Planet Money
10:01 pm
Wed March 14, 2012

China's Giant Pool Of Dollars

There is an advantage to strengthening the currency for people in China: It makes their imports cheaper. A clerk counts bank notes in a bank in Nantong, east China's Jiangsu Province.
Xinhua /Landov

Originally published on Thu March 15, 2012 9:08 am

China's central bank is sitting on a giant pool of U.S. dollars. It's the world's biggest holder of foreign reserves, worth over $3 trillion at last count.

All that money has piled up because every year, China exports more than it imports; it runs a trade surplus.

There are lots of reasons for China's trade surplus. In the past few decades, China has built an amazing manufacturing ecosystem. It's become the factory to the world.

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The Salt
10:01 pm
Wed March 14, 2012

In France, Politicians Make Halal Meat A Campaign Issue

French President Nicolas Sarkozy listens to a butcher during a visit to the butchery pavilion at the Rungis international food market, near Paris, in February.
Anna Maria Jakub Getty Images

Originally published on Thu March 15, 2012 7:29 pm

A provocative comment by an extreme right presidential candidate has started a debate that is dominating the French presidential campaign. France may be in the middle of an economic crisis, but politicians seem more interested in talking about halal meat and religious dietary rules.

It all began when National Front Party presidential candidate Marine Le Pen said that non-Muslims in Paris were unwittingly eating halal meat.

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Race
10:01 pm
Wed March 14, 2012

Voters May Break Up Fight Over 'Fighting Sioux'

The University of North Dakota's Brad Eidsness makes a save during a game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Since 2005, there have been a series of lawsuits and legislative actions over the nickname for the school's athletic teams, the "Fighting Sioux."
Josh Holmberg AP

Originally published on Thu March 15, 2012 6:34 am

The state Supreme Court in North Dakota is about to consider this question: Can lawmakers require a college to name its sports teams after a Native American tribe?

For decades, University of North Dakota teams have been known as the "Fighting Sioux." It's a name some see as an honor and others find demeaning. Now, the long fight over the Fighting Sioux may be settled in a courtroom.

2,400 Logos And A 'Vexing' Dispute

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Presidential Race
10:01 pm
Wed March 14, 2012

Campaign Videos: A Time-Tested Election Tactic

A screen shot of President Obama from the trailer for his campaign's movie The Road We've Traveled.
BarackObama.com/YouTube

Originally published on Thu March 15, 2012 6:34 am

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Sports
10:01 pm
Wed March 14, 2012

Murray State Racers Fans Revved Up Over NCAA

Murray State fans celebrate a 3-point shot by Murray State's Donte Poole during the first half of a game St. Mary's on Feb. 18. Since January, every Racers home game has sold out.
Stephen Lance Dennee AP

On the Murray State University campus in Kentucky, warm weather has arrived. Students are out on the quad skateboarding, riding bikes, playing Frisbee and listening to music. But what are they talking about? Basketball.

"I think Murray State can go to the Final Four," one student says.

The MSU Racers have been in the tournament before, but with just a single loss this season and the highest tournament seed in the program's history, expectations are greater than ever.

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Energy
10:01 pm
Wed March 14, 2012

Surging Gas Prices Have Drivers Fuming

A driver pumps gas in Los Angeles, where prices are among the highest in the country, topping $4 a gallon.
Frederic J. Brown AFP/Getty Images

Gasoline prices have risen about 50 cents a gallon since January. The national average for regular gas stands at just above $3.80 per gallon.

Pity the drivers on the West Coast. Prices there have been much higher. At a Chevron station in Culver City, Calif., the price on Tuesday was $4.45 a gallon.

"I do building maintenance," Ursula Matthews said as she filled her tank. "I do a lot of driving from place to place. It's hurting me. I cannot raise the prices [of my services] with the economy what it is."

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Author Interviews
10:01 pm
Wed March 14, 2012

The Wild And Crazy 'Tweets Of Steve Martin'

Steve Martin has won two Grammys for his comedy albums. His film credits include Father of the Bride, Parenthood and The Spanish Prisoner.

After 40 years on the stand-up stage, countless comedy albums and iconic movies, Steve Martin is still finding new ways to make people laugh.

The comedian got on Twitter in 2010, and by now he has attracted nearly 2.5 million followers with his funny and slightly demented tweets.

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The Two-Way
4:08 pm
Wed March 14, 2012

Santorum: Puerto Rico Must Adopt English If It Wants Statehood

Carlos Diaz, 84, reads local newspaper "El Vocero" with a front page depicting both Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum and a headline reading, "The National Battle Arrives on the Island."
Christopher Gregory Getty Images

Rick Santorum waded into a controversial issue today when he gave an interview to El Vocero, one of the biggest newspapers in Puerto Rico.

The issue? The island's primary language.

The paper asked the former Pennsylvania senator if he would back Puerto Rican statehood if Spanish along with English remained its official languages.

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House & Senate Races
3:29 pm
Wed March 14, 2012

King Returns: Ex-Gov. Fights For Snowe's Senate Seat

Former Maine Gov. Angus King has been out of office since 2003. He currently teaches at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.
Joel Page AP

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It's All Politics
3:05 pm
Wed March 14, 2012

Romney Might Like The View From Peoria

Peoria, Ill., as seen from across the Illinois River.
Jeff Haynes Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Wed March 14, 2012 8:10 pm

Mississippi and Alabama were big wins for Rick Santorum in the fight for the GOP presidential nomination.

While never considered strong for Mitt Romney, those states further revealed the vulnerabilities of his campaign, specifically, problems identifying with many elements of the Republican base.

The next big contest is Tuesday in Illinois.

It's a state rich in delegates (69) and in something else that should be good news for Romney: more moderate Republicans. But he still needs to connect with even those voters.

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