National/World

Greece Announces Interim Government

Nov 10, 2011

After keeping a nervous world waiting for days, the squabbling politicians of debt-ridden Greece finally announced a new interim government Thursday. It will be headed by a former European Central banker, Lucas Papademos, whose main task will be to ensure that Greece meets the conditions set by its European partners to receive new loan money and avoid default. That means showing that Greece will enforce austerity measures.

In Cuba, Door Opens To Residential Property Market

Nov 10, 2011

First-time visitors to Havana immediately notice two things about the city: the graceful architecture of its buildings, and the fact that so many of them are in ruins.

But walking through the crumbling Centro Habana neighborhood this week, there was another sight: homeowners beating back the decay on nearly every block.

That's because a new law takes effect Thursday allowing Cubans to buy and sell residential property for the first time in 50 years.

Final Keystone Pipeline Decision Delayed

Nov 10, 2011

The U.S. State Department is ordering the developer of a pipeline that would carry oil from western Canada to Texas to reroute it around environmentally sensitive areas of Nebraska.

That means possibly delaying a final U.S. decision until after the 2012 election.

The decision to order Calgary-based TransCanada Corp. to figure out a way around an area that supplies water to eight states will require an environmental review of the new section. That review probably would take at least a year.

"I don't want the euro to fall apart," says Simon Wolfson.

Lots of people don't want the euro to fall apart. But Wolfson feels compelled to say so because he's offering a $400,000 prize for figuring out how to dismantle the euro.

Wolfson — aka Lord Wolfson of Aspley Guise — is the CEO of a big retailer called NEXT. He has argued against the UK joining the euro, but his company has stores all around the euro zone.

Cleaning up the air, while good for our lungs, could make global warming worse. That conclusion is underscored by a new study, which looks at the pollutants that go up smokestacks along with carbon dioxide.

These pollutants are called aerosols and they include soot as well as compounds of nitrogen and sulfur and other stuff into the air. Natalie Mahowald, a climate researcher at Cornell University, says so far, scientists have mostly tried to understand what those aerosols do while they're actually in the air.

PHOTO: Silvio Berlusconi's Notes

Nov 10, 2011

On Tuesday, Italy's Parliament cast a vote on a measure to approve the 2010 state finances. But it was no ordinary vote: It laid bare the fact that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi had lost a majority. That vote would eventually lead to Berlusconi offering his resignation on Wednesday.

In all the news, we missed this interesting picture:

Wilson Ramos of the Washington Nationals appears to be the first Major League Baseball player to have fallen victim to what's become an alarming trend in Venezuela: the kidnapping and holding for ransom of the rich. He was grabbed Wednesday by gunmen and hasn't been seen since.

But he's not the first major leaguer to have been touched by the epidemic of kidnappings-for-ransom in Venezuela.

From Chompsgiving to Chew Year's: Holiday Dishes

Nov 10, 2011

'Tis almost the season, and what would the holidays be without our favorite foods?

There are the traditional standbys — like turkey and cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving, or latkes for Hanukkah. But many people also have a special dish they eat only during the holidays. For example, one NPR reader raves about lefse, which she says is a potato-based staple for any traditional Norwegian-American holiday dinner. It's "best served hot with butter. Or cold with butter and sugar. Butter is key," she writes.

Soul food has become the comfort food for a lot of Americans – not just the African-Americans whose ancestors invented it.

Now, food educators are looking closely at soul food's culinary roots for inspiration on how to eat healthfully today.

A group of culinary historians, nutritionists and health experts have put together the Oldways African Heritage Diet Pyramid, a new model for healthful eating designed specifically for African-Americans and descendants of Africans everywhere.

The Nixon Library and National Archives have released a trove of documents (.pdf and a big file) relating to former President Richard Nixon's grand jury testimony. The testimony, taken after Nixon resigned, was the first by a president. Nixon was interviewed at his California home on June 23 and 24, 1975, after he had been pardoned by President Gerald Ford. The release of documents was ordered by a federal judge back in July.

With so much attention being given to the firing of football coach Joe Paterno and school President Graham Spanier, as well the long-term impact on the school from the sexual abuse scandal that came to light at Penn State this week, there's a danger of the alleged victims being forgotten.

An Unorthodox Approach To Tricky Surgery

Nov 10, 2011

Add minimally invasive surgery through an opening between the cheek and jaw to the list of procedures I'm happy exist and that I hope I'll never have to endure.

A Johns Hopkins surgeon who is pretty handy with an endoscope has figured out how to operate in some hard-to-reach spots at the base of the skull through a natural opening that's above the jawbone, behind the back teeth and just below the cheekbone.

It requires a small incision inside the cheek, sure, but that's no biggie, really.

It didn't take before the Obama administration backed down on a plan to tax Christmas trees this holiday season. Shortly after the USDA announced it had approved a 15-cent per tree fee, there was an uproar.

Disgraced American cyclist Floyd Landis, who was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title, today was convicted in absentia by a French court "for his role in hacking into the computers of a French doping lab," The Associated Press reports. Landis was given a suspended sentence of 12 months.

Part 4 of a four-part series, Poisoned Places: Toxic Air, Neglected Communities

Jeani Thomson has been pleading with New York state officials for more than 30 years to protect her neighborhood from the foul-smelling "blue fog" that settles in her yard. She has long suspected the source is an industrial facility about a mile from her house called Tonawanda Coke.

James Murduch, the son of Rupert Murdoch and his deputy CEO at News Corp., was defiant in his second appearance before British Parliament. Murdoch, whose company has been under fire after it was accused of hacking into the phones of royalty and victims of crime, said he did not know the extent of the illegal activity undertaken at his publications.

The New York Times reports:

After NPR and Kaiser Health News reported yesterday on Wal-Mart's plans to become a big provider of primary care in the U.S., the retailer said its document that served as an invitation to partners for the effort was "overwritten and incorrect."

Alabama's Jefferson County has filed for what is the biggest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. The county commission voted 4-1 in favor of seeking bankruptcy protection on Wednesday after a debt-restructuring deal fell apart.

As The Birmingham News reports the history of the more than $4 billion in debt spans a decade and mostly involves a failed sewer construction deal fraught with corruption. Jefferson County is home to Birmingham, Alabama's largest city.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry was doing his best Thursday to limit the damage after he drew a blank at Wednesday's GOP candidate debate on his own plan to reduce the size of government.

Discussing the proposal, Perry said he would eliminate three federal agencies, but then could not name them all, despite being pressed by the moderator.

"Commerce, Education and the — what's the third one there? Let's see," the Texas governor said. Rival candidate Ron Paul suggested it might be the Environmental Protection Agency. "EPA, there you go," Perry responded — incorrectly.

Justice Department lawyers prosecuting a former CIA agent for leaking classified information allegedly lagged in turning over evidence that would help the intelligence operative with his defense, causing the judge to bar a pair of government witnesses from testifying.

Unemployment Claims Drop; Trade Deficit Narrows

Nov 10, 2011

We have two pieces of good news on the economic front:

-- Bloomberg reports: "The U.S. trade deficit unexpectedly narrowed in September to the lowest level this year as exports surged to a record high."

Lucas Papademos was named prime minister of the new Greek interim government Thursday. His main task will be to implement the multibillion-dollar bailout that Eurozone leaders agreed to last month. But can he convince Greeks to swallow the austerity measures they hate? Steve Inskeep talks to reporter Joanna Kakissis, who is in Athens.

Lucas Papademos, a former vice president at the European Central Bank, was named Greece's new prime minister. George Papandreou, the former prime minister, was pressured to resign earlier this week amid an all-out European Union crisis.

In a statement, the country's president said Papademos' chief role will be to ensure swift passage of the terms of the European Union bailout.

For Penn State's Joe Paterno, the winningest football coach in Division I history, his career ends with this statement Wednesday night from the school's board of trustees:

"The board determined that it is in the best interest of the University for Joe Paterno to no longer serve as head football coach, effective immediately."

Part three of a four-part series, Poisoned Places: Toxic Air, Neglected Communities.

The smokestack stands more than nine stories above the southeastern Kansas prairie and the small city of Chanute, and it's bright, white flashing lights are like a beacon in the night sky.

Presidential hopefuls and voters alike sometimes get upset about so-called gotcha questions from reporters that seem designed to embarrass contenders. But Wednesday night's Republican debate outside Detroit demonstrated how some candidates have done a perfectly good job of "getting" themselves.

The debate had some dramatic moments — including one excruciating moment that Texas Gov. Rick Perry would probably like to forget. The comments focused on the economy and jobs, but there were also questions about the sexual harassment allegations against front-runner Herman Cain.

A controversy erupted earlier this year over who deserved credit for what many say is the most important astronomical discovery of the 20th century: the realization that the universe was expanding.

In 1929, American astronomer Edwin Hubble proposed that the more distant a galaxy is, the faster it appears to be receding from us, a concept that is known as Hubble's law.

Astronomer Mario Livio has worked with the Hubble Space Telescope for more than 20 years. "So clearly, anything Hubble is of interest to me," he says.

President Obama flies to Honolulu on Friday to begin the third Asia trip of his presidency. He'll visit Hawaii, Australia and Indonesia in a nine-day trip that's meant to reaffirm a fundamental shift in America's foreign policy.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has described this reorientation as "America's Pacific Century."

Saudi women are getting conflicting messages from their government about whether it intends to expand their rights.

They received a boost from King Abdullah who pledged to give them more political power in the coming years. But new Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdel-Aziz Al Saud is known for his opposition to women's rights.

Imagine driving without a speedometer and still trying to go the speed limit. Chris Montag, chief operating officer of Ladybug Teknologies, says that's analogous to going out drinking without a Breathalyzer.

"It's something we've done for hundreds of years, and nobody's ever had a tool and we guess ... that we're OK," Montag says. "But, really, how do you know when you've never been able to measure it?"

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