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It's All Politics, April 5, 2012

Apr 6, 2012

Mitt Romney's sweep in Tuesday's primaries essentially signals the beginning of the general election campaign. And President Obama joins the fray, attacking Romney by name in a speech to news editors; the former Massachusetts governor returns the favor a day later. Paul Ryan draws attention from the president as well as those speculating on the GOP ticket. NPR's Ron Elving and Ken Rudin have the latest in this week's political roundup.

We're seeing headlines today about an entire college championship team moving from one school to another. And though the story's about two months old, it's still so unusual and has enough interesting angles to warrant passing along.

Math teachers know that fractions can be hard for the average third-grader. Teachers at a public school in San Bruno, Calif., just south of San Francisco, are trying something new. They're teaching difficult math concepts through music, and they're getting remarkable results.

At Allen Elementary School, a roomful of third-graders sits facing music instructor Endre Balogh, their backs straight, eyes ahead, beating a mouse pad with drumsticks. As Balogh taps a rhythm, the students follow.

Acute appendicitis generally means a speedy trip to the hospital for surgery. But British researchers say antibiotics might be a safe and effective alternative in uncomplicated cases.

"The general consensus was that the appendix has to be taken out the moment you feel it was inflamed," Dr. Dileep Lobo, professor of gastrointestinal surgery at the University of Nottingham and Queen's Medical Centre, tells Shots.

Earl Albert Moore, who in April 2011 on the 12th anniversary of the Columbine school shootings placed a pipe bomb in a nearby Colorado shopping mall, has been sentenced to life in prison.

The nation's unemployment rate edged down to 8.2 percent in March from 8.3 percent in February, but only 120,000 jobs were added to private and public payrolls the Bureau of Labor Statistics said this morning in a report that was less positive about the labor market's health than economists had expected.

Prior to the news, forecasters had predicted BLS would say about 200,000 jobs were added to payrolls last month.

Close your books, America. It's time for a pop quiz.

Do you believe Barack Obama is:

a) The best of presidents? A blogger who goes by the name Troubadour on Daily Kos, Brian Altmeyer, pretty much makes the claim in a recent post: "Barack Obama is either the best President we've ever had, or more humbly, equal to the best Presidents we've ever had (and thereby one of their number)."

A U.S. Marine sergeant who posted "contemptuous" comments and images about President Obama on the Web should be dismissed and given an other-than-honorable discharge, a Marine Corps administrative board recommended late Thursday evening.

The case against Sgt. Gary Stein, 26, has raised questions about how far the military can go to restrict the First Amendment rights of its personnel.

The morning's major news, if all goes as planned, will be the 8:30 a.m. ET release of the March jobs and unemployment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

According to Reuters, economists expect we'll hear that the unemployment rate stayed at 8.3 percent and that private and public employers added about 200,000 jobs to their payrolls. The jobless rate's recent peak was 10 percent, in October 2009.

The mild New England winter means that more bears are up and about, looking for food — and not just in the woods. They're also exploring urban backyards and residential streets. The small town of Northampton, Mass., has more than its share of furry visitors.

In Northampton, a call on a neighborhood email list for tales of recent bear encounters netted about about a dozen responses in an hour. Almost everyone, it seems, has a bear story.

The political ascent of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood has created some unease in Washington, and in an attempt to counter that, the group dispatched a delegation to the U.S. capital this week for meetings that range from administration officials to think tanks and universities.

The Brotherhood has rapidly evolved into a powerful political force since former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was ousted from power in February of last year.

In a Mass today at St. Peter's Basilica, Pope Benedict XVI delivered a scathing homily that reiterated the Catholic Church's ban on female priests.

He also criticized a group of priests who have called on their colleagues to ignore Rome. NPR's Barbara Bradley Hagerty filed this report for our Newscast unit:

President Obama signed the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (or JOBS) Act into law Thursday, legislation meant to make it easier for entrepreneurs to get investor financing that helps them add workers. Does that mean it will be harder for Republicans to frame Obama as anti-jobs?

"Well, if it works, it will make it harder," said Craig Shirley, a longtime conservative political strategist and writer who runs a Washington, D.C.-area public-affairs firm.

Malaria experts have been holding their breath and hoping it wouldn't happen. But it has.

Malaria parasites resistant to the last, best drug treatment, called artemisinin combination therapy, or ACT, are infecting people along the border of Thailand and Myanmar.

The self described enforcer for a violent Juarez, Mexico, drug cartel has pleaded guilty to conspiracy, racketeering and murder charges that could send him away for the rest of his life.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum met with a group of conservative leaders Thursday behind closed doors at an office in Northern Virginia. They discussed the road ahead for Santorum's Republican presidential campaign as the polls tighten in his home state of Pennsylvania, which holds its primary on April 24.

The meeting included "strategic conversations about how to get the conservative ranks to coalesce around Rick," Santorum campaign spokesman Hogan Gidley told NPR.

A federal grand jury in Virginia has indicted former CIA officer John Kiriakou on charges that he violated the Espionage Act by allegedly sharing secret information about some of his colleagues with reporters.

Maybe this bipartisan thing will become a trend: As we noted, earlier today President Obama signed the JOBS Act into law flanked by Republican Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor.

And, now there's news that both President Obama and Mitt Romney agree on one thing: They both think women should be allowed to join the Augusta National Golf Club.

Step up to any newsstand in Australia, like the one in Melbourne's Central Business District, and ask who Rupert Murdoch is, and you might get an appraisal like this one from Tom Baxter, an officer with a local disability foundation: "Long time in newspapers, ruthless; dedicated to their craft; a global citizen."

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has some unsolicited advice for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on appealing to female voters.

"The golden ticket that people need to see and see more of is Ann Romney," Haley told NPR's Steve Inskeep in an interview set to air on Friday's Morning Edition. Haley was responding to a question about polls that show strengthening support among women for President Obama.

Youssou N'Dour, the Grammy-Award-winning artist best known for his singing in Peter Gabriel's hit In Your Eyes, has been appointed culture minister by Senegal's new government.

NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports that N'Dour was disqualified from running from president so he threw his support to the incoming president. Reporting from Bamako in Mali, Ofeibea filed this report:

At this week's Passover Seders, Jews around the world lay out ceremonial meals. There's parsley or radishes to represent spring rebirth, and horseradish to show the bitterness of slavery.

As Orthodox Rabbi Tzvi Fischer shows me at the People's Farmer's Market in southeast Portland, Ore., those vegetables, and the critters inside them, bring their own theological issues.

When protesters took to the streets of Syria last year, one of those who joined in was Abu Azad — a pseudonym he uses to protect his safety.

A member of the Kurdish ethnic group, Abu Azad helped organize protests in Kurdish areas, calling for Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down. But Abu Azad recently found out he was wanted by Syrian authorities.

"They were chasing me and they want to kill me," he says.

Thirty feet long and weighing in at around 3,000 pounds, Yutyrannus huali goes by the nickname "beautiful feathered tyrant." Yutyrannus earned the name "tyrant" because it casually ripped its prey to pieces. But it was also a snappy dresser: The huge predator was covered in downy feathers.

President Obama Signs JOBS Act Into Law

Apr 5, 2012

"This bill represents exactly the kind of bipartisan action we should be taking in Washington to help our economy," said President Obama before signing the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act into law.

It was a rare bipartisan moment in Washington. Just look at this picture:

The Democratic president is flanked by Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor, a Republican from Virginia and Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democratic delegate from the District of Columbia.

At the college of Dartmouth, in the year '24
There lived a young humorist named Theodor.
Though boozing was banned as a crime and a sin,
Theo hosted a party with plenty of gin.
But then in through the door without even a knock
Burst the grinch who stole gin-mas: Dean Craven Laycock.

The dean started shouting. His face turned bright red.
"Put down your tumbler and listen up, Ted!
I'm kicking you out of those clubs that you're in.
Your work won't be published at Dartmouth again!"

It's about a week after it became available on the Internet but no less interesting now than it was then is the infographic by Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, which skewers voter ID laws cropping up in various states. One of his points — the cure is far worse than the disease.

A disease that has killed more than 5.5 million bats in the eastern United States and Canada is making its way west. White-nose syndrome has now been diagnosed in three Missouri bats — the first confirmed cases west of the Mississippi. And scientists say it won't stop there.