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Shots - Health News
5:03 am
Thu December 5, 2013

White House Cites Pre-Existing Condition Case From Its Own Ranks

Michael Robertson, then chief of staff of the Government Services Administration, testifies on Capitol Hill on April 16, 2012. Now chief of staff of the Cabinet Affairs Office in the Obama administration, Robertson has undergone treatment for stage IV colorectal cancer.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 11:07 am

It's Day 4 of the White House's new messaging push for the Affordable Care Act. Today the goal is to tell the stories of people with pre-existing conditions who are now entitled to coverage under the new health care law.

One such story comes from within the White House.

Michael Robertson, deputy assistant to the president and deputy cabinet secretary, was diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer 16 months ago. He was 35.

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Business
5:03 am
Thu December 5, 2013

Banks Come Under Fire For Filling In The Payday Loan Gap

Federal regulators are setting new rules for banks that offer deposit advances.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 4:05 pm

A payday loan is a costly form of credit operating on the fringes of the economy. That's why the target of a new crackdown by federal regulators may surprise you: Instead of a forlorn-looking storefront with a garish neon sign, it's your familiar neighborhood bank.

A small but growing number of banks, including some major players, have been offering the equivalent of payday loans, calling them "deposit advances."

That is, at least, until bank regulators stepped in Nov. 21 and put new restrictions on the loans.

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Economy
5:01 am
Thu December 5, 2013

Pressure Mounts On Fast-Food Industry To Pay Workers More

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 4:05 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

Protests are planned at fast-food chain restaurants 100 American cities today. Unions are staging these protests as part of a campaign to press the industry to pay more than the minimum wage. In fact, organizers are calling for $15 per hour. In some cases, that would double the pay that workers get now, and the industry appears unlikely to do that voluntarily.

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Around the Nation
4:59 am
Thu December 5, 2013

Calif. Cold Snap Threatens Orchards

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 4:05 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It is freezing here in Southern California. Overnight, temperatures plunged into the 20s and that cold front is threatening citrus and avocado orchards through Central and Southern California. Citrus alone is a $20 billion industry here. So growers are scrambling to protect their crops.

We reached one of them - Jim Churchill - who grows Pixie tangerines in the Ojai valley north of Los Angeles. He was spending the night in his orchard. And Jim Churchill, good morning. And this is probably the first of a few nights, right?

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Animals
4:59 am
Thu December 5, 2013

Time Is A Factor As Groups Try To Rescue Stranded Whales

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 4:05 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Now to the coast of Florida in the southwest of that state, where wildlife groups are working to save more than three dozen pilot whales stranded in shallow water. At least 10 whales have already beached and died, and as NPR's Greg Allen reports, officials are not optimistic about the outlook for those who remain.

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Politics
4:59 am
Thu December 5, 2013

IRS Targets Money Transfers In Social-Welfare Politicking

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 4:05 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The IRS is taking aim at the growing political role of tax-exempt social welfare groups. It's a category of American politics where spending has increased 80-fold in the last decade. Donors can give as much money as they want to these groups, and their names are not disclosed to the public. The IRS wants to roll back the social welfare politicking, after a summer of controversy over the way it treated Tea Party groups applying for tax-exempt status.

NPR's Peter Overby reports.

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Health
4:59 am
Thu December 5, 2013

FDA Expected To Approve New, Gentler Cure For Hepatitis C

A colorized closeup of the hepatitis C virus.
James Cavallini Science Source

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 6:30 am

The Food and Drug Administration is expected any day now to approve the first in a new class of drugs that can cure the leading cause of liver failure and liver cancer.

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Food
4:59 am
Thu December 5, 2013

Make The Punch Bowl Your Holiday Party Centerpiece

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 4:05 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Even though Christmas and New Year are still a few weeks away, we're already well into holiday party season. And punch bowls are often the centerpieces of festive gatherings. For tips on how to make sure the punch bowl does its job as star libation attraction, writer Julia Reed. She's a columnist for Garden & Gun, a Southern lifestyle magazine.

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Parallels
3:17 am
Thu December 5, 2013

China's Military Buildup Reignites Worries In Asia, Beyond

Chinese naval soldiers stand guard on China's first aircraft carrier Liaoning as it travels toward a military base in Sanya, Hainan province, in this undated picture made available on Nov. 30.
China Stringer Network Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 12:18 pm

China has been building up its military strength for some time now, and pushing ever farther from its coastline and into international waters. The real concern now is for miscalculation — particularly with Japan — that ends up in gunfire.

Just six months ago, the Pentagon released its annual report on China's military. Its defense budget was growing. The country was building more stealthy aircraft and submarines. It even bought an aircraft carrier from the Ukraine.

Pentagon official David Helvey highlighted particular areas of concern.

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Shots - Health News
3:16 am
Thu December 5, 2013

HealthCare.gov Now Allows Window Shopping, And A Do-Over

iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 6:31 am

One thing that's clear about the relaunch of the troubled HealthCare.gov website is that it can accommodate more people.

Federal officials said more than 1 million users logged in on Monday, and nearly that many on Tuesday.

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Shots - Health News
3:14 am
Thu December 5, 2013

Teens Who Feel Supported At Home And School Sleep Better

Solid friendships can help buffer life's stress.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 6:31 am

A teen's relationship — or lack of good relationship — with parents, pals or teachers may have a lot to do with why most kids aren't getting the nine to 10 hours of sleep that doctors recommend. The hormonal disruptions of puberty likely also play a role.

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Parallels
2:16 am
Thu December 5, 2013

Help-Wanted Ad Shows Depths Of Spain's Unemployment Problem

People line up outside a government unemployment office in Madrid on Oct. 5. Spain has an unemployment rate of 26 percent.
Paul White AP

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 4:05 pm

Having trouble wrapping your head around southern Europe's staggering unemployment problem?

Look no further than a single Ikea furniture store on Spain's Mediterranean coast.

The Swedish retailer plans to open a new megastore next summer near Valencia. On Monday, Ikea's Spanish website started taking applications for 400 jobs at the new store.

The company wasn't prepared for what came next.

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The Two-Way
12:03 am
Thu December 5, 2013

Report: Threat Of Mandatory Minimums Used To Coerce Guilty Pleas

In August, Attorney General Eric Holder told federal prosecutors to no longer hit low-level drug offenders with charges that carry mandatory minimum sentences. But it's not yet clear how broadly that directive is being interpreted.
Stephen Lam Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 9:44 am

A new report says the Justice Department regularly coerces defendants in federal drug cases to plead guilty by threatening them with steep prison sentences or stacking charges to increase their time behind bars.

And for the first time, the study by Human Rights Watch finds that defendants who take their fate to a judge or jury face prison sentences on average 11 years longer than those who plead guilty.

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Movie Interviews
5:59 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

On Becoming Llewyn Davis, A Hero Who Excels At Failing

Oscar Isaac as the titular character in Joel and Ethan Coen's Inside Llewyn Davis.
Alison Rosa Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 4:10 pm

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Shots - Health News
5:55 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Fertility Drugs, Not IVF, Are Top Cause Of Multiple Births

Nurses tend newborns at Sloane Hospital for Women in New York City.
Pat Carroll Getty

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 9:29 am

Drugs that help women become pregnant have replaced in vitro fertilization as the main culprit behind high-risk multiple births, according to a study looking at births of triplets and higher-order multiples.

"IVF, which is usually the one we tend to point fingers at, was not the leading culprit," says Eli Adashi, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Brown University who was senior author of the study, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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