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3:48 am
Thu March 7, 2013

Will 'Oz The Great And Powerful' Gain Emerald Status?

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 4:19 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

"The Wizard of Oz" means to a lot of people, a young Judy Garland in sparkly ruby slippers. But in the hundred years since L. Frank Baum wrote the Oz stories, they, or stories featuring Oz characters, have been produced dozens of times. The latest, a prequel that opens in theaters this weekend, called "Oz the Great and Powerful."

NPR's Mandalit Del Barco has more.

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Energy
2:07 am
Thu March 7, 2013

BP Bows Out Of Solar, But Industry Outlook Still Sunny

As BP leaves the solar industry, Asian countries such as China are taking a lead role in production.
Xinhua News Agency AP

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 11:50 am

The solar energy business is growing quickly, but future growth will not include oil giant BP.

At the IHS CERAWeek energy conference in Houston, BP's CEO made it clear the company is done with solar.

"We have thrown in the towel on solar," Bob Dudley said after delivering a wide-ranging speech Wednesday.

"Not that solar energy isn't a viable energy source, but we worked at it for 35 years, and we really never made money," he added.

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It's All Politics
2:05 am
Thu March 7, 2013

Obama Looks For A Spring Thaw With Congress To Start Melting Deficit

President Obama speaks to reporters in the White House briefing room on Friday following a meeting with congressional leaders.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 11:44 am

President Obama is hoping for a spring thaw in White House-congressional relations.

The president had dinner Wednesday night with a small group of Republican lawmakers. He's also planning rare visits to Capitol Hill next week to discuss his agenda with both Democrats and Republicans.

Aides say Obama is trying to locate what he calls a "caucus of common sense" in Congress to tackle the country's long-term budget challenges.

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Law
2:04 am
Thu March 7, 2013

Challenge To Michigan's Gay Marriage Ban Grows From Adoption Case

April DeBoer (second from left) sits with her adopted daughter Ryanne, 3, and Jayne Rowse and her adopted sons Jacob, 3, and Nolan, 4, at their home in Hazel Park, Mich., on Tuesday.
Paul Sancya AP

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 12:36 pm

A federal judge in Michigan could rule as soon as Thursday on a challenge to the state's ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions. The challenge comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear two cases dealing with gay marriage later this month.

In the Michigan case, a lesbian couple sued not because they want to be married, but because they want to be parents.

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The Sequester: Cuts And Consequences
2:02 am
Thu March 7, 2013

With Budget Cuts For Ports, Produce May Perish

Border security agents stop a truck at a checkpoint on the way to Nogales, Ariz. More winter produce enters the U.S. at the border crossing than at any other point of entry in the country.
Qi Heng Xinhua/Landov

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 12:48 pm

Budget-cutting from the government sequester that began March 1 could affect U.S. exports and imports, including what we eat.

Customs and Border Protection officers regulate trade at the nation's 329 ports of entry, in harbors, airports and on land.

One by one, drivers approach booths with Customs and Border Protection officers at the Mariposa Port of Entry in Nogales, Ariz. More winter produce enters here than at any other place in the U.S. Semis filled with tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers headed to grocery stores around the country.

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Africa
2:02 am
Thu March 7, 2013

In Post-Revolution Egypt, Fears Of Police Abuse Deepening

An Egyptian military police officer argues with protesters during a demonstration on June 14, 2012, outside the Supreme Constitutional Court in Cairo.
Marwan Naamani AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 8, 2013 9:29 am

Egypt's police force was the underpinning of former President Hosni Mubarak's iron-fisted regime, and it quickly became the enemy of Egypt's 2011 revolution.

Yet there has been little to no reform of the police force to date. Human rights groups say the police have begun to act like armed gangs, laying down collective punishment in restive areas across the country. But the police say they are the victims, under constant attack by anti-government protesters.

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Planet Money
2:01 am
Thu March 7, 2013

Andrew Sullivan Is Doing Fine

Andrew H. Walker Getty Images

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 6:24 am

Two months ago, the popular political blogger Andrew Sullivan left the comfortable world of big media and struck out on his own. His bold new plan: Ask readers to pay $19.99 a year or more to subscribe to his blog.

"It was either quit blogging, or suck it up and become a businessman," he told me.

The usual way bloggers make money (if they make money at all) is to sell advertising. But Sullivan figured he could get his devoted reader base to pay. Within the first week, he'd raised half a million dollars. By the end of about two months, the total had crept up to $625,000.

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The Salt
1:59 am
Thu March 7, 2013

In A Grain Of Golden Rice, A World Of Controversy Over GMO Foods

Genetically modified to be enriched with beta-carotene, golden rice grains (left) are a deep yellow. At right, white rice grains.
Isagani Serrano International Rice Research Institute

Originally published on Fri March 8, 2013 9:44 am

There's a kind of rice growing in some test plots in the Philippines that's unlike any rice ever seen before. It's yellow. Its backers call it "golden rice." It's been genetically modified so that it contains beta-carotene, the source of vitamin A.

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The Two-Way
6:38 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Law Targets Sexual Violence On College Campuses

Originally published on Fri March 15, 2013 10:30 am

When President Obama signs an updated version of the Violence Against Women Act on Thursday afternoon, the law will include new requirements for how colleges and universities handle allegations of sexual assault.

Laura Dunn, who's been invited by the White House to attend, plans to be there.

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The Two-Way
4:53 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

U.S. Spent Too Much In Iraq, Got Little In Return, Watchdog Report Says

Ten years and $60 billion in taxpayer funds later, Iraq is still so unstable and broken that even its leaders question whether U.S. efforts to rebuild it were worth the cost. That's the finding of a report to Congress by Stuart Bowen, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 5:13 pm

A decade and $60 billion later what does the U.S. have to show for the reconstruction efforts in Iraq? That's the question being answered by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction in his final report to Congress.

The report by Stuart Bowen was based upon audits and inspections, as well as interviews with Iraqi and U.S. officials and politicians. Here's the crux of what happened to that money, according to the report:

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The Two-Way
4:43 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

House Gives OK To $982 Billion Short-Term Spending Bill

Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 4:57 pm

The House has approved a bill to fund the federal government through the end of September. The $982 billion continuing resolution introduced by Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY), who heads the Appropriations Committee, would avoid a potential government shutdown on March 27.

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The Two-Way
4:36 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Fossils Suggest Giant Relatives Of Modern Camels Roamed The Canadian Arctic

Illustration of the High Arctic camel on Ellesmere Island during the Pliocene warm period, aboutthree-and-a-half million years ago. The camels lived in a boreal-type forest. The habitat includeslarch trees and the depiction is based on records of plant fossils found at nearby fossil deposits.
Julius Csotonyi

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 10:49 am

Camels belong in the desert. That's what we've learned since grade school.

Today, NPR's Melissa Block talked to Natalia Rybczynski, a paleobiologist at the Canadian Museum of Nature, who tells Melissa that fossils she has unearthed tell a different story.

The fossils, found on a frigid ridge in Canada's High Arctic, show that modern camels actually come from giant relatives that roamed the forests of Ellesmere Island 3.5 million years ago.

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Economy
4:35 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Time For The Fed To Take Away The Punch Bowl?

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testifies before the Senate Banking Committee in Washington last month. Some analysts wonder if he and other policymakers have kept interest rates too low for too long.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 10:49 am

The stock market's long climb from its recession bottom has some people concerned it may be a bubble about to burst — a bubble artificially pumped up by the Federal Reserve's easy-money policy. That's led to calls — even from within the Fed — for an end to the central bank's extraordinary efforts to keep interest rates low.

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It's All Politics
4:21 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Obama's Outreach To GOP: More Optics Than Opportunity?

Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire at the Capitol last month. The senators are among a group invited to dine Wednesday with President Obama.
Alex Wong Getty Images

President Obama recently acknowledged the obvious: He doesn't have the supernatural powers necessary to do a mind meld, Jedi or otherwise, with Republican congressional leaders that would lead to pacts on fiscal policy or anything else for that matter.

But if he doesn't have the power to force meetings of the minds with his Republican opponents, he can at least still get meetings with them.

Popping up on the president's schedule all of a sudden was a Wednesday night dinner at a Washington, D.C., hotel with a group of GOP senators.

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The Salt
4:13 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Salami Suicide: Processed Meats Linked To Heart Disease And Cancer

Delicious. Also potentially deadly.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 5:32 pm

Bacon and bologna are hardly health food. But a huge new study offers the strongest evidence yet that eating processed meat boosts the risk of the two big killers, cancer and heart disease.

A multinational group of scientists tracked the health and eating habits of bacon-loving Brits, wurst-munching Germans, jamon aficionados in Spain, as well as residents of seven other European countries — almost a half-million people in all.

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World Cafe
4:10 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Y La Bamba On World Cafe

Y La Bamba.
Courtesy of the artist

The Latin Alternative band Y La Bamba formed in Portland, Ore., in 2008 and attracted attention for its disarming fusion of traditional Mexican music and alternative rock.

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Latin America
4:09 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Venezuela-U.S. Relations Could Thaw After Chavez

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 10:49 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

We turn now to the last U.S. ambassador stationed in Venezuela. Patrick Duddy represented the U.S. first under the Bush administration then later under the Obama administration. He was once expelled from Caracas. Ambassador Duddy is now a visiting senior lecturer at Duke University's Center for International Studies. When we spoke today, I asked him what it was like for him to be an ambassador to Venezuela under Chavez.

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The Salt
4:06 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Can Milk Sweetened With Aspartame Still Be Called Milk?

Morgan Barnett, 7, drinks from containers of 1 percent milk and chocolate milk during lunch at a school in St. Paul, Minn., in 2006.
Eric Miller AP

Originally published on Fri March 8, 2013 9:45 am

The dairy industry has a problem. Despite studies demonstrating milk's nutritional benefits, people are drinking less and less of it.

Even children are increasingly opting for water or other low-cal options — including diet soda and artificially sweetened sports drinks.

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The Two-Way
4:03 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Loved Or Loathed, Hugo Chavez Was The Ultimate Showman

Always a showman, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who died Tuesday, sings folk songs with a mariachi group in the capital, Caracas, in 2005.
Andrew Alvarez AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 5:26 pm

I first encountered Hugo Chavez in Caracas, starring in his own television show, Hello, Mr. President. I couldn't take my eyes of the program, which began at 11 a.m. and ended after 7 p.m.

It was an endurance test for even the most die-hard sycophants and terrific entertainment for a first-time viewer. While the camera would pan droopy-eyed Cabinet members seated in the front row, El Presidente showed no signs of flagging.

At the seven-hour mark, he chirped, "Bueno!" and declared, "It's early! Let's keep talking."

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Music News
3:49 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Britain's Brass Bands: A Working-Class Tradition On The Wane

Cornetist Adam Rosbottom rehearses with the Grimethorpe Colliery Band in January. The band was founded in South Yorkshire, England, in 1917.
Christopher Werth

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 10:49 am

The world often feels full of fading traditions, from drive-in movie theaters to the dying art of good old-fashioned letter writing.

For the British, add brass bands to that list. Traditional brass bands have played an important cultural role in working-class British communities for centuries. But some warn that without funding, they could become a thing of the past.

Take the Grimethorpe Colliery Band in South Yorkshire. The band was originally formed in 1917, and nearly 100 years later, a group of tuba, euphonium and other horn players still bears the band's name.

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The Two-Way
3:28 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Arkansas Legislature Embraces Strictest U.S. Abortion Law

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 5:42 am

Arkansas has approved a law banning most abortions after 12 weeks of gestation, as both houses of the state's legislature vote to override a veto by Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe. The Republican-backed Human Heartbeat Protection Act will become the nation's most restrictive law.

In vetoing the Senate version of the bill Monday, Beebe said that it "would impose a ban on a woman's right to choose an elective, nontherapeutic abortion well before viability."

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Shots - Health News
3:23 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Hear That? In A Din Of Voices, Our Brains Can Tune In To One

Scientists say that understanding how the cocktail party effect works could help people who have trouble deciphering sounds in a noisy environment. Guests make it look easy at a Dolce and Gabbana Lounge party in London in 2010.
Paul Jeffers AP

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 10:49 am

Scientists are beginning to understand how people tune in to a single voice in a crowded, noisy room.

This ability, known as the "cocktail party effect," appears to rely on areas of the brain that have completely filtered out unwanted sounds, researchers report in the journal Neuron. So when a person decides to focus on a particular speaker, other speakers "have no representation in those [brain] areas," says Elana Zion Golumbic of Columbia University.

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NPR Story
3:17 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Snow Storm Doesn't Live Up To Its Hype In Nation's Capital

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 10:49 am

Transcript

CLAUDIO SANCHEZ, BYLINE: This is Claudio Sanchez in Washington, D.C. By mid-afternoon, some parts of west and northern Virginia had gotten a foot of snow. Washington, D.C. was expecting at least half that, so area airports cancelled more than a thousand flights. Schools closed. So did federal and local government offices. Things look bad.

CHRIS VACCARO: This is certainly a significant storm and a dangerous storm.

SANCHEZ: That's Chris Vaccaro with the National Weather Service.

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The Two-Way
2:45 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Sen. Rand Paul Launches An Old-Fashioned Filibusterer On Brennan Nomination

Sen. Rand Paul.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 10:31 pm

Sen. Rand Paul has been talking for hours on the floor of the Senate today in an effort to delay the nomination of John Brennan for CIA chief.

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Planet Money
2:27 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

If The Catholic Church Were A Business, How Would You Fix It?

Now that Pope Benedict XVI has officially gone into retirement, the next leader of the Catholic Church has a lot to consider, including finances.
Oli Scarff Getty Images

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 10:49 am

The next pope will be the spiritual leader of the world's Catholics. He will also be leading a multibillion-dollar financial empire. And from a business perspective, the Catholic Church is struggling.

We talked to several people who study the business of the church. Here are a few of the issues they pointed out.

1. Globally, the church's employees are in the wrong place.

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The Two-Way
2:26 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Missing Soviet Soldier Found Alive In Afghanistan After 33 Years

Destroyed Soviet tanks and armored vehicles in Afghanistan, a grim legacy of Moscow's decade-long occupation that began in 1979.
Joel Saget AFP/Getty Images

More than three decades ago, Soviet soldier Bakhretdin Khakimov went missing in Afghanistan after he was wounded in battle with Afghan mujahedeen forces.

His whereabouts remained unknown until two weeks ago, when he was tracked down by a team from the Warriors-Internationalists Affairs Committee, a Moscow-based nonprofit that looks for Soviet MIAs in Afghanistan.

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Latin America
1:56 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Cubans Wonder If Aid Will Still Flow Following Death Of Chavez

Cuba's Fidel Castro was a mentor to Hugo Chavez, and the Venezuelan leader provided oil and other assistance to Cuba. The two men met in Havana in June 2011 when Chavez went for cancer treatment.
Granma AP

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 10:49 am

The death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is an especially tough blow for Cuba, whose feeble state-run economy has been propped up for more than a decade with Venezuelan oil shipments and other subsidies.

The Castro government has declared three days of mourning, calling Chavez "a son" of Cuba, but privately Cubans are quietly fretting about the potential loss of billions in trade and the threat of a new economic crisis.

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The Two-Way
1:56 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Economy Growing At 'Modest To Moderate Pace,' Fed Says

There was "modest to moderate" economic growth across the nation as the year began, the Federal Reserve says in its latest "beige book" review of conditions around the nation.

According to the central bank, five of its 12 districts "reported that economic growth was moderate in January and early February." Those five: Dallas, New York, Minneapolis, Richmond and St. Louis.

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Around the Nation
1:33 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Supreme Court's 'Heavyweight'

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg poses during a group photo in September 2009 in the East Conference Room of the Supreme Court.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

In his profile of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in this week's issue of The New Yorker, Jeffrey Toobin writes: "Ginsburg has suggested that she would like to serve as long as Louis Brandeis, her judicial hero, who retired at eighty-two." Ginsburg turns 80 this month and is marking her 20th year on the court. She has had cancer — colon and pancreatic — and her tiny, frail-looking stature leads many people to wonder if she'll be retiring soon.

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Books
1:30 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

A Fiendish Fly Recalls Kafka In 'Jacob's Folly'

iStockphoto.com

Man awakens to find out he has turned into an insect. And the Double Jeopardy question is, "What is Kafka's The Metamorphosis?" Well, what other response could there possibly be? Kafka all but cornered the market on that verminous plot in 1915; although, after nearly 100 years, the exclusivity clause may be about to expire. It takes a gutsy writer to pad in Gregor Samsa's sticky steps, but, by now, Rebecca Miller is clearly used to coping with the anxiety of influence and staying true to her own vision.

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