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Pet skunks: Cuddly, friendly, yes, but some states are saying No

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Some pet fanciers out there would rather cuddle up in bed with a skunk than a cat or dog. But trying to get a skunk is a challenge, and in some states, it's getting harder.


Birth control pills spark an environmental debate

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Some experts are blaming birth control for water contamination. But should women dump their pills just yet?


Polygamists hit the Web in search of 'sister-wives'

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Hundreds of evangelical Christians who believe in polygamy have set up Web sites to help couples find a few extra wives.


Smile, you’re on kite camera

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What do you get when you add a digital camera to kite flying? Kite aerial photos, the most affordable way to take in-air pictures, without ever leaving the ground.


Feeling unusually attached to that iPod? A new study explains why

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Tom Hanks did it in Cast Away when he called a volleyball “Wilson.” Now a new study says that people who humanize their iPods, BlackBerrys and laptops may also be longing for companionship.


The superbug sparks concern, and calls for vigilance

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The flesh-eating bacteria called the superbug is more common than once thought, and the likelihood of getting it may depend on where you live.


Sex ed for 6-year-olds in Sunday school

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Liberal churches offer sex ed programs for kids as young as six--and they don't just preach abstinence.


Back to the boards: Middle-aged skateboarders brave injuries for thrills, spills of youth

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Men in their 30s and 40s from California, Washington, New York, Carolina, Kentucky and places in between are taking up skateboarding after years away from the sport. They're doing it for exercise, to bond with their kids and to recapture the spills and thrills of their youth.


Body by choke hold

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As the popularity of mixed martial arts soars, gyms are catering to fans who want to work out like their butt-kicking idols.


Same-sex couples earn less than heterosexual ones, data show

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Researchers at the Williams Institute at UCLA found a large income gap between same-sex couples and married heterosexuals. The gap is even more pronounced among non-white gays and lesbians, who make up 20% of same-sex parents.


Prohibitionists abstain from alcohol, not elections

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In its heyday, the Prohibition Party influenced national politics. In 2000, its presidential candidate won only 208 votes. But the few remaining members of America’s oldest third party are as dedicated as ever.


Weddings exposed: Bride and groom bare it all

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As nude recreation grows in popularity, weddings sans clothes are also gaining steam, in private clubs, on cruise ships and in any available open field.


Tonight they're going to party like it's 2012

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Whether by choice or by birth, more than 200,000 Americans, known as "Leapers," have a life milestone that arrives only every four years, on Feb. 29, or Leap Day, along with plenty of stories on how they adjust to celebrating anniversaries four apart.


The Red League rallies around a blue party candidate

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The unsolicited backing of young communists may be a bit of election help that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama would rather do without. Nevertheless, groups like the Young Communist League were working street corners for him on Super Tuesday are vowing to stay visible through November for whoever wins the Democratic party nomination.


While they were out, striking writers kept writing, but for themselves

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The 100-day writers strike provided just the free time and creative stimulation writers needed to resurrect back burner projects and develop new material, some of which will debut soon. But a lot of the new material isn't destined for your TV. Instead, look for these strike projects to go straight to the Web, or end up in movie theaters or on stage.


Premiere bowling takes the sport beyond its blue-collar roots

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Cristal champagne, go-go dancers and VIP rooms are only some of the amenities available to patrons of the new premiere bowling centers that are popping up. Greasy burgers and league play have given way to martinis, mojitos and mingling singles, as an industry tries to rise above its blue-collar rep.


Gag girl anniversary marks growth of funny women

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It's been 80 years since Variety considered it big news that a studio hired a female gag writer. Since then, funny women have long smashed through the glass ceiling, although some argue they've not come far enough.


Women-only adventure clinics offer challenge and support

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All-female extreme adventure camps and clinics are gaining in popularity. Women who might not otherwise sign up to learn high-altitude mountaineering, ice climbing, or rock climbing, find a comfort zone where there are "no boys allowed."


That new podcast begging to be downloaded? Could be your local exterminator

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While podcasts have long been distributed by media companies, such as National Public Radio and Comedy Central, they're now being created by the funeral industry, pest control companies and others intent on promoting their businesses.


Surgery on demand: Doctors and patients get real on camera

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From a live heart transplant online to a patient narrating his “excellent colonoscopy,” there's now internet video available for practically every medical procedure.


Study finds parents who listen help children learn

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A new study from Vanderbilt University says parents can help their children learn by simply listening, instead of providing all the answers. When the kids explain a problem themselves, the study says, they end up better understanding the solutions.


Dying outside the box

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Innovators in the death-care industry have been busy dreaming up new ideas for memorials, converting cremation ashes into drinking glasses, pencil boxes, even coral reefs.


Graffiti artists paint the town green

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While most graffiti artists search for high-tech paints to make their tags stand out forever, some are borrowing tools from Mother Nature to make a greener mark, using biodegradable markers and living materials.


Caffeine-free Lent practice grows in Oregon

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Some Pacific Northwest Christians are giving up their Starbucks--and their sodas and energy drinks too--in a novel Lent observance that has its roots in ancient custom and is making a difference in developing countries.


Seniors learn to loosen up through improv

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As learning improv becomes a popular pastime for nonactors, classes have also sprouted up for seniors, encouraging them to loosen up, have some fun and build new social networks in their latter years.


Bards of the Bar

For many career lawyers, poetry isn't simply a weekend hobby; it's a second calling.


Can catgirls, ninjas and giant robots save the troubled U.S. anime industry?

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Drastic declines in DVD sales--from $550 million to $350 million in 4 years--mean trouble for the U.S. anime industry. One major distributor has collapsed, another is showing stress fractures, and the industry blames its fans for piracy.


A killer flu could come at any time: Is the world prepared?

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Ninety years after tens of millions died during the Spanish Flu, scientists say the world is due for another killer influenza pandemic and countries are not equipped to handle it.


Collectors are wired for the prickly stuff that won the West

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As a collectible, barbed wire has everything it needs--a wire guru, annual conventions and a special kind of wire that is the crown jewel of every collection, the coveted Dodge Star. But recent wildfires in Texas have threatened the supply of collectible antique wire.


At 50, the peace symbol is still going strong

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The peace symbol, one of the world's most famous symbols, is turning 50, and, as often happens by that age, it's gotten a few facelifts.


Workplace napping hits the mainstream

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Sleeping on the job has never been regarded as a very productive work habit, but new research suggests that a daytime catnap might be just what workers need to improve their output. Companies like Google, Pizza Hut and Nike have instituted pro-nap policies, and the national holiday called Sleep at Work Day (March 10th this year) encourage dialogue about the issue.


Last wishes: Hold the religion

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As the number of self-professed nonbelievers grows in America, so do the requests for a funeral which accurately reflects their disbelief.


Cook's tour: A gadget (or three) for every kitchen task

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Novice and professional cooks alike are snapping up strange and specialized kitchen contraptions, but do they really need lettuce knives, shrimp deveiners and avocado slicers?


February is Black History Month, which means 84-year-old Dabney Montgomery has a heavy schedule

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As recipient in 2007 of a Congressional Gold Medal for his service with the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II, 84-year-old Dabney Montgomery has had a heavy speaking schedule around the country. But this month, which happens to be Black History Month, he's in especially heavy demand.


Nerdy no more, 'geek chic' emerges as the new brand of cool

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John Hodgman, the PC Guy in Apple’s TV Ads, has inspired a new brand of nerd hero. In a society obsessed with makeovers, the "geek" has remained unabashedly himself: earnest, awkward, bumbling. And he's finally getting noticed.


Fashion houses look to blogs for business

Fashion designers and manufacturers are increasingly turning to blogs as a marketing tool, to advertise and sell their trendiest outfits and establish a new relationship with their customers.


At last a no-stick gum? Illinois corn farmers may have the formula

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The chewed-up gum that befouls American sidewalks costs taxpayers millions of dollars in cleanups. Now researchers in Illinois say they have developed an alternative that doesn't stick to shoes. Will consumers bite?


With body language, presidential candidates say a lot

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Barack Obama has the finger point. Hillary Clinton has the karate chop. John McCain is ground into the floor. Voters can tell a lot about presidential candidates from their body language. Experts explain how.


Guilt-free diamonds: beyond blood to human rights

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Buying diamonds is now a matter of conscience, not just taste and deep-pockets. Since agreements now assure that most diamonds come from non-conflict zones, activists also want buyers to consider human rights abuses, low wages, slave labor and a host of other egregious practices that still take place in nonconflict mining countries.


Barring drivers' licenses for illegal immigrants punishes 'legals,' too

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In most states, drivers must prove they're legally in the country to get a license. But tightening requirements make it impossible for even some legal immigrants to get behind the wheel.