8:33am

Wed July 27, 2011
Planet Money

3 Reasons A Downgrade Might Not Be A Big Deal (And 1 Big Reason It Might)

In the past few days, the prospect of a default by the U.S. has gotten tangled up with the prospect of a downgrade of America's credit rating. It's worth pulling these two possibilities apart.

It's widely agreed that a default would be a very big deal and could cause huge economic problems. There also still seems to be pretty broad agreement — even at this late date (which may not be quite as late as we thought) — that a default is unlikely.

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7:46am

Wed July 27, 2011
The Two-Way

GOP Leader Says Despite 'Challenges,' Boehner Plan Has Party's Support

House Deputy Whip Tom Cole (R-OK) told NPR's Steve Inskeep today on Morning Edition why he's supporting the now-delayed Republican debt limit plan, championed by Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). Cole needs to help find 218 votes to pass the plan in the chamber and he admits while there are some "challenges" facing him, he believes the vast majority of the Republican conference is behind Boehner's plan. He seems confident that he probably won't need Democratic votes to pass it.

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7:38am

Wed July 27, 2011
Shots - Health Blog

Medicare Drug Coverage Saves Money On Hospital Care

Richard Rudisill iStockphoto.com

Researchers who analyzed Medicare claims before and after the addition of prescription drug coverage in 2006 found the benefit trimmed about $1,200 a year that would have been spent on care in nursing home and hospitals.

The savings on medical care was calculated by comparing people who had little or no drug coverage before Medicare Part D was offered with those who had pretty good benefits all along.

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7:24am

Wed July 27, 2011
Opinion

Foreign Policy: Murder By Starvation

A malnourished woman lies in a field hospital of the International Rescue Committee, IRC, in the town of Dadaab, Kenya, Tuesday, July 26, 2011. The U.N. will airlift emergency rations this week to parts of drought-ravaged Somalia that militants banned it from more than two years ago, in a crisis intervention to keep hungry refugees from dying along what an official calls the "roads of death."
Schalk van Zuydam AP

Deprived of food long enough, the bodies of starving people break down muscle tissue to keep vital organs functioning. Diarrhea and skin rashes are common, as are fungal and other infections. As the stomach wastes away, the perception of hunger is reduced and lethargy sets in. Movement becomes immensely painful. Often it is dehydration that finally causes death, because the perception of thirst and a starving person's ability to get water are both radically diminished.

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6:59am

Wed July 27, 2011
The Two-Way

Mexico Jails 15-Year-Old Over Cartel Killings

On Tuesday, Mexico convicted a 15-year-old boy of beheading four men as a hired hit-man for a Mexican drug cartel. Edgar Jiménez Lugo, who was nicknamed "El Ponchis," was arrested in December, when police caught him trying to smuggle weapons and drugs through an airport.

The New York Times reports:

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6:52am

Wed July 27, 2011
Opinion

The Nation: Florida's Infamous Other Fruit

South Florida grows most of the tomatoes used in food service and sold in grocery stores.
Wim Lanclus iStockphoto.com

The tomato is in trouble. The tomatoes in Big Macs and Taco Bell tacos and in supermarkets, especially in the winter, all come from the same place: South Florida. "Tomatoland," Barry Estabrook calls it – that's the title of his new book. Those tomato fields are "ground zero for modern-day slavery" – that's what the Chief Assistant US Attorney there says. And there's one other problem: those tomatoes taste like cardboard.

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6:14am

Wed July 27, 2011
The Two-Way

House Delays Vote On Debt Plan; Afghan Mayor Assassinated

Originally published on Wed July 27, 2011 5:17 am

House Republicans pushed back a vote on their debt limit package until Thursday; they'll search for more spending cuts to equal Speaker John Boehner's initial claim that the bill would trim $1 billion dollars in federal spending, according to Politico.

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6:02am

Wed July 27, 2011
Opinion

Weekly Standard: Choosy Republicans Choose Obama?

President Barack Obama meets with House Speaker John Boehner in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Saturday, July 23. Boehner revealed his budget proposal this week.
Carolyn Kaster AP

William Kristol is editor of The Weekly Standard.

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6:01am

Wed July 27, 2011
Opinion

New Republic: Up The Taxes, Lower The Debt

Democrats want to close some tax loopholes for the rich, like those on corporate jets.
iStockphoto.com

Jonathan Cohn is a senior editor at The New Republic.

Few arguments seem to bother conservatives more these days than the suggestion that we could spare student loans and other valuable government programs by raising taxes on the very wealthy.

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6:00am

Wed July 27, 2011
Critics' Lists: Summer 2011

They Came, They Saw, They Cooked: 5 Food Memoirs

Chris Silas Neal

During summer vacation, part of me wants to spend my hard-earned sheckles traveling the world and eating amazing food. The other part of me just wants to lie on the couch with a good book. Now, thanks to five delicious new food memoirs, I can do both.

The books — written by a reluctant, bad-girl chef; an avant-garde restaurateur; a slacker with a love of roast chicken; a Mideast war correspondent; and an American in Paris — are about love affairs with food, and the journeys that led their authors into the kitchen.

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