National

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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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And now, Russian officials say it's outdated.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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National Security
12:01 am
Thu March 1, 2012

In Mock Village, A New Afghan Mission Takes Shape

Lt. Col. Mark Schmitt, who will be among a group of U.S. military trainers heading to Afghanistan soon, calls out orders during a mock attack on the model Afghan village at the U.S. military base in Fort Polk, La.
David Gilkey NPR

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

At the Fort Polk military base in the pine forests of central Louisiana, the Army has created a miniature version of Afghanistan — with mock villages and American soldiers working alongside Afghan role-players.

This is the training ground for a new American approach in Afghanistan as the U.S. begins to look ahead to the goal of bringing home the U.S. forces by the end of 2014. The idea is that Afghan forces have to be good enough to defend their country against the Taliban, and to make that happen, the U.S. Army is creating small U.S. training teams at Fort Polk.

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Asia
12:01 am
Thu March 1, 2012

For India's Undocumented Citizens, An ID At Last

An Indian boy gets his eyes scanned for enrollment in a nationwide ID project in 2011. Many Indians, especially the poor, lack identification documents, which restricts their access to many government services.
Harish Tyagi EPA

Some 75,000 babies are born every day in India. The total population is 1.2 billion and climbing. That's a lot of people to keep track of, and the Indian government has struggled to keep up.

Many Indians, especially the poor, don't have any ID, which makes it increasingly difficult for them to be full participants in a society that is rapidly modernizing. But a new project aims to fix that.

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National Security
12:01 am
Thu March 1, 2012

Officials Look For Signs Of Al-Qaida Surge In Syria

This frame grab from video provided by the SITE Intel Group shows al-Qaida's leader Ayman al-Zawahiri calling on Muslims to support rebels in Syria. The video was released earlier this month.
AP

Originally published on Thu March 1, 2012 12:18 pm

U.S. intelligence officials tracking the situation in Syria have their eye on one group in particular: al-Qaida's affiliate in Iraq.

The group has longstanding ties to Syria, and its early members weren't just Iraqis; many of them were Syrians. The former leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, not only established a network of fighters in Syria, but he also folded them into his northern Iraqi faction of al-Qaida.

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Education
12:01 am
Thu March 1, 2012

To Get Kids To Class, L.A. Softens Its Hard Line

Los Angeles Police Department officers detain students in 2010 during a sweep for truants in the San Pedro neighborhood.
Brad Graverson Torrance Daily Breeze

Originally published on Wed May 15, 2013 8:52 pm

Los Angeles is easing its stance on truancy. For the past decade, a tough city ordinance slapped huge fines on students for even one instance of skipping school or being late, but the Los Angeles City Council is changing that law to focus on helping students get to class because it turns out those harsh fines were backfiring.

Two years ago, Nabil Romero, a young Angeleno with a thin black mustache, was running late to his first period at a public high school on LA's Westside.

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The Picture Show
12:01 am
Thu March 1, 2012

Shoot Now, Focus Later: A Little Camera To Change The Game

The Lytro we received to demo is about four inches long.
Claire O'Neill NPR

Originally published on Thu March 27, 2014 9:49 am

Just when you thought you had the latest in camera technology, along comes something new and shiny and ... rectangular.

It's called the Lytro, and it uses something called "light field technology." In short: You shoot now and focus later.

NPR's resident photo expert, Keith Jenkins, explains: In a nutshell, he says, this camera captures not only the color and the intensity of light — which is what normal cameras do — but also the direction of that light — from every possible angle.

Still confused? We are, too.

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Crisis In The Housing Market
5:40 pm
Wed February 29, 2012

Fannie, Freddie Won't Write Down Mortgage Principal

Many experts say reducing mortgage principal can help troubled homeowners stay in their homes. But two of the nation's largest mortgage holders, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, have not signed on to the idea.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Despite some green shoots in the economy, the housing sector remains weak. With 11 million Americans still underwater on their mortgages, some housing experts believe it's time for more dramatic solutions.

The idea of reducing the principal on the loans of underwater homeowners used to be a fringe concept, embraced by a few outliers. Today, many policymakers believe principal reduction is necessary to keep some troubled homeowners afloat.

But so far, the nation's biggest mortgage holders, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, haven't embraced the idea.

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Rick Santorum
5:34 pm
Wed February 29, 2012

Is Rick Santorum Missing JFK's Point On Religion?

Then-Sen. John F. Kennedy participates in a question-and-answer session with the Ministers' Association of Greater Houston on Sept. 12, 1960, in Houston. In a speech to the group, Kennedy addressed concerns about his Catholicism and his run for the presidency.
Houston Chronicle AP

When GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum was growing up, he says, John F. Kennedy was a hero in his Catholic home.

In a speech last year, he said he had always heard glowing reports of Kennedy's speech about religion to Protestant ministers in 1960.

"And then very late in my political career, I had the opportunity to read the speech and I almost threw up," Santorum told a group of college students last year. "You should read the speech. In my opinion, it was the beginning of the secular movement of politicians to separate their faith from the public square."

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Asia
5:07 pm
Wed February 29, 2012

N. Korea To Halt Nuclear Tests; U.S. To Provide Aid

North Korea's military fires missiles during a drill in this undated photo released Oct. 6, 2010, by the Korean Central News Agency. North Korea has agreed to stop nuclear activities and allow inspections, while the U.S. says it will provide food aid to the country.
Korean Central News Agency AP

Originally published on Wed February 29, 2012 8:34 pm

North Korea has agreed to suspend uranium enrichment and missile tests, and the U.S. says it will provide food aid. The agreement should set the stage for a new round of nuclear disarmament talks. But analysts caution this is a small first step.

U.S. State Department officials returned from three days of talks in Beijing with a deal meant to improve the atmosphere for a resumption of so-called six-party nuclear disarmament talks. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton outlined the deal in Congress on Wednesday.

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Movies
2:36 pm
Wed February 29, 2012

Movies' March With The Military As Old As Hollywood

The film Act of Valor, commissioned by the Naval Special Warfare Command, uses active-duty SEALs and professional actors to tell a fictional story.
Courtesy of IATM LLC Relativity Media

The movie Act of Valor, which opened in theaters last weekend and earned nearly $25 million, was commissioned by the Navy's Special Warfare Command to drum up recruits for its elite SEALs program. But this is by no means the first movie made with the military's cooperation.

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The Two-Way
9:20 am
Wed February 29, 2012

James Murdoch Steps Down As Executive Chairman Of News International

(FILES) In a picture taken on July 13, 2011 then News International Chairman and Chief Executive James Murdoch arrives for work in east London.
Warren Allott AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 29, 2012 8:34 pm

As the phone hacking scandal that roiled his father's international news company deepened, James Murdoch is stepping down as Executive Chairman of News International.

The AP reports that News Corp., owned by James' father Rupert Murdoch, said he was stepping down "to focus on the company's international TV business."

We'll have more on this story as it develops.

Update at 9:28 p.m. ET. Murdoch's Statement:

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Business
3:31 am
Wed February 29, 2012

Identity Theft A Growing Concern For Businesses

Fake business listings and other forms of business identity theft are a growing concern, causing real business owners to worry about protecting reputations and losing customers.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

You've heard of identity theft — someone using a person's credit information or a Social Security number for ill-gotten gains. Well, experts say similar crimes are also affecting businesses.

Business identity theft involves posing as a legitimate business in order to get access to credit lines or steal customers. Experts believe that the practice has become more prevalent in the past two years.

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The Salt
3:27 am
Wed February 29, 2012

Newfoundland Gives Whole New Meaning To Ice Cold Beer

Quidi Vidi's lager is brewed with 25,000-year-old water harvested from Newfoundland's icebergs.
Courtesy of Quidi Vidi

Originally published on Wed February 29, 2012 11:31 am

The year the Quidi Vidi Brewing Co. started brewing beer with iceberg water, a giant iceberg floated up against the cliffs around St. John's, Newfoundland.

"It was a big berg and it jammed right across the harbor here," says Charlie Rees, the brewery's tour guide.

Rees says Newfoundlanders have a curious relationship with icebergs. On the one hand, they're a fact of life. On the other, when that iceberg was in the harbor's mouth, hundreds of people came down to gawk. He took pictures.

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Economy
3:25 am
Wed February 29, 2012

Record Low Interest Rates Raise Inflation Concerns

The Federal Reserve plans to keep short-term interest rates near zero until 2014, and some critics are concerned about the risk of inflation and the message it sends about the economy.
Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images

The goal of the Federal Reserve's low interest rate policy is to juice the economic recovery. The low rates should make it easier for people to borrow money, which they'll hopefully spend; the increased demand for goods and services is then supposed to translate into more hiring.

That's what the Fed is banking on. It hopes low interest rates will help with its mandate of achieving maximum employment, but it also has another mandate: to keep prices stable.

"In many cases, those two conflict," says economist Joe Gagnon of the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

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Sweetness And Light
3:23 am
Wed February 29, 2012

100 Points, One Game: A Basketball Record Turns 50

Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia Warriors poses in the dressing room after he scored 100 points in a game against the New York Knickerbockers on March 2, 1962.
Paul Vathis AP

Originally published on Wed February 29, 2012 11:02 am

Dave Zinkoff — or simply "The Zink" — was perhaps the most distinctive public address announcer in sports when, years ago, he called games in Philadelphia, especially for the city's NBA teams. Just his declaring that there were two minutes left in the quarter made you feel that, never mind that quarter, doomsday was but 120 seconds away.

But nothing The Zink cried out was so resounding as when Wilt Chamberlain would make an emphatic slam.

"Dipper dunk!" he would holler.

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All Tech Considered
12:01 am
Wed February 29, 2012

Nailing Down The Appeal Of Pinterest

A visit to the Pinterest home page reveals images of what some say are stereotypically female interests, from women's fashions to recipes.
Pinterest

Originally published on Wed February 29, 2012 11:02 am

To the list of weird-sounding hybrid words of the digital age, like Googling and tweeting, we can now add "pinning." As in Pinterest. It's sort of an online scrapbook or bulletin board, and it's one of the fastest-growing websites in history.

Last month, more than 10 million unique visitors signed on to Pinterest. But some of them, like Billy Winburn, are still trying to get the hang of it. At an office in Alexandria, Va., Jennifer Folsom, who works a few desks away, is walking him through the process.

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Europe
12:01 am
Wed February 29, 2012

For Leap Day Only, A Rare Newspaper Goes To Print

A man reads a copy of the satirical newspaper La Bougie du Sapeur (The Sapper's Candle), published every leap day, in a Parisian cafe on Feb. 29, 2008. The paper's tagline is "without reproach."
Patrick Hertzog AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 29, 2012 11:02 am

At newsstands across France on Wednesday, readers will delight to a humorous broadsheet published every four years on leap day.

At news shops in Paris and around France, readers look forward to their copy of La Bougie du Sapeur every Feb. 29. Published since 1980, the satirical journal is now in its ninth edition. Its title, which translates as "sapper's candle," is taken from an old French comic-book figure who was born on that fateful last day of February.

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The Two-Way
5:25 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Gay Marine's Kiss Was 'Four Years Of Pent-Up Emotion And Secret Love'

The kiss. That's Sgt. Brandon Morgan on the right. Dalan Wells on the left.
Gay Marines on Facebook

When he returned from Afghanistan and saw his partner waiting to welcome him home, "four years of pent-up emotion and secret love" just seemed to naturally lead to "what felt like an eternity kiss," Marine Sgt. Brandon Morgan told NPR this afternoon.

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Music Reviews
4:04 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Heartless Bastards: Rousing Songs, Born On The Road

Heartless Bastards' fourth album, Arrow, was released earlier this month.
Nathan Presley

Originally published on Thu March 1, 2012 3:00 pm

It's true that you can still get by in rock 'n' roll on the strength of a unique voice. But it helps if said voice has something interesting to work with.

On the first three records by Heartless Bastards, that wasn't always the case. The Mountain, from 2008, had some terrific songs about a breakup, and a few that got bogged down in a rut. But on the band's latest release, Arrow, every song has a powerful, almost magnetic melody.

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The Two-Way
4:03 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

IMF Chief Christine Lagarde: The European Union Is 'A Work In Progress'

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

On tonight's All Things Considered, NPR's Robert Siegel talks to the chief of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde.

Naturally, Robert focused his interview on Greece, which has been engulfed in a debt crisis that has threatened its membership in the European monetary union. Robert asked Lagarde about the tough austerity measures Greece has agreed to and whether those measures could promote a shrinking economy as opposed to getting Greece back to prosperity.

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Middle East
3:25 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Egyptians Prepare For Wide-Open Presidential Poll

Egyptian presidential candidate and former Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa delivers a speech to Bedouins in Ras Sidr during a campaign trip to the South Sinai last week. Egyptians are anticipating the first presidential elections after last year's ouster of Hosni Mubarak.
Asmaa Waguih Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu March 1, 2012 3:00 pm

Egypt's presidential race officially kicks off Saturday, and there are already more than a dozen contenders for what is expected to be the most competitive presidential election ever.

Nevertheless, many Egyptians fear those currently in power will try to manipulate the process to make sure that a candidate of their choosing wins.

At 41, Khaled Ali is the youngest Egyptian vying to be his country's next president.

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