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10:01 pm
Mon December 12, 2011

Hot This Season: Getting In Touch With A Tablet

Customers look at the iPad 2 displayed at an Apple store. Black Friday sales for the iPad were up 70 percent from last year.
Martin Bureau AFP/Getty Images

Tablet computers are on a lot of people's wish lists this year.

A recent Nielsen survey found the Apple iPad is the most wanted gift for kids ages 6 to 12. Some have even taken their appeals to YouTube. But if an iPad isn't in the budget, there are some 30 other tablets out there to choose from.

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Poisoned Places: Toxic Air, Neglected Communities
10:01 pm
Mon December 12, 2011

EPA To Unveil New Rules For Power Plants

More than 20 years ago, Congress ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate toxic air pollution. It's done that for most industries, but not the biggest polluters — coal and oil-burning power plants.

The EPA now plans to change that later this week, by setting new rules to limit mercury and other harmful pollution from power plants.

When Congress first told the EPA to regulate toxic air pollution in 1990, pediatrician Lynn Goldman was investigating the impact of mercury from mining operations on Native American families living near a contaminated lake.

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The Salt
10:01 pm
Mon December 12, 2011

Funny Honey? Bringing Trust To A Sweet Sector Fraught With Suspicion

A Chinese beekeeper harvests honey beside a rape seed field in Anhui province. China is major producer of honey and bee products.
AFP AFP/Getty Images

Honey is the most natural of sweeteners, coming to us directly from bees and flowers.

Well, maybe not so directly. These days, a long supply chain often links beehives half a world away with the jar of honey in your kitchen. And there's suspicion in that supply chain: global trade disputes; accusations of unfair competition; even honey identity-switching.

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Best Books Of 2011
10:01 pm
Mon December 12, 2011

7 Books With Personality: Nancy Pearl's 2011 Picks

Priscilla Nielsen for NPR

Although all works of fiction and narrative nonfiction have characters — be they animals, hobbits, dragons, humans, werewolves or whatever — I've found that there are some books in which these characters are three-dimensional and awfully interesting. (Whether or not they're likable is another question.) These characters become, as the story progresses, more and more real to me. It's as though they've become good friends.

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The Salt
4:15 pm
Mon December 12, 2011

Oregon Senator Pushes Local Pears For School Lunches

Comice pears are super-yummy, but not approved for schookids.
iStockPhoto.com

Originally published on Mon December 12, 2011 4:18 pm

Mike Naumes thinks Oregon schoolchildren should be eating more Oregon pears. And not just the D'Anjou, Bartlett and Bosc pears approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's School Lunch Program, but the lesser-known Comice pears of southern Oregon's Rogue Valley.

Anyone who's ever tasted a Comice pear would have a hard time arguing with that. They're fat and green, extraordinarily sweet and juicy — a world apart from your typical supermarket pear.

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Crisis In The Housing Market
4:03 pm
Mon December 12, 2011

In Mortgage Crisis, Some Banks Agree To Cut Losses

Sharon Jordan (lower left) and her family (clockwise from top left: Rydell, Nikera and Anisha) are working with Bank of America and a Boston nonprofit to repurchase their duplex at its current market price — about half of the original value.
Aarti Shahani NPR

There's an unfamiliar trend emerging in America's troubled housing market. Big banks are volunteering to lose money — hundreds of millions for themselves and investors — in order to save homes at risk of foreclosure. And they're doing it in record numbers.

The year closed with a new trend: In 30 percent of private loan modifications, banks are doing a principal writedown — that is, hacking away at the amount owed as far down as the current market value. They're doing it so borrowers can actually afford payments. Two years ago, that 30 percent was just at 2 percent.

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The Two-Way
3:48 pm
Mon December 12, 2011

U.S. Asks Iran For Spy Drone's Return; Iran Says It's Extracting Secret Data

A picture released by the official website of Iran's Revolutionary Guards on December 8, 2011 shows Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Brig. Gen. Amir-Ali Hajizadeh (R) looking at what Iranian officials claim is a U.S. RQ-170 Sentinel high-altitude reconnaissance drone that crashed in Iran on December 4.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 12, 2011 5:02 pm

The United States is officially asking Iran for the return of a drone surveillance aircraft lost earlier this month.

"We have asked for it back. We'll see how the Iranians respond," President Barack Obama said during a White House news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Monday.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, speaking at a State Department news conference, told reporters that the U.S. had "submitted a formal request" for the craft's return, but that "given Iran's behavior to date, we do not expect them to comply."

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NPR Story
3:30 pm
Mon December 12, 2011

Gingrich, Huntsman Hold Debate

Originally published on Mon December 12, 2011 4:33 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

One last note from the campaign trail. Two of Mitt Romney's opponents engaged today in a long conversation, a so-called Lincoln-Douglas style debate at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, discussed in a gentlemanly manner topics of foreign policy and national security. And Gingrich began with a short critique.

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Shots - Health Blog
3:24 pm
Mon December 12, 2011

ADHD Drugs Show Little Risk For Most Adults' Hearts

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 10:36 am

Kids aren't the only ones taking drugs for ADHD.

In fact, over the past decade or so, use of the drugs by adults has grown at a far faster rate than it has for children, according to data from drug benefits manager Medco.

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Opinion
3:17 pm
Mon December 12, 2011

For Nervous Seniors, Some Pre-Graduation Advice

istockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon December 12, 2011 4:33 pm

Mitchell Zuckoff is a professor at Boston University and the author of Lost in Shangri-La.

I taught my last class of the semester the other day. Inevitably, my students — all of them journalism majors and most of them seniors — hijacked the lesson plan to vent their hopes and fears about what awaits them after graduation.

This happens every December, and each year I do my best to calm and encourage them, to let them know it's OK to be worried but it's not OK to despair. I give them what I've come to consider my pre-commencement address.

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