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Shots - Health Blog
2:53 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

For Love Or Insurance? Rabbi Seeks Young Wife To Lower Health Costs

Insurance is a top priority for Rabbi Craig Ezring.
Courtesy of Rabbi Craig Ezring

When Rabbi Craig Ezring's annual health insurance costs soared 38 percent this year to a whopping $18,636, he did more than just complain.

He went looking for a young wife.

For several years, the Boca Raton, Fla., rabbi had been getting coverage through a small corporation he formed with his wife. When she died four years ago, he thought the cost of his insurance coverage would drop. Instead it rose.

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The Two-Way
2:41 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

Thousands Of South Koreans Join Suit Against Apple Over Location Tracking

The law firm handling a new suit seeking damages for Apple's location tracking gathered plaintiffs at a website called"sue apple," seen here in a screengrab.
sueapple.co.kr

In July, a South Korean court awarded $932 in damages to a man who sued Apple over the iPhone's ability to track users' location — and store the data for up to a year. Now, around 27,000 South Koreans are making the same complaint, and seeking the same award.

If Apple loses in court, it may have to pay a total of $25.7 million, to match the original judgment of 1 million Korean won in damages for each plaintiff.

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The Two-Way
2:32 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

Ambassador Locke Picks Up His Own Coffee, Gains 'Hero' Status Among Chinese

Some pictures of the brand new U.S. ambassador to China are causing quite a stir. There's no scandal, instead the pictures have the Chinese reconsidering how their own public servants should act.

And it's all because of a coffee break.

We'll explain: Someone took a picture of Ambassador Gary Locke buying his own coffee at Starbucks in the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. And, then, later pictures showed Locke and his family arriving at a Chinese airport carrying their own bags.

Many Chinese were incredulous.

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Politics
2:09 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

Pa. Senator On Deficit Panel A Tea Party Favorite

The legislation that finally resolved the debt-ceiling debate earlier this summer also created a panel of 12 lawmakers charged with finding more than $1 trillion in cuts to the federal deficit.

The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, dubbed the "supercommittee," has a big job to finish by a Thanksgiving deadline.

Among the six Democrats and six Republicans appointed to the group is Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), a Tea Party favorite who was swept into office with the GOP tide last year.

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Middle East
2:04 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

In Syrian Conflict, Tactics Grow Increasingly Brutal

This screen grab, taken from an amateur YouTube video, shows a crowd beating a man in the eastern Syrian city of Deir al-Zour. This video cannot be independently verified.
YouTube

Originally published on Wed August 17, 2011 7:40 pm

Syrian tanks and gunships are attacking neighborhoods in towns and cities around the country that have been hotbeds of anti-government protest, as the government pushes ahead with what's being called a Ramadan offensive.

Activists say the latest, most grisly trend is to detain protesters, torture them to death, then release their bodies for all to see. Activists say of the 70 deaths in detention they've documented so far, nearly 40 have been in the central city of Homs.

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It's All Politics
1:45 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

Obama Prepares Ground For Campaign Against 'Do-Nothing Congress'

President Obama works rope line in Atkinson, Ill., Aug. 17, 2011.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Wed August 24, 2011 10:39 am

It's safe to say President Obama probably isn't going to get much of anything that can be seen as an initiative of his administration through Congress in the next 15 months.

Obama and congressional Republicans have two entirely different prescriptions for how to create jobs, for instance. Obama emphasizes investments in infrastructure that would employ construction workers, for instance.

Meanwhile, congressional Republicans argue that their agenda of tax cuts and fewer regulations would cure a too-high jobless rate.

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The Two-Way
1:11 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

In India, Thousands Protest In Support Of Anti-Corruption Activist

Tens of thousands of Indians took the streets in a peaceful protest today. The protesters came out in support of Anna Hazare, an anti-corruption crusader, who has captured the imagination of the country and forced the government into a corner.

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Business
12:52 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

Companies Sit On Cash; Reluctant To Invest, Hire

Google plans to buy Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion in cash. At the end of 2010, Google was sitting on nearly $35 billion, and it's not alone.
Paul Sakuma AP

Originally published on Wed August 17, 2011 7:40 pm

Google's plans to buy Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion might seem like a lot of money, but the Web giant can easily afford it. At the end of last year, Google was sitting on nearly $35 billion in cash.

And it's not alone. The U.S. economy may be slowing to a crawl, but a lot of individual companies are richer than ever. They're being cautious about how they spend their cash, though.

"Companies are generating and maintaining more cash than they have aggregate uses for," says Rick Lane, a senior vice president at Moody's.

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The Two-Way
12:44 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

Swiss Shoppers Flock To Euro Zone, Boosted By Franc's Surge In Value

After a day of shopping, residents of Geneva get on a bus to head home this past Saturday, carrying 250 euros' worth of groceries they bought at the Carrefour supermarket in Ferney-Voltaire, France.
John Heilprin AP

Originally published on Wed August 17, 2011 2:03 pm

The Swiss franc has emerged as a safe haven currency for investors spooked by economic uncertainty in the U.S. and the European Union's euro zone. In the past year, the franc's value has soared — and now Swiss shoppers are going bargain-hunting in Europe's malls and shops.

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Science
12:10 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

Fresh Allegations Leveled Against Polar Bear Scientist

The polar bear researcher who was suspended from his government job last month has received a new letter from investigators that lays out actions he took that are described as being "highly inappropriate" under the rules that apply to managing federal contracts.

According to the letter, wildlife biologist Charles Monnett told investigators that he assisted a scientist in preparing that scientist's proposal for a government contract. Monnett then served as chair of a committee that reviewed that proposal.

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Economy
12:01 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

Study: Child Poverty Up In 38 States In Past Decade

Nearly 15 million children, or 20 percent of America's juvenile population, were living in poverty in 2009, according to a child welfare study released Wednesday.

More than double that number were in households where no parent had a full-time year-round job, according to the report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which noted that the child poverty rate grew about 18 percent over the past decade.

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Conflict In Libya
11:47 am
Wed August 17, 2011

A Potential Tipping Point In Libya

Rebel fighters celebrate on Aug. 14 after taking partial control of the coastal town of Zawiya, 30 miles west of Tripoli, the capital. If the rebels can establish full control of the town, it would cut Moammar Gadhafi's main link to the outside world.
Bob Strong Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Wed August 17, 2011 3:46 pm

After weeks with little movement on the battlefront, Libyan rebels fighting Moammar Gadhafi's troops appear to be gaining both territory and momentum.

Rebel leaders are claiming control of parts of Zawiya, a strategically important coastal city some 30 miles to the west of Tripoli, Libya's capital. Firm control of Zawiya would allow the rebels to cut off the government's most important supply line, from Tunisia.

More fighting was reported Wednesday for control of the oil refinery in Zawiya — the last major source of income and fuel for the Gadhafi regime.

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The Two-Way
11:42 am
Wed August 17, 2011

Tests Show 1 In 4 U.S. Students Set For College; Wide Gap For Minorities

Out of the 29 states in which at least 40 percent of graduates took the ACT, only Minnesota had more than half of its students meet at least three college-readiness benchmarks.
ACT

Only 1 in 4 U.S. high school graduates who took the 2011 ACT college entrance exam scored high enough to be deemed ready for college-level courses in all four of the test's subject areas, according to the company that designs the tests.

The college-readiness rating of 25 percent represents a trend of improvement since 2007, when only 23 percent of students met all four benchmarks.

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The Two-Way
11:17 am
Wed August 17, 2011

Happy Feet, The Lost Emperor Penguin, Will Head Home By Month's End

The last time we checked in on Happy Feet, the Emperor Penguin that lost his way and ended up 2,000 miles from home in New Zealand was facing tough odds: He was at the Wellington Zoo, dehydrated and with a belly full of sand.

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Shots - Health Blog
10:44 am
Wed August 17, 2011

What's In A Drug Name? Sometimes, Enough To Cause Mix-Ups

Risperidone (Risperdal), prescribed for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and ropinirole (Requip), used for Parkinson's disease and restless legs syndrome, have strikingly similar labels.
Food and Drug Administration

If a pharmacist heard the name Clindesse (a vaginal antibiotic cream) or Clindets (antibiotic cream for acne) while filling a prescription over the phone, you could see how they might confuse them, especially if one was more familiar. But the patient receiving end of such a mix-up might not be amused.

The government has a system in place to try to keep similar looking and sounding drugs from ending up on the market together. But the pharmaceutical industry has been pushing to kill the system.

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The Two-Way
10:17 am
Wed August 17, 2011

Thieves Hit California Schools; Targeting Animals, Copper Wiring

From California, two stories have emerged today about thieves stealing from schools. In one case, the criminals seemed motivated by selling metal pipes. And in the other, they wanted rare animals.

Two reptiles and a tarantula were stolen from a classroom in Jurupa Valley, elementary school teacher Bonnie Werner says. The thieves broke into Troth Street Elementary and took the prize elements of her collection of lizards, snakes and other animals.

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The Two-Way
10:15 am
Wed August 17, 2011

Inspector General: Army Improperly Tested Body Armor Plates

Captain Michael Blakley, company commander of Battle Co., 1-32 Infantry Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, accompanied by Afghan National Army soldiers leads the patrol at the Mullah Omar mosque in Sangsar village in Kandahar province, the heartland of Taliban in southern Afghanistan.
Romeo Gacad AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed August 17, 2011 11:25 am

A report (PDF) from the Department of Defense's Inspector General details flawed quality assurance inspections of the body armor used by troops to stop bullets. The investigation, which was requested by Congress, looked at seven Army contracts worth $2.5 billion and awarded between 2004 and 2006.

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Economy
10:01 am
Wed August 17, 2011

Rating The Wall Street Ratings Agencies

Frank Partnoy is a law professor at the University of San Diego.
Fergus Greer courtesy of Frank Partnoy

Earlier this month, Standard & Poor's announced that it had downgraded the U.S. credit rating from AAA to AA+, citing political risks and the nation's rising debt burden. It was the first time in history that the U.S. credit rating was lowered.

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The Two-Way
9:03 am
Wed August 17, 2011

Report: Syrian Government Is Tracking, Intimidating Dissidents Abroad

The Wall Street Journal has an exclusive report today that sheds light on just how far the reach of Syria's police state extends: Talking to U.S. officials and Syrian expatriates in the U.S., the paper found that the regime of President Bashar Assad is tracking and intimidating dissidents living abroad.

The Journal reports:

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The Two-Way
8:28 am
Wed August 17, 2011

Stolen Rembrandt Found In A Church

Los Angeles Sheriff lead detective Clarence Williams, left, and Los Angeles County sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore, right, display the recovered $250,000 quill pen Rembrandt drawing known as "The Judgment."
Gus Ruelas AP

Originally published on Wed August 17, 2011 11:36 am

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Shots - Health Blog
8:05 am
Wed August 17, 2011

Bargain CT Scans For Smokers: More Harm Than Good?

A CT scan of a human lung.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed August 17, 2011 12:57 pm

Hospitals around the country have started offering deeply discounted CT scans for smokers worried about lung cancer.

Their pitches point to recent findings that screening current or former heavy smokers with CT scans before they show symptoms of lung cancer could modestly reduce their risk of dying from the disease. But some experts question whether the strategy is simply a marketing ploy that could bring more harm than good.

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The Two-Way
7:58 am
Wed August 17, 2011

China Denies Inspecting U.S. Stealth Helicopter In Pakistan

In a statement, yesterday, China denied a report that Pakistan allowed it to inspect the remnants of the specially modified Black Hawk helicopter that malfunctioned during the Osama bin Laden raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

The BBC reports:

"Those reports are entirely groundless and very ridiculous," the Chinese defence ministry said in a statement.

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The Two-Way
7:27 am
Wed August 17, 2011

Tobacco Firms Sue FDA Over Graphic Warning Labels

Coming next year to cigarette packs across the nation.
FDA

Four tobacco firms filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration arguing that new regulations that require them to put graphic warning labels on cigarette packages violate their constitutional rights.

In a statement, a lawyer who represents Lorillard, Inc., the third largest manufacturer of cigarettes in the U.S., said the regulations "violate the First Amendment."

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The Two-Way
6:47 am
Wed August 17, 2011

White House Overstates Rural Role In Military

There they sat with the President of the United States at the Old Market Deli in Cannon Falls, Minnesota, five veterans of our two most recent wars. With a turkey sandwich on his plate, Mr. Obama acknowledged their service, and the disproportionate sacrifice small towns and rural counties have made in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the military in general.

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The Two-Way
6:10 am
Wed August 17, 2011

'Straight Up Revenge' Drives University Of Miami Booster

Yahoo! Sports' investigation.
sports.yahoo.com

Originally published on Wed August 17, 2011 7:40 pm

It's a story that has sent "shockwaves through the world of college sports," as NPR's David Greene said earlier today on Morning Edition:

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The Two-Way
5:25 am
Wed August 17, 2011

AP: After Labor Day, Obama To Roll Out New Ideas On Job Growth

Originally published on Wed August 17, 2011 6:31 am

Good morning.

President Obama will be in Illinois today, where he'll wind up a three-day bus tour of the Midwest that included stops in Iowa and Minnesota — key battleground states in the 2012 election.

As he wraps up that trip, The Associated Press reports that following his upcoming vacation on Martha's Vineyard, the president "will give a major speech in early September to unveil new ideas for speeding up job growth and helping the struggling poor and middle class."

According to the AP, it's been told by a "senior administration official" that:

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Shots - Health Blog
10:01 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

How The Merger Of Two Health Care Giants May Affect Your Wallet

Express Scripts and Medco Health Services say their merger will help control prescription drug costs. But many prescriptions may only be available by mail, which may not sit well with some consumers.
Sean Locke iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue August 23, 2011 9:42 am

You probably haven't heard of either Express Scripts or Medco Health Services, but their plans to merge in a $29 billion deal, announced last month, may have an impact on your pocketbook.

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Election 2012
10:01 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

Texas Job Growth Trend Stretches Back For Decades

Republican presidential candidate Texas Gov. Rick Perry meets with business leaders at a lunch in Dubuque, Iowa, on Tuesday.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Wed August 24, 2011 8:56 am

As Gov. Rick Perry of Texas campaigns for the Republican presidential nomination, he's promoting his record in his home state, which has created more than 265,000 jobs in the past two years.

Perry says he would do for the nation what he's done for the Lone Star State.

The economy of Texas is growing at roughly twice the national average, but the question is: How much did Rick Perry and his low-tax, low-regulation philosophy influence that growth?

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Politics
10:01 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

Supercommittee At Risk With Campaign Donors

The 12 lawmakers on the new deficit-cutting supercommittee have their hands full. They're under orders to bring Congress a plan for cutting the deficit by more than a trillion dollars, and to do it before Thanksgiving.

At the same time, they're also raising funds for their next campaigns, and that could be a problem if the supercommittee is under pressure to bite the hand that feeds them money.

Last week, White House spokesman Jay Carney said that concerns about supercommittee members and their fundraising are silly.

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Small Businesses, Big Problems
10:01 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

Big Business Freezes Out New York Ice Company

Given the obstacles faced by his ice company, John Natuzzi Jr. says he doubts whether the family business will pass on to a fifth generation.
Beth Fertig WYNC

Originally published on Tue August 23, 2011 9:35 am

Third of a five-part series

Small businesses are critical to the economy, especially as a source of jobs. But the recession has been hard on them: Consumers aren't spending, and banks aren't lending.

And one ice manufacturer in Queens, N.Y., is trying its best to not be frozen by the competition.

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