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Planet Money
11:01 pm
Wed February 8, 2012

What Do The Dow's Daily Swings Mean? Not Much.

Mario Tama Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 9, 2012 4:22 pm

Turn on the news on any given day, and you're likely to hear about the Dow Jones industrial average. It is the most frequently checked, and cited, proxy of U.S. economic health. But a lot of people — maybe most — don't even know what it is. It's just the stock prices of 30 big companies, summed up and roughly averaged. That's it.

And what does the daily movement of this number have to do with the lives of most Americans? Not much.

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Crisis In The Housing Market
11:01 pm
Wed February 8, 2012

Potential Conflicts At Freddie Mac Draw Scrutiny

In December, Freddie Mac CEO Charles Haldeman (from left), FHFA acting Director Edward DeMarco and Fannie Mae CEO Michael Williams testified on Capitol Hill about the Federal Housing Finance Agency's performance.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

A federal Inspector General's office confirmed Wednesday it is looking into Freddie Mac investments that act as bets against homeowners being able to refinance.

In addition, U.S. senators are expected to probe Freddie Mac's investment practices at a hearing on Capitol Hill on Thursday.

Freddie Mac, based in northern Virginia, is the taxpayer-owned mortgage giant whose public mission is to make homeownership more affordable for Americans.

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Middle East
11:01 pm
Wed February 8, 2012

What Do Democracy Promoters Actually Do?

Members of the Egyptian military stand guard as officials raid the offices of a nongovernmental organization in Cairo. Egyptian investigating judges referred international NGO workers to trial for allegedly being involved in banned activities and illegally receiving foreign funds, security officials said.
Mohammed Asad AP

Originally published on Thu February 9, 2012 9:33 am

American lawmakers are furious about a mounting diplomatic crisis in Egypt, where dozens of nongovernmental workers, including 19 Americans, could face trial.

The United States says Egypt needs to let pro-democracy groups continue their work to help the country's transition, but Egypt accuses them of operating illegally.

The work of democracy promotion groups has raised suspicions in many countries, but Lorne Craner, who runs the International Republican Institute, says he has never seen anything like what's going on now in Egypt.

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Around the Nation
11:01 pm
Wed February 8, 2012

Arizona Lawmakers Target Public Workers' Unions

Originally published on Thu February 9, 2012 9:21 am

Labor unions plan to rally in front of the Arizona State Capitol on Thursday afternoon to protest four bills quickly moving through the state Legislature that could make last year's Wisconsin labor laws look modest by comparison.

Three of the four bills restrict the way unions collect dues and the way workers get paid for union activities. The fourth bans collective bargaining between governments and government workers: state and local. Unlike Wisconsin, it affects all government employees, including police and firefighters.

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Asia
11:01 pm
Wed February 8, 2012

China Laces Up Its Chuck Taylors

Chuck Taylor All Stars are common on the streets of Shanghai. Xuan Zhihui, 62, a retiree from a state-owned factory, wears her daughter's hand-me-down sneakers, which are 15 years old. She says they're really comfortable.
Frank Langfitt NPR

Stroll along a street in downtown Shanghai for very long, and you're likely to run into someone wearing Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars. One recent afternoon, Xu Jing was heading back from lunch to her job at an ad company in a pair of raspberry-colored Chuck Taylors.

"They have a young image, upbeat and outdoorsy, sporty," said Xu, 27, explaining the appeal. "Young people with an artistic sense prefer Converse."

Xu was accompanied by Chen Xiaolei, a co-worker who owns three pairs of Chuck Taylor high-tops.

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Shots - Health Blog
11:01 pm
Wed February 8, 2012

Tai Chi May Help Parkinson's Patients Regain Balance

In a study, patients with Parkinson's disease, a progressive nervous-system disorder, had fewer falls after taking up Tai Chi.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu February 9, 2012 7:35 pm

Tai chi, the Chinese martial art involving slow and rhythmic movement, has been shown to benefit older people by maintaining balance and strength. Now, researchers have found that tai chi also helps patients who suffer from Parkinson's disease.

Leona Maricle was diagnosed with Parkinson's two years ago. At the time, she was teaching math, and she says she had experienced the telltale tremors of Parkinson's for a number of years. She learned how to cope.

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Presidential Race
11:01 pm
Wed February 8, 2012

Powerful GOP-Linked SuperPAC Has Clear Agenda

Originally published on Thu February 9, 2012 8:00 am

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The Two-Way
5:30 pm
Wed February 8, 2012

Fabio Capello Quits As Manager Of England's National Soccer Team

England's Italian manager Fabio Capello attends a training session at London Colney, England in May of 2011.
Glyn Kirk AFP/Getty Images

In a surprise twist for one of the world's premiere national soccer teams, Fabio Capello resigned as England coach, today.

The resignation followed an hour-long meeting with top Football Association officials. The association made the news official in a press release posted on its website. The statement read in part:

"The discussions focused on The FA Board's decision to remove the England team captaincy from John Terry, and Fabio Capello's response through an Italian broadcast interview.

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Shots - Health Blog
5:17 pm
Wed February 8, 2012

'Congress Will Act': Fight Over Birth Control Coverage Moves To The Hill

House Speaker John Boehner says Congress will intervene if President Obama doesn't reconsider a decision to compel church-affiliated employers to cover birth control in their health care plans.
Pete Marovich Getty Images

You didn't have to look hard to see this one coming.

Catholics and GOP candidates have attacked the Obama administration's plans to require most employers — including religious hospitals and schools — to provide coverage of prescription contraceptives. Now the debate is moving to Capitol Hill.

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The Salt
5:12 pm
Wed February 8, 2012

Does Offering Smaller Portions At Restaurants Help People Eat Less?

About one-third of diners who were offered a smaller portion of noodles or rice at a Chinese takeout restaurant chose it.
iStockphoto.com

A server offers you the option to downsize the fried rice side in your Chinese takeout order by half. She tells you that if you accept her offer, you'll save at least 200 calories.

Do you take it?

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