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12:01am

Fri August 12, 2011
Around the Nation

Book Closes On U.S. House's Storied Page Program

Paul R. Ashbrook tells House pages that the Cardinal rule is "courtesy first" at a coaching session just before the 76th Congress convened on Jan. 3, 1939. Pages have been a fixture of Congress since its inception, but the House program is now ending because of budget concerns.
Library of Congress

If you walk through Congress when it's in session you'll see teenage pages wandering the halls. Pages have been in Congress since its inception, but this week the leaders of the House of Representatives announced the page program is no more.

The pages are exceptionally well-dressed, with blue blazers and conservative haircuts. Who are they?

Well, one former page is NPR's own Guy Raz, weekend host of All Things Considered. Raz, who was a page in the spring semester of 1991, was fascinated by politics, and he wanted to see government up close.

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12:01am

Fri August 12, 2011
Your Money

Wall Street's Ups And Downs Leave Investors Worried

Michael Mussio, a portfolio manager at FBB Capital Partners, says phones have been ringing more than normal in recent days. "I think the main thing is — don't panic," he says.
Tamara Keith NPR

It's been a volatile couple of weeks on Wall Street. With all of the major stock indexes down more than 10 percent since mid-July, individual investors are wondering what they should do.

When was the last time you checked the movement in your brokerage account, your 401(k) or IRA?

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12:01am

Fri August 12, 2011
Planet Money

The Dollar Is Still Central To The Global Economy. That May Not Last.

Everybody wants some.
Phil Dokas Flickr

The U.S. economy is spooking investors. But every day, all around the world, foreign businesses are still eager to use U.S. dollars — even when their business has nothing to do with the U.S.

When South Koreans buy Chilean wine, they convert their Korean won to U.S. dollars, and send those dollars to the winery in Chile. The winery then converts the dollars into Chilean pesos. This kind of thing is routine in global trade, according to Barry Eichengreen, an economist at U.C. Berkeley.

Why not just go from won to pesos?

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12:01am

Fri August 12, 2011
Around the Nation

Mexican Theater Chain Projects Its Future In U.S.

The Mexican theater chain Cinepolis has opened its first luxury cinema in the United States in San Diego's affluent Del Mar beach community.
Amy Isackson

Cinepolis doesn't look like a typical movie theater. Dave and Kris Litvak, patrons of the new cinema in San Diego, say it's more like a chic hotel.

Before the building was renovated, "it looked like a horrible kind of movie theater," Dave Litvak says. Now, he says, "it's modern, and it's elegant."

The lobby floors are dark hardwood, and there's an art gallery. General Manager Antonio Garcia points to people sipping cocktails at the bar.

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12:01am

Fri August 12, 2011
Spotlight on Country

Jeff Bridges: An On-Screen Country Singer Enters The Studio

Jeff Bridges' self-titled studio album comes out Aug. 16.
Dustin Cohen Courtesy of the artist

In the 2009 film Crazy Heart, Jeff Bridges played a country singer named Bad Blake. The character was fictional, but Bridges' passion for country music is real. Now he has recorded an album with some of the people who helped him portray a musician on-screen. His studio album, Jeff Bridges, comes out Aug. 16 on Blue Note Records.

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12:01am

Fri August 12, 2011
Europe

Remembering The Berlin Wall, 50 Years On

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:33 am

The wall between East and West Germany was torn down after 28 years on Nov. 12, 1989
John Gaps II AP

The Berlin Wall has now been torn down for nearly as long (22 years) as it stood (28 years). Yet it was such a powerful symbol of the Cold War that it still evokes a strong response today, a half-century after it was constructed in the summer of 1961.

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10:00pm

Thu August 11, 2011
StoryCorps

In Meeting His Dad, A Son Finds 'Another Part Of Me'

George Robinson and his daughter, Katie, at a recent visit to StoryCorps in Edina, Minn.
StoryCorps

George Robinson's parents never married, and he didn't know his biological father. Growing up, Robinson always wondered what his dad was like. It took Robinson more than 40 years to find him, eventually tracking him down on the Internet, and it turns out his father never knew he had a son.

Robinson recently told his 19-year-old daughter, Katie, about finally meeting his father.

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7:27pm

Thu August 11, 2011
The Two-Way

The Cases Of Two Women, Turned In For Looting In London

Two young women are accused of looting during the riots that have taken over several British cities this week. How they came to the attention of the courts provides a glimpse into the unrest — and how far the fractured country has to go to heal itself.

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6:28pm

Thu August 11, 2011
Shots - Health Blog

'I Will No Longer Be Disfigured': First Photos of Transplant Patient Released

Charla Nash received a full face transplant after she was mauled by a chimpanzee in 2009. The procedure was performed last month by a team of plastic and orthopedic surgeons at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
HO AFP/Getty Images

The Boston hospital that gave Charla Nash a new face in May has released the first post-surgery photo of the transplant's results.

Nash's face was mauled by an out-of-control chimpanzee in 2009. Before the transplant, she wore a veil to conceal the grotesquely misshapen face that was the best plastic surgeons could do.

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6:00pm

Thu August 11, 2011
It's All Politics

Iowa GOP Debate: What To Expect

Based on everything we've seen so far in the contest for the Republican presidential nomination, what should we expect from the candidates at Thursday's debate at Iowa State University in Ames?

In the two-hour Fox News/Iowa GOP debate to start at 9 pm ET, Mitt Romney, the frontrunner, will likely stick tightly to his message, which is that President Obama has failed to lead, and his approach, which is to play it safe.

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5:06pm

Thu August 11, 2011
The Two-Way

Sesame Workshop: Bert And Ernie Just Friends, Have No Sexual Orientation

This week, an online petition concerning Sesame Street's Bert and Ernie started making the rounds. The Facebook petition asked that Sesame Street allow the two male Muppets, who share a house and a bedroom, to be married on the show.

"We are not asking that Sesame Street do anything crude or disrespectful," the petition read. "Only that they allow Bert & Ernie to marry or even add a transgender character to the show. It can be done in a tasteful way."

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5:06pm

Thu August 11, 2011
Planet Money

Drug Dealing, Counterfeiting, Smuggling: How North Korea Makes Money

An idle North Korean factory, seen from the Chinese border.
AFP Getty Images

North Korea used to be an industrial powerhouse. Not anymore. Today, the country can't feed its own people. Its cities go dark every night for lack of electricity.

Yet helplessness wasn't the original plan. The original plan for the country's economy had a name. It was called "juche," or self-reliance. The idea was that all North Korean problems should be solved by North Koreans.

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4:58pm

Thu August 11, 2011
'Radio Diaries'

The Last Man On The Mountain

Jimmy Weekley, 71, shown here with a friend, says that when he was a kid, there were more than two dozen homes in Pigeonroost Hollow, W.Va. "But right now no one else lives in this hollow except me, James Weekley, and the coal company."
Andrew Lichtenstein

James "Jimmy" Weekley has lived in Pigeonroost Hollow in West Virginia for 70 years. He grew up surrounded by family and friends, part of a tight-knit community in the state's southern mountain valley. Like his grandfather, father, uncles and sons, Weekley worked as a coal miner. And like most West Virginians, Weekley saw coal as the economic lifeblood of his community.

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4:42pm

Thu August 11, 2011
Conflict In Libya

In Libya, A Father And Son's Brief War

Mabruk Eshnuk (left) and his son Malik left their home in Pittsburgh to volunteer and fight with rebels in western Libya's Nafusa Mountains.
Ayman Oghanna for NPR

About a month ago, I met Mabruk and Malik Eshnuk, a father and son who had traveled from Pittsburgh to western Libya to help rebels battling forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

The family originally hails from the Libyan coastal city of Zawiya, but left years ago.

Mabruk and Malik were filled with optimism when I spoke to them. Mabruk, the father, had a ready smile and a voluble manner — he spoke so quickly it was often hard to follow him.

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4:32pm

Thu August 11, 2011
Business

Volatile Markets Could Dry Up Funds For Start-Ups

The turmoil in the stock market could curb the spending spree that's been underway in the tech industry, making it for start-ups to raise capital.

Money was on the mind of a group of about two dozen, carefully selected entrepreneurs gathered in Seattle this week.

They're all participants in TechStars, a boot camp and incubator for start-ups. By the end of the three-month program, most of them will be looking for funding from angel investors or venture capitalists.

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4:31pm

Thu August 11, 2011
Economy

In Current Crisis, It's Not Just The Economy

Three years ago, the global economy was brought to the brink by a near meltdown of the international banking system. Now we're in trouble again, but this time our economic woes stem largely from the actions of governments. Escaping from this crisis is more of a political challenge than a financial one.

That doesn't necessarily mean it will be any easier.

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4:20pm

Thu August 11, 2011
Culture And Traditions

In Senegal, The Grandmas Are In Charge

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:33 am

Lightening the mood, the otherwise serious health care proceedings are punctuated by song and dance.
Ofeibea Quist-Arcton NPR

Long before you reach the circle of women, you hear them and feel their exuberance and warmth. These are the "grandmothers," fondly called les grandes-meres and dressed in brightly colored boubous — the voluminous traditional gowns with dramatic matching head wraps worn by the women of Senegal.

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4:14pm

Thu August 11, 2011
The Two-Way

An Update With A Woman Caught In The Middle Of Bahrain's Crackdown

On today's All Things Considered NPR's Kelly McEvers brings us an update on a story she reported in May. The story was about how the Bahraini government had started targeting women in effort to quell a rebellion that raged in the country since February.

Kelly reported on one women who agreed to be interviewed by NPR only if she could whisper and talk in English so the government could not track her down.

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4:01pm

Thu August 11, 2011
Shots - Health Blog

Slippery Banana Peels Could Be A Savior For Polluted Water

Researchers have found that the oft-maligned banana peel can grab heavy metals out of polluted water.
iStockphoto.com

Banana peels don't get a lot of respect. Though we here at Shots have never actually heard of anyone slipping on one, it seems they're stuck in the cultural lore as a nuisance, or even a hazard.

But a Brazilian researcher, who also happens to be a banana lover, has taken an interest in the lowly banana peel and is helping to remake its image. The banana peel, it turns out, can take water dirtied by heavy metals from mining operations or other activities and turn it to clean drinking water.

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3:56pm

Thu August 11, 2011
The Two-Way

New Electronic Sensors Stick To Skin As Temporary Tattoos

A new type of sensor uses flat, flexible electronics printed on a thin rubbery sheet, which can stick to human skin for at least 24 hours.
John A. Rogers Science

Researchers have created a new thin flexible sensor that can be applied with water, like a temporary tattoo. Measuring activity in the brain, heart and muscles, the innovation could cut down on the number of wires and cables medical personnel use to monitor patients, among other applications.

The electronics can bend, stretch and squeeze along with human skin, and maintain contact by relying on "van der Waals interactions" — the natural stickiness credited for geckoes' ability to cling to surfaces.

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3:31pm

Thu August 11, 2011
Politics

In A Twitter World, Do We Still Need Debates?

As the Republican presidential hopefuls converge on Iowa this week for Thursday night's debate and Saturday's influential straw poll, we caught up with Republican strategist Marc Lampkin, deputy campaign manager for George W. Bush's 2000 presidential bid and a former staffer to Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) years before he became House speaker. His thoughts on the unofficial kickoff to the GOP primaries:

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3:20pm

Thu August 11, 2011
Shots - Health Blog

People With Arthritis Shun Exercise — Though It Would Help, Not Hurt

Walking can actually be good medicine for osteoarthritis.
iStockphotography.com

People with osteoarthritis in their knees aren't getting much exercise, a new study finds, even though exercise actually helps reduce pain and stiffness and can prevent future disability. What kind of exercise would help beat the pull of the couch? Try walking and swimming, doctors say.

It's not a huge surprise that exercise doesn't appeal to people with arthritis. Who wants to run with aching knees? It's human nature to want to coddle aches, not exorcise them.

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2:43pm

Thu August 11, 2011
Economy

Franc-ly Speaking, Swiss Currency Is Too Strong

The Swiss franc has reached all-time highs against the euro and the dollar this week as nervous investors seek a safe haven. But the rapidly rising Swiss currency threatens to harm key parts of the Swiss economy, including exports and tourism.
Arnd Wiegmann Reuters /Landov

Switzerland is in danger of becoming a victim of its own success. While much of Europe is swamped by debt, massive unemployment and political turbulence, Switzerland's economy has been humming along nicely.

That's starting to cause problems in the form of its super-strong currency. The Swiss franc has become like gold, with investors snapping up francs as a hedge against the debt crisis in the eurozone and the volatility of financial markets worldwide.

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2:07pm

Thu August 11, 2011
The Two-Way

Statue Of Liberty To Close For More Renovations

Seen during Fleet Week in May 2011,the Statue of Liberty is scheduled to close for a year of repairs, beginning in October.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Just two years after the crown of the Statue of Liberty was reopened to visitors, the entire monument will be shut down for a year to conduct more renovations, the National Park Service says.

The closure will begin the day after the statue's 125th anniversary is celebrated on Oct. 28.

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1:31pm

Thu August 11, 2011
The Two-Way

Pelosi Names Three To Finalize Debt 'Super Committee'

The 12 members of the Debt "Super Committee" are now official, as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi named her three appointees Thursday. She chose Reps. James Clyburn of South Carolina, Xavier Becerra of California, and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland.

As reported here yesterday, the other nine members have already been chosen. Here's the full panel lineup:

  • Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) - co-chair
  • Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI)
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1:31pm

Thu August 11, 2011
It's All Politics

Pelosi Chooses Clyburn, Van Hollen, Becerra For Deficits Super Panel

Three lawmakers who are typically forceful advocates for a progressive agenda were picked by Rep. Nancy Pelosi to fill out the supercommittee that will propose more than $1 trillion in federal spending cuts meant to reduce federal deficits.

Pelosi, the House minority leader, chose representatives Jim Clyburn of S. Carolina, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and Xavier Becerra of California to represent House Democrats on the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.

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12:56pm

Thu August 11, 2011
Your Money

As Markets Roil, A Rush To Gold: A Reported Poem

Lee Jin-man AP

With world markets in turmoil, many investors are turning to an age-old safe haven: gold. While the price has fluctuated this week, it has flirted with record highs. But what, exactly, makes this precious metal so valuable? We decided to explore the issue, in verse:

Economic collapse, adrift without maps, lost in a sea with no rudder,
Wall Street is jaded, the U.S. downgraded, financial reports make us shudder.

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12:46pm

Thu August 11, 2011
The Two-Way

DARPA Loses Contact With Experimental 'Hypersonic Glider'

This US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency(DARPA) artists rendering shows the Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2).
AFP/Getty Images

Earlier this morning, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, launched an experimental hypersonic glider.

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12:08pm

Thu August 11, 2011
The Two-Way

Japan Takes Nuclear Safety Agency Away From Trade Ministry

Japan is removing its nuclear regulatory agency from the control of its trade ministry, dissolving a relationship that was criticized in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster. The new nuclear safety agency will be under the environmental agency, Kyodo News reports.

The move, coming exactly five month after a powerful earthquake and tsunami set off a nuclear crisis in Japan, may help ease criticisms that regulators are too cozy with pro-nuclear interests.

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11:58am

Thu August 11, 2011
Shots - Health Blog

Gene Therapy Breakthrough Trains Immune System To Fight Leukemia

Until now, scientists have had a tough time getting therapeutic genes to go where they need to go.
iStockphoto.com

Any time you report on promising but preliminary results about a new therapy for a lethal disease, you worry that you might be raising false hopes. So be warned: Although this is a "good news" story, it's preliminary. Don't expect to find it at a hospital near you any time soon.

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