The Two-Way
7:10 am
Fri January 6, 2012

Bomb Wreaks Death, Destruction In Damascus

Syria's official news agency distributed this photo of a bus said to have been damaged by today's explosion in Damascus.
AFP/Getty Images

There's been an explosion in central Damascus today and there are reports of multiple deaths and dozens of injuries.

As always in Syria, where the regime of President Bashar Assad tries to control the news, it's difficult to get an accurate sense of just what is going on. The regime is blaming its opponents, who have been protesting against Assad since last spring. Activists are questioning whether the attack was staged by supporters of the regime to make the opposition look bad.

Here's some of what's being reported:

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Alex Blumberg is a contributing editor for NPR's Planet Money. He is also a producer for the public radio program This American Life, and an adjunct professor of journalism at Columbia University. He has done radio documentaries on the U.S. Navy, people who do impersonations of their mothers and teenage Steve Forbes supporters. He won first place at the 2002 Third Coast International Audio Festival for his story "Yes, There is a Baby." His story on clinical medical ethicists won the 1999 Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI) award for best radio documentary.

Shots - Health Blog
6:50 am
Fri January 6, 2012

Monkey Experiments Boost Hope For Human AIDS Vaccine

A rendering of a key protein the simian immunodeficiency virus uses to reproduce.
Wikimedia Commons

Researchers trudging down the long and twisted path toward an AIDS vaccine are encouraged by new studies that show an experimental vaccine protects monkeys against infection with a virus that is very similar to HIV.

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Local Cancer Screening
6:00 am
Fri January 6, 2012

N. Ky. Health Department Combines Annual Visits With Cancer Screening

     Women in Northern Kentucky who made a New Year’s resolution to make an appointment with the doctor will have an easier way to do it. Health Department spokesperson Lisa Heck says they’re combining “Prevention Pays” cancer screenings and annual check-ups together in several locations across the region. Heck described how it works to  WNKU’s Matt Kelley. ( get more information at www.nkyhealth.org/cancerscreen)

Planet Money
2:53 am
Fri January 6, 2012

Forget Stocks Or Bonds, Invest In A Lobbyist

Money goes in. More money comes out.
Brendan Smialowski Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 6, 2012 12:17 pm

Corporations don't lobby Congress for fun. They lobby because it helps their bottom line. Getting a regulation gutted or a tax loophole created means extra cash for the corporation. But getting laws changed can be very expensive. How much money does a corporation get back from investing in a good lobbyist?

It's a messy, secretive system so it was always hard to study. But in 2004, economists found a bill so simple, so lucrative, that they could finally track the return on lobbying investment.

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It's All Politics
12:01 am
Fri January 6, 2012

Rick Santorum: The Underdog With A Loud Bark

Rick Santorum receives a call at his campaign headquarters during his Senate re-election bid in 2006. The former senator was attempting to keep his Pennsylvania Senate seat, which he later lost to Democrat Bob Casey, Jr.
Jeff Swensen Getty Images

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum is campaigning in New Hampshire after finishing a very close second in the Iowa caucuses. His success in the Hawkeye State was a surprise because Santorum was polling in the single digits there just a few weeks back.

For Santorum, surprising the political establishment is nothing new. Since he was first elected to Congress in 1990 — at 32 years old — Santorum has made a career out of being the underdog and usually winning.

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The Arab Spring: One Year Later
12:01 am
Fri January 6, 2012

The Turkish Model: Can It Be Replicated?

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (right) has been enthusiastically received by Arab Spring countries that look to Turkey as a potential model. Here, Erdogan hosts Mustafa Abdul Jalil, chairman of the National Transitional Council of Libya, in Istanbul, last month.
Mustafa Ozer AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 9, 2012 11:09 am

In the Arab states that have ousted dictators and begun building new political and economic systems, many are looking to Turkey as an example of a modern, moderate Muslim state that works. Perhaps no country has seen its image in the Arab world soar as quickly as Turkey, a secular state that's run by a party with roots in political Islam. As part of our series on the Arab Spring and where it stands today, NPR's Peter Kenyon examines whether the "Turkish model" can be exported.

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It's All Politics
6:25 pm
Thu January 5, 2012

Five Days Before New Hampshire Primary, Confident Romney Ventures South

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speaks during a campaign stop with college students Thursday in Concord, N.H.
Jim Cole Associated Press

Originally published on Thu January 5, 2012 6:53 pm

Most of the Republican presidential candidates are focused on New Hampshire, which holds its primary next Tuesday.

But while former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney began his day campaigning in New Hampshire, by the afternoon he was in South Carolina, which holds its primary Jan. 21.

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Around the Nation
5:55 pm
Thu January 5, 2012

Sinking Ship? Saving The Historic Kalakala Ferry

Not Dead Yet: On July 3, 1935, the Kalakala started daily ferry service between Seattle and Bremerton, Wash. Today, it sits unused in a nearby Tacoma dock.
Martin Kaste NPR

There's an old joke: The two happiest days in a man's life are the day he buys a boat and the day he sells it.

That's certainly been true for the owners of the Kalakala, a historic art deco ferry that currently resides in the Puget Sound. Launched in 1935, the vessel's trials and tribulations have become the stuff of legend in Seattle.

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The Two-Way
5:28 pm
Thu January 5, 2012

New Consumer Czar: 'This Is A Valid Appointment'

Richard Cordray, incoming head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, stands offstage after President Obama spoke about the economy in Ohio on Wednesday.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Richard Cordray, the new head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, defended his appointment in an interview with All Things Considered today.

"This is a valid appointment," he told NPR's Robert Siegel. "But, again, I'm not going to be distracted by the details of that. My job is to be the director of this consumer bureau, to look out for consumers across the country and I'm going to focus 100 percent on that job."

Robert asked if he was just going to "ignore whatever litigation might develop from that" and Cordray said, "that's correct."

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