In Los Angeles today, federal prosecutors announced charges of corruption and civil rights abuses inside the nation's largest jail system. The indictments came against 18 current and former deputies of the LA Sheriff's Department. NPR's Kirk Siegler has details from outside the federal building in downtown Los Angeles.
That wreath on your front door could contain stolen goods.
The tips of fir trees used to make wreaths are collected by "tippers" and attract high prices — as well as poachers, who cut limbs and even whole trees on private land.
The Christmas greens industry is estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars. But like other cottage industries, no one's really counting. Anyone with a desire to make some money can take part — on or under the table. And that's become a problem for some woodlot owners trying to protect their trees.
France's Chateau of Versailles has pulled out all the stops for one of its favorite sons, gardener Andre Le Notre, who designed the palace's famous gardens. This year, to mark the 400th anniversary of Le Notre's birth, several of the garden's fountains are being restored and the chateau is hosting an exhibit on his life through February 2014.
Experts say Le Notre'swork was so groundbreaking, it continues to influence contemporary urban architecture.
The track record of commercial products designed with privacy as a top priority has been abysmal — at least until recently. The ephemeral texting app Snapchat is turning assumptions upside down about young people and their desire for digital privacy.
Fred Cate, director of applied cybersecurity research at Indiana University, is an expert on privacy in the digital age. But when it comes to the viability of tech products that promise privacy, Cate has always been skeptical.
Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 4:02 pm
Federal prosecutors announced Monday the indictment of 18 current and former Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies on an array of charges stemming from a sweeping investigation into inmate abuse and corruption.
"These incidents did not take place in a vacuum — in fact, they demonstrated behavior that had become institutionalized," said U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. "The pattern of activity alleged in the obstruction of justice case shows how some members of the Sheriff's Department considered themselves to be above the law."
In North Carolina, the ads are starting early - the political ads, that is. Republicans are setting their sights on defeating first-term Democrat Kay Hagan. Senator Hagan's GOP opponent won't be known until the spring but her support for President Obama and the Affordable Care Act has already hurt her with voters. She's also being targeted by outside groups, spending millions of dollars hoping to unseat her. NPR national political correspondent Don Gonyea reports.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel returned to the Middle East today, after a weekend tour of Afghanistan and a stop in Pakistan. Hagel's visit to Afghanistan was overshadowed by continuing difficulties with President Hamid Karzai. Afghanistan has not yet agreed to terms that would allow U.S. forces to stay there beyond 2014. As NPR's Larry Abramson reports, Afghanistan is not the only country where the U.S. faces questions about its military staying power.
Zheng Jinrong poses with a portrait of herself and her grandson in a migrant village in Shanghai. She received the photographs as part of a global event to provide high-quality portraits for people who otherwise can't afford them.
Credit Frank Langfitt / NPR
Lutz Michaelis, a robotics engineer from Germany, shows a Chinese family a preview of their free portrait last weekend in Shanghai.
Credit Frank Langfitt / NPR
Sue Anne Tay, a Singaporean banker who also runs a documentary photography blog called Shanghai Street Stories, was among the volunteers who helped at Saturday's free portrait event.
A holiday gift of sorts came early in more than 20 countries over the weekend, as volunteer photographers shot free, studio-quality portraits of more than 16,000 people who otherwise couldn't have afforded them.
A working-class neighborhood of Shanghai was among the more than 130 sites where the photo shoots took place, part of a global project inspired by Help-Portrait, a U.S.-based nonprofit.
When Diane Shore got a letter that her health policy would be canceled, the small premium increase for the new plan didn't bother her that much.
But the changes in her choices for care really bugged her. "My physicians will no longer be in this network of physicians, or the hospitals," she says.
Shore, 62, owned an IT consulting business in the San Francisco Bay Area and retired when she sold it in 2000. She wants to stick with the health care providers that she's had for years, she says, including the surgeon who cared for her when she had breast cancer in 1998.
Comic book lovers have a new paradise. It's not the Batcave or the Fortress of Solitude; it's a new cartoon library and museum, tucked into a nondescript building on the Ohio State University campus.
Jenny Robb loves comics and cartoons; it's in her job description. She's the curator of the new Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum, named after the famed Columbus Dispatch cartoonist. With millions of pages of material in this free collection, Robb is in charge of geek heaven.
Erica Lafferty (right), daughter of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victim Dawn Hochsprung, consoles Carlee Soto, sister of victim Victoria Soto, after representatives of 14 families addressed the media on Monday in Newtown, Conn.
Relatives of those killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School have asked people to mark Saturday's anniversary of the mass shooting with "acts of kindness" and say they will light candles in memory of the victims.
At a news conference on Monday, the families also announced the launch of a website, http://mysandyhookfamily.org, to create a "singular place of sharing, communication, and contact with the families of those who lost their lives that day."
Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 4:32 pm
Each year around this time, Pringles comes out with a new, limited-time-only, holiday-themed flavor. A couple of years ago it was White Chocolate Peppermint Pringles, then there was Awkward Visit With Family Pringles, and now we have Pecan Pie Pringles.
Ian: Depending on where you're from, it's either pronounced "pee-kahn" or "gross."
Eva: Wait a minute ... at Thanksgiving my grandma said these were homemade!
Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 3:48 pm
At one time, Area 51 was one of the most famous military installations in the world — a place widely talked about, yet so secret that the U.S. government refused to confirm its existence.
That's why President Obama's reference to the southern Nevada base Sunday raised eyebrows. It marked the first time a U.S. commander in chief has publicly acknowledged the facility that fueled countless conspiracy theories.
This is FRESH AIR. At 44, the German tenor Jonas Kaufmann may be the most popular tenor of his generation and one of the most versatile. Music critic Lloyd Schwartz reviews two of his recordings this year, dedicated to both Verdi and Wagner, celebrating the bicentennials of their birth.
Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 11:30 am
Former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner was sentenced to three months home detention and three years probation for sexually harassing three women.
As we reported, Filner pleaded guilty to three criminal charges — including false imprisonment and battery — back in October. The charges were related to allegations that Filner grabbed and fondled three women while he was in office.
In the opening chapter of her latest book, novelist Delia Ephron writes that losing her older sister, writer Nora Ephron, was like "losing an arm, it's that deranging." Nora, who wrote When Harry Met Sally, died of acute myeloid leukemia in June 2012. Delia and Nora were writing partners; they co-wrote the movies You've Got Mail and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants as well as the off-Broadway hit Love, Loss and What I Wore. Delia was an assistant producer on Nora's film Sleepless in Seattle.
Cars pass by the RIA Novosti information agency headquarters in Moscow on Monday. President Vladimir Putin named Dmitry Kiselyov, a controversial news anchor known for his ultraconservative views, to head a newly restructured state news agency.
Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 3:35 pm
Russian President Vladimir Putin dissolved one of the country's official news agencies and an international radio broadcaster on Monday, setting up a new organization to be run by a news anchor known for his ultraconservative views.
RIA Novosti, the news agency, and Voice of Russia, the broadcaster, will be absorbed by a new entity, Russia Today.
Jessica Golloher is reporting on the story for our Newscast unit:
Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 8:36 am
The meat on your dinner table probably didn't come from a happy little cow that lived a wondrous life out on rolling green hills. It probably also wasn't produced by a robot animal killer hired by an evil cabal of monocle-wearing industrialists.
Truth is, the meat industry is complicated, and it's impossible to understand without a whole lot of context. That's where Maureen Ogle comes in. She's a historian and the author of In Meat We Trust: An Unexpected History of Carnivore America.
Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 12:27 pm
Their paths repeatedly crossed on the way to the World Series. And now retired managers Joe Torre, Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox are headed to the same place: the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The Hall's Expansion Era committee announced its selection Monday.
Together, the trio won eight World Series titles and led teams that were perennial threats to play in October. They account for a combined 7,558 victories.
We end our program today with another tribute to anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela. He died last Thursday, and South Africa is preparing for his memorial tomorrow. Many Americans learned about Mandela on screen through the movies that dramatized his life. Here's a clip of Danny Glover and Alfre Woodard in the 1987 film, "Mandela."
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "MANDELA")
ALFRE WOODARD: (As Winnie Mandela) Baba Mandela, when I see you walking about in this country, my joy overflows and my faith is made real enough to touch.