Clay Masters is a reporter for Iowa Public Radio and formerly for Harvest Public Media. His stories have appeared on NPR

3:01am

Tue April 17, 2012
Presidential Race

Did Obama's Policies Help, Or Hinder, The Economy?

Originally published on Tue April 17, 2012 5:14 am

President Obama signs the economic stimulus bill in February 2009, as Vice President Biden looks on. Experts disagree over the impact of the administration's economic policies on the recession.
Darin McGregor AP

The 2012 presidential election is approaching, and President Obama's fate may hinge on how well the economy fares over the coming months.

On the campaign trail, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been highlighting the economy's weaknesses. The former Massachusetts governor has made a similar claim about the president, and the recession, at almost every campaign stop.

"I don't blame the president for the downturn," Romney told a crowd in New Hampshire earlier this year. "He didn't cause it. But he made it worse and made it last longer."

Read more

3:01am

Tue April 17, 2012
Around the Nation

A Poem Store Open For Business, In The Open Air

Originally published on Tue April 17, 2012 9:43 am

Poet-for-hire Zach Houston works at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco. Houston says he is paid about $2 to $20 for each poem.
Ralph Wiedemeier NPR

Zach Houston runs his Poem Store (on any given sidewalk) with these items: a manual typewriter, a wooden folding chair, scraps of paper, and a white poster board that reads: "POEMS — Your Topic, Your Price."

Houston usually gets from $2 to $20 for a poem, he says. He's received a $100 bill more than once. The Oakland, Calif., resident has been composing spontaneous street poems in the San Francisco Bay Area since 2005. Five years ago, it became his main source of income.

Read more

3:00am

Tue April 17, 2012
Business

U.S. Has A Natural Gas Problem: Too Much Of It

Originally published on Tue April 17, 2012 7:43 am

Oil field workers drill into the Gypsum Hills near Medicine Lodge, Kan. Hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," to coax out oil and gas has led to a natural gas boom that the U.S. market is having trouble absorbing.
Orlin Wagner AP

There's a boom in natural gas production in the United States, a boom so big the market is having trouble absorbing it all.

The unusually warm weather this winter is one reason for the excess, since it reduced the need for people to burn gas to heat their homes. A bigger reason, however, is the huge increase in gas production made possible by new methods of coaxing gas out of shale rock formations.

Read more

2:59am

Tue April 17, 2012
Afghanistan

After The U.S. Leaves, Who Pays For Afghan Forces?

Originally published on Tue April 17, 2012 5:14 am

Afghan Army soldiers stand during a security transition ceremony in Mazar-e-Sharif, north of Kabul, Afghanistan, on July 23, 2011. The Afghan government officially took control of security in the capital of the peaceful northern province of Balkh on July 23, as part of an effort to begin handing over all security responsibilities to Afghan forces by 2014.
S. Sabawoon AP

This week, NATO Cabinet ministers, including U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, will try to tackle the problem of Afghan security. The basic plan for bringing American troops home from Afghanistan is to let Afghan security forces fight for their own country. But there's a hitch — finding a way to pay for the Afghan army.

Read more

2:53am

Tue April 17, 2012
Election 2012

Democrat Bob Kerrey Faces Uphill Race In Nebraska

Originally published on Tue April 17, 2012 6:15 pm

Former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey campaigns at a Democratic caucus site on April 14 at Bellevue University in Bellevue, Neb. Kerrey has decided to run again for his old seat in the U.S. Senate.
Clay Masters for NPR

Former Nebraska Gov. and two-term Sen. Bob Kerrey, who faces long odds in reclaiming the seat left open by retiring Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson, is in his home state trying to get his old job back.

After a full of morning of shaking hands, smiling and trying to win over voters, Kerrey settles on lunch at the Taqueria Tijuana in south Omaha.

After lunch, he takes off walking down 24th Street, telling his staffers to catch up with him. He says things are different now from when he first sought public office in 1982.

Read more

12:02am

Tue April 17, 2012
Family Matters: The Money Squeeze

One Roof, Three Generations, Many Decisions

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 10:52 am

Ida Christian, who suffers from dementia, gets help from her granddaughter, Yolanda Hunter (left), in blowing out the candles on her birthday cake. Yolanda quit her lucrative job to become Ida's full-time caregiver.
Kainaz Amaria NPR

Part of the Family Matters series

The Great Recession slammed into all age groups, flattening the career dreams of young people and squeezing the retirement accounts of middle-aged savers. It financially crippled many elderly people who had thought they could stand on their own.

Read more

6:42pm

Mon April 16, 2012
The Two-Way

Still Mail Your Tax Returns? So Do Some Other Die-Hards

Originally published on Mon April 16, 2012 6:45 pm

He'll trust the U.S. Post Office, not the Web, to handle his tax returns, Matt Peters says.
Alan Greenblatt NPR

As we've reminded everyone, April 17 (Tuesday) is the deadline for filing federal income tax returns. It's also the deadline for filing income tax returns in most states. Our friend Alan Greenblatt tells about something he finds surprising:

Read more

6:08pm

Mon April 16, 2012
Research News

Bigger, Taller, Stronger: Guns Change What You See

Survey participants in a UCLA study were asked to look at pictures of a hand holding different items and guess how tall, how big and how muscular the person connected to that hand actually was.
Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images

A new study out of UCLA suggests that when people wield a gun, they don't just feel bigger and stronger — it makes others think they are bigger and stronger.

Read more

6:05pm

Mon April 16, 2012
The Two-Way

Last Mega Millions Jackpot Ticket Turned In

Lottery officials in Illinois say the third of the three winning tickets in last month's record $656 million Mega Millions jackpot has been turned in.

We'll learn who the winner is on Wednesday, The Associated Press says.

Read more

Pages