National News

Ten Questions To Ask You Doctor

Sep 21, 2011

It's so hard anymore to get time with anyone — especially your doctor. So you really need to be prepared to make the most of each appointment.

Take heart. The federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has come up with a cheat sheet you can bone up on or even take with you to help during the visit.

A new McClatchy-Marist poll shows that a majority of voters believe President Obama will lose "to any Republican" in next year's election and that "a solid plurality" of those surveyed say they will definitely vote against the president, the McClatchy news service reports.

And, it adds, "most potential Republican challengers" are gaining on Obama in one-on-one matchups.

There's more ammunition today for those who collect evidence of government waste.

In a new report covering the last few years of the George W. Bush administration and the first year of the Obama administration, the Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General found that at conferences hosted by DOJ there was some "allowable but ... extravagant" spending.

A few notes from the report:

When President Obama steps to the podium at the U.N. General Assembly later this morning, he'll have a chance to explain why the U.S. opposes the bid by Palestinians to join that world body.

Ellen Weiss, who resigned in January from her job as NPR's senior vice president for news after an independent review raised questions about "the speed and handling" of news analyst Juan Williams' termination, has been named executive editor at the Center for Public Integrity.

Two American men jailed as spies in Iran since 2009 have been released, Iran's official Press TV reports.

The news site says it "has learned" that news.

Its report follows word from The Associated Press that attorney Masoud Shafiei said a court has approved a $1 million bail-for-freedom deal for the release of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal.

"Don't ask, don't tell" is no more. The policy barred openly gay, lesbian or bisexual people from serving in the military. Gay rights groups held Repeal Day celebrations across the country. One celebration took place in New York City at the historic Stonewall Inn, the birthplace of the gay rights movement.

A Do-It-Yourself Approach To The Electric Car

Sep 21, 2011

Jack Rickard and Brian Noto have developed something of a cult following on their webcast EVTV, or Electric Vehicle Television, produced from their garage in Cape Girardeau, Mo.

Every week, they talk in soul-crushing detail about the intricacies of how to gut a gas-guzzling road warrior and convert it into an all-electric vehicle. On Wednesday, they host the Electric Vehicle Conversion Convention at the Cape Girardeau airport.

Later this week, a retired NASA satellite the size of a school bus will finally fall back towards Earth after orbiting the planet for two decades. Most of it will burn up in the atmosphere. But about two dozen pieces are expected to hit the ground — somewhere.

And the biggest piece will weigh about 300 pounds.

If that's got you worried, NASA emphasizes that in the history of the space age, there have been no confirmed reports of falling space junk hurting anyone. But that doesn't mean no one has ever been hit.

'Operation Twist,' Explained In 4 Easy Steps

Sep 21, 2011

Note: Robert Smith has an Operation Twist explainer on Wednesday's Morning Edition. That story is attached above.

The interest rate on 10-year Treasury bonds is 1.95 percent. This is crazy low. It's lower than inflation. But the Federal Reserve may be about to push the rate even lower.

Author Joe McGinniss has been out this week promoting his new book about Sarah Palin — a book widely condemned for gossipy allegations by anonymous sources. The book is getting attention in part because Palin might be running for president.

This summer, Palin certainly looked like a presidential candidate as she rode through Iowa and New Hampshire in a red-white-and-blue bus, but as time ticks away the pressure is building on Palin to make her candidacy official.

Palestinians say they still plan to seek recognition of their statehood from the U.N. Security Council this week, throwing more than a wrench into the diplomatic works for the Obama administration.

President Obama has promised to veto the move in the Security Council. That puts the U.S. on sound footing with Israel, but on a collision course with European and Middle Eastern allies who support the Palestinians' bid.

After years of appeals and controversy, Troy Anthony Davis is scheduled to be executed in Georgia on Wednesday. Georgia's board of pardons turned back Davis' appeal for clemency Tuesday, despite high-profile support for his claim that he did not kill a police officer in 1989.

Several witnesses have changed their testimony since Davis' trial; tens of thousands are protesting the execution. Former president Jimmy Carter, South African Bishop Desmond Tutu and more than 50 members of Congress are among those who have asked Georgia to commute Davis' death sentence.

Football season has hardly started and fans are already grousing about sideline reporters. To be sure, sideliners now exist in most all sports, and a handful of them –– notably Craig Sager of Turner, who was apparently in town the day the clown died, and thus got all his clothes –– are downright famous. While Sager is best known for basketball, it is football sideline reporters who are most identified with the sport.

Up to now doctors couldn't tell a man much about his chances of maintaining sexual function after surgery or radiation for prostate cancer.

"We'd say about half recovered or maintained their function," says Dr. Martin Sanda of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. "And we'd be able to turn that up or down a little bit based on age."

As the repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy went into effect, we heard many stories out about how service members are marking the occasion. But one of them has emerged as particularly personal.

The Dozen Richest Men And Women In Congress

Sep 20, 2011

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) barely made our list at No. 13, but here are the richest dozen men and women in Congress who could be affected by the Buffett Rule. The rankings, by average net worth, were released on Tuesday by the Center for Responsive Politics.

How do you come up with a plan to help millions of people around the world avoid a chronic disease? For starters, don't treat the food companies that sell the products that contribute to those diseases as partners in the process. At least, that's what public health advocates argue — even as the accused companies say they're committed to making healthier products for the masses.

Al-Jazeera Director Announces Resignation

Sep 20, 2011

Al-Jazeera's top executive, Wadah Khanfar announced he was resigning today. The network announced that it had appointed Sheikh Ahmad bin Jasem al-Thani, a member of the Qatari ruling family, which owns Al-Jazzeera, as its new director general.

The once-polluted and often ridiculed Los Angeles River is now open to kayak and canoe adventures. City officials and the Army Corps of Engineers are running a pilot program that allows people to explore the river.

In the South American rain forest, I once paddled in a dugout canoe through the lush Amazon River, filled with pink dolphins and flesh-eating piranhas. So the thought of navigating down the Los Angeles River at first seemed almost ridiculous.

Maryland Man's Robocall Scam Nets Him $4 Million

Sep 20, 2011

From the annals of ingenious scams, comes this report from the AP:

A pay phone owner is being charged with using his Washington-area phones to ring in $4 million in fraudulent 50-cent calls.

There's been a sea change at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It's almost as if the cerebral, detached president went into a phone booth and came out a fighting Democrat.

In the Rose Garden on Monday, as President Obama laid out his vision for how the congressional supercommittee could find trillions in savings, he was no longer above the fray. He was right in the fray. And he made it clear he has given up on his so far fruitless search for common ground with the Republicans.

Hollywood Seen Through Paparazzi-Colored Glasses

Sep 20, 2011

Since its debut six years ago, TMZ has fed millions of fans a steady diet of celebrity news on its highly trafficked blog. There's also the TMZ TV show, syndicated on hundreds of stations. And now, for the truly TMZ obsessed, there's a TMZ Tour of Hollywood.

The traditional Hollywood tour has been around almost as long as Hollywood itself.

For decades, tourists have come here to catch a glimpse of their favorite stars — or at least a glimpse of where they eat.

President Obama met Libya's interim leader Tuesday on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly and held up the country as a model of what the U.N. can do to protect civilians from atrocities.

Obama also pledged continued support and encouraged Libya's new leaders to keep their promises to forge a just, democratic society.

Libyan rebels have yet to find ousted leader Moammar Gadhafi and fighting continues in the country. Still, Obama went to the meeting with a hopeful message.

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