One year ago, protesters across the Arab World began to rise up against autocratic rulers, forcing several from power. These revolutions have led to the region's biggest upheaval in decades. It's still not clear how these seismic changes will play out, and so far, the results have been mixed. In a six-part series, NPR is taking a look at where the region stands today. In the second installment, NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports on how Islamists in Libya, long suppressed during Moammar Gadhafi's 42-year rule, are now able to operate freely.
Iowa's Republican Gov. Terry Branstad is a fierce advocate for the Iowa caucuses. At times over the past four months, he has seemed frustrated that candidates have not been in the state as much as in past years.
Branstad's message over and over to the candidates was not to ignore the voters of Iowa, because they take it personally.
"They want to see the candidates, and they take their responsibility very seriously," Branstad says.
For some of America's lowest-paid workers, the new year means a pay raise. Some states set their own minimum wages, above the federal rate of $7.25 an hour, and that rekindles an old debate over whether minimum wages make sense — especially at a time of high unemployment.
Like several other states, Washington state's minimum wage is indexed to the cost of living. This year, the formula has raised the statewide minimum from $8.67 to $9.04 an hour, making it the nation's highest statewide rate.
Marine Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich talks to the media with his attorney Neal Puckett (left) watching on after a 2010 pretrial hearing at Camp Pendleton in California. Wuterich is charged with voluntary manslaughter in the deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians in 2005.
One of the more controversial episodes of the Iraq war will be revisited in a military courtroom in California this week.
In November of 2005, a Marine squad killed 24 Iraqis, some of them women and children in the village of Haditha. Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich led the squad of Marines, and on Wednesday he'll face voluntary manslaughter charges at Camp Pendleton.
Originally published on Mon January 2, 2012 8:17 pm
Saudi Arabia said Monday that it will enforce a law that allows only females to work in women's lingerie and apparel stores, despite disapproval from the country's top cleric.
The 2006 law banning men from working in female apparel and cosmetic stores has never been put into effect, partly because of the views of hard-liners in the religious establishment, who oppose the whole idea of women working in places where men and women congregate, such as malls.
There's a lot of debate these days about the cost of medical care and the risks. Is a drug for breast cancer patients worth the $100,000 price tag if it only adds a few months to a woman's life? Or should men routinely get blood tests for prostate cancer when the exam could cause more suffering than it prevents?
Well, today, a major medical group issued new ethical guidelines on whether doctors should consider cost when deciding how to treat patients. As NPR's Rob Stein reports, the group takes a provocative position.
In a double-blind test by professional violinists, most couldn't determine — by sound alone — which violin was an original Stradivarius and which was a modern instrument. Above, a 1729 Stradivari known as the "Solomon, Ex-Lambert."
In the world of violins, the names Stradivari and Guarneri are sacred. For three centuries, violin-makers and scientists have studied the instruments made by these Italian craftsmen. So far no one has figured out what makes their sound different. But a new study now suggests maybe they aren't so different after all.
OK, here's a test. Clip one is a musical phrase from Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D Major. Clip two is the same phrase. The same musician plays both. But one is on a Stradivarius violin, the other on a violin made in 1980. See if you can tell the difference.
The tiny Persian Gulf state of Qatar has deep pockets and a big microphone in the form of its news network, Al Jazeera. In recent months, those assets have been used to propel the Arab Spring forward. Qatar has supported rebel movements in Libya and Syria, and is promoting a "Marshall Fund" for Oman, Morocco and Jordan. The country's emir has close, personal relationships with the emerging Islamist leaders from Casablanca to Cairo — and meanwhile provides a home to the largest U.S. military base outside the United States.
Today, police in Los Angeles arrested a man in connection with a string of more than 50 arson fires that have left that city on edge. Most of the fires were set in parked cars, and some spread to carports, garages and apartments. Sam Quinones is following the story for the Los Angeles Times and Sam, what else can you tell us about the man who's under arrest?
After hitting a 30-year low in 2009, U.S. auto sales are poised for a second straight year of growth in 2012 — the result of easier credit, low interest rates and pent-up demand for cars and trucks created by the Great Recession.
The sales forecast bodes well for the industry's continued recovery and for the broader American economy.
Just two years ago, Detroit automakers were in peril. Car sales plunged as unemployment soared, and loans became harder to get. Chrysler and General Motors filed for bankruptcy protection. Ford avoided bankruptcy only by borrowing billions.
Edward Lewis of Council Bluffs waved an Iowa state flag outside the Family Table Restaurant in Atlantic on Sunday, before the arrival of former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Originally published on Mon January 2, 2012 1:11 pm
Those who remember newspapers might recognize this as a "clip and save." Maybe the more modern term would be a "cut and paste." Whatever, if you want some of the details and logistics about Tuesday night's caucuses in Iowa, here they are:
Monday morning in Iowa, I caught up with Mitt Romney's strategist Eric Fehrnstrom after the campaign's first event of the day, a speech at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds in Davenport.
In the last hours before Tuesday night's caucus, Fehrnstrom said, the former Massachusetts governor plans to consolidate his support by visiting areas in the eastern part of the state where he had a strong showing in 2008 — places like Dubuque and Cedar Rapids.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan, in Washington. In Iowa, all the GOP presidential candidates continue to profess their faith in speeches and in broadcast ads, perhaps none more than Texas Governor Rick Perry.
And now, the Opinion Page. It's the start of a new year. Already, millions of us have posted new calendars on the wall or installed new ones on our computers. But Steven Hanke and Richard Henry, two Johns Hopkins University professors, propose a more radical step: the Hanke-Henry permanent calendar, which they say will solve the yearly hassle of reworking our schedules and even help businesses put fiscal calendars in sync. But that raises a question: Is the current calendar a problem for you?
Almost 150 years ago, English scientist Francis Galton coined the phrase "nature versus nurture" — and proposed that research on twins could resolve the debate.
Genetics have long seemed to weigh heavily in favor of the role of nature in shaping the people we become. But even identical twins are different to varying degrees, and some researchers believe those differences suggest a third influence at work, called epigenetics.
Last Wednesday, Ann Selzer could not be cajoled into even a hint of the final Iowa poll as she joined the Political Junkie. Selzer and the company - and her company polls for the Des Moines Register and for Bloomberg. It's considered the gold standard in Iowa. And the Register published the results on Saturday night. It showed Mitt Romney in front, followed closely by Ron Paul and Rick Santorum surging into third. Ann Selzer joins us again from Iowa Public Radio. Nice to have you back on the program.
The Newt Gingrich campaign bus is rolling again Monday morning, leaving Waterloo, where the candidate spent the night and heading straight east to the small town of Independence. The venue? Heartland Acres Agribition Center, a modest-size exhibition hall for small, regional agribusiness conferences with a lot of interesting old farm implements on display, and a shop with some pretty cool toy tractors.
A "person of interest" has been taken into custody in connection with the string of arson-related fires in the city over recent days, including at least 12 more blazes overnight, our colleagues at KPCC report.
Iran's navy said it test-fired a surface-to-surface cruise missile on Monday during a drill in international waters near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, the official IRNA news agency reported.
The missile, called Ghader, or Capable in Farsi, was described as an upgraded version of a missile that has been in service before. IRNA said the missile "successfully hit its intended target" during the drill.