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5:27pm

Thu February 23, 2012
The Two-Way

Monsanto Reaches Settlement On Agent Orange Class-Action Suit

A proposed settlement has been reached in a big class-action lawsuit against Monsanto. The case is connected to the company's production of the controversial herbicide "Agent Orange," the defoliant the military sprayed over Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War.

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5:13pm

Thu February 23, 2012
Middle East

Syrian Forces Tightening Grip On Parts Of Homs

Originally published on Thu February 23, 2012 7:10 pm

Flames rise from a house, the result of Syrian government shelling, in the Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs, Syria, on Wednesday, in this image provided by citizen journalists to the Local Coordination Committees.
Local Coordination Committees in Syria AP

The Syrian army has cut off all escape routes from a rebel-held neighborhood in Homs, the city that has seen the most intense fighting in recent days, according to opposition activists.

Syrian tanks were seen moving closer to the Baba Amr neighborhood Thursday, as efforts continued to negotiate a cease-fire to evacuate the wounded, including two Western journalists.

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5:01pm

Thu February 23, 2012
Performing Arts

For One Man, The Sword Is Mightier Than The Pen

Suzanne Gangi removes a six-inch nail from her husband Tony's nose.
Andrea Shea WBUR

Tony Gangi gave up a successful career in publishing in order to impale himself.

With his wife Suzanne's permission, he went from having a secure 9 to 5 job to following his dream of wowing audiences by doing shock-worthy things to his own body.

"Ladies and gentlemen, what I'm about to do is a 4,000-year-old art and it's known as sword swallowing," Gangi, also known as The Amazing Human Head, tells a crowd at a Salem, Mass., performance. "Oh no!" a child in the audience exclaims.

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4:42pm

Thu February 23, 2012
Around the Nation

Blue Angels Bring Winter Thrill To California Town

The Blue Angels practice above El Centro, Calif., last week.
Courtesy of Ted Gallinat

Fifteen miles from the border of Mexico, the city of El Centro in California's Imperial Valley has something most hard luck small towns don't: the Blue Angels.

For 45 years, the city has been the winter training home of the Navy's flight demonstration squadron. The "Blues," as the locals call them, have been an enduring source of pride for the desert community.

The "hay bales" is a dusty crop field a stone's throw from the runways of El Centro's Naval Air Facility. Lisa Gallinat has been watching the Blue Angels from here ever since she was a kid.

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4:39pm

Thu February 23, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Law Student Makes Case For Contraceptive Coverage

Sandra Fluke, a third-year law student at Georgetown University, testifies Thursday about contraceptives and insurance coverage during a hearing before the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Congress is in recess this week, but that didn't stop House Democrats from holding a hearing to take testimony from a Georgetown law student who was barred from testifying in last week's hearing about President Obama's policy on contraceptives, health insurance and religiously affiliated organizations.

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4:38pm

Thu February 23, 2012
Technology

California Industries Spar Over Internet Piracy

Originally published on Thu February 23, 2012 7:10 pm

Supporters of the website The Pirate Bay, one of the world's top illegal file-sharing websites, demonstrate in Stockholm, Sweden, in 2009.
Fredrik Persson AFP/Getty Images

There's a civil war going on in California. It's the north vs. the south — Hollywood vs. Silicon Valley. And much like that other American Civil War, there are two different economic worldviews at stake. One of the highest-profile battles was fought last month, when large Internet sites like Wikipedia staged an online blackout to protest anti-piracy bills in Congress.

The north won that battle, and for now, the legislation is on hold. But the war between Hollywood and Silicon Valley over how to deal with intellectual property is far from over.

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4:00pm

Thu February 23, 2012
The Salt

Why Astronauts Crave Tabasco Sauce

Astronauts may have a particular affinity for Tabasco sauce in space because their sense of smell and taste is distorted.
John Rose NPR

If you think astronauts just want dehydrated dinners and freeze-dried ice cream, think again. After a few days in space, they start reaching for the hot sauce.

In fact, they may start craving foods they didn't necessarily like on Earth.

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3:54pm

Thu February 23, 2012
It's All Politics

Voter ID Backer, Opponent Agree On One Point: Voter Rolls Are A Mess

There are few people further apart on the issue of new voter photo ID requirements than Laura Murphy and Hans von Spakovsky.

She's director of the ACLU's Washington Legislative Office. He's with the Heritage Foundation and a former Justice Department official under George W. Bush.

So when the two went head-to-head Thursday on the issue at the National Press Club in Washington DC, there were a few sparks.

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3:44pm

Thu February 23, 2012
Presidential Race

For Loyalists, Is It Ron Paul Or Nothing?

Originally published on Thu February 23, 2012 4:31 pm

Fans of GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul show their support outside the Mesa Arts Center before Wednesday night's Republican debate in Mesa, Ariz.
Ethan Miller Getty Images

Benom Plumb, a 31-year-old music industry executive from Nashville, thinks the country is on the wrong path, and that Ron Paul is the only candidate who can turn things around.

As for the other Republicans, Plumb doesn't mince words: Mitt Romney? Too slick. Rick Santorum? Too religious. Newt Gingrich? Untrustworthy. "They are all liars and cheaters, if you ask me," he says.

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3:42pm

Thu February 23, 2012
World

For War Reporters, The Risks Of Going Solo

Originally published on Thu February 23, 2012 5:26 pm

Veteran war correspondent Marie Colvin often traveled by herself to the front lines of conflicts to interview civilians trapped by war. Colvin, who was killed Wednesday in the Syrian city of Homs, is shown here in Cairo in an undated photo.
Ivor Prickett AP

War correspondents have always been at the short end of the actuarial tables. Life insurance salesmen do not pester them. No war is safe, and no correspondent is bulletproof.

But the rules of the game have been changing, and the recent deaths in Syria of two prominent correspondents, Anthony Shadid of The New York Times and Marie Colvin, an American working for Britain's Sunday Times, show how this line of work has grown even riskier.

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