10:01pm

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

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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10:01pm

Mon December 12, 2011
Business

Airplane Mechanics: A Farm Team For Everyone Else?

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 6:21 pm

The best airplane mechanics are skilled at everything from metal part fabrication to electronics to lavatory plumbing. Other, better-paying companies soon become interested in their skills.
Courtesy AAR

Talk of jobs — or lack of them — dominates the national conversation right now. But there are places in the economy where willing, qualified workers are hard to come by.

One such place is AAR Aircraft Services Corp., an aircraft maintenance facility in Oklahoma City. There, American capitalism is on display with all its strengths and weaknesses. AAR services jet aircraft, including passenger planes from carriers like Alaska Airlines, Mesa Air and Allegiant Air.

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4:15pm

Mon December 12, 2011
The Salt

Oregon Senator Pushes Local Pears For School Lunches

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

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

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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4:03pm

Mon December 12, 2011
Crisis In The Housing Market

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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3:48pm

Mon December 12, 2011
The Two-Way

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

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

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

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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3:30pm

Mon December 12, 2011
NPR Story

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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3:24pm

Mon December 12, 2011
Shots - Health Blog

ADHD Drugs Show Little Risk For Most Adults' Hearts

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

iStockphoto.com

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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3:17pm

Mon December 12, 2011
Opinion

For Nervous Seniors, Some Pre-Graduation Advice

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

istockphoto.com

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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2:37pm

Mon December 12, 2011
The Salt

Who Are The Young Farmers Of 'Generation Organic'?

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 9:12 am

Maryland farmer Josie Johnson listens to a lecture on extending the farming season using caterpillar tunnels. The lesson was part of a conference for young farmers held in Tarrytown N.Y., in early December.
Maggie Starbard NPR

For decades, as young people have been leaving farms behind, the average age of the American farmer has been rising. The last time the government counted farmers, in 2002, the average farmer was 55-years-old.

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2:26pm

Mon December 12, 2011
Iraq

Obama, Maliki Pledge Cooperation After U.S. Pullout

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki shakes hands with President Obama in the Oval Office at the White House on Monday. The two leaders met as the U.S. prepares to withdraw the last of its combat troops from Iraq.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

President Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki met at the White House on Monday and pledged to maintain strong ties after the U.S. withdraws the last of its troops, but nagging concerns remain about Iraq's security and neighboring Iran.

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