The Salt
3:58 pm
Mon March 12, 2012

How A Sunflower Gene Crossed The Line From Weed To Crop

Sunflowers in Birmingham, Ala.
Michelle Campbell Birmingham News /Landov

I'm rounding out The Salt's impromptu Pest Resistance Week (which started with stories about weeds and corn rootworms) with a little-known tale that may scramble your mental categories.

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Europe
3:57 pm
Mon March 12, 2012

For Russia's Troubled Space Program, Mishaps Mount

Russia's unmanned Progress space freighter, headed for the International Space Station, blasts off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Oct. 30, 2011. A string of mission failures has raised concerns over the reliability of Russia's space program.
STR Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Mon March 12, 2012 9:56 pm

Russia was once the world leader in space exploration, but its space program has suffered a string of costly and embarrassing mishaps over the past year.

NASA says Russia is still a trustworthy partner, but critics say the once-proud program is corrupt and mismanaged — good at producing excuses, but not results.

The Memorial Space Museum in Moscow showcases the achievements of the Soviet Union's space program.

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Afghanistan
3:37 pm
Mon March 12, 2012

Afghan Shootings Could Complicate U.S. Mission

The deaths of Afghan civilians, who were allegedly shot by an American soldier, could make the U.S. mission even harder. Here, an Afghan soldier leaves a home where civilians were killed Sunday in the southern province of Kandahar.
AP

It's unlikely that the killing of 16 Afghan civilians on Sunday, allegedly by a U.S. Army staff sergeant, will drastically alter the course of the war.

U.S. and NATO strategy calls for a sizable contingent of international troops to stay in Afghanistan until 2014, with residual support after that. That timetable is unlikely to change.

But the task U.S. forces face in trying to stabilize the country could well be made more difficult by the shootings.

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World Cafe
3:30 pm
Mon March 12, 2012

Y La Bamba On 'World Cafe: Next'

Y La Bamba's new album, Court The Storm, was released this February.
Sarah Law Courtesy of the artist

Hailing from the rain-soaked, indie folk hub that is Portland, Ore., the members of Y La Bamba are pretty far from their Latin inspirations. But this pop outfit is centered around the powerful, otherworldly vocals of Luz Elena Mendoza, and some of her main influences came from a childhood in Mexico — accordions, mariachi and Latin rhythms.

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Music Reviews
3:24 pm
Mon March 12, 2012

Gospel Meets Jazz, With Unpredictable Results

Don Byron released Love, Peace, and Soul with his New Gospel Quintet on Feb. 21.
Till Krautkraemer Courtesy of the artist

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Around the Nation
3:18 pm
Mon March 12, 2012

Vegas Museum Offers A Mob History You Can't Refuse

Look Out, Copper: A 1928 Ford Model A car (left) and a 1938 Ford paddy wagon arrive at the Feb. 14 grand opening of The Mob Museum in Las Vegas.
Ethan Miller Getty Images

Originally published on Mon March 12, 2012 9:56 pm

As soon as you step in the elevator of Las Vegas' new Mob Museum, a cop on a video monitor reads you your rights. When the doors finally open, you're greeted by a huge photo of 1920s-era gangsters standing in a police lineup, wearing fedoras.

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Election 2012
3:00 pm
Mon March 12, 2012

GOP Candidates Make Last-Minute Appeals In South

Originally published on Mon March 12, 2012 9:56 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. The push is on for Republican voters in the heart of Dixie. Tomorrow, Alabama and Mississippi hold primaries. And today, that's where you could spot Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. During visits to the Gulf Coast, each of them bashed President Obama's record on energy, as NPR's Debbie Elliott reports.

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It's All Politics
2:43 pm
Mon March 12, 2012

Presidential Speeches: Sound And (Partisan) Fury, Signifying Not Much

When presidents give major set-piece speeches, they're mainly engaged in exercises in futility since a commander-in-chief's high-flown rhetoric rarely shifts voter attitudes for long.

Indeed, the exercise could even be more negative than neutral since speeches by presidents advocating specific policy not only leave citizen unswayed but can fire up political opponents in the other party, according to Ezra Klein in an essay in the New Yorker.

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Rebuilding Japan
2:39 pm
Mon March 12, 2012

Rethinking, Not Just Rebuilding, Japan's Northeast

Demolished ships lie strewn about near the fishing port of Minamisanriku town, in Miyagi prefecture, northeastern Japan, Feb. 23, 2012. The local fisherman's union says last year's tsunami wiped out 90 percent of local fishing boats.
Yuriko Makao Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Mon March 12, 2012 9:56 pm

With a fierce yell and a resounding thwack, 13-year-old Japanese student Nanami Usui brings her bamboo sword down on her opponent.

By practicing Kendo, or Japanese swordsmanship, Usui is one of several students in the town of Minamisanriku who are rebuilding their confidence after last year's tsunami washed away their homes and shattered their hometown in the country's northeast.

Usui says she dreams of being a police officer, but she doesn't know yet where she wants to live and work.

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