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Business
2:00 am
Tue April 17, 2012

Tax Day Isn't Bad If You're Getting A Refund

The day that many dread is here: It's Tax Day. Of the 143 million federal tax returns filed last year, more than 80 percent qualified for a refund. Steve Inskeep talks to David Wessel, economics editor of The Wall Street Journal, about the economics of tax refunds.

Politics
2:00 am
Tue April 17, 2012

Senate Republicans Block Debate On Buffet Rule

Originally published on Wed April 18, 2012 5:48 pm

Transcript

LYNN NEARY, HOST:

President Obama's so-called Buffett rule has slammed into a wall of GOP opposition. On the eve of tax day, Senate Republicans voted yesterday to block a measure that would have made mega-investor Warren Buffett and billionaires and millionaires like him pay at least a 30 percent tax rate. Although Buffett endorses such a rule, Senate Republicans call it an election year gimmick. Their Democratic counterparts insist it's all about fairness. NPR's David Welna has our story.

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Arts & Life
2:00 am
Tue April 17, 2012

Alec Baldwin Campaigns For More Arts Funding

Actor Alec Baldwin speaks at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., on Monday.
Paul Morigi Getty Images

Originally published on Wed April 18, 2012 6:52 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The actor Alec Baldwin is in Washington, speaking in favor of the National Endowment for the Arts. The government-funded arts organization long ago supported the Sundance Film Festival and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. In more recent years, the NEA has supported writers, arts education for kids, and everything from jazz musicians to urban design. It has also faced political controversy; most notably in the 1990s, when its funding was slashed.

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Around the Nation
1:01 am
Tue April 17, 2012

A Poem Store Open For Business, In The Open Air

Poet-for-hire Zach Houston works at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco. Houston says he is paid about $2 to $20 for each poem.
Ralph Wiedemeier NPR

Originally published on Tue April 17, 2012 7:43 am

Zach Houston runs his Poem Store (on any given sidewalk) with these items: a manual typewriter, a wooden folding chair, scraps of paper, and a white poster board that reads: "POEMS — Your Topic, Your Price."

Houston usually gets from $2 to $20 for a poem, he says. He's received a $100 bill more than once. The Oakland, Calif., resident has been composing spontaneous street poems in the San Francisco Bay Area since 2005. Five years ago, it became his main source of income.

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Presidential Race
1:01 am
Tue April 17, 2012

Did Obama's Policies Help, Or Hinder, The Economy?

President Obama signs the economic stimulus bill in February 2009, as Vice President Biden looks on. Experts disagree over the impact of the administration's economic policies on the recession.
Darin McGregor AP

Originally published on Tue April 17, 2012 3:14 am

The 2012 presidential election is approaching, and President Obama's fate may hinge on how well the economy fares over the coming months.

On the campaign trail, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been highlighting the economy's weaknesses. The former Massachusetts governor has made a similar claim about the president, and the recession, at almost every campaign stop.

"I don't blame the president for the downturn," Romney told a crowd in New Hampshire earlier this year. "He didn't cause it. But he made it worse and made it last longer."

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Business
1:00 am
Tue April 17, 2012

U.S. Has A Natural Gas Problem: Too Much Of It

Oil field workers drill into the Gypsum Hills near Medicine Lodge, Kan. Hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," to coax out oil and gas has led to a natural gas boom that the U.S. market is having trouble absorbing.
Orlin Wagner AP

Originally published on Tue April 17, 2012 5:43 am

There's a boom in natural gas production in the United States, a boom so big the market is having trouble absorbing it all.

The unusually warm weather this winter is one reason for the excess, since it reduced the need for people to burn gas to heat their homes. A bigger reason, however, is the huge increase in gas production made possible by new methods of coaxing gas out of shale rock formations.

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Afghanistan
12:59 am
Tue April 17, 2012

After The U.S. Leaves, Who Pays For Afghan Forces?

Afghan Army soldiers stand during a security transition ceremony in Mazar-e-Sharif, north of Kabul, Afghanistan, on July 23, 2011. The Afghan government officially took control of security in the capital of the peaceful northern province of Balkh on July 23, as part of an effort to begin handing over all security responsibilities to Afghan forces by 2014.
S. Sabawoon AP

Originally published on Tue April 17, 2012 3:14 am

This week, NATO Cabinet ministers, including U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, will try to tackle the problem of Afghan security. The basic plan for bringing American troops home from Afghanistan is to let Afghan security forces fight for their own country. But there's a hitch — finding a way to pay for the Afghan army.

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Election 2012
12:53 am
Tue April 17, 2012

Democrat Bob Kerrey Faces Uphill Race In Nebraska

Former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey campaigns at a Democratic caucus site on April 14 at Bellevue University in Bellevue, Neb. Kerrey has decided to run again for his old seat in the U.S. Senate.
Clay Masters for NPR

Originally published on Tue April 17, 2012 4:15 pm

Former Nebraska Gov. and two-term Sen. Bob Kerrey, who faces long odds in reclaiming the seat left open by retiring Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson, is in his home state trying to get his old job back.

After a full of morning of shaking hands, smiling and trying to win over voters, Kerrey settles on lunch at the Taqueria Tijuana in south Omaha.

After lunch, he takes off walking down 24th Street, telling his staffers to catch up with him. He says things are different now from when he first sought public office in 1982.

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Family Matters: The Money Squeeze
10:02 pm
Mon April 16, 2012

One Roof, Three Generations, Many Decisions

Ida Christian, who suffers from dementia, gets help from her granddaughter, Yolanda Hunter (left), in blowing out the candles on her birthday cake. Yolanda quit her lucrative job to become Ida's full-time caregiver.
Kainaz Amaria NPR

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 8:52 am

Part of the Family Matters series

The Great Recession slammed into all age groups, flattening the career dreams of young people and squeezing the retirement accounts of middle-aged savers. It financially crippled many elderly people who had thought they could stand on their own.

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The Two-Way
4:42 pm
Mon April 16, 2012

Still Mail Your Tax Returns? So Do Some Other Die-Hards

He'll trust the U.S. Post Office, not the Web, to handle his tax returns, Matt Peters says.
Alan Greenblatt NPR

Originally published on Mon April 16, 2012 4:45 pm

As we've reminded everyone, April 17 (Tuesday) is the deadline for filing federal income tax returns. It's also the deadline for filing income tax returns in most states. Our friend Alan Greenblatt tells about something he finds surprising:

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Research News
4:08 pm
Mon April 16, 2012

Bigger, Taller, Stronger: Guns Change What You See

Survey participants in a UCLA study were asked to look at pictures of a hand holding different items and guess how tall, how big and how muscular the person connected to that hand actually was.
Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images

A new study out of UCLA suggests that when people wield a gun, they don't just feel bigger and stronger — it makes others think they are bigger and stronger.

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The Two-Way
4:05 pm
Mon April 16, 2012

Last Mega Millions Jackpot Ticket Turned In

Lottery officials in Illinois say the third of the three winning tickets in last month's record $656 million Mega Millions jackpot has been turned in.

We'll learn who the winner is on Wednesday, The Associated Press says.

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Politics
3:55 pm
Mon April 16, 2012

House Investigator Issa Has Faced Allegations As Well

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House oversight committee, made news recently for going after the Justice Department's botched gun operation, known as Fast and Furious. Here, Issa listens during Attorney General Eric Holder's testimony in February.
Kevin LaMarque Reuters/Landov

The man driving the investigation into the General Services Administration, California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, took the top seat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee after the GOP won a majority in 2010.

Issa has led several splashy investigations since. But he's also been dogged by allegations of his own.

Issa has made news in recent months by threatening to subpoena Attorney General Eric Holder, and by calling a panel of only men to talk about women's contraception.

The Car Alarm Voice

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The Two-Way
3:40 pm
Mon April 16, 2012

7 'Great Locations' To See Space Shuttle Discovery Fly By On Tuesday

Discovery is sitting atop NASA's 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, which will fly the shuttle from Florida to Virginia.
Roberto Gonzalez Getty Images

For those who will be in the Washington, D.C., area Tuesday morning and would like to see space shuttle Discovery on the "fly-in" to its retirement home outside the nation's capital, the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum recommends being in one of these seven "great locations" before 10 a.m. ET:

District of Columbia

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It's All Politics
3:35 pm
Mon April 16, 2012

Michelle Obama: 'I Don't Have Stressful Job. He Does'

First lady Michelle Obama at a "Joining Forces" event at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Wednesday, April 11, 2012.
Alex Brandon AP

Originally published on Tue April 17, 2012 12:00 pm

To White House outsiders and maybe even more than a few insiders, the life of a first lady would seem to be a fairly anxiety-inducing one. After all, there is no greater fish bowl than 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

So NPR's Michel Martin, host of Tell Me More, asked First Lady Michelle Obama during an interview scheduled to air Tuesday how she deals with the pressures of being both the president's wife and the mother of school-age children.

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All Tech Considered
3:35 pm
Mon April 16, 2012

Another Tech Bubble? Maybe Not

Jean-Paul Rodrigue Wikimedia Commons

Originally published on Mon April 16, 2012 5:16 pm

It's beginning to feel frothy in Silicon Valley. Here are a few numbers:

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Latin America
3:06 pm
Mon April 16, 2012

Panama Booms While Poor Watch From Afar

Tourists visit the San Felipe neighborhood in Panama City in December 2011. Panama is experiencing record economic growth, but many fear the benefits aren't trickling down to the poor.
Rodrigo Arangua AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon April 16, 2012 4:12 pm

The Central American nation of Panama is booming. Fueled by a multibillion-dollar expansion of the Panama Canal, a thriving banking industry and capital flight from Venezuela, the tiny nation has the highest economic growth rate in the hemisphere.

But even as the government builds a subway system and markets the country as a tropical paradise for multinational corporations, not everyone is sharing in the prosperity.

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The Two-Way
3:05 pm
Mon April 16, 2012

Why Did The Rooster Cross The Road? To Get To A Chicken Restaurant

Gus, who has picked an interesting place to hang out.
WREG-TV

Originally published on Mon April 16, 2012 4:12 pm

Thank goodness he doesn't know what's going on inside.

Candice Ludlow of member station WKNO today helps All Things Considered ketchup ... er catch up ... on a story that's been cooking for a week or so in Tennessee.

It seems that a big red rooster has been hanging out in front of a restaurant in Collierville, Tenn., for the past few months.

But it's not just any restaurant.

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The End Of The Space Shuttle Era
3:02 pm
Mon April 16, 2012

Shuttle Discovery To Make Final Flight, Atop A 747

The space shuttle Discovery is loaded onto the back of a modified 747 at Kennedy Space Center on April 15. The plane will ferry the shuttle to Washington, D.C., on April 17, where it will be permanently installed at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
Kim Shiflett NASA

Originally published on Mon April 16, 2012 4:12 pm

On Tuesday morning, space shuttle Discovery will become the first of NASA's three shuttles — plus a shuttle prototype — to travel to its new retirement home.

NASA flew its last shuttle flight in July. Since then, it's been prepping the spaceships to become museum displays. And even though the shuttles are headed to places like Los Angeles and New York rather than the space station, figuring out how to get them there has still been a major undertaking.

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Interviews
2:55 pm
Mon April 16, 2012

'Our Challenges Are Complex,' First Lady Says

First lady Michelle Obama says raising her two daughters in the White House "has been less stressful than I would have imagined." Seen here at the White House in March, the first lady's new project aims to help military veterans and their families.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Tue April 17, 2012 9:52 am

First lady Michelle Obama wears many hats in the White House. In addition to being President Obama's closest confidante, she's also a mother whose two daughters are growing up in one of the most public homes in America.

And as first lady, Mrs. Obama has taken on her own signature public issues, as well.

Her Let's Move campaign has brought attention to the growing epidemic of childhood obesity. She has encouraged children to eat right and get plenty of exercise.

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Shots - Health Blog
2:42 pm
Mon April 16, 2012

Plastic Surgeons Say Demand Is Surging For Chin Enhancements

Plastic surgeons see a surge in demand from those of us without naturally chiseled chins.
Maciej Laska iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed April 18, 2012 2:26 pm

Chin up. Literally.

A big group of plastic surgeons say that chin enhancement was the fastest growing surgical procedure they performed for cosmetic purposes in the U.S. last year — up 71 percent to 20,680 operations.

Now, it's still a small number, overall, compared with breast augmentation, the No. 1 procedure at 307,180. But those surgeries rose only 4 percent in 2011 compared with 2010.

Chin work was most popular out west, which is true for most cosmetic procedures. The Northeast came in second.

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Governing
2:40 pm
Mon April 16, 2012

Expert: Proud Secret Service 'Furious' Over Incident

President Obama speaks at the San Pedro Claver church in Cartagena, Colombia, on Sunday. An expert on the Secret Service tells NPR that Obama's security was never breached in the incident that led to 11 U.S. Secret Service agents being sent home amid allegations that they hired prostitutes in Cartagena.
Carolyn Kaster AP

The Secret Service, which has been offering protection to presidents since 1902, has long enjoyed one of the most sterling reputations of any government agency.

That reputation has been tarnished by allegations that agents hired prostitutes in Colombia in advance of President Obama's trip there.

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The Record
2:00 pm
Mon April 16, 2012

Andrew Love Of The Memphis Horns Has Died

Andrew Love (left) and Wayne Jackson pose for a studio portrait in 1965.
Gilles Petard Redferns

Saxophonist Andrew Love of the Memphis Horns has died. Love, who had Alzheimer's disease, died on April 12 at his home in Memphis. He was 70 years old.

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Around the Nation
1:38 pm
Mon April 16, 2012

For One Soldier, Rap Is A Powerful Postwar Weapon

In 2010 US Army veteran Jeff Barillaro returned from Iraq with severe PTSD. Since then Barillaro, whose stage name is "Solider Hard," has been rapping about his struggles and performing for troops, veterans, and military families across the US.
Erik M. Lunsford NPR

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 8:53 am

When Jeff Barillaro came home from fighting the war in Iraq, he felt lost, like thousands of veterans do. He didn't have a mission anymore.

But now, through music, he's found one: Under the stage name Soldier Hard, Barillaro raps — about how war has changed troops and their families. Other vets and their family members are now turning to his music, because they say he's speaking to them.

On a recent morning, the National Guard Armory in Evansville, Ind., looks and sounds like any military base in the country.

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The Two-Way
12:35 pm
Mon April 16, 2012

Pulitzer Prizes Coming Up

(The awards were announced just after 3 p.m. ET.)

For its "distinguished ... reporting on significant issues of local concern," reporter Sara Ganim and The Patriot News of Harrisburg, Pa., have won a 2012 Pulitzer Prize for uncovering the so-called Penn State scandal.

Other prize winners, which were just announced, include:

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NPR Story
12:22 pm
Mon April 16, 2012

Op-Ed: North Korea Gets Too Many Second Chances

The United Nations Security Council issued a strong condemnation after North Korea's failed satellite launch attempt. Such condemnations were also issued in 2006 and 2009. In a piece in Foreign Affairs, Dartmouth College government professor Jennifer Lind argues that North Korea gets too many second chances.

The Salt
11:41 am
Mon April 16, 2012

Fast Food In The U.S. Has Way More Salt Than In Other Countries

In the United States, you get the extra salt for free.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon April 23, 2012 1:46 pm

Want extra salt with that fast-food meal? Then buy it in the United States, where chicken dishes, pizzas, and even salads are loaded with far more salt than in Europe and Australia, according to new research.

The McDonald's Chicken McNuggets in the United States have more than twice as much salt as their sister nuggets in the United Kingdom. That's 1.6 grams of salt for every 100 grams of American nugget, compared with 0.6 grams in the U.K.

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The Two-Way
11:15 am
Mon April 16, 2012

World Bank Chooses U.S.-Backed Kim To Be Its Next President

Originally published on Mon April 16, 2012 2:11 pm

The World Bank's executive directors have chosen Dr. Jim Yong Kim to be the development agency's next president.

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The Picture Show
11:05 am
Mon April 16, 2012

You're Not Alone: Taxpayers Have Been Miserable For Decades

Alfred Eisenstaedt Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Misery loves company. Multitudes are no doubt making the last-minute scramble to finish taxes today. If that's the case for you, perhaps you can take solace in the fact that this tax misery is a long-lived American tradition.

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The Two-Way
11:00 am
Mon April 16, 2012

Key Players In Federal Agency's Vegas Scandal Due At Hearing

At a sometimes heated hearing today where members of the House got to express outrage, the man at the center of the General Services Administration scandal refused to testify.

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