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1:29 pm
Wed January 4, 2012

Indonesian Economy Booms, Its Infrastructure Groans

Motorists inch their way in heavy traffic in Palembang, Sumatra, in Indonesia. The nation's rapid growth is overwhelming its weak public infrastructure.
Ted Aljibe AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 4, 2012 8:40 pm

Indonesia has one of the world's fastest growing economies, and it's already the largest in Southeast Asia. This growth and stability recently earned it a major credit upgrade at a time when Western countries are fearful of downgrades.

Yet this vibrant economy has an Achilles' heel: its crumbling, overwhelmed infrastructure.

The problem becomes painfully apparent this time every year, when the rainy season fills commuters with dread in the capital, Jakarta, and many other cities.

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NPR Story
1:00 pm
Wed January 4, 2012

Obama Appoints Cordray To Head Watchdog Agency

Congressional Republicans reacted angrily to President Obama's recess appointment of Richard Cordray to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Congress had been holding "pro forma" sessions every few days to prevent such recess appointments.

The Two-Way
12:20 pm
Wed January 4, 2012

Gordon Hirabayashi Has Died; He Refused To Go To WWII Internment Camp

"This order for the mass evacuation of all persons of Japanese descent denies them the right to live," Seattle native Gordon Hirabayashi wrote in 1942. "I consider it my duty to maintain the democratic standards for which this nation lives. Therefore, I must refuse this order of evacuation."

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The Two-Way
11:53 am
Wed January 4, 2012

U.S. Carmakers, VW, Report Big Gains In Auto Sales For 2011

A Jeep Wrangler is seen at a dealership in Chicago. Powered by a newly designed fleet of vehicles, the brand saw a sharp rise in sales in 2011.
Scott Olson Getty Images

America's big three automakers all experienced double-digit sales growth in 2011, helping the U.S. market continue its rebound from a dismal 2009. With annual reports out today, Chrysler says its sales were up 26 percent, while General Motors and Ford Motor Co. reporting gains of 13 and 11 percent, respectively.

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It's All Politics
11:50 am
Wed January 4, 2012

McCain Endorses Romney

Saying he's there "to make sure we make Mitt Romney the next president of the United States of America," 2008 Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain just returned to New Hampshire to endorse the White House bid of his one-time rival, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

McCain and Romney fought a hard battle for the GOP nomination n 2008, after which Romney endorsed the Arizona senator.

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Shots - Health Blog
11:38 am
Wed January 4, 2012

Number Of Twins Soars As Older Moms Turn To Fertility Treatments

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed January 4, 2012 11:40 am

The number of twins born each year in the United States has more than doubled since 1980, federal health officials reported Wednesday.

For most of the last century the rate at which American women gave birth to twins remained steady at about 2 percent of all births.

But the rate increased steadily between 1980 and 2009, according to the latest data from the National Center for Health Statistics. And by 2009, more than 3 percent of all births produced twins.

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The Two-Way
11:33 am
Wed January 4, 2012

As EU Mulls Oil Embargo, Iran Remains Defiant

Reuters and Bloomberg are both reporting that the European Union is close to imposing an embargo on Iranian oil. The Wall Street Journal goes a step further, saying that now that Greece has dropped objections to the ban, the EU has reached a preliminary agreement.

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The Two-Way
10:47 am
Wed January 4, 2012

Boeing Says It Will Close Wichita Plant That Employs 2,160 Workers

Boeing plans to close its Wichita plant, where in 2005 members of the Machinists Union voted to go on strike, seen in this file photo.
Larry W. Smith Getty Images

Boeing Co. says it will shut down its Wichita facility, which specializes in maintaining and modifying the company's planes for military or government use. The plant is slated to close by the end of 2013.

The closure could devastate a portion of the local economy, according to The Wichita Eagle:

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Opinion
10:41 am
Wed January 4, 2012

Will Charlie Rose Rise And Shine For CBS?

TV personality, and new CBS anchor Charlie Rose poses on Oct. 22, 2009, in New York City.
Stephen Lovekin Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 4, 2012 3:19 pm

Andrew Wallenstein is an editor at Variety.

Charlie Rose may very well be the best interviewer on the planet. If there's something important in the news, chances are he has left his mark on the story — from the events unfolding in North Korea to the modern relevance of Shakespeare.

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The Two-Way
10:40 am
Wed January 4, 2012

How Close Was It? Iowa Result Was .003 Tighter Than Bush-Gore In Fla.

Some of the caucus ballots from a GOP gathering Tuesday night in Des Moines.
Jewel Samad AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 4, 2012 11:15 am

When it comes to close political races, the recent Gold Standard in the U.S. is the 2000 presidential vote in Florida.

So we were wondering how last night's result in the Iowa Republican presidential caucuses compares to that famous hanging-chad contest between George W. Bush and Al Gore.

Let's walk through the math:

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Presidential Race
10:20 am
Wed January 4, 2012

U.S. Politics: Hurrah For The Red, White And Screwy

Voters register to cast their ballots during Republican caucuses at a school in Des Moines, Iowa, on Tuesday.
Jewel Samad AFP/Getty Images

The American political system — as corny, eclectic, chaotic and screwed up as it is with its straw polls, caucuses, primaries and contested elections — somehow gets the job done time after time.

It's weird, really: In this country that celebrates unity and national spirit, a president is chosen via quirky, jerky state-by-state (sometimes precinct-by-precinct) methods. In this society that seeks perfection, the leader is selected in a painfully imperfect process.

But, to paraphrase the old saw: Our funky form of democracy may just be the least worst way to govern.

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Presidential Race
10:18 am
Wed January 4, 2012

Iowa A Virtual Tie For Romney, Decisive For Bachmann

Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum finished virtually even in Iowa's caucuses Tuesday, but after Rep. Michele Bachmann's sixth-place finish, she announced Wednesday that she is suspending her campaign. For more on the GOP race and the next contest — Tuesday's New Hampshire primary — Linda Wertheimer talks with NPR's Brian Naylor, who's in the city of Manchester.

The Two-Way
10:15 am
Wed January 4, 2012

Bishop Resigns After He Acknowledges Fathering Two Children

San Gabriel Region Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Zavala leads a mass in this file photo from 2005. Zavala resigned from the ministry in December, after revealing that he fathered two children.
David McNew Getty Images

A Catholic bishop in California has resigned his post after revealing in December that he has two children.

"The Vatican announced the bishop's resignation Jan. 4 in a one-line statement that cited church law on resignation for illness or other serious reasons," reports the Catholic News Service from Vatican City.

Pope Benedict reportedly accepted the resignation of Gabino Zavala, an auxiliary bishop for the San Gabriel Pastoral Region, in December.

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Shots - Health Blog
10:10 am
Wed January 4, 2012

In US, Hospital Round Trips More Common For Heart Attack Patients

In the U.S., hospitalized heart attack patients go home sooner than in other countries. They are more likely to return to the hospital within a month of being discharged.
iStockphoto.com

If a heart attack sends you to an American hospital, you'll probably go home after only two or three nights. That's faster than virtually anyplace else in the world.

But your chances of needing to go back into the hospital within the next month are also higher than they are for heart attack patients in 16 other countries. That's the finding from a Duke University-led study in this week's JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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The Salt
10:06 am
Wed January 4, 2012

When 'Budget' Foods Start To Eat Away At The Wallet

Ground beef used to be a cheap, go-to dinner meat, but no longer.
iStockphoto.com

If the grocery bill hurts more now than it used to, you're not alone. The cost of staples like ground beef, chicken, eggs and potatoes has spiked over 10 percent in the past year, three times the cost of inflation overall.

Ironically, if you were trying to be thrifty by eating at home instead of eating out, you probably felt it most.

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Business
10:01 am
Wed January 4, 2012

To Climb In U.S., Volkswagen Gets Less German

Jonathan Browning, president of Volkswagen Group of America, attends the U.S. unveiling of the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle, a new version of the iconic car. Volkswagen saw a 26.3 percent increase in U.S. sales in 2011, and has its sights on becoming the world's No. 1 carmaker.
Jamie McCarthy Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 9:09 am

Last year was a very good year for the German automaker Volkswagen, but 2012 could be even better.

Sales for Volkswagen Group's brands — including Audi, Bentley and Lamborghini — increased by 20 percent in the U.S. last year. For the Volkswagen brand itself, sales rose 26.3 percent. And if things continue to go Volkswagen's way, it could become the No. 1 carmaker in the world.

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It's All Politics
9:46 am
Wed January 4, 2012

After Bruising Loss In Iowa, Bachmann Bows Out

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, joined by husband Marcus (left) and family and friends, announces that she will end her campaign for president in West Des Moines on Wednesday.
Chris Carlson AP

Originally published on Wed January 4, 2012 10:09 am

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann announced Wednesday that she is suspending her campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. The conservative provocateur finished a disappointing sixth in Tuesday's caucuses in Iowa, with just 5 percent of the vote.

"Last night the people of Iowa spoke with a very clear voice," Bachmann said at a mid-morning news conference in West Des Moines. "So I have decided to stand aside."

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It's All Politics
9:40 am
Wed January 4, 2012

Gov. Perry: 'Here we come South Carolina!!!'

Though he said last night that he would go home to reassess his bid for the presidency — a signal that he might drop out of the race — this message just popped up on the personal Twitter page of Texas Gov. Rick Perry:

"And the next leg of the marathon is the Palmetto State...Here we come South Carolina!!!"

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The Two-Way
9:09 am
Wed January 4, 2012

Bucking GOP, Obama Will Recess Appoint Consumer Agency Chief

Richard Cordray testifies during his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in September. His nomination to head the consumer watchdog agency was blocked by Senate Republicans.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

President Obama will use what's known as a recess appointment to name Richard Cordray the head of the country's new consumer watchdog agency.

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Television
8:59 am
Wed January 4, 2012

Pamela Adlon: From 'Hill' Kid To 'Californication'

Pamela Adlon plays Marcy Runkle on Showtime's Californication. This season, her character is going through what she describes as a "sexual renaissance."
Jordin Althaus Showtime

Originally published on Wed January 4, 2012 9:51 am

When Pamela Adlon meets her daughters' middle-school-aged friends, she asks them nicely not to watch Californication, the show she's starred in for the past five seasons.

"I say, 'I'd appreciate if you don't watch my show and you don't Google me,' " she tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

But Adlon, who plays the brash, unapologetic, sexually charged Marcy Runkle on the Showtime series, says she knows that's not going to stop anyone.

"I am not embarrassed," she says. "I know they Google me."

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The Two-Way
8:56 am
Wed January 4, 2012

Man Uses iPad, Not Passport, To Gain Entry To U.S.

A Canadian man has been making headlines because he used an image of his passport saved on his iPad — instead of the official document itself — to cross the U.S.-Canadian border two times.

Martin Reisch, 33, says he forgot his passport when he left for a car trip across the border in Quebec. But he had an iPad with him, and it contained a scan of his passport. So Reisch gave the device to the U.S. border officer, along with his drivers' license, and the explanation that he was merely driving to Vermont, to drop off some Christmas presents.

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Election 2012
8:35 am
Wed January 4, 2012

Not Everyone Is Basking In Iowa's Afterglow

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, who got just 5 percent of the vote in Iowa's caucuses, referred to herself Tuesday as the "true conservative who can and who will defeat Barack Obama in 2012." On Wednesday, she bowed out of the race.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 4, 2012 2:33 pm

Iowa proved a road to victory for Mitt Romney, but it was a road to nowhere for Michele Bachmann.

"Last night, the people of Iowa spoke with a very clear voice, and so I have decided to stand aside," Bachmann said Wednesday at a West Des Moines news conference. The Minnesota congresswoman decided to end her 2012 presidential bid after finishing sixth in Tuesday's caucuses in Iowa — the state where she was born and where, just five months ago, she won a Republican straw poll in Ames.

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The Two-Way
8:31 am
Wed January 4, 2012

Orders To U.S. Factories Increased By 1.8 Percent In November

The United States saw an 1.8 percent uptick in orders to factories in November, marking a four-month high and signaling continued economic recovery. The Commerce Department also revised the data for Ocotber, which recorded a 0.2 percent drop.

Bloomberg reports:

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The Two-Way
8:14 am
Wed January 4, 2012

Afghan President Says He Supports Talks With Taliban

Afghanistan's president said his country would back a deal, which might allow the Taliban to open an office in Qatar where they could hold peace talks with the United States and Afghanistan.

"Afghanistan agrees with negotiations between United States of America and the Taliban which will result in the establishment of an office for Taliban in Qatar," President Hamid Karzai said on Wednesday.

The AP adds:

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Election 2012
8:10 am
Wed January 4, 2012

Confident Romney, Bolstered Santorum Head To N.H.

Rick Santorum and his wife, Karen, attend a rally Tuesday night in Johnston, Iowa.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 4, 2012 10:33 am

The photo finish in Iowa — officially, Mitt Romney bested Rick Santorum by only eight votes — has catapulted Santorum into the front ranks of Republican presidential hopefuls.

"This is huge news for Santorum," says Charlie Arlinghaus, who directs a conservative think tank in New Hampshire. "I don't think there's a way to spin the results without saying he's the big winner tonight."

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The Two-Way
8:00 am
Wed January 4, 2012

Chinese Year Of The Dragon Postage Stamp Deemed 'Too Ferocious'

What A Difference A Year Makes: China's Year of the Dragon stamp, left, is decidedly more fearsome than last year's model, of a rabbit.
Webo/China Post

To welcome the Year of the Dragon, China's postal service plans to release commemorative postage stamps featuring the fabled beast. But many customers are finding the image to be a little over the top.

Here are some reactions cited by China's Xinhua news agency:

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Shots - Health Blog
7:57 am
Wed January 4, 2012

Calories Trump Protein For Weight Loss

A high-protein diet, without a reduction in calories, isn't a recipe for weight-loss success.
iStockphoto.com

When it comes to keeping off fat, protein sounds to some like a magic bullet.

For decades, people have been making the case that eating a lot more of it, as in the Atkins diet, or lots less of it, will change the body's metabolism, spurring weight loss.

But alas, it ain't so easy.

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Education
7:35 am
Wed January 4, 2012

Rise In Spanish Speakers Has School Trying To Adapt

Fifth-graders Miquel Vasquez, Luis Hernandez, Erica Medrano and Victor Vasquez are part of Vardaman Elementary School's growing Hispanic student population.
Annie Gilberson for NPR

Originally published on Wed January 4, 2012 6:52 pm

Year over year, the number of Spanish-speaking kindergarteners at Vardaman Elementary School in northeast Mississippi has been on the rise.

Census numbers show the South has the fastest-growing Hispanic population in the country. Now, Vardaman Elementary is about to become Mississippi's first predominantly Latino primary school, and that's posing special challenges when it comes to finding teachers who can help Spanish-speaking students adapt to the American classroom.

Vardaman Takes Its Own Approach

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Presidential Race
7:17 am
Wed January 4, 2012

Iowa's Caucus Results Ripple Into New Hampshire

After Mitt Romney's narrow win in Tuesday's Iowa caucuses, the GOP presidential hopefuls move on to New Hampshire, where voters cast their ballots in a primary next week. For more on the Republican presidential race, Steve Inskeep speaks to NPR's Brian Naylor, who is in New Hampshire.

It's All Politics
7:07 am
Wed January 4, 2012

Michele Bachmann Ends Her Presidential Bid

Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann waves from her bus after a campaign stop at Valley High School on Tuesday in West Des Moines, Iowa.
Eric Gay AP

Originally published on Wed January 4, 2012 9:41 am

Update at 11:29 p.m. ET. 'People Of Iowa Spoke':

Saying "the people of Iowa spoke with a very clear voice," Michele Bachmann announced she was ending her bid to become the Republican nominee for president.

Bachmann started her announcement with a litany of grievances against President Obama. She said she was inspired to run for president the day Obama passed his healthcare reform.

She knew, she said, that "Obamacare endangered the very survival of the United States of America."

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