1:35pm

Tue February 14, 2012
National Security

As China's Military Grows, U.S. Assesses Risks

At the White House on Tuesday, President Obama greeted China's Vice President Xi Jinping and called for cooperation between the two nations.

Later in the day, the Chinese vice president crossed the Potomac to visit the Pentagon, where the U-S military may hope for cooperation, but has to plan for possible confrontation.

The Pentagon's new budget request, unveiled Monday, signals a shift for the US military, with a greater focus on the Pacific.

China is building more ships and aircraft, and is now patrolling hundreds of miles out into the Pacific.

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1:17pm

Tue February 14, 2012
The Two-Way

Warm Winter Leads To Early Blooms In Northeast

Originally published on Tue February 14, 2012 4:16 pm

Kristin Schleiter, of the New York Botanical Garden, in front blooming red camellias.
Margot Adler NPR

If you live in the Northeast, this has been a wacky winter: It has been deathly cold in Eastern Europe, as flowers bloom in New York City and temperatures rise to the high 40s and even 50s.

I went in search of flowers in bloom and was not disappointed. There were bushes of red camellias, and gorgeous yellow flowering Adonis. Kristin Schleiter is the acting director of outdoor gardens at the New York Botanical Garden. She took me to an outdoor test garden.

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1:15pm

Tue February 14, 2012
Afghanistan

Snowstorms Take A Toll In Afghan Refugee Camps

Aw Muhammad, a resident of a refugee camp in western Kabul, pulls back a shade as one of his six surviving children looks out on the snow. Afghanistan is suffering one of its harshest winters in many years.
Quil Lawrence NPR

Kabul's fourth snowstorm in the past month brought children out to play across the city, including those in the Charahi Qambar refugee camp in the western part of the capital.

Many of the children in the camp don't remember any other life outside of this mud-brick shantytown. Most of their parents fled the southern province of Helmand when the war heated up there four years ago.

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1:13pm

Tue February 14, 2012
Middle East

Iran Can Disrupt Key Waterway — But For How Long?

The USS Abraham Lincoln sailed from the Persian Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday. This photo was taken from the bridge of the aircraft carrier and shows U.S. aircraft parked on its flight deck. In the background, a U.S. destroyer patrols.
Hassan Ammar AP

The dispute over Iran's nuclear program has again rocked oil markets. And Iran is threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz, which is just 34 miles wide yet serves as the passageway for 20 percent of the world's oil.

This is not a new drama. In fact, it was a recurring issue in the 1980s. Still, there's been relatively little activity among Gulf oil producers to find alternative routes to get their oil to market.

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1:11pm

Tue February 14, 2012
The Two-Way

Westminster Set To Name Top Dog; Out West, A Dog's Star Rises

Miu Miu, a Chihuahua, poses for photographers at a fashion show held before the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York City.
Michael Nagle Getty Images

The Westminster Kennel Club dog show is under way, and that means dogs are being pampered, brushed and cajoled to walk before the event's judges. First held in 1877, the Westminster show claims to be second only to the Kentucky Derby in terms of continuously held sporting events.

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1:02pm

Tue February 14, 2012
Winter Songs

A Skating Rink's 'Ribbon In The Sky'

Originally published on Tue February 14, 2012 4:16 pm

hey.kiddo via Flickr

12:31pm

Tue February 14, 2012
The Salt

McDonald's Teams Up With Humane Society To Phase Out Pig Crates

Score one for the pigs. The news that McDonald's will require its U.S. pork suppliers to phase out the use of gestational crates should add a lot more momentum to efforts to end the practice of confining sows while pregnant.

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12:16pm

Tue February 14, 2012
It's All Politics

Romney's Hard Line On U.S. Auto Industry Good For Primary But Trouble Beyond

Mitt Romney is sticking by his position, first taken in 2008, that the Obama administration should have let GM and Chrysler file for bankruptcy.
Robert F. Bukaty AP

Mitt Romney, self-proclaimed "son of Detroit," appears to be in serious trouble in Michigan, falling behind to rival Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum in new polls.

Despite that, he's standing firm on his position that the Obama administration should have allowed two iconic car companies — GM and Chrysler — to enter the regular corporate bankruptcy process three years ago.

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12:10pm

Tue February 14, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Family Acceptance Key In Preventing Gay Youths From Considering Suicide

A new study pinpoints signs that an LGBT teens may be at risk for suicide and suggests how to intervene.
Ben Goode iStockphoto.com

Chances are you've seen a YouTube video featuring _______ (fill in a celebrity's name) telling America's gay teens that "it gets better."

There are a slew of them promising that the bullying will eventually subside and that life will improve, if teens can just hang in there.

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12:00pm

Tue February 14, 2012
The Two-Way

Fans, Senators Ask FCC To Scrap Sports Blackout Rule

Originally published on Tue February 14, 2012 12:05 pm

A coalition of fans and five U.S. senators are urging the Federal Communications Commission to scrap its so called Sports Blackout Rule. The policy allows the NFL to block local broadcasts of games that don't sell out.

The rule has been in place since 1975, and the Sports Fan Coalition says it is outdated and "fan-unfriendly."

Broadcasting & Cable reports on the filing, which was entered with the FCC on Monday:

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