Wed August 17, 2011
Middle East

In Syrian Conflict, Tactics Grow Increasingly Brutal

Originally published on Wed August 17, 2011 9:40 pm

This screen grab, taken from an amateur YouTube video, shows a crowd beating a man in the eastern Syrian city of Deir al-Zour. This video cannot be independently verified.

Syrian tanks and gunships are attacking neighborhoods in towns and cities around the country that have been hotbeds of anti-government protest, as the government pushes ahead with what's being called a Ramadan offensive.

Activists say the latest, most grisly trend is to detain protesters, torture them to death, then release their bodies for all to see. Activists say of the 70 deaths in detention they've documented so far, nearly 40 have been in the central city of Homs.

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Wed August 17, 2011
It's All Politics

Obama Prepares Ground For Campaign Against 'Do-Nothing Congress'

Originally published on Wed August 24, 2011 12:39 pm

President Obama works rope line in Atkinson, Ill., Aug. 17, 2011.
Carolyn Kaster AP

It's safe to say President Obama probably isn't going to get much of anything that can be seen as an initiative of his administration through Congress in the next 15 months.

Obama and congressional Republicans have two entirely different prescriptions for how to create jobs, for instance. Obama emphasizes investments in infrastructure that would employ construction workers, for instance.

Meanwhile, congressional Republicans argue that their agenda of tax cuts and fewer regulations would cure a too-high jobless rate.

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Wed August 17, 2011
Music Reviews

Four Decades Later, Country Artists Return To 'Fox Hollow'

Tom T. Hall (third from left) poses with some of the collaborators who helped remake Songs of Fox Hollow, including co-producers Eric Brace (third from right) and Peter Cooper (second from right).
Courtesy of the artist

While a lot of rock musicians have recorded music for families recently, far fewer country musicians have done so. But a new release pays tribute to a Nashville kids' record that's nearly 40 years old.

In 1974, the children's album Songs of Fox Hollow by Tom T. Hall charted at No. 3 — not on the kids' music charts, but on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart. Hall drew inspiration from his farm, penning lyrics about baby ducks, one-legged chickens, and root-beer-drinking snakes, with a gentleness that calmed and reassured little kids.

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Wed August 17, 2011
The Two-Way

In India, Thousands Protest In Support Of Anti-Corruption Activist

Tens of thousands of Indians took the streets in a peaceful protest today. The protesters came out in support of Anna Hazare, an anti-corruption crusader, who has captured the imagination of the country and forced the government into a corner.

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Wed August 17, 2011

Companies Sit On Cash; Reluctant To Invest, Hire

Originally published on Wed August 17, 2011 9:40 pm

Google plans to buy Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion in cash. At the end of 2010, Google was sitting on nearly $35 billion, and it's not alone.
Paul Sakuma AP

Google's plans to buy Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion might seem like a lot of money, but the Web giant can easily afford it. At the end of last year, Google was sitting on nearly $35 billion in cash.

And it's not alone. The U.S. economy may be slowing to a crawl, but a lot of individual companies are richer than ever. They're being cautious about how they spend their cash, though.

"Companies are generating and maintaining more cash than they have aggregate uses for," says Rick Lane, a senior vice president at Moody's.

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Wed August 17, 2011
The Two-Way

Swiss Shoppers Flock To Euro Zone, Boosted By Franc's Surge In Value

Originally published on Wed August 17, 2011 4:03 pm

After a day of shopping, residents of Geneva get on a bus to head home this past Saturday, carrying 250 euros' worth of groceries they bought at the Carrefour supermarket in Ferney-Voltaire, France.
John Heilprin AP

The Swiss franc has emerged as a safe haven currency for investors spooked by economic uncertainty in the U.S. and the European Union's euro zone. In the past year, the franc's value has soared — and now Swiss shoppers are going bargain-hunting in Europe's malls and shops.

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Wed August 17, 2011

Fresh Allegations Leveled Against Polar Bear Scientist

The polar bear researcher who was suspended from his government job last month has received a new letter from investigators that lays out actions he took that are described as being "highly inappropriate" under the rules that apply to managing federal contracts.

According to the letter, wildlife biologist Charles Monnett told investigators that he assisted a scientist in preparing that scientist's proposal for a government contract. Monnett then served as chair of a committee that reviewed that proposal.

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Wed August 17, 2011

Study: Child Poverty Up In 38 States In Past Decade

Nearly 15 million children, or 20 percent of America's juvenile population, were living in poverty in 2009, according to a child welfare study released Wednesday.

More than double that number were in households where no parent had a full-time year-round job, according to the report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which noted that the child poverty rate grew about 18 percent over the past decade.

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Wed August 17, 2011
Conflict In Libya

A Potential Tipping Point In Libya

Originally published on Wed August 17, 2011 5:46 pm

Rebel fighters celebrate on Aug. 14 after taking partial control of the coastal town of Zawiya, 30 miles west of Tripoli, the capital. If the rebels can establish full control of the town, it would cut Moammar Gadhafi's main link to the outside world.
Bob Strong Reuters /Landov

After weeks with little movement on the battlefront, Libyan rebels fighting Moammar Gadhafi's troops appear to be gaining both territory and momentum.

Rebel leaders are claiming control of parts of Zawiya, a strategically important coastal city some 30 miles to the west of Tripoli, Libya's capital. Firm control of Zawiya would allow the rebels to cut off the government's most important supply line, from Tunisia.

More fighting was reported Wednesday for control of the oil refinery in Zawiya — the last major source of income and fuel for the Gadhafi regime.

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Wed August 17, 2011
The Two-Way

Tests Show 1 In 4 U.S. Students Set For College; Wide Gap For Minorities

Out of the 29 states in which at least 40 percent of graduates took the ACT, only Minnesota had more than half of its students meet at least three college-readiness benchmarks.

Only 1 in 4 U.S. high school graduates who took the 2011 ACT college entrance exam scored high enough to be deemed ready for college-level courses in all four of the test's subject areas, according to the company that designs the tests.

The college-readiness rating of 25 percent represents a trend of improvement since 2007, when only 23 percent of students met all four benchmarks.

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