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The Two-Way
7:41 am
Thu August 23, 2012

Jobless Claims Rose Slightly Last Week

There were an estimated 372,000 first-time claims for unemployment insurance last week, up by 4,000 from the week before, the Employment and Training Administration reports.

Another way of measuring, to show the recent trend, also rose: "The 4-week moving average was 368,000, an increase of 3,750 from the previous week's revised average of 364,250."

Overall, what we've said the past two weeks still applies:

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The Two-Way
7:33 am
Thu August 23, 2012

SEAL's Book On Bin Laden Raid, Woodward Book On Obama Due Sept. 11

President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and other members of his national security team as they monitored the mission that ended with the death of Osama bin Laden in May 2011.
Pete Souza White House

Those old-fashioned things called books can roil campaigns, and two that are due to hit stores on Sept. 11 certainly have that potential.

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Shots - Health Blog
7:07 am
Thu August 23, 2012

Even In Vacation Season, Office Noises Can Sap Your Concentration

What's all that racket?
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu August 23, 2012 10:48 pm

In offices around the country, the ranks of workers are pretty thin as people grab their last moments of summer vacation.

For those of us left to toil in our cubicles, the absence of disruptions might seem like a help for productivity. So why is it still so hard to focus?

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The Two-Way
6:31 am
Thu August 23, 2012

Isaac Could Be A Hurricane By Friday; Florida And GOP Convention Brace

The projected track as of 11 a.m. ET today. The path has moved slightly to the west.
National Hurricane Center

Originally published on Thu August 23, 2012 2:00 pm

  • Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn on 'Tell Me More'

Here's the latest on tropical storm Isaac, which could hit Florida this weekend and drench the Republican National Convention in Tampa early next week:

-- The National Hurricane Center says the center of the storm should pass "to the south of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico today ... [then] approach the Dominican Republic tonight and Friday."

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Europe
6:22 am
Thu August 23, 2012

Good Deed Ruins Prized Spanish Fresco

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Around the Nation
6:09 am
Thu August 23, 2012

Drought Assists Police With Marijuana Finds

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Participation Nation
6:03 am
Thu August 23, 2012

Backpacks For Kids In Punta Gorda, Fla.

Back Pack Kids in Punta Gorda.
Courtesy of Yah Yah Girls

Several years ago, Jolene Mowry, president of the Yah Yah Girls of Punta Gorda, heard about a program in another state that provided food on weekends to needy schoolchildren.

So every Friday since 2010, the Yah Yahs deliver backpacks full of healthy, non-perishable, child-friendly food to schools throughout Charlotte County. The packs are given to Back Pack Kidz who have been identified — by the principals and school nurses — as likely to be hungry on weekends.

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The Picture Show
4:38 am
Thu August 23, 2012

Our Changing Forests: An 88-Year Time Lapse

1909. Facing nearly due west from ridge northeast of Como Lake. Light selection cut in open ponderosa pine. Ground cover is comprised of perennial grasses and forbs, including basalmroot. A few low-growing bitterbrush plants can be seen in the vicinity of horses and in distance on left. A group of willows can be seen behind horsemen at left center.
Photo 87357 U.S. Forest Service

Originally published on Thu August 23, 2012 11:35 am

Intense forest fires have been raging across the western United States this summer. So far this year, nearly 43,000 wildfires have torched almost 7 million acres of land.

As NPR Science correspondent Christopher Joyce and photographer David Gilkey report from Arizona and New Mexico this week, the forests of the American Southwest have become so overgrown that they're essentially tinderboxes just waiting for a spark.

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Around the Nation
3:52 am
Thu August 23, 2012

Drought's Effects Keep Expanding

Originally published on Thu August 23, 2012 4:23 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This summer's drought is not helping the wildfire situation, and the drought is also deeply harming the nation's agricultural economy. Parched lands extend from California to Indiana, and from Texas to South Dakota, impacting everyone from farmers and ranchers to barge operators and commodity traders.

As NPR's David Schaper reports, some farmers are getting close to calling it quits.

DAVID SCHAPER, BYLINE: Looking over his small, 100-acre farm near South Union, Kentucky, Rich Vernon doesn't like what he sees.

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Business
3:52 am
Thu August 23, 2012

Judge: Poker Is A Game Of Sklll, Not Luck

Originally published on Thu August 23, 2012 5:14 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And our last word in business brings to mind Matt Damon's character in the poker movie "Rounders."

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "ROUNDERS")

MATT DAMON: (as Mike McDermott) Why does this still seem like gambling to you? I mean, why do you think the same five guys make it to the final table at the World Series of Poker every single year? What are they, the luckiest guys in Las Vegas? It's a skill game.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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Middle East
3:52 am
Thu August 23, 2012

Another Round Of Iranian Nuclear Talks To Begin

Originally published on Thu August 23, 2012 5:48 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

Talks with Iran on its controversial nuclear program are set to intensify in the coming days. Tomorrow in Vienna, authorities from the International Atomic Energy Agency meet again with Iranian representatives. They'll discuss some past suspicious nuclear activities. Next week, other talks involving the United States, Europe, Russia and China are set to resume.

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Joe's Big Idea
2:23 am
Thu August 23, 2012

Telescope Innovator Shines His Genius On New Fields

Roger Angel, an astronomer at the University of Arizona, stands in front of his new project: a solar tracker. Angel wants to use the device to harness Arizona's abundant sunlight and turn it into usable energy.
Jason Millstein for NPR

Originally published on Thu August 23, 2012 11:23 am

You may not be familiar with the name Roger Angel, but if there were ever a scientist with a creative streak a mile wide, it would be he.

Angel is an astronomer. He's famous for developing an entirely new way of making really large, incredibly precise telescope mirrors. But his creativity doesn't stop there. He's now turned his attention to solar power, hoping to use the tricks he learned from capturing distant light from stars to do a more cost-efficient job of capturing light from the Sun.

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First And Main
2:22 am
Thu August 23, 2012

Wis. Business Owner Relates To Romney's Resume

Linda Wendt is the owner of a restaurant on Lake Winnebago in Wisconsin. Republican Mitt Romney "has done what I've done, so I can relate to him," she says. "He knows what business goes through and what it takes to run a business."
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Thu August 23, 2012 7:47 pm

As the presidential election nears, Morning Edition is visiting swing counties in swing states for our series First and Main. We're listening to voters where they live — to understand what's shaping their thinking this election year.

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Opinion
2:22 am
Thu August 23, 2012

For Indian Women, Teasing Is No Laughing Matter

Protesters take part in a street play during a protest against growing cases of sexual abuse in New Delhi on May 5. The protesters urged police to protect women from abusers and stop blaming victims for attacks.
Sajjad Hussain AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed August 29, 2012 4:15 pm

Morning Edition commentator Sandip Roy is back home in India after spending years in the U.S. He finds some Indians are standing up to a very old problem they call "eve teasing."

I lost touch with that peculiar Indian euphemism "eve teasing" in the years I was away from India.

It sounds coy, like a Bollywood hero romancing the pretty girl as she walks down the street, and it can mean that. But it can also mean what happened to a teenager a few weeks ago in the northeastern city of Guwahati.

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Planet Money
2:21 am
Thu August 23, 2012

Why Do Taxpayers Subsidize Farmers' Insurance?

Grandpa Traub — corn former and millionaire.
Chana Joffe-Walt NPR

Originally published on Fri August 24, 2012 9:16 am

This summer's drought has hit more than half the states in the country. Crops are suffering, but farmers might not be. Most farmers have crop insurance.

U.S. taxpayers spend about $7 billion a year on crop insurance. It's our largest farm subsidy.

And this subsidy goes in part to farmers — who will tell you themselves they aren't so sure about the whole idea. "I have an aversion to it," says Jim Traub, a corn and bean farmer in Fairbury, Illinois. "But you're not going to turn it down."

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Around the Nation
2:19 am
Thu August 23, 2012

Hurricane Andrew's Legacy: 'Like A Bomb' In Florida

Florida National Guardsmen keep people in line at a food distribution center in Florida City, Fla., on Aug. 27, 1992. Many residents of the Dade County farming community lost their homes to Hurricane Andrew.
Lynne Sladky AP

Originally published on Thu August 23, 2012 10:46 am

Twenty years ago, one of the strongest hurricanes ever to hit the U.S. changed the face of South Florida.

Hurricane Andrew wiped out communities south of Miami, killing 15 people when it struck in 1992. Dozens more died from injuries stemming from the storm and its aftermath.

Adjusted for inflation, the 1992 storm was, after Katrina, the second costliest storm in U.S. history. It also changed how we forecast and respond to hurricanes.

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Digital Life
2:18 am
Thu August 23, 2012

In Japan, Mobile Startups Take Gaming To Next Level

According to consultant Serkan Toto, the anonymity of mobile gaming is tailor-made for the Japanese.
Koji Sasahara AP

Originally published on Thu August 23, 2012 7:47 pm

On the subway, in doctor's waiting rooms and during college lectures, millions of Japanese can be found glued to their smartphones. But they're not texting or making phone calls — they're playing video games.

In the U.S., video games are usually played on computers and consoles, like the PlayStation or Wii, but in Japan, gaming has migrated to smartphones.

With an ice coffee in one hand and an iPhone in the other, grad student Yoshiro Hinoki is fixated on slaying tiny cartoon monsters.

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Megafires: The New Normal In The Southwest
2:17 am
Thu August 23, 2012

How The Smokey Bear Effect Led To Raging Wildfires

Adams (left) talks with Swetnam in their laboratory, nestled under the football stadium.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Fri August 24, 2012 6:50 pm

First of a five-part series

The history of fire in the American Southwest is buried in a catacomb of rooms under the bleachers of the football stadium at the University of Arizona.

Here rules professor Thomas Swetnam, tree ring expert. You want to read a tree ring? You go to Tom. He's a big, burly guy with a beard and a true love for trees.

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It's All Politics
5:34 pm
Wed August 22, 2012

Cut Off From Party's Purse Strings, Rep. Akin Plans Next Move

Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., says Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the GOP vice presidential candidate, asked him to end his Senate bid after recent comments he made referring to "legitimate rape."
Jeff Roberson AP

Originally published on Wed August 22, 2012 6:59 pm

Republican Rep. Todd Akin's decision to stay in the U.S. Senate race in Missouri is likely to leave him with support from the state's evangelical community, but not much more, says a political scientist at the University of Missouri, St. Louis.

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The Two-Way
5:28 pm
Wed August 22, 2012

Officials Say West Nile Outbreak Could Be Worst Ever In U.S.

A map that shows where West Nile cases have been reported. Note that areas shaded white have seen no virus activity.
CDC

As cases of West Nile virus continue to increase, authorities warned today that this could turn out to be the worst outbreak since the virus first showed up in the United States in 1999.

The New York Times reports that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is still unsure about "where and how far" the disease will spread, but so far there have been 1,118 cases and 41 deaths reported.

The Times adds:

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The Salt
4:38 pm
Wed August 22, 2012

Food Waste Is Overwhelming. Here Are Five Things People Are Doing About It

Rotten jackfruit and tomatoes are sorted at a dump in New Delhi. India loses an estimated 40 percent of its produce harvest for lack of infrastructure. And Americans waste about 40 percent of our food.
Mustafa Quraishi AP

Originally published on Fri June 27, 2014 4:39 pm

The food world is buzzing today about the latest news on just how often we waste perfectly good food. And we admit, the statistics are pretty depressing.

About 40 percent of food in the United States today goes uneaten. The average American consumer wastes 10 times as much food as someone in Southeast Asia — up 50 percent from Americans in the 1970s. Yet, 1 in 6 Americans doesn't have enough to eat, says the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And food waste costs us about $165 billion a year and sucks up 25 percent of our freshwater supply.

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Middle East
4:32 pm
Wed August 22, 2012

As Fighting Rages, A Prisoner Swap In Syria

The daily fighting in Syria included this gun battle Wednesday involving rebels in the northern city of Aleppo. Still, the rival sides recently worked out a prisoner swap in which two women were freed from state custody, while the rebels released seven pro-government fighters.
James Lawler Duggan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed August 22, 2012 6:59 pm

The bitter fighting in Syria seems to grow worse by the day, yet the rebels and the government do occasionally manage to work out something that requires each side to trust the other: prisoner swaps.

In one recent exchange, two women held by the government were freed in exchange for seven men who were fighting on behalf President Bashar Assad's regime.

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It's All Politics
4:19 pm
Wed August 22, 2012

Despite Fact Checks, Romney Escalates Welfare Work Requirement Charge

President Clinton signs the welfare reform law on Aug. 22, 1996.
Stephen Jaffe Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Wed August 22, 2012 6:59 pm

Wednesday marks the 16th anniversary of President Clinton's welfare overhaul. That law has become a major issue in this year's presidential campaign.

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The Two-Way
4:11 pm
Wed August 22, 2012

Fed Hints At More Action To Boost Economy

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke talks to educators Aug. 7 in Washington, D.C. At their most recent meeting, many Fed members backed action to boost the economy.
Manuel Balce Ceneta AP

The Federal Reserve could take more steps to boost the struggling U.S. economy. That's according to minutes released Wednesday of the Federal Open Market Committee's July 31-Aug. 1 meeting.

"Many members judged that additional monetary accommodation would likely be warranted fairly soon unless incoming information pointed to a substantial and sustainable strengthening in the pace of the economic recovery," the minutes said. [PDF]

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Summer Nights: Funtown
3:59 pm
Wed August 22, 2012

Festive Nanjing Road Recaptures Shanghai's Heyday

The "Loving Happiness Band," supported, in part, by the Communist Party, plays for a crowd on Nanjing Road.
Frank Langfitt NPR

Originally published on Wed August 22, 2012 7:34 pm

In the 1920s and 1930s, Shanghai was one of the world's most exciting — and notorious — cities. But all that came to an end in the middle of the last century, when the Communists took charge.

Over the past decade or so, though, a vibrant Shanghai has re-emerged. Today, it's a dynamic city of 23 million, with a skyline that dwarfs Manhattan's.

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The Two-Way
3:43 pm
Wed August 22, 2012

Confederate Soldier In Famous Portrait Is Identified

Stephen Pollard of Carroll County, Ga., who fought and survived the Civil War.
Library of Congress

Originally published on Wed August 22, 2012 6:43 pm

The Washington Post brings us an interesting story about a portait that was donated to the Library of Congress.

As far as portraits from the Civil War go, this one is quite famous. It shows a confederate soldier looking a bit disheveled and very serious while holding an 1855 Springfield single-shot pistol carbine.

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Religion
3:34 pm
Wed August 22, 2012

Some Israeli Parents Rethink Ritual Circumcision

Family members and friends gather around 8-day-old Israeli baby Oz Naftaly Cohen after his traditional Jewish circumcision ceremony in 2005.
Ariel Schalit AP

Originally published on Sun August 26, 2012 7:41 am

The question of whether to circumcise a newborn son is no question at all for most observant Jews. In Europe, the practice has come under fire. This summer, a German regional court ruled that circumcision is physical abuse, and a Swiss hospital temporarily banned the procedure. The debate has infuriated Jewish community leaders there.

In Israel, even the most secular Jews overwhelmingly have their sons circumcised. But the debate in Europe has drawn attention to a still small but growing number of Israeli Jews who are forgoing the procedure.

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Environment
3:34 pm
Wed August 22, 2012

Humans' Role In Antarctic Ice Melt Is Unclear

The Larsen B ice shelf, a large floating ice mass on the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula, shattered and separated from the continent 10 years ago. A NASA satellite captured the event in this image from Feb. 23, 2002. The 650 foot-thick, 1,250-square-mile ice shelf had existed since the last ice age.
AP

Originally published on Wed August 22, 2012 6:59 pm

Ten years ago, a piece of ice the size of Rhode Island disintegrated and melted in the waters off Antarctica. Two other massive ice shelves along the Antarctic Peninsula had suffered similar fates a few years before. The events became poster children for the effects of global warming. But a new study finds that the story isn't quite so simple.

There's no question that unusually warm air triggered the final demise of these huge chunks of ice. But a lingering question is whether these events can be attributed to human-induced global warming.

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The Salt
3:28 pm
Wed August 22, 2012

The Spice Man Cometh To Cuba, A Hot Land Of Bland Food

Cuba has tight advertising restrictions, so Cedric Fernando uses his British-made 1955 MG convertible to spread the word about his Indian restaurant, Bollywood, in Havana.
Nick Miroff NPR

Originally published on Mon October 15, 2012 9:57 am

Cuba has hot weather, hot music, hot politics and hot Cubans. So why is the food so bland?

Tourists who have visited the island, particularly Cuba's state-run restaurants, know that Cuban chefs are deeply fond of frying their ingredients, but the range of seasonings tends to span from salt to garlic, with not much else in between.

Enter the Spice Man. He is Cedric Fernando, co-proprietor of the first and only Indian restaurant in Cuba, called Bollywood. And he's definitely turning up the heat in the kitchen.

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It's All Politics
3:07 pm
Wed August 22, 2012

Poll: Ryan-As-Running-Mate Helps Romney In Wisconsin, But Just A Bit

Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney campaign in Waukesha, Wis., on Aug. 12, the day after Romney made the Wisconsin congressman his vice presidential running mate.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Wed August 22, 2012 3:39 pm

Picking Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate has helped GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney in the Badger State, but just a little, a new poll suggests.

Obama leads Romney among likely voters in Wisconsin, 49 percent to 46 percent, according to a Marquette Law School poll released Wednesday afternoon. The poll was conducted Aug. 16 through 19, following Ryan's selection as Romney's running mate on Aug. 11.

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