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2:02 am
Wed January 30, 2013

In China, The Government Isn't The Only Spy Game In Town

A man sells surveillance cameras at the main electronics market in Tienhe district, Guangzhou, in southern China's Guangdong province, on Aug. 8.
EPA /Landov

Originally published on Wed January 30, 2013 9:44 am

The final of two reports

It all started with a local Chinese official.

He couldn't figure out how his wife, who suspected him of having an affair, knew the contents of his private conversations.

"His wife knew things that he said in his car and office, including conversations over the telephone," recalls Qi Hong, a former journalist from Shandong province in eastern China, and a friend of the official.

So Qi asked a buddy who owned bug-detecting equipment to help.

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Science
1:59 am
Wed January 30, 2013

When Crime Pays: Prison Can Teach Some To Be Better Criminals

Prison provides an opportunity for networking with more seasoned criminals.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue February 12, 2013 10:26 am

In popular lore — movies, books and blogs — criminals who go to prison don't come out reformed. They come out worse.

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Sweetness And Light
12:45 am
Wed January 30, 2013

History Joins The 49ers In Opposing Ray Lewis

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis speaks at a news conference in New Orleans on Monday. The Ravens face the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday. It will be Lewis' last game.
Patrick Semansky AP

Originally published on Thu January 31, 2013 8:09 am

When Secretariat won what was certified to be his last race, I went down onto the track at Woodbine, and gauging where he had crossed the finish line, snatched up the last grass that perhaps the greatest thoroughbred ever had laid hooves to in his career.

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Economy
12:43 am
Wed January 30, 2013

Study: Nearly Half In U.S. Lack Financial Safety Net

Nearly 44 percent of Americans don't have enough savings or other liquid assets to stay out of poverty for more than three months if they lose their income, according to the Corporation for Enterprise Development.
Atanas Bezov iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed January 30, 2013 10:03 am

In his inaugural address, President Obama talked about a country where even "a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else." But in reality, that's not always the case. A new report finds that one of the biggest obstacles for many Americans is that they don't have the savings or assets they need to help them get ahead.

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The Two-Way
11:03 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Lanny Breuer, Justice Dept.'s Criminal Division Chief, Says He Will Step Down

Assistant US Attorney General Lanny Breuer in December of 2012.
Ramin Talaie Getty Images

Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, the longest serving chief of the Justice Department's criminal division since the 1960s, says he will leave government service in March.

Breuer is announcing his departure a day after a federal judge in New Orleans accepted a guilty plea by BP in connection with the 2010 Gulf Oil spill, the biggest criminal investigation — and at $4 billion, the biggest criminal penalty — in Justice Department history.

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Around the Nation
6:43 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Drought Causes Ripple Effect Along Mighty Mississippi River

International ships call at the busy Port of New Orleans. It's a major shipping convergence point on the Mississippi River. Ships come upriver from the Gulf of Mexico with imports from abroad, and barges come downriver, bringing U.S. goods for export.
Debbie Elliott NPR

Originally published on Wed January 30, 2013 7:30 pm

The persistent drought is raising questions about how the Mississippi River is managed — both upstream and down.

While cargo traffic upriver has gotten lots of attention, the drought is creating a different set of problems downriver at the mouth of the Mississippi, where saltwater has encroached.

An old-fashioned staff river gauge behind the New Orleans district office of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers shows the Mississippi is running just shy of 6 feet above sea level at the river bend.

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The Salt
6:02 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

In Japan, Food Can Be Almost Too Cute To Eat

Hannari Tofu is a character who shows up on a range of plush merchandise.
Satorare/Flickr

Originally published on Mon March 11, 2013 10:49 am

From an early age, Japanese kids are taught to "eat with your eyes," and this emphasis on the visual delights of food can be found in many aspects of Japan's vaunted culture of cute.

Take children's television, for example. Some of the most beloved cartoon characters in Japan are based on food items.

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Asia
5:39 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

As China Builds, Cambodia's Forests Fall

Illegal logging is widespread in Cambodia, and efforts to prevent it have had only a limited impact. Much of the wood is destined for China.
Michael Sullivan NPR

Originally published on Mon February 4, 2013 1:29 pm

China's demand for natural resources is being felt in a big way in Cambodia.

Illegal logging and economic land concessions are threatening Cambodia's dwindling forests, which now echo the sound of chainsaws.

Prey Lang forest — an eight-hour journey north and east of the capital, Phnom Penh — is one of the forests where illegal loggers see money signs on the trees.

Supply And Demand

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The Two-Way
5:03 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Ancient Manuscripts In Timbuktu Reduced To Ashes

Men recover burnt ancient manuscripts at the Ahmed Baba Institute in Timbuktu on Tuesday.
Eric Feferberg AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 31, 2013 5:49 am

Update at 6:45 a.m. ET, Jan. 31: New reports from Timbuktu indicate that "most manuscripts were saved."

Our original post:

These photos from Timbuktu, Mali, on Tuesday confirmed what many had feared: Ancient books and texts at a famed library were torched by Islamic radicals before they fled.

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The Picture Show
4:54 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Have We Met Before? Doppelgangers Caught On Camera

Rudi Kistler and Maurus Oehmann, Mannheim 2012
Courtesy of Francois Brunelle

Originally published on Mon February 4, 2013 1:29 pm

Francois Brunelle is a French Canadian photographer whose work gives new meaning to the phrase "double exposure."

For the past several years, Brunelle has been documenting doppelgangers — people who happen to look strikingly similar but aren't related. He's on a quest to make 200 black-and-white portraits, and plans to eventually turn the project into a book.

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The Two-Way
4:46 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

VIDEO: Could It Be? American Claims To Have Surfed 100-Foot Wave

Garrett McNamara surfs a huge wave in Nararé, Portugal.
Francisco Salvador via Twitter

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Superstorm Sandy: Before, During And Beyond
4:25 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Sand After Sandy: Scientists Map Sea Floor For Sediment

Highly detailed sonar systems aboard the research vessel Pritchard gave researchers a clear view of the sediment on the seafloor off Long Island.
Courtesy of John Goff University Of Texas

Originally published on Mon February 4, 2013 1:29 pm

Congress has now agreed to give some $60 billion to states damaged by Hurricane Sandy. A lot will go to Long Island, one of the hardest hit areas. Besides damages to homes and businesses, its system of protective barrier islands and beaches were partially washed away.

Scientists are trying to find out where that sand and sediment went, and whether it can be used to rebuild Long Island's defenses.

In January. On a boat in Long Island Bay.

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The Two-Way
4:24 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Stefan Kudelski, Who Made Sound Recording Portable, Dies

Stefan Kudelski poses with the Ampex-Nagra VPR-5 portable recorder in an undated photograph. The devices were used to record the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico.
Courtesy of the Kudelski Group

Originally published on Wed January 30, 2013 5:42 am

While few outside the film and radio industries may recognize the name Stefan Kudelski, his Nagra recorder — meaning "will record" in Kudelski's native Polish — transformed the world of sound recording for radio, television and film.

Kudelski, inventor of the first portable professional sound recorder, died Saturday in Switzerland at the age of 84, according to a statement from the Kudelski Group.

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The Two-Way
3:58 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Senate Confirms John Kerry As Next Secretary Of State

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) has been confirmed by the senate to become the next secretary of state.
Alex Wong Getty Images

The United States Senate voted today to confirm Sen. John Kerry as the next secretary of state.

Just five days ago, Kerry, a democratic senator from Massachusetts, testified before the committee he chaired. As NPR's Michele Kelemen reported at the time, the hearing was a love fest.

Kerry is decorated Vietnam war veteran and the son of a diplomat. He has served in the Senate since 1985.

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Shots - Health News
3:38 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Hey, Kid, You Could Be A 'Disaster Hero'

In Disaster Hero, disaster specialist Dante Shields (far right) and his sidekick Mika (seated) guide players through games about emergency preparedness.
Disaster Hero

To teach kids about coping with trouble, even the doctors in the emergency room figure a video game is the way to to go.

So the American College of Emergency Physicians has created Disaster Hero, an online game, that can help kids learn what to do before, during and after earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and tornadoes.

The game is geared toward children in grades 1 through 8. There are three levels pegged to kids' reading ability.

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Africa
3:24 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

U.S. May Build Base For Drones In Northwest Africa

Originally published on Mon February 4, 2013 1:29 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

We're going to head west now, from Egypt across Libya to Niger. The Pentagon has signed a deal with the government there. The agreement could allow the U.S. to establish a forward base in Niger so that it could operate drone aircraft across northern and western Africa. NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman has been reporting on the U.S. military's growing presence on the continent. He joins me now here in the studio.

And Tom, how close is the U.S. to actually setting up a drone base in Niger?

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Education
3:21 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Union Backs 'Bar Exam' For Teachers

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, says a bar exam for K-12 teachers would test a person's knowledge based on the subject he or she was hired to teach.
Rebecca Cook Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Mon February 4, 2013 1:29 pm

The system for preparing and licensing teachers in the U.S. is in such disarray that the American Federation of Teachers is proposing a "bar exam" similar to the one lawyers have to pass before they can practice.

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U.S.
3:21 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Debate Over Rebuilding Beaches Post-Sandy Creates Waves

Ongoing beach nourishment, like this project in Viriginia Beach, has been the topic of debate. Some people say it's needed to protect beach communities; others decry the costs.
Pam Spaugy U.S. Army

Originally published on Wed January 30, 2013 11:49 am

For a half-century, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been in the beach business, dredging up new sand as shorelines wash away. Federal disaster aid for Superstorm Sandy could provide billions more for beach rebuilding, and that has revived an old debate: Is this an effective way to protect against storms, or a counterproductive waste of tax dollars?

On a recent blustery day at Virginia Beach, the latest beach nourishment project is in full swing. A bulldozer smooths out pyramids of sand, and on the horizon, a large, black hopper dredge appears with another load.

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Research News
3:21 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Swiss Scientists Discover Dung Beetles Use The Milky Way For GPS

Originally published on Mon February 4, 2013 1:29 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. And we have a story now about celestial navigation - that is, looking to the sky for guidance.

BLOCK: But before we get too lofty, this story also happens to be about dung beetles. And so we start with this lowly central unpleasant fact about dung beetles.

ERIC WARRANT: Dung beetles and their grubs eat dung and everything about dung beetles has to do with dung in some form.

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Animals
3:21 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Killer Kitties? Cats Kill Billions Of Creatures Every Year

Out For Lunch? Researchers estimate that billions of birds and small mammals are killed by cats in the U.S. annually.
Vishnevskiy Vasiliy iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon February 4, 2013 1:29 pm

The battle between cat lovers and bird lovers has been going on for a long time. Cats and birds just don't mix. But trying to get a handle on how many birds and other animals are being killed by cats isn't easy. Just figuring out how many cats there are is tough enough.

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It's All Politics
3:08 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Rubio's Role In Immigration Plan Leaves Even Limbaugh Somewhat Speechless

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks Monday in Washington at a news conference announcing a bipartisan plan to overhaul the nation's immigration laws.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Tue January 29, 2013 3:42 pm

Rush Limbaugh has been spending a lot of time calling the new plans for an overhaul of immigration laws little more than "amnesty" for some 11 million undocumented immigrants already in this country. A lot of time, that is, except for the 15 minutes of an extremely deferential interview Tuesday with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

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Author Interviews
2:05 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

'The Insurgents': Petraeus And A New Kind Of War

Gen. David Petraeus is the subject of The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War, a new book by Fred Kaplan.
Shah Marai AFP/Getty Images

In a new book, The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War, journalist and author Fred Kaplan tackles the career of David H. Petraeus and follows the four-star general from Bosnia to his commands in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Central to the story are ideas of counterinsurgency. Kaplan says that while counterinsurgency is not a new kind of warfare, it's a kind of war that Americans do not like to fight.

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World Cafe
2:01 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Aaron Embry On World Cafe

Aaron Embry.
Nikki Embry Courtesy of the artist

If Aaron Embry's name doesn't sound familiar, his previous collaborators will. Embry was recently the touring pianist with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and has worked with the likes of Elliott Smith, Willie Nelson and Emmylou Harris.

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The Two-Way
1:44 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Report: Alex Rodriguez, Melky Cabrera Among Baseball Stars Linked To Doping

Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees during a game in 2012.
Jonathan Daniel Getty Images

Originally published on Tue January 29, 2013 2:49 pm

The Miami New Times has a bombshell of a report, today: According to records leaked to the paper, a Miami clinic provided Major-League All Stars with performance enhancing drugs.

The list includes the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez, San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera, Texas Rangers' Nelson Cruz and the Nationals' Gio Gonzalez.

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Europe
1:43 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

How A Spanish City Went Boom, Then Bust

Valencia spent more than $1.5 billion to build the City of Arts and Sciences, the museum complex shown here in a photo from summer 2011.
Marie McGrory NPR

Originally published on Mon February 4, 2013 1:29 pm

The Spanish region of Valencia has been called the "California of Spain" for its gorgeous Mediterranean coastline and modern architecture.

But now Valencia epitomizes the worst of Spain's problems. It had the country's most inflated property market and the biggest crash. Its landscape is littered with empty and half-finished buildings. Valencia has also had an unusually high number of politicians indicted for corruption.

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Economy
1:19 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Paul Krugman's Unconventional Outlook On The Economy

Originally published on Tue January 29, 2013 5:24 pm

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

Over the past several years, Democrats and Republicans have disagreed on how address the problems of deficit and debt, but there's broad consensus that we need to reduce both by significant numbers, and soon. In his columns in New York Times and in a book called "End this Depression Now!" Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman defies the conventional wisdom. He argues for more spending, not less, says the deficit's not too bad, and that a little inflation might be a good thing.

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Around the Nation
1:18 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

In Night Clubs, The Steps Taken To Prevent Tragic Fires

Originally published on Tue January 29, 2013 5:24 pm

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

Boston, November 1942: 492 people died in a fire at the Cocoanut Grove. June 1974: 24 dead at Gulliver's in Port Chester, New York. In February 2003, 100 killed at The Station in West Warwick in Rhode Island. Tragedies that seared back into memory following the death of at least 230 on Sunday at the Kiss nightclub in Santa Maria, Brazil, preventable tragedies that could have been mitigated or stopped altogether by adherence to fire safety laws.

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NPR Story
12:54 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

The Challenges To Democracy In Egypt

Originally published on Tue January 29, 2013 5:24 pm

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan, in Washington. Today, Egypt's defense minister warned that rising conflicts and chaos in the country could result in the collapse of the state and that it poses a threat to the future of coming generations, this after days of violent anti-government protests and demonstrations in cities across Egypt, including Cairo, the capital, and Port Said, just north of the Suez Canal.

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NPR Story
12:54 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

War And Foreign Policy Through The Eyes Of Vietnam Veterans

During the Vietnam War, more than 58,000 Americans died, as well as more than 2 million Vietnamese soldiers and civilians.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 30, 2013 2:25 pm

Sen. John Kerry was confirmed Tuesday by the Senate to become the next secretary of state. Former Sen. Chuck Hagel awaits his turn before the Senate Armed Services Committee to become secretary of defense.

Both men are decorated Vietnam War veterans, and their critics and supporters point to their experiences in Vietnam as essential to their qualifications.

Hagel volunteered to serve in Vietnam and was wounded twice. Kerry commanded a swift boat in the Mekong Delta, and on his return home, he angrily threw away his decorations to protest the war.

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NPR Story
12:54 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Letters: Inauguration, Memory Loss, National Geographic

Originally published on Thu January 31, 2013 1:39 pm

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

It's Thursday, and time to read from your comments. Last week, during the inauguration here in Washington, D.C., we asked listeners for a snapshot of their lives right now.

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