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Planet Money
12:47 am
Thu May 24, 2012

Bankrupt In Paradise

A rainbow over the sea in Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands.
Koichi Kamoshida Getty Images

Originally published on Fri May 25, 2012 7:05 am

The Northern Mariana Islands are about 4,000 miles west of Hawaii. They look like the kind of tropical islands you see in the movies with bright blue water and white sand beaches.

The people who live on the islands are American. The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands is a U.S. territory. And just like a lot of U.S. states, the commonwealth has a pension plan for its government employees.

Sixto Igisomar used to run it.

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Education
12:44 am
Thu May 24, 2012

National Geography Bee: Test Your World Knowledge

The 10 finalists of the 2012 National Geographic Bee are competing for prizes including a $25,000 scholarship and a trip to the Galapagos Islands.
Rebecca Hale National Geographic

Originally published on Thu May 24, 2012 10:40 am

The final round of the 2012 National Geographic Bee takes place Thursday, with students between the fourth and eighth grades testing their knowledge of countries, canals and lava lakes. Of the 54 contestants who came to the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C., for the bee, only 10 remain.

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The Two-Way
5:28 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

Tentative Deal Clears Way For U.S. Olympic Hosting Bid

Fireworks fill the sky after the Olympic cauldron was lit on Feb. 8, 2003, marking the one year anniversary of the 2002 Winter Games at the opening and closing ceremony venue in Salt Lake City, the last American city to host the Olympics.
Douglas C. Pizac AP

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 5:36 pm

Olympic officials meeting in Quebec City have reached a tentative agreement in a persistent revenue-sharing dispute responsible, in part, for keeping the Olympics out of the United States for at least 20 years.

The dispute centers on the American share of Olympic revenues. Since 1984, The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) has received the biggest portion of the billions of Olympic dollars paid by corporate sponsors and American television networks. And the rest of the Olympic world has resented it.

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The Two-Way
5:18 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

New Documents Describe Brutal Hazing That Killed FAMU Drum Major

Robert Champion agreed to go into Bus C because he was vying for the top job at Florida A&M University's Marching 100 band and thought it would impress his band mates.

But that hazing ritual — a relentless, brutal beating — would cost him his life. That's the picture painted by a cache of new documents released today in Florida.

The New York Times reports:

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The Two-Way
4:34 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

In Egypt, First Day Of Voting 'Seemed Remarkably Routine'

Two women show their inked fingers after casting their votes on the first day of the Presidential election at a polling center in Old Cairo, Egypt, on Wednesday.
Fredrik Persson AP

Polls have closed on a historic day in Egypt: For many it was the first time they had a say in who their leader will be. Hosni Mubarak, who ruled the country for 29 years, was ousted last year. And before him, for another 30 or so years, Egyptian presidents have run unopposed.

Kimberly Adams was at the polls in Cairo today for NPR. She filed this report for our Newscast unit:

"Many waited in line for hours to choose the replacement for President Hosni Mubarak, who was booted from office during the Arab Spring.

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Business
4:29 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

Investors Question Fairness Of Facebook IPO

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 5:22 pm

Shares of Facebook on Wednesday made up a little of the ground they've lost since the company's troubled stock offering last week. But the company and its lead underwriter, Morgan Stanley, still face a lot of legal problems.

Some of the investors who bought shares of the company filed a lawsuit alleging that the two companies concealed information about Facebook's expected performance.

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Shots - Health Blog
3:27 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

By Putting Patients First, Hospital Tries To Make Care More Personal

Patient Bob Berquist with Gregory Wagner, a doctor in the emergency department. Berquist, who volunteers at Fauquier Hospital, was admitted for low blood sugar when another nurse noticed he seemed dizzy.
John Rose NPR

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 5:22 pm

No one likes to go to the hospital.

But some hospitals around the nation are trying to make their patients' stays a little less unpleasant.

They're members of an organization called Planetree, which was founded by a patient named Angelica Thieriot, who had a not-so-good hospital experience back in the 1970s.

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The Two-Way
3:19 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

Beijing Imposes 'Two-Fly' Rule For Public Restrooms

A worker cleans a public bathroom in Beijing. New rules require that public restrooms in the Chinese capital have no more than two flies in them.
Greg Baker AP

Officials in Beijing have ruled that public restrooms in the Chinese capital can have no more than two flies in them at one time, the BBC reports.

New rules issued Monday by the Beijing Municipal Commission of City Administration and Environment also regulate ads within the bathrooms and state that no more than two pieces of trash can be left uncollected for more than a half-hour.

The rules apply to bathrooms in tourist spots such as parks, railway stations, supermarkets and malls.

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The Two-Way
3:05 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

British TV Presenter: CNN's Piers Morgan Showed Me How To Hack

CNN's Piers Morgan arrives at the inaugural BAFTA Brits to Watch 2011 event at the Belasco Theater in Los Angeles.
Chris Pizzello AP

CNN host Piers Morgan has been dragged into the U.K.'s hacking scandal once again.

This time, the host of the BBC's Newsnight told a media ethics inquiry that Morgan had showed him how to hack into a cell phone's voice mail.

SkyTV reports that Jeremy Paxman remembered a lunch from September 2002 for two reasons: First because Morgan seemed to imply that he had heard a conversation between another TV presenter Ulrika Jonsson and England football manager Sven-Goran Eriksson.

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Politics
2:59 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

Remember The Debt Ceiling Debate? It's Back

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, speaks at the 2012 Fiscal Summit held by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation on May 15 in Washington, D.C.
Brendan Hoffman Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 5:22 pm

A storm is brewing in Washington that could darken political debate for months to come. It's about the debt, the deficit, taxes and spending — all hot topics lawmakers have been fighting about for years now.

This time, though, there's a deadline, and the consequences of inaction would be immediate. That has many in Washington saying: Here we go again.

In the past week, President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner have begun a new round of sparring over the U.S. debt ceiling.

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It's All Politics
2:56 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

Romney Pivots To Education Platform In Seeking Latino Votes

Mitt Romney speaks at the Latino Coalition annual economic summit Wednesday in Washington, D.C.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Tue May 29, 2012 2:39 pm

Declaring that a "national emergency" exists in public education, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney shifted from his usual economic message to outline his education platform during a speech to a Latino business group Wednesday.

Romney pledged to provide federal funding for "every" child from low-income families, or those with special needs, to attend the public, public charter or, in some cases, private school of their parents' choice. The proposals are boilerplate Republican Party planks.

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Law
2:47 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

Ousted Secret Service Agents May Ask For Jobs Back

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 5:22 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The director of the Secret Service assured a Senate committee, today, that a prostitution scandal involving his agents never compromised security. Mark Sullivan also apologized for behavior he said was reckless. It was Sullivan's first public testimony since news broke last month of Secret Service employees picking up prostitutes before a presidential visit to Colombia. He insisted this was an isolated incident.

But NPR's Tamara Keith reports, some on the committee weren't buying it.

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National Security
2:42 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

A Peek Inside The CIA, As It Tries To Assess Iran

One Iranian site of particular interest to U.S. intelligence officials is the military complex at Parchin, about 20 miles southeast of the capital, Tehran. The complex is shown here in a 2004 satellite image.
AP

Originally published on Sat June 2, 2012 12:04 am

The latest talks in Baghdad over Iran's nuclear program have prompted the usual arguments. Iran says it has only peaceful intentions. Israeli leaders scoff at that claim. Other world powers are unsure of Iran's intentions and demand that it take steps to show that it is not pursuing nuclear weapons.

The CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies, meanwhile, are sticking with the assessment they made in November 2007, when they reported that Iran "halted its nuclear weapons program" in 2003 and apparently had not restarted it.

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Music Reviews
2:30 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

By This 'Beak And Claw,' A Trio Shall Synthesize

Left to right: Son Lux, Serengeti and Sufjan Stevens collaborate on a sometimes humorous but mostly beautiful EP.
Illustration by John Ciambriello

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 8:55 pm

Sufjan Stevens is a classically trained singer-songwriter whose recent work has leaned symphonic. Son Lux is a classically trained beatmaker whose solo albums do indeed evoke luxury. Serengeti is a self-trained rapper who creates voices for a panoply of full-fledged characters who range from scufflers to yuppies. Billed as s / s / s, this ad hoc trio has just released an EP called Beak and Claw that somehow synthesizes their specialties.

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The Two-Way
2:27 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

HP Will Cut 8 Percent Of Workforce Or 27,000 Jobs

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 2:49 pm

As part of what it calls "a multi-year restructuring," Hewlett-Packard announced it was cutting 27,000 jobs or 8 percent of its workforce.

HP said the cuts would happen over an extended period and should be done by the end of 2014.

"The restructuring is expected to generate annualized savings in the range of $3.0 to $3.5 billion exiting fiscal year 2014, of which the majority will be reinvested back into the company," the company said in a statement.

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It's All Politics
2:08 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

Former Romney Adviser Grenell: Gay Marriage Shouldn't Determine Vote

Richard Grenell, Mitt Romney's former adviser, speaks with Fox News on Wednesday.
Fox News

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 2:46 pm

Richard Grenell, the former campaign staffer for Mitt Romney who resigned after some conservatives criticized the hiring of an openly gay adviser who favors same-sex marriage, said Wednesday that the issue should not determine how most Americans vote.

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Shots - Health Blog
1:33 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

Will Men And Their Doctors Change Course On PSA Tests?

Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, predicts that doctors and patients will continue to be "unscientific" when deciding on testing for prostate cancer.
Chris Hamilton American Cancer Society

Originally published on Thu May 24, 2012 1:52 pm

The dust is nowhere near settled over advice that men of all ages should forgo a routine blood test to detect prostate cancer.

The harms, such as false alarms and unnecessary surgeries that leave some men impotent and incontinent, outweigh the benefits of the PSA test, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

So the influential group this week made an official recommendation against a regular PSA.

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The Salt
1:27 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

Many Americans Say Doing Taxes Is Easier Than Eating Right

Filing your taxes may be a dreaded task. But eating healthy can be an even bigger struggle for many Americans.

According to the results of a new survey of more than 1,000 Americans, almost half of us think its harder to eat right than do our taxes. And genderwise, 55 percent of men say it's harder to figure out what you should be eating than it is to figure out how to do your own taxes. For women, it's slightly lower, at 48 percent. The survey comes from the folks at the International Food Information Council Foundation.

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The Two-Way
1:22 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

Poachers Can Be Shot, Officials In India Declare

An Indian tiger looks out from a camouflaged cover in the Ranthambhore National Park. (March 2000 file photo.)
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Poachers caught hunting tigers in India's Maharashtra state are on notice that they could be shot on sight.

The Times of India says the "stern stand against poachers" means "if the forest officials fire upon the poachers injuring or killing them, the action will not be considered a crime." Prior to this week's announcement by state officials, those guards were subject to prosecution for such actions.

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The Two-Way
12:59 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

MIT Engineers Solve An Everyday Problem: A Backed-Up Ketchup Bottle

Pouring ketchup out of a bottle is easy.
Screen Shot Fast Company

Originally published on Thu June 27, 2013 3:00 pm

We've all been there: Banging the back of a glass ketchup bottle, begging it to give you a dollop of the good stuff or battling with a plastic bottle coercing it into giving up the last of its contents.

Maybe that will be a thing of the past.

Six MIT researchers say they've solved that problem as part of an entrepreneurship competition. The result is a bottle coated with "LiquiGlide," a nontoxic material so slippery that the ketchup or for that matter mayonnaise just glides out when you turn it over.

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Politics
12:35 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

VP Contenders: Pawlenty And Martinez

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Pop quiz, Ken: Name the primary opponent who got 42 percent of the vote against President Obama in Kentucky yesterday.

KEN RUDIN, BYLINE: That would be Mr. Wolf.

CONAN: No, that would be uncommitted.

RUDIN: Oh, uncommitted.

CONAN: Uncommitted would be the...

RUDIN: Oh, I should be committed.

CONAN: You should be committed.

RUDIN: I'm sorry.

CONAN: In which state with Dennis Kucinich run for Congress this year?

RUDIN: None.

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Planet Money
12:24 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

Where Dollars Are Born

Robert Benincasa NPR

Originally published on Fri May 25, 2012 7:05 am

DALTON, Mass. – If you were driving through this small town along the Housatonic River in the Berkshires, here's something you might not think about: All the bills in your wallet are visiting their birthplace.

The paper for U.S. currency, the substrate of everyday commerce, has been made here since 1879 by the Crane family.

Crane & Co. vice president Doug Crane represents the eighth generation descended from Stephen Crane, who was making paper before the American Revolution.

He gave NPR reporters a behind-the-scenes tour and talked about his company.

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The Two-Way
12:11 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

Arizona's Top Elections Official Considers 'Birther' Issue Closed

In all likelihood it won't change the minds of those who believe President Obama is ineligible to be president, but today Arizona's top elections official said he had put the "birther" issue to rest, when Hawaii sent him confirmation that Obama's birth certificate is legitimate.

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Strange News
12:08 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

Couch-Surfing: Global Travel On The Cheap

Couch-surfers pay for their lodgings with social interaction, not cash.
studio tdes Flickr

Originally published on Thu May 24, 2012 8:14 am

Nearly 4 million people are members of CouchSurfing.org and can find a host in every country — including North Korea — free of charge.

New Yorker staff writer Patricia Marx became a member recently and stayed with seven friendly strangers, from a graduate student in Iowa City to a couple in Bermuda in their 60s. She wrote about her experience for the magazine.

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Strange News
12:08 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

Son Discovers Father's Secret Past On A Surfboard

Bobby Waters, Don Waters' father, surfing at Manhattan Beach in 1955.
Courtesy of Don Waters

Originally published on Thu May 24, 2012 9:11 am

Don Waters was 3 when his father, Robert Stanley Waters, abandoned the boy and his mother. But before Robert Waters died, he sent Don a short autobiography, hoping it would help him understand his father.

It took years before Don could bring himself to read it. When he did, he discovered an unsuspected past — and a shared passion for surfing. What he read prompted him to take a trip along the California coast, where his father played a part in establishing the surfer culture's first beachhead on the American mainland.

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Theater
12:08 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

Mike Nichols Warns 'Death' May Be His Last Job

Mike Nichols' directing credits include Spamalot on Broadway, the movies Working Girl and The Birdcage, and HBO's Angels in America.
Ida Astute

Originally published on Thu May 24, 2012 9:55 am

Mike Nichols has won every major entertainment award over a decades-long career that includes theater, comedy, television and film. He performed as half of the comedy team Nichols and May, won his first Academy Award directing The Graduate, and returned to Broadway with a revival of Death of a Salesman, which picked up seven Tony nominations. Nichols warns that the production may be his last.

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Shots - Health Blog
11:21 am
Wed May 23, 2012

Compensating Organ Donors Becomes 'Talk Of The Nation'

iStockphoto.com

When we first kicked around the idea of asking people to share their opinions about compensating organ donors, it was pretty clear that we were on to something. Everybody in the newsroom seemed to have a strong feeling about it.

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It's All Politics
11:21 am
Wed May 23, 2012

At Auction, Reagan's Blood Is Pricey But A Bargain Versus Fidel-Signed Flag

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 1:30 pm

It's safe to say that when it comes to recent presidents, Ronald Reagan is the most venerated, especially among Republicans but not exclusively so. Some even accuse conservatives of beatifying the 40th president as though he were on the road to sainthood.

So it's not surprising there would be a Reagan relic out there, specifically a medical-lab vial purportedly containing the dried remains of a blood sample taken from the president on the day he was nearly assassinated in March 1981.

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The Two-Way
11:07 am
Wed May 23, 2012

Mayor Bloomberg: Immigration May Be Only Solution For Crumbling Cities

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Lucas Jackson AP

For the most part, we don't hear novel arguments in favor or against the controversial issue of immigration. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been one of the few to take a different view. Last year, he advocated opening the door to new immigrants if they all moved to Detroit.

At the time, it was derided as weird.

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The Two-Way
11:00 am
Wed May 23, 2012

Patrick Fitzgerald, High-Profile Prosecutor, Stepping Down

United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois Patrick Fitzgerald.
John Gress Getty Images

Patrick Fitzgerald, the federal prosecutor who obtained the conviction of Vice President Cheney's chief of staff for lying to authorities about the leaking of a CIA officer's name and who sent former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) to jail on corruption charges, is stepping down from his post.

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