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NPR Story
3:00 am
Wed December 28, 2011

Negative Ads Chip Away At Gingrich's Standing

Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich continues his bus tour of Iowa. After leading in the polls, he's had setbacks in recent days. Negative campaign ads by his opponents have hurt him with some voters. And on Tuesday, the former House speaker found his message side tracked by new disclosures involving the divorce from his first wife.

NPR Story
3:00 am
Wed December 28, 2011

For Some Iowa Voters, Immigration Is Decisive

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

GOP presidential candidates are touring Iowa ahead of next week's caucuses. The main issue for many voters there is the economy, but another hot topic is emerging: overhauling immigration policies. Iowa's Hispanic population is surging, and Republican candidates are struggling with how best to deal with voter concerns.

Business
3:00 am
Wed December 28, 2011

Business News

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

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with Iran shaking the oil markets.

Oil prices are higher this morning after a top Iranian official threatened to block a considerable part of the world's oil supply, if new economic sanctions are imposed on his country. The official spoke of blocking oil tankers from moving through the Straits of Hormuz; that's the opening from the Persian Gulf, a major transit route for a number of nations, and it goes right past the Iranian shore.

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Business
3:00 am
Wed December 28, 2011

Wendy's Re-Enters Japan's Fast-Food Market

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

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Wendy's is reentering the world's second largest fast food market, Japan. The burger chain left Japan in 2009 in a dispute with its local business partner. Now it's coming back in style. Our last word in business today is fancy fast food.

Instead of a basic burger, Wendy's wants to appeal to Japan's more finicky fast food eaters with a new, luxurious menu, featuring a truffle and forchini-grilled chicken sandwich and a foie gras burger, goose liver pate on top of the beef patty.

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Animals
11:01 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

60 Years After Leaving, Porpoises Again Play In SF Bay

A harbor porpoise comes up for air near the Golden Gate Bridge. The porpoises are returning to the bay in growing numbers after a 60-year absence.
Isidore Szczepaniak Golden Gate Cetacean Research

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

Something that has been missing from San Francisco Bay since World War II appears to be making a comeback: Harbor porpoises are showing up in growing numbers, and researchers are trying to understand why they're returning.

The walkway across the Golden Gate Bridge is almost always packed with people taking photos. But Bill Keener isn't here for snapshots of the stunning views. He's aiming his massive telephoto lens at a dark shape in the water 200 feet below.

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Economy
11:01 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

'Smart Decline': A Lifeline For Zombie Subdivisions?

Unfinished subdivisions like this one in the Phoenix suburb of Gilbert, Ariz., have led urban planners to suggest "smart decline" strategies that sometimes even dismantle existing infrastructure.
Laura Segall Bloomberg via Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 28, 2011 7:22 pm

On the western edge of Phoenix, it's easy to find vast tracts of empty land once prepped for two-by-fours and work crews. Utility stanchions emerge like errant whiskers from the desert floor.

This is the land of zombie subdivisions. Some experts believe up to 1 million dirt lots in central Arizona were in some stage of approval for new homes when the market crashed.

"It's tragic," says Realtor Greg Swann. "It's heartbreaking."

Urban planners are floating a radical solution for areas like this. It's known as "smart decline."

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It Was A Good Year For...
11:01 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

IBM Sees A Big Boost As It Turns 100

Reason To Smile: Samuel Palmisano, president and CEO of IBM, walks by an IBM logo at the CeBIT technology fair in Hanover, Germany. Palmisano is set to step down later this month, and Virginia Rometty will take over on Jan. 1.
Sean Gallup Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 29, 2011 10:56 am

Far from a relic, IBM has been one of the best stocks on the Dow this year, rising more than perennial tech hotshots Google and Apple. The company may be 100, but it has totally remade its business for the 21st century.

The company sold its PC business 6 years ago, and now, more than 83 percent of its business is services and software. Sign a contract with Big Blue and you get consulting, cloud computing, servers, analytics, even financing.

"There is no such thing as an IBM PC," says IBM managing partner Adam Klaber.

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Shots - Health Blog
11:01 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

Reversal On Health Mandate Came Late For Gingrich And Romney

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney chat after finishing a GOP debate in Sioux City, Iowa, earlier this month.
Scott Olson Getty Images

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

Opposition to the administration's overhaul of health care has almost become an article of faith with every Republican running for president.

Candidates promise to repeal the law and its less-than-popular requirement for most Americans to either have health insurance or to pay a penalty starting in 2014.

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Shots - Health Blog
11:01 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

Antiviral Drugs Sparkle In The Race To End AIDS

Eric Goosby, United States Global AIDS coordinator, says field testing is necessary and urgent to determine if HIV testing-and-treating services are feasible.
Brendan Hoffman Getty Images

2011 has been a momentous year in the 30-year-old AIDS pandemic.

The big breakthrough was the discovery that antiviral drugs can prevent someone who's infected with HIV from passing the virus to others. It's nearly 100 percent effective. That led President Obama to declare earlier this month that the U.S. will expand HIV treatment in hard-hit countries by 50 percent.

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Sweetness And Light
9:00 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

Dear NHL: Hit The Puck, Not The Players

Michael Haley of the New York Islanders fights Stu Bickel of the New York Rangers in the first period of an NHL game at Madison Square Garden in New York City, Dec. 26.
Paul Bereswill Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 28, 2011 3:02 pm

Ah, we still do the town on New Year's Eve, but tearing the goal posts down is now verboten. Deemed too dangerous. In fact, as our new year approaches, it's a good time to look back on several other things in sport that have long since faded away.

Who remembers, for example, that at the end of each inning in the field, baseball players would just chuck their gloves onto the grass behind their position, leaving the field littered with mitts. All game long.

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The Two-Way
5:29 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

Extent Of 'Anonymous' Hacker Attack On Security Is Detailed

The Guy Fawkes mask has come to symbolize the group Anonymous. This mask was seen during protest in Germany.
Sean Gallup Getty Images

A company that provides identity protection services is sifting through the data released by hackers over the holiday weekend and and they're detailing what hackers were able to steal from Stratfor, a security think tank.

If you haven't heard, hackers who claim an affiliation with the group Anonymous broke into the servers of Stratfor, made public some data and used some of the stolen credit card numbers to, in some cases, make charitable donations.

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It's All Politics
5:21 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

Ahead in New Hampshire, Romney Attempts To Solidify Supporters

Mitt Romney shakes hands during a campaign stop in Portsmouth, N.H., Tuesday
Charles Krupa Associated Press

Originally published on Wed December 28, 2011 9:22 am

Mitt Romney's campaign stops Tuesday in New Hampshire, at small restaurants with largely invited crowds, featured lofty patriotic themes and seemed designed to help him lock down his current base of support in the Granite State.

"America the Beautiful," the Founding Fathers, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were referenced by the GOP presidential contender during his last bit of stumping in New Hampshire before heading off for a three-day bus tour of Iowa, which holds its caucuses in a week.

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Economy
4:13 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

Las Vegas Housing Market Attracts Asian Investors

A vacant home in Las Vegas owned by Bank of America. Nevada continues to top the nation in unemployment, foreclosures and bankruptcies.
Isaac Brekken AP

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

Investors from Asia are taking advantage of housing prices that have plummeted in recent years, buying foreclosures and short sales at below what it would cost to build them.

Kevin Chu's Hong-Kong investment firm owns property in Las Vegas, but he's never seen any of it. So his first visit to the U.S. is to inspect the houses in Las Vegas.

In the past 18 months, the firm he works for, The Creations Group, bought up distressed homes all over the U.S. — including 13 Las Vegas houses at fire sale prices.

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The Salt
4:06 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

For Russians, New Year's Eve Remains The Super-Holiday

Brightly-wrapped chocolates are traditional for Russian New Year.
Nancy Shute NPR

Originally published on Tue December 27, 2011 4:28 pm

While for many people the frenzy of holiday cooking and feasting is subsiding, for Russians, it's just revving up.

During the Soviet era, Christmas was erased from the calendar. But its traditions were too strong to suppress; they were transplanted to New Year's.

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The Two-Way
4:02 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

U.S. Treasury: China Is Not Manipulating Its Currency

The United States Treasury has decided not to accuse China of manipulating its currency. Instead, the Obama administration acknowledged that the yuan, which is also known as the renminbi, was appreciating but not at an "insufficient" rate.

The AFP report:

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It's All Politics
3:48 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

Playing The Expectations Game And Other Last-Minute Candidate Tricks

Texas Gov. Rick Perry walks to his bus after a campaign stop at the Glenn Miller Museum in Clarinda, Iowa on Dec. 27.
Charlie Riedel AP

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 10:10 am

In this final week before the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3, each of the Republican presidential candidates is starting an all-out scramble to shore up support in a contest that's still up for grabs.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney are competing for the votes of moderate, mainstream Republicans. Both of them have spent time at the top of the polls.

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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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