12:01am

Fri October 21, 2011
Middle East

Prominent Syrian Activist Flees, Reveals Identity

Originally published on Fri October 21, 2011 10:30 pm

At his home in Syria, activist Rami Jarrah, 28, spoke out under the alias Alexander Page. Fearing arrest, he recently fled to Egypt.

Courtesy of Rami Jarrah

The Syrian government has barred most international journalists from the country, restricting coverage since an uprising began last spring. In response, Syrian activists have played a crucial role in providing information to the wider world.

One of the most prominent is Alexander Page — an alias that a young Syrian used for his safety. He was often cited by international media outlets, including NPR.

But he recently fled Syria after his identity was compromised and he was in danger of arrest.

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12:01am

Fri October 21, 2011
Research News

'Living Fossils' Just A Branch On Cycad Family Tree

Originally published on Fri October 21, 2011 8:46 am

A giant dioon, seen at the United States Botanic Garden, is part of the cycad family and can be found growing in Mexico and Central America.

Maggie Starbard NPR

Although dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago, there are still thought to be a few species left over from those days. Plants called cycads are among these rare "living fossils" — they have remained pretty much unchanged for more than 300 million years, but a study in Science magazine suggests that glamorous title may not be deserved.

There's no time machine in Washington, D.C., but Harvard botanist Sarah Mathews leads me to what's arguably the next best thing — a room made of glass in the U.S. Botanic Garden, just downhill from the U.S. Capitol.

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12:01am

Fri October 21, 2011
Economy

School Debt A Long-Term Burden For Many Graduates

Students attend graduation ceremonies at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Two-thirds of college students now graduate with debt, owing an average amount of $24,000.

Butch Dill AP

With the nation's student-loan debt climbing toward $1 trillion, it's taking many young people longer than ever to pay off their loans. Two-thirds of college students now graduate with debt, owing an average of $24,000. But some borrow far more and find this debt influencing major life decisions long after graduation.

"I was very naive, and I realize that now," says Stephanie Iachini, of Altoona, Pa. She was the first in her family to go to college and financed it herself. "Basically I was just signing papers because the education part meant a lot to me."

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12:01am

Fri October 21, 2011
Business

Japan's Uniqlo Eyes Manhattan, And More

Originally published on Fri October 21, 2011 3:59 pm

The mannequins are fashionably dressed at Uniqlo's new Fifth Avenue flagship store in New York. Uniqlo's U.S. chief says he would eventually like to have 1,600 stores in the country, almost twice the number in Japan.

Mark Lennihan AP

At the same time that Gap is closing 20 percent of its stores, a big Japanese clothing retailer called Uniqlo plans to open hundreds of shops in the U.S. Uniqlo is sort of like the Gap of Japan: The low-priced casual clothing retailer has been around since the 1980s, but sales are flattening out in its home market so the company is looking overseas for growth.

The U.S. is at the heart of its strategy, according to the head of Uniqlo's U.S. operation, Shin Odake.

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12:01am

Fri October 21, 2011
Planet Money

France And Germany: A Love Story

Philippe Wojazer AP

France and Germany are trying to come up with a bailout plan for Europe. This isn't the first time they've fought over money.

Like any bickering couple, they've spent centuries fighting over finances. In fact, the history of their relationship is so dramatic — so theatrical — it's best to tell it in song.

(Read the lyrics, and see the credits, here.)

Our story begins in 1870.

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6:25pm

Thu October 20, 2011
The Salt

Panel Proposes Nutrition Labels That Reach For The Stars

Originally published on Fri October 21, 2011 8:24 am

The Institute of Medicine wants the FDA to adopt new food labels that make it easier for consumers to compare the healthfulness of food products.

iStockphoto

The Institute of Medicine sympathizes with us consumers and the confusion we suffer weighing health claims on food packaging at the grocery store. Our convoluted food labels might have something to do with why so many Americans aren't eating as healthfully as they could, and are shouldering too much weight and diet-related health problems, the IOM says.

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6:02pm

Thu October 20, 2011
Movie Reviews

'Margin Call': A Movie Occupied With Wall Street

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Kevin Spacey gives "a major performance, his best in a decade," as a Wall Street executive trying to do the right thing in the middle of a financial panic.

JoJo Whiden Roadside Attractions

The timing is almost too good: a terrific Wall Street melodrama at the moment the Occupy Wall Street protests are building. We haven't seen the like since Three Mile Island had a near-meltdown a couple of days after The China Syndrome exploded into theaters. Now, Margin Call seems anything but marginal.

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5:51pm

Thu October 20, 2011
It's All Politics

Ohio's Upcoming 'Issue 2' Vote Carries Larger Political Implications

Originally published on Thu October 20, 2011 10:46 pm

Protesters against Senate Bill 5 during a rally in February 2011 in Columbus.

J.D. Pooley Getty Images

Early voting is underway in Ohio, where a fierce fight with political and economic implications is forcing voters to pick sides between Republican budget-cutters and public workers' unions. At issue is whether to keep or repeal SB 5, a controversial bill supported by Gov. John Kasich and passed by the GOP-dominated legislature this spring. Among other things, SB 5 dramatically restricts Ohio's public sector workers collective bargaining rights. Under SB 5, public employees cannot strike or negotiate for wages or working conditions.

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5:35pm

Thu October 20, 2011
The Two-Way

Protest Role Does Not Cost Public Radio Host Her Job On Opera Program

The host of a public radio opera show that is distributed nationally by NPR will keep her job after drawing criticism for her involvement with an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street protests.

Lisa Simeone, the freelance host of the show World of Opera, also has been acting as a spokeswoman for Washington, D.C., protesters affiliated with the "October 2011" group.

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5:25pm

Thu October 20, 2011
Shots - Health Blog

Crash Rates Don't Tell the Whole Story Of Risky Teen Driving

Originally published on Thu October 20, 2011 6:18 pm

Gene Blythe AP

Teenage drivers have fewer crashes after they've been driving for a while, but new research suggests that a few months behind the wheel doesn't improve their driving skills all that much.

Researchers persuaded 42 newly licensed teen drivers to have data-recording systems installed in their cars — a camera, a GPS, and an accelerometer to measures rapid stops, sharp turns and swerves. They also checked up on how their parents did when driving the same cars.

The idea was to compare the driving habits of novices with those of more experienced drivers under similar conditions.

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