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The Two-Way
2:30 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

Sean Collins, Who Told Surfers Where To Go For The Best Waves, Has Died

Surfline.com

Sean Collins created a way for surfers to learn about where the best waves are just about anywhere in the world and in the process became a legend in the surfing community. Monday, at the age of 59, he died.

According to The Orange County Register, "his youngest son, A.J., said Collins was playing tennis at his club in Newport [Calif.] at about 2 p.m. when he died suddenly from a heart attack."

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The Two-Way
2:27 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

Members Of Congress Weather Recession, Become Richer

The flag waves in front of the U.S. Capitol.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Both The Washington Post and The New York Times have stories today that highlight the fact that members of the United States Congress are increasingly wealthier than their constituents and they're also getting richer at a faster rate than even their fellow private-industry rich folks.

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Leaving Iraq
2:23 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

Iraqi Interpreters Hope Visas Come Before Militants

The U.S. troops are gone from Iraq. But there are still a few thousand Iraqis, especially interpreters, who worked with the U.S. military and are desperately waiting for American visas — a process that takes years.

Many of these Iraqis were branded as traitors by hard-line Iraqi groups. They have often been targeted by militias in recent years, and they fear that will continue even though the American forces have left.

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Music Interviews
2:09 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

Gregory Douglass: Controlling His Own 'Lucid' Dreams

Gregory Douglass.
Kelly Griffith Closed Circle Photography

Originally published on Wed December 28, 2011 12:20 pm

As 2011 winds down, Morning Edition is looking at music we missed over the past 12 months. Gregory Douglass is a pianist and guitarist from a small town in Vermont who blends electronic pop with folk and rock. At 31, he has already recorded eight albums, most of them released on a label he founded.

Douglass creates the sort of textured sound that you'd think comes from a big-budget studio, but he's on his own. His fans pre-order his albums before they're recorded, which helps pay his production costs. His latest is titled Lucid.

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It's All Politics
2:06 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

A Week Out In Iowa, Most Republican Presidential Candidates Are All In

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum leaves the Fort Dodge, Iowa, GOP headquarters after speaking Tuesday.
Charlie Neibergall Associated Press

Let the buses roll. A week before Iowa caucus-goers start the 2012 Republican presidential nominating contest, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich were starting cross-state bus tours on Tuesday (although Gingrich's would be an abbreviated tour, The Des Moines Register reported.)

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Presidential Race
2:00 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

A Moment From Rick Perry's Time On The Stump

All this week, we're highlighting moments from each of the presidential candidates' stump speeches. Today, we hear from Rick Perry in Muscatine, Iowa.

Around the Nation
2:00 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

Electronic Medical Records Catch On In Oregon

Originally published on Tue December 27, 2011 5:31 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

This year, the federal government gave billions of dollars of stimulus money to medical providers to help speed up their use of electronic health records. The idea is for doctors to coordinate care better so that patients can see their charts online, and to allow clinics to grade their doctors.

Oregon is ahead of the curve. Sixty-five percent of clinicians have electronic medical records, compared to about 45 percent nationwide.

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Around the Nation
2:00 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

Northeast Winter Lovers Suffer Through Warmth

Originally published on Tue December 27, 2011 5:31 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

For late December, it was a warm and wet day in much of the Northeast today with temperatures in some areas topping 40 degrees. If you hate shoveling snow or paying big heating bills, that's good news, but for people who love winter sports and for thousands of businesses that rely on snow for winter tourism, this month's October-like weather has been painful.

North Country Public Radio's Brian Mann reports from New York's Adirondack Mountains.

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Middle East
2:00 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

Arab League Monitors Visit Besieged Syrian City

Arab League monitors visited the central city of Homs, an opposition stronghold, besieged and under bombardment by the Syrian army until the monitors showed up. Syrian army armor was withdrawn from the city streets ahead of the visit, but activists say they expect a resumption of the army offensive as soon as the monitors leave. They also complain that they have not been allowed to meet with the Arab League team.

Business
2:00 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

At Least 100 Sears, Kmart Stores To Close

Sears Holdings announced Tuesday it will shutter at least 100 stores as a cost-cutting measure following a disappointing holiday season. The retailer's namesake Sears and Kmart stores have struggled against competitors such as Wal-Mart, Target and Home Depot. Sears says it will save as much as $170 million through the store closings. It did not say how many employees will lose their jobs.

Around the Nation
2:00 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

Teens Win Top Honors For Xbox Innovation

Host Robert Siegel speaks with Cassee Cain and Ziyuan Liu, who recently won the team portion of the Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology. The high-schoolers from Oak Ridge, Tenn., modified the Kinect device for Microsoft's Xbox 360 in order to analyze human gait. Cain and Liu hope to use the device to diagnose and treat medical problems that affect movement.

Planet Money
1:51 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

The Undertakers Of The Retail Industry

Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 4, 2012 5:13 pm

When the internet kills a big box retailer, Gordon Brothers is the undertaker.

"They're stuck with selling the things that are inside the box," says bankruptcy lawyer Steve Jakubowski.

Gordon Brothers specializes in retail liquidations. When a store dies, they put on a suit, greet the guests and sell them whatever remains. And that means everything — not just books and clothing and DVDs, but shelves, lighting fixtures, even the chairs.

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The Two-Way
1:25 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

Reports: Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson Won't Seek Re-election

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.).
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

The race for control of the Senate just got even more interesting with word from several news outlets that Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) won't be seeking re-election in 2012.

The Omaha World-Herald says "it's good news for Republicans, but incredibly bad for Democrats who need the equivalent of a Christmas miracle to keep the seat."

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The Two-Way
1:15 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

Brazil Overtakes U.K. As World's Sixth Biggest Economy

Thousands of people crowd Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as summer gets going in the Southern Hemisphere.
Vanderlei Almeida AFP/Getty Images

Brazil is now the world's sixth biggest economy overtaking the U.K., according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research. As the Financial Times puts it, it's another milestone that's part of a larger trend where emerging economies outpace developed ones. China, they report, overtook Japan earlier this year.

The BBC explains:

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Politics
1:14 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

Congress Really Is As Bad As You Think, Scholars Say

House Speaker John Boehner, surrounded by Republican House members, speaks during a news conference in Washington last week. The House initially rejected a plan to extend a tax cut for two months to buy time for talks on a full-year renewal. It later compromised — a rare event in 2011.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Thu December 29, 2011 9:41 am

Congressional approval ratings are on the rocks, hovering in or near single digits for the first time since pollsters started measuring them. But just how bad is the current congressional stalemate?

Thomas Mann, senior fellow of governance studies at the Brookings Institution in Washington, is working on a book about Congress with a title that provides a succinct answer: It's Even Worse Than It Looks.

In modern history, Mann says, "there have been battles, delays, brinkmanship — but nothing quite like this."

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Music Interviews
1:12 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

The 'Guitar Passions' Of Sharon Isbin And Steve Vai

Sharon Isbin (left) and Steve Vai switch axes.
Afshin Javadi

Originally published on Tue December 27, 2011 5:31 pm

Classical guitarist Sharon Isbin started the Juilliard guitar program. Her new album, Guitar Passions, features collaborations between Isbin — who studied with Andres Segovia, among others — and artists with very unclassical careers: jazz guitarist Stanley Jordan, rock singer Nancy Wilson of the band Heart, soprano saxophonist Paul Winter and several others.

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All Tech Considered
12:45 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

Tutors Teach Seniors New High-Tech Tricks

At Pace University in New York, college students who tutor seniors in local retirement homes are prepped with sensitivity training. Brittany Beckett (left), a Pace student, and Muriel Cohen work together at United Hebrew of New Rochelle.
Courtesy of Pace University

A week after Christmas, many Americans are no doubt trying to figure out how to use the high-tech gadgets they got as gifts. This can be especially challenging for seniors. But a number of programs across the country are finding just the right experts to help usher older adults into the digital age.

For Pamela Norr, of Bend, Oregon, the light bulb went off as she, yet again, was trying to help her own elder parents with a tech problem. To whom did she turn?

"My teenage kids," she says.

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The Two-Way
12:40 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

India's Hazare Begins New Hunger Strike In Corruption Fight

A supporter receives blessings from Indian anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare during the first day of Hazare's hunger strike, in Mumbai, India on Tuesday.
Rajanish Kakade AP

Originally published on Tue December 27, 2011 12:43 pm

India's anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare, 74, has begun another three-day fast in Mumbai just as Parliament begins debate on a bill that would create an office with the authority to investigate corruption.

But, as The Christian Science Monitor reports, Hazare calls the bill "weak and useless." The Monitor adds:

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The Two-Way
12:30 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

VIDEO: Tears From Kim Jong Un As His Father's Funeral Nears

The funeral for North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is set for Wednesday in Pyongyang, and it's something of a cliche to say — as basically every story today does — that details about what will happen are largely a mystery.

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Performing Arts
12:14 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

There's Something About 'Matilda'

Kerry Ingram is one of four young actresses portraying the title role in Matilda the Musical.
Manual Harlan Playbill

While pantomime performances of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty are traditional English holiday entertainment fare, there's a new hit in town. Londoners are flocking to Matilda the Musical, a souped-up version of Roald Dahl's well-known children's novel, playing in London's West End.

The production by The Royal Shakespeare Company has been proclaimed the best British musical in years. But despite most of the cast being under 16, this show is certainly not just for kids.

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Energy
12:00 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

As Nuclear Plants Age, No Easy Energy Solutions

Originally published on Tue December 27, 2011 1:13 pm

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. No nuclear power plants have been built in this country since the accident at Three Mile Island more than 30 years ago. The old reactors continue to provide 20 percent of our electrical power, but many of them will start to come offline in the next 10 years or so.

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Music
12:00 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

NPR's Long-Running 'Piano Jazz' Gets A Makeover

Originally published on Tue December 27, 2011 1:24 pm

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

For decades, the great Marian McPartland illuminated public-radio airwaves with her duets and conversations as the host of PIANO JAZZ. Since 1979, she spoke and played with established artists like Herbie Hancock, Alice Coltrane, Carla Bley and - of course - Dr. Billy Taylor. Next week, a new kind of PIANO JAZZ launches on NPR. The show will feature young talents who shine through their energy, innovation and artistry.

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NPR Story
12:00 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

John Brown: The Man Who 'Sparked' The Civil War

American abolitionist John Brown led the 1859 raid on Harpers Ferry, Va. That takeover and the man behind it are the subjects of historian Tony Horwitz's new book, Midnight Rising.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 29, 2011 11:25 am

On an October night in 1859, 21 men staged a takeover of a national armory in tiny Harpers Ferry, Va. Though unsuccessful, the raid drew the nation's attention to its electrifying leader, a man named John Brown — and helped set the nation on the path to war.

Brown went on to become perhaps one of the most polarizing figures in American history. The devout Calvinist and abolitionist is remembered as a traitor and terrorist by some, and a hero by others.

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Middle East
12:00 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

Can Arab League Monitors Quell Violence In Syria?

Arab League observers arrived in Syria Monday, prompting a tentative calm between anti-government protestors and security forces. But many Syrians are skeptical that the monitors can permanently quell the unrest.

The Salt
11:49 am
Tue December 27, 2011

Inhalable Caffeine: Party Drug Or Handy, Pocket-Sized Boost?

One AeroShot contains 100 mg of caffeine and sells for $2.99, making if roughly comparable to buying a latte.
Breathable Foods

If you've ever lamented the time and effort it takes to brew or procure a cup of coffee, this might perk you up. "Breathable Energy. Anytime. Anyplace."

That's the campaign slogan for AeroShot, a plastic inhaler, roughly the size of a lipstick tube, filled with a powdery, calorie-free mix of caffeine, B vitamins, and citrus flavors. It's slated to hit stores in January, just in time for the New Year.

But some aren't so sure selling caffeine in pocket-sized tubes — and marketing it to young people — is a great idea.

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Shots - Health Blog
11:27 am
Tue December 27, 2011

For Hospitals, There's No App For Adopting Tablet Computers

Tablets are easy to find at the local coffee shop but are still scarce at hospitals.
iStockphoto.com

Hospitals are often eager to embrace the latest medical technology, but the road to deploying tablet computers has been a little bumpy.

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Crisis In The Housing Market
11:11 am
Tue December 27, 2011

Housing Market Stays Mired In Low Home Price Spin

According to the Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller Home Price Index released Tuesday, home prices were down 3.4 percent this year as of October — around a 35 percent drop from their peak.
Scott Olson Getty Images

This month, consumer confidence jumped to its highest level since April, a sign that the U.S. economy is starting to mend. But the housing market isn't going along yet with this cheerier mood: Home prices were down 3.4 percent for the year as of October, according to a new report released Tuesday.

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Middle East
10:26 am
Tue December 27, 2011

Dealing With Dictators: Is Exile Or Trial Better?

Critics of Syrian President Bashar Assad have been debating whether it would be better to threaten him with prosecution or encourage him to go into exile. Here, Syrians hold a rally supporting Assad in Damascus this month.
Muzaffar Salman AP

The death toll in Syria keeps mounting, as do the calls for the ouster of President Bashar Assad. But in dealing with Assad, should the international community threaten him with prosecution at the International Criminal Court or offer him a comfortable exile?

That question is being widely debated, and came up several times earlier this year with the ouster of other Arab autocrats. Last month, a United Nations commission found that Syrian security forces loyal to Assad had killed hundreds of children and perpetrated other "crimes against humanity."

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The Two-Way
10:00 am
Tue December 27, 2011

Mom 'Mortified,' Obama Amused When Baby Grabbed President's Mouth

She says now that she "was mortified ... I was so embarrassed."

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The Two-Way
9:25 am
Tue December 27, 2011

Consumer Confidence Rose This Month

American consumers felt better this month about how things are going for the U.S. economy and their own financial situations, the private research group The Conference Board just reported.

Its consumer confidence index rose to 64.5 from 55.2 in November and is back at a level not seen since last April.

But in a statement, the director of the board's consumer research center advises viewing the again with caution.

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