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Villagers from a violent part of southern Afghanistan say that Afghan troops, along with several American mentors, forced civilians to march ahead of soldiers on roads where the Taliban were believed to have planted bombs and landmines.

No one was hurt. But if the allegations are true, the act would appear to violate the Geneva Conventions governing the treatment of civilians. The episode also raises questions about how civilians are caught between the two sides in the war.

States enacted a record number of abortion restrictions in the first half of 2011, many of them requiring 24-hour waiting periods, ultrasounds or parental permission to deter women from obtaining abortions. But these types of "demand-side policies" have not had much of an impact in the past on national abortion rates, according to an article in the most recent edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has thrown into doubt the ownership of some foreclosed homes, when it decided that buyers of a house that was improperly foreclosed are not the legal owners of the property.

The Boston Globe reports:

Watch Out! More Space Debris Coming Our Way

Oct 19, 2011

It's happening again: This time instead of a NASA satellite, it's a German satellite that will burn through the Earth's atmosphere and crash somewhere unknown. If you remember, in September a decommissioned weather satellite fell into the South Pacific.

On the night of Oct. 4, Myron and Arlene Miller were asleep in their home in Mechanicstown, Ohio, when they heard a knock on the door. According to their friend Bob Comer, when Myron came downstairs, he found five men standing on his doorstep.

"They pulled him out in the front yard, and they have scissors and a battery-powered shaver and everything," Comer says. "They're trying to hold him down and cut his beard off and cut his hair off."

Miller yelled at his wife to call 911. Then the men let him go and ran back to the trailer and had the driver take off, Comer says.

Which illness puts more elderly people in the hospital than any other? Heart failure, a serious impairment of blood-pumping power.

But, as some Yale researchers have found, the rate of hospitalization for heart failure has gone down a lot, according to Medicare data for the decade ending in 2008.

Just as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney tries to overcome unease about his Mormon faith in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, a new ad campaign promoting the religion is drawing attention.

"I'm a Mormon" billboards and television commercials aimed at improving the religious group's public image have surfaced over the past week in states almost certain to be battlegrounds for next year's presidential contest.

Syria's President Bashar Assad has survived an uprising that's now in its eighth month, and he shows no signs of buckling. The president has relied on a massive security presence to limit protests at home, and has dismissed criticism and sanctions from abroad.

But is this strategy sustainable, or is Assad simply buying time?

We've covered the serious news out of the Occupy Wall Street movement today. But The Gray Lady has a story we just couldn't stay away from.

Abbott Labs is splitting up. The diversified maker of medical products will become two companies: one focused on brand-name prescription drugs and the second on the other stuff, including medical devices, diagnostic tests and baby formula.

It's a big deal, and Forbes' Matt Herper explains the logic behind it: Investors aren't giving drugmakers much respect, so separating the businesses could give a lift to the future stock of the faster-growing non-drug business.

A Hard-Times Journey: Where Should NPR Go?

Oct 19, 2011

Americans are worried. Fourteen million people are unemployed. Wages are flat. And there's concern about a double-dip recession. But for many Americans, it feels like the last recession never ended.

And many economists don't expect a real turnaround anytime soon. They call it "The New Normal" or "The Great Stagnation."

The country has always come back from hard times. Is this time different?

Fact Checking The GOP Debate

Oct 19, 2011

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Now to last night's Republican presidential debate. Voters might have questions about some of the claims the candidates made, so we've invited Bill Adair back to the program. He's the editor of the nonpartisan fact-checking website PolitiFact.com. Bill, welcome back.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

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This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

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

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Peace Activist Spurred Prisoner Swap

Oct 19, 2011

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UAW President Discusses Ford Contract

Oct 19, 2011

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Joining us from Detroit is Bob King, who's the president of the United Auto Workers. Welcome to the program and congratulations on the contract being approved.

BOB KING: Thank you very much, Robert.

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South Carolina is one of several states that passed laws this year requiring voters to show a government-issued photo ID at the polls. The South Carolina measure still needs approval from the U.S. Justice Department to ensure that it doesn't discriminate against certain voters.

Voting rights advocates say the requirement will be a big burden for some, especially the elderly and the poor, who can have a difficult time getting a photo ID — even in this day and age.

The Bureaucratic Maze

Eight times a year the Federal Reserve releases "beige book" reports about how the economy is doing. Named for the traditional color of their covers and based on reports from the central bank's 12 districts, they're largely anecdotal and full of generalizations about what businesses leaders and others are saying about current conditions.

Many of the protesters occupying Wall Street and other places say they are upset about the rising price of going to college. Tuition and other costs have been going up faster than inflation, and family incomes can't keep up. Despite public outrage about the problem, there's little sign these costs will drop anytime soon.

For as long as there's been an IQ test, there's been controversy over what it measures. Do IQ scores capture a person's intellectual capacity, which supposedly remains stable over time? Or is the Intelligent Quotient exam really an achievement test — similar to the S.A.T. — that's subject to fluctuations in scores?

The findings of a new study add evidence to the latter theory: IQ seems to be a gauge of acquired knowledge that progresses in fits and starts.

The Jensen Farms cantaloupe blamed for the deadliest listeria outbreak in years may have become contaminated in the farm's own packing facilities.

That's the conclusion of the FDA's investigation into the source of the outbreak so far, although the saga is far from over.

And once again, the likely culprit is poop.

USA Today parses through New York Federal Reserve's latest report (pdf) on Household Debt and Credit and finds that for the first time, this year the amount of student loans will surpass the $100 billion mark and the outstanding balance will exceed $1 trillion.

"The United States will hold a fresh round of talks with North Korea on its nuclear weapons program next week and appoint a new full-time envoy as its seeks to deepen its engagement with the reclusive regime," U.S. officials and a Washington-based foreign diplomat tell The Associated Press.

For the past week, the rain across Central America has been relentless. The AFP reports that some places have received 47 inches over the course of a week.

The floods have killed nearly 100 people and displaced 700,000. The AFP has more:

The unusually heavy rainfall came as the region was pounded from one weather system from the Pacific and another from the Caribbean.

Protesters are not only occupying Lower Manhattan's Zuccotti Park; they're also occupying Twitter and other social media sites like Livestream, where visitors to the site can watch live footage from the protests.

High winds, heavy rain and waves of up to 25 feet are forecast for later today along Chicago's shore with Lake Michigan.

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