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NPR's Backseat Book Club
1:58 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

In 'Red Pyramid,' Kid Heroes Take On Ancient Egypt

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 3:43 pm

If there was a recipe for the best-selling writer Rick Riordan, it would go something like this — start with a love of storytelling, fold in more than a decade of teaching middle school English, combine that with two sons of his own who don't quite share their dad's love of literature, and marinate all of that with a deep passion for mythology.

Riordan has sold tens of millions of kids' books. He hit pay dirt with the Percy Jackson series — it's about an everyday kid who has superhero powers because he's the secret son of Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea.

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Music Reviews
1:55 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Homeboy Sandman: A Rapper Leaves Law Behind

Homeboy Sandman's fourth album is called First of a Living Breed.
Gavin Thomas Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 3:43 pm

The bare facts of Homeboy Sandman's back story don't sound very hip-hop: prep school in New Hampshire, Ivy League B.A., even some pieces for The Huffington Post. But, as is often the case with class and race in America, bare facts don't tell the whole story.

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The Two-Way
1:10 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

South Korea To Get Its First Female Leader

South Korea's Park Geun-hye claimed victory Wednesday in the country's presidential election. Park, the daughter of a former military dictator, will be the first female leader of the country. Here, she greets supporters at party headquarters.
Kim Jae-hwan AP

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 4:47 am

Conservative candidate Park Geun-hye claimed victory Wednesday in South Korea's closely contested presidential election, an outcome that will make her the first woman to lead the Asian nation.

In addition, Park boasts a fascinating personal history that's deeply intertwined with South Korea's evolution in recent decades.

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The Two-Way
12:29 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Death Penalty Possible In Court Martial Of Army Sgt. Accused Of Afghan Killings

Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales during an August 2011 training exercise at Fort Irwin, Calif.
Spc. Ryan Hallock AFP/Getty Images

The Army staff sergeant accused in the March 11 murders of 16 Afghan civilians and shooting of six others could be given the death penalty if he's convicted of all the charges officially filed against him this week, a General Court-Martial Convening Authority announced Wednesday.

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, 39, prosecutors say, attacked two villages near his base in southern Afghanistan. Among the 16 people killed, nine were children.

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Shots - Health News
11:44 am
Wed December 19, 2012

NIH Moving To Revamp Funding Process For Bird Flu Research

A health official culls chickens on a poultry farm in a village on the outskirts of Katmandu, Nepal. Chickens suspected of being infected with H5N1 bird flu were found in the area in October.
Prakash Mathema AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 1:32 pm

Flu researchers may be close to ending an unusual moratorium on some controversial scientific work that has lasted almost a year.

That's because officials at the National Institutes of Health say they will be moving swiftly to finalize a new process for deciding whether or not to fund proposed experiments that could potentially create more dangerous forms of the bird flu virus H5N1.

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The Two-Way
11:19 am
Wed December 19, 2012

Let Teachers Carry Guns? Some State Lawmakers Say Yes

A sign some would like to see amended at schools.
Dave Kaup Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 12:52 pm

There are reports from a variety of states about local lawmakers who want to give teachers the right to bring guns to school. They're making the case that school shootings such as the one Friday in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 small children and six adults dead could be prevented or stopped if some school staffers were armed.

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The Two-Way
11:09 am
Wed December 19, 2012

Three State Department Officials Resign Following Benghazi Report

Chris Stevens speaks to the media in Benghazi, Libya, in 2011. Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, was killed on Sept. 11 of this year. Three U.S. government officials resigned Wednesday following a report that cited inadequate security.
Ben Curtis AP

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 7:28 am

Update at 9:25 a.m. ET, Dec. 20: Four Officials Disciplined, One Has Resigned:

A sharply critical report about the State Department's handling of security at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, has led to disciplinary action against four of the department's officials. One of them, the head of the Diplomatic Security Bureau, has resigned.

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Shots - Health News
11:09 am
Wed December 19, 2012

A Question About Aspirin And Age-Related Vision Loss

This image shows how macular degeneration affects a person's vision.
National Eye Institute, NIH

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 11:28 am

About 20 percent of adults take aspirin regularly, either to ease pain or to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

But taking aspirin might increase the risk of macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in old age, according to a study of nearly 5,000 people in Wisconsin.

Nobody wants to go blind. So does this mean it's time to give up on aspirin? Not at all, say ophthalmologists.

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The Two-Way
10:50 am
Wed December 19, 2012

'Take Me Out Of It,' President Urges GOP, And 'Take The Deal'

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 12:32 pm

With the end-of-year deadline looming on automatic tax increases and spending cuts, President Obama on Wednesday made the case that Republicans should recognize "I have met them at least halfway in order to get something done for the country."

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The Two-Way
10:29 am
Wed December 19, 2012

Obama Asks Biden To Draft 'Concrete Proposals' On Guns By January

Vice President Biden watched as President Obama spoke earlier today in the White House briefing room.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 11:28 am

Saying the nation has a "deep obligation" to take steps to reduce gun violence, President Obama confirmed Wednesday that he's asked Vice President Biden to head a task force charged with drafting "concrete proposals, no later than January."

And, Obama said, he will push them "without delay."

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Can I Just Tell You?
9:58 am
Wed December 19, 2012

What Do Polio And Gun Violence Have In Common?

Charles Krupa ASSOCIATED PRESS

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 2:22 pm

In thinking about the last week's tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, I keep coming upon the word epidemic. While the death of one child is too many, the death of nearly two dozen in one place, of hundreds in the span of a year — especially by violence, is intolerable. Or at least it should be.

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Economy
9:58 am
Wed December 19, 2012

Why Not Go Over The Fiscal Cliff?

The White House is promising to veto a new tax proposal from House Speaker John Boehner. But who's bluffing and what's believable when it comes to fiscal negotiations? And what happens if talks break down? For Tell Me More's 'Why Not?' series, host Michel Martin takes a look at what might be on the other side of the fiscal cliff.

Beauty Shop
9:58 am
Wed December 19, 2012

Newtown: How Much Media Coverage Is Too Much?

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, when rap pioneer Run from the group Run-DMC decided to get active in church, he had no idea how far it would go. We'll talk with him about his transition from rapping to preaching. That's later in the program.

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Wisdom Watch
9:58 am
Wed December 19, 2012

Reverend Run: From Rapper To Preacher

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 11:38 am

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Later in the program I will share a few thoughts in my Can I Just Tell You essay but now it's time for our Wisdom Watch conversation. That's the part of the program where we speak with those whose work has made a difference. Today we are speaking with a hip-hop pioneer.

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The Salt
9:02 am
Wed December 19, 2012

Peak Farmland? Some Researchers Say It's Here

A soybean field near Campo Verde in western Brazil in January 2011. Researchers argue that enough arable land is already under cultivation to feed the planet for the next several decades.
Yasuyoshi Chiba AFP/GettyImages

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 2:34 pm

If you're looking for a dash of optimism about the future — and who isn't, these days? — you can find it in a rosy new prediction about the planet's ability to produce food for the next half-century.

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The Two-Way
8:42 am
Wed December 19, 2012

White House Says Obama Would Veto GOP's 'Plan B' For Avoiding 'Fiscal Cliff'

The president would use his pen to just say no, White House promises.
Kristoffer Tripplaar/Pool Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 9:22 am

Making the case that the "Plan B" proposed by House Republicans to keep the federal government from going over the so-called fiscal cliff at the end of the year "does not meet the test of balance," the White House announced this morning that President Obama would veto such legislation if it came to his desk.

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The Two-Way
8:36 am
Wed December 19, 2012

U.S. Will Sell Off Its General Motors Stock

General Motors is buying back stock from the U.S. government.
Paul Sancya ASSOCIATED PRESS

In a statement early this morning, the Treasury Department says it's going to "exit" its investment in General Motors. The federal government holds just over 500 million shares of GM stock.

The automaker will buy 200 million of those shares, and the government will dispose of the rest "in an orderly fashion" over the next year and a half, depending on market conditions.

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The Two-Way
8:19 am
Wed December 19, 2012

Robert Bork, Who Was Turned Down For Supreme Court, Dies

Judge Robert Bork in September 1987, at the Senate hearing on his nomination to the Supreme Court.
Charles Tasnadi AP

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 11:26 am

Robert Bork, who was at the center of Senate hearings that "marked the modern battle lines over judicial nominations," as NPR's Nina Totenberg has said, is dead, according to The New York Times, Fox News and The Associated Press.

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The Two-Way
7:07 am
Wed December 19, 2012

UPDATE: 'Eagle Snatches Kid' Video Makers Admit Hoax

Real or not?
YouTube

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 12:14 pm

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The Two-Way
6:20 am
Wed December 19, 2012

Newtown Shootings: Funerals Continue; Biden To Lead Task Force

Candles with the names of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, at a makeshift memorial near the entrance to the grounds of Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Brendan Smialowski AFP/Getty Images

Some of today's headlines and news about the shootings at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., last Friday. Twenty children and six adults were killed by the gunman who attacked Sandy Hook Elementary:

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