Two years after the Deepwater Horizon accident killed 11 men and sent oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico, the oil industry says it has learned valuable lessons from the disaster that are making drilling safer today.
But there's still a pressing issue looming for the oil industry: Oil field workers are retiring in huge numbers, leaving a workforce that's younger and — more importantly — less experienced.
For the past two weeks, the campaigns of both President Obama and GOP rival Mitt Romney have accused each other of waging a war on women. But what's really going on is a war for women's votes.
The president, like Democrats before him, has an advantage with female voters — who make up 53 percent of the American electorate. Romney is trying to close the gender gap by using his most powerful and popular surrogate: his wife.
Originally published on Thu April 19, 2012 6:14 pm
Americans seem happier with Congress these days. That's what Gallup's two latest polls show: Congress, with an approval rating of 17 percent, has gained a whole seven points since February.
Still, they shouldn't get too cocky on the Hill, because this just means that 79 percent of Americans disapprove of the institution. That's down from a record high 86 percent in December of 2011. We suppose that's like saying in December almost everyone disapproved of Congress and now mostly everyone disapproves.
Here's Gallup's historical chart of Congress' approval rating:
Originally published on Fri April 20, 2012 11:09 am
It's hard to pinpoint exactlywhat it is about Fenway Park. A century after it was built, fans still gush about this "lyric little bandbox," as John Updike called it. To guys like Ed Carpenter, Fenway is history and home, magic and mystique.
"I love this place," he says, tearing up. "I mean, it's not mortar and bricks and seats."
Carpenter first started coming to Fenway with his dad in 1949, when he was 6.
"We walked up this ramp right behind this home plate," he recalls. "I can still see everything was green, emerald green. It was love at first sight."
Originally published on Thu April 19, 2012 5:06 pm
"Quite frankly, it's very visceral. It's like a sock in the stomach."
That's what Sister Simone Campbell, the executive director of Network, a Catholic social justice lobby, said when NPR's Melissa Block asked her what her reaction was to a Vatican reprimand issued yesterday.
Originally published on Fri April 20, 2012 9:39 am
It's sounds like a story from the past: A Latin American leader announces plans to nationalize a large foreign company, touching off a high-stakes battle that involves money, politics and diplomacy.
Yet it's happening right now. Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez said this week that her country plans to take over a giant Spanish oil company at a time when the economies in both countries are facing challenges.
Spanish officials are threatening to retaliate against Argentina for seizing a majority of shares in the biggest oil company in Argentina, YPF.
Originally published on Fri April 20, 2012 2:30 pm
The nation's oldest ball park is turning 100. Boston's Fenway Park has been home to the Red Sox through some of baseball's greatest highs and most heartbreaking lows. The park also narrowly escaped the fate of similar old stadiums that were torn down.
It's part of a new campaign to steer patients (and their doctors) to what the College of Physicians calls "high value care," and away from expensive tests and treatments that aren't any better — and often are worse.
Another country hoping to revive one of its marquee sporting events is Bahrain. Formula 1's Bahrain Grand Prix was called off last year during the Arab Spring demonstrations. The international racing event brings in half a billion dollars to Bahrain and draws more than 100 million TV viewers around the world. This year's race is set for Sunday despite plans by anti-government protesters to target the event. For more, I'm joined by Ryan McGee. He's a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. Hey there, Ryan.
Originally published on Thu April 19, 2012 5:34 pm
Alabama is near the bottom of the country's academic rankings. The state has problems with test scores, school improvement ratings and dropouts. But the district in Birmingham has a different kind of issue. The state recently took over the school board because of infighting on the board. The move has triggered cries of racism.
Yum Brands, the company that owns Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, says it's the latest corporation to break ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council — a group that brings state lawmakers and corporate lobbyists together to write legislation.
Liberal groups are pressuring corporations to abandon ALEC, and a dozen companies have now dropped out.
This week, ALEC did some damage control. It said it is shutting down its task force on public safety and elections, which wrote controversial measures on voter ID, "stand your ground" and immigration reform.
It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block. Lorain County, Ohio, is getting a lot of political love this week. Yesterday, President Obama spoke at a community college there, and today, it was Mitt Romney's turn. He spoke at a shuttered gypsum factory. NPR's Ari Shapiro joins me now from Lorain County. And, Ari, why Lorain? What's so special about it?
Originally published on Thu April 19, 2012 5:34 pm
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
The Vatican has clamped down on the largest group of Catholic nuns in the U.S., citing what it calls grave concerns about serious doctrinal problems. The Holy See says the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, or LCWR, has promoted radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith in some programs. And it has named an archbishop to oversee the nuns and approve their work. In a statement, the LCWR says it is stunned by the Vatican's conclusions and will prepare a response.
Originally published on Thu April 19, 2012 4:42 pm
Over on The Salt, NPR's Dan Charles has tracked the efforts of salad-green companies to keep dangerous microbes out of the lettuce you buy at the supermarket. But once they get that lettuce safely into your shopping cart, what's next? NPR's Audie Cornish asks Molly Wizenberg, of the award-winning blog Orangette, about the best way to go about making salad.
Back in the days of the Soviet Union, the women's gymnastics competition was highly predictable — the Soviet squad won the team gold medal at every Olympics it participated in.
Even when Nadia Comaneci was reeling off perfect 10s at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, she and her Romanian teammates had to settle for second in the team competition behind the legendary Olga Korbut and her Soviet comrades.
Our story begins last month inside a busy Washington, D.C. subway station plastered with posters of giant dollar bills. One of them says: "Tell Congress to stop wasting time trying to eliminate the dollar bill." Another asks: "Do you heart the dollar?"
Political fights in the nation's capital normally involve billions or even trillions, not single dollars. What's going on here?
Originally published on Fri April 20, 2012 7:30 am
After a long battle with cancer, Leon Helm died today. He was 71.
"Levon Helm passed peacefully this afternoon," a statement posted on his website read. "He was surrounded by family, friends and band mates and will be remembered by all he touched as a brilliant musician and a beautiful soul."
Helm was the legendary drummer and singer of '60s rock act, The Band. Earlier this week, Helm's family announced that he was in the final stages of cancer.
For those of you boycotting Starbucks over the red dye made from crushed bugs it's been using, this Strawberries & Crème Frappuccino® is for you.
As we reported last month, vegetarians and others who'd rather not eat insects protested when they found out the the company uses cochineal, the red "juice" a tiny white bug called Dactylopius coccus exudes when crushed, to color certain food and drinks.
Originally published on Thu April 19, 2012 2:50 pm
Students at the College of William & Mary are talking about a big extracurricular event being held on their campus on Friday. Organized largely through social media, more than 600 students at the prestigious Virginia campus have signed up to participate.
It's not about Joseph Kony. It's an attempt to break the world record for spooning, set by Carleton College back in 2010.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm John Donvan in Washington. Earlier this month, nine immigrants suspected of being illegally smuggled into the United States were killed in a car crash. That journey came to a violent and sudden end. But there have been, and there will be others bent on crossing the Mexican border north to the U.S. who will make that very same journey and with a similar setup.
In his 2010 book, Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man, Bill Clegg described his addiction to crack cocaine and the dramatic spiral of self-destruction that left him nearly broke, homeless, out of work and suicidal. His latest book, Ninety Days: A Memoir of Recovery, picks up where that story left off.
Clegg talks with NPR's John Donvan about his harrowing journey through recovery, and the friends, family and fellow addicts who gave him second chances.
Columnist Crawford Kilian advises aspiring writers to avoid Jack Kerouac's On the Road, Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged and eight other well-known novels.
But Kilian isn't saying they're bad novels — quite the opposite, actually. In a piece for the Canadian online daily The Tyee, Kilian writes, "their readable styles look so easy that they might seduce a young writer into imitating them."
Kilian tells NPR's John Donvan that he composed his list based on personal experience.
The son of Ruby Dee and the late Ossie Davis, Guy Davis initially followed in his famous parents' footsteps. But then he discovered the blues in college, and now travels the world performing in places untouched by the genre, from Greenland to the Galapagos Islands.
Known as "The Ambassador of the Blues," Davis talks with NPR's John Donvan about his new album, The Adventures of Fishy Waters: In Bed With the Blues, and his passion for blues music.
On Fishy Waters, The Character He Created For His New Record
Originally published on Thu April 19, 2012 1:38 pm
If there's one thing that people with diabetes get pounded into their heads, it's that they've got to keep their A1C level under control. That's the blood glucose measure that's used to decide how well a person is managing their diabetes.
But new diabetes management guidelines announced today will cut many people with diabetes some slack.
Where old guidelines from the American Diabetes Association said that people should maintain an A1C of 7, the new guidelines say that patients should work with their doctors to determine an appropriate A1C target.