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Space
5:12 am
Sat February 11, 2012

A Real Estate Deal That Spans The Earth

The Jamesburg Earth Station closed in 2002, but the 10-story satellite dish still stands tall.
Courtesy of Bert Aronson

Originally published on Sat February 11, 2012 10:46 am

For sale: 160 acres of rolling hills in California perfect for a vineyard, cattle ranch or communication with outer space.

To understand how Silicon Valley businessman Jeffrey Bullis ended up owning the Jamesburg Earth Station — a former telecommunications center with a 10-story satellite dish — you have to think back to 2004.

The real estate market was booming. Bullis was visiting a friend in Carmel Valley on California's Central Coast, where homes can still sell for millions.

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Politics
4:58 am
Sat February 11, 2012

Religion And Birth Control: Not Just A GOP Fight

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a Catholic up for re-election this year, was one of the Democrats who spoke out against the White House birth control policy before it was altered.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

President Obama moved swiftly Friday to quell a politically perilous uproar involving two hot-button issues: birth control and religious institutions.

In January, the Obama administration announced that under its health care law, religiously affiliated institutions such as hospitals and schools would have to include birth control in their employees' health coverage.

All this week, Republicans on Capitol Hill bashed that policy as a violation of religious freedom, and some of the president's fellow Democrats added to the heat.

'An Accommodation'

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Politics
4:57 am
Sat February 11, 2012

New Contraceptive Plan: A Successful Balancing Act?

President Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announce the revamping of his contraception policy, at the White House on Friday.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Sat February 11, 2012 4:53 pm

The White House is trying to mend fences with Catholics and others who were outraged at a new rule governing insurance coverage for birth control.

That policy would have required Catholic hospitals, universities and other institutions to cover birth control in their employees' health insurance. Critics called that an assault on religious freedom.

President Obama announced a change of course Friday, and the White House is hoping to regain religious allies and maintain support from the women who voted for Obama.

A Change Of Policy

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Latin America
4:00 am
Sat February 11, 2012

In Honduras, Police Accused Of Corruption, Killings

University students take part in a wake against violence held in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, in October. According to the United Nations, Honduras is the most violent country in the world.
Orlando Sierra AFP/Getty Images

This is the first of a two-part series about the roots of violence in Honduras.

Honduras is hot, mountainous and about the size of the state of Louisiana. According to the United Nations, the Central American nation is also the world's most violent country.

A mix of drug trafficking, political instability and history has contributed to a murder rate that is now four times that of Mexico. The Peace Corps has withdrawn its volunteers.

Contributing to the volatility are the police themselves.

'They Don't Respect The Law'

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Mitt Romney
3:44 am
Sat February 11, 2012

As CPAC Ends, Contest In Conservatism Goes On

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, Friday.
Evan Vucci AP

Thousands of Republican activists from around the country are in Washington listening to party leaders and conservative media stars. The Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, wraps up Saturday.

The backdrop of the gathering is the heated presidential race. Three of the remaining candidates spoke Friday. The fourth, Ron Paul, skipped the conference. The headliner for the final session Saturday will be Sarah Palin.

Four years ago, this meeting was where Mitt Romney took his farewell bow, leaving the presidential race.

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Shots - Health Blog
6:57 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

With Contraceptive Coverage Plan 2.0, Obama Pleases Allies, But Not Everyone

President Obama, flanked by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, announces the revamp of the contraception-care policy on Friday.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Fri February 10, 2012 7:44 pm

President Obama's latest proposed change in how contraceptives are covered by employer health insurance may not have ended the controversy that has raged for the past three weeks. But what the administration is calling an "accommodation" for religious employers has apparently mollified key allies who had opposed his original plan.

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The Two-Way
5:48 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

A Purple Squirrel In Pennsylvania Provokes A Host Of Theories

The purple squirrel captured in Jersey Shore, Pa.
Facebook

Originally published on Fri February 10, 2012 6:05 pm

A purple squirrel that was captured in Jersey Shore, Pa., has a bunch of people scratching their heads. The AP reports that Percy Emert and his wife, Connie, spotted the squirrel in their yard, then decided to try to lure it into a trap using some peanuts.

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Middle East
4:52 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

With Death Toll Soaring, What's Next In Aid To Syria?

Bodies of what activists say are victims of shelling by the Syrian army in a Sunni Muslim district in the central city of Homs, on Feb. 8.
Handout Reuters/Landov

As the death toll mounts in Syria, the U.S. and its partners have been scrambling to come up with new diplomatic initiatives to persuade Syrian President Bashar Assad to silence his army's guns and give up power.

Last week, Russia and China blocked a U.N. resolution that would have supported the Arab League peace proposals. Since then, the violence has only intensified.

Like other international diplomats, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is still reeling from Russia and China's refusal to back the Arab League proposal's to solve the crisis in Syria.

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It's All Politics
4:50 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

At CPAC, Gingrich Takes Aim At 'Republican Establishment'

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., on Friday.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Newt Gingrich was the last presidential candidate to speak Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C.

And he kept his Romney powder dry, preferring instead to attack establishment Republicans who have not embraced the Gingrich campaign. To put it mildly.

That establishment, Gingrich charged, is "managing the decay" of the party, and sees his campaign as a "mortal threat" to their insider Washington lives.

"We intend to change Washington," said the former House speaker, "not accommodate it."

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The Two-Way
4:49 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

U.S. Says Satellite Images Show Weaponry Syria Is Using Against Civilians

A satellite image taken Feb. 6.
U.S. State Department

The United States has declassified a series of satellite images it says show the kinds of weaponry the Syrian regime is using against its own people.

The first image was released on the Facebook page of the U.S. Embassy in Damascus. It was accompanied by a note from Embassador Robert Ford, who in the past has taken to Facebook to criticize the regime of President Bashar Assad.

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Music Interviews
4:02 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

An Understudy Turned Star Shines On The Met Stage

Jay Hunter Morris has received glowing reviews for his role as Siegfried in the Metropolitan Opera's most recent production of Wagner's Ring Cycle.
Ken Howard Metropolitan Opera

Originally published on Sat February 11, 2012 10:46 am

Siegfried is a Norse hero, and one of the most demanding roles in all of opera. He slays dragons and has to sing about it — in Gotterdammerung, The Twilight of the Gods, the last opera in Wagner's Ring Cycle.

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Animals
3:53 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

Return Of Gray Wolves Renews Debate Over Hunting

A gray wolf in the wild. Park officials say hunting restrictions in place in parts of of Montana have protected Yellowstone's wolves from a repeat of a 2009 hunt in which four Yellowstone wolves were shot.
MacNeill Lyons/National Park Service AP

Originally published on Fri February 10, 2012 5:24 pm

Gray wolves were taken off the endangered species list in Idaho and Montana last year and put under state control. But they're still on the list in neighboring Wyoming. That's because Wyoming has been the most aggressive about wanting to kill wolves.

Wyoming has finally struck a deal with the federal government regarding how wolves will be treated once the state takes over. But environmentalists believe the agreement denies wolves an important refuge.

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Politics
3:50 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

On The Trail, Romney Avoids His French Connection

Mitt Romney with his then fiancee, Ann (right), and Romney's parents, in Washington, D.C., in 1969. Romney had returned from Mormon missionary work in France the previous year.
JH AP

Mitt Romney waxed eloquent in French as he promoted the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, calling the two years he spent as a young man in France an "enriching experience."

But now that he's running for president of the United States, Romney doesn't talk a lot about his time as a Mormon missionary in France.

"Voilà," says Philippe Brillaut, as he points to the site of what would be France's first Mormon temple.

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Business
3:49 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

Angel Investors And Startups Mingle In Milwaukee

HarQen CEO Kelly Fitzsimmons delivers a presentation to Silicon Pastures, a Milwaukee-based angel investment group that has already put more than $1 million into her company.
Jeff Fitzsimmons HarQen

Originally published on Fri February 10, 2012 5:03 pm

Thirty-five well-dressed men and women are sipping wine and chatting in the lounge of one of Milwaukee's oldest and most exclusive social clubs. A century ago, this is where the city's beer and banking giants mixed and mingled. Tonight's crowd isn't all that different — many of these men and women are worth at least a million dollars. Once a month, they pool their money to invest in high-tech, fast-growth startups. They call themselves the Silicon Pastures Angel Investment Network.

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World Cafe
3:49 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

Craig Finn On World Cafe

Craig Finn's solo debut is titled Clear Heart Full Eyes.
Courtesy of the artist

Ever since Craig Finn's band The Hold Steady first broke through in 2004, he's gotten famous for a mix of hyper-literate story songs and classic-rock arrangements. After releasing a string of highly praised albums and EPs, Finn took a five-month break from The Hold Steady to record his solo debut, Clear Heart Full Eyes.

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