I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. We want to continue our conversation about this country's changing population. We hope you just heard my conversation with demographer William Frey of the Brookings Institution and the University of Michigan and he told us that in just five years the majority of Americans under 18 will be members of groups that are minorities now, which is to say not white. That's a lot sooner than demographers had expected that to happen.
Last week, scientists announced they had sequenced the full genome of the most widely used human cell line in biology, the "HeLa" cells, and published the results on the web. But the descendents of the woman from whom the cells originated were never consulted before the genetic information was made public, and thus never gave their consent to its release.
You've probably been hearing a lot about how America's racial and ethnic makeup is changing. Now it seems as though some of these population tipping points are happening sooner than expected. In a few minutes we will talk about the implications of this in areas like the economy and pop culture.
I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE, from NPR News. Coming up, when regular jobs can't be found or don't pay all the bills, many Americans turn to the so-called shadow economy, which is bigger than you might think. We'll talk about that in our conversation about personal finance just ahead. But first, we want to turn, again, to how the government is paying its bills or not. We're talking about the sequestration.
As snow blanketed parts of the country yesterday, many turned their anger towards a weather predictor. Last month, Punxsutawney Phil forecast an early spring. One shivering Ohio prosecutor filed a lighthearted criminal indictment against Phil for fraud. But the president of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club says it's not Phil's fault. He says he misinterpreted the groundhog's message, which has the prosecutor reconsidering charges.
Amazing but true, Popeye and Frosty the Snowman have something in common with General Douglas MacArthur and Mark Twain. They're all known for smoking a corn cob pipe. Corn cob pipes have made a comeback in recent years, welcomed news for the last company in the U.S. mass producing them. It's located in Washington, Missouri, about an hour west of St. Louis.
Still, as St. Louis Public Radio's Rachel Lippmann reports, last summer's brutal heat and drought have been a big challenge.
Now to a debate over abortion that has escalated after some recent moves by states. The North Dakota legislature just passed a series of bills, including the strictest abortion ban in the country. And lawmakers there voted to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot next year which would end abortion entirely. Earlier this month, Arkansas passed a 12-week ban. NPR's Kathy Lohr reports that more states are debating stricter laws with hopes of getting one of them before the U.S. Supreme Court.
And out next business story fits in the category of what were they thinking? Ford Motor Company is apologizing for ads sketched up by an agency in India - ads that have been decried as demeaning to women. They are cartoon drawings showing off how spacious a Ford trunk can be. One spoofs Italy's former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi. He's at the wheel, and in the trunk, three women, tied up.
GREENE: OK, it's just a fantasy. But actually, in some countries taxpayers can sign up to receive simply a bill. The government sends you a tax bill, you pay it and, voila, that's it.
Now, there was an effort to bring return-free filing to the United States, but that effort came up against stiff opposition. And to find out why, we called Liz Day of ProPublica. She's been digging into this issue.
Loneliness hurts, but social isolation can kill you. That's the conclusion of a study of more than 6,500 people in the U.K.
The study, by a team at University College London, comes after decades of research showing that both loneliness and infrequent contact with friends and family can, independently, shorten a person's life. The scientists expected to find that the combination of these two risk factors would be especially dangerous.
Since the Supreme Court made the Medicaid expansion under the federal health law optional last year, states' decisions have largely split along party lines. States run by Democrats have been opting in; states run by Republicans have mostly been saying no or holding back.
It's a visual no parent wants to picture: a child describing what it's like to live in a house with no power for lights, heat or cooking. For many middle-class American parents, it's hard to imagine their family ever facing a situation like that. But a new HBO documentary suggests that many seemingly prosperous parents are only a few misfortunes away from dark houses and empty refrigerators.
When advocates for gay marriage talk about it, they usually focus on the struggle for equality and civil rights.
But how the Supreme Court decides the Defense of Marriage Act case being argued this week could possibly have big implications in another arena — the money same-sex couples owe the Internal Revenue Service.
The case that could throw out a law that defines marriage as between a man and woman started with a tax bill.