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These have certainly been dispiriting times for those who admire athletes, who proclaim that sports build character. The horrendous shooting by Oscar Pistorius is of course, in a category mercifully unapproached since the O.J. Simpson case, but the Whole Earth Catalog of recent examples of athletic character-building is certainly noteworthy.

It's looking increasingly likely that $85 billion of automatic federal budget cuts known as a sequester will come to pass if Congress doesn't act by March 1.

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This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

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This week on our program, we're going to hear from the directors of the five films nominated for Best Short Documentary at the Oscars, from life in the throes of breast cancer to life as a can collector on the streets of New York.

About 1 in 5 Medicare patients who leave the hospital come back within 30 days. Those return trips cost U.S. taxpayers a lot of money — more than $17 billion a year.

In October, the federal government started cracking down on hospitals, penalizing them if too many of their patients bounce back.

If you've been behind the wheel recently, you already know gasoline prices are up.

The national average price for regular gas rose to nearly $3.75 a gallon Tuesday, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

"Retail prices have gone up for each of the last 33 or so days — dating back to about Jan. 17," says Denton Cinquegrana, executive editor at the Oil Price Information Service.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is out with his first ad of the 2014 election cycle. It's a three-minute, Web-only spoof that pokes fun at President Obama and an array of Democrats who might challenge McConnell, the five-term Kentucky senator.

It's ScuttleButton Time!

Feb 19, 2013

One category that, regrettably, won't be discussed during next Sunday's Academy Awards ceremony: best on-line button puzzle.

I don't know about you, but in my book that would be ScuttleButton.

There's an underground bunker at a radio station in Charlotte, N.C., where time has stopped. Built decades ago to provide safety and vital communications in the event of a nuclear attack, it's now a perfectly preserved relic of Cold War fear that's gained new relevance.

The secret bunker is part of the office lore that old-timers at WBT Radio whisper to the newbies. That's how radio host Mike Collins learned of it back in the 1980s.

Why One Mom Put Her 7-Year-Old On A Diet

Feb 19, 2013

Over the past few years, there's been a spotlight on the growing number of overweight and obese children in America. Today, more parents are paying close attention to what their kids eat and how often they exercise. While many parents might balk at the idea of putting a 7-year-old on a diet, that's what Dara-Lynn Weiss did. She speaks with NPR's Michel Martin about the ordeal, which she recalls in her new memoir, The Heavy: A Mother, A Daughter, A Diet.

Developers in Pakistan will soon break ground on a new amusement park and outdoor activity center, a private, $30 million project billed as a state-of-the-art facility that will bring jobs to a hard-hit area.

But there's one issue that's raising some eyebrows: the site is in Abbottabad, not far from the place where Osama Bin Laden secretly lived until American forces killed him.

This does not trouble Sheikh Kaleemuddin, the project director, who is effusive about the picturesque spot where he plans to build.

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Among the best picture nominees for this Sunday's Academy Awards is Quentin Tarantino's slave revenge shoot-'em-up, "Django Unchained." "Django" is also up for Best Original Screenplay, and Christoph Waltz is nominated for Best Supporting Actor. Mississippi itself plays a supporting role, a villainous one..

NPR's Shereen Marisol Meraji reports.

SHEREEN MARISOL MERAJI, BYLINE: This isn't Mississippi's first 15 minutes of celluloid infamy.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE CLIPS)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: They hate Mississippi.

U.S. Army Spc. Tyler Jeffries spent most of last year in Afghanistan, on dusty, hot patrols in the villages outside Kandahar. Last fall, on Oct. 6, his tour ended three months early.

"I was clearing an area and I had the metal detector. Then we had word that there was two guys coming toward our position," Jeffries recalled later that month.

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This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Celeste Headlee, filling in for Neal Conan from Washington. These days Facebook and Twitter are almost ubiquitous, and online our friends and family members are just as likely to talk about their jobs as their children and spouses.

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"Buying a car sucks," Scott Painter says. "It's something that most consumers fear."

Back in the '90s, Painter started a company to try to change this. "The name of the company was Cars Direct," he says. "The mission was to sell cars directly."

Painter wanted his company to build virtual dealerships that would let people go online and buy cars. But after talking with a few car execs, he realized nobody would even consider his idea.

What's Driving The Violence In Chicago

Feb 19, 2013

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CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Celeste Headlee, in Washington. Neal Conan is away. At the urging of local groups, President Obama went home to Chicago last week to talk about urban violence in a city that recorded more than 40 murders just last month, among them the high-profile killing of Hadiya Pendleton.

When Emily Bazelon was in eighth grade, her friends fired her. Now a senior editor for Slate, Bazelon writes in her new book, Sticks and Stones: "Two and a half decades later, I can say that wryly: it happened to plenty of people, and look at us now, right? We survived. But at the time, in that moment, it was impossible to have that kind of perspective."

In Sticks and Stones, Bazelon explores teen bullying, what it is and what it isn't, and how the rise of the Internet and social media make the experience more challenging.

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This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

And I'm Linda Wertheimer.

Earlier this hour, President Obama spoke in the White House about the impacts of deep spending cuts that are scheduled to take effect a week from Friday. A group of first responders in uniforms stood behind him. The president said if Congress does not stop these cuts, these men and women in uniform will not be available to help communities respond to, and recover from disasters.

Houston Couple Welcomes Quadruplets

Feb 19, 2013

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. Congratulations to the Montalvos of Houston, Texas on the birth of their identical twins Ace and Blaine and on the birth of identical twins Cash and Dylan. The couple thought they'd hit the jackpot when they learned they were expecting twins. Then they heard fourth heartbeat. Quadruplets are unusual, but a pair of identical twins - the odds are about 70 million to one. Next? Possibly a family trip to Las Vegas. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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