This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. The Department of Agriculture reports that the number of students receiving free or reduced lunch soared by 17 percent last year. That's up to 21 million. Given the state of the economy, the statistics may come as no surprise, but each new child who qualifies for free lunch means another family fallen out of the middle class.
Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 1:40 pm
One day after the United Nations said that more than 5,000 people have died in nine months of protests and clashes against the Syrian government, the AP quotes activists saying that at least 28 more people died Tuesday at the hands of Syrian security forces.
Fighting between the government and the opposition was heaviest along the country's northwestern border with Turkey.
Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 1:51 pm
A bill before Congress that would allow some types of "robocalls" to be made to cellphones if consumers have given companies their numbers doesn't have many sponsors and wouldn't seem to be the kind of legislation that would stand much of a chance of passing when an election year looms.
But it's getting an increasing amount of attention this week thanks to something that's very rare these days — bipartisan opposition.
The federal government will stop minting unwanted $1 coins, the White House said Tuesday. The move will save an estimated $50 million a year.
Earlier this year, we reported on the mountain of $1 coins sitting unused in government vaults. The pile-up — an estimated 1.4 billion coins — was caused by a 2005 law that ordered the minting of coins honoring each U.S. president.
You can talk about the global village, a mobile society and the World Wide Web all you want, but many in our country seem to be turning toward a New American Localism.
These days, we are local folks and our focus is local. We are doing everything locally: food, finance, news, charity. And maybe for good reasons.
"One bedrock thing that is going on," says Brad Edmondson, founder of ePodunk and former editor of American Demographics magazine, is that "because of aging and the recession, people aren't moving around as much."
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. About 5,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq, and they will all leave by the end of this month. Yesterday, President Obama marked the end of the nearly nine-year-long war as a campaign promise kept. He stood beside Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki yesterday and reflected on the costs and said U.S. troops will leave with their heads held high.
Until the beginning of this month, Donald Berwick served as administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Dr. Berwick's nomination got caught up in the partisan politics that accompany passage of the health care law, and he took office under a controversial recess appointment. His mission was to make the centers more efficient, to cut costs and to deliver more patient-centered care. On his way out of office, he said that as much as a third of the money spent on Medicare and Medicaid is wasted.
And now the Opinion Page, which was moved - which we moved from its regular Monday slot this week because of our special broadcast yesterday from National Geographic. After big demonstrations in Moscow and other cities in Russia over the weekend, we heard comparisons to the Arab Spring. Some predicted the protests could herald sweeping change. In an op-ed for The New York Times, Kathryn Stoner-Weiss argues that the protests are not completely meaningless, but she concluded that things will go on, much as they did before.
In the FX TV series Louie, comic Louis C.K. plays a divorced father of two struggling to balance his comedy career with being a single dad. The show, which has just been picked up for a third season, is often based on events that have happened to C.K. in his own life.
Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 3:07 pm
The overwhelming majority of Latino voters believe that the Republican Party ignores them or is outright "hostile," and that nominating Hispanic Sen. Marco Rubio as a vice presidential candidate might do little to change it, according to a national poll released Monday.
The December survey, conducted by impreMedia and the polling group Latino Decisions, is the first to test the popularity of the freshman senator from Florida with America's Hispanics.
As protesters in the Middle East use social media to organize and communicate, the regimes they're battling are using sophisticated technology to intercept their emails, text messages and cellphone calls.
On Wednesday's Fresh Air, journalist Ben Elgin talks about a Bloomberg News series, "Wired for Repression," which details how Western companies are selling surveillance technology to regimes including Iran, Syria, Bahrain and Tunisia.
Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 11:48 am
A Dutch architectural firm says its designers didn't see the resemblance.
But many, many others certainly do think the two buildings — linked by a "cloud" of skybridges — that MVRDV has proposed for a project in Seoul look very much like the haunting images of the World Trade Center's twin towers on Sept. 11, 2001, after they were hit by high-jacked passenger planes.
Getting the procedure paid for is another matter, since many insurers and employers are still wary of covering it for children. The surgery costs upwards of $20,000, and it's still being evaluated to determine which adolescents would benefit most from it.
Iranian officials have crowed they are mining "priceless technological information" from a CIA spy drone that went down days ago inside Iran's borders, broadcasting triumphant images of what they said was the craft on state TV.
But many experts say the loss of the RQ-170 Sentinel drone — like the U-2 spy plane shot down over the Soviet Union in 1960 — may have more value as propaganda than as a treasure trove of technological secrets.
Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 9:31 am
Update at 9:50 a.m. ET. Not Conclusive:
The presentation continues in Switzerland, where scientists are briefing their peers on the search for the Higgs boson — or so-called God particle — that gives matter mass. The bottomline: They've made progress, "but not enough to make any conclusive statement on the existence or non-existence of the elusive Higgs."
A Nativity scene in Caracas features the traditional baby Jesus born in a manger. But those standing nearby include a figure of President Hugo Chavez. The scene also makes a case that Chavez should qualify as a wise man. It includes a miniature cable car, symbolizing infrastructure improvements for which the president wants to be known.
Tommaso began life as a stray cat on the streets of Rome until he was rescued by a wealthy widow. The 94 year old had no children, according to ABC News. So when she died last month, she left her entire fortune to the cat. That's $13 million.
Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 8:49 am
Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach who faces more than 50 charges of sexually abusing at least 10 young boys over more than a decade, this morning waived his right to a preliminary hearing about the case against him.
The decision was a surprise. Before the court proceeding, it had been widely anticipated that at least some of Sandusky's accusers would be in court today and have to testify about what he allegedly did.
In Florida, there's a different type of honey mystery. State and local authorities are investigating the loss of more than 2,300 beehives in Brevard County. There is a break in the case. Officials have identified an insecticide commonly used to kill roaches, ticks and fleas. It was found in a container used to feed the bees in the hives. The beekeeper says the loss has cost him more than half a million dollars. Now officials need to find the culprit who fed the bees the poison. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep.
Let's follow up on a weekend of protest in Russia. Allegations of fraud in a parliamentary election sent tens of thousands of people into the streets demonstrating against the party of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Behind that tainted election was an undercurrent of dissatisfaction with Putin himself, who used to be president, remains dominant today, and is preparing to retake the top job.
A disputed election in the Democratic Republic of Congo has returned sitting President Joseph Kabila to power for the next five years. The opposition claims there was election fraud. Congo's influential Catholic church has voiced reservations about the conduct of the elections.