NPR News

Obama Returns To Oklahoma Talking Oil

Mar 22, 2012

Thursday marked the first time President Obama has visited Oklahoma since running for the White House in 2008. He didn't win the state four years ago, and he's not expected to carry the traditionally red state this November, either.

But one Oklahoma town took center stage Thursday as Obama wrapped up a two-day tour of four states promoting his energy policy.

The Army soldier suspected of going on a shooting rampage in Afghanistan will be charged with 17 counts of murder, the AP, NBC News and Reuters are reporting.

The news organizations are pinning the report on unnamed U.S. officials.

NBC News reports Staff Sgt. Robert Bales will face six additional counts of assault and attempted murder in connection the March 11 massacre in southern Afghanistan.

There have been several high-profile resignations from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure amid calls for the group's founder and chief executive to resign, media reports say.

Why do economists keep getting it wrong?

For months, the job market's strength has been exceeding economists' predictions. It happened again today: the Labor Department's weekly report on first-time jobless claims came in at just 348,000 — the lowest level in four years.

Most economists had predicted about 355,000 people had applied for unemployment benefits in the week ended March 17. So why do they keep missing the mark?

The only Canadian on death row in the United States is in the Montana State Prison, about an hour and a half southeast of Missoula. After almost three decades, he is asking the governor of Montana for mercy. The request for clemency is the last chance Alberta native Ronald Allen Smith has of avoiding execution.

"I've been here for 29 years," says Smith, who has spent more of his life inside the state's maximum security block than he has spent outside of it. He has tried to think about his crime as little as possible.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — the health care overhaul law that President Obama championed and Republicans rejected — turns two on Friday.

The law is headed to the Supreme Court on Monday, where the Justices begin hearing three days of arguments about the constitutionality of the law. Ahead of the big day, we asked for questions from our audiences online and on air. Here's a sampling of questions, edited for clarity and length, and the answers.

The Los Angeles County coroner's office is saying that pop star Whitney Houston drowned in her hotel room tub on Feb. 11.

USA Today reports the coroners listed the cause of death as: "drowning and effects of atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use."

They add:

Hungry for a good dystopia? Well, as you may be gathering from reports of the millions of tickets sold before prints were even shipped to theaters, author Suzanne Collins has a feast for you in the first movie installment of her young-adult trilogy The Hunger Games.

Goldman Sachs Scours Emails To Hunt For 'Muppets'

Mar 22, 2012

In the aftermath of the "take this job and shove it" scandal, Goldman Sachs has embarked on a muppet hunt.

As the Supreme Court debates the constitutionality of his signature domestic policy achievement next week, President Obama will be keeping his distance from the events in Washington.

A coincidence of timing puts the president in South Korea for a global nuclear security summit on Monday and Tuesday, as the Supreme Court holds the first two of its three days of historic oral arguments on the new national health care law.

As the Supreme Court gets ready to hear arguments about President Obama's health care law, supporters and opponents are planning a flurry of rallies, press conferences and phone banks to remind people why the law is so great — or so terrible. Republicans have been energized by their desire to see the law repealed, but the issue could be more complicated for the GOP than it seems.

Kitchen Calamity? Now You Can Tweet For Help

Mar 22, 2012

Troubled when your creme won't brulee at 3 a.m.? Food52 Hotline can help.

The 24-hour, cooking advice Twitter feed is the brainchild of Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, two veteran New York food writers and editors who founded the site Food52.com.

The site focuses on crowdsourcing recipes and food news, so it makes sense that they would want to crowdsource cooking advice, too.

The Senate passed a bill Thursday to explicitly ban insider trading by members of Congress and the executive branch, and that means the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act is headed to the president's desk.

But this STOCK Act is quite a bit weaker than earlier versions.

The STOCK Act has been on a glide path ever since an explosive 60 Minutes story last fall highlighted the issue of members of Congress apparently profiting on nonpublic information.

There's a movie freshly out this weekend — perhaps you've heard of it.

The Hunger Games?

On Friday's Morning Edition, director Gary Ross and star Jennifer Lawrence talk to NPR's David Greene about the film.

A woman in Boston saw something white fall past her second floor window Wednesday afternoon "and ran to see what it was," according to the Boston Globe.

Saying his role as police chief has "become a distraction," Bill Lee Jr. announced he was stepping down temporarily.

The Sanford, Fla. police chief has been under fire for the way he has handled the investigation surrounding the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Martin, who was unarmed, was shot by a a 28-year-old man, George Zimmerman, who claimed self defense.

During a news conference, today, Lee said that he stands by his police department, its personnel and the investigation that was conducted, but he was stepping down to "restore a semblance of calm to the city."

Etch A Sketch. Those three little words may become more of a bane to Mitt Romney's campaign than, say, Bain Capital.

As Romney's longtime aide, Eric Fehrnstrom, has learned to his chagrin, those three small words can make a very big difference.

Earlier this month, Fehrnstrom actually made a statement very similar in kind if not wording to what he said Wednesday on CNN.

We don't usually dabble in arts news, but we thought we'd pass along this piece of news from California, home to 13.7 million Latinos.

Gov. Edmund Brown has appointed Juan Felipe Herrera as California's Poet Laureate. Herrera, 63, becomes the first Latino to be appointed to the position, which requires senate confirmation.

Here's how Brown's office described Herrera in its press release:

"On his 2,466th night in the wilderness," the hunt for Malcolm Naden ended.

And when it did, Australia's most wanted man seemed relieved, police said afterward, according to The Sydney Morning Herald:

"Sitting on the sodden ground in handcuffs, surrounded by his captors, a lucid and relaxed Mr Naden said: 'Thank God it's over, I've had enough.' "

The second day of President Obama's all-of-the-above energy tour brought him to Oklahoma.

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'Pinterest' Wades In Murky Copyright Waters

Mar 22, 2012

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These days, a darling of the tech and business world is Pinterest. It's a virtual scrapbooking site that allows users to organize photos, recipes, images they like and pin them to an online bulletin board. Nearly 18 million users logged in to the site last month alone. So when Kirsten Kowalski wrote a blog post wondering whether Pinterest users risk violating copyright laws, it went viral. Kowalski is a lawyer and photographer and Pinterest user herself.

If your OB-GYN doesn't ask you about your sex life, who will?

That's the question that comes to mind on reading about a new survey of the women's health specialists and what they don't talk about with their patients.

Most gynecologists did ask a patient if she was sexually active. A measly 14 percent asked about sexual activity and pleasure. Only 28 percent asked about a patient's sexual orientation. Yet one-quarter of the doctors say they had expressed disapproval of their patients' sexual practices.

Neighborhood watch programs have long been the eyes and ears of local law enforcement, keeping tabs on suspicious behavior. But the recent shooting death of an unarmed Florida teenager by a watch volunteer may incite debate over how to balance vigilance and action.

Last week, we reported that the U.S Department of Agriculture decided it would give school food administrators alternatives to meat containing lean finely textured beef, also known as LFTB, or "pink slime" by its detractors.

Now, Wal-Mart has become the latest food retailer to announce that it's making changes after listening to customer concerns about LFTB.

There is good news to report on Fabrice Muamba, the soccer player in Britain who went into cardiac arrest during a big game last Saturday in London.

Muamba, a 23-year-old from Congo, collapsed on the field as his team, Bolton, was playing English Premier League rival Tottenham. The Bolton club doctor, Jonathan Tobin, says the stricken player failed to respond to multiple defibrillator shocks, and that 78 minutes elapsed before Muamba's heart started beating on its own again.

With Florida's "stand your ground law" in the spotlight, we want to point to a decision taken yesterday by a Miami-Dade county judge in the case of Greyston Garcia, who was facing second-degree murder charges.

Here's what we know about the case, according to The Miami Herald:

Nearly a month after 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in Florida, the widespread shock and outrage has grown into a nationwide movement calling for justice. This week, the Justice Department announced it would conduct a federal investigation of the incident.

But the Trayvon Martin story has also turned into a dialogue about race in America, a conversation that NPR's Michele Norris has been engaged in for over a year with her Race Card Project.

If Ben Petrick's career had gone the way the scouts expected, he'd still be in his prime — a star baseball player, maybe even a megastar. He came up to the majors as a catcher for the Colorado Rockies in 2000 with speed, power, a fine arm and maybe a better head for the game.

But the year before, at just 22-years-old, he learned that he had early-onset Parkinson's. He struggled to hide the symptoms, but, frustrated by his shaking and growing lack of mobility, he retired in 2004. Petrick has since focused on coaching, parenting and giving motivational speeches.

Like many grade schools, a growing number of universities are turning to standardized tests to measure students' educations. Advocates say they are an important tool to help gauge what students learn. Critics insist no single exam can ever accurately measure the value of four years of college.

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