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After years of decline, American manufacturing is on the upswing, due in part to rising wages in Asia. What are the prospects for highly skilled workers, union labor and America's middle class? What are the consequences in this election year?  Also, a Russian oil tanker slowly makes its way through the ice in Alaska, and Twinkies and Wonder Bread are in trouble, because of labor costs, more expensive ingredients and customers looking for healthier food.

Banner image: A worker installs a part while working on the assembly line at the Toledo Assembly Complex on November 16, 2011 in Toledo, Ohio. Photo by J.D. Pooley/Getty Images

Making News Russian Oil Tanker Slowly Makes Its Way through Alaskan Ice 7 MIN, 6 SEC

It's been a dark and stormy winter in Nome, Alaska, and a Russian oil tanker is being led through the Bering Sea by the US Coast Guard's only operative ice-breaker built for the Arctic.  It's loaded with fuel that wasn't delivered as usual during the summer. Ben Matheson reports for KNOM community-based radio in Nome.

Ben Matheson, KNOM (@benmatheson)

Main Topic Manufacturing: Heritage of the Past or Wave of the Future? 36 MIN, 35 SEC

After years of decline, all the talk about a "service economy" and predictions that it might never return, manufacturing is making a comeback in the United States. The Obama Administration is making the most of it, planning a forum tomorrow on what it calls "Insourcing of American Jobs" by companies returning from foreign shores. But will the jobs of the future bring back the Middle Class that made the US a superpower in the half-century after World War II? What industries are on the upswing? What kind of training will they require? What role should — or should not — be played by the federal government?

Micheline Maynard, Forbes (@MickiMaynard)
John Nichols, The Nation (@NicholsUprising)
Joel Kotkin, Chapman University
Scott Paul, Alliance for American Manufacturing (@ScottPaulAAM)

Reporter's Notebook Twinkie Maker Faces Sugar Crash 6 MIN, 22 SEC

Hostess Brands, the maker of Twinkies and Wonder Bread, emerged from its first bankruptcy in 2009. Now, the company that employs 19,000 people and owes more than $860 million in debt is preparing to file for the second time around. With customers looking for healthier food, sales have been on the decline. Can the owner of two of America's best known brands survive? Mike Spector is covering the company's problems for the Wall Street Journal.

Mike Spector, Wall Street Journal reporter investigating auto recalls

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