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Economy
2:58 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Time For The Fed To Take Away The Punch Bowl?

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testifies before the Senate Banking Committee in Washington last month. Some analysts wonder if he and other policymakers have kept interest rates too low for too long.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 8:49 am

The stock market's long climb from its recession bottom has some people concerned it may be a bubble about to burst — a bubble artificially pumped up by the Federal Reserve's easy-money policy. That's led to calls — even from within the Fed — for an end to the central bank's extraordinary efforts to keep interest rates low.

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The Two-Way
2:57 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

House Gives OK To $982 Billion Short-Term Spending Bill

The House has approved a bill to fund the federal government through the end of September. The $982 billion continuing resolution introduced by Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY), who heads the Appropriations Committee, would avoid a potential government shutdown on March 27.

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The Two-Way
2:53 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

U.S. Spent Too Much In Iraq, Got Little In Return, Watchdog Report Says

Ten years and $60 billion in taxpayer funds later, Iraq is still so unstable and broken that even its leaders question whether U.S. efforts to rebuild it were worth the cost. That's the finding of a report to Congress by Stuart Bowen, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 3:13 pm

A decade and $60 billion later what does the U.S. have to show for the reconstruction efforts in Iraq? That's the question being answered by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction in his final report to Congress.

The report by Stuart Bowen was based upon audits and inspections, as well as interviews with Iraqi and U.S. officials and politicians. Here's the crux of what happened to that money, according to the report:

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Natural History
2:29 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Fossils Suggest Giant Relatives Of Modern Camels Roamed The Canadian Arctic

Illustration of the High Arctic camel on Ellesmere Island during the Pliocene warm period, aboutthree-and-a-half million years ago. The camels lived in a boreal-type forest. The habitat includeslarch trees and the depiction is based on records of plant fossils found at nearby fossil deposits.
Julius Csotonyi

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 8:49 am

Camels belong in the desert. That's what we've learned since grade school.

Today, NPR's Melissa Block talked to Natalia Rybczynski, a paleobiologist at the Canadian Museum of Nature, who tells Melissa that fossils she has unearthed tell a different story.

The fossils, found on a frigid ridge in Canada's High Arctic, show that modern camels actually come from giant relatives that roamed the forests of Ellesmere Island 3.5 million years ago.

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The Salt
2:13 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Salami Suicide: Processed Meats Linked To Heart Disease And Cancer

Delicious. Also potentially deadly.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 3:32 pm

Bacon and bologna are hardly health food. But a huge new study offers the strongest evidence yet that eating processed meat boosts the risk of the two big killers, cancer and heart disease.

A multinational group of scientists tracked the health and eating habits of bacon-loving Brits, wurst-munching Germans, jamon aficionados in Spain, as well as residents of seven other European countries — almost a half-million people in all.

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World Cafe
2:10 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Y La Bamba On World Cafe

Y La Bamba.
Courtesy of the artist

The Latin Alternative band Y La Bamba formed in Portland, Ore., in 2008 and attracted attention for its disarming fusion of traditional Mexican music and alternative rock.

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Latin America
2:09 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Venezuela-U.S. Relations Could Thaw After Chavez

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 8:49 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

We turn now to the last U.S. ambassador stationed in Venezuela. Patrick Duddy represented the U.S. first under the Bush administration then later under the Obama administration. He was once expelled from Caracas. Ambassador Duddy is now a visiting senior lecturer at Duke University's Center for International Studies. When we spoke today, I asked him what it was like for him to be an ambassador to Venezuela under Chavez.

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The Two-Way
2:03 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Loved Or Loathed, Hugo Chavez Was The Ultimate Showman

Always a showman, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who died Tuesday, sings folk songs with a mariachi group in the capital, Caracas, in 2005.
Andrew Alvarez AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 3:26 pm

I first encountered Hugo Chavez in Caracas, starring in his own television show, Hello, Mr. President. I couldn't take my eyes of the program, which began at 11 a.m. and ended after 7 p.m.

It was an endurance test for even the most die-hard sycophants and terrific entertainment for a first-time viewer. While the camera would pan droopy-eyed Cabinet members seated in the front row, El Presidente showed no signs of flagging.

At the seven-hour mark, he chirped, "Bueno!" and declared, "It's early! Let's keep talking."

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It's All Politics
1:47 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Obama's Outreach To GOP: More Optics Than Opportunity?

Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire at the Capitol last month. The senators are among a group invited to dine Wednesday with President Obama.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 2:21 pm

President Obama recently acknowledged the obvious: He doesn't have the supernatural powers necessary to do a mind meld, Jedi or otherwise, with Republican congressional leaders that would lead to pacts on fiscal policy or anything else for that matter.

But if he doesn't have the power to force meetings of the minds with his Republican opponents, he can at least still get meetings with them.

Popping up on the president's schedule all of a sudden was a Wednesday night dinner at a Washington, D.C., hotel with a group of GOP senators.

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Shots - Health News
1:30 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Hear That? In A Din Of Voices, Our Brains Can Tune In To One

Scientists say that understanding how the cocktail party effect works could help people who have trouble deciphering sounds in a noisy environment. Guests make it look easy at a Dolce and Gabbana Lounge party in London in 2010.
Paul Jeffers AP

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 8:49 am

Scientists are beginning to understand how people tune in to a single voice in a crowded, noisy room.

This ability, known as the "cocktail party effect," appears to rely on areas of the brain that have completely filtered out unwanted sounds, researchers report in the journal Neuron. So when a person decides to focus on a particular speaker, other speakers "have no representation in those [brain] areas," says Elana Zion Golumbic of Columbia University.

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U.S.
1:30 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Even Where It's Legal, Pot Producers Weigh The Business Risks

Medical marijuana on display at the grand opening of the Northwest Cannabis Market's Seattle location in February. While recreational pot use is now legal in Washington, the state has not yet issued rules governing the industry.
Elaine Thompson AP

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 8:49 am

Attorney General Eric Holder appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday to answer questions on everything from gun control to the Department of Justice's failure to prosecute Wall Street. But he was also asked about an issue proponents of marijuana legalization have been following closely: what the DOJ plans to do about Colorado and Washington state, which have defied federal law by legalizing recreational use of the drug.

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Music News
1:30 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Britain's Brass Bands: A Working-Class Tradition On The Wane

Cornetist Adam Rosbottom rehearses with the Grimethorpe Colliery Band in January. The band was founded in South Yorkshire, England, in 1917.
Christopher Werth

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 8:49 am

The world often feels full of fading traditions, from drive-in movie theaters to the dying art of good old-fashioned letter writing.

For the British, add brass bands to that list. Traditional brass bands have played an important cultural role in working-class British communities for centuries. But some warn that without funding, they could become a thing of the past.

Take the Grimethorpe Colliery Band in South Yorkshire. The band was originally formed in 1917, and nearly 100 years later, a group of tuba, euphonium and other horn players still bears the band's name.

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The Salt
1:29 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Can Milk Sweetened With Aspartame Still Be Called Milk?

Morgan Barnett, 7, drinks from containers of 1 percent milk and chocolate milk during lunch at a school in St. Paul, Minn., in 2006.
Eric Miller AP

Originally published on Fri March 8, 2013 7:45 am

The dairy industry has a problem. Despite studies demonstrating milk's nutritional benefits, people are drinking less and less of it.

Even children are increasingly opting for water or other low-cal options — including diet soda and artificially sweetened sports drinks.

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The Two-Way
1:28 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Arkansas Legislature Embraces Strictest U.S. Abortion Law

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 3:42 am

Arkansas has approved a law banning most abortions after 12 weeks of gestation, as both houses of the state's legislature vote to override a veto by Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe. The Republican-backed Human Heartbeat Protection Act will become the nation's most restrictive law.

In vetoing the Senate version of the bill Monday, Beebe said that it "would impose a ban on a woman's right to choose an elective, nontherapeutic abortion well before viability."

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Planet Money
12:27 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

If The Catholic Church Were A Business, How Would You Fix It?

Now that Pope Benedict XVI has officially gone into retirement, the next leader of the Catholic Church has a lot to consider, including finances.
Oli Scarff Getty Images

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 8:49 am

The next pope will be the spiritual leader of the world's Catholics. He will also be leading a multibillion-dollar financial empire. And from a business perspective, the Catholic Church is struggling.

We talked to several people who study the business of the church. Here are a few of the issues they pointed out.

1. Globally, the church's employees are in the wrong place.

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