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Sponsors Of Political Attack Ads Hide Behind Cloak Of Nonprofit Privacy

This ad was paid for by the “Coalition to Protect Seniors,” which has a website but whose owners remain a mystery.
This ad was paid for by the “Coalition to Protect Seniors,” which has a website but whose owners remain a mystery.

This year's Supreme Court decision allowing corporations, unions and interest groups to spend freely on political campaigns has unleashed a torrent of attack ads. Many groups are funneling their money into nonprofit organizations, who don't have to disclose their funders, and can spend as much as half of their revenue on political activities. But are some of these nonprofits just shell groups for political operatives looking to influence races? Mike McIntire of the New York Times investigated one of those groups, the Coalition to Protect Seniors, and came up empty when he tried to track down exactly who was behind the group.

American Tourist Claims Mexican Pirates Killed Husband

Mexican police have suspended the search for the body of David Hartley, an American oil worker. His wife, Tiffany, says Hartley was murdered by Mexican pirates on a lake bordering Texas and Mexico last week. Tiffany Hartley says gun-toting men in boats shot at her and her husband while they were jet-skiing back from a tourist trip into Mexico. Some police in Mexico are now questioning her account, and residents along the border are wondering whether the incident means drug violence in Mexico is spilling over into the U.S. We speak with reporter Farrah Fazal of KRGV TV in the Rio Grande Valley.

Letters

We open the Here & Now mailbox to get reaction from you, our listeners about military suicides, segregation in schools, and religious literacy. Want to get in touch with us? Click here.

Toxic Sludge Threatens Danube River

Community workers clean a street flooded by toxic mud in the village of Kolontar, Hungary on Thursday. (AP)
Community workers clean a street flooded by toxic mud in the village of Kolontar, Hungary on Thursday. (AP)

Emergency crews in Hungary are frantically scrambling to stop the flow of toxic sludge from reaching the main branch of the Danube river. Earlier today the sludge made its way into the southern and western tributaries of the Danube, and it's already had disastrous effects on the first river hit: all of the fish in the Marcal river are dead. BBC science reporter Julian Siddle is monitoring events from London.

Prudential Insurance Profits From Military Deaths

In 1965, the Veterans Administration set up an exclusive no-bid contract with Prudential Insurance, a private insurance company, to administer death benefit life insurance policies for military families. But in 1999, that agreement was amended, and since then, instead of giving the money directly and immediately to the surviving family members, Prudential has been investing it into non-FDIC insured bonds and keeping most of the interest and short-changing the beneficiaries. Our guest is David Evans, the reporter for Bloomberg Markets Magazine, who broke this story.

Why Handwriting Still Matters In The Digital Age

"Try to go a day without writing anything by hand — you can't." Author Kitty Burns Florey reminded us that when we spoke with her last year about her book, "Script & Scribble: The Rise and Fall of Handwriting." The book is a history of handwriting, from ancient times to modern America, and a passionate argument for teaching and learning good penmanship. Florey told us about research showing that the physical act of learning to write helps children learn to think, and pointed out that without good penmanship of our own, we can't read what other people write.

Music From The Show

  • Moby, "Inside"
  • Christian McBride, "Theme for Kareem"
  • Ken Vandermark, "New Acrylic"
  • Radiohead, "Where I End and You Begin"
  • Massive Attack, "Saturday Come Slow"
  • Steve Earle, "Transcendental Blues"
  • Moby, "Myopia"

This program aired on October 7, 2010.

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