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Election 2012
5:30 am
Wed December 21, 2011

Romney, Gingrich Spar Over Negative Super PAC Ads

There's a spirited debate going on between GOP presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. A Super PAC called Restore Our Future is running negative ads against Gingrich on Romney's behalf. Gingrich called on Romney to get the ads off the air. Romney responded by saying the law does not allow him to communicate with a Super PAC.

It's All Politics
4:01 am
Wed December 21, 2011

In A Year Of Partisan Brawls, Congress Goes One More Round

President Obama speaks in the White House's Brady Briefing Room on Tuesday. Behind the president, a ticking clock counts down the time until taxes will go up if Congress can't reach an extension deal on payroll tax cuts.
Haraz N. Ghanbari AP

Originally published on Wed December 21, 2011 9:35 am

In a year of deadlines and political fights, Congress is closing with one last partisan brawl. At stake are billions of dollars in tax breaks and unemployment benefits for millions of Americans set to expire Jan. 1.

Just in case you've been out buying presents, working or not watching C-SPAN with bated breath, what happened Tuesday was that the House — specifically Republicans in the House — rejected a bill that had broad bipartisan support in the Senate.

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Election 2012
3:40 am
Wed December 21, 2011

Romney Focuses On N.H. Primary Over Iowa Caucuses

Originally published on Wed December 21, 2011 9:35 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Most of the Republican presidential candidates are focusing their campaign efforts on Iowa at the moment; the first-in-the-nation caucuses there are less than two weeks away.

But not former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. He's hundreds of miles away from Iowa, in New Hampshire. And today he's setting off on a three-day tour of the state, eyeing an early primary win.

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Business
3:38 am
Wed December 21, 2011

Why Do Americans Bother To Fly Over The Holidays?

Originally published on Wed December 21, 2011 9:35 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Many Americans begin their holidays with travel, and complaining about that travel is quickly becoming a favorite national pastime. Long lines, small seats, hidden fees for everything from carry-ons to a can of Coke - the list goes on. To help us understand why this is the new reality, we reached Seth Kaplan. He's the editor of Airline Weekly.

Mr. Kaplan, good morning.

SETH KAPLAN: Good morning, Linda.

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Art & Design
11:01 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Unusual Diego Rivera Work Restored in Mexico City

Diego Rivera's fountain of the Aztec rain god Tlaloc is a pumping station in Mexico City's municipal water system. It fell into disrepair for some time, but has recently been restored.
David Hiser National Geographic

Originally published on Wed December 21, 2011 12:54 pm

The Mexican muralist Diego Rivera painted in New York City, San Francisco, Detroit, Europe and the Soviet Union. But some of Rivera's most famous murals and most unusual projects are found in Mexico City.

In Mexico City, Rivera did far more than just paint. He collected pre-Hispanic pottery and indigenous folk art. And he experimented with sculpture and architecture.

And between 1950 and 1952, Rivera built a giant tiled fountain to the Aztec rain god Tlaloc as part of an overhaul of Mexico City's municipal water system.

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History
11:01 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

A 'Happy Burden': Reflections On The Medal Of Honor

In February 1945, Hershel Williams was sent to Iwo Jima with a flamethrower unit. All but 17 of the 279 members of his company had been killed or wounded a week and a half later.
Nick Del Calzo Courtesy Artisan Books

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the Medal of Honor. It is the highest military decoration in the United States, reflecting great service and sacrifice. Of the more than 3,400 recipients, fewer than 85 are still living.

Among them is Hershel Williams, who served as a Marine corporal in World War II. He says that on the day he received the honor — Oct. 5, 1945 — he had no concept of it.

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Middle East
11:01 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

White House Faces Tough Choice On Iran Sanctions

Originally published on Wed December 21, 2011 9:35 am

Let Iran off the hook or undermine the global economy? Slap sanctions on an Iranian energy company or provide Europe with an alternative to Russian gas? Washington policymaking is especially difficult when the aims conflict, and few cases illustrate that principle more clearly than the challenge of finding a way to punish Iran without hurting someone else.

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Violence At California's Psychiatric Hospitals
11:01 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

How Do You Hold Mentally Ill Offenders Accountable?

In California, prison inmates who have committed serious crimes and have been diagnosed with a major mental illness can be forced to serve their parole in a state hospital. At Atascadero State Hospital, shown above in this 1999 photo, there are more than 600 such patients. "As a group," says the hospital's director, "the mentally disordered offenders are the most aggressive."
Reed Saxon AP

Originally published on Wed December 21, 2011 9:35 am

Part of an ongoing series

Mental health and law enforcement officials in California are trying to find ways to hold violent psychiatric patients accountable without punishing people for being sick. It's a response to escalating violence in the state's mental hospitals, where thousands of assaults occur annually. Only a tiny fraction of them, however, result in criminal charges.

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Latin America
11:01 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Costa Rica's Peaceful Reputation At Risk From Cartels

Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla, seen in Tokyo in December, says drug cartels are a greater threat to Costa Rica than the region's conflicts during the Cold War.
Kazuhiro Nogi AFP/Getty Images

Costa Rica is Central America's most stable democracy, a peaceful country that abolished its army in 1948 and now draws nearly a million U.S. tourists a year to its national parks and beaches. But it's also right in the middle of the world's most lucrative cocaine trafficking corridor.

As Mexican drug cartels push deeper into Central America, they've cast a dark shadow over Costa Rica's idyllic green image.

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Law
11:01 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Calls For More Reporting Of Suspected Child Abuse

Students stand outside Penn State's Old Main building, protesting the handling of a child abuse scandal involving retired Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.
Gene J. Puskar AP

Originally published on Wed December 21, 2011 9:35 am

The revelations about alleged child sex abuse by a former Penn State football coach have caused policymakers to propose new measures to broaden who is required to report suspected abuse.

Each state already has laws that require some combination of doctors, teachers, day care providers and others who work with children to report suspected abuse. If they don't, they could face fines, the loss of a license, and, in some states, possibly jail time.

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Sweetness And Light
9:00 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

The NBA Is Bullish On Christmas, By Necessity

The Chicago Bulls mascot, dressed as Santa Claus, dunks during a game last December. The NBA is starting its season on Christmas Day, with a quintuple-header.
Jonathan Daniel Getty Images

This time last year, Phil Jackson, then the coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, complained that the NBA scheduled games on Christmas Day. It seemed, he said, that "Christian holidays don't mean anything" any longer.

A few players echoed Jackson's sentiments, but the complaint died aborning. This Christmas, Sunday, the league has scheduled ... (to the tune of "The 12 Days Of Christmas"):

  • 5 gold games,
  • 4 point guards,
  • 3 referees,
  • 2 free throws,
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It Was A Good Year For...
6:19 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Hell On Fire In 2011, Thanks To Film And Books

Hell was much written and thought about in 2011. In this 18th-century engraving accompanying Dante's Inferno, Virgil leads the poet past souls writhing in torment in the River Styx.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

In 2011, hell was a hot topic, from Hollywood to New York Times bestsellers. In fact, this year has seen an incendiary debate about the existence and contents of hell.

The year began with an epic battle between a priest and Satan, with Anthony Hopkins playing a demon possessed priest in the movie, The Rite. The Hollywood glimpse of the underworld came and went without much notice by moviegoers. But then, another form of hell on earth grabbed the headlines. Judgment Day would soon be upon us.

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It Was A Good Year For...
6:18 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

No Excuses: Robots Put You In Two Places At Once

The two "eyes" on the Anybot are actually a camera and a laser. The camera "sees," the laser points, and the person on the screen controls it all.
Anybots.com

Originally published on Tue January 3, 2012 12:11 pm

Mike Fennelly isn't easily surprised by cutting-edge technologies, but when he started as an IT guy at a Silicon Valley startup called Evernote, he was caught off guard by a robot rolling around the office.

"It was slightly disturbing for not really knowing what the robot was for at the beginning, and then going, 'Oh, OK. That's Phil,' " he says.

CEO Phil Libin is also known as the company's "robotic overlord." Libin himself isn't actually a robot, but when he's out of town, his robot keeps an eye on things.

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It Was A Good Year For...
5:34 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

In Sales, Android Has Upper Hand On The iPhone

Models hold the new Samsung Galaxy Nexus Android phone during its official launch in Hong Kong in October. The new smartphone runs Google's Android "Ice Cream Sandwich" operating system.
Laurent Fievet AFP/Getty Images

Apple's iPhones may seem more cool, but the Google-backed Android phones are much more popular in the United States. In 2011, Android's U.S. market share was 53 percent, compared to 29 percent for the iPhone, according to the research group NPD.

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Shots - Health Blog
5:22 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Many Police Officers Are Sleep Deprived, Risky For Them And Us

Sleepy police were likelier to fall asleep while driving, a new survey of nearly 5,000 officers in the U.S. and Canada finds. About 40 percent of officers surveyed reported sleep disorders, with various health implications.
Sean Locke iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue December 20, 2011 5:33 pm

Harvard researchers say they've uncovered a big problem among the nation's 700,000 police officers: a serious lack of sleep.

In what's believed to be the first study of its kind, the researchers queried nearly 5,000 municipal and state police officers in the U.S. and Canada about their sleep habits and symptoms of possible sleep disorders. Then they assessed their on-duty performance for two years.

Forty percent had sleep disorders, and the vast majority of these were undiagnosed before.

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The Two-Way
5:11 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Report: U.S. Takes Top Spot As Most Charitable Nation

Antionette Levi solicits donations for the Salvation Army in Chicago.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Despite the gloomy economic situation, the United States has become the world's most generous nation, according to this year's Charities Aid Foundation's World Giving Index.

Ireland is ranked second followed by Australia, New Zealand and the U.K. Charities Aid Foundation used Gallup's Worldview Poll to look at three behaviors: "giving money, volunteering time and helping a stranger."

The U.S. came out on top after being ranked fifth last year.

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Latin America
5:01 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

In A Drug War, Mexican Forces Accused Of Abuses

Federal policemen escort the armored car carrying a member of Los Zetas drug cartel on June 17. The security forces have been accused of abuses in the fight against the drug cartels.
Yuri Cortez AFP/Getty Images

In Mexico, the last five years of President Felipe Calderon's drug war have been marked by brutal violence, unsolved kidnappings and tens of thousands of deaths. Most of violence has come from the drug gangs, but some of these atrocities have been committed by the Mexican military and police.

Human rights groups say that as state security forces battle the drug cartels, they've tortured, abducted and killed criminal suspects and even innocent civilians.

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Asia
4:05 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

After Kim's Death, No Signs Of Power Struggles

The body of Kim Jong Il, the deceased leader of North Korea, now lies in state in the capital, Pyongyang. His sudden death has raised concerns about possible power struggles. But so far, all outward signs suggest that the North Korean leadership is lining up behind his son, Kim Jong Un.

The Two-Way
4:02 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Scores Dead In Syria; Thousands Of Women Protest In Egypt

Hundreds of Egyptian women march at Cairo streets, angered by the recent violence used against them in clashes with police.
Amr Nabil AP

Originally published on Tue December 20, 2011 4:07 pm

A day after Syria said it would allow Arab League observers into the country, the deadly clashes with government forces continued. Al Arabiya reports that activists said at least 100 Syrian army defectors were killed or wounded and 36 people were killed in clashes with police.

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Still No Job: Over A Year Without Enough Work
3:29 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Marriage Economy: 'I Couldn't Afford To Get Divorced'

iStockphoto.com

Lindsay Reynolds lives in Waterloo, Wis. Even before the recent economic downturn, Reynolds and her husband struggled to make ends meet. They quarreled, especially over money.

"We never had enough income to pay bills, to pay rent. We were constantly late on rent," Reynolds says. "He always wanted to go do things. He wanted to go buy things. And I said, 'No, we can't. We have to be fiscally responsible.' "

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It's All Politics
3:07 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

'We The People': NPR Readers Would Ratify Four New Amendments

The people have spoken: NPR readers would add four new amendments to the Constitution.
ASSOCIATED PRESS

In "Reconstituting The Constitution: How To Rewrite It," we invited readers to share their own thoughts on how we might change the founding document for 2011. Now the people have spoken.

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The Two-Way
2:52 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

A Mighty Release This Is: Star Wars Video Game Is EA's Most Expensive

Part of the packaging of "Star Wars: The Old Republic."
EA

Originally published on Tue December 20, 2011 2:59 pm

The video game "Star Wars: The Old Republic" is estimated to have cost Electronic Arts somewhere between $100 and $300 million to make. To put it into perspective Avatar, released in 2009 and one of Hollywood's most expensive movies, cost $237 million to make. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, released in 1977, had a budget of $11 million.

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Opinion
2:48 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

A Quest To Seek The Sublime In The Spiritual

A globe Buddha is visible against the sunset in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar (Burma).
istockphoto.com

Eric Weiner's most recent book is Man Seeks God: My Flirtations with the Divine.

Surveys show religious people are happier than the secular? Why is this? Is it — as an atheist friend quipped — that "ignorance is bliss?" Not long ago, that's what I would have concluded. Like many people of my ilk — cerebral East Coaster, highly skeptical, and, yes, latte drinking — I reflexively viewed the religious as less sophisticated. And, if I'm brutally honest here, somehow less intelligent, or at least more narrow-minded. I don't feel that way anymore.

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The Two-Way
2:25 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

From Homeless To White House To 'The Martha Stewart Show'

One of the decorations in the Red Room of the White House, where David Bondarchuck was among the volunteer decorators.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 10:11 am

When NPR's Ari Shapiro earlier this month filed a report on the 2011 holiday decorations at the executive mansion, he focused some of his attention on the diverse group of volunteer decorators who were called on to help dress up 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

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NPR Story
2:00 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

How GOP Candidates Are Reaching Out To N.H. Voters

Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul laughs as he sits down with Elizabeth Rose Chamberlain, 3, of Epping, N.H., while campaigning at the Early Bird Cafe in Plaistow, N.H., on Tuesday.
Charles Krupa AP

With three weeks to go before the New Hampshire primary, presidential campaigns are working at full speed to reach out to voters.

Political strategists say a good ground game — a campaign's ability to identify voters and get them to the polls — is worth 3 points at the ballot box. That's a boost any candidate would want.

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NPR Story
2:00 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Stephen Daldry Discusses New Movie

Robert Siegel talks to director Stephen Daldry about his new film, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. It follows the story of a young boy, played by Thomas Horn, whose father dies on 9/11.

World
2:00 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

In Cairo, Women Protest Recent Crackdowns

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has condemned the Egyptian army's use of force against protesters, especially women. Clinton's remarks, in a speech at Georgetown University Monday night, were the strongest criticism yet of the Egyptian military, which has been ruling the country since ousted president Hosni Mubarak stepped down last February.

Politics
2:00 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

House Rejects Senate's Payroll Tax Extension

The House blew up the end-of-year deal to extend the payroll tax holiday, but it insists it's the Senate's fault. If both chambers fail to forge a compromise, taxes go up, unemployment benefits expire and payments to Medicare doctors get cut by 27 percent — all starting Jan. 1.

Shots - Health Blog
1:36 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

U.S. Says Details Of Flu Experiments Should Stay Secret

H5N1 avian flu viruses (seen in gold) grow inside canine kidney cells (seen in green).
Cynthia Goldsmith CDC

Originally published on Wed December 21, 2011 9:35 am

A committee that advises the government says that details of two controversial experiments on bird flu virus should not be made public, because of fears that the work could provide a recipe for a bioweapon.

The government-funded experiments were done by researchers who wanted to understand if bird flu virus might change in the future to cause a pandemic in people. By tweaking genes, they made the deadly bird flu virus more contagious between lab animals.

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The Two-Way
1:26 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Citing Competition, Honda Announces Civic Overhaul

Honda hopes a Civic revamp will boost sales.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Here's some interesting news about the car market in the United States: Citing increased competition, Honda said it is taking the unusual step of redesigning its Civic sedan months after a unveiling its 2012 model this summer.

Here's what Tetsuo Iwamura, chief executive for American Honda Motor Co., told The Detroit News:

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