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1:59 am
Thu November 7, 2013

Why Obama Shouldn't Worry About His Lousy Poll Numbers

President Obama walks with the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, on the South Lawn of the White House on Wednesday.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Thu November 7, 2013 10:06 am

President Obama's poll numbers have hit just about the lowest point of his presidency.

They started sinking after the Obamacare website's miserable debut last month. Now, only around 40 percent of Americans think Obama is doing a good job. More than half disapprove of his performance. (A year ago, the numbers were the opposite.)

It seems obvious to say that a high approval rating helps a president, while a low approval rating hurts him. But here are five reasons Obama's numbers might not be as troublesome as they sound.

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Business
1:58 am
Thu November 7, 2013

No Room For Erasers, As Technology Deletes Pen Businesses

In the 1800s, fountain pens were the height of writing technology, allowing writers to pen words continuously without stopping for an ink dip.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu November 7, 2013 12:09 pm

We tweet. We text. We email. But how often do we really write anymore? Not much, if you look at the business of selling pens — or "fine writing instruments," as shop owners call them. With their writing tools becoming obsolete, pen stores have folded, including a century-old shop in New York.

But despite the tech-heavy trends, a few old-fashioned pen stores are still holding on.

Wood Shelves, Ink Bottles, And Sinatra

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Health
1:57 am
Thu November 7, 2013

How The Affordable Care Act Pays For Insurance Subsidies

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue November 19, 2013 2:44 pm

The new health care law will provide around $1 trillion in subsidies to low- and middle-income Americans over the next decade to help them pay for health insurance.

Johanna Humbert of Galien, Mich., was pleasantly surprised to discover that she qualifies for an insurance subsidy, since her current plan is being canceled. Humbert makes about $30,000 a year, so she'll get a subsidy of about $300 a month. The new plan is similar to her current one, but it will cost $250 — about half of what she pays now.

But where will the money come from to pay for subsidies like these?

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U.S. Commutes: The Way We Get To Work
1:55 am
Thu November 7, 2013

To Get Around Town, Some Cities Take A Step Back In Time

Construction of the Atlanta streetcar line has hurt many businesses along the route, but there is hope that economic gains will increase once the line opens next spring.
Kathy Lohr NPR

Originally published on Thu November 7, 2013 11:17 am

This story is part of a project on commuting in America.

Cities across the country are investing in old-fashioned streetcars to solve what's known as the "last mile" problem. The hope is that trolleys will make it easier for people to get to their final destination.

Atlanta is one of the latest, laying steel rails for a 2.6 mile line. The tracks will run downtown from Peachtree Street to the Martin Luther King Jr. historic district on the east side of the city. Some see this as a big step forward.

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Education
4:31 pm
Wed November 6, 2013

Michigan Works To Match Dropouts With Degrees Already Earned

At Lansing Community College in Michigan, students who've moved on to four-year schools can come back and claim their credits, and maybe even a degree.
David Shane/Flickr

Originally published on Mon November 11, 2013 10:15 am

There's a nationwide search underway to find former students who don't know they've already done all or most of the work needed to earn a credential that might help them land a better-paying job.

In Michigan, several hundred community college dropouts were recently surprised to learn they had enough credits to qualify for an associate degree. There are also ex-students who apparently didn't know they're just a few credits shy of a two-year degree.

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The Two-Way
4:27 pm
Wed November 6, 2013

This Is Nuts! Heist Nabs $400,000 Worth Of Walnuts

A walnut orchard in California's Central Valley.
PRNewsFoto California Walnut Commission

This case is proving a tough nut to crack: Thieves have been making off with shipments of walnuts and almonds in California's Central Valley. The latest heist is valued at $400,000.

Rich Paloma, a reporter with The Oakdale Leader, tells NPR's All Things Considered that in the most recent nut job — he's counted six thefts of walnuts and almond shipments in recent months — the thieves cut through a fence.

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It's All Politics
4:26 pm
Wed November 6, 2013

Virginia Result Driven by Obamacare? Shutdown? Not So Much

Democrat Terry McAuliffe speaks to supporters Tuesday in Tysons Corner, Va. McAuliffe defeated Republican Ken Cuccinelli in the Virginia governor's race.
Drew Angerer Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 6, 2013 4:47 pm

Virginia Tea Party Republican Ken Cuccinelli lost a closer-than-expected contest for governor Tuesday to Democrat Terry McAuliffe, a weak but well-financed and well-connected candidate.

By Wednesday morning, the political world was busy debating the meaning of the outcome in Virginia, where exit polls showed that voters expressed increasing antipathy to the Tea Party, and that it was women — particularly unmarried women — who propelled McAuliffe over the finish line.

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Shots - Health News
4:17 pm
Wed November 6, 2013

IVF Doesn't Raise Overall Risk For Childhood Cancers

Tina Nevill of Essex, England, holds Poppy, who was conceived by in vitro fertilization. The U.K.'s health system records all IVF cycles performed in the country.
Barcroft Media/Landov

Originally published on Thu November 7, 2013 8:51 pm

Children who were conceived with in vitro fertilization have the same overall chance of developing childhood cancers as those conceived naturally, scientists reported Wednesday.

"It's a reassuring finding," says pediatrician Alastair Sutcliffe of University College London, who led the study. "It's a bellwether to the future health of these kids as they grow up."

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It's All Politics
4:13 pm
Wed November 6, 2013

How Long Must Rand Paul Stay In 'Detention' For Plagiarism?

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is sorry for the plagiarized material in his speeches and op-eds. And he thinks some journalists are just plain sorry.
Jose Luis Magana AP

Originally published on Wed November 6, 2013 5:16 pm

If you were a high-profile politician caught plagiarizing, would you:

  • A) Say something like "my bad," apologize profusely, promise to sin no more and quietly move on, hoping reporters would do likewise? Or ...
  • B) Acknowledge that mistakes were made, then lash out at the news media?

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has been going with the second option lately.

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Law
4:01 pm
Wed November 6, 2013

There May Be A Green Light For Pot, But Not For Driving High

In Washington state, dogs don't need to sniff out pot anymore, but troopers are keeping an eye out for high drivers.
Matthew Staver Bloomberg via Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 6, 2013 7:44 pm

Western states have led the way in the legalization of marijuana, first with medical marijuana, and then with the legalization of recreational pot in Colorado and Washington last November.

It's been quite an adjustment for the police. Washington State Patrol is adapting to the new reality in a variety of ways, from untraining dogs that sniff out pot, to figuring out how to police high drivers.

A Smell Once Forbidden

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