties of sesame, peanuts or coconut, often held together by honey or sugar.
Kimberly Adams

Originally published on Sat September 1, 2012 10:31 am

In the summer, many middle- and upper-class Egyptians flee the sweltering heat and humidity of Cairo to a string of private beach communities that hug the Mediterranean coast. Here, the weather is cooler and the breeze off the sea carries the shouts of snack sellers. Those vendors make it possible for beachgoers to purchase snacks without leaving the shade of their umbrellas.

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Music Interviews
2:50 pm
Fri August 31, 2012

Derek Hoke: Three Quiet Chords And A Microphone

Nashville singer-songwriter Derek Hoke describes his crowd-pleasing music as "quietbilly."
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon September 3, 2012 2:40 pm

Every Tuesday night at the 5 Spot, some 200 people show up the East Nashville bar for Two Dollar Tuesdays: a $2 coverage charge, $2 beers and five musical guests. It's hosted by Derek Hoke, an unassuming, laid-back guy with the cowboy hat and retro-vintage eyeglasses.

"I call it a speed showcase," Hoke says. "Everybody plays five songs, and I tell them to play the 'best of' — you know, get up there, kill and get off. There's somebody coming up right after you, and we have to plow through this thing."

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Politics
1:39 pm
Fri August 31, 2012

RNC's Program Aimed At Luring More Latino Voters

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

As they leave the convention in Tampa, Republican Party leaders are hoping their efforts in Florida will win over more Latino voters. Hispanic lawmakers were given high-profile speaking roles, including Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who introduced Mitt Romney last night. Recent polls suggests President Obama leads Romney 3 to 1 among Hispanics.

NPR's Cheryl Corley reports from Tampa on this week's Republican efforts at outreach.

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Law
1:39 pm
Fri August 31, 2012

Judge Restores Extra Early Voting Days In Ohio

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

President Obama's re-election campaign won a big victory today in Ohio. A federal judge in Columbus has ordered the state to restore early voting in the three days prior to the November election. The state had eliminated it, except for voters in the military, and Ohio's attorney general insists he will appeal.

NPR's Pam Fessler has been covering this story. She joins me now. And, Pam, why is it such a big deal for the Obama campaign?

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Participation Nation
1:33 pm
Fri August 31, 2012

Taking Others Along In Fort Collins, Colo.

Running in an AiT event.
Courtesy of AiT

When Dick Hoyt competes in triathlons, he takes his son, Rick — who has cerebral palsy — with him in specially-designed carriers. Inspired by the Hoyts, Dennis Vanderheiden created Athletes in Tandem.

Travis Silvers, who now competes in AiT events, says, "I'm lucky to know Dennis and to be a part of something so special and I enjoy giving back to those who couldn't be out there without us."

Douglas James lives in Greeley, Colo.

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The Two-Way
1:28 pm
Fri August 31, 2012

Navy Lieutenant Swims To Gold In London Paralympics, Months After Injury

U.S. swimmer Bradley Snyder poses with his gold medal after winning the men's 100m freestyle - S11 final at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Ben Stansall AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri August 31, 2012 5:33 pm

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The Salt
1:05 pm
Fri August 31, 2012

Urbanization Puts Farms In Africa's Cities At Risk

An urban farmer waters his plants near Bamako, Mali, where the government has set aside nearly 250 acres for market gardens.
donkeycart Flickr

Originally published on Wed September 19, 2012 11:15 am

For many urbanites in the U.S., eating locally is getting a little easier.

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Simon Says
12:58 pm
Fri August 31, 2012

Without A Career, How Do We Know Who We Are?

Originally published on Sat September 1, 2012 10:31 am

Are we what we do?

A lot of Americans identify themselves by their work. It's often how we introduce ourselves or describe our friends and parents: "I'm a police officer." "I'm a spot-welder." "My dad was a druggist." "My mom was a teacher." "My wife is a pilot." "My friend is a firefighter." "I sell insurance."

Our work has been a kind of identity stamp, defining us as much as our last name or place of birth. As Studs Terkel wrote in his 1974 classic, Working, "Our jobs give us daily meaning as well as daily bread."

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Participation Nation
12:33 pm
Fri August 31, 2012

Helping Hats In Reeds Spring, Mo.

Sophia Greenwalt in a hat.
Courtesy of the Greenwalts

Sophia Greenwalt, 13, is the founder of Helping Hats, a fundraising program in the Reeds Spring School District. Once a month, students and staff can wear a hat to school for a dollar donation. The money raised that day goes to a non-profit organization in the community.

In 2012, Sophia has gotten nine local businesses on board to match the money raised by the school. Helping Hats has raised more than $20,000 for organizations such as the Joplin School District (after a devastating tornado), the Humane Society and others.

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From Our Listeners
12:23 pm
Fri August 31, 2012

Letters: Women And The Republican Party

Originally published on Fri August 31, 2012 1:39 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Time now for your letters about an interview we aired yesterday. My co-host, Robert Siegel, sat down with Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire to talk about women and the GOP, specifically why polls show that women favor President Obama over Mitt Romney.

SENATOR KELLY AYOTTE: One of the things that is helpful about this convention - and that's why I think Ann Romney's speech resonated - is women do want to know about the whole person, and something about the person that will lead the country.

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Shots - Health Blog
11:46 am
Fri August 31, 2012

Thalidomide Maker Apologizes After More Than 50 Years

Originally published on Sat September 1, 2012 9:22 am

You've probably heard of thalidomide, the infamous sedative that ended up causing birth defects in the children of mothers who took it.

Back in the late 1950s, the drug was sold in 46 countries, though not the U.S., and was particularly popular in then-West Germany, the U.K. and Australia. But in 1961, the drug was taken off the market after the link to birth defects emerged.

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Participation Nation
11:33 am
Fri August 31, 2012

Dancing In The Dark In Nashville, Tenn.

Peggy Ivie, right, is a dancer.
Courtesy of Patricia Lefler

I had always dreamed of learning ballroom dancing. But when I lost most of my sight due to retinitis pigmentosa, the dream seemed over.

However, I joined a dance club in Nashville and began taking lessons. My instructor, Patricia Lefler, had never taught dance to a visually impaired person before, but she rose to the challenge.

One day she suggested that we volunteer to teach dancing at the Tennessee School for the Blind. In January, we taught our first group of six.

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The Two-Way
11:31 am
Fri August 31, 2012

Thieves Hit Warehouse Holding $30 Million Of Canadian Maple Syrup

Maple syrup bottles sit on a shelf. A Canadian syrup producers' federation says a warehouse holding "over 10 million pounds of maple syrup" was recently burglarized.
Toby Talbot AP

Originally published on Fri August 31, 2012 1:27 pm

Every nation stockpiles vital resources — think of the U.S. Petroleum Reserve, for instance. In Canada, they have warehouses holding millions of pounds of maple syrup. And recently, one of them was the site of what may be "the sweetest heist of all time," as The Vancouver Sun reports.

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It's All Politics
11:19 am
Fri August 31, 2012

Eastwood And His Chair Not Only Entertainers On The Trail

Matt Berninger of The National will open for a President Obama rally Saturday in Des Moines, Iowa. Here, Berninger performs in Brisbane, Australia, in 2011.
Mark Metcalfe Getty Images

Mitt Romney has Clint Eastwood and that now-famous empty chair on his side. But the Republican presidential nominee isn't the only one getting entertainment industry shoutouts this week.

Actors Ashley Judd and Ben McKenzie were campaigning for President Obama in Iowa on Friday ahead of his latest campaign stop in the swing state.

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Politics
11:16 am
Fri August 31, 2012

Reagan, Goldwater Among GOP Delegates' Heroes

Originally published on Fri August 31, 2012 1:39 pm

When asked about their political heroes, RNC delegates in Tampa mentioned people like Ronald Reagan, Susan B. Anthony and Ron Paul. But none mentioned Mitt Romney

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