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8:56 am
Wed July 3, 2013

Chinatown 'Blessing Scams' Target Elderly Women

More than 50 people have reported being victims to the "blessing scams" in San Francisco over the last year. Their losses topped $1.5 million.
San Francisco district attorney's office

Originally published on Thu July 11, 2013 11:13 am

In Chinatowns around the country — in San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, New York — a peculiar financial scam is targeting elderly Chinese women.

This so-called "blessing scam" isn't much of a blessing. By asking lots of personal questions, the scammers convince their targets that they face terrible tragedy that they can only avoid if they place their valuables in a bag — and then pray over it. Usually, the victims place their jewelry and money in a bag that the thieves swap out for an identical one. And then the thieves tell the women not to open the bag for days.

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The Record
8:54 am
Wed July 3, 2013

New Jay-Z Album Tests The Musician And Samsung

A still of Jay-Z from the commercial for his new album.
YouTube

Originally published on Wed July 3, 2013 2:26 pm

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Kitchen Window
8:53 am
Wed July 3, 2013

Kick The Can: Soda Machines Beg For Experimentation

Rina Rapuano for NPR

Originally published on Wed July 3, 2013 9:42 am

Last year, my husband picked up a nasty little habit — a drinking problem, if you will. Yes, he became addicted to sparkling water. All of a sudden, he was adding mineral water to my weekly grocery list and buying precious little green bottles imported from Italy every time we grabbed a sandwich.

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The Two-Way
8:52 am
Wed July 3, 2013

Rumors Lead To Day Of Confusion In Edward Snowden Search

Bolivian President Evo Morales talked to journalists at the Vienna International Airport on Wednesday. Bolivian officials accused the U.S. of pressuring European authorities to ground the plane, which had taken off from Moscow. It was rumored that "NSA leaker" Edward Snowden might be on board.
Heinz-Peter Bader Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Wed July 3, 2013 7:18 am

Update at 6 a.m. ET, July 3. Bolivian Leader's Plane Takes Off.

From Reuters:

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Movie Reviews
8:52 am
Wed July 3, 2013

For Power-Pop Fans, The Woeful Ballad Of 'Big Star'

The Memphis pop band Big Star (composed at one point of, from left to right, Andy Hummel, Jody Stephens, Chris Bell and Alex Chilton) would eventually be acknowledged as a significant force among purveyors of power-pop — though not until years after the group's demise.
Magnolia

Originally published on Wed July 3, 2013 9:23 am

In the early 1970s, the Memphis band Big Star played Beatles-esque pop-rock whose exuberance was laced with melancholy. That the ruefulness was earned becomes poignantly clear over the course of the documentary Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me.

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Planet Money
8:51 am
Wed July 3, 2013

Planet Money: Killing Fannie Mae

Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Wed July 3, 2013 10:44 am

Five years after the financial crisis, the federal government still controls Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two giant companies that guarantee trillions of dollars in mortgages. This is a huge, little-discussed part of the post-crisis economy.

Almost everybody agrees that taxpayers shouldn't be on the hook when their neighbors don't pay their mortgages. But the government doesn't have a clear plan to get out of the mortgage business.

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The Two-Way
8:51 am
Wed July 3, 2013

U.S. Pushes Businesses' Health Insurance Deadline To 2015

Originally published on Tue July 2, 2013 8:18 pm

U.S. businesses that had been looking at possible penalties if they don't provide health insurance to their employees by January are getting an extra year before they must comply with the new law, the White House says. The requirement, part of the health care overhaul known as "Obamacare," affects all companies that have at least 50 employees.

The Obama administration announced the change Tuesday, citing "ongoing discussions with businesses" about the new health insurance requirements in the Affordable Care Act.

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The Two-Way
8:51 am
Wed July 3, 2013

Clapper Apologizes For Answer On NSA's Data Collection

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has apologized for a "clearly erroneous" response to a question about surveillance on Americans. The question was asked before the Senate Intelligence Committee in March.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Tue July 2, 2013 5:47 pm

After telling Congress that the National Security Agency does not collect data on millions of Americans, National Intelligence Director James Clapper has issued an apology, telling Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein that his statement was "clearly erroneous."

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This Is NPR
8:49 am
Wed July 3, 2013

Email Newsletter Improvements Let You Customize Your Content

The new email layout (left) gives more importance to artwork and has larger type for easier reading compared with the old layout (right).
NPR

Originally published on Wed July 3, 2013 9:46 am

Email may not get all the air time these days, but thousands in the NPR audience rely on our newsletters in their inbox to stay up to date with breaking news, to get new stories across a variety of favorite topic areas, and to hear about new products and sales at the NPR Shop. Emails also come in handy when you want to share stories with your friends without leaving NPR.org.

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Movie Reviews
8:48 am
Wed July 3, 2013

In Swinging '60s London, A Frisky 'Look Of Love'

The high life catches up with pop-culture impresario Paul Raymond (Steve Coogan, right) and his daughter Debbie (Imogen Poots) when nudie-mag editor Tony Power (Chris Addison) introduces them to drugs.
IFC

Originally published on Tue July 2, 2013 4:33 pm

The fourth collaboration between actor Steve Coogan and director Michael Winterbottom is much like their first: Both The Look of Love and 2002's 24 Hour Party People are antic, self-conscious film bios about impresarios on the fringes of showbiz — soft porn and punk rock, respectively. But somehow the new movie, though it doesn't skimp on the nudity, the cocaine or the Britpop, is the blander of the two.

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