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Can more care mean lower costs?

Dr. Atul Gawande

Dr. Atul Gawande has written a number of fascinating books and articles on low-tech, money-saving solutions to our health care woes, including importance of simple check lists in the emergency room and the costly problem of unnecessary tests and procedures that don’t actually improve heath outcomes. His latest article, published in the January 24 issue of The New Yorker, examines the benefits of providing personalized care — some might call it lifestyle coaching — for the neediest patients. Producer Shoshana Guy caught up with Gawande to learn more.

Photo: 114 and counting

Besse Cooper, who at 114 years and five months is the world's oldest person according to the Los Angeles-based Gerontology Research Group, sits in her room at a nursing home in Monroe, Ga on Feb. 1, 2011,. She was born on Aug. 26, 1896. The previous record holder, Eunice Sanborn, passed away in her home yesterday at the age of 114(ish). The official year of her birth was unclear due to a possible clerical error. Photo: AP/David Goldman

Photo: Chicago under the bubble

A small snow plow is reflected inside the concave interior of Anish Kapoor's "Cloud Gate" sculpture, as crews clear snow in Millennium Park in Chicago Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011. Another snowstorm of potentially historic proportions is expected to hit the city this week. Photo: AP/Charles Rex Arbogast

Who will lead Egypt after Mubarak?

Demonstrators burn a photo of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's son and heir apparent, Gamal Mubarak, during a protest last year. Photo: Flickr.

Demonstrators pouring into the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities today are posing the greatest challenge to President Hosni Mubarak’s authoritarian rule in decades. If they get their way, Mubarak will stand down and allow free and fair elections to take place later this year. And if that happens, Egypt’s favorite parlor game — guessing who will succeed the 82-year-old autocrat — will suddenly get a lot more complex.

As new diplomatic cables released this week by the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks show, speculation about who might succeed Mubarak has swirled for years, and will only grow more intense as opposition groups call for him to step down. On Friday, Mubarak ordered his entire cabinet to resign, a move that may further complicate the guessing game, given that several members of Mubarak’s government were seen as possible presidential contenders.

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WikiLeaks cables: Political protests are not part of the ‘Egyptian mentality’

Egyptian activists burn a poster showing Gamal Mubarak, the son of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, during a protest in Cairo back in 2010. Photo: AP

The anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks posted a batch of diplomatic cables on Friday detailing Egypt’s use of a decades-old “emergency law” to restrict freedom of expression, the regime’s efforts to portray itself as America’s “indispensable Arab ally” and President Hosni Mubarak’s plan to position his son, Gamal, as his eventual successor. The dispatches were released as massive protests rocked the country and set up violent clashes with Egypt’s state police.

The cables also contained some striking details regarding the regime’s view of Egypt’s opposition parties, the role of the military in securing a peaceful transfer of power and the eventual prospects for long-sought democratic reforms. A former official of the ruling National Democratic Party and minister in Mubarak’s cabinet, for example, called the country’s opposition movement “weak” and described democracy as a “long term goal” in one diplomatic memo from 2009.

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Photo: Egypt’s ‘Friday of wrath’

Riot police force protesters back across the Kasr Al Nile Bridge as they attempt to enter Tahrir Square on Jan. 28, 2011, in downtown Cairo. Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Thousands of police are on the streets of the capital and hundreds of arrests have been made in an attempt to quell anti-government demonstrations. Protesters, spurred on by recent events in Tunisia, want Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to end his 30-year rule and for the parliament to be dissolved.

The government blocked Internet access inside the country Friday. As darkness fell in Cairo on what some demostrators have called the “Friday of wrath,” a curfew imposed by the military has gone largely ignored. The government opposition leader, Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, was placed under house arrest shortly after being doused with a water canon while his supporters tried to shield him from police. Reports and video indicated that Egypt’s ruling party headquarters are on fire. President Mubarak is expected to make a televised speech this evening to address the unrest.

Photo: Snow day? Snow way!

Murphy, a snow-loving dog, inspects the new snow that blanketed her Pennington, N.J., yard overnight. Photo: Lisa Lewis

Residents in the Northeast are digging themselves out again this morning. More than a foot of new snow fell overnight in some places, and New York’s Central Park recorded 19 inches of new snow, bringing the total for January to a record-breaking 36 inches. Facebook status updates abound with photos of snow-covered cars and gleeful announcements of where the sledding will be taking place because public school kids in Boston, New York City, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia woke up to find they’d been granted a snow day.

New York City offices were closed and bus service was suspended. Downed power lines in Washington, D.C., left thousands without power, and snow-slicked roads disrupted even President Obama’s travel schedule, as Marine One was grounded and his motorcade got stuck in traffic. There is more snow in the forecast for tomorrow.

Photo: The new Florida keys

Photo: AP/Wilfredo Lee

A grand piano has mysteriously appeared on a sandbar about a half mile from shore in Miami’s Biscayne Bay. Exactly how or why someone would haul a 650-pound piano out there is not known. Biscayne Bay is where salt water from the sea mixes with freshwater from the land, serving as a nursery to young marine life. Dumping anything in that area is illegal and violators are subject to arrest.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has no plans to remove the piano. Having decided that it poses no threat to wildlife or boaters, they will let the salty sea water and air do what they will with the instrument.

If you had the chance to tickle its keys, which song would you play?

UPDATED | Thursday, Jan. 27

Mystery solved, and you can read about it here. But the answer is not as interesting as the question.

A Texas lawyer seeks to ban the pit bull

A Texas lawyer is seeking new legislation to ban pit bulls — not just from a single town or county, as is common across America, but from the entire state of Texas.

The would-be bill was written by Cynthia Kent, an attorney for a Texas family whose 10-year-old son Justin was mauled and killed by two pit bulls in June 2009. Kent won a $7 million judgment against the dogs’ owners this past September.

“Basically, why we’re doing this was to get justice for Justin and to make the message come out that these dogs are very vicious dogs,” Justin’s mother, Serenia Clinton, told a Texas CBS affiliate TV station.

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