NPR News

Pages

Politics
3:23 am
Fri December 27, 2013

Obama's Position On Free Trade Marks Subtle Evolution

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 6:06 am

Two decades after NAFTA created a giant North American free trade zone, the U.S. is negotiating more big trade deals that would span the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. President Obama has embraced the potential agreements as a way to improve the U.S. economy.

Sports
3:19 am
Fri December 27, 2013

NBA Trailblazers Continue Their Surprising Season

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 6:06 am

Transcript

DON GONYEA, HOST:

A third of the NBA season is complete and the Portland Trailblazers are on a surprising run. Last night they beat the L. A. Clippers 116 - 112 in overtime. Portland has the league's best record - 24 wins, five losses. Now the tepid pre-season forecasts are turning into talk of how far the Blazers can go in the post-season. NPR's Tom Goldman reports.

Read more
Business
3:09 am
Fri December 27, 2013

Cars Are Next Frontier For Sharing Services

Kevin Petrovic, 19, and his business partner, who's also 19, raised about $6 million from venture capitalists in Silicon Valley to launch FlightCar. The company is trying to make its mark with car-sharing for travelers.
Chris Arnold NPR

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 7:57 am

Following the popularity of companies like Airbnb, which rent out a client's house or apartment to people visiting the area, more companies are trying the idea with cars. Companies like Uber help find someone to drive you around like a taxi. Another will let you rent out your car like a Zipcar while you're at work.

Read more
StoryCorps
1:27 am
Fri December 27, 2013

Recalling His Inspiration, A Neurosurgeon Thanks A Teacher

After a patient told neurosurgeon Lee Buono to thank the teacher who inspired him, he called up Al Siedlecki.
StoryCorps

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 6:06 am

This story originally aired on Weekend Edition on Sept. 25, 2011.

As a middle-school student in the 1980s, Lee Buono stayed after school one day to remove the brain and spinal cord from a frog. He did such a good job that his science teacher told him he might become a neurosurgeon someday.

That's exactly what Buono did.

Read more
Parallels
1:25 am
Fri December 27, 2013

Facing Big Changes, Anxious Afghans Hope For The Best In 2014

Women walk along on the street in Kabul, Afghanistan, last week. The country faces many changes next year, including a presidential election and the withdrawal of U.S. combat forces. There are also concerns that advances made by women over the past decade could be in jeopardy.
Rahmat Gul AP

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 7:27 am

To many Afghans, 2014 is more than a year — it's a sword of Damocles hanging over the fragile nation. It's the year the country will elect a successor to President Hamid Karzai and the U.S.-led military mission will end. Many fear that will open the door to chaos.

But on a chilly winter day in Kabul, it's still business as usual in the city center.

In a stationary market, you can still buy calendars for this year — the year 1392. Afghanistan uses the Persian solar calendar, and in March the year 1393 begins.

Read more
Shots - Health News
1:25 am
Fri December 27, 2013

The Number 6 Says It All About The HealthCare.gov Rollout

iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 6:08 am

When it comes to health care, the rollout of the Affordable Care Act was supposed to be measured in the millions. That's how many people were expected to sign up for insurance to begin on Jan. 1.

But for both supporters and opponents of the law, there's one number that sticks out above all others. Six. That's how many people actually managed to enroll through the federal HealthCare.gov website the first day it opened, Oct. 1.

Read more
National Security
1:24 am
Fri December 27, 2013

Marines: Most Female Recruits Don't Meet New Pullup Standard

Female Marine recruits train on the rifle range during boot camp at Parris Island, S.C., on Feb. 25. The Marine Corps said it has postponed new physical standards that would require women to do three pullups, noting that many female recruits were not yet able to do so.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 6:06 am

Starting Jan. 1, every woman in the Marines Corps was supposed to meet a new physical standard by performing three pullups. But that has been put off.

The Marine Corps announced it quietly. There was no news conference — just a notice on its social media sites and an item on its own TV show, The Corps Report.

Read more
Shots - Health News
1:22 am
Fri December 27, 2013

Can A Fruit Fly Help Explain Autism?

A newly discovered neural circuit in the brain of the common fruit fly seems to serve as a sort of "volume control," turning up and down the perception of sound and light.
Nicholas Monu iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 8:54 am

For President Obama, 2013 wasn't just the year of Obamacare. It was also the year of the brain.

In April, Obama announced his Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative — an effort to unlock "the mystery of the three pounds of matter that sits between our ears."

Read more
Science
4:01 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

West Coast's Early Warning System For Quakes Still Spotty

Workers in Oakland, Calif., check the damage to Interstate 880 on Oct. 19, 1989; this portion of the freeway had collapsed during the Loma Prieta earthquake two days earlier.
Paul Sakuma AP

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 6:09 pm

Earthquake scientists on the West Coast would like to build a system that would give people a bit of warning before they get jolted with strong shaking from a distant quake.

Seismic waves take time to travel from the epicenter, which means such a warning system could issue alerts ranging from a few seconds to a few minutes. A prototype has been developed for the region, seismologists say, but the complete network still lacks funding, and has big gaps outside cities.

Meanwhile, Japan already has something like that up and running.

Read more
The Two-Way
3:34 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

Conviction Overturned For Priest Jailed In Abuse Scandal

Monsignor William Lynn walks to the Criminal Justice Center before a scheduled verdict reading, on June 22, 2012, in Philadelphia.
Matt Rourke AP

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 4:21 pm

After spending a year and a half in jail, a Philadelphia Roman Catholic priest convicted of child endangerment will go free after a court overturned the 2012 verdict.

NPR's Jeff Brady says although Monsignor William Lynn, 62, was never accused of abuse himself, he was convicted in 2012 of putting children in danger by moving abusing priests to unwitting parishes. Lynn was an official of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia at the time.

Read more
The Two-Way
2:50 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

President Obama Signs Budget, Defense Bills

President Obama speaks to current and retired members of the U.S. military and their families as they eat a Christmas Day meal in the Anderson Hall mess hall at Marine Corps Base Hawaii on Wednesday.
Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 3:58 pm

President Obama on Thursday signed the bipartisan budget bill agreed upon earlier this month, setting the stage for an easing of mandatory spending cuts over the next two years.

The Senate approved the spending measure last week, following its passage in the Republican-dominated House.

The president also signed the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2014.

As The Associated Press reports:

Read more
Parallels
2:47 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

Syria's War Creates A Demand For Artificial Legs

A staff member at the clinic in southern Turkey works on a prosthetic leg that will be given to a victim of Syria's civil war.
Deborah Amos NPR

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 6:53 am

In a clinic in southern Turkey, Mohammed Ibrahim helps 23-year-old Syrian Mustapha Abu Bakr take his first steps since he lost his legs, holding on to a set of bars for balance.

"He can't express his feelings," Ibrahim says. "It's a new thing completely for him."

Ibrahim explains that patients who have lost a leg below the knee can walk out of the clinic without crutches after a day of practice. For double amputees like Abu Bakr, who was injured in Syria's civil war, the adjustment takes more time.

Read more
Planet Money
2:45 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

The Tragic Number That Got Us All Talking About Our Clothing

A Bangladeshi worker participates in a protest outside a garment factory in Dhaka.
A.M. Ahad AP

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 3:31 pm

1,134 is the official government death toll of the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh. The building, which collapsed in April, was home to five garment factories.

Read more
Law
2:36 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

How 2013 Became The 'Gayest Year Ever'

Utah's surprise decision to legalize same-sex marriage caps a landmark year for gay rights. The last 12 months saw a huge string of victories, from state legislatures, to Congress, to the Supreme Court.

Shots - Health News
2:36 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

Experimental Tool Uses Light To Tweak The Living Brain

A technique called optogenetics is being used in the laboratory to observe and control what brain circuits are doing in real time.
Henning Dalhoff Getty Images/Science Photo Library RM

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 6:09 am

When President Obama announced his BRAIN Initiative in April, he promised to give scientists "the tools they need to get a dynamic picture of the brain in action."

An early version of one of those tools already exists, scientists say. It's a relatively new set of techniques called optogenetics that allows researchers to control the activity of brain cells using light.

Read more
Parallels
2:36 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

Venezualan Flights Are Dirt Cheap ... If You Can Get A Ticket

At the official rate, 1 U.S. dollar is worth 6.3 Venezuelan bolivars. But in a country with runaway inflation, the black market rate is about 60 bolivars to the dollar. This has made airfares extremely cheap for those using currency acquired on the black market.
Juan Barreto AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 5:35 pm

Reporter John Otis was looking for a flight to Venezuela. That may sound like a simple task, but air travel to and from that Latin American country turns out to be extremely complicated these days. Here's his story.

A direct flight from my home in Bogotá, Colombia, to Caracas, Venezuela, takes about 90 minutes. But when I tried to buy a ticket recently, none were available. I was offered a flight with an overnight stop in Miami, but that would have cost $5,000.

Read more
News
2:36 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

With National Treasures At Risk, D.C. Fights Against Flooding

The U.S. Capitol dome provides a view down the National Mall, an area vulnerable to flooding.
Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 5:13 pm

The nation's capital is not exactly a beach town. But the cherry-tree-lined Tidal Basin, fed by the Potomac River, laps at the steps of the Jefferson Memorial. And, especially since Superstorm Sandy, officials in Washington have a clear idea of what would happen in a worst-case storm scenario.

"The water would go across the World War II memorial, come up 17th Street," says Tony Vidal of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "And there are actually three spots where the water would come up where we don't have ... a closure structure right now."

Read more
Economy
2:36 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

Manufacturing 2.0: Old Industry Creating New High-Tech Jobs

Unlike the smoky, eardrum-damaging factories of yesterday, today's manufacturing is going high-tech. That can mean more robots and automated machines than workers. But companies like Machine Inc. in Stoughton, Mass., are still growing and hiring.
Chris Arnold NPR

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 4:07 pm

As the U.S. economy continues to recover, it has been getting some help from an unexpected place. After decades of massive job losses, manufacturing firms have been steadily creating jobs — many of them well-paying. One particularly bright spot is a new generation of high-tech manufacturers.

Read more
Shots - Health News
2:21 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

Iowa Opens The Doors To Medicaid Coverage, On Its Own Terms

iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 3:52 pm

At the Central Iowa Shelter and Services in Des Moines, Iowa, health insurance navigator Andrea Pearce stood in a crowded dining hall on a recent day, shouting instructions on how residents can sign up for Medicaid.

"If you do not have insurance and you want to enroll and you have an e-mail address where you know the password," she said, "come to the computer lab we will guide you through the application."

Read more
The Two-Way
1:36 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

Thai Government Says It Won't Postpone Parliamentary Elections

Anti-government protesters flee from tear gas sprayed by police in Bangkok on Thursday.
Kyodo /Landov

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 2:04 pm

Thailand's government has rejected a call from the country's Election Commission to delay a February vote to choose a new parliament, as protesters opposed to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra increasingly resort to violence to disrupt the polls.

Anti-government demonstrations have been going on for weeks as "yellow shirt" protesters — most drawn from the ranks of Thailand's urban middle class — have sought to oust Yingluck, whose government was elected in a 2011 landslide, mostly with support from the country's poorer, rural farming communities.

Read more
The Two-Way
12:42 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

Suspect Pleads Not Guilty In Fatal Shooting Of TSA Agent In LA

Paul Ciancia, 23, in an undated photo provided by the FBI.
AP

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 2:04 pm

The man accused of fatally shooting a TSA worker at Los Angeles International Airport last month has pleaded not guilty.

Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23, entered the plea on Thursday with the federal magistrate at a West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga. His trial is set for Feb. 11.

Read more
Governing
11:51 am
Thu December 26, 2013

In 2013, Federal Workers Found New Reason To Be Unhappy

Cindy VanDerwerker, a maintenance worker at Saratoga National Historical Park, clears leaves from a walkway on Oct. 17 in Stillwater, N.Y.
Mike Groll AP

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 1:08 pm

Elizabeth Lytle is an administrative program assistant with the Environmental Protection Agency in Chicago — "a glorified name for a secretary," she says.

If Lytle isn't thrilled with her title, she's even less enamored of her job.

"The morale is just unbelievably low because we're never recognized," Lytle says. "Management doesn't seem to go to bat for us."

Read more
Shots - Health News
11:45 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Common Knee Surgery May Help No More Than A Fake Operation

Knee pain is common, but surgery isn't necessarily the answer, researchers say.
Inna Jacquemin iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 6:09 am

Go to the doctor with knee pain, and they might say you've got a meniscus tear and need surgery to fix it. But surgery for this common problem might not be any better at relieving pain than having no surgery at all, according to researchers who went to the trouble of performing fake surgery to find out.

The gold standard for medical research is a randomized controlled trial, but it's hard to sign people up if they might undergo pretend surgery.

Read more
The Two-Way
11:44 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Cowboys' Emergency QB Kitna Will Give Away His Pay

Quarterback Jon Kitna in 2011, before his retirement from football. He's due to be back in a Dallas Cowboys uniform on Sunday.
NFL Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 11:12 am

Whether or not you like the NFL's Dallas Cowboys, this news may warm your heart:

Jon Kitna, who is coming out of retirement to be the team's emergency quarterback on Sunday, plans to donate his $53,000 paycheck from the game to the Tacoma, Wash., high school where he now teaches math and coaches football.

According to the Dallas Morning News:

Read more
Interviews
10:17 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Astronaut Chris Hadfield Brings Lessons From Space Down To Earth

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 11:36 am

This interview was originally broadcast on Oct. 30, 2013.

Read more
Interviews
10:17 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg: Friends Till 'The End'

James Franco (from left), Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel and Danny McBride all play versions of themselves in the post-apocalyptic comedy This Is the End, written by Rogen and his writing partner Evan Goldberg.
Suzanne Hanover Columbia Pictures

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 11:36 am

This interview was originally broadcast on June 11, 2013.

In This Is the End, Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Danny McBride and Jay Baruchel — all playing themselves — are at a party at Franco's L.A. home when an earthquake hits.

At least, they think it's an earthquake. Turns out it's the Rapture — the End of Days, as foretold in the Book of Revelation, has arrived.

Read more
The Two-Way
10:13 am
Thu December 26, 2013

It Was 50 Years Ago Today: 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' Hit U.S.

Paul McCartney, left, and John Lennon during a November 1963 Beatles show in London. The next month, the band had its first big hit in the U.S. and Beatlemania started to sweep America.
AP
  • The opening of 'I Want To Hold Your Hand'

If you don't smile after clicking "play" on the box above ... well, then either we're too old or you're too young.

It was 50 years ago today, Kabir Bhatia from member station WKSU in Cleveland reminds our Newscast Desk, that Capitol Records released the Beatles' I Want To Hold Your Hand in the U.S.

The fab four, as he says, had "sold millions of records in Europe throughout 1963, but had flopped in the U.S. after several releases on small, regional labels."

Then came I Want To Hold Your Hand.

Read more
The Two-Way
8:45 am
Thu December 26, 2013

American Kidnapped By Al-Qaida In Pakistan Seen In Video

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 10:41 am

An American development worker and Peace Corps veteran who was kidnapped more than two years ago from his home in Pakistan by men claiming to be affiliated with al-Qaida, asks President Obama in a newly released video "to instruct your appropriate officials to negotiate my release."

Warren Weinstein, 72, is also heard saying he feels "totally abandoned and forgotten."

According to The Associated Press:

Read more
The Two-Way
7:54 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Jobless Claims Fell Sharply Last Week

A "help wanted" sign earlier this year in the window of a clothing store in Pasadena, Calif.
Kevork Djansezian Getty Images

Just as last week's figures may been distorted by temporary factors related to the holiday season that made things look worse than they really are, the word Thursday that there's been a sharp drop in claims for unemployment insurance needs to be accompanied by the same sort of caveat.

Read more
The Two-Way
7:18 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Greenpeace Activists Start Getting Visas To Leave Russia

In St. Petersburg on Thursday, Greenpeace International activist Anthony Perrett, a British citizen, showed the Russian transit visa that's now in his passport.
Olga Maltseva AFP/Getty Images

The next step has been taken in what some observers say is Russian President Vladimir Putin's bid to burnish his country's reputation before February's Winter Olympic Games in Sochi:

Read more

Pages