National

Rebuilding Japan
12:01 am
Fri March 9, 2012

Trauma, Not Radiation, Is Key Concern In Japan

A worker is given a radiation screening as he enters the emergency operation center at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s tsunami-crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant on Feb. 20.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon March 12, 2012 11:09 am

One year ago this Sunday, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake off Japan triggered a tsunami that killed 20,000 people. It also triggered multiple meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station, one of the worst nuclear disasters in history.

But health effects from radiation turn out to be minor compared with the other issues the people of Fukushima prefecture now face.

Read more
U.S.
5:33 pm
Thu March 8, 2012

House Committee Urges Action On Food Stamp Fraud

One USDA official credits the use of plastic benefit cards with helping to reduce federal food stamp fraud. But lawmakers say that isn't enough.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Thu March 8, 2012 6:11 pm

With more than 46 million recipients, the food stamp program has become one of the government's biggest benefit programs.

It has also become one of the biggest targets for those who think the federal government isn't doing enough to prevent fraud.

Read more
Winter Songs
4:42 pm
Thu March 8, 2012

Winter Songs: A Family In Limbo Looks To Brandi Carlile

Brandi Carlile's song "Dying Day" took on new meaning for a Wisconsin woman hoping to adopt a child from Ethiopia.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu March 8, 2012 6:11 pm

This year's Winter Song playlist concludes with music that carried one woman though a difficult season that would change her life.

Read more
Shots - Health Blog
4:38 pm
Thu March 8, 2012

Oregon Emphasizes Choices At The End Of Life

Helen Hobbs, 93, is one Oregonian who has taken advantage of a standardized form to legally record her wishes for end-of-life care.
Kristian Foden-Vencil Oregon Public Broadcasting

Originally published on Thu March 8, 2012 8:36 pm

It turns out Americans facing death want something they also want in life: choice.

Read more
The Salt
4:26 pm
Thu March 8, 2012

Celebrity Chef Mario Batali Settles Lawsuit With His Waitstaff

Chef Mario Batali prepares dishes for the crowd at the world premiere of Volkswagen's new Jetta compact sedan in New York City in 2010.
Jemal Countess Getty Images

If he's not at one of his 16 restaurants in New York, Las Vegas or Los Angeles, Mario Batali is easily found on TV these days.

One day he's making meatloaf with his co-host on the new daytime show The Chew. The next he's having a friendly cook-off with a rival celebrity chef on Good Morning America. Or traipsing through Europe for PBS, sporting his reddish ponytail, baggy shorts and not-so-fashionable clogs with celeb food enthusiast Gwyneth Paltrow.

Read more
Business
4:15 pm
Thu March 8, 2012

Small Businesses Staying Lean, Wary Of Hiring

Robby Richardson crafts handmade stirrups for Nettles Country in Madisonville, Texas. The company would like to hire more workers, but can't afford to.
Courtesy of Nettles Country

Originally published on Thu March 8, 2012 6:11 pm

Optimism is growing about the U.S. jobs market. Fewer people are applying for unemployment benefits, and hiring is up. The lion's share of new jobs are coming from small and medium-sized firms. But even if the economy comes roaring back, many small businesses aren't likely to hire with wild abandon.

"It's a huge commitment, when you're a very small firm, to add someone," says Kate O'Sullivan, director of content for CFO magazine. "And I think that the outlook is still not completely firm."

Doing More With Less

Read more
Europe
3:13 pm
Thu March 8, 2012

With Cutbacks, Greeks Say Antiquities Are At Risk

The entrance to the Museum of the Olympic Games in Olympia, Greece, is cordoned off last month, after two hooded thieves broke into the museum and made away with more than 70 ancient objects. The stolen loot included chariots, horses and a gold ring that was more than 3,000 years old. Greeks say such sites are vulnerable because of cutbacks that have reduced the number of guards.
Dimitris Papaioannoy EPA/Landov

Originally published on Thu March 8, 2012 6:11 pm

At the Museum of the Olympic Games in Olympia, Greece, lush pine trees and olive groves are filled with chirping birds. The one guard at the site looks nervously at the few visitors.

There is still a sense of shock in Olympia following the theft last month at the museum, when armed robbers broke into the building and tied up the single guard on duty.

Archaeologist Kostantinos Antonopoulos says they ran off with 77 priceless objects, including votive figurines, chariots and horses.

Read more
Afghanistan
2:43 pm
Thu March 8, 2012

For Afghan Policewomen, Sex Abuse Is A Job Hazard

Afghan female police officers are trained by Afghan police and NATO soldiers in eastern Afghanistan's Ghazni province on Sept. 12. In the culturally conservative country, women serving in the security forces say they face systemic sexual coercion and even rape by male colleagues.
STR EPA/Landov

Originally published on Thu March 8, 2012 8:33 pm

The image of Afghan women wearing police and army uniforms is meant to inspire pride and hope for a future where the rights of women will be protected in Afghanistan.

So why would female police officers in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif be ashamed to admit they wear the badge?

"Except my very close family members, no one really knows that I am a police officer," said one woman at a NATO training session.

Read more
Middle East
3:05 am
Thu March 8, 2012

Egypt's Moves Leave Democracy Advocate Bewildered

Sam LaHood of the International Republican Institute is one of 19 American democracy promoters who face charges of fomenting unrest in Egypt. Here, he is shown last month at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.
Courtesy IRI

Originally published on Fri March 9, 2012 4:00 pm

Sam LaHood, the son of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood, spent four weeks holed up at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, sleeping on an air mattress part of the time and trying to fathom why the Egyptians wanted to prosecute him and his pro-democracy colleagues.

Eventually, LaHood's organization and others with employees facing prosecution paid more than $300,000 a person in bail to get them off the Egyptian travel ban, and the U.S. government flew most of them home.

Read more
Planet Money
12:01 am
Thu March 8, 2012

The European Central Bank, As Seen From A Bar On The Coast Of Spain

JOSE LUIS ROCA AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon May 7, 2012 2:14 pm

"I have a little bar. A drinks bar," says Chadd Ritenbaugh. His bar is called El Catalonia. It's in the port of Marbella, on the Spanish coast.

"Just sun, sand, and sea," he says. "It's just kind of empty at the moment."

Ritenbaugh bought the bar in 2009. Since then, business has gone downhill. He tried, and failed, to sell.

"Nobody's out buying bars right now," he says. "Banks in Spain are not lending a cent — a euro cent."

Chad himself tried and failed to get a bank loan. "Absolutely nothing," he says.

Read more
Presidential Race
12:01 am
Thu March 8, 2012

How Far Apart On Iran Are GOP Candidates, Obama?

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visits the Natanz uranium enrichment facility in April 2008. Western governments suspect Iran is seeking nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran denies. How to handle the possible threat from a nuclear-armed Iran is a major foreign policy concern of the U.S.
AP

Originally published on Sun March 11, 2012 9:10 am

Republican presidential candidates this week — with the exception of Ron Paul — appeared to be trying to outdo each other in saying how tough they would be in dealing with Iran. Speaking before a pro-Israel group, they said President Obama has been weak — "feckless," in Mitt Romney's words.

Obama, meanwhile, was not impressed. He said he'd heard a lot of "bluster" and "big talk" about Iran, "but when you actually ask them specifically what they would do, it turns out they repeat the things that we've been doing over the last three years."

Read more
Around the Nation
12:01 am
Thu March 8, 2012

In Denver Taxis, Extra Eyes On The Street For Police

Longtime Denver taxi driver Teddy Johnson participates in the "Taxis on Patrol" program, and has made two reports of potential safety issues so far.
Kirk Siegler for NPR

Some days, it would be easy to mistake the Metro Taxi dispatch center in Denver for a police station. Traffic and crime incidents are recorded in a special logbook, as drivers call in descriptions and locations to police.

It's part of a program called Taxis on Patrol. Just a day after the program began, a cab driver helped police make an arrest for a fatal hit-and-run. In the months since, eyewitness calls from cabbies using a bulletin system similar to an Amber Alert have led to hundreds of arrests.

Read more
Europe
5:37 pm
Wed March 7, 2012

Uncertainty Looms As Greek Debt Deadline Nears

People walk past the Bank of Greece headquarters in Athens. Greece toughened its stance to push creditors to accept a debt swap and take heavy losses, just one day before the Thursday deadline for completion of the deal to avert default.
Louisa Gouliamaki AFP/Getty Images

Stock prices rebounded somewhat Wednesday, one day after their biggest sell-off of the year. What caused prices to plunge Tuesday was an all-too-familiar problem: the Greek debt crisis.

European officials have cobbled together a deal to keep Greece from defaulting, and investors all over the world who hold Greek bonds are weighing their options. They're worried about what could happen if they reject the deal.

Read more
Energy
12:01 am
Wed March 7, 2012

Is U.S. Energy Independence Finally Within Reach?

A worker hangs from an oil derrick near Williston, N.D. The state now produces 500,000 barrels of crude oil per day, and production continues to rise.
Gregory Bull AP

Originally published on Wed March 7, 2012 8:17 pm

Rising gas prices have been the big energy story of the past several weeks. But many energy experts say that's a sideshow compared with the really big energy event — the huge boom in oil and natural gas production in the U.S. that could help the nation reach the elusive goal of energy independence.

Since the Arab oil embargo of 1973, energy independence has been a Holy Grail for virtually every American president from Richard Nixon to Jimmy Carter to Barack Obama.

But now, it might just be within reach.

The Shale Gale

Read more
The Salt
12:01 am
Wed March 7, 2012

Farmers Face Tough Choice On Ways To Fight New Strains Of Weeds

Adam Cole NPR

OK, so this story is about weeds and weedkillers, neither of which is ever the hero of a story, but stay with me for a second: It's also about plants with superpowers.

Unless you grow cotton, corn or soybeans for a living, it's hard to appreciate just how amazing and wonderful it seemed, 15 years ago, when Roundup-tolerant crops hit the market. I've seen crusty farmers turn giddy just talking about it.

Read more
The Salt
12:01 am
Wed March 7, 2012

Coca-Cola Modifies Caramel Color To Avoid Cancer Warning Label

Coca-Cola says the caramel coloring in its signature soda has always been safe.
OmerSukruGoksu iStockphoto.com

When the state of California added the compound 4-methylimidazole, also known as 4-MI or 4-MEI, to its list of known carcinogens in 2011, it created a problem for the soda industry.

The caramel color they used to give colas that distinctive, brown hue contained levels of 4-MI that would have warranted a cancer warning label on every can sold in the state.

Read more
Europe
12:01 am
Wed March 7, 2012

Remaking Russia's Military: Big Plans, Few Results

Russian tanks drive through Moscow's Red Square during a military parade in May 2011, in commemoration of the end of World War II. Russian leader Vladimir Putin has called for revamping Russia's military for years, but the results have been limited.
Dmitry Kostyukov AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 7, 2012 5:23 am

Every May, Russia displays its military might in a parade on Victory Day, commemorating the surrender of the Nazis to the Soviet Union in World War II.

The marching men and rolling tanks put on an impressive show, but Russia's military, and especially its defense industry, has fallen on hard times.

"The industry, much like other parts of the economy, hasn't seen proper investment for over a decade, if not more," says Lilit Gevorgyan, a Russia analyst for the defense industry consultant IHS Jane's.

Read more
Sweetness And Light
12:01 am
Wed March 7, 2012

What Baseball Really Needs: Mr. Personality

Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine watches over a baseball spring training workout.
David Goldman AP

Originally published on Wed March 7, 2012 7:36 am

Coaches and managers, as a group, have always been pretty straightforward types. We don't think of generals or preachers as humorists — and, after all, that's pretty much what coaches are, a hybrid of the military and the pulpit.

But at least in the past, there were always a fair complement of coaching characters: old cracker-barrel philosophers, feisty wise guys and even a few sardonic intellectuals.

Read more
Economy
6:01 pm
Tue March 6, 2012

How Many U.S. Jobs Does Apple Really Create?

Apple's store in New York City's Grand Central station employs about 315 people.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 6, 2012 7:19 pm

Apple has about 47,000 workers in the U.S. That's not a huge amount for such a profitable and influential company. Now the tech giant is saying it has actually created about 10 times that many jobs indirectly.

Some economists are skeptical of the claim. And the move comes as Apple is facing increased criticism and scrutiny over labor practices at factories it outsources to in China.

Read more
Law
4:54 pm
Tue March 6, 2012

To Solve Hacking Case, Feds Get Hacker Of Their Own

The LulzSec icon on Twitter.
Twitter

Federal prosecutors have charged five men with responsibility for some of the biggest computer hacks in the past few years. The FBI says the hackers penetrated the computer systems of businesses like Fox Broadcasting and Sony Pictures, stole confidential information and splashed it all over the Internet.

But what's most unusual about the case is how investigators cracked it — with the help of an insider who became a secret government informant.

Read more
The Two-Way
3:54 pm
Tue March 6, 2012

Mine Safety Agency Reports Failures Before Deadly Explosion

Mine helmets and painted crosses sat at the entrance to Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch coal mine on April 5, as a memorial to the 29 miners killed there one year earlier.
Jeff Gentner AP

Originally published on Tue March 6, 2012 7:19 pm

The latest federal review of the 2010 Upper Big Branch mine explosion again blames Massey Energy for the deaths of 29 coal miners and says Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) failures did not directly contribute to the blast.

Read more
The Record
2:00 pm
Tue March 6, 2012

Disney Songwriter Robert Sherman Has Died

Composer/lyricist Robert Sherman (left) and his brother Richard stand next to the car used in the 1968 film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The brothers wrote the songs for the movie, as well as a musical version that began running in 2002.
Ezio Petersen UPI/Landov

Originally published on Wed March 7, 2012 2:33 pm

Robert Sherman — one half of the songwriting team behind Disney movies and major hit musicals — has died. He was 86. The Oscar-winning Sherman Brothers, Robert and Richard, wrote some of the most enduring Disney songs of all time. Their output was astounding: Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, The Aristocats.

John Lasseter, of Pixar and Disney, once said, "You cannot forget a Sherman brothers song for your life."

Read more
History
12:47 pm
Tue March 6, 2012

Lost At Sea: Do You Know These Civil War Sailors?

Crewmen of the USS Monitor pose on the deck of their ironclad ship in July 1862. Robert Williams, standing at the far right with his arms crossed, is a candidate for the older sailor whose remains were discovered inside the wreck's gun turret.
Library of Congress

In 1862, the USS Monitor — a Civil War-era ironclad warship — fought one of the world's first iron-armored battles against the Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia. Less than a year later, a violent storm sank the Union ship off the coast of Cape Hatteras, N.C. The wreck was discovered more than a century later, and subsequent searches have turned up more than just a crumbling ship — they also found the skeletons of two of the Monitor's sailors in the ship's gun turret.

Read more
Business
2:55 am
Tue March 6, 2012

Let A Stranger Drive Your Car? More Owners Say 'Yes'

Stanford graduate student Katie Hagey rents her 2002 BMW to strangers through the peer-to-peer car sharing service Wheelz.
Charla Bear for NPR

Originally published on Tue March 6, 2012 12:13 pm

It would be difficult for some people to let a stranger drive off with one of their most valuable possessions. But not for Stanford graduate student Katie Hagey.

Hagey is one of a growing number of individual car owners who have started renting their wheels to people they don't know through car-sharing startup companies resembling the better-known Zipcar.

Read more
Middle East
12:01 am
Tue March 6, 2012

Obama, Netanyahu Differ On How To Deal With Iran

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's annual policy conference on Monday in Washington, D.C. He said he would never let his "people live in the shadow of annihilation."
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

In several hours of talks, President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seemed to have different timelines and red lines on the issue of Iran's nuclear program: Obama said he prefers diplomacy and pressure; the Israeli leader made clear his country reserves the right to attack pre-emptively, saying Israel must remain master of its fate.

Read more
Middle East
12:01 am
Tue March 6, 2012

From The Outside, Doctor Mobilizes Aid For Syrians

A wounded Syrian undergoes treatment at a makeshift hospital in a house in the Baba Amr district of the central city of Homs.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 6, 2012 12:13 pm

At a cafe in Turkey, near the border with Syria, Dr. Monzer Yazji steps out of his car in the parking lot and encounters a man with a bandaged left hand.

Yazji, a Syrian who now works in the U.S., examines Abu Hamad, a fellow Syrian who has fled the fighting in his homeland.

The doctor, a tall man with glasses and a trim graying beard, is becoming well-known among Syrian activists. Yazji has been periodically leaving his thriving practice in the Rio Grande Valley in southern Texas to coordinate emergency medical aid for Syria.

Read more
Law
12:01 am
Tue March 6, 2012

Holder Spells Out Why Drones Target U.S. Citizens

Attorney General Eric Holder discusses the controversial U.S. drone program during a speech at Northwestern Law School in Chicago on Monday.
John Gress Getty Images

It's one of the most serious actions the U.S. government could ever take: targeting one of its own citizens with lethal force.

Since last year, U.S. drones have killed three Americans overseas. But Attorney General Eric Holder says the ongoing fight against al-Qaida means those kinds of deadly strikes are now a way of life. And judging from the reaction to his national security speech at Northwestern University Law School on Monday, so is the hot debate over the legality of the U.S. drone program.

Read more
Middle East
4:41 pm
Mon March 5, 2012

Atomic Energy Chief: Iran Hasn't Resolved Questions

The director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, says Iran has not provided answers to a number of questions about its nuclear program. Amano spoke at a news conference after meeting with the board of governors of the IAEA at its headquarters in Vienna.
Ronald Zak AP

Originally published on Mon March 5, 2012 6:18 pm

The troubled relationship between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency doesn't appear to be getting any better.

Back in February, senior agency delegations traveled twice to Iran to clarify its concerns about possible nuclear weapons work.

And on Monday, the head of the IAEA, Yukiya Amano, said Iran is not providing the necessary cooperation that would allow the agency to give credible assurances that Iran's nuclear work is entirely peaceful.

Read more
Europe
4:06 pm
Mon March 5, 2012

Neighs Have It: Horse Tale Ensnares British Leader

In this photo from 2009, David Cameron (left) attends a book launch for Charlie Brooks in London. Cameron, who has since become Britain's prime minister, went to Eton with Brooks, husband of Rebekah Brooks, the former News International executive toppled by Britain's phone-hacking scandal. The latest twist in that scandal involves Rebekah Brooks, Cameron and a retired police horse.
Dave Hogan Getty Images

In Britain, there's a long waiting list of British animal lovers hoping to take in aging police horses. Once retired, the horses aren't supposed to be ridden again.

Unless, it seems, you're Rebekah Brooks, the former tabloid editor and chief executive of Rupert Murdoch's News International, or David Cameron, the man who would become Britain's prime minister.

The ongoing inquiry into the relationship between the police and news media has uncovered a new scandal: Scotland Yard appears to have loaned Brooks a police horse back in 2008.

Read more
Post Mortem: Death Investigation In America
4:06 pm
Mon March 5, 2012

Free, But Not Cleared: Ernie Lopez Comes Home

Ernie Lopez hugs his daughter, Nikki Lopez, for the first time since 2009. Ernie was released from prison on March 2 in Amarillo, Texas, after nine years, while he awaits a new trial.
Katie Hayes Luke Katie Hayes Luke for NPR

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 10:58 am

Ernie Lopez calls it his "rebirth." After spending nearly nine years in prison for the sexual assault of a 6-month old girl, a top Texas court threw out the conviction. And on Friday, the 41-year-old Lopez walked out of the detention center in Amarillo, Texas, where family and friends were waiting.

Read more

Pages