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Part 4 of four

Some weeks ago, I paid a visit to an eggshell-blue house in Newtown, a neighborhood on the west side of Sydney, to Wendy Bacon and her husband, Chris Nash.

As we sat on the porch of their book-lined home, they pointed with pride to the Australasian trees and blooms defining their interior courtyard.

And then Bacon delved into her own harvest: the results of a case study about how the country's newspapers handled a pressing and contentious issue.

The Republican presidential primaries may not officially be over, but political ads on both sides have moved on to the general election.

The Food and Drug Administration has warned people about the many dangers of buying medications from foreign pharmacies over the Internet. While some sites might offer high-quality medicines, there are plenty that sell bogus and potentially dangerous products.

Current TV has filed a countersuit against its former lead anchor Keith Olbermann. As we reported, Current fired Olbermann last week. Olbermann, who also abruptly left MSNBC, went on the offensive, bad-mouthing his former employeer on Letterman and eventually filing a lawsuit for wrongful termination yesterday.

A California grandmother convicted of shaking her 7-week-old grandson to death will not return to jail, because Gov. Jerry Brown has commuted her sentence.

Police departments have come under increased scrutiny from the Obama administration as the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division steps up investigations of corruption, bias and excessive force.

Some of the targeted law enforcement agencies have had ethical clouds hanging over them for years — the New Orleans Police Department being the prime example — but others, like the Seattle Police Department, aren't exactly usual suspects.

In presidential nominating contests, the delegate count really matters — right up until the moment where it doesn't.

Unfortunately for Rick Santorum, that moment seems ever more imminent in this spring's Republican presidential race.

Mitt Romney's overwhelming wins this week in three states (including Wisconsin, where Santorum not too long ago had been leading in the polls) seem to have reconfirmed the sense that he has cleared all the major hurdles, and the rest is mere formality.

In one Alaskan fishing village, crime is a laughing matter. It's not the crimes that have residents chuckling so much as how they're written about. The Unalaska crime report is full of eagle aggression and intimate encounters gone awry in the Aleutian Islands.

When Sgt. Jennifer Shockley heads out on patrol each day, she's got the police blotter on her mind. Her goal is to paint a detailed picture of the town's often ridiculous crimes.

The Motion Picture Association of America and The Weinstein Co. have finally come to an agreement: After editing some profanities, the MPAA walked back its R-rating and Bully, a documentary about school bullying, will be released on April 13 with a PG-13 rating.

Hungary's new anti-vagrancy laws — the toughest in Europe — now mean that homeless people sleeping on the street can face police fines or even the possibility of jail time.

Advocacy and human-rights groups are alarmed by the new efforts to crack down on and effectively criminalize homelessness, where the ranks of the needy have increased during the country's dire financial crisis.

Debt, joblessness and poverty are on the rise. The country's bonds have been downgraded to "junk" status, and the nation's currency, the forint, has dropped sharply against the euro.

Spring means cherry, pear and apple blossoms. But in many metropolitan areas, urban foresters ensure those flowering fruit trees don't bear fruit to keep fallen fruit from being trampled into slippery sidewalk jelly.

But a group of fruit fans in the San Francisco Bay Area is secretly grafting fruit-bearing tree limbs onto those fruitless trees.

For people with dyslexia, problems recognizing words can make life difficult. Children usually aren't diagnosed until elementary school, when it becomes clear they're struggling with reading. But scientists say it could be possible to diagnose and help kids much earlier by identifying problems with visual attention — long before they learn to read.

A Navy fighter jet crashed into an apartment complex in Virginia Beach on Friday afternoon. Television images showed thick, black smoke billowing near a row of apartment buildings.

Update at 8:24 a.m. ET April 7. No Fatalities, Officials Confirm

Fire officials say they have accounted for everyone who lived at an apartment complex in Virginia where a Navy fighter jet crashed on Friday.

Opinion about the Trayvon Martin shooting is sharply divided by race, a new USA Today/Gallup poll finds.

The divide is clear, when pollsters asked if George Zimmerman, the Neighborhood Watch volunteer who shot and killed the black, unarmed teenager, was guilty of a crime.

A little more than half of the African Americans polled said he was "definitely guilty," while only 15 percent of non-blacks shared the same opinion.

The poll also found:

March Jobs Report Offers Mixed Messages

Apr 6, 2012



Deal Might Be The Key To Save Detroit

Apr 6, 2012

The city's leaders agreed to a compromise with state officials this week, that may save Detroit from bankruptcy. But Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley tells host Michel Martin that a lot more work needs to be done to save the struggling city. They're also joined by NPR Senior Business Editor Marilyn Geewax.

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.