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Hospitals stepped up their advertising in 2011, and some newcomers to the national marketing game are academic medical centers. While the coast-to-coast commercials help attract faculty and students, they're also aimed at getting more paying patients to travel for treatment.

For the past 10 months, Syrians have taken to the streets in large numbers to oppose a repressive regime that has not hesitated to use force. The United Nations estimates more than 5,000 Syrians have died, and it is far from clear how the uprising will play out. President Bashar Assad's regime blames the revolt on Islamist militants and casts the uprising as a threat to Syria's minorities, including Assad's fellow Alawites and the country's Christians.

Kohut, Continetti Discuss Iowa Caucuses

Jan 3, 2012

Robert Siegel talks about the Iowa caucuses with Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center; and Matt Continetti, a contributing editor at the Weekly Standard.

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

The Iowa caucuses are under way. Republican voters are making their choices in the nation's first presidential contest of 2012. And according to early entrance poll results, it appears two of the candidates are running strong - Mitt Romney and Ron Paul.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Now, to the Democrats, who were also caucusing tonight in Iowa. There, of course, is no drama in those caucuses. President Obama is unopposed. But the president did address Democratic caucus-goers a few minutes ago. And Iowa Public Radio's Sarah McCammon is at a Democratic caucus in Des Moines. Sarah, what was the president's message tonight?

A Look At The Van Meter, Iowa, Caucus Site

Jan 3, 2012

Robert Siegel talks with NPR's Sonari Glinton, who reports from a Republican caucus site in Van Meter, Iowa.

A Look At The Ankeny, Iowa, Caucus Site

Jan 3, 2012

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

In about an hour, Iowans will begin caucusing in the nation's first presidential contest of 2012. Republicans are gathering at sites representing more than 1,700 precincts. While voters can write in any name they like, six candidates leave the field. The top vote-getters will head into next week's New Hampshire primary with fresh momentum and while those at the bottom could find their campaigns on life support.

The results from Iowa suggest what has been clear for months: Republicans remain divided about their presidential choices.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney eked out an eight-vote win after he and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum swapped the slimmest of leads back and forth in Tuesday's caucuses. With returns complete, each had won the support of roughly 25 percent of caucusgoers.

Despite the near-tie, Iowa caucus rules do not allow for a recount. Texas Rep. Ron Paul was third at 21.5 percent, according to The Associated Press.

As results come in from the Iowa Republican presidential caucuses, we'll be highlighting the latest news and developments in this "live-blog." You can follow our updates on the NPR.org homepage, where they'll flow in automatically, and in this post. Here, we'll collect all the updates so that you can see how the story developed as the night went on. Just click your "refresh" button occasionally to ensure you're seeing our latest additions.

The third stage in Egypt's parliamentary elections got underway Tuesday. In upper Egypt, tensions between Muslims and Christians have intensified in the aftermath of the ouster of Hosni Mubarak. Qena is a stronghold of the ultra-conservative Salafi movement, and its members have clashed repeatedly with local Coptic Christians over the past year.

New Rules Mean Full Disclosure For Airfares

Jan 3, 2012

New rules will soon compel airlines and travel sites to disclose the total price of an airline ticket up front. But some airlines say the rules aren't fair and they're going to court to try to stop them.

Right now, some airlines and travel sites lure in customers with very low fares — and a tiny asterisk. Government taxes and fees — and perhaps a fuel surcharge — can be found in the fine print or on another screen.

As we've been saying, it's finally time for voters to cast some ballots that actually mean something for the 2012 presidential race.

Most patients who undergo bariatric surgery lose weight and experience other health benefits. They have less heart disease, diabetes and cancer than their obese counterparts who don't have the surgery.

Now, researchers from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden find bariatric surgery also reduces deaths from cardiovascular causes, such as heart attacks and strokes.

Young voters came out in huge numbers to elect President Obama in 2008. This year, with no primary contest, Democrats are using their caucuses to test how much support they have in Iowa. But many young liberals have grown disenchanted with the president, and some have thrown their support behind Republican Ron Paul.

On Monday, 10 Obama for America volunteers made calls to registered Democrats from a Panera Bread turned phone bank just outside of Des Moines. The volunteers reminded Democrats when and where to show up to caucus.

There was a bit of progress made in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, today: Peace negotiators from both sides met for the first time in more than a year. While it did not seem that the two sides came to any agreement, they said they will continue to talk.

The AP reports the talks were hosted by Jordan under the auspices of The Quartet, a group of countries that includes the U.S. and the European Union. The AP adds:

If you're the parent of a teenager, you likely find yourself routinely embroiled in disputes with your child. Those disputes are the symbol of teen developmental separation from parents.

It's a vital part of growing up, but it can be extraordinarily wearing on parents. Now researchers suggest that those spats can be tamed and, in the process, provide a lifelong benefit to children.

If you, like me, order a tall coffee when you go to Starbucks, you'll be paying 10 cents more. The Seattle coffee chain is raising prices in the Northeast and across the Sunbelt with the exception of California and Florida.

Cities like Boston, New York, Atlanta and Dallas will also see an increase of about 1 percent on other drinks. Starbucks said its next bigger size, grande, will cost the same.

There are an estimated 37 million Americans who have some college credit but no degree — and Western Governors University is trying to change that. The nonprofit online school is challenging many traditional concepts about higher education with a new approach aimed to help adult students finish college.

And after 15 years in existence, the school is catching on.

Reaching Out To Adult Learners

Newt Gingrich is making his closing arguments to voters in the Mississippi River towns of Muscatine and Burlington in advance of Tuesday's Republican party caucuses and that argument boils down to this: Gingrich is better, smarter and more experienced than the rest.

Robert Siegel talks with Sidney Milkis, author of Theodore Roosevelt, the Progressive Party, and the Transformation of American Democracy, about the U.S. presidential election of 1912 — when there was a viable third party on the ballot: the Bull Moose Party.

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. All of the attention that Iowa has gotten in the past year comes to a head tonight. Nearly 2000 precincts across that state will record the first votes in the presidential nominating contest. At most sites, Iowans will write a name on a blank piece of paper and put it in a box.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

South Korea's president delivered this message yesterday to North Korea: It will respond strongly to any provocations under North Korea's new leader, Kim Jong-un. However, in a televised speech, Lee Myung-bak also promised that North-South relations could improve if Pyongyang halts its nuclear weapons program.

Reporter Doualy Xaykaothao recently hit the streets of Seoul, to find out what South Koreans think of the power shift in the north. And for many the answer is simple: They don't care.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

American Idol, The Sing-Off, The Voice — there's no shortage of over-the-top, glitzy, ratings-driven music competitions on TV. And now Aretha Franklin is getting in on the singing contest circuit, but she's turning her searchlight on the world of classical music. That's right — the Queen of Soul is searching for the next great opera singer.

Fed Will Now Forecast Interest-Rate Changes

Jan 3, 2012

The Federal Reserve will now tell the public its expectations for short-term interest rates. In the minutes of the Fed's Open Market Committee Dec. 13 meeting , the Fed said it would update that forecast four times a year, beginning after its Jan. 24-25 meeting.

The AP reports:

One of the more surprising moments in U.S. foreign policy last year occurred when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Myanmar, long ruled by a repressive military government and shunned as a pariah nation.

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