The Two-Way
7:15 am
Tue December 27, 2011

Activists Condemn Syrian Army's 'Show,' Say Tanks Didn't Move Far

A Syrian tank driving through the city of Homs on Monday (Dec. 26, 2011).
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 27, 2011 7:49 am

"Syria's army suspended days of punishing attacks on the restive city of Homs," The Associated Press writes, "and began withdrawing its tanks Tuesday just as Arab League monitors visited the area and met with local leaders, activists and officials said."

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The Two-Way
6:45 am
Tue December 27, 2011

Lost Money: $41 Billion In Gift Cards Haven't Been Redeemed Since 2005

You may have given one — or two, or three. You may have gotten one — or two, or three.

Gift cards.

The presents that show up in Christmas stockings all across America. The go-to gifts for aunts and uncles trying to please those finicky teenaged nieces and nephews. The tokens of affection that may say "I got this on the way over here."

And, also, the gifts that sometimes never get used.

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Election 2012
2:24 am
Tue December 27, 2011

Rick Santorum Hunts For Iowa's Pheasants, Votes

With just a week until the Republican caucuses, presidential candidate Rick Santorum spent the day in Iowa hunting — for pheasants and votes. Although he's worked hard in Iowa, he's not won over the group he's targeted: social conservatives.

Iraq
11:01 pm
Mon December 26, 2011

No U.S. Troops, But An Army Of Contractors In Iraq

As many as 5,000 private security contractors will be protecting U.S. diplomats in Iraq. The U.S. Embassy compound (above) and several consulates will have about 15,000 workers, making it the largest diplomatic operation abroad.
Lucas Jackson Reuters/Landov

The U.S. troops have left Iraq, and U.S. diplomats will now be the face of America in a country that remains extremely volatile.

The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, along with several consulates, will have some 15,000 workers, making it the largest U.S. diplomatic operation abroad. Those diplomats will be protected by a private army consisting of as many as 5,000 security contractors who will carry assault weapons and fly armed helicopters.

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It Was A Good Year For...
11:01 pm
Mon December 26, 2011

In Vermont, Gravel And Road Business Is Up

Chris Carl, foreman of the Shelburne Limestone Corp. quarry in South Wallingford, says Vermont's weather woes helped to more than double the quarry's business.
Nina Keck Vermont Public Radio

Originally published on Tue December 27, 2011 8:53 am

Federal, state and local spending on roadways is down nearly 6 percent. That's made it a tough year for many in the road-building business — but not in Vermont. There, pavers, excavators and other companies have had one of their busiest years ever, thanks to a storm named Irene.

For the past several months, Steve Wilk and Doug Casella have spent a lot of time in and out of their pickup trucks, checking on their road crews. For a business meeting, they just pull off onto the rocky shoulder to talk about new guardrails and blacktop for a job they're working on.

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Around the Nation
11:01 pm
Mon December 26, 2011

Historic Ford Plant Site Likely A Tough Sell

Ford employees assemble parts for Ranger pickup trucks. The last Ranger rolled off the line weeks ago as the plant prepares to close.
Jennifer Simonson for NPR

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 10:11 am

The Ford Motor Co. recently closed its historic Twin Cities Assembly Plant on a scenic river bluff in St. Paul, Minn. In better times, the parcel of land might have made condo developers drool, but in today's real estate market, redevelopment of the old factory could be a long way off.

The industrial architect Albert Kahn was particularly skilled at making factories blend into their surroundings. The 2-million-square-foot plant has a classical stone facade that flows along the Mississippi River bluff. The red tile roof of its hydroelectric plant glows in the sunlight.

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Presidential Race
11:01 pm
Mon December 26, 2011

Early Florida Primary Could Sow Confusion, Not Clout

A woman votes in the Jan. 29, 2008, Florida primary in Miami Shores.
Marc Serota Getty Images

Four years ago, Florida played a key role choosing the Republican presidential nominee with a crucial early primary in violation of party rules. Next month, Florida Republicans are poised to do it again — once again breaking rules with an early primary. Only this time, their decision could confuse the race, rather than clarify it.

To understand why political parties set rules for presidential primaries, and why states break those rules, it's helpful to appreciate what it means for the campaigns to descend on a small state like Iowa or New Hampshire.

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News
3:15 pm
Mon December 26, 2011

With 'Occupy' Protests, Police Aimed For Restraint

This fall American police were confronted with something they hadn't seen in 40 years: prolonged, simultaneous political protests across the country. In most cities, police showed restraint. But there have been exceptions — sometimes involving copious amounts of pepper spray. Those flashpoints have become a cause for concern.

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Economy
3:00 pm
Mon December 26, 2011

What's Holding Back One 'Job Creator'? Not Taxes

"We've got the space, we have equipment, we've got the cash, we've got the customers, we have the product," says Tim O'Keeffe, owner of G.L. Huyett. "We have everything we need — except the people."
Frank Morris KCUR

Originally published on Tue December 27, 2011 8:53 am

There aren't many people on the broad Kansas prairie, but there is industry.

At G.L. Huyett, boxy machines jammed into a big metal building grind steel into heavy transmission parts.

"We're a supplier of last resort," says Tim O'Keeffe, who owns the company. If you have disruptions in the supply chain and someone can't meet a shipping time, he says, G.L. Huyett can step in.

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Health Care
2:00 pm
Mon December 26, 2011

Hospitals Move To Curb Elective Early Deliveries

More hospitals in Massachusetts and across the country are saying no to elective deliveries of babies before 39 weeks unless medically necessary. Doctors cite increased health risks associated with early deliveries, not costs — though Texas' Medicaid program has stopped paying for such births.

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