Originally published on Thu September 12, 2013 11:10 am
In his first full week on the job, new FBI Director Jim Comey is already expressing "intense concern" about budget cuts hitting the bureau as part of sequestration.
Comey used his first visits to FBI field offices in Virginia and New York, where he once served as a federal prosecutor, to sound an alarm about the ability to fulfill the agency's mission in a time of belt tightening.
Originally published on Thu September 12, 2013 10:56 am
With the current focus on Syria it's easy to miss that things are getting worse again in Iraq. Since the spring, the country has been pounded by waves of attacks on civilians and security forces by extremists with links to al-Qaida. Three car bombs in the Iraqi city of Baquba killed 10 people Tuesday.
Originally published on Thu September 12, 2013 2:20 pm
"Everything down there is dead."
That's one stunning quote from Hawaii News Now's latest report about the devastating damage that's been done to the marine life off Honolulu's Sand Island by 233,000 gallons of molasses that were spilled into Honolulu harbor on Monday.
Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. Picture now a boxy little 1984 four-door Renault with 190,000 miles. The perfect hand-me-down car for a teenager maybe, but the Pope? Well, Pope Francis accepted the keys to one over the weekend - a gift from a 70-year-old priest, Renzo Zocca of Verona. Pope Francis has famously shunned luxury items, including the popemobile, but he plans to drive this car himself around the Vatican grounds. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Two kinds of news stories seem to come up again and again. The first is the guy who writes a text message about a drug deal and inadvertently sends it to the cops. This story, too, seems like it's happened more than once. A driver in Waldorf, Maryland lost control of her car while texting and landed in a lake. She was not hurt. She faces criminal charges. We do not know if her cell phone contract allows her a replacement when the phone gets wet.
On 'Morning Edition': Free Syrian Army Gen. Salim Idris
As Secretary of State John Kerry was preparing to sit down with his Russian counterpart Thursday to discuss whether the Assad regime's chemical weapons can be handed over to international monitors, the commander of the rebel Free Syrian Army was telling NPR that "the Russian initiative is just a lie."
The world's largest paper producer says it's closing a mill in Alabama that employs 1,100 people. International Paper Company blames the closure in the town of Courtland on a decline in the demand for paper. Stan Ingold of Alabama Public Radio reports.
STAN INGOLD, BYLINE: The small town of Courtland, Alabama is reeling after the announcement by Memphis-based International Paper to close their mill. Diane Scanland is the executive director of the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce.
It's been more than two years since Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill stripping collective bargaining rights from most public employees. The new law sparked massive protests at the Wisconsin State Capitol because many saw it as an attack on unions.
While most demonstrators eventually went away, a small group did not. They arrive at the building most weekdays to sing anti-Walker and pro-union songs.
On a recent day, more than 100 people were gathered in a circle on the Capitol lawn, tapping cowbells and singing a localized version of "This Land Is Your Land."
In the past couple of weeks, several major companies — Samsung, Sony, Qualcomm — have announced they will release smart watches this fall. As the name suggests, the gadgets do more than keep time.
The latest spate of computerized watches promise to do everything from working as a phone to taking photos and fielding emails. Smart watches have actually been around for a long time, but they've never really taken off as a product.
There is, of course, a lot of attention being paid about what's happening in Richmond because millions of other American homeowners around the country are also underwater - again, homes that are worth less than their mortgages. We're joined now by NPR correspondent Chris Arnold, who's been following all of this. Good morning.
CHRIS ARNOLD, BYLINE: Good morning, Renee.
MONTAGNE: How many homeowners are still underwater? I gather with the housing market coming back, this is changing - for the better.
It's been five years since Lehman Brothers collapsed and touched off a banking crisis that is still being felt by the global economy. Today, the banking industry is a lot stronger than it was, but some critics say efforts to reform banking regulations have fallen short of their potential.
Perhaps one of the most uncomfortable things a doctor has to tell patients is that their medical problems are iatrogenic. What that means is they were caused by a doctor in the course of the treatment.
Sometime these iatrogenic injuries are accidental. But sometimes, because of the limits of medical technology, they can be inevitable. Now, a medical researcher in Seattle thinks he has a way to eliminate some of the inevitable ones.
Economist Tyler Cowen has some advice for what to do about America's income inequality: Get used to it. In his latest book, Average Is Over, Cowen lays out his prediction for where the U.S. economy is heading, like it or not:
"I think we'll see a thinning out of the middle class," he tells NPR's Steve Inskeep. "We'll see a lot of individuals rising up to much greater wealth. And we'll also see more individuals clustering in a kind of lower-middle class existence."
Native American tribes gave up millions of acres to the federal government in the 19th century in exchange for promises of funded health care, education and housing. But time and again, those funds have been cut.
The recent across-the-board federal budget cuts, known as sequestration, are no exception. They came with a 5 percent reduction in funding for mental health services, including suicide prevention. That's especially troubling for Native Americans, whose suicide rate are four times the national average.
Celebrity editor Tina Brown announced Wednesday that she's leaving The Daily Beast to launch her own media company. She has been a regular guest on Morning Edition. Brown, 59, plans to produce live forums on news topics.
Brown has edited some of the most prestigious publications: Vanity Fair, The New Yorker and Tattler. Five years ago, she helped found The Daily Beast — a news and opinion website. Now, the editor-in-chief says she's leaving to do what she calls "theatrical journalism" before live audiences.
The U.S. Supreme Court may have decided almost three months ago the case known as Adoptive Couplev. Baby Girl. But the young Native American girl known as "Baby Veronica," who turns 4 years old on Sunday, is still stuck in legal limbo.
Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 12:28 pm
We welcome British band Treetop Flyers to the World Cafe. They are a folk-rock five-piece that initially turned heads on the main stage of the 2011 Glastonbury Festival. They won the spot through an "emerging artist" competition. From there, they were signed to Loose Music in the U.K. and to Partisan Records in the U.S. and put out their debut full-length record, The Mountain Moves, in June of this year. Their music is very much inspired by California in the '70s, so it was not much of a stretch to decamp to Malibu to record their debut.
Now that Congress' extraordinary Syria debate is on hold, at least for now, the next upcoming drama is really a return to much more familiar territory: how will congressional leaders get enough votes to pass legislation to keep the government from going off yet another metaphorical cliff.
Until Wednesday, it looked like Congress was moving toward a vote this week to fund the government past September, when the fiscal year ends, and into December — thus avoiding a shutdown. But that vote was postponed until next week at the earliest.
With the pause button pushed on the congressional debate over Syria, the House is turning its attention back to the issue that is expected to dominate the fall: the budget.
The long-running fight over spending and the debt is back. The House was supposed to act this week to avoid a government shutdown at the end of the month, and leaders had hoped to avoid drama. But the vote has been delayed, and drama is brewing.
Originally published on Wed September 11, 2013 4:46 pm
North Korea appears to be in the process of restarting a nuclear reactor used to produce weapons-grade plutonium, five years after shutting the facility down as part of international disarmament efforts.
New satellite imagery appears to reveal that the 5-megawatt reactor at Yongbyon, which experts believe can produce enough plutonium for one to two bombs a year, shows signs of being operational.