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Shortly after dawn on a September morning in 2009, American and Afghan troops set out on patrol along a rocky mile-long stretch in eastern Afghanistan. They were heading to a small village for a routine meeting with tribal elders. Suddenly, everything went wrong. Cpl. Dakota Meyer and Staff Sgt. Juan Rodriguez-Chavez, who had stayed behind with the vehicles, heard small arms fire in the distance and knew instantly it was an ambush. Rodriguez-Chavez then heard an officer yelling for help on...

In his jobs speech last week, President Obama also took time to say he wants to help more Americans save money on their mortgages. "To help responsible homeowners, we're going to work with federal housing agencies to help more people refinance their mortgages at interest rates that are now near 4 percent," he said to applause from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Millions of American homeowners don't qualify for those low rates. If they did, they'd be saving hundreds of dollars a month...

For Afghan Female Pilot, A Long, Turbulent Journey

Sep 14, 2011

Col. Latifa Nabizada, the only female pilot in the history of Afghan aviation, travels to some of the most remote and dangerous corners of her country with a devoted partner next to her in the cockpit – her 5-year-old daughter Malalai. They walk hand-in-hand as they head into the hangar at Kabul's Military Airport, and then board a chopper. They have flown together on more than 300 missions over the past few years, and Col. Nabizada acknowledges the risks of having her daughter on board. But...

You'd be excused if you didn't lose sleep over the news that made its way across the blogosphere overnight: Tareq Salahi, who is better known as the husband in the duo who snuck into a White House state dinner last year, called the cops and the media to say his wife Michaele was kidnapped. CNN ran a story , as well as ABC and Fox News . Well, the Warren County Sheriff's Office said today they spoke to Michaele and she said she's fine and she didn't want her husband to know where she was. Here...

The Colorado Rockies Eliezer Alfonzo is joining some ignominious company: Today Major League Baseball announced it was suspending the catcher for 100 games, after failing a drug test for the second time. Alfonzo tested positive for PED in 2008, when he was in the minor leagues. The Denver Post reports: Alfonzo joins disgraced slugger Manny Ramirez as the only other two-time offender. Ramirez retired in April from the Tampa Bay Rays rather than serve his suspension. Alfonzo, 32, plans to...

A congressional hearing on Tuesday over a company called Solyndra became a politically charged referendum on the administration's effort to promote green energy. Until recently, Solyndra made solar panels. It received more than half a billion dollars in government loan guarantees back in 2009. Now, the company is in bankruptcy and is being investigated by the FBI. At the hearing, Republicans raised questions over whether the administration rushed the loan process for political or private...

Why You Should Wash A Melon Before Chowing Down

Sep 14, 2011

Have you ever heeded the advice to wash and dry a melon before digging in? Does anyone actually eat the skin of a honeydew or a cantaloupe anyway? Well, even if you're not planning on a mega-dose of fibrous skin and rind, there is a good reason to rinse off that melon: germs. The knife that cuts through the melon's tough exterior can transfer nasty bugs to the sweet flesh you do consume. That's why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health agencies are reminding...

For the second time in less than a week, President Obama on Wednesday visited a college campus, touting his new jobs plan. He told supporters at North Carolina State University that if Congress goes along with his proposal for tax cuts and new government spending, it will help to restore middle-class jobs. A new CNN poll shows more Americans support the president's jobs plan than oppose it. But that survey and others also find widespread disappointment with the U.S. economy — and Obama's...

Back in July, Pando Networks, a business focused peer-to-peer network, released the findings of a nationwide study on Internet speeds. It found Idaho has the slowest networks , while Rhode Island, New Jersey and Massachusetts are at the top of the pack. Now that's not the interesting story. That comes from The New York Times , today, which set out to find why the Internet speeds in Idaho were sluggish. There are two problems that make sense: It's a sparsely populated state, which means it...

Post-Irene Cleanup May Damage Environment

Sep 14, 2011

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TroBigyIwSk Scientists are beginning to get a picture of the environmental impact of Tropical Storm Irene, which ripped through some of the East Coast's most pristine rivers, triggering hundreds of oil, chemical and sewage spills. Now, some environmental groups worry that the cleanup could cause even more harm. When Irene blasted through the Adirondack Mountains late last month, brooks and streams that are usually docile this time of year jumped their banks. ...

Liu Ping's phone is tapped. She's followed by men in black cars. Her electricity was cut off. And she was detained and held incommunicado in a hotel for four days. Her crime? Trying to run for election to the local People's Congress in her hometown of Xinyu in China's southeastern Jiangxi province. Her case has unleashed an electoral battle, which is being played out over Twitter — or, at least, its Chinese equivalent, Weibo. Today, 200 million Chinese are microblogging, and as local...

At an evangelical Christian school in Virginia on Wednesday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry found an audience warmly receptive to his message about his own religious commitment. Perry, the current front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, visited Liberty University after what some considered a lackluster showing in this week's Tea Party debate in Tampa. Perry didn't deliver his traditional stump speech: Instead of attacks on President Obama and his GOP challengers, Perry spoke about his...

"There's a long tradition of people who don't like a particular message turning to attack the person delivering the message," former Vice President Al Gore just said on NPR's Talk of the Nation . That's why, the 2000 Democratic presidential nominee added, "I view it as an honor, really," to be the target of Republican jabs on the issue of climate change. He went on to accuse those who express the loudest doubts about whether humans are contributing to climate change of "doing exactly the same...

As a new Libyan leadership assesses the country's financial condition, there were fears that ousted leader Moammar Gadhafi, his family and his cronies had looted the treasury. But it now appears much of that wealth remains frozen in foreign accounts, and Libyan bankers say the billions of dollars worth of gold and cash held by the Central Bank remained basically intact throughout the chaos of the revolution. One of the many rumors and claims was that a convoy of more than 200 Libyan military...

It's not often that a federal health agency gets to toot its horn about its portrayal in a Hollywood thriller. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took full advantage of the opportunity Tuesday, on the heels of the release of Contagion , a feature film about a deadly global pandemic and the public health workers who try to stop it. The panel, sponsored by the nonprofit CDC Foundation , reinforced the idea that epidemiology is exciting, if often unsung, and is worthy of...

A Slow-Motion Bank Run In Europe

Sep 14, 2011

Update: This post was published on Sept. 14. On Sept. 15, the European Central Bank, along with other central banks from around the world, announced a new lending program to fight the slow-motion run on Europe's banks. Here's more on that program .
Fear can wreck a banking system and cause havoc in an economy. That's why the recent worries about big French banks are so important, and so scary: Even without a Greek default, Europe could slide into a financial crisis. For the past few...

For U.S. And Russia, Distrust Still Runs High

Sep 14, 2011

President Obama's policy of engagement with Russia has paid off in several concrete achievements, including a nuclear arms control agreement and greater cooperation on Iran and Afghanistan. But both supporters and critics of the so-called reset policy worry that further victories will be harder to win. Both nations are distracted by presidential politics, preventing policymakers from talking seriously about matters such as missile defense. "On the U.S. side, not knowing whether we're going to...

The harsh, tropical sunlight that dapples Bali's tourist-thronged beaches streams through the fingers of a palm leaf and lands on the shoulders of Nengah, who slumps like a rag doll amid a pile of tattered pillows in the island's far eastern reaches. The poor village of Abang is remote, and Nengah spends her days in a heap, staring at hands that lie in her lap like dry leaves. Today, Nengah is not alone. Neighbors have gathered in the mid-July heat to watch as her brother uses a stone to...

NASA Unveils Next Generation 'Monster' Space Rocket

Sep 14, 2011

If things go without a hitch NASA announced that its new Space Launch System could take its first manned test flight in 2017. The new design looks a lot like the Apollo era rockets that took American astronauts to the moon, but NASA said the new spacecraft is much more powerful than any other rocket they've made before and could set up astronauts for deep space exploration. The SLS will be NASA's first exploration-calss vehicle since the Saturn V took astronauts to the moon. At the unveiling...

When U.S. forces launched the war in Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001, they were riding a wave of anger and a call for justice by a broad swath of the American public. Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center, says the initial support for the Afghan invasion was around 90 percent, and the war was closely followed by a large number of people. But since then, the public has been slowly disengaging, he says. In 2001 and 2002, about 40 percent of the public said they were following news...

While there are still many open questions, some things are more certain in the sorry tale of Solyndra, the now bankrupt solar-cell manufacturer President Obama once praised as a model for the nation's renewable energy future. One, U.S. taxpayers will take a loss on their $535 million federal loan guarantee that was part of the stimulus program. Two, 1,100 workers have been laid off. Three, the Federal Bureau of Investigation last week raided Solyndra's offices. Four, the Obama White House has...

A story that's been getting some attention the past day or so — that AIDS researchers at the Mayo Clinic have inserted genes into cats that make the animals glow green in the dark — sounded familiar. Haven't researchers been doing this sort of thing for years? We wondered. The answer's yes, as National Geographic 's Daily News has previously reported . As it writes: "In 1961 researcher Osamu Shimomura of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Massachusetts noticed a molecule in this jellyfish...

At first glance this bit of news from the AP seems a foreboding sign for the future of the country: Scores on the critical reading portion of the SAT college entrance exam fell three points to their lowest level on record last year, and combined reading and math scores reached their lowest point since 1995. But the College Board, which issues the SAT, warns that the class of 2011 was one of the biggest and most diverse to take the exam. "It is common for mean scores to decline slightly when...

Transcript MICHEL MARTIN, Host: I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. We're going to spend a good deal of time today talking about money, how much the government has to spend and how much and how little many American families have. Later we're going to talk about that special Congressional Committee that's been charged with coming up with a plan to take a big bite out of the federal deficit. That group held it's first public hearing on Tuesday. We're also going to hear...

For another perspective on combating the increase in poverty, Tell Me More turns to Jared Bernstein. He served in the Obama administration as Chief Economist and Economic Adviser to Vice President Joe Biden. He responds to Herman Cain's 999 plan and identifies the impediments of getting Americans back to work.

'Civil, Sober' Super Committee Gets To Work

Sep 14, 2011

Transcript MICHEL MARTIN, Host: I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, it's an article of faith that parents are going to try to work hard and sacrifice so they can leave something to their kids. But a new survey shows that that's less and less the case for millionaire baby boomers. We'll hear more about that in just a few minutes. That's this week's Money Coach conversation. But first, the members of Congress tasked with finding a way to cut the federal deficit...

Antidepressants are the second-most-prescribed drug in the U.S., making them seem about as common as Pez candy. Yet many people won't tell their primary care doctor that they're suffering symptoms of depression because they're afraid they'll be prescribed antidepressants, according to some new research . And the people who are suffering the most are the ones least likely ask for help. There's long been a stigma about mental illness, and though people are far more upfront about depression than...

Dispatches from the field: A customer was nabbed by police for sampling raw meat at a Walmart in Pennsylvania. A woman said she had an encounter with a bat at a Walmart in Minnesota. A family of five was living in a car at a Walmart in Florida. A girl had a run-in with a monkey at a Walmart in Missouri. A man was caught in flagrante delicto at a Walmart in Louisiana. And that is just in the past few weeks. Files from the front lines flow in daily — some serious, some sad, some just plain...

"Dozens of Americans who claim to have been made ill by Wi-Fi and mobile phones have flocked to the town of Green Bank, W.Va.," the BBC reports . They're heading there because of the area's " National Radio Quiet Zone " — 13,000 square miles that surround the National Radio Astronomy Observatory 's Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope. The zone, as Wired has reported , is "nearly free of electromagnetic pollution" because of regulations put in place decades ago. Those restrictions aim to keep...

"A key federal report blames poor management, key missteps and a faulty cement job by BP and others for the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history and the deaths of 11 rig workers," The Associated Press reports. The conclusions reached by the Coast Guard/Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement investigation follow another probe by a presidential panel, as NPR's Debbie Elliott has reported , which blamed the April 2010 spill "on a series of time- and money-saving...

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