Tue July 12, 2011
Author Interviews

The 'Line In The Sand' Dividing The U.S. And Mexico

Two armed American border guards confront a group of immigrants attempting to cross illegally from Mexico into the United States in 1948. In A Line in the Sand, Rachel St. John traces the history of the U.S.-Mexico border.
Keystone Getty Images

Much of America as we know it evolved in the 19th century, as we'll explore in a series of three conversations this week with writers who seek out new ways to understand old events.

It's easy to define the squiggly border between Mexico and Texas: It's determined by the Rio Grande river. But the rest of the U.S.-Mexico border is not so obvious — the straight lines are drawn seemingly at random across mountains and deserts.

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Tue July 12, 2011
Shots - Health Blog

Medicare Payment Board Draws Brickbats

Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming is one of many lawmakers who opposes the the new Independent Payment Advisory Board.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

One thing both Democrats and Republicans agree on is that they can't solve the deficit problem without slowing the growth of the massive Medicare program for the elderly and disabled.

But here's an irony. Republicans and a growing number of Democrats also seem to agree that they don't like the one aspect of last year's Affordable Care Act that actually would effectively reduce Medicare spending.

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Tue July 12, 2011
The End Of The Space Shuttle Era

Rethinking The Shuttle: Carrying People, And Cargo

In the future, people will be carried into space by private-sector projects like the Virgin Galactic VSS Enterprise, says former astronaut Jeffrey Hoffman. Here, the Enterprise sits behind Virgin boss Richard Branson, left, and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.
Mark Ralston AFP/Getty Images

Even people who aren't following the space shuttle program's last mission — or aren't much interested in outer space — likely know what the shuttle looks like. Its familiar delta-wing shape symbolizes the last 30 years of manned space flight.

As MIT professor — and former NASA astronaut — Jeffrey Hoffman tells NPR's Steve Inskeep, the shuttle was designed to be a very versatile spacecraft.

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Tue July 12, 2011

The Problem With A Slow-Growth Economy

President Obama tours the Automotive Training Program at the Northern Virginia Community College, Alexandria campus, in June, Va. Slower economic growth means fewer opportunities for U.S. companies, which in turn leads to less hiring.
Jim Lo Scalzo Pool/Getty Images

In the United States the recession officially ended two years ago, but in much of the country housing prices are still falling, jobs are hard to come by and growth remains weak.

A low growth rate is much more than just a number. Economists say that over time weak growth can have an insidious effect on a country's prospects and options in ways not everyone appreciates.

This was supposed to be the year the U.S. economy finally gained traction. Instead, it looks more and more like it's stuck in the mud, says former Federal Reserve member Alan Blinder.

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Mon July 11, 2011
Around the Nation

'Sister Wives' Family To Challenge Anti-Bigamy Law

Last summer, members of the Brown family — Meri (from left), Janelle, Kody, Christine and Robyn — spoke to the media as they prepared for the debut of their reality TV show, Sister Wives.
Frederick M. Brown Getty Images

It's the latest episode in Sister Wives. But this time it's playing out in the courtroom, not on cable. On Wednesday, the Brown family — the husband, four wives, and 16 children who star in the reality TV show — plans to file a lawsuit in federal court in Utah. The family members say the state's anti-bigamy law is unconstitutional and that Supreme Court precedent backs them up.

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Mon July 11, 2011
The Two-Way

A General At The End Of His Afghan Tour

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:40 am

Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, the No. 2 U.S. officer in Afghanistan, steps down from his post Monday. The commander met last month with U.S. troops in Helmand Province.
David Gilkey David Gilkey/NPR

Today was the last day of a two-year tour in Afghanistan for Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, who has been responsible for the day-to-day operations in the war.

NPR's Tom Bowman and photographer David Gilkey spent a some time with him at Camp Dwyer, a desert base in Helmand Province. Tom was there when Rodriguez gave a pep-talk of sorts to several dozen Marines. He talked to Rodriguez about what's next for the U.S. in Afghanistan, especially after President Obama announced his plans to withdraw 10,000 troops.

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Mon July 11, 2011

A Conservative Spins Out The GOP's Debt Endgame

Longtime GOP aide Steve Bell believes a fear of primary challenges is driving politicians to hew to the party line.
Bipartisan Policy Center

As stop-and-start debt ceiling negotiations between President Obama and Republican leaders continue, longtime Capitol Hill conservative Steve Bell predicts that the two sides will strike a "mediocre," no-new-taxes-now deal before Aug. 2.

But he also suggests that his party may pay the price at the ballot box next year for its insistence on protecting tax cuts for the nation's highest earners.

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Mon July 11, 2011
It's All Politics

138 Minnesota Lawmakers Are Accepting Pay Despite Shutdown

This weekend, The Minnesota Star Tribune printed a list of 138 legislators who are still collecting paychecks despite the state government shut down. The paper reports that Gov. Mark Dayton, as well as 14 senators and 48 representatives, announced they would not accept pay as long as the shutdown lasts.

But that means that 72 percent of Republicans are still cashing their paychecks and 65 percent of Democratic-Farmer-Labor party members are still getting paid.

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Mon July 11, 2011
Shots - Health Blog

Hold the Sodium, And Pass The Potassium-Rich Produce

Processed foods are generally high in sodium and low in potassium.

Only last week a scientific review of the health effects of salt concluded that reducing the amount of salt in one's diet isn't all it's cracked up to be.

"Cutting down on the amount of salt has no clear benefits in terms of likelihood of dying or experiencing cardiovascular disease," reads the plain-language summary from the Cochrane Collaboration. The reviewers called for more rigorous testing of sodium reduction to settle the matter.

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Mon July 11, 2011
Eastern and Central Kentucky

Multi-Million Dollar Oversight

Health insurance costs have caused headaches for employers, both private and public.  Now, they're giving a big headache to city officials in Lexington. The city has failed to collect enough money from its workers for health care.  As a result, Lexington has lost tens of millions of dollars. The news comes at a bad time. Leaders at Lexington City Hall have just balanced their budget for next year.  Now they must find their way out of a ten million dollar hole that they are digging this year.

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