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The Two-Way
9:09 am
Tue December 11, 2012

Today's Three Stories To Read About The 'Fiscal Cliff'

President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, at the White House on Nov. 16.
Toby Jorrin AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 11, 2012 12:18 pm

As we've said now several times, "the White House and congressional leaders continue to talk about taxes, spending cuts and how to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff that arrives at midnight Dec. 31 — when Bush-era tax cuts are set to expire and automatic spending cuts are set to go into effect."

As NPR and others cover the story, we're pointing to interesting reports and analyses. Here are some of the latest.

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The Two-Way
8:06 am
Tue December 11, 2012

Syrian Defector: Assad Will Use Chemical Weapons If He's Desperate

Syrian President Bashar Assad in 2009.
Louai Beshara AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 11, 2012 2:25 pm

If Syrian President Bashar Assad gets desperate enough he will use chemical weapons against his own people, the former chief of staff for that country's chemical weapons tells NPR's Deborah Amos.

Maj. Gen. Adnan Sillu, who defected in July and is now in Turkey, is convinced that if rebel forces close in on Damascus, Assad will order the use of mustard gas, sarin or other chemicals in a "last desperate act," Deb reported today on Morning Edition.

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Europe
7:39 am
Tue December 11, 2012

Noah's Ark Replica Docks In Netherlands

Originally published on Tue December 11, 2012 10:55 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Good morning. I'm David Greene, with news that Noah's Ark has docked in the Netherlands. Well, sort of. Johan Huibers built a full-scale replica of the ark on a river, staying as true as he could to God's instructions to Noah. The giant floating hulk opened to the public with some real animals: rabbits and parakeets. The bison and tigers are life-sized sculptures. There are modern creature comforts, like two cinemas and a restaurant. And on opening day, by God, it rained. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Around the Nation
7:34 am
Tue December 11, 2012

Phoenix Man Lights Cactus To Celebrate Hanukkah

Originally published on Tue December 11, 2012 10:55 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. The spirit of Hanukah is aglow in the desert. For the seventh straight year, a man in Phoenix is lighting up the tips of a giant cactus to celebrate the holiday. Mel Kline's cactus is called a saguaro. It has a middle trunk and eight arms, perfect for a menorah. And at 30 feet tall, it attracts hundreds of visitors. The Arizona Republic reports that Kline bought the cactus 35 years ago. His wife wanted a maple tree. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

National Security
6:36 am
Tue December 11, 2012

U.S. Adds Syrian Rebel Group To Terror List

Originally published on Tue December 11, 2012 10:55 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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Digital Life
6:36 am
Tue December 11, 2012

FTC: Apps For Children Raise Privacy Concerns

Originally published on Tue December 11, 2012 10:55 am

The Federal Trade Commission has released a report taking to task the makers of mobile apps for children. It says apps are not transparent enough about the personal information they collect. It's the latest sign the Obama administration is concerned about children's privacy online.

NPR Story
6:26 am
Tue December 11, 2012

Syrian Army Said To Be Readying Chemical Weapons

Originally published on Tue December 11, 2012 10:55 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

The warnings have come from the White House, Western capitals and the U.N. Syria's president, Bashar al Assad, must not use chemical weapons against the rebels and his people.

Publicly, Syrian officials deny having a chemical stockpile. They insist they would never use one if they had one. But U.S. officials have said there are signs that the Syrian army is readying its chemical arsenal for use.

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NPR Story
6:26 am
Tue December 11, 2012

The Lost Art Of Budget Negptoatopms

Originally published on Tue December 11, 2012 10:55 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

President Obama and House speaker John Boehner have been holding private conversations about how to avoid the fiscal cliff, but still no deal. That has many in Washington talking about how it wasn't always so difficult to get things done. For some insight, we called John Danforth. He's a former Republican senator from Missouri and spent decades forging deals across the aisle, including the 1986 tax reform law under President Reagan. As he sees it, lawmakers aren't approaching the current problem from the right angle.

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Economy
5:38 am
Tue December 11, 2012

What Happens If We Fall Off The 'Fiscal Cliff'?

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue December 11, 2012 10:55 am

Lines of communication remain open in an effort to avert the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts known as the "fiscal cliff," according to the White House and House Speaker John Boehner.

If no deal is reached between now and the end of the year, would the consequences be that drastic?

To answer that question, let's imagine it's January and the nation has gone off the "fiscal cliff." You don't really feel any different and things don't look different, either. That's because, according to former congressional budget staffer Stan Collender, the cliff isn't really a cliff.

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Shots - Health News
3:18 am
Tue December 11, 2012

Feds Say 'No' To Partial Medicaid Expansion

Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe speaks about expanding Medicaid during a speech to the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce in Little Rock, Ark., on Nov. 14. The federal government hasn't set a deadline for states to decide on their Medicaid expansion plans.
Danny Johnston AP

Originally published on Tue December 11, 2012 10:55 am

The Affordable Care Act, as passed by Congress in 2010, assumed that every low-income person would have access to health insurance starting in 2014.

That's when about 17 million Americans — mostly unmarried healthy adults with incomes up to 133 percent of poverty, or about $15,000 a year — would gain access to Medicaid.

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Author Interviews
3:18 am
Tue December 11, 2012

Oprah's Second Pick: A First-Time Novelist

Oprah Winfrey's OWN cable channel and her magazine have revived her book club, now known as Book Club 2.0.
Charles Sykes AP

Originally published on Tue December 11, 2012 10:55 am

Earlier this year, Oprah Winfrey announced an updated version of her popular book club, this time called Book Club 2.0. Her first pick, Cheryl Strayed's memoir Wild, experienced best-seller list success thanks to what some people are calling the "Oprah bump." And last week Winfrey announced her second pick, a novel called The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis, a first-time author.

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Around the Nation
3:17 am
Tue December 11, 2012

Detroit Tries To Stave Off State Takeover Of Finances

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing delivers his State of the City address on March 7. If Bing and the City Council can't agree on a plan to reduce the city's budget deficit, state officials are poised to take away their power over Detroit's finances.
Carlos Osorio AP

Originally published on Tue December 11, 2012 10:55 am

Detroit officials face a tough vote Tuesday as they try to keep their city from going over its own "fiscal cliff." If the mayor and City Council cannot agree on a plan to reduce the city's budget deficit, state officials are poised to take away their power and assume total control over Detroit's finances.

It's been a continuing vicious cycle: Detroit's population exodus, lost tax revenue and chronic mismanagement have left the city burning through cash to the point where the state of Michigan has to provide funding to help the city meet payroll for the next few months.

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World
3:16 am
Tue December 11, 2012

Russian Scandal Hints At Larger Political Battle

Russian President Vladimir Putin and former Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, who was recently fired, review military officers on Moscow's Red Square in May. Putin's decision to sack Serdyukov has touched off widespread speculation on the motive.
Alexei Druzhinin AP

Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 10:33 am

Russia is in the middle of a blazing tabloid-style scandal that features a bejeweled blonde, a luxury love nest, and an alleged scam worth more than $200 million.

But that's not where some Kremlin watchers are putting their attention. They see the scandal as just the visible fallout from a vicious backroom fight among Russia's ruling elite.

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NPR Story
8:29 pm
Mon December 10, 2012

HSBC Reaches $1.9B Deal Over Money Laundering

Originally published on Mon December 10, 2012 8:44 pm

HSBC bank has reached a record $1.9 billion settlement with federal and state authorities over money laundering. All Things Considered host Robert Siegel talks to NPR's Jim Zarroli.

The Two-Way
6:09 pm
Mon December 10, 2012

U.S. To Add Syrian Rebel Group To Terror List

The U.S. is adding a Syrian rebel group to its list of foreign terrorist organizations, a move meant to marginalize extremists who are among the groups working to oust President Bashar Assad.

NPR's Michele Kelemen reported on the move to add Jabhat al-Nusra to the list. Here's what she told our Newscast unit:

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News
5:51 pm
Mon December 10, 2012

The World In 2030: Asia Rises, The West Declines

The National Intelligence Council's Global Trends 2030 report predicts that by the year 2030, a majority of the world's population will be out of poverty.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon December 10, 2012 8:44 pm

By the year 2030, for the first time in history, a majority of the world's population will be out of poverty. Middle classes will be the most important social and economic sector. Asia will enjoy the global power status it last had in the Middle Ages, while the 350-year rise of the West will be largely reversed. Global leadership may be shared, and the world is likely to be democratizing.

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It's All Politics
5:47 pm
Mon December 10, 2012

DeMint And Heritage: Playing Off Each Other's Strengths

Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., talks on the phone in his Capitol Hill office on Dec. 6, the day he announced he will resign from the Senate and lead the Heritage Foundation.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 10, 2012 8:44 pm

Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., shocked Washington last week when he announced that he will quit the Senate to become president of a think tank. But as the barriers crumble between policy research and partisan advocacy, the building blocks are there for DeMint and the conservative Heritage Foundation to build a powerful operation with political clout.

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The Record
5:12 pm
Mon December 10, 2012

Remembering Banda Diva Jenni Rivera

Jenni Rivera performs at the Lilith Fair in 2010 in San Diego.
David Bergman Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 10, 2012 8:44 pm

To listen to Mandalit del Barco's appreciation of Jenni Rivera's life and career, as heard on All Things Considered, click the audio link.

Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera died Sunday in an airplane that crashed in the early hours of the morning in Toluca, west of Mexico's capital. The legendary musician, household name and feminist presence in the Latin music scene was 43.

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World Cafe
5:12 pm
Mon December 10, 2012

Next: Leagues

Leagues.
Heidi Ross Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon December 17, 2012 10:43 am

The three members of Leagues — singer Thad Cockrell, guitarist Tyler Burkum and drummer Jeremy Lutito — have been known to say that they're inspired not by artists, but by specific songs. That intense focus on individual tracks is clearly put to work on Leagues' debut album, You Belong Here. There's a cohesive sound to the record as a whole, but it sounds like the band deliberately pushed for each song to stand on its own. As a result, the album plays like a collection of singles, each track as catchy as the next.

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World Cafe
5:12 pm
Mon December 10, 2012

Alt-J On World Cafe @ 8PM on WCBE!

Jory Cordy

Originally published on Tue December 11, 2012 3:26 pm

Alt-J (stylized as ∆) may be the most successful new British band of 2012 — a favorite to win the Mercury Music Prize in November and a Top 20 chart phenomenon in the U.K. The group, which chose its name from the mathematical symbol for change, made a splash with its debut album, An Awesome Wave, which came out in September. The record mixes upbeat indie rock and brooding synths with vocals that sound like no one else's in music today.

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