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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.



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.

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



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.

Antidepressants are the second-most-prescribed drug in the U.S., making them seem about as common as Pez candy.

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.

"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.

"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.

One of the scoops of the day, from The Washington Post:

"The Obama White House tried to rush federal reviewers for a decision on a nearly half-billion-dollar loan to the solar-panel manufacturer Solyndra so Vice President Biden could announce the approval at a September 2009 groundbreaking for the company's factory, newly obtained e-mails show."

Republicans had reasons to cheer and Democrats to despair Wednesday with the upset special election victory in New York City of a Republican retired businessman who will complete the congressional term of Anthony Weiner, the Democrat who exited the U.S. House because of a sexting scandal.

Bob Turner, a 70-year old former cable television executive, beat David Weprin, a 55-year old, state assemblyman, in a district which had, until Tuesday, been reliably Democratic for nearly 100 years.

A sharp drop in energy costs helped keep prices at the wholesale level unchanged in August vs. July, the Bureau of Labor Statistics just reported.

According to BLS, while food costs went up 1.1 percent, energy costs fell 1 percent.

Still, over the 13 months ended Aug. 31 the producer price index rose 6.5 percent, BLS added.

The limits of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's authority appear to be showing again with word from that country's official news outlet that:

"Iran's Judiciary has rejected recent media reports on the imminent release of the two American nationals that were convicted of spying on behalf of the United States."

"Republicans pulled off an upset in Tuesday's special election in New York City to replace former congressman Anthony Weiner," NPR's Joel Rose reports. "Bob Turner claimed victory over Democrat David Weprin."

An attack on the U.S. embassy and other buildings in the heart of Kabul's diplomatic district that lasted 20 hours is now over.

Born To Prey: Watch T. Rex Come Alive

Sep 14, 2011

Tyrannosaurus rex roamed the Earth some 65 million years ago. In the century since the first skeleton was unearthed in Montana, our understanding of how the giant predator lived, moved and behaved has evolved. Watch the videos below to see the latest T. rex research in motion.

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In Tripoli, residents are painting the town red, green and black, the new colors of the Libyan revolution.

Under Moammar Gadhafi, the regime strictly controlled the images that were allowed in public. Storefronts had to be painted green. English was banned on signs. Anti-regime graffiti was quickly painted over and could be met with a harsh response.

Sports fans love to designate certain games as "the greatest ever," the "match of the century" and so forth. Well, I would like to state that a piece in the October issue of The Atlantic Monthly, which was released online Tuesday, may well be the most important article ever written about college sports.

Republicans aren't exactly crazy about the public works spending President Obama proposes in his $447 billion jobs bill sent to Congress this week, but they are even less enamored with how the president wants to pay for it: by ending a slew of tax breaks for wealthy individuals and corporations.

Palestinians Seek To End Stalemate With U.N. Bid

Sep 13, 2011

As the Palestinians plan to make a bid for statehood at the United Nations next week, many Palestinians see it as a way to break years of deadlock with Israel.

The Israelis, meanwhile, see only diplomatic fallout and the potential for violence.

For Palestinians, the U.N. plan is loaded with symbolism. The central post office in the Palestinian city of Ramallah is issuing a series of commemorative stamps and postcards this month. For the first time, they will identify the country of origin as Palestine.