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Around the Nation
4:55 pm
Thu July 18, 2013

South Boston Transformed In Whitey Bulger's Absence

Four decades after James "Whitey" Bulger first rose to power, "Southie" is not what it used to be. The once blue-collar, Irish-Catholic neighborhood is now an ethnic melting pot that has been invaded by young urban professionals who have gentrified the area and smoothed out its once-rough edges.
Michael Dwyer AP

Originally published on Thu July 18, 2013 5:31 pm

When the FBI brought reputed mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger back to his old stomping ground of South Boston to be tried in federal court after 16 years on the lam, he must have done a double take. The neighborhood that Bulger is accused of terrorizing with murders and extortion is booming.

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The Two-Way
4:06 pm
Thu July 18, 2013

Detroit Files For Bankruptcy

Bill Pugliano Getty Images

Originally published on Fri July 19, 2013 3:32 am

(This story last updated at 6:45 p.m. ET)

The city of Detroit has filed the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history, seeking Chapter 9 protection from creditors and unions owed some $18.5 billion in debt and liabilities.

In a news conference on Thursday, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing said he didn't want to go into bankruptcy, but the city will now "have to make the best of it."

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Environment
4:06 pm
Thu July 18, 2013

Wildfires Will Worsen, And Further Strain The Forest Service

An aircraft lays down a line of fire retardant between a wildfire and homes in the dry, densely wooded Black Forest area northeast of Colorado Springs, Colo., on June 13.
John Wark AP

Originally published on Thu July 18, 2013 10:13 pm

The deaths of 19 firefighters near Yarnell, Ariz., this summer have focused a lot of attention on just how bad wildfire has become in the West. And research predicts the situation is going to get worse.

Over the past decade, the region has seen some of the worst fire seasons on record. In addition to lives lost, the fires have cost billions in terms of lost property and in taxpayer money spent fighting the blazes.

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Shots - Health News
2:37 pm
Thu July 18, 2013

World's Biggest Virus May Have Ancient Roots

Pandoraviruses were discovered lurking in the mud of Chile and Australia, half a world apart.
courtesy of Chantal Abergel and Jean-Michel Claverie

Originally published on Sat July 20, 2013 5:14 am

Researchers have discovered the largest virus ever, and they've given it a terrifying name: Pandoravirus.

In mythology, opening Pandora's Box released evil into the world. But there's no need to panic. This new family of virus lives underwater and doesn't pose a major threat to human health.

"This is not going to cause any kind of widespread and acute illness or epidemic or anything," says Eugene Koonin, an evolutionary biologist at the National Institutes of Health who specializes in viruses.

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The Two-Way
2:03 pm
Thu July 18, 2013

Man Who Hoped To Testify Against Whitey Bulger Is Found Dead

Stephen Rakes as he arrived at the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Boston on June 12 for the first day of the "Whitey" Bulger's trial.
Brian Snyder Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Thu July 18, 2013 5:31 pm

Stephen "Stippo" Rakes, who claimed that notorious Boston gangster James "Whitey" Bulger forced him — at gunpoint — to sell a liquor store in 1984, was found dead Wednesday in Lincoln, Mass.

According to the Middlesex (Mass.) District Attorney's office, "there were no obvious signs of trauma. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner is conducting an autopsy to determine the cause and manner of death."

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The Two-Way
5:23 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

EPA Building Named For Bill Clinton; He Says That's Fitting

Former President Bill Clinton hugs House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California as another Democrat, Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, looks on at Wednesday's ceremony naming the Environmental Protection Agency headquarters for him.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Wed July 17, 2013 6:11 pm

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Arts & Life
4:53 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

For Actress Ruby Keeler, Another Opening, Another Show

Broadway performer Ruby Keeler was a source of optimism for many during the Depression era, and nostalgia hit audiences hard when she returned to the stage decades later.
General Photographic Agency Getty Images

Originally published on Wed July 17, 2013 6:11 pm

Ruby Keeler was an unknown actress when she starred in the 1933 production of Busby Berkeley's 42nd Street.

But the movie was so popular she was able to land two more splashy musicals that same year — and seven more by the end of the decade. There was nothing extraordinary about her talents as a vocalist or as an actress, but audiences of the Depression era really bought into Keeler's "innocent" onstage persona. In fact, they craved it.

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Politics
4:22 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

Congress Debates Taking A Step Back From The Mortgage Market

The government took over mortgage giants Fannie Mae (seen in 2010) and Freddie Mac in 2008, during the worst of the housing crisis.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Wed July 17, 2013 6:11 pm

The mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac got hit so hard by the housing crisis that they required a massive federal rescue. Now lawmakers are looking to scale back the two entities' role — and the government's — in the mortgage market.

The Senate Banking Committee is expected to vote Thursday on President Obama's nominee to head the agency that oversees Fannie and Freddie.

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Planet Money
3:55 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

The 'Ask Your Uncle' Approach To Economics

The Federal Reserve, home of the Beige Book.
Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed July 17, 2013 6:11 pm

The Beige Book is weird. It's an economic report released by the Federal Reserve every few months, but it doesn't have many numbers in it. Mostly, it's a bunch of stories gathered by talking to businesses around the country. A Fed economist once described it as the "Ask Your Uncle" approach to figuring out what's going on in the economy.

In the Beige Book released today, for example, we learned that:

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The Two-Way
3:36 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

'We're Here To Stay' Says Newly Confirmed Consumer Watchdog

Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Ron Sachs/pool Getty Images

Originally published on Wed July 17, 2013 6:11 pm

One day after his two years in limbo ended and he was confirmed by the Senate as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Richard Cordray told NPR that though political bickering held up his nomination he now believes he has bipartisan support for the bureau's work.

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