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The Two-Way
6:10 am
Fri December 19, 2014

What's Next For Cuba? The Headlines That Tell The Story

A tourist takes a cab ride in a classic American car as the driver takes him past the Capitolio in Havana, Cuba on Thursday.
Ramon Espinosa AP

Two days after the U.S. and Cuba decided to end a more than 50-year estrangement, the natural question is: What's next?

On Morning Edition, NPR's Michelle Kelemen reports that the process of normalizing diplomatic relations will be pretty straight forward and is likely to be done quickly.

"We can do that via an exchange of letter or notes. It doesn't require a formal sort of legal treaty or agreement," Roberta Jacobson, assistant secretary of state for the western hemisphere, said during a briefing on Thursday.

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Book News & Features
6:03 am
Fri December 19, 2014

3 Business Best-Sellers Show Inequality Is Now The Hot Topic

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 1:30 pm

Best-selling business books typically tell you how to get rich — either by becoming a better worker or investor, or perhaps by learning the secrets of successful entrepreneurs.

And in 2014, readers could find plenty of books promoting pluck and hard work, such as MONEY Master the Game and The Innovators.

But three books broke the pattern, generating headlines and big sales by focusing on unfair aspects of wealth creation.

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NPR Ed
6:03 am
Fri December 19, 2014

New Federal College Ratings Will Consider Aid, Total Cost, Employment

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 4:12 pm

Today the Education Department released long-awaited details on a plan to hold colleges accountable for their performance on several key indicators, and officials said they'll be seeking public comment on the proposals through February.

"As a nation, we have to make college more accessible and affordable and ensure that all students graduate with a quality education of real value," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement.

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Sports
5:22 am
Fri December 19, 2014

Michael Jordan Sneakers Sell For More Than $33,000 At Auction

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 7:22 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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NPR Story
4:02 am
Fri December 19, 2014

Cuban-American Congressional Leaders Vow To Fight Obama's Proposals

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 7:22 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Around the Nation
4:02 am
Fri December 19, 2014

Transparency Vs. Privacy: What To Do With Police Camera Videos?

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 6:12 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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NPR Story
4:02 am
Fri December 19, 2014

Exchange Of Spies Was Critical To U.S.-Cuba Deal

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 6:18 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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All Tech Considered
3:03 am
Fri December 19, 2014

For An Island Trapped In The '50s, An Instant Digital Revolution

Cubans try to connect to the ETECSA server during a May 9 service outage as they wait with other customers outside the offices of the state telecom monopoly in Havana, Cuba. Cuba's government has blamed technological problems on a U.S. embargo. Critics of the government have said it deliberately strangles the Internet to mute dissent. Changing U.S.-Cuba relations may prove who's right.
Franklin Reyes AP

Originally published on Sat December 20, 2014 3:11 pm

This week's historic agreement between the U.S. and Cuba to reinstate diplomatic relations after decades of silence could launch a digital revolution in the island nation.

According to the White House, only 5 percent of Cubans have access to the open Internet, comparable to North Korea. As part of the deal, that could change overnight.

Status Check

Maribel Fonseca, a teacher in Miramar, Cuba, has never seen the Internet. A few of her more privileged students have been online.

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Science
3:02 am
Fri December 19, 2014

7 Miles Beneath The Sea's Surface: Who Goes There?

The research vessel Falkor in August 2013.
Courtesy of Mark Schrope

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 9:11 am

A ship full of marine scientists is floating over the deepest part of the world: the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench. They're sending down probes to study life in one of the most hostile environments on the planet.

This week the researchers are targeting the two deepest spots in the trench — the Sirena Deep and the Challenger Deep — which each extend down about 7 miles beneath the ocean's surface.

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Movie Interviews
3:01 am
Fri December 19, 2014

The Eye-Opening Saga Of Walter And Margaret Keane, Now On Screen

Amy Adams stars as painter Margaret Keane in the new movie Big Eyes.
Leah Gallo The Weinstein Company

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 8:45 am

It's a story almost too strange to be true: Throughout much of the 1960s and '70s, the wistful, wide-eyed children of painter Walter Keane were absolutely everywhere.

Paintings and posters of the big-eyed waifs, often in rags, their hair unkempt, brought fame and fortune to the charming, smooth-talking artist — along with widespread critical disdain.

But years later, it emerged that the art was actually the work of Walter's wife, Margaret Keane. She painted in secret, behind closed doors, and he publicly claimed the work as his own.

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NPR Ed
2:59 am
Fri December 19, 2014

The Administration's College Rating System: How It Looks On Campus

Tuition, room and board at Randolph College in Lynchburg, Va., costs $45,000 a year.
Parker Michels-Boyce Randolph College

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 12:23 pm

It's late afternoon. Most classes at Randolph College are done for the day but students have begun gathering in the lobby of the elegant, century-old main hall.

A student taps on a piano while he and four classmates wait for their philosophy professor. After-hours sessions like these are a key feature of this small, private liberal arts college in Lynchburg, Va.

It markets itself nationally as a "unique, nurturing community of learners," well worth the $45,000 a year in tuition, room and board.

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The Two-Way
5:47 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

'Team America' Is Benched: Won't Return To Theaters, Reports Say

An international police force (of puppets) won't be coming to a theater near you, as theaters have reportedly been told not to screen the film Team America, in response to the cancellation of The Interview.
Melinda Sue Gordon AP/Paramount Pictures

One day after some theaters vowed to screen Team America: World Police in the place of The Interview, whose release was canceled Wednesday, word has emerged that Team America has also been pulled. Both films make light of North Korea and its leader.

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Economy
5:32 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Opportunity, Caution Seen For U.S. Banks As Cuba Rules Ease

President Obama announces changes to U.S. policy on Cuba, including relaxing restrictions on U.S. banking in the country, in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday.
Doug Mills / Pool EPA/Landov

Among the changes to U.S. restrictions on Cuba President Obama announced Wednesday was a relaxation of the rules barring U.S. banks from doing business there.

Americans traveling in Cuba will now be able to use their credit cards and ATM cards, but many U.S. banks see the new rules as something of a legal minefield.

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The Salt
4:47 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

What The Change In U.S.-Cuba Relations Might Mean For Food

Sugar, coffee, fruit juice for babies, oil and salt inside a market subsidized by the government in Havana on July 11, 2013.
Enrique De La Osa Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 7:14 am

It took a few hours for some Cubans to realize the magnitude of President Obama's announcement on Wednesday about changes in the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba, according to Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez.

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Energy
4:43 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

No Fracking In New York? That's OK With Pennsylvania

Leslie Roeder of New York City cheers outside New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office on Wednesday after the state announced a ban on hydraulic fracturing.
Andrew Kelly Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 10:23 am

Pennsylvania's fracking boom has led to record-breaking natural gas production, but its neighbor, New York, announced Wednesday it was banning the practice. Industry and environmental groups say New York's decision could be good for Pennsylvania.

New York's ban comes six years after the state placed a temporary moratorium on fracking to study the gas drilling technique. Now, officials question fracking's economic benefits and cite environmental risks.

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The Two-Way
3:56 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

In List Of Changes For Secret Service, A New Fence Comes First

A review panel says changes are needed at the Secret Service — along with a better fence at the White House. Here, members of the Secret Service Uniformed Division stand in front of the White House.
Kevin Dietsch UPI /Landov

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 6:46 pm

The Secret Service must both change the way it trains agents and hire more of them, according to a panel that reviewed the agency that has endured a string of embarrassing lapses in recent months. The panel says its suggestions are "a road map for reform" under a new director.

Some of those suggestions are inherently practical — such as one that states "the fence around the White House needs to be changed as soon as possible to provide better protection."

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The Two-Way
3:55 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

U.S. Announces Protections For Transgender Workers

The Justice Department is broadening a civil rights law to include protections for transgender workers, a reversal from how the Bush administration interpreted the measure.

Attorney General Eric Holder said the law, Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, will now ensure that workers who sue over discrimination in the workplace will get fair and consistent treatment.

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Parallels
3:53 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

In Latin America, Not Everyone Is Thrilled With The U.S.-Cuba Thaw

Cuban President Fidel Castro (left) and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in Barinas, Venezuela, in 2000. The two formed a close partnership, which has continued with their successors. However, the prospect of normal ties between the U.S. and Cuba may also have an impact on relations between Cuba and Venezuela.
Jose Goitia AP

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 6:28 pm

Latin American governments have long viewed Cuba as the region's David facing off against the Goliath of the United States. So from Mexico to Argentina, leaders are endorsing Wednesday's announcement that the two nations intend to normalize relations.

But this could prove awkward for Venezuela, which has been Cuba's closest ally and a fierce critic of Washington.

In public, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is praising the rapprochement between the U.S. and Cuba.

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Monkey See
3:53 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Sarah Koenig On Serial: 'I Think Something Went Wrong With This Case'

Adnan Syed
Courtesy of Serial

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 5:32 pm

It's hard to believe that not only was there no Serial six months ago, there was no Serial three months ago. The hugely popular podcast, a spinoff production of This American Life, didn't even premiere until early October, but since then, it has made its way with great speed into worlds from Sesame Street to Funny Or Die.

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Business
3:53 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

New Popularity Of L.L. Bean Boots Sparks Scramble To Fill Orders

A surge in popularity of L.L. Bean boots has the Maine company scrambling to fill orders.
Murray Carpenter NPR

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 5:32 pm

L.L. Bean's iconic rubber and leather boots — long worn by practical and preppie New Englanders — have swung back into fashion with young people and are more popular than ever.

The recent surge in demand has the company scrambling to fill orders, upgrading its manufacturing equipment and adding a third shift at its Maine boot factories.

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The Two-Way
3:24 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Administration Won't Rule Out Raul Castro Visit To White House

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 6:54 am

The White House today said it "wouldn't rule out a visit from President Raul Castro" to Washington, a day after President Obama announced the U.S. and Cuba would begin talks to normalize relations and open embassies following more than five decades of hostility.

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The Two-Way
3:10 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Immigration Is Driving Broad Demographic Shifts In U.S., Report Says

Navy Petty Officer Jimmy Dial (left) sits with his daughter, Kimberly, beside U.S. Army soldier Henri Blandon and his daughter as the men's wives and the girls' mothers become U.S. citizens at a naturalization ceremony last month in Ontario, Calif.
Nick Ut AP

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 6:38 pm

Native-born Americans are making up a smaller percentage of those living in some areas of the U.S. as immigration moves to become the key factor in population growth within the next quarter-century, according to a new analysis by the Pew Charitable Trusts that examined county-level census data.

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Goats and Soda
2:56 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

And The Award For Most Offensive Fundraising Video Goes To ...

The "Rusty Radiator" award for most offensive or stereotypical portrayal of the developing world in a fundraising video went to Feed a Child South Africa.
Feed a Child South Africa

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 1:34 pm

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The Two-Way
2:54 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

5 Defining Moments In The U.S.-Cuba Relationship

Obama shakes hands with Castro during a memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela in Soweto, South Africa, on Dec. 10, 2013. Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro says his brother introduced himself to Obama in English, telling him, "Mr. President, I'm Castro," as the two leaders shook hands.
AP

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 6:32 pm

1. Obama, Raul Castro Announce Normalization Of Relations

President Obama said Wednesday the U.S. and Cuba will normalize relations, which have been strained since being severed in 1961. He spoke to Cuban President Raul Castro on Tuesday to finalize details of the announcement.

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Television
2:24 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

A Tribute To Stephen Colbert, A Self-Proclaimed 'Junkie For Exhaustion'

Stephen Colbert will host his final episode of The Colbert Report Thursday after nine years on air.
Pool Getty Images

After nine years, Stephen Colbert is retiring the character he created for The Colbert Report, the conservative, self-important blowhard who opines about the news and the media. The final episode airs Thursday. Colbert will take over as host for The Late Show, replacing the retiring David Letterman.

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NPR Story
1:53 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Are Artificial Christmas Trees Really More Environmentally Sound?

Tree farms provide the majority of Christmas trees. (jpmatth/Flickr)

Three million American families will buy real Christmas trees this year. Most are grown in either Oregon or North Carolina, the top two Christmas-tree-producing states in the country.

However, the real-tree industry has something in common with many other businesses: competition with China. About 79 percent of people now use artificial Christmas trees.

One reason people purchase artificial trees is because they believe they’re more environmentally sound. But is that true?

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NPR Story
1:53 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Putin Vows To Fix Russian Economy

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his annual press conference in Moscow on December 18, 2014. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images)

In his annual press conference, which ran four hours, Russian President Vladimir Putin promised to ease the country’s economic woes by diversifying its heavy reliance on oil and gas. He also said he’s confident the plummeting ruble will recover.

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NPR Story
1:49 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

A Short History Of U.S.-Cuba Relations

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter (left) shakes hands with Cuban President Fidel Castro on May 12,, 2002, at the State Council in Havana, where Castro, Carter and their respective delegations met for a working meeting. Carter was on a five-day visit to Cuba, invited by Castro. (Adalberto Roque/AFP/Getty Images)

President Obama’s decision to change U.S. policy on Cuba comes after a half century of icy relations. The announcement came as a surprise to many, including Julia Sweig, director for Latin American studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Sweig joined Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson to discuss the history of the struggle between the two nations and outline what the opening of diplomatic relations and easing of restrictions will mean both for Cuba and the United States.

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The Two-Way
1:31 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

White House Says Any Response To Sony Attack Needs To Be 'Proportional'

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 2:26 pm

The White House says the devastating cyber attack on Sony Pictures was done with "malicious intent" and was initiated by a "sophisticated actor" but it would not say if that actor was North Korea.

Spokesman Josh Earnest says the matter is still under investigation.

"Regardless of who is found to be responsible for this, the president considers it to be a serious national security matter," Earnest says.

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Shots - Health News
1:25 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

NIH Allows Restart Of MERS Research That Had Been Questioned

A transmission electron micrograph shows Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus particles (colorized yellow).
NIAID

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 2:26 pm

Some researchers who study the virus that causes Middle East respiratory syndrome got an early Christmas present: permission to resume experiments that the federal government abruptly halted in October.

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