National

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Education
2:02 pm
Mon March 5, 2012

Schools Get Tough With Third-Graders: Read Or Flunk

A student reads at a public elementary charter school in New York City. Educators like to say third grade is when students go from learning to read, to reading to learn.
Chris Hondros Getty Images

Originally published on Mon March 5, 2012 6:36 pm

There's little dispute among educators that kids are not reading as well as they should be, but there's endless debate over what to do about it. Now, a growing number of states are taking a hard-line approach through mandatory retentions — meaning third-graders who can't read at grade level will automatically get held back.

To those pushing the idea, it's equal doses of tough and love: You are not doing kids any favors, they say, by waiving them on to fourth grade if they aren't up to snuff on their reading.

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Author Interviews
4:55 pm
Sat March 3, 2012

'Enchantments' Of Rasputin's Lion-Taming Daughter

Rischgitz Getty Images

Originally published on Sat March 3, 2012 5:09 pm

The famed mystic Rasputin — notorious for his otherworldly powers and his sexual escapades — may not have seemed like a traditional family man, but in fact, he had a wife and three children.

His eldest daughter, Maria, is at the center of Kathryn Harrison's new novel, Enchantments, a dark fairytale mash-up of history and magical realism set during the last days of Imperial Russia.

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Around the Nation
4:25 pm
Sat March 3, 2012

After Scandal, New Rules For Juveniles In Pa. Courts

Former Judge Mark Ciavarella leaves the federal courthouse in Scranton, Pa., in 2009. Ciavarella was convicted last year of racketeering and conspiracy for taking nearly a million dollars from the developer of two for-profit prisons.
David Kidwell AP

More than 2,000 young people in Pennsylvania are trying to put one of the nation's worst juvenile justice scandals behind them. It's been a year since a former judge was convicted in the so-called "kids for cash" scandal.

New rules intended to protect the rights of children took effect this week, but questions about Pennsylvania's juvenile justice system remain.

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World
4:47 pm
Fri March 2, 2012

Mexican Drug Cartel Targets Australia

An image released Nov. 14, 2011, by the Australian Federal Police shows cocaine seized during the yacht raid in Bundaberg. Drug smugglers take advantage of Australia's long coastline and many harbors.
Australian Federal Police EPA/Landov

Originally published on Sat March 3, 2012 7:09 am

Australia is a huge island, with stretches of lonely, rocky coastline that extend for thousands of miles. What's more, there are lots of harbors and airports.

In short, opportunities are plentiful for an enterprising Mexican drug trafficker to move his product 8,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean to service the vibrant new market Down Under.

One such drug lord is Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman, head of Mexico's Sinaloa cartel. He's a cunning, small-statured, exceedingly dangerous outlaw recently dubbed "the world's most powerful drug trafficker" by the U.S. Treasury Department.

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Around the Nation
4:35 pm
Fri March 2, 2012

Tourism Boom Pays Off For N.Y. Hotel Union

New York hotel workers protest at a hearing for former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn in June 2011. Under a new contract, workers will receive "panic buttons" to use if they fear for their safety. They also won several other significant benefits.
Nicholas Kamm AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 2, 2012 6:01 pm

When the New York Hotel Trades Council ratified a new contract for hotel workers last month, much of the media coverage focused on "panic buttons." Coming after the sexual assault allegations against former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the idea of housekeepers wearing a badge that could call for help was all over the news.

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Europe
4:03 pm
Fri March 2, 2012

After Fraud Charges, Russian Election Under Scrutiny

There were widespread allegations of fraud in Russia's parliamentary polls in December. In advance of Russia's presidential election Sunday, Russian citizens abroad have been allowed to vote early. This woman casts a ballot in Kyrgyzstan on Feb. 26.
Vyacheslav Oseledko AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 2, 2012 6:01 pm

Just three months ago, Russia's parliamentary elections prompted widespread allegations of fraud and drove thousands of protesters into the streets in the days afterward.

The Russian government and government critics both say they are trying to prevent a similar outcome in Sunday's presidential poll.

Valdimir Putin, who has been either the president or the prime minister for the past 12 years, is widely expected to win another six-year term as president. But the credibility of Russian elections is also at stake.

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Business
3:00 pm
Fri March 2, 2012

Wall Street Bonuses: The Other Side Of The Story

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange moments after the opening bell Feb. 24.
John Angelillo UPI/Landov

Until this week, New Yorker Andrew Schiff's personal finances were his own personal business. That changed last Wednesday when Schiff — communications and marketing director at the Wall Street brokerage firm Euro Pacific Capital — was featured in a Bloomberg article about how smaller bonuses are leaving Wall Street workers strapped for cash.

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Energy
4:43 am
Fri March 2, 2012

As Gas Prices Rise, Natural Gas Vehicles Get A Boost

Bob Davis fills up his airport shuttle van at a natural gas pumping station in College Park, Ga. A growing number of companies are considering converting their vehicle fleets to natural gas.
David Goldman AP

Originally published on Fri March 2, 2012 9:39 am

Interest in natural gas vehicles soared in the 1990s and then faded. Twenty years later, the cost of gasoline is going up while the cost of natural gas is going down. And that difference in price explains the resurgent interest in natural gas vehicles.

In Indiana, Fair Oaks Dairy Farm does more than just produce milk — it is also in the transportation business. The farm owns 60 trucks, which deliver milk to a processor halfway across the state. Last September, most of the trucks were converted to natural gas.

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StoryCorps
3:41 am
Fri March 2, 2012

'Life Is Really Good,' Says Cancer Survivor, 12

Jennifer Coursey with her son, 12-year-old Grant Coursey, at StoryCorps in Ukiah, Calif.
StoryCorps

Originally published on Fri March 2, 2012 8:27 am

When Grant Coursey was a toddler, he was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a cancer often found in young children. A tumor had wrapped itself around Grant's spinal cord and had grown so that it pushed against his lungs.

Now 12, Grant is cancer-free; he received his first "clean" scan 10 years ago in March 2002. He had to undergo several procedures to rid his body of the cancer.

Recently, Grant and his mother, Jennifer, sat down to talk about his young life and how cancer has affected it.

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Asia
3:36 am
Fri March 2, 2012

Looking For Elephant Ivory? Try China

A Malaysian customs official examines elephant tusks at a port in Kalang. Malaysia has become an ivory transit hub, with African elephant tusks bound for China. Worldwide, authorities seized more than 5,000 smuggled tusks.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 2, 2012 8:53 am

Armed with tips from animal welfare activists, I recently went on an ivory hunt with my Chinese assistant, Yang, in an antiques market in Beijing.

Activists say China's growing purchasing power is driving global demand for products from vulnerable animals, everything from elephant ivory to rhino horn.

Two huge stone lions stood sentinel outside the four-story market nestled among a forest of buildings off one of Beijing's beltways. In China, vendors usually accost shoppers and try to lure them into stores.

Not here.

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Around the Nation
12:01 am
Fri March 2, 2012

Underground Cold War Relics As Doomsday Castles?

Larry Hall shows off the old vents and 9-foot-thick walls of a missile silo he's developing into condominiums.
Frank Morris

One clear threat once menaced civilization: nuclear war with the Soviet Union. The Cold War is over, but decades later, some of the fortifications built to fight that war still dot the American landscape.

Four years ago, Larry Hall bought a nuclear missile silo out on the open rolling land north of Salina, Kan. Hall paid $300,000 and spent much more to clean out all the scrap metal and stagnant water.

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Governing
12:01 am
Fri March 2, 2012

Government Backs Up On Rearview Car Cameras

A camera is used instead of a rearview mirror on the Toyota NS4 plug-in hybrid concept car at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Jan. 10.
Mike Cassese Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Tue March 6, 2012 6:47 pm

The statistics are pretty grim — on average 300 people a year die after being hit by cars backing up, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Half of them are children younger than 5.

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Planet Money
12:01 am
Fri March 2, 2012

What The IRS Could Learn From Mormons

The money Mormons tithe goes to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah, and then is distributed to congregations around the world.
Douglas C. Pizac AP

Many religious traditions stress the importance of charity. But Mormons are remarkable for the amount and the precision with which they give to their church.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that each Mormon in good standing should tithe 10 percent of his or her income. The money goes right to church headquarters in Salt Lake City and then is distributed back to congregations around the world.

"That's written in stone, and preached from the pulpit," says Gordon Dahl, an economist at the University of California, San Diego, who is Mormon.

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Europe
12:01 am
Fri March 2, 2012

Putin Heavily Favored As Russians Pick A President

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin delivers a campaign speech during a rally of his supporters in Moscow, Feb. 23. Putin is mounting a vigorous campaign in the face of growing opposition but is expected to win Sunday's presidential elections.
Yuri Kadobnov AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 2, 2012 8:12 am

When Russians go to the polls Sunday, they will have several choices for president. But none is a serious threat to Vladimir Putin, who has been the most powerful figure in Russia for the past 12 years.

Boris Makarenko, a longtime observer of Russian politics, says the candidates arrayed against Putin are all more or less part of what Kremlin leaders call "the systemic opposition."

In other words, he says, they are "the tolerable opposition ... which can never even hope of replacing them in the Kremlin."

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Europe
6:03 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Will The New AK-47 Be As Popular As The Original?

A Colombian police officer stands guard next to seized Chinese-made AK-47 replicas on Nov. 18, 2009. The guns have become so ubiquitous around the world that Russia's planned redesign may not do much to booster sales.
Luis Robayo Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 10:59 am

The Kalashnikov assault rifle, or AK-47, is one of the most dangerous and widely used weapons in the world. For more than 60 years, nations, rebels, gangsters and child soldiers have wielded the gun.

And now, Russian officials say it's outdated. As part of a $700 billion army modernization program, the country has announced a redesign of the rifle.

New York Times foreign correspondent C.J. Chivers — author of The Gun, a book about the Kalashnikov — tells NPR's Audie Cornish that the updates are mostly cosmetic.

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Middle East
5:02 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Syrian Army Drives Rebels From Embattled City

Syrian mourners in Qusayr, a few miles outside Homs, carry the body of a man killed by shrapnel, during his funeral on Tuesday. After a month-long assault by the Syrian army, rebels were forced to retreat from Homs on Thursday.
Gianluigi Guercia AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 2, 2012 12:17 am

A key rebel stronghold in the central Syrian city of Homs has fallen to the Syrian army.

Residents fled as government forces bombarded the city's Baba Amr neighborhood for nearly a month. On Thursday, the rebels withdrew.

When the Syrian uprising began nearly a year ago, Baba Amr saw regular, daily protests. Then after months of being shot, detained and tortured, protesters began taking up arms. Those armed civilians were later joined by defectors from the Syrian military, and together, they called themselves the Free Syrian Army.

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Education
4:11 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Case Renews Focus On Race In College Admissions

Students hoping for a repeal of California's ban on affirmative action in college admissions protest outside of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on Feb. 13. The Supreme Court will decide an affirmative action case next fall that could affect college admissions policies across the country.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Thu March 1, 2012 8:39 pm

College and university presidents are wringing their hands over the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to revisit the issue of affirmative action next fall. Critics of racial preferences are thrilled because the court could significantly restrict the use of race in admissions, but proponents of affirmative action say this would be a huge setback for institutions struggling to diversify their student body.

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Europe
3:52 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Students, Police Clash As Spain Reaches Boiling Point

Police restrain a student protesting against education cuts during a rally in Valencia, in eastern Spain, on Feb. 20. Spaniards are beginning to feel the effects of $20 billion in austerity measures, and discontent is growing.
Juan Carlos Cardenas EPA/Landov

Spain's austerity measures have begun to spark clashes, and a high school in Valencia — Spain's most indebted province — has become a flash point for nationwide rallies.

Last month, police arrested 25 demonstrators there, where cellphones captured video of heavy-handed beatings and parents were shocked to see their children on TV, pinned down by police.

The skirmish was a possible sign of what's to come as the conservative government pushes through more spending cuts and people settle into a period of sacrifice in hopes of economic recovery.

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National
3:21 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

President Obama Talks Energy In Nashua

President Obama Visits Nashua Calls For Foreign Oil Independence
Josh Rogers

 President Barack Obama was in New Hampshire today talking about energy. As New Hampshire Public Radio’s Josh Rogers reports, the president said the country needs to increase oil production while also investing in newer sources of energy.

Billed an official visit, at times the President’s stop had the feel of campaign rally. Mr. Obama told the crowd he knew NH’s "political bull detector" was sharp, and urged voters to be wary of election year promises.

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Middle East
2:55 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

In Iran's Election, Not All Candidates Are Welcome

Women sit at a bus stop under election posters in Qom, about 75 miles south of Iran's capital, Tehran, on Tuesday. Iran's parliamentary elections on Friday are expected to be a contest between various conservative factions. Many candidates seeking change have been barred from running.
Raheb Homavandi Reiters/Landov

Originally published on Thu March 1, 2012 6:10 pm

Iran holds parliamentary elections on Friday, the first since the disputed, and many believe fraudulent, presidential election in 2009.

But unlike that presidential poll, candidates seeking to take on the country's conservative rulers will not be taking part Friday; they are mostly under house arrest or have been in prison for years now.

The focus will be on which conservatives end up on top and how many votes are cast.

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Europe
1:30 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

As Election Nears, Russians Express Frustrations

Thousands of Russians form a 10-mile human chain around a Moscow ring road on Monday during an opposition protest against Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. He is expected to win the March 4 presidential elections but is facing growing opposition.
UPI/Landov

Originally published on Thu March 1, 2012 6:10 pm

Cars decorated with white ribbons and carnations drove around Moscow's Garden Ring Road in a wet snow this past Sunday, honking cheerfully to the thousands of demonstrators on the sidewalk who formed a human chain around the city.

Elena Korobova was a link in that chain.

"I want to get rid of Putin, because I don't like his policy, I don't like what he's doing for Russia," she says of Vladimir Putin, Russia's current prime minister.

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Music Interviews
10:31 am
Thu March 1, 2012

Monty Alexander: Jazz Piano Via Jamaican Pop

New York's Blue Note Jazz Club is currently hosting pianist Monty Alexander for a two-week residency.
Alan Nahigian Motema Music

The sound of one of this year's Grammy-nominated reggae albums, Harlem-Kingston Express Live, may seem perplexing at first. But don't let the blend of swing and dub confuse you: That's just the unique sound of pianist Monty Alexander.

Alexander's music has variously been described as bebop, calypso and reggae. But after 50 years in music and more than 70 albums, he's earned the right to call his music simply his own.

Alexander grew up in Jamaica playing the piano and the accordion, and he was versed in the up-and-coming popular music of the island.

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Opinion
12:01 am
Thu March 1, 2012

My First Crush: A Love Letter To Davy Jones

Monkees singer Davy Jones, seen here in 1968, died Wednesday of a heart attack. He was 66.
Keystone Features Getty Images

Originally published on Thu March 1, 2012 8:11 pm

Kitty Eisele is supervising senior editor at NPR's Morning Edition. In this essay she remembers Monkees band member Davy Jones, who died Wednesday at age 66.

This is embarrassing to write, but years ago when my first crush erupted, I asked my dad to write a love note on my behalf to Davy Jones.

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