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The Two-Way
5:48 am
Wed August 1, 2012

Indignant In India: Blackouts Have Millions 'Fuming'

Plenty of wires. But where's the juice? This electric pole in Kolkata is typical of many in heavily populated India.
Dibyangshu Sarkar AFP/Getty Images

"Powerless and Clueless" was today's top headline on the Times of India's front page.

India's Economic Times went with "Superpower India, RIP."

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Participation Nation
5:42 am
Wed August 1, 2012

(W)E Pluribus Unum

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed August 8, 2012 10:58 am

With your help, NPR is writing a story across America. About the good things that Americans are doing.

You already know that our country is split by political partisanship, socioeconomic disparities, religious differences, geographical inequities and other factors.

Surely you have noticed: We are living in disunited states.

Sometimes it's hard to focus on the ways we work together, the similarities among us.

So that is what we will try to write about. Together.

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Remembrances
5:27 am
Wed August 1, 2012

Gore Vidal, American Writer And Cultural Critic, Dies

Author Gore Vidal in 1986. Vidal, whose prolific writing career spanned six decades, died Tuesday at age 86.
AP

Originally published on Thu August 2, 2012 5:31 am

Gore Vidal came from a generation of novelists whose fiction gave them a political platform. Norman Mailer ran for mayor of New York City; Kurt Vonnegut became an anti-war spokesman. And Vidal was an all-around critic. His novels sometimes infuriated readers with unflattering portraits of American history.

He also wrote essays and screenplays, and his play The Best Man currently has a revival on Broadway.

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Sweetness And Light
5:18 am
Wed August 1, 2012

Four Sports Superstars, Four Years Later

Michael Phelps reacts after winning silver in the men's 200-meter butterfly final at the Aquatics Centre on Tuesday. South Africa's Chad le Clos took home the gold.
Matt Slocum AP

Originally published on Thu August 2, 2012 2:34 pm

Let us go back an Olympiad, to August of 2008. Incredibly, then, in all four of the world's most popular men's individual sports, we were at a time when, quite possibly, the four greatest champions ever in each of those sports was at or near his peak.

There they were, as the Beijing Olympics began:

  • Tiger Woods, 32 years old, still a prime age for a golfer, winner of his 14th major, the U.S. Open, only a few weeks ago — gloriously alone at the top.
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Business
5:18 am
Wed August 1, 2012

Conservatives Rally Around Chick-fil-A

Originally published on Thu August 2, 2012 5:31 am

Chick-fil-A has been in the news lately, not because of its chicken sandwiches but thanks to comments by the fast food company's president opposing same-sex marriage.

Social media helped spread the story and some of the country's mayors urged Chick-fil-A not to come to their cities. This led conservatives, including former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, to call for the public to support the chain on Wednesday by eating at one of its restaurants.

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Politics
5:18 am
Wed August 1, 2012

Lawmakers Face Off On Pentagon Spending Cuts

Originally published on Thu August 2, 2012 5:31 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And members of Congress, this week, are head-lining rallies meant to inspire public outrage, outrage over potential cuts to Pentagon spending. Military contractors say they could lose a million jobs if Congress goes ahead with across-the-board spending reductions known as sequestration. As NPR's Larry Abramson reports, the fuss is about budget cuts that were never intended to actually happen.

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Sports
5:18 am
Wed August 1, 2012

Phelps' 19th Medal Breaks 48-Year-Old Record

Originally published on Thu August 2, 2012 5:31 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Nobody was booing when American swimmer Michael Phelps is now the most decorated Olympian ever. Two medals yesterday in London broke a 48-year-old record. Phelps has now has 19 Olympic medals, total.

NPR's Howard Berkes reports from London.

HOWARD BERKES, BYLINE: Michael Phelps was a little sloppy on his way to breaking one of the most enduring records of the Olympics.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Take your mark.

(SOUNDBITE OF AN ALARM AND CHEERING)

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National Security
5:18 am
Wed August 1, 2012

Senate Debates Cybersecurity Bill

Originally published on Thu August 2, 2012 5:31 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

This week, the Senate is considering a plan to improve cybersecurity. Its advocates say they want to prevent computer hackers from going after the power grid or other vital infrastructure in this country. Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski contends a cyberattack could be worse than the freak storm that hit the nation's capital this summer.

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Strange News
5:18 am
Wed August 1, 2012

Utah Town, Pop. 2 Llamas, For Sale: $3.9 Million

Originally published on Thu August 2, 2012 5:31 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep. This might test the strength of the real estate recovery. A town is for sale - Woodside, a ghost town, a former railroad stop outside Salt Lake City. For $3.9 million you could own a dead gold mine, a geyser, and old buildings. The town is said to be near a former hideout of Butch Cassidy's gang, not the actual hideout, but near it. The buyer even gets the town's two current residents - a pair of free-range llamas. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.

Strange News
5:18 am
Wed August 1, 2012

London Cabbie Offers His Car As Olympics Lodging

Originally published on Thu August 2, 2012 5:31 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. Rent is notoriously high in London and especially so during the Olympic Games. That's why David Weeks stuffed his cab with a mattress, radio, mini-fridge and teddy bear. The cabbie is parking it outside his flat to rent out to tourists for about 80 bucks a night, much cheaper than most hotels, but there's still rules - no smoking and no pets. The vacancy sign is still on, but he's calling it the Hail-a-Hotel. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.

The Two-Way
5:16 am
Wed August 1, 2012

Gore Vidal, In Words

Gore Vidal in 1991. He died Tuesday, at the age of 86.
Central Press Getty Images

The death of writer and cultural critic Gore Vidal on Tuesday, at the age of 86, means many are trying today to capture that man of words' life in just a few phrases:

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Africa
2:59 am
Wed August 1, 2012

As Islamists Gain, Mali's Tradition Under Threat

A soldier wears a button bearing the image of coup leader Capt. Amadou Haya Sanogo with the words 'President, CNRDRE,' the French acronym of the ruling junta, as he stands guard at junta headquarters in Kati, outside Bamako, Mali.
Rebecca Blackwell AP

Originally published on Thu August 2, 2012 5:31 am

Hard-line Islamists in northern Mali stoned a reportedly unmarried couple to death for adultery last Sunday. Analysts worry this is growing evidence of the rebel fighters' avowed intention to impose strict Islamic law in the vast territory under their control.

Another version of the story put about by an al-Qaida-linked militant group is that the couple was married but engaging in extramarital affairs.

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Dead Stop
2:56 am
Wed August 1, 2012

The Ghostly Grandeur Of A Desert Graveyard

A couple celebrates Dia de los Muertos at the Concordia Cemetery in El Paso, Texas.
Stacy Kendrick Concordia Cemetery

Originally published on Thu August 2, 2012 5:31 am

It's a raggedy moonscape; no lush green grass or tranquil arbors here. Concordia Cemetery in El Paso, Texas, just a few blocks from the Mexican border, is stark and dusty. It's overrun with crumbling concrete markers and old wooden crosses gone askew. And it goes on ... and on ... and on.

"It's 52 acres," says Bernie Sargent, chair of the El Paso County Historical Commission. "Sixty thousand people buried here. And they're all dead."

The Grave Of A Wild West Legend

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Shots - Health Blog
2:56 am
Wed August 1, 2012

Under Health Law, 'No-Cost' Birth Control Starts Today

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius joins Democratic senators at a news conference on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to announce new preventive health coverage for women that takes effect Wednesday.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Thu August 2, 2012 5:31 am

Beginning today, most new and renewing health insurance plans must begin offering a broad array of women's preventive health services, most notably coverage of birth control, at no upfront cost.

But even as they take effect, the new rules remain the subject of legal challenges.

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Poetry Games
10:43 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

'Once More,' Passing The Torch To One And All

Ron Tanovitz

Originally published on Mon August 13, 2012 8:14 am

Representing Europe in NPR's Poetry Games is Slovenian poet Ales Steger. Steger's first work translated into English, The Book of Things, won last year's Best Translated Book Award for Poetry. The translator was poet Brian Henry, who also translated Steger's Olympic poem, "Once More."

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The Torch
4:37 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

We've Got Olympic Spirit, Yes We Do; How 'Bout You?

Cheerleaders perform during the women's beach volleyball preliminary phase Pool B match on the Centre Court Stadium at Horse Guards Parade in London on Monday.
Daniel Garcia AFP/Getty Images

When I say citius, you say altius; when I say altius, you say fortius. Or don't. That's fine, too, traditional even. But these Olympics have conspicuously defied traditional notions by having cheerleaders, in a few different styles, at a few different venues. In basketball, dance teams perform between matches. In beach volleyball, highly choreographed teams delight attendees.

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Media
3:40 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Newspaper Takes A Stand On Anonymous Commenters

Linda Cook eventually revealed herself as the commenter who made a disparaging remark about an Idaho Republican Party official online.
Sandy Clemons Courtesy of Linda Cook

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 5:09 pm

The Internet is slowly becoming a less anonymous place. YouTube has a new policy encouraging commenters to use their real names, and many news sites have switched to a login system run by Facebook.

News sites that still allow anonymous comments are finding there are legal risks. The Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, Wash., has spent the last few months trying to protect the identity of a reader who saw a photo of a Republican Party official in Idaho named Tina Jacobson, and then posted a disparaging comment.

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The Salt
3:30 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Bhutan Bets Organic Agriculture Is The Road To Happiness

A Bhutanese farmer puts her harvest of chilies on the roof of a shed to dry and protect it from wild boars, deer, and monkeys in 2006.
James L. Stanfield National Geographic/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon October 22, 2012 9:32 am

The tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan drew international attention a few years back for saying gross national happiness should trump gross domestic product when measuring a nation's progress. If you're going to prioritize happiness, the Bhutanese thinking goes, you'd better include the environment and spiritual and mental well-being in your calculations.

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The Two-Way
3:20 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Fannie, Freddie Regulator Holds Firm Against Mortgage Write-Downs

Many experts say reducing mortgage principal can help troubled homeowners avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes. But the regulator who oversees two of the nation's largest mortgage holders, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, has rejected the idea.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

A federal regulator is blocking the government-owned mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from reducing the principal that homeowners owe on their mortgages in order to avoid foreclosures.

Tuesday's decision came from Edward DeMarco, the acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

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Shots - Health Blog
3:11 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

NIH Official Calls For Extension Of Moratorium On Bird Flu Experiments

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said a voluntary halt to bird flu research should stay in effect.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

A voluntary moratorium on certain experiments involving forms of bird flu altered in laboratories should continue until there can be more public discussion of safety concerns, a prominent government official told flu researchers at a meeting in New York City Tuesday.

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It's All Politics
3:10 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Obama And Bush's Shared First-Term Obsession: Battleground States

What does President Obama have in common with his immediate White House predecessor?

Both men spent a disproportionate amount of their first terms making appearances in battleground states, Brendan Doherty, a political scientist at the U.S. Naval Academy, writes in a post on The Monkey Cage political-science blog.

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The Torch
3:08 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Phelps Sets New Olympic Record With 19 Medals; America's Schmitt Wins Gold

U.S. swimmers Conor Dwyer (left), Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Ricky Berens poses on the podium with their gold medals after winning the men's 4x200m freestyle relay final at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Fabrice Coffrini AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 4:35 pm

The U.S. men's swimming team has won the 4x200m freestyle relay, in a race that also gave Michael Phelps a record 19 medals in the Olympics. He netted his 18th, a silver, earlier in the day.

Update at 4:05 p.m. EDT: For the relay final, the American team swam in the fourth lane, next to their greatest rivals, the French, who posted the fasted qualifying time. The French are led by Yannick Agnel, who soundly defeated Ryan Lochte and others in the men's 200m freestyle Monday.

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Asia
3:06 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

India's Power Woes A Classic Story Of Supply, Demand

Muslim girls study by candlelight Monday inside a madrasa, or religious school, in Noida, on the outskirts of New Delhi. Three regional power grids collapsed, causing a massive power outage that blacked out more than half of India.
Parivartan Sharma Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Wed October 31, 2012 12:25 pm

It might be too early to say what the exact cause of India's latest massive power outage is, but in its simplest form, it probably has something to do with supply and demand –- not enough of the former and too much of the latter.

The outage, which left more than 670 million of the country's 1.2 billion people without power, snarled traffic, shut down electric trains and idled some businesses. Indian officials say they are rapidly restoring power, but it's unclear how soon the situation will be back to normal.

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The Torch
2:58 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

With A Tiger's Help, Orange Juice Helps Lighten The Mood At Olympics

On their bottles, Innocent declares itself the juice of champions — before adding, "rather than bang on about it, we thought we'd show you a picture of a tiger running through his pre-swim checklist." The drinks are a welcome sight at the Olympic media center.
Vickie Walton-James NPR

When you spend hours on end at a media center, even if it's on an assignment as terrific as the Summer Olympics, the refreshments can get to be, well, familiar.

But no contempt has been bred here. That's partly because of Innocent brand juice — the "official smoothie and juice of the London 2012 Olympic games," as the label says.

And any drink that can make us chuckle on deadline is greatly appreciated. Especially if it's what's on the outside of the bottle that makes us laugh.

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Election 2012
2:58 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

On Iran, Romney's Plan Resembles Obama's Reality

Mitt Romney speaks in Jerusalem on Sunday, backing "any and all measures" to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
Uriel Sinai Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 9:40 pm

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney says America's national security priority should be preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, and he was talking tough about this in his recent stop in Jerusalem.

"History teaches with force and clarity that when the world's most despotic regimes secure the world's most destructive weapons, peace often gives way to oppression, to violence, or to devastating war," Romney said. "We must not delude ourselves into thinking that containment is an option."

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World
2:41 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Opera Unfolds When A Cuban Cabaret Is Shut Down

Cuban performers ranging from dancers to opera singers were packing in audiences at Havana's El Cabildo restaurant and cabaret. In a case seen as a test of Raul Castro's commitment to economic changes, government inspectors recently closed the restaurant.
Desmond Boylan Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Wed August 1, 2012 1:18 pm

Ulises Aquino was already one of Cuba's best-known baritones when he founded his own company, Opera de la Calle, or Opera of the Street, in 2006. By combining Cuban rhythms and dance with his formal musical training, he won fans at home and abroad.

Aquino also considers himself a good "revolucionario," meaning he's a loyal supporter of Cuba's socialist system. And when President Raul Castro urged Cubans to increase productivity by starting small businesses, Aquino answered the call.

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The Two-Way
1:55 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Microsoft Gives Hotmail A Facelift, Says It Will Transition It To Outlook

The new Outlook is incorporated with other services like Skype.
Microsoft

Originally published on Wed August 1, 2012 6:00 am

Microsoft announced that Hotmail — the email service with 324 million users — will transition into a web and more social version of Microsoft's Outlook.

Reuters reports that Microsoft made the announcement, as they showed off their free web version of the email program it is renowned for.

Reuters adds:

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The Two-Way
1:10 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Deal Struck To Avoid Possibility Of Government Shutdown In October

"Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced on Tuesday an agreement to avoid a government shutdown shortly before the November election," The Hill writes. "He said he, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and President Obama have all agreed to the deal."

Boehner confirmed the news in an email his staff just sent to reporters:

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U.S.
12:43 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

America's 'Most Polluted' Lake Finally Comes Clean

Participants in a fishing derby cast lines from a pier near Onondaga Lake's outflow in Syracuse, N.Y.
David Chanatry for NPR

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 9:41 pm

Onondaga Lake in Syracuse, N.Y., has often been called the most polluted lake in America. It was hammered by a one-two punch: raw and partially treated sewage from the city and its suburbs, and a century's worth of industrial dumping. But now the final stage in a $1 billion cleanup is about to begin.

Standing in his office amid stacks of reports, scientist Steve Effler glances at an old front-page headline of the Syracuse Herald-Journal: "Divers find goo in Onondaga Lake."

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The Torch
12:27 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

U.S. Women's Gymnastics Team Wins Gold Medal; First In 16 Years

Young Skywalker: Gabby Douglas helped solidify the U.S. women's team grip on gymnastics gold. The Americans beat Russia and Romania.
Ronald Martinez Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 4:35 pm

The U.S. women's gymnastics team has won the team gold medal at the London 2012 Olympics, handily beating Russia, which took silver, and Romania, which took bronze. China finished fourth.

Update at 2:25 p.m. EDT: The U.S. women led off with their strength — the vault. The apparatus gives them an advantage, and not only because Maroney is the world champion and gold-medal favorite in the event.

The AP describes why:

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