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Making a point about government spending, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky presented taxpayers from his state with a symbolic $500,000 "oversized check." Paul, who is the son of presidential candidate Ron Paul, said his office had saved more than 16 percent of its allotted operating budget last year, so he was giving it back to the Treasury.

In many ways, the Detroit Auto Show has become a kind of consumer electronics show for cars, where you're just as likely to see the rollout of a new app or entertainment system as the introduction of next year's models.

"The growth in mechanical changes [has] now become incremental, whereas the growth in the consumer electronics industry seems to be taking place at a rate that is almost unprecedented," says Thomas Tetzlaff, a spokesman for Volkswagen Canada.

Using illicit drugs can cause lots of bad things to happen. But being attacked by flesh-eating bacteria usually isn't one of them.

Yet that's what happened to an unfortunate young woman who had injected the increasingly popular stimulant drug called "bath salts."

The 34-year-old woman showed up at a New Orleans hospital with a painful, swollen arm after she attended a party. She had a small red puncture mark on her forearm.

The power of the pardon can redress an overly harsh sentence or a wrongful conviction. It can also prove to be a political landmine.

Exhibit A: Outgoing Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour's sweeping 11th-hour orders granting clemency to more than 200 people, ranging from convicted murderers to the brother of NFL great Brett Favre, who had his record cleared in connection with a 1997 conviction on manslaughter charges.

Russia's largest anti-government demonstrations since the Soviet breakup of 1991 are being organized and driven by a force that didn't exist two decades ago — social media.

In recent years, protests have been relatively rare, and Russians who got their news from state-run television essentially saw one narrative — one that relentlessly extolled the virtues of the country's leaders, particularly Vladimir Putin.

Barely a day has gone by without Newt Gingrich complaining about the inaccuracy of ads run against him by a superPAC supporting Mitt Romney.

So now that an anti-Mitt Romney film purchased by a superPAC supporting Gingrich has been criticized for numerous inaccuracies, Gingrich has asked that the film's creators and the funders paying for ads using film snippets edit out the falsehoods or take the ads and film down entirely.

Top Skier In New Olympic Sport Injured

Jan 13, 2012

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

One of the top athletes in the new Olympic sport of ski halfpipe is in critical condition in a Utah hospital. Twenty-nine-year-old Canadian Sarah Burke was injured when she fell during a training run in Park City earlier this week.

Burke is considered a pioneer in a sport where competitors on skis do the same tricks and flips that snowboarders do, all in a super-sized halfpipe. NPR's Tom Goldman reports.

Top TV Picks For January

Jan 13, 2012

This month, there are a whole slew of new shows and season premieres on TV, from top series American Idol on Fox to the movie-worthy cast of HBO's Luck. Eric Deggans of the Tampa Bay Times suggests you try dramas Justified and Touch — and run away from sitcoms Rob and Work It as fast as you can. He talks to Audie Cornish.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Apple has halted store sales of its iPhone 4S in China after fights erupted outside its flagship outlet in Beijing.

As NPR's Frank Langfitt reports, scalpers and angry would-be customers marked the phone's Chinese launch.

FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: At the Apple store in Beijing's Sanlitun shopping district, scalpers scuffled overnight causing the store to keep its door shut. Some in the crowd responded by hurling eggs at the windows.

A cardiologist says former Democratic presidential candidate and senator John Edwards has a life-threatening condition that will require surgery next month, a judge in Greensboro, N.C., announced today.

S&P Downgrades France; Deals A Blow To Eurozone

Jan 13, 2012

Standard & Poor's downgraded France's sovereign debt rating to AA+.

The AP says France's finance minister announced the downgrade, which could affect the European Union's bailout fund. France and Germany have been the Eurozone's pillars and their good credit has supported the rescues of countries like Ireland and Greece.

The Washington Post just put out the word that it had an "exclusive interview with Joe Paterno, his first extensive comments on the Penn State scandal and its fallout," and expects to post a report about what he had to say on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET.

Bombay Bicycle Club isn't from India, nor will any of its members roll through the U.S. on bicycles during their upcoming tour. But the four British indie rockers are bringing a new sound to the States — albeit one with echoes of The Stone Roses, Radiohead and other British rock acts of the past 20 years.

Drugmakers Boost Prices, Despite Political Risks

Jan 13, 2012

One thing big drug companies generally aren't keen on is being the focus of a hot political debate.

In the past, the quickest way to become Exhibit A was to raise prices during a presidential campaign, Richard Evans, a former drug company executive turned industry analyst, tells Shots.

Yesterday, the Federal Reserve released transcripts of the 2006 meetings of the Federal Open Market Committee. While it's well known the Fed missed glaring signs of a housing bubble about to burst in a big way, the transcripts show that top officials not only dismissed the warnings, but they were really worrying about the economy growing too fast.

This sounds impossible, but here it is:

"Scientists from IBM Research have successfully demonstrated the ability to store information in as few as 12 magnetic atoms," the company says.

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IRA FLATOW, HOST:

Welcome to SCIENCE FRIDAY. I am Ira Flatow. A few weeks ago, we talked about the discovery of new exoplanets, those planets outside of our solar system. There were the first Earth-sized exoplanets, and we had another exoplanet smack dab in the middle of the Goldilocks Zone, you know, where liquid water could exist. That was another first.

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IRA FLATOW, HOST:

Speaking of dark matter and space-time, one of the major questions about our universe is how did it all come into being, and my next guest tackles that question in his new book, "A Universe from Nothing: Why There is Something Rather than Nothing." Lawrence Krauss is also a foundation professor and director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University in Tempe. He's also in our NPR Washington studios. Welcome back, Lawrence.

LAWRENCE KRAUSS: It's always good to be back, Ira.

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IRA FLATOW, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. We talk many times about the rise of drug-resistant bacteria, germs that resist most antibiotics, except for a precious few. A case in point is tuberculosis. But now comes word of a strain of TB that is totally drug-resistant, TDR TB as doctors are calling it. There are no second-choice antibiotics here. We simply have no drugs to fight this superbug. There are no weapons left. And it has now infected a dozen patients in India.

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IRA FLATOW, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. Up next, "Confessions of a Surgeon." Have you ever sat in your doctor's office, you know, doctor's going down that long list of aches and pains, and have you ever thought to yourself: I wonder if he's really listening to me. Well, at least one doctor has confessed to not always paying attention to what his patients say.

Talking Science With Arianna Huffington

Jan 13, 2012

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IRA FLATOW, HOST:

Next up: A bit of good news for those of you lamenting the loss of your newspaper science section. The Huffington Post has a new section dedicated to science, also find a lot of technology there. Editors of the news site describe it as one-stop shopping for the latest in scientific news and opinion, with an aim to entertain as well as inform.

Get Inked For Science

Jan 13, 2012

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IRA FLATOW, HOST:

Welcome to SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. Thinking about a tattoo? Well, forget butterflies, unicorns or mom. Tattoos have gone geek. No more of those blurry anchors and pinup girls. We've got molecules, double-helix strands, mathematical equations all showing up on biceps and other places.

Making A Computer From Bubbles

Jan 13, 2012

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IRA FLATOW, HOST:

Flora Lichtman is here with a Video Pick of the Week. And it's something about an everyday object?

FLORA LICHTMAN, BYLINE: An everyday item. The Video Pick of the Week this week is about - oh, that was really bad.

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LICHTMAN: I tried to do a sound effect. Oh, live radio. Sorry. That was a very weak...

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FLATOW: You need a fresh bottle.

LICHTMAN: I did shake it up before I came in. All right, anyway. Sorry. Forget it. Let's reverse.

Jim Brown, Dennis Rodman and O.J. Simpson are all former professional athletes who've tried their hand at acting. Showbiz might seem like a natural path for guys with big egos and million-watt personalities, but Eddie George is a former NFL player who's taken a different path to the limelight.

He's joining a fraternity of actors that includes Charlton Heston in playing William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar.

The scene where Marcus Brutus kills Caesar is probably the most famous death scene in all of theater. It's where those famous words, "Et tu, Brute?" are uttered.

In Texas today, conservative Christian and evangelical leaders begin two days of meetings to discuss political strategy, and perhaps to coalesce around a Republican presidential candidate other than front-runner Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts.

NPR's Barbara Bradley Hagerty reports on the search for a so-called "Jesus candidate" and the evolving influence of Christian right leaders in the Republican Party.

U.S. To Exchange Ambassadors With Myanmar

Jan 13, 2012

Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said her office will start the process of exchanging ambassadors with Myanmar. The announcement comes hours after Myanmar released 651 political prisoners.

Joran van der Sloot, the 24-year-old Dutchman who remains the prime suspect in the still-unsolved 2005 disappearance of Alabama teen Natalee Holloway in Aruba, was just sentenced to 28 years in prison for the 2010 murder of a woman in Peru.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with efforts to streamline the federal government.

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GREENE: President Obama is asking Congress, today, to give him the power to consolidate certain U.S. agencies. Doing that, he says, will reduce the number of federal jobs and make government more efficient.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The government we have is not the government that we need. We live in a 21st Century economy, but we've still got a government organized for the 20th Century.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's not every day that you hear about teenagers getting terribly ill from the deer they killed and cooked for a high school class. But that's what happened to 29 teenagers in Minnesota, who got sick after they helped hunt, process and cook seven white-tailed deer for an outdoor recreation and environmental science class.

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