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With a jutting chin and growing fearlessness, Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan delivered a GOP convention takedown of President Obama Wednesday night, catapulting an already ugly campaign to a whole new level.

At times pugnacious, at times seemingly emotional (he wiped away tears when talking about his mother), Ryan, 42, a Wisconsin congressman, used his well-crafted speech to characterize the nation's president and his bright promise as old, played out.

Dave Ballard got the idea of a wacky charity race while watching a YouTube video of someone slip-sliding through a slough of foam. The first 5K Foam Fest was held in the fall of 2011 in Idaho.

A year and more than a dozen events later, Ballard says his group has raised more than $10,000 for charity, with most of those funds being donated to Shared Hope International, an organization that combats human trafficking.

Hello from Tampa, where tonight Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin accepted the Republican Party's vice presidential nomination and told the nation that if he joins Mitt Romney in the White House they will work to solve the nation's problems, not blame them on others.

"We will not duck the tough issues, we will lead," he said. "We will not spend four years blaming others, we will take responsibility. We will not try to replace our founding principles, we will reapply our founding principles."

With Republicans dominating political news coverage from their national convention in Florida, President Obama took to the popular social news site Reddit Wednesday afternoon for a surprise Q-and-A with users.

The wide-ranging discussion touched on issues from Internet freedom to space travel to the most difficult decision of his presidency (which Obama said was sending more troops to Afghanistan).

Two Missouri farmers have been infected with a brand-new tick-borne virus that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is calling the Heartland virus.

The men recovered but suffered serious illness that required hospital care and weeks of convalescence. Symptoms included fever, severe fatigue, headache and nausea. Their platelet counts plummeted, but even though platelets are necessary for blood clotting, the men didn't suffer abnormal bleeding.

The U.S. and other Western countries are often trying to isolate Iran, but this week the country is in the international spotlight as it hosts a summit of 120 nonaligned nations.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Kim-moon decided to go, ignoring the advice of Israel and the U.S. He promised to deliver a tough message, but others are skeptical, arguing that his visit plays into the hands of the Iranians and to U.N. detractors in Washington.

In Crow, Wiconi Wawokiya means "helping families."

The Wiconi Wawokiya, Inc. shelter — also known as Project SAFE — is on the Crow Creek Sioux Indian Reservation in central South Dakota. It serves more than 350 victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse.

"The needs are great," says the program's director Lisa Thompson-Heth. The center provides an array of services, including crisis counseling, medical assistance and legal advocacy.

Before the Marine Mammal Protection Act was passed 40 years ago, early New Englanders had nearly hunted seals to death. They wanted them for their furs and to keep them from eating cod. Massachusetts even paid bounties on seals: $5 per nose.

The act has helped gray seals and harbor seals recolonize New England waters, but fishermen off the coast of Cape Cod say they have become a nuisance.

There's No Such Thing As A Free Lunch

A day after their party embedded a tough, anti-same-sex-marriage stance in its official platform — one shared by GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney — gay Republicans shrugged (virtually) and suggested that the intensity of the intraparty fight over the issue means victory is near.

NPR listener Alice Benner says her Italian grandmother made ravioli that was "indescribably delicious."

Benner told us that she's tried to re-create the recipe many times. "The dough — the consistency — is totally wrong, usually too thick," she writes.

Benner's grandmother used Romano cheese in the filling — probably from an Italian deli in Chicago — but Benner says when she makes the ravioli, "the Romano cheese I've used never has the same punch. I've all but given up trying to make them."

As Isaac continues to pound the Gulf Coast from Louisiana east through Mississippi, Republicans gathered in Tampa for their 2012 national convention continue to strike a balance between going on with their politicking and partying while trying not to look indifferent to the suffering of others.

Isaac might not be in the same league as Hurricane Katrina seven years ago, but the latest storm to batter Louisiana's Gulf Coast is punching above its weight class in more ways than one, scientists say.

Using Energy For Good In Houston, Tex.

Aug 29, 2012

Chuck Yates is a senior managing director at a private equity firm in Houston. Almost every senior energy executive in town knows him well.

A while back, Chuck learned of the Youth Development Center, a non-profit organization that inspires and equips inner city kids to achieve academic success.

Chuck organizes an annual dinner at the House of Blues where a notable energy personality is roasted by his peers. The dinner is the main source of YDC's funding.

China's latest online sensation is a Bush, but perhaps surprisingly, it's neither the 41st or the 43rd President of the US. In fact, Neil Bush, the younger brother of 43 and the son of 41 has become an online sensation in China after posting a joke photo on China's version of twitter.

Neil Bush was virtually unknown in China a week ago, despite being co-chairman of Beijing-based real estate company, CIIC.

This year is on track to be the worst ever for West Nile virus in the United States. Here are the latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • 1,590 reported cases, nearly 500 more than a week ago for a rise of 44 percent.
  • 889 cases, or 56 percent, involve severe neurological disease.
  • 66 deaths, compared to 41 last week.

Last February, five major banks came to an agreement with the United States government that would provide $26 billion in mortgage relief aid to homeowners.

There's a lot of glory in switching parties, but often not much future.

Both major parties are giving prominent speaking roles to political apostates at their conventions. On Tuesday, Artur Davis — a former Democrat and a former congressman from Alabama — condemned President Obama during a speech at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.

Awww:

Bradley Thompson, a production manager at the Republican National Convention here in Tampa, took the opportunity this morning to propose to his girlfriend, Laura Bowman. He popped the question right in front of the big on-stage screen — on which were the words "Laura Bowman, will you marry me" and some lovely photos.

From the kiss he got in return, it appears she said yes.

There is growing international criticism over plans by Gambia's hard-line president to execute all of the country's death-row inmates within the next couple of weeks.

Gambia's leader, President Yahya Jammeh, has long faced criticism for his human rights record. In a recent speech marking the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, the president vowed to put to death all prisoners facing the death penalty by mid-September, as a way to curb crime.

More than 4,000 athletes from 147 countries will compete in the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, where the opening ceremony is being held today. The games, which conclude on Sept. 9, include 20 sports such as cycling, judo and swimming — three sports that will hold medal events when competition begins in earnest Thursday.

Reuniting Siblings In Lincoln, Neb.

Aug 29, 2012

Camp Catch-Up, hosted by the publicly and privately supported Nebraska Children & Families Foundation, enables children separated by foster care and adoption to spend a fun-filled weekend with their brothers and sisters — at no cost to the families.

Whether campers haven't seen their siblings in a week or a year, they bond at camp as only siblings can, through activities structured to bring them together.

Thanks to Townhall.com's Guy Benson, one of the hotter stories of the morning here in Tampa seems to be that actor/director/American icon Clint Eastwood is reportedly coming to the Republican National Convention and may be the "to be announced" speaker on Thursday night's schedule.

For a bit of perspective on just how big Isaac is, NASA has released a video taken from the International Space Station, yesterday.

It shows the tropical cyclone churning slowly, its outer bands stretching for 200 miles:

Update at 12:47 p.m. ET. Isaac At Night:

GOP Platform Aims To Garner Female Votes

Aug 29, 2012

In her convention speech, Ann Romney talked about the role of women in America. Host Michel Martin caught up with Rep. Marsha Blackburn before the speech. Blackburn says the concerns of women voters were key in drafting the Republican platform. She co-chairs the GOP platform committee, and heads the Women's Policy Committee in the House.

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