National/World

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?"

For nearly half a century, Penn State football has been the model for how to run a successful — and clean — college sports program. And coach Joe Paterno has been its leader, revered in all quarters not only for winning games but for his virtuous, fatherly leadership.

That all changed this week, with the arrest of former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky on 40 criminal counts related to the alleged sexual abuse of minors. In addition, two top university officials have been charged with perjury and failing to report allegations to police.

Ohio voters on Tuesday resoundingly repealed a controversial law that would have severely limited collective bargaining for public employees, a law Republican Gov. John Kasich made the centerpiece of his legislative agenda this spring.

Voters not only disliked Kasich's law — 61 percent voted to repeal it, 39 percent supported keeping it — they also have grown to dislike Kasich. The governor's approval rating was at 36 percent in an October Quinnipiac poll.

Listen to this:

Those were finger nails working their way across a chalkboard. Some of you might have felt a shiver. It's one of those sounds that provokes a physical reaction. Scientists have looked into the why for years and this week, scientists presented another theory at the Acoustical Society of America meeting.

When the Republican presidential candidates meet Wednesday evening in Michigan for their ninth debate (it feels like there've been many more than that) the main topic up for discussion is supposed to be the economy.

But is there anyone who expects that the travails of Herman Cain won't be a subtopic?

The former Godfather Pizza CEO's flat-tax plan encountered severe turbulence at the last debate and it is likely to experience more during the encounter at Oakland University outside Detroit.

Voters in Mississippi were expected to make it the first state to confer protected legal status to fertilized human eggs Tuesday. Instead, they made it the second state to reject a so-called personhood amendment to its constitution.

One possible reason is that the effort divides even those who consider themselves against abortion.

Libya may be months from a new government, but the still-infrequent international flights to Tripoli are packed with businesspeople looking to land contracts with this oil-rich North African state. The Turks and Europeans appear to be moving quickly, while the Americans seem to be several steps behind.

On one recent afternoon, the plush Rixos hotel in Tripoli hosted hastily organized meetings between Libyans and a swarm of Turks representing 150 different companies.

Russia and the former Soviet Union haven't had much luck when it comes to missions to the red planet. On Tuesday, it launched a probe destined for Mars. It was supposed to land on Phobos, one of the planet's moons, scoop up some rocks and return home with its specimens.

Instead, the Phobos-Grunt spacecraft launched successfully into orbit, but then its boosters failed to ignite, so for now, it's stuck orbiting our planet.

Paging Danny Glover. A new species needs your help.

These photos, which came to us via email from the World Wildlife Fund, show an amazing scene: Nineteen sedated black rhinoceroses were airlifted out of an area in South Africa, and spent about 10 minutes upside down in the air en route to a new home.

Bil Keane, whose "Family Circus" comics have been appearing in newspapers since 1960, died Tuesday in Arizona at the age of 89.

The Chinese government slapped artist Ai Weiwei — one of China's most famous dissidents — with a $2.4 million tax bill last week. The move was widely seen as punishment for Ai's relentless criticism of the Communist Party.

Since then, in an outpouring of support rarely seen for a government critic, thousands of people have loaned Ai nearly $1 million to help pay the fine.

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