National

Afghanistan
5:51 pm
Thu February 23, 2012

U.S. Apology Over Qurans Fails To Stop Afghan Riots

Afghan demonstrators burn an effigy of President Obama and shout anti-U.S. slogans in the eastern city of Jalalabad on Wednesday, Feb. 22. Afghans have been rioting for three days after word that several Qurans were desecrated at a NATO base. The U.S. says the burning of the Qurans was accidental.
Noorullah Shirzada AFP/Getty Images

President Obama apologized in a letter and Afghan President Hamid Karzai appealed for calm.

But that was not enough to keep Afghans from protesting violently for a third day following word that several copies of the Muslim holy book, the Quran, were burned at a large NATO base outside Kabul.

The latest incident resembled other cases in recent years, where rumors that a Quran was desecrated — even thousands of miles away in Florida or Guantanamo Bay — ignited deadly riots in Afghanistan.

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Middle East
5:13 pm
Thu February 23, 2012

Syrian Forces Tightening Grip On Parts Of Homs

Flames rise from a house, the result of Syrian government shelling, in the Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs, Syria, on Wednesday, in this image provided by citizen journalists to the Local Coordination Committees.
Local Coordination Committees in Syria AP

Originally published on Thu February 23, 2012 7:10 pm

The Syrian army has cut off all escape routes from a rebel-held neighborhood in Homs, the city that has seen the most intense fighting in recent days, according to opposition activists.

Syrian tanks were seen moving closer to the Baba Amr neighborhood Thursday, as efforts continued to negotiate a cease-fire to evacuate the wounded, including two Western journalists.

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Technology
4:38 pm
Thu February 23, 2012

A California Civil War Over Internet Piracy

Supporters of the website The Pirate Bay, one of the world's top illegal file-sharing websites, demonstrate in Stockholm, Sweden, in 2009.
Fredrik Persson AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 23, 2012 7:10 pm

There's a civil war going on in California. It's the north vs. the south — Hollywood vs. Silicon Valley. And much like that other American Civil War, there are two different economic worldviews at stake. One of the highest-profile battles was fought last month, when large Internet sites like Wikipedia staged an online blackout to protest anti-piracy bills in Congress.

The north won that battle, and for now, the legislation is on hold. But the war between Hollywood and Silicon Valley over how to deal with intellectual property is far from over.

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The Salt
4:00 pm
Thu February 23, 2012

Why Astronauts Crave Tabasco Sauce

Astronauts may have a particular affinity for Tabasco sauce in space because their sense of smell and taste is distorted.
John Rose NPR

If you think astronauts just want dehydrated dinners and freeze-dried ice cream, think again. After a few days in space, they start reaching for the hot sauce.

In fact, they may start craving foods they didn't necessarily like on Earth.

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Planet Money
3:42 pm
Thu February 23, 2012

How Mitt Romney's Firm Transformed A Struggling Company, In 5 Steps

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon May 7, 2012 12:19 pm

Mitt Romney says his experience in private equity taking over troubled companies would make him a good manager of America's economy. So we're reporting on companies that Bain Capital bought while Romney was in charge of the firm. This morning, we told the story of one that went bust. Here's the story of one that succeeded.

How A Private-Equity Firm Turns A Company Around

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The Two-Way
3:35 pm
Thu February 23, 2012

Closing Time: Postal Service May Cut 35,000 Jobs

The exterior of a Burlingame, Calif. U.S. Postal Service mailing processing center that has been approved for full consolidation.
Paul Sakuma AP

Originally published on Fri February 24, 2012 4:50 am

Facing a financial crisis, the United States Postal Service announced that 223 processing facilities have been "found feasible for consolidation, all or in part." Of the 264 processing facilities studied, only 35 are set to remain open.

The closings could result in the loss of 35,000 jobs. USPS has posted a full list of the facilities — which process and sort mail on its way to being delivered — on its website.

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U.S.
3:17 pm
Thu February 23, 2012

Virginia Governor Backs Down From Ultrasound Bill

An abortion rights activist speaks before the Virginia Senate Education and Health Committee on Thursday. Following a protest outside the state capitol and criticism from moderates in his own party, Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell asked for revisions to a bill requiring an invasive ultrasound before an abortion.
Steve Helber AP

Originally published on Fri February 24, 2012 10:29 am

Several states are considering laws that would mandate an ultrasound before a woman has an abortion. Critics say the laws are unnecessary and intrusive, and the debate reached a fever pitch recently over a Virginia bill that would have required an invasive ultrasound procedure.

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Middle East
3:52 am
Thu February 23, 2012

Egypt's Press Still Feels The Power Of The Military

An Egyptian stock trader reads a copy of the Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper last November. Critics say the newspaper is reluctant to criticize the ruling military council and has engaged in self-censorship.
Amr Nabil AP

When Egypt's former President Hosni Mubarak was ousted from power last February, many Egyptian journalists hoped for a new era of freedom of expression.

But many now say they've been disappointed. A year after the revolution, Egypt's independent media still face many challenges, mostly, but not exclusively, from the country's ruling military council.

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Crisis In The Housing Market
12:01 am
Thu February 23, 2012

With Banks As Landlords, Some Tenants Neglected

Luz Escamilla's bedroom walls are stained with the blood of bedbugs. She says she doesn't want to bleach them until reps from CW Capital, her landlord, pay an in-person visit to her Maryland home.
Aarti Shahani NPR

Across the country, big banks and other large investors are buying up tens of thousands of foreclosed rental properties. They're not always model landlords, according to tenants and regulators. Some banks are failing to follow local and state housing codes, leaving tenants to live in squalor — without even a number to call in the most dire situations.

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All Tech Considered
6:21 pm
Wed February 22, 2012

Troubled Sony Pins Hopes On PlayStation Vita

Sony's PlayStation Vita and its predecessor, The PlayStation Portable.
Reed Saxon AP

Sony launched the PlayStation Vita, its first hand-held gaming device in seven years, Wednesday. Vita, of course, is the Latin word for "life." And after suffering a series of tough blows — from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami to a relentlessly strong yen and a significant hacking attack — a bit of new life is just what the struggling company needs.

The Vita went on sale at a Best Buy in Los Angeles Wednesday morning. Despite the company's $50 million marketing campaign, only about a dozen gamers were on hand.

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The Salt
3:46 pm
Wed February 22, 2012

Panda Express Takes Sweet And Sour Beyond The Food Court

An employee packs a customer's takeout order at a Panda Express restaurant in Los Angeles.
Fred Prouser Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Wed February 22, 2012 7:29 pm

Not all that long ago, many Americans thought of Chinese food as fried rice, chow mein and orange chicken. And one reliable place to find it was at the mall, at places like Panda Express.

But food court mainstay Panda Express is now in the midst of a major transformation. That means moving from mall basements to stand-alone restaurants and keeping pace with an increasingly sophisticated American palate.

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Asia
3:28 pm
Wed February 22, 2012

On Tibetan Plateau, A Sense Of Constant Surveillance

Ethnic Tibetan pilgrims walk on a road during Tibetan New Year in Langmusixiang, Sichuan province, in western China, Feb. 22. Celebrations are subdued in the Tibetan areas of China this year, after a string of self-immolations and protest against Chinese control.
Carlos Barria Reuters /Landov

Wednesday marks the traditional Tibetan New Year, but many Tibetans won't be celebrating. They'll be mourning the almost two-dozen people who set themselves on fire in the past year as a protest against Chinese rule. Eyewitnesses say the town of Aba, site of many of the self-immolations, resembles a Chinese military camp, with soldiers and riot police every few feet. NPR's Louisa Lim traveled elsewhere on the Tibetan plateau to cover the story and sent this dispatch.

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Energy
2:05 pm
Wed February 22, 2012

What's Behind The Recent Hike In Gas Prices?

A gas station in Berlin, Vt., sold gas for $3.72 on Feb. 16. On average, regular gas is going for $3.60 a gallon nationwide.
Toby Talbot AP

Originally published on Wed February 22, 2012 7:29 pm

Oil prices have jumped sharply in the past two weeks, and the price of gasoline is also moving up. Across the country, a gallon of regular costs nearly $3.60 on average, with some areas facing $4 gas. That's causing sticker shock at the pump, and concern that rising prices could derail the economic recovery.

According to Daniel Yergin of Cambridge Energy Research Associates, gas prices are up because of the West's current confrontation with Iran and sanctions over that country's nuclear program.

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Author Interviews
2:58 am
Wed February 22, 2012

A 'Favored Daughter' Fights For Afghan Women

On the day she was born, Fawzia Koofi nearly died after being left outside in the unrelenting Afghan sun. But against all odds, Koofi survived and went on to become Afghanistan's first female deputy speaker of Parliament. Today, Koofi's name is floated in discussions about whether Afghanistan is ready for a first female president.

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Law
12:01 am
Wed February 22, 2012

Can 'I Earned The Medal Of Honor' Get You Jailed?

The Medal of Honor is held by a military honor guard at the White House last September, when President Obama awarded the medal to Marine Cpl. Dakota Meyer, 23, from Greensburg, Ky., for his actions in Afghanistan. The Supreme Court is now deciding if those who falsely claim to have won such military awards can be prosecuted for lying.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Wed February 22, 2012 8:03 pm

The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Wednesday in a case about lies, big and small, and when those lies can be a crime under the Constitution's guarantee of free speech. At issue is the constitutionality of a law making it a crime to lie about being the recipient of military medals.

At the center of the case is Xavier Alvarez, a man nobody disputes is a liar. He lied about being an ex-professional hockey player. He lied about being an engineer. He lied about rescuing the American ambassador during the Iranian hostage crisis. He even lied about being a retired Marine.

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U.S.
12:01 am
Wed February 22, 2012

Should Valets Be Responsible For Drunk Drivers, Too?

Bars and restaurants are already legally on the hook for stopping would-be drunken drivers. Some in Boston say valet parking attendants should be, too.
Getty Images

That old public service announcement is pretty well ingrained these days: "Friends don't let friends drive drunk." But who else should be responsible for stopping would-be drunken drivers? Bars and restaurants are already legally on the hook. Some in Boston say valet parking attendants should be, too.

City Councilor Rob Consalvo says he decided something needed to be done after a 23-year-old on a scooter was mowed down by a drunken driver in Boston. The driver later said he was "blackout drunk" and couldn't believe that a valet guy actually handed him his car keys.

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Business
12:01 am
Wed February 22, 2012

New Consumer Agency Eyes Bank Overdraft Fees

Customers use Bank of America ATMs in New York. The head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says it is looking into ways to help consumers limit their exposure to banks' overdraft fees.
Mark Lennihan AP

Originally published on Wed February 22, 2012 9:49 am

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says it's looking to overhaul rules on overdraft fees. The new agency will be seeking data from banks about how they handle overdrawn accounts, and how they assess fees. The agency plans to use this information to help consumers limit their exposure to these costly charges.

The CFPB estimates that last year, banks made between $15 billion and $22 billion from overdraft fees.

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Sweetness And Light
12:01 am
Wed February 22, 2012

When There's More To Winning Than Winning

Senior Cory Weissman (center) of Gettysburg College, takes his second free-throw shot in a Division III Centennial Conference game against Washington College.
Tommy Riggs Gettysburg College

Originally published on Wed February 22, 2012 1:28 pm

When last we left the NCAA, it was February madness, colleges were jumping conferences, suing each other, coaches were claiming rivals had cheated in recruiting — the usual nobility of college sports.

And then, in the midst of all this, the men's basketball team at Washington College of Chestertown, Md., journeyed to Pennsylvania to play Gettysburg College in a Division III Centennial Conference game.

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Middle East
4:51 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

Israel Agrees To Free Palestinian Hunger Striker

Khader Adnan, a senior member of the radical Islamic Jihad group, has been held by Israel without charge. Israel agreed Tuesday to release Adnan, 33, who was on a hunger strike for more than two months.
AFP/Getty Images

Thousands of Palestinians are in Israeli jails. But one case in particular — that of Khader Adnan, a member of the radical Islamic Jihad group — has been raising tensions between the two sides.

Israel's Justice Ministry agreed Tuesday to free Adnan, who has been on a hunger strike for more than two months and was apparently near death.

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The Picture Show
4:50 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

From Waterfall To Lavafall: Yosemite's Fleeting Phenomenon

Copyright Michael Frye

If you head to Yosemite National Park this time of year and stop by Horsetail Fall at just the right time, you might see something spectacular: As the sun sinks low in the sky, the waterfall glows with streaks of gold and yellow — and it looks just like molten lava.

Photographers like Michael Frye flock to the park every February to try to capture the phenomenon. Frye, author of The Photographer's Guide to Yosemite, describes the sight to NPR's Audie Cornish.

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Europe
4:48 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

Rent-A-Crowds May Be Boosting Pro-Putin Campaign

Russians take part in a pro-Putin rally at a Moscow park on Feb. 4. Pro-Kremlin forces have been accused of paying people to attend campaign events ahead of the presidential election in March.
Alexey Sazonov AFP/Getty Images

With fewer than two weeks remaining before Russia's presidential elections, supporters and opponents of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin are trying to show their strength with rallies and demonstrations.

After being stunned by the size of opposition rallies in December, pro-government forces bounced back with competing events of their own.

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Law
4:14 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

Supreme Court Wades Into Affirmative Action Issue

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote the 2003 Supreme Court opinion on affirmative action in college admissions. The newly energized conservative majority on the court could now change course.
Kevin Lamarque Reuters/Landov

The U.S. Supreme Court said Tuesday that it will revisit the divisive issue of affirmative action in higher education. The court agreed to hear arguments next fall in a case that challenges the affirmative action program at the University of Texas. By re-entering the fray after more than 30 years of settled law on the issue, the newly energized conservative court majority has signaled that it may be willing to unsettle much of that law.

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Music Reviews
3:28 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

A 'Giant Anthology' Of Profile Records, Rap's Early Champion

Profile Records never meant to get into the rap game, but the label launched the careers of rap groups like Run-D.M.C.
Frank Micelotta Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 22, 2012 12:59 am

Before the rise of Def Jam as hip-hop's definitive record label, there was Profile, which helped shepherd in some of the genre's early shifts in sound and style. A new two-CD anthology, Giant Single: The Profile Records Rap Anthology, chronicles the label's 15-year history and legacy.

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Fruit Flies
2:54 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

Cheers! Fruit Flies Drink To Their Health, Literally

Fruit flies will drink alcohol from fermenting fruit to kill off wasp parasites that can grow inside of them.
Jan Polabinski iStockphoto.com

As humans, we sometimes pay a price for drinking alcohol — in hangovers, or worse. But if you happen to be a young fruit fly, it turns out that alcohol can be just what the doctor ordered.

The pesky little fruit flies often show up when apples or bananas are left sitting around for too long on the kitchen counter. Most folks find them annoying, but Todd Schlenke can't get enough of them.

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The Salt
2:05 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

How Using Antibiotics In Animal Feed Creates Superbugs

Many livestock groups say there's no evidence that antibiotics in livestock feed have caused a human health problem, but researchers beg to differ.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 21, 2012 5:19 pm

Researchers have nailed down something scientists, government officials and agribusiness proponents have argued about for years: whether antibiotics in livestock feed give rise to antibiotic-resistant germs that can threaten humans.

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Asia
12:01 am
Tue February 21, 2012

Protests, Self-Immolation Signs Of A Desperate Tibet

This photo, provided to freetibet.org, shows a man being forcibly detained by security forces in the town of Serther in Tibet following a clash with protesters and police.
freetibet.org

Originally published on Tue February 21, 2012 8:44 pm

In a monastery on the Tibetan plateau, monks swathed in crimson robes chant under silk hangings, in a murky hall heavy with the smell of yak butter. Photos of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama — seen by China as a splittist — are openly displayed, as if in defiance. But Chinese security forces have tightened their grasp on this region, and monasteries appear to be emptying out, gripped by an atmosphere of fear and loss.

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Latin America
12:01 am
Tue February 21, 2012

Prison Break Epitomizes Mexican Drug War Woes

A relative of an inmate observes Mexican police behind the security fence after a riot inside Apodaca prison near Monterrey. At least 44 inmates were killed during Sunday's riot, and about 30 alleged members of the drug cartel Los Zetas were rushed out of the prison.
Julio Cesar Aguilar AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 21, 2012 8:08 am

Officials in Mexico are offering a reward of nearly $1 million for the capture of 30 inmates who broke out of a prison in the northern state of Nuevo Leon on Sunday.

The governor says the inmates staged a riot, during which 44 people died, to create a diversion for their escape.

It was a jail break that epitomized the Mexican drug war: Rival gang members brutally killed each other, corrupt public officials looked the other way, and dangerous criminals went free.

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All Tech Considered
5:19 pm
Mon February 20, 2012

Tech Pioneer Channels Hard Lessons Into Silicon Valley Success

Nvidia Chief Executive Officer Jen-Hsun Huang co-founded the graphics chip maker in 1993.
Paul Sakuma AP

Originally published on Tue October 16, 2012 4:31 pm

Modern computer games and their fast-paced graphics require an incredible amount of computing horsepower. So much, in fact, that the kinds of chips commonly used for gaming are now being built into some of the world's fastest supercomputers.

If you're a serious gamer, if realistic, detailed graphics get your pulse racing, you should write Jen-Hsun Huang a thank-you note.

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Europe
2:58 pm
Mon February 20, 2012

Portugal Plays By The Rules, But Economy Slumps

A once-bustling vegetable market in Lisbon is now beyond the reach of many Portuguese — a sign of their country's economic problems.
Sylvia Poggioli NPR

Originally published on Tue February 21, 2012 11:25 am

The eurozone crisis has focused attention on debt-burdened Greece spiraling into decline. Meanwhile, Portugal is seen as the international creditors' poster-child for obediently slashing spending and welfare benefits.

Nevertheless, the Portuguese national debt continues to grow, and the country is mired in recession and soaring unemployment.

The Portuguese national character has long been identified with Fado music. Raquel Freire, an activist with the local Occupy movement, says the melancholy style helps explain decades of resignation.

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Media
12:01 am
Mon February 20, 2012

Russian Accuses Voice Of America Of Fake Interview

Voice of America was criticized after the veracity of its interview with a Russian anti-corruption activist was questioned. In this photo provided by the network, a control room is seen during a Russian-language Web show.
Voice of America

Originally published on Mon February 20, 2012 6:56 am

NPR's Michele Kelemen is a former employee of Voice of America.

Russian anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny has been the victim of many dirty tricks by pro-Kremlin media.

But when the U.S. government-funded Voice of America published an online interview that had him criticizing other Russian opposition figures, Navalny quickly tweeted that the interview was a fake.

"It seems the VOA has gone nuts," he wrote to his Twitter followers.

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