NPR News

Medicare pays more to doctors and hospitals in expensive parts of the country. But a prestigious panel says Medicare's methods of evaluating regional costs are disturbingly imprecise and need to be overhauled.

While reporting for his three-part series on drug trafficking in Central America, NPR's Jason Beaubien spoke at length with "Blue" (a pseudonym) the second in command of the Mara Salvatrucha gang in El Salvador.

In today's report, Jason says that:

Alaska Set To Release Thousands Of Palin Emails

Jun 1, 2011

In response to Freedom of Information Act requests dating back to the 2008 presidential elections, Alaska is set to release more than 24,000 pages of emails sent and received by Sarah Palin during her governorship. The Anchorage Daily News reports that 2,415 pages are exempt from the request and that:

Lawyers for cyclist Lance Armstrong are asking for an on-air apology from CBS News' 60 Minutes. Last month, the news magazine aired an interview with Tyler Hamilton, one of Armstrong's teammates, in which he said he saw Armstrong take performance-enhacing drugs. Hamilton also alledged that the International Cycling Union helped him conceal a positive test result at a Swiss event.

The AP reports:

When the automobile first emerged at the end of the 19th century, there were two types of cars on the road: gasoline-powered cars and electric cars. And at first, it was unclear which type would attract more drivers.

"Electric cars had some early advantages," says science writer Seth Fletcher. "Gas cars were loud and dirty and nasty, and they had to be started with a hand-crank, which could sometimes backfire and break your arm. And electric cars were clean and quiet and civilized and they worked well in the city."

Premed students have long had a reputation, sometimes deserved, for cutthroat competition in the quest for top grades and test scores. Now, there are high tech ways to get an edge that nobody could have dreamed up even a few years ago.

Two men in British Columbia face criminal charges for an elaborate scheme that allegedly used a pinhole camera, wireless transmitter and a group of unwitting students to cheat on the MCAT, the standardized test that's used by most medical schools in making admissions decisions.

Countries Aim To Return From Disaster, Disruption

Jun 1, 2011

Image is everything — at least when it comes to tourism.

A country might boast the best beaches or amazing antiquities, but if potential visitors have reason to worry about their safety, they won't come. That's the problem now confronting several countries that generally rely heavily on tourism.

"You may have the greatest attractions, but any bad news will put them on the back burner," says Jafar Jafari, a tourism expert affiliated with universities in Spain, Portugal and Wisconsin.

The shareholders of coal mine giants Massey Energy and Alpha Natural Resources overwhelmingly approved a merger this morning, despite challenges from some large institutional investors and an ongoing controversy about Massey executives moving into the management structure of the merged company.

Saying that the Fair Sentencing Act that narrowed the disparity between penalties for crack and power cocaine offenses has been "a historic step forward," Attorney Gen. Eric Holder pushed today for retroactively applying the lighter crack penalties to some offenders now serving time.

If you fly a lot you've had this happen.

Seconds after the jet's in the air, the @#$%^&* in front of you reclines his seat, crunching your knees and raising some questions:

-- 1. Do you recline your seat as well and spread the pain to the person behind you?

-- 2. Do you grin and bear it like the stoic person you think you are?

-- 3. Do you ask the offender to give you a break and put the seat up at least a little?

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