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Energy
12:01 am
Wed January 18, 2012

Blocking Keystone Won't Stop Oil Sands Production

Oil storage tanks at the Chevron Burnaby Oil Refinery on the shores of Burrard Inlet, east of Vancouver, B.C.
Andy Clark Reuters/Landov

President Obama is feeling election-year pressure on the pending decision over the Keystone XL pipeline. Republicans say the Canadian project would provide the U.S. with oil and new jobs, but environmentalists want him to block it. They say Alberta's oil sands generate more greenhouse gases than other kinds of oil, and Americans must not become dependent on such a dirty source of energy. But it may already be too late to change that.

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Around the Nation
12:01 am
Wed January 18, 2012

New Recycling Company Springs From Old Mattresses

Old mattresses lie on the street outside abandoned homes in Las Vegas, in this 2010 photo. Used mattresses present a unique problem to landfills and recycling firms alike.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 1, 2012 11:23 am

Old mattresses are among the worst kinds of household waste: Most recycling companies won't touch them, and landfills would rather not. But a new business in Nashville that started as a college project hopes to move mattress recycling into the mainstream — and employ former convicts in the process.

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Around the Nation
12:01 am
Wed January 18, 2012

Cruise Ship Disaster Puts Focus On Safety Concerns

The luxury cruise ship Costa Concordia leans on its side after running aground on the tiny Tuscan island of Giglio, Italy. One maritime workers union called the disaster a "wake-up call" highlighting long-standing safety concerns and what it sees as lax regulation.
Gregorio Borgia AP

Originally published on Wed January 18, 2012 7:50 am

The dramatic Costa Concordia accident off the coast of Italy is calling attention to the regulation of the cruise line industry. Experts say there are plenty of rules, but enforcement can be spotty.

Some of the survivors of last week's disaster described the rescue effort as chaotic and disorganized. The crew had not yet conducted a required emergency drill during the cruise.

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Europe
12:01 am
Wed January 18, 2012

French Dilemma: How To Burn Off All That Overtime?

France's 35-hour work week has resulted in some workers accumulating vast amounts of overtime that they are required to use this year. The problem is particularly acute at some hospitals. Here a woman speaks with a doctor at the Conception Hospital in Marseille on Tuesday.
Anne-Christine Poujoulat AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 18, 2012 8:32 am

France's 35-hour work week has plenty of critics who say it has sapped the country of its competitiveness and is tying companies in knots. And to make their case, a leading example is the current state of overtime at French hospitals.

Along with five weeks of annual leave, French employees get time off if they work more than 35 hours in a week. At the Hopital Vaugirard, a public hospital in central Paris, employees have accumulated more than 2 million days off in the past decade.

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Europe
12:01 am
Wed January 18, 2012

Hungary Faces EU Action Over New Constitution

People gather to protest against Hungary's new constitution outside the Opera House in Budapest on Jan. 2. Critics say the document curbs democracy.
Ferenenc Isza AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 18, 2012 11:03 am

Veteran Hungarian broadcaster Gyorgy Bolgar, who hosts a popular daily news/talk call-in show on Klubradio, gets a daily earful from ordinary Hungarians upset with Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Many here fear that Orban, a dissident during the communist era, and his conservative Fidesz party are pushing the country backward.

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Environment
12:01 am
Wed January 18, 2012

Cleaner Air In L.A. Ports Comes At A Cost To Truckers

A truck passes shipping containers at China Shipping at the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, the busiest port complex in the U.S., near Long Beach, Calif. Stricter emissions standards have cut down on air pollution from the trucks, which has been one of the most significant sources of air pollution in California for many years.
David McNew Getty Images

The twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are the busiest in the nation. They also have some of the dirtiest air, thanks to thousands of cargo trucks that pass through each day.

But this month marks the beginning of a new era, as tighter emissions standards go into effect.

'100 Percent Clean Energy'

A common trope in environmental stories is to put things in terms of jobs vs. the environment. But that's not what happened in the case of the ports.

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Sweetness And Light
10:00 pm
Tue January 17, 2012

Take Your Ball And Go Home? How Dare You!

"It's not that I've fallen out of love; I've actually never liked sports, and I never understood how I became an athlete," Serena Williams said recently, according to TennisNow.com. "I don't like working out; I don't like anything that has to do with working physically."
Tertius Pickard AP

Originally published on Wed January 18, 2012 8:11 am

Now that Tim Tebow is out of hearts and minds, and we can actually turn our attention to other things, let us go clear to the other side of the world. There, a short while ago, while preparing for the Australian Open, Serena Williams said: "I don't love tennis today, but ... I've actually never liked sports."

While her confession might have surprised some, I suspect that even more were irritated, actually angered, that an athlete — a great champion! — could utter such blasphemy.

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The Two-Way
6:30 pm
Tue January 17, 2012

Indian Lit Festival Invitation To Author Salman Rushdie Stirs Controversy

Salman Rushdie.
Nicholas Kamm AFP/Getty Images

There's a controversy brewing in India over an invitation extended to Booker Prize-winning novelist Salman Rushdie by the organizers of the Jaipur Literary Festival.

Rushdie, the author of Midnight's Children, angered Muslims with his 1988 novel Satanic Verses. The novel, which many Muslims say insults the Prophet Muhammad, led to Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini declaring a fatwa against Rushdie. The writer spent much of the next few years in hiding.

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The Two-Way
6:22 pm
Tue January 17, 2012

The Social Reference Desk: A Band-Aid For The Wikipedia Blackout

The online encyclopedia Wikipedia on Jan. 17.
Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images

Mark told you earlier that Wikipedia is going black for 24 hours beginning at midnight tonight. While Wikipedia's reason for shutting down is to protest anti-piracy legislation making its way through the United States Congress, another interesting question is going to be what happens to all those web surfers seeking answers to can't-wait questions?

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News
6:12 pm
Tue January 17, 2012

PHOTOS: Images From The Disaster

The Costa Concordia lies stranded in the Giglio harbor on Tuesday.
Filippo Monteforte AFP/Getty

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:06 am

Images from Italian luxury cruise ship accident.

Economy
5:17 pm
Tue January 17, 2012

States' Fiscal Future Starts To Look A Bit Brighter

In 2010, Arizona sold 22 buildings in its state capitol complex to help deal with budget deficits. Gov. Jan Brewer recently asked representatives to buy back three of the buildings, including the State House of Representatives (right), as the state's financial situation has improved. The Old Arizona Capitol Building (left) was not part of the deal.
Ross D. Franklin AP

Originally published on Tue January 17, 2012 7:19 pm

As the U.S. economy struggled to get back on its feet over the past few years, a lot of states found themselves contending with big budget deficits. They responded by firing workers, raising taxes and cutting spending. Now the fiscal picture for a lot of states is brightening a bit — but many still face enormous challenges.

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The Two-Way
5:15 pm
Tue January 17, 2012

Yahoo! Co-Founder Jerry Yang Resigns

Jerry Yang, Yahoo!'s co-founder, has resigned from the company's board of directors and every other position he held. Yang is leaving at a time when the Internet behemoth has struggled to remain relevant in an age of social media.

"The time has come for me to pursue other interests outside of Yahoo!," Yang said in a statement. In the same press release, Yang was praised by the chairman of the board and the CEO, who called him a visionary and an innovator.

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It's All Politics
4:52 pm
Tue January 17, 2012

Wisconsin Democrats Exceed Million-Signature Mark For Walker Recall

Jeremy Levinson, (l) a lawyer to the recall committees, talks about the petitions as Mike Tate (c) Wisconsin Democratic Party chair listens, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012.
Andy Manis AP

Originally published on Tue January 17, 2012 5:48 pm

How badly do Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's opponents want him out of office? So badly they collected significantly more signatures than they needed to ensure a recall election for the governor. A lot more.

We're talking more than a million signatures, according to Wisconsin Democrats who, in order to meet the Tuesday deadline, were hauling boxes of documents to the state office responsible for reviewing them.

As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported:

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The Two-Way
4:30 pm
Tue January 17, 2012

World's Time Keepers Will Decide The Fate Of The Leap Second

The International Telecommunication Union's Radiocommunication Assembly, otherwise known as the international authority that keeps close tabs on time, will debate a philosophical question this week: They will decide whether to eliminate the leap second and in doing so break its tie to astronomical time.

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Shots - Health Blog
4:00 pm
Tue January 17, 2012

Retail Labs Give Patients Information, But Needle Doctors

If there's a test for it, chances are a storefront lab is eager to help you have it done.
iStockphoto.com

You could call Michael Brooks a supplement junkie. He pops exactly six pills a day, three times a day, not to mention powders and shakes and chews. "A multivitamin, vitamin C, omega-3s, alpha lipoic acid," he says. "I'm taking a digestive enzyme."

Brooks is a personal trainer in Birmingham, Ala. He's healthy and fit, but he almost obsessively wants to know more, which is why we find him here, a few doors down from a sandwich shop and a nail salon, at a storefront lab called Any Lab Test Now.

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Middle East
3:24 pm
Tue January 17, 2012

'F' Is For Funding ... Which Palestinian Muppets Lack

Daoud Kuttab, executive producer of Shara'a Simsim, the Palestinian version of Sesame Street, holds a Muppet at his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah earlier this month. The producers say they have been forced to put production for the 2012 season on hold because of a funding freeze by the U.S. Congress.
Nasser Shiyoukhi AP

This used to be a busy time of year for Shara'a Simsim, the Palestinian version of Sesame Street.

Producers and educators would be choosing the "words of the day" for the upcoming season. Writers would be brainstorming ideas around a large conference table. Project director Laila Sayegh says everyone would be working long days.

"From the morning, like 8 until 6 o'clock in the evening. And now as you can see, it's empty. We have nothing," she says.

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Electronic/Dance
3:23 pm
Tue January 17, 2012

From Mega Man To Final Fantasy, Live Video Game Music

Nobuo Uematsu plays keyboard with Earthbound Papas, a rock band made up of video-game soundtrack composers.
Lindsay Totty NPR

Originally published on Wed January 18, 2012 12:01 am

Every year, thousands of video-game fans flock to the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area for a unique music festival called MAGFest. It's short for "Music and Gaming Festival," and it's designed to celebrate the music of video games.

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Shots - Health Blog
3:10 pm
Tue January 17, 2012

Listen Up, Walkers: Watch Out For Traffic When Wearing Headphones

Beware of tuning out while crossing the street.
iStockphoto.com

By now we all know that distracted driving can kill you. But a new study suggests that distracted walking can be pretty deadly, too.

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Afghanistan
3:04 pm
Tue January 17, 2012

Gains In Afghan Health: Too Good To Be True?

A nurse weighs an Afghan child at a U.S.-funded clinic in Farza, Afghanistan, in September. A new U.S.-sponsored survey shows dramatic gains in life expectancy and other aspects of health care in Afghanistan. But some experts are questioning the accuracy of the results.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Tue January 17, 2012 7:19 pm

A U.S.-sponsored mortality survey released last year announced huge improvements in health across Afghanistan. But the gains are so great that experts are still arguing about whether it's correct.

During three decades of war, Afghanistan remained a black hole of health information. The few mortality studies looked at a small slice of the population and then extrapolated.

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Law
3:02 pm
Tue January 17, 2012

High Court Lets Stand Trio Of First Amendment Cases

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to hear a trio of cases involving free speech and religion.

In the first set of cases, the court declined to address the burgeoning legal debate over what powers school officials have to censor students who are at home, working on their personal computers, when they create parodies or personal attacks involving school officials or fellow students.

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The Two-Way
2:34 pm
Tue January 17, 2012

Morgan Stanley Will Limit Cash Bonuses To $125,000

Morgan Stanley headquarters in New York City.
Mario Tama Getty Images

The employees of Morgan Stanley, owner of the world's biggest brokerage, will receive a maximum cash bonus of $125,000, this year. As The New York Times puts it, the cap reflects "the difficulties that new financial regulations and the debt turmoil in Europe have posed to Morgan Stanley and its rival firms."

And with tongue firmly in cheek, it also notes that the bankers "may want to put their kitchen renovations off until next year."

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Country/Americana
2:29 pm
Tue January 17, 2012

The Little Willies: For The Wrenching 'Good Times'

The Little Willies' For the Good Times brings together five accomplished musicians of varying musical backgrounds.
Courtesy of the artist

It's been six years since The Little Willies released an eponymous debut album.

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The Salt
2:24 pm
Tue January 17, 2012

Does The Queen of Unhealthy Eating Have To Eat Her Words?

Paula Deen tells Today show co-host Al Roker that she has Type 2 diabetes.
Peter Kramer ASSOCIATED PRESS

Originally published on Tue January 17, 2012 3:25 pm

There were hints that all was not well in Paula Deen's Southern-fried world. Last November, when NPR correspondent Allison Aubrey asked Deen if she'd ever do healthier versions of her greasy, sugar-laden fare, Deen said: "As I age, and get older and I get 'different things' that I have to battle physically — it may, you know, resonate closer to home for me."

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Media
2:14 pm
Tue January 17, 2012

In Britain, Calls To Regulate A Freewheeling Press

British tabloids such as The Sun are known for being brash, cheeky and salacious.
Carl Court AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue January 17, 2012 7:19 pm

The voice mail and computer hacking and police bribery scandal that has roiled the British newspaper industry has also led to calls for government regulation of the press in one of the world's greatest democracies.

Some newspaper executives, such as Paul Dacre, editor of the Daily Mail and editor-in-chief of the Mail on Sunday, are attempting to draw the line.

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The Two-Way
2:00 pm
Tue January 17, 2012

One Of World's Oldest Cypress Trees, 'The Senator,' Burns In Florida

On Monday (Jan. 16, 2012) Seminole County firefighter Al Caballero applied water to the smoldering base of The Senator.
Phelan M. Ebenhack AP

Originally published on Tue January 17, 2012 2:03 pm

Investigators are now saying arson was not the likely cause of a fire that on Monday destroyed a cypress tree in Central Florida that was an estimated 3,500 years old — making it perhaps the oldest such tree in the nation and one of the oldest in the world.

Known as "The Senator," the tree that once stood 165 feet tall (before a hurricane lopped off about 45 feet in 1925) was more likely brought down by a fire that had been smoldering inside it — without being detected — since a lightning strike about a week ago, investigators say.

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