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Economy
12:01 am
Tue January 3, 2012

Raising The Minimum Wage: Whom Does It Help?

Originally published on Tue January 3, 2012 2:33 pm

For some of America's lowest-paid workers, the new year means a pay raise. Some states set their own minimum wages, above the federal rate of $7.25 an hour, and that rekindles an old debate over whether minimum wages make sense — especially at a time of high unemployment.

Like several other states, Washington state's minimum wage is indexed to the cost of living. This year, the formula has raised the statewide minimum from $8.67 to $9.04 an hour, making it the nation's highest statewide rate.

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Middle East
5:42 pm
Mon January 2, 2012

Saudi Arabia Enforces Gender Law In Lingerie Shops

Originally published on Mon January 2, 2012 9:17 pm

Saudi Arabia said Monday that it will enforce a law that allows only females to work in women's lingerie and apparel stores, despite disapproval from the country's top cleric.

The 2006 law banning men from working in female apparel and cosmetic stores has never been put into effect, partly because of the views of hard-liners in the religious establishment, who oppose the whole idea of women working in places where men and women congregate, such as malls.

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Health Care
5:16 pm
Mon January 2, 2012

Physicians Group: Weigh Costs In Treating Patients

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

There's a lot of debate these days about the cost of medical care and the risks. Is a drug for breast cancer patients worth the $100,000 price tag if it only adds a few months to a woman's life? Or should men routinely get blood tests for prostate cancer when the exam could cause more suffering than it prevents?

Well, today, a major medical group issued new ethical guidelines on whether doctors should consider cost when deciding how to treat patients. As NPR's Rob Stein reports, the group takes a provocative position.

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It's All Politics
5:15 pm
Mon January 2, 2012

Iowa's Cold Doesn't Stop Campaigns From Heating Up Ahead Of Caucuses

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney addresses supporters during a campaign rally at the Weber Paper Company Monday in Dubuque, Iowa.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:10 am

Blustery winds and freezing cold temperatures today didn't slow down the Republican presidential candidates' campaigning on the eve of the Iowa caucuses.

Six GOP candidates — most with family members in tow — shook voters' hands and made their final arguments.

Here's a look at what our reporters are finding on the campaign trail:

-- Mitt Romney, who has edged into the lead in recent polls, is looking to deepen — not broaden — his statewide map in the final stretch, campaign adviser Eric Fehrnstrom tells NPR's Ari Shapiro.

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Technology
3:59 pm
Mon January 2, 2012

Driving And Phoning: What's New In 2012

Even though more than 30 states have banned or restricted cellphone use, it hasn't been easy to convince drivers to stop.
iStockphoto.com

States have long sought to restrict cellphone use by drivers because of safety concerns, and as the new year begins, several states are toughening their laws.

It turns out it's a hard habit to break; and for government officials, it's not easy to stay ahead of tech advances.

'Cognitive Distraction'

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Economy
3:35 pm
Mon January 2, 2012

Brazil Sets Trade Records, Due To Chinese Demand

Brazil had record trade figures in 2011, logging $256 billion in exports and maintaining a $29.7 billion surplus on the back of high commodity prices and strong Chinese demand, officials said Monday.

Exports to China hit $44.3 billion, an increase of more than 43 percent over 2010. In 2009 China surpassed the U.S. as Brazil's biggest trading partner.

"It was an exceptional year for Brazilian foreign trade," said Alessandro Teixeira, deputy trade minister, who said China represented 17 percent of Brazil's exports.

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Deceptive Cadence
3:01 pm
Mon January 2, 2012

Double-Blind Violin Test: Can You Pick The Strad?

In a double-blind test by professional violinists, most couldn't determine — by sound alone — which violin was an original Stradivarius and which was a modern instrument. Above, a 1729 Stradivari known as the "Solomon, Ex-Lambert."
Don Emmert AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 2, 2012 9:53 pm

In the world of violins, the names Stradivari and Guarneri are sacred. For three centuries, violin-makers and scientists have studied the instruments made by these Italian craftsmen. So far no one has figured out what makes their sound different. But a new study now suggests maybe they aren't so different after all.

OK, here's a test. Clip one is a musical phrase from Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D Major. Clip two is the same phrase. The same musician plays both. But one is on a Stradivarius violin, the other on a violin made in 1980. See if you can tell the difference.

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NPR Story
3:00 pm
Mon January 2, 2012

Disaffected Episcopalians: The Vatican Wants You

The Vatican announced Sunday an arrangement to allow disaffected Episcopalian congregations in the United States to join the Roman Catholic church. The arrangement will allow an exemption to priestly celibacy for former Episcopal priests who are married.

Politics
3:00 pm
Mon January 2, 2012

Will The New Year Be A New Start For Congress?

According to Gallup, Congress has never been more disliked in all the years it has been polling that question. Can it get any worse heading into the new year?

Around the Nation
3:00 pm
Mon January 2, 2012

Police Make Arrest In Suspected Car Arsons

Originally published on Wed January 9, 2013 2:27 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Today, police in Los Angeles arrested a man in connection with a string of more than 50 arson fires that have left that city on edge. Most of the fires were set in parked cars, and some spread to carports, garages and apartments. Sam Quinones is following the story for the Los Angeles Times and Sam, what else can you tell us about the man who's under arrest?

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Remembrances
3:00 pm
Mon January 2, 2012

Remembering Designer Eva Zeisel

All Things Considered host Melissa Block remembers Eva Zeisel, one of the premier ceramic designers of the last century. She died last week at her New City, N.Y., home at the age of 105.

Economy
2:51 pm
Mon January 2, 2012

U.S. Auto Sales Seen Continuing To Rebound In 2012

After hitting a 30-year low in 2009, U.S. auto sales are poised for a second straight year of growth in 2012 — the result of easier credit, low interest rates and pent-up demand for cars and trucks created by the Great Recession.

The sales forecast bodes well for the industry's continued recovery and for the broader American economy.

Just two years ago, Detroit automakers were in peril. Car sales plunged as unemployment soared, and loans became harder to get. Chrysler and General Motors filed for bankruptcy protection. Ford avoided bankruptcy only by borrowing billions.

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It's All Politics
2:10 pm
Mon January 2, 2012

The Caucuses: A Quick Guide

Edward Lewis of Council Bluffs waved an Iowa state flag outside the Family Table Restaurant in Atlantic on Sunday, before the arrival of former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 2, 2012 2:11 pm

Those who remember newspapers might recognize this as a "clip and save." Maybe the more modern term would be a "cut and paste." Whatever, if you want some of the details and logistics about Tuesday night's caucuses in Iowa, here they are:

-- When: 7 p.m. Central time (8 p.m. ET).

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It's All Politics
1:28 pm
Mon January 2, 2012

On Eve Of Vote, Romney Returns To 2008 Strongholds

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney greets voters after speaking at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds on Wednesday in Davenport, Iowa.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Monday morning in Iowa, I caught up with Mitt Romney's strategist Eric Fehrnstrom after the campaign's first event of the day, a speech at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds in Davenport.

In the last hours before Tuesday night's caucus, Fehrnstrom said, the former Massachusetts governor plans to consolidate his support by visiting areas in the eastern part of the state where he had a strong showing in 2008 — places like Dubuque and Cedar Rapids.

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It's All Politics
1:15 pm
Mon January 2, 2012

Iowa Democrats Caucus Too; For Obama Team, It's Practice For November

Originally published on Mon January 2, 2012 1:17 pm

The focus is naturally on the Republican caucuses Tuesday night in Iowa, because the GOP is the party with a battle going on for its presidential nomination.

But President Obama's fellow Democrats in the state will be caucusing too. And by all accounts Team Obama is taking it all very seriously, even though he doesn't have a intra-party challenger.

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Presidential Race
1:00 pm
Mon January 2, 2012

Religion Front And Center On 2012 Campaign Trail

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan, in Washington. In Iowa, all the GOP presidential candidates continue to profess their faith in speeches and in broadcast ads, perhaps none more than Texas Governor Rick Perry.

(SOUNDBITE OF POLITICAL ADVERTISEMENT)

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Brain Candy
1:00 pm
Mon January 2, 2012

Op-Ed: 364-Day Calendar Intriguing But Unnecessary

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

And now, the Opinion Page. It's the start of a new year. Already, millions of us have posted new calendars on the wall or installed new ones on our computers. But Steven Hanke and Richard Henry, two Johns Hopkins University professors, propose a more radical step: the Hanke-Henry permanent calendar, which they say will solve the yearly hassle of reworking our schedules and even help businesses put fiscal calendars in sync. But that raises a question: Is the current calendar a problem for you?

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NPR Story
1:00 pm
Mon January 2, 2012

Twins Data Reshaping Nature Versus Nurture Debate

An image from January's National Geographic Magazine cover story on twins. The story's author explains how scientists are expanding the field of epigenetics with research on twins.
Martin Schoeller National Geographic

Originally published on Mon January 2, 2012 3:42 pm

Almost 150 years ago, English scientist Francis Galton coined the phrase "nature versus nurture" — and proposed that research on twins could resolve the debate.

Genetics have long seemed to weigh heavily in favor of the role of nature in shaping the people we become. But even identical twins are different to varying degrees, and some researchers believe those differences suggest a third influence at work, called epigenetics.

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Presidential Race
1:00 pm
Mon January 2, 2012

Poll Predicts Three-Way Nail-Biter In Iowa Caucuses

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

Last Wednesday, Ann Selzer could not be cajoled into even a hint of the final Iowa poll as she joined the Political Junkie. Selzer and the company - and her company polls for the Des Moines Register and for Bloomberg. It's considered the gold standard in Iowa. And the Register published the results on Saturday night. It showed Mitt Romney in front, followed closely by Ron Paul and Rick Santorum surging into third. Ann Selzer joins us again from Iowa Public Radio. Nice to have you back on the program.

ANN SELZER: Great to be here, Neal.

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The Two-Way
12:15 pm
Mon January 2, 2012

Fencer Who Was Darth Vader In Famous Light Saber Scenes Has Died

PRNewsFoto/THQ Wireless

Originally published on Mon January 2, 2012 12:24 pm

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The Two-Way
11:05 am
Mon January 2, 2012

Ranger Killed In Rainier Park Was 'Living Her Dream'

"Slain Ranger Was Living Her Dream."

That's the headline at the website of The Seattle Times, which profiles 34-year-old Margaret Anderson, who was shot to death Sunday in Mount Rainier National Park.

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It's All Politics
10:58 am
Mon January 2, 2012

In Final Iowa Push, Once-Sunny Gingrich Says Romney 'Will Lie To You'

The Newt Gingrich campaign bus is rolling again Monday morning, leaving Waterloo, where the candidate spent the night and heading straight east to the small town of Independence. The venue? Heartland Acres Agribition Center, a modest-size exhibition hall for small, regional agribusiness conferences with a lot of interesting old farm implements on display, and a shop with some pretty cool toy tractors.

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It's All Politics
10:15 am
Mon January 2, 2012

Bachmann Casts Herself As Thatcher-Style 'Iron Lady' In Last Iowa Ad

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) in Pella, Iowa, on Nov. 1, 2011.
Steve Pope Getty Images

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It's All Politics
9:30 am
Mon January 2, 2012

'Lonely' Jon Huntsman Won't Be Solo In N.H. Much Longer

GOP hopeful Jon Huntsman in Milford, N.H., on Dec. 8.
Cheryl Senter AP

Originally published on Mon January 2, 2012 10:11 am

Plug the name "Jon Huntsman," the state "New Hampshire" and the word "lonely" into a search field and you'll get lots of hits.

"In New Hampshire, Jon Huntsman Walks A Lonely Path," a Los Angeles Times headline reads.

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The Two-Way
8:30 am
Mon January 2, 2012

Los Angeles Fires: 2 Men Charged In More Than 50 Blazes

People inspect the damage following an overnight fire in Hollywood on Friday (Dec. 30, 2011).
Frederic J. Brown AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 2, 2012 3:13 pm

(The top of this post was rewritten at 3:15 p.m. ET.)

Authorities in Los Angeles just announced they've made two arrests in connection with the more than 50 fires that had been set in the city in recent days, causing several million dollars worth of damage but no serious injuries.

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The Two-Way
8:00 am
Mon January 2, 2012

Iran Test-Fires Missile, Claims To Have Made Nuclear Fuel Rod

An Iranian Army soldier stood guard on a military speed boat during navy exercises in the Strait of Hormuz in southern Iran late last week.
Ali Mohammadi AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 2, 2012 8:02 am

As often happens with issues related to Iran's relations with the rest of the world, there's a mix of saber-rattling and diplomacy in the news again today:

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World
7:26 am
Mon January 2, 2012

Iran's Navy Tests Surface-To-Surface Missile

Iran's navy said it test-fired a surface-to-surface cruise missile on Monday during a drill in international waters near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, the official IRNA news agency reported.

The missile, called Ghader, or Capable in Farsi, was described as an upgraded version of a missile that has been in service before. IRNA said the missile "successfully hit its intended target" during the drill.

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It's All Politics
7:20 am
Mon January 2, 2012

It's Almost Caucus Time: Candidates Hone Last-Minute Messages

Fired up on a cold day: Sunday in Ames, Iowa, Marilyn Izette Krocheski came to the West Towne Pub to see Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 2, 2012 7:24 am

Good morning.

With just one full day of campaigning left before Tuesday evening's Republican caucuses in Iowa — the first truly important contest of the 2012 presidential election season — the stories and headlines are all about who's up, who's down and who needs to do what to survive and do battle again next week in New Hampshire.

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Around the Nation
7:05 am
Mon January 2, 2012

Mass. Dog Walker Wounded By Deer Hunter

Originally published on Mon January 2, 2012 7:06 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's All Politics
7:00 am
Mon January 2, 2012

2012 GOP Presidential Primary Season Designed To Slow Emergence Of Winner

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney campaigns Sunday in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

If GOP front-runner Mitt Romney cannot quickly persuade his rivals and voters that he is the inevitable nominee and that further resistance is futile, he may be in for an expensive and time-consuming slog.

Unlike GOP presidential primary seasons of the past, the one that begins in Iowa Tuesday was actually designed to slow down the emergence of a winner by stretching out the calendar and altering the delegate allocation rules.

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