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2:15 am
Wed March 26, 2014

Say Goodbye To The Taxpayer-Funded Political Convention

Ever since the Watergate era, taxpayers have been able to check a box on their federal tax returns and designate a little bit of their tax payment to help finance the presidential campaigns and wean politicians away from big donors.

The public financing program has had its ups and downs. But now President Obama is prepared to sign legislation that, for the first time, takes taxpayer money out of the fund.

First of all, let's pause to reflect on some of the great moments of American political conventions brought to you by presidential matching funds.

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Culture
10:54 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

A Tuneful Conversation With A Sometimes-Distant God

New Gods is Scottish songwriter Dan Willson's second album as Withered Hand.
Laura Lewis Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 6:28 pm

The wry and tuneful Withered Hand is Dan Willson, a graphic artist from Edinburgh who drifted away from the Jehovah's Witnesses as a teenager — but not, you get the feeling, with a satisfied mind. His moniker is a scriptural reference, and he named his 2009 debut Good News, one way Christians refer to the New Testament. (More to the point, its key track is called "Religious Songs.")

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Science and Environment
10:54 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Bringing A 'Million Orchids' To Florida's Trees

The dollar orchid (Prosthechea boothiana) is among the native species soon to be planted in South Florida trees.
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 6:28 pm

Researchers at a South Florida botanic garden want to return the state's orchids to their former glory.

When railroads first came to Florida in the late 1800s, the plants were among the first resources exploited. Millions of orchids were plucked and sent north as potted plants. Now, after more than a century of logging and harvesting, it's rare to find them growing in the wild here.

But if researchers at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden succeed with their Million Orchid Project, the flowers will soon bloom amid the hustle and bustle of city life.

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Parallels
10:53 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

In A Divided Donetsk, Russians And Ukrainians Vie For Support

Activists rally for a united Ukraine in Donetsk on March 5. They were attacked by pro-Russia supporters, but Russian media reported that pro-Russian demonstrators were attacked by soccer hooligans.
AFP AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 7:51 pm

Two rallies took place recently on Lenin Square in Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine.

At the first, a pro-Ukranian rally on March 5, thousands marched with Ukranian flags, shouting, "Down With Putin! Donetsk is Ukraine!" They were attacked by pro-Russia supporters.

A football fan club called the Ultras defended the demonstrators, but the next day, Russian media reported that a pro-Russian demonstration was attacked by soccer hooligans.

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Education
10:52 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Does The Fight For A Cursive Comeback Miss The Point?

Loops And Swirls: You might have the best cursive handwriting in the land, but your kids probably don't. Does learning to write in cursive help kids' brains grow?
Richard Goerg iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri May 16, 2014 10:16 am

When was the last time you wrote in cursive? Was it a thank-you note for that birthday sweater? Perhaps a check to the baby sitter? The fact is, you may know how to loop and swirl with the best of them, but do your kids or your neighbor's kids know as well?

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The Two-Way
10:51 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

BP Says Oil Spill In Lake Michigan Has Been Contained

Crews clean up an oil spill along Lake Michigan from the BP Whiting refinery in Whiting, Ind., on Tuesday.
E. Jason Wambsgans MCT /Landov

Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 7:23 pm

A BP refinery spilled an unknown amount of oil into Lake Michigan on Monday.

NPR member station WBEZ reports that the leak has been stopped and it is contained. The station reports:

"BP just completed a $4 billion modernization to the 100-year-old Whiting Refinery, the largest inland refinery in the United States.

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The Two-Way
6:40 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Facebook Will Acquire Virtual Reality Company For $2 Billion

The Oculus Rift virtual reality goggles make for an immersive experience.
Nan Palmero Flickr

Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 7:27 pm

Facebook announced a pretty big purchase on Tuesday: The social media giant said it was acquiring Oculus VR, a company that makes virtual reality goggles, for $2 billion.

The deal includes $400 million in cash and 23.1 million shares of Facebook, which the company values at $1.6 billion.

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It's All Politics
5:50 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

The Political Winner From The Proposed NSA Changes? Rand Paul

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul could catch a political updraft from President Obama's decision to restrict NSA telephone data collection efforts.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 7:17 pm

It's too early to gauge the political impact of President Obama's plans to tame the NSA's data-gathering effort. The full details of the proposal haven't been made public yet.

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The Two-Way
5:30 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Another Uproar? Danish Zoo That Culled Giraffe Kills A Family Of Lions

The lions at the Copenhagen Zoo eat the remains of a healthy young giraffe named Marius in February. It's unclear whether the lion pictured was one of those euthanized.
Kasper Palsnov AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 6:01 pm

The same Danish zoo that euthanized a young, healthy giraffe it didn't need for its breeding program has killed a family of lions to make room for a younger, male lion.

If you remember, the Copenhagen Zoo caused an uproar when it put down "Marius," performed a public autopsy and then fed its body to the lions back in February.

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The Two-Way
4:55 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Can A 250-Year-Old Mathematical Theorem Find A Missing Plane?

This statistical map guided searchers to an Air France flight that disappeared into the Atlantic Ocean in 2009.
C. Keller/Metron

Originally published on Wed March 26, 2014 8:28 am

Searchers are feeling overwhelmed by the task of locating the wreckage of missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370.

"We're not searching for a needle in a haystack — we're still trying to define where the haystack is," Australian Air Marshal Mark Binskin said Tuesday. The current search zone stretches across many thousands of square miles of the Indian Ocean off the coast of Australia.

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