6:13pm

Wed March 6, 2013
The Two-Way

U.S. Spent Too Much In Iraq, Got Little In Return, Watchdog Report Says

Ten years and $60 billion in taxpayer funds later, Iraq is still so unstable and broken that even its leaders question whether U.S. efforts to rebuild it were worth the cost. That's the finding of a report to Congress by Stuart Bowen, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.
Evan Vucci AP

A decade and $60 billion later what does the U.S. have to show for the reconstruction efforts in Iraq? That's the question being answered by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction in his final report to Congress.

The report by Stuart Bowen was based upon audits and inspections, as well as interviews with Iraqi and U.S. officials and politicians. Here's the crux of what happened to that money, according to the report:

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5:43pm

Wed March 6, 2013
The Two-Way

House Gives OK To $982 Billion Short-Term Spending Bill

Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 5:57 pm

The House has approved a bill to fund the federal government through the end of September. The $982 billion continuing resolution introduced by Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY), who heads the Appropriations Committee, would avoid a potential government shutdown on March 27.

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5:36pm

Wed March 6, 2013
The Two-Way

Fossils Suggest Giant Relatives Of Modern Camels Roamed The Canadian Arctic

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 11:49 am

Illustration of the High Arctic camel on Ellesmere Island during the Pliocene warm period, aboutthree-and-a-half million years ago. The camels lived in a boreal-type forest. The habitat includeslarch trees and the depiction is based on records of plant fossils found at nearby fossil deposits.
Julius Csotonyi

Camels belong in the desert. That's what we've learned since grade school.

Today, NPR's Melissa Block talked to Natalia Rybczynski, a paleobiologist at the Canadian Museum of Nature, who tells Melissa that fossils she has unearthed tell a different story.

The fossils, found on a frigid ridge in Canada's High Arctic, show that modern camels actually come from giant relatives that roamed the forests of Ellesmere Island 3.5 million years ago.

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5:35pm

Wed March 6, 2013
Economy

Time For The Fed To Take Away The Punch Bowl?

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 11:49 am

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testifies before the Senate Banking Committee in Washington last month. Some analysts wonder if he and other policymakers have kept interest rates too low for too long.
Carolyn Kaster AP

The stock market's long climb from its recession bottom has some people concerned it may be a bubble about to burst — a bubble artificially pumped up by the Federal Reserve's easy-money policy. That's led to calls — even from within the Fed — for an end to the central bank's extraordinary efforts to keep interest rates low.

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5:15pm

Wed March 6, 2013
Planet Money

If The Catholic Church Were A Business, How Would You Fix It?

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 11:49 am

Now that Pope Benedict XVI has officially gone into retirement, the next leader of the Catholic Church has a lot to consider, including finances.
Oli Scarff Getty Images

The next pope will be the spiritual leader of the world's Catholics. He will also be leading a multibillion-dollar financial empire. And from a business perspective, the Catholic Church is struggling.

We talked to several people who study the business of the church. Here are a few of the issues they pointed out.

1. Globally, the church's employees are in the wrong place.

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5:13pm

Wed March 6, 2013
The Salt

Salami Suicide: Processed Meats Linked To Heart Disease And Cancer

Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 6:32 pm

Delicious. Also potentially deadly.
iStockphoto.com

Bacon and bologna are hardly health food. But a huge new study offers the strongest evidence yet that eating processed meat boosts the risk of the two big killers, cancer and heart disease.

A multinational group of scientists tracked the health and eating habits of bacon-loving Brits, wurst-munching Germans, jamon aficionados in Spain, as well as residents of seven other European countries — almost a half-million people in all.

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5:03pm

Wed March 6, 2013
The Two-Way

Loved Or Loathed, Hugo Chavez Was The Ultimate Showman

Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 6:26 pm

Always a showman, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who died Tuesday, sings folk songs with a mariachi group in the capital, Caracas, in 2005.
Andrew Alvarez AFP/Getty Images

I first encountered Hugo Chavez in Caracas, starring in his own television show, Hello, Mr. President. I couldn't take my eyes of the program, which began at 11 a.m. and ended after 7 p.m.

It was an endurance test for even the most die-hard sycophants and terrific entertainment for a first-time viewer. While the camera would pan droopy-eyed Cabinet members seated in the front row, El Presidente showed no signs of flagging.

At the seven-hour mark, he chirped, "Bueno!" and declared, "It's early! Let's keep talking."

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4:50pm

Wed March 6, 2013
The Salt

Can Milk Sweetened With Aspartame Still Be Called Milk?

Originally published on Fri March 8, 2013 10:45 am

Morgan Barnett, 7, drinks from containers of 1 percent milk and chocolate milk during lunch at a school in St. Paul, Minn., in 2006.
Eric Miller AP

The dairy industry has a problem. Despite studies demonstrating milk's nutritional benefits, people are drinking less and less of it.

Even children are increasingly opting for water or other low-cal options — including diet soda and artificially sweetened sports drinks.

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4:47pm

Wed March 6, 2013
It's All Politics

Obama's Outreach To GOP: More Optics Than Opportunity?

Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 5:21 pm

Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire at the Capitol last month. The senators are among a group invited to dine Wednesday with President Obama.
Alex Wong Getty Images

President Obama recently acknowledged the obvious: He doesn't have the supernatural powers necessary to do a mind meld, Jedi or otherwise, with Republican congressional leaders that would lead to pacts on fiscal policy or anything else for that matter.

But if he doesn't have the power to force meetings of the minds with his Republican opponents, he can at least still get meetings with them.

Popping up on the president's schedule all of a sudden was a Wednesday night dinner at a Washington, D.C., hotel with a group of GOP senators.

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4:30pm

Wed March 6, 2013
Politics

Senators Question Holder Over U.S. Drone Program

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 11:49 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. It began around mid-day today, while wet snow fell on Washington D.C. Inside the Capitol building, a conservative Republican senator began to talk and talk - and talk. Rand Paul launched a filibuster to block the nomination of John Brennan for CIA director because of concerns over the administration's drone policies.

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