10:23am

Wed July 18, 2012
The Two-Way

Drought Disasters Declared In More Counties; 1,297 Affected So Far

A corn plant that was struggling to survive this week in a drought-stricken farm field near Shawneetown, Ill.
Scott Olson Getty Images

With the addition of 29 counties in eight states today, there are now 1,297 counties across the nation so stricken by drought and heat that they've been declared natural disaster areas, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack just announced. That's about one-third of all U.S. counties, he said.

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10:18am

Wed July 18, 2012
The Two-Way

Has Syria Reached A Tipping Point?

Originally published on Wed July 18, 2012 10:27 am

Video taken from Syrian TV purportedly shows government forces taking up position during clashes with rebels Wednesday in the Al-Midan district of Damascus.
AFP/Getty Images

In most every uprising that topples a government, there's a pivotal moment when the momentum swings dramatically to the opposition and a regime that once seemed sturdy suddenly appears extremely vulnerable.

That moment may have come with Wednesday's bombing inside the National Security building in Damascus, the most powerful blow the Syrian opposition has yet delivered to President Bashar Assad's regime since the uprising began in March 2011.

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9:47am

Wed July 18, 2012
The Salt

Hot Or Not? Potato Board Tries To Un-Dud The Spud

Originally published on Wed July 18, 2012 3:21 pm

Tiny spuds decked out with cheese fondue sauce and a sprinkling of broccoli shavings at a dinner sponsored by the U.S. Potato Board.
Benjamin Morris/NPR

It may not be obvious to the average shopper or diner, but the potato is an embattled vegetable. Yes, the simple spud, so ubiquitous, so unassuming, may be in need of a makeover.

That's at least the view of the U.S. Potato Board, the organization responsible for marketing American potatoes here at home and abroad.

"The potato has been in a rut," Meredith Myers, spokeswoman for the U.S. Potato Board, tells The Salt.

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9:38am

Wed July 18, 2012
The Two-Way

ACLU Sues U.S. Government Over Targeted Killing Of Three Citizens

Originally published on Sun August 26, 2012 2:30 pm

In this image taken from video and released by SITE Intelligence Group, Anwar al-Awlaki speaks in a video message posted on radical websites in November, 2010.
SITE Intelligence Group AP

In a lawsuit filed today, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights allege the United States violated the Constitution's gurantee of due process when it ordered the targeted killing of three United States citizens.

The groups filed the suit against top military and intelligence officials on behalf relatives of the three Americans who were killed in drone strikes in Yemen last fall.

NPR's Carrie Johnson filed this report for our Newscast unit:

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9:33am

Wed July 18, 2012
Anti-Government Protests Roil Egypt

A Reporter Looks At Where Egypt May Be Headed

Originally published on Thu July 19, 2012 9:03 am

Demonstrators chant slogans supporting Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi during a rally in Tahrir Square in Cairo on Friday.
Khalil Hamra AP

Reporter David Kirkpatrick covered Washington's political scene for many years for The New York Times. But early last year, he decided that he was ready for a change of scenery. Kirkpatrick volunteered to move to Egypt to become the Times' Cairo bureau chief — and boy, was his timing good.

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9:28am

Wed July 18, 2012
The Two-Way

Reports That Gov. Christie Will Give Keynote Tamp Down Veep Talk

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R).
Paul J. Richards AFP/Getty Images

News that first broke in the New York Post would seem to signal that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie isn't going to be the Republican Party's vice presidential nominee.

The Post reports that "the word is going out quietly to Republican activists across New Jersey. ... Gov. Chris Christie is going to be giving the keynote speech" at the GOP convention in Tampa next month.

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8:23am

Wed July 18, 2012
It's All Politics

Romney's 'Crony Capitalism' Charge May Ring True For Leaders Of Both Parties

Originally published on Wed July 18, 2012 11:25 am

Crony capitalism is a term very much in vogue because of Mitt Romney's accusations that President Obama has engaged in the practice, allegedly rewarding the business interests of political supporters with federal taxpayer dollars.

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7:46am

Wed July 18, 2012
The Two-Way

Heir To Billions Charged With Preventing Wife's Burial, Not Murder

Hans Kristian Rausing as he arrived at court earlier today.
Facundo Arrizabalaga EPA /Landov

Though he had been arrested on suspicion of murder, the son of a Swedish billionaire has only been charged with "preventing the lawful and decent burial of the body of his wife," The Guardian reports.

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7:11am

Wed July 18, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

FDA Approves Second Diet Drug In A Month

Originally published on Wed July 18, 2012 2:14 pm

The range of Qsymia doses approved by the Food and Drug Administration Tuesday.
AP

After a 13-year hiatus, the Food and Drug Administration gave its OK to the second weight-loss drug in a month.

This time it's Qsymia, previously called Qnexa, from Vivus. The pill contains two active ingredients: topiramate, an anti-seizure medicine, and phentermine, a stimulant.

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6:57am

Wed July 18, 2012
World

Syrian Regime Hit By Deadly Blast In Damascus

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Let's follow up now on what appears to be a serious blow to the regime in Syria today. A blast repeatedly killed the country's defense chief, the brother-in-law of President Bashar al-Assad and wounded other top officials. This explosion, we're told, occurred inside the tightly guarded national security headquarters in Damascus. To sort out what we know, or don't know, about this incident so far, we've called Neil MacFarquar. He's a correspondent for the New York Times. He's in Beirut. Welcome back to the program.

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