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7:15am

Sat February 18, 2012
Education

Kansas City's Failed Schools Leave Students Behind

On Jan. 1, the Missouri State School Board revoked the Kansas City public school district's accreditation. Now parents have a hard choice to make: leave or keep their children at a failed school?
Tom Bullock NPR

On a recent wintry day, Kansas City eighth-grader Yak Nak sat before a Missouri state Senate committee. He was there to tell lawmakers why his family had sacrificed to send him to a parochial school.

"Even though it was a struggle for my family, the reputation of the public schools in my area was not as good as my parents would have hoped," he said. "They knew there was no time to waste when dealing with young minds, and education was more valuable than any money they could save."

Consider this: Yak Nak and his family are refugees from Sudan.

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7:14am

Sat February 18, 2012
The Two-Way

Independence Day Parade, Benghazi-Style

Originally published on Sun February 19, 2012 10:04 am

Libyan flags fly above the cars lining the streets of Benghazi.
Andy Carvin NPR

Stepping out of my hotel on Friday evening, I could see cars backed up for miles, stretching all the way around the Benghazi's biggest lake, not far from the shores of the Mediterranean.

Horns blared in every direction, but not just car horns: bull horns, oo-gahhorns, vuvuzelas, aerosol-powered horns, even a bagpipe or two. The air smelled of exhaust, gasoline and the occasional whiff of hash. It was a cacophonous mess, overwhelming, painful to the ears, joyful, extraordinary.

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5:30am

Sat February 18, 2012
Education

In Today's Economy, How Far Can A GED Take You?

In Cleveland, 2010 GED graduates from the Get On Track program parade down the aisle during their commencement. In today's economy, some experts say, the GED may not be enough to provide "gainful employment."
John Kuntz The Plain Dealer/Landov

Every year, roughly 750,000 high school dropouts try to improve their educational and employment prospects by taking the General Educational Development test, or GED, long considered to be the equivalent of a high school diploma.

The latest research, however, shows that people with GEDs are, in fact, no better off than dropouts when it comes to their chances of getting a good job.

This is raising lots of questions, especially in school districts with high dropout rates and rising GED enrollments.

A Second Chance, But Is It Enough?

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5:29am

Sat February 18, 2012
Asia

U.S. Not Afraid To Say It: China's The Cyber Bad Guy

Originally published on Sat February 18, 2012 3:09 pm

Staff members use computers at a press center in Beijing. Security experts say hacking of U.S. computers from China is becoming an increasing problem.
Greg Baker AP

American officials have long complained about countries that systematically hack into U.S. computer networks to steal valuable data, but until recently they did not name names.

In the last few months, that has changed. China is now officially one of the cyber bad guys and probably the worst.

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5:25am

Sat February 18, 2012
Economy

'Made In The USA' Not Enough For Campaign Trail

Originally published on Sat February 18, 2012 3:17 pm

An employee welds a stainless steel tank at JV Northwest in Camby, Ore. U.S. factories have boosted output, and busier factories are helping drive the U.S. economy.
Rick Bowmer AP

Hourly workers at General Motors will soon be getting profit-sharing checks of up to $7,000 each after the automaker reported record earnings this week. President Obama may also get a political dividend, two and a half years after a government-engineered turnaround.

Obama reminded a group of United Auto Worker members this week that, back in 2009, his rescue of GM and Chrysler had plenty of critics.

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5:24am

Sat February 18, 2012
Fine Art

6 Miles Of Silver Ribbon: Locals Protest Christo

Originally published on Sat February 18, 2012 10:16 am

Artist Christo finances his projects by selling design drawings like this one, a preparatory sketch for the Over the River project on Colorado's Arkansas River.
Wolfgang Volz Copyright Christo 2007

Bighorn Sheep Canyon in Colorado holds a chuckling ribbon of water, with a highway running alongside. Artist Christo wants to drape sections of it — almost 6 miles' worth — with long, billowing panels of silvery fabric.

"The silver-color fabric panel will absorb the color," he says. "In the morning, it will become rosy, in the middle of the day, platinum, and [during] the sunset, the fabric will become golden."

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2:36am

Sat February 18, 2012
Fresh Air Weekend

Fresh Air Weekend: Viola Davis, Nathan Englander

Originally published on Mon February 20, 2012 12:48 pm

Viola Davis earned her first Oscar nomination with a small but memorable role in Doubt; she also has won a pair of Tony Awards for her work on Broadway.
Chris Pizzello AP

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors, and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

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6:46pm

Fri February 17, 2012
Music Interviews

Gretchen Peters: Personal Pain As Universal Truth

Gretchen Peters' new album is Hello Cruel World.
Gina Binkley

Country Music Award winner Gretchen Peters had an eventful 2010: The BP oil spill washed up on her doorstep, a good friend committed suicide, and her son announced that he's transgender. The last of those in particular, she says, got her thinking about personal conflict.

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6:41pm

Fri February 17, 2012
The Two-Way

Let Them Eat Funnel Cake: A Napoleon-Based Theme Park for France

A dark cloud passes over a statue of Napoleon in Vienna.
Joe Klamar AFP/Getty Images

No celebrity can be truly world renown unless they have their own theme park. Mickey Mouse and Disney have theirs. Now, Napoleon might get his chance too.

Christian Mantei the head of Atout France, the tourism group supporting the endeavor, once told the The Economist that "bosses at Disneyland Paris once said that only Napoleon had the stature to take on Mickey Mouse".

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6:27pm

Fri February 17, 2012
Music Interviews

Roberta Flack's Long And Winding Road

Roberta Flack's new album, Let It Be Roberta, is a collection of reworked Beatles favorites.
Brian T. Silak Courtesy of the artist

Roberta Flack has been singing in a way that plucks at the heartstrings since 1969, when she recorded the breakthrough song "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face." She followed that hit with many, many more, including, "Killing Me Softly with His Song," "Where Is the Love" and "The Closer I Get to You."

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6:02pm

Fri February 17, 2012
The Two-Way

N.J. Gov. Christie Vetoes Gay Marriage Bill

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie answers a question in Trenton, N.J., on Jan. 30.
Mel Evans AP

As he had promised, N.J. Gov. Chris Christie conditionally vetoed a bill that would have allowed gay marriage in his state.

The governor issued his veto just a day after the state's legislature passed the bill. According to The Star-Ledger, Christie said that he was, however, appointing an "ombudsman to address complaints of same-sex couples and strengthen New Jersey's civil union's law."

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5:34pm

Fri February 17, 2012
History

Hail To The Veep: America's Executive Underdog

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:01 am

Charles G. Dawes served under Calvin Coolidge from 1925 to 1929. Dawes is the only vice president to have both a Nobel Peace Prize for his work in World War I and a Billboard Top 10 hit, and neither had anything to do with his tenure as vice president.
Keystone Getty Images

Forty-seven men have been vice president. John Adams was the first, and he ascended to the presidency after George Washington's second term. But only 13 other vice presidents did that.

With Presidents Day just around the corner, we want to salute the rest of them — the overlooked vice presidents who never rose higher than that office, and then quietly shrank from the national stage.

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5:25pm

Fri February 17, 2012
The Two-Way

Postal Service Seeks 5 Cent Hike For First-Class Stamps

In a letter, the postmaster general told Congress, yesterday, that in order to mitigate losses the United States Postal Service needed to raise the price of stamps by as much as 5 cents.

That means stamps could cost 50 cents.

The New York Times reports that Patrick Donahoe also said that if it didn't raise postage prices and slow first-class mail by one day, the service could lose up to $18.2 billion a year by 2015.

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4:35pm

Fri February 17, 2012
The Salt

Sprouts Growers Say They Need FDA To Set New Safety Rules

Originally published on Wed February 22, 2012 2:34 pm

Clover sprouts look to be the source of the latest e. coli outbreak.
Stephanie Phillips iStockPhoto.com

Another week, another outbreak of illness caused by sprouts. The latest troubles come to people who ate sandwiches from Jimmy John's restaurants in five Midwestern states.

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4:20pm

Fri February 17, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Fight Over Contraceptive Coverage Heats Up In Court

iStockphoto.com

The fight over who pays for birth control isn't confined to Congress or the campaign trail. It's burning in federal court, too.

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4:16pm

Fri February 17, 2012
Around the Nation

Crumbs May Soon Dry Up For New York Subway Rats

A New York lawmaker wants to put the brakes on eating donuts, and anything else for that matter, in the city's subway system. State Sen. Bill Perkins of Harlem says an eating ban would help combat rats and litter. But, the issue is stirring somewhat of a food fight among subway riders.

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3:58pm

Fri February 17, 2012
The Two-Way

Celebration As Improv: In Libya 'We Don't Know How To Celebrate'

Originally published on Fri February 17, 2012 6:01 pm

An elderly man shouts religous slogans as Libyans celebrate the 1st anniversary marking the start of the Libyan uprising against Moammar Gadhafi in Freedom Square in the eastern city of Benghazi.
Gianluigi Guercia AFP/Getty Images

I've spent the day in the company of Malik L, a Benghazi-based hip hop artist who seems to get stopped every 100 feet by either a friend or a fan. In between these conversations, I asked Malik about what celebrations were scheduled for tonight.

"I have no idea," he replied. "No one does. Libya has never done this before. We don't know how to celebrate an anniversary."

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3:34pm

Fri February 17, 2012
The Two-Way

In Normally Stable Sengal, Police, Protesters Face Off

An anti-government protester carries a Senegalese flag as he walks near a central square that protesters had planned to occupy before being rebuffed by police, in central Dakar, Senegal on Thursday.
Rebecca Blackwell AP

Police fired tear gas into crowds of demonstrators in Senegal's capital on Friday. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton was on what is usually a busy street in Dakar and she told our Newscast unit that all day there has been a cat-and-mouse game between police and young protesters.

Protesters are throwing rocks and pieces of concrete and police have responded with tear gas.

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3:32pm

Fri February 17, 2012
Music Interviews

Conor Oberst, Ron Sexsmith Pay Tribute To Leonard Cohen

Originally published on Sun February 19, 2012 6:50 pm

It's natural for Leonard Cohen to think a lot about mortality near the end of his life, but Ron Sexsmith says Cohen has never sung about "frivolous things."
Dominique Issermann

Who'd have thought a 77-year-old Canadian singer-songwriter would be hovering near the top of the pop charts?

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3:25pm

Fri February 17, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

WHO Panel Supports Publication Of Bird Flu Details, Eventually

The full details of two controversial experiments on bird flu should be published openly, says a panel convened by the World Health Organization.

But information about the studies should remain secret a while longer so that there's time to address public concerns, the group recommends. The experiments should stay on hold, too.

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3:00pm

Fri February 17, 2012
Europe

Middle Class Greeks Losing Hope Amid Austerity

Originally published on Fri February 17, 2012 6:45 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. Greece is anxiously awaiting a bailout from its European partners. One reason for the holdup - the Europeans say the Greeks aren't trying hard enough to reform. The Greeks say they've already implemented austerity measures so severe that they are destroying the country's middle class.

Joanna Kakissis has the story of one family in Athens.

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3:00pm

Fri February 17, 2012
Politics

Congress Passes Extension Of Payroll Tax Cut

Both houses of Congress approved an extension of President Obama's signature payroll tax cut through the end of the year, two weeks before the actual deadline.

2:54pm

Fri February 17, 2012
U.S.

For Cash, Murderer Leads Police To Victims' Remains

Originally published on Fri February 17, 2012 6:45 pm

San Joaquin sheriff detectives sift for human remains that were excavated from an abandoned ranch near Linden, Calif., on Sunday. Authorities say Wesley Shermantine and Loren Herzog wantonly murdered an unknown number of victims before their arrest in 1999. Now, one of the convicted killers is leading investigators to burial sites that have yielded hundreds of bones.
Craig Sanders AP

In California's Central Valley, authorities are excavating the gruesome remains of an unknown number of murder victims who were buried many years ago by a pair of convicted murderers and drug users.

The search began last week after one of the convicts agreed to lead authorities to the remains in exchange for cash.

But, the case raises some thorny ethical and legal issues: Should convicted criminals be able to benefit from their wrongdoing?

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2:41pm

Fri February 17, 2012
It's All Politics

With Payroll Tax Cut Done, Is It Do-Nothing Congress Time? It Depends

Originally published on Fri February 17, 2012 3:59 pm

Expect the rest of 2012 to bring more political symbolism like Thursday's House hearing on birth control and religious freedom than actual passage of major legislation that solves Americans' problems.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Now that Congress has passed the extension of the payroll tax cut and jobless insurance benefits for the long-term uninsured, as well as a fix that prevents cuts in Medicare reimbursements to doctors, there's the sense that not much else will get done on Capitol Hill, it being a general-election year and all.

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2:35pm

Fri February 17, 2012
The Two-Way

A Passion To Bear Witness: Why War Correspondents Take The Risk

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:01 am

Shadid won two Pulitzer prizes for international reporting, in 2004 and 2010. Here, he poses on the campus of Brown University in the year of his second win.
Steven Senne AP

Journalists don't talk about the danger. They don't usually recount the moments of agonizing terror that come after a bad decision to continue on down the road as the faint sound of mortar shells grows louder.

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2:27pm

Fri February 17, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

WHO Affirms Use Of Birth Control Injections After Weighing HIV Risks

A health worker injects a woman with a shot of Depo Provera, a quarterly contraceptive injection, at a health clinic in Busia, Uganda, in 2009.
MCT MCT via Getty Images

Women living with HIV, or at high risk of infection, should continue to use hormone injections to prevent pregnancy, the World Health Organization said Thursday.

But the advice stressed that couples should use an additional protective method, like condoms, to prevent HIV transmission between partners.

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2:12pm

Fri February 17, 2012
The Two-Way

Reports: In Sting, Feds Arrest Man Plotting Suicide Bombing In Washington

Multiple news outlets are reporting that federal authorities have arrested a man who thought he was about to undertake a suicide bombing attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Fox News, which broke the story, reports the man was arrested in Washington on Friday, after a lengthy investigation by the FBI. At the time the man was wearing a vest he thought was packed with explosives but was really provided by FBI agents he thought were al-Qaida associates.

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1:54pm

Fri February 17, 2012
The Two-Way

Murdoch Promises Sunday Edition At Besieged Sun Tabloid

News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch isn't backing down.

In an email to staff of the besieged Sun tabloid, where ten current and former senior staff have been arrested since November, the 81-year-old media tycoon promised to "build on the Sun's proud heritage by launching the Sun on Sunday very soon.

The email came as Murdoch visited the paper's U.K. headquarters for a meeting with staff. According to the BBC:

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1:25pm

Fri February 17, 2012
Election 2012

'Sugar Daddies' And Debates Changing All The Rules

Rick Santorum stops to sign a photograph after speaking at the Economic Club of Detroit on Thursday. It marked one of Santorum's first campaign events in Michigan, which holds its Republican primary Feb. 28.
Paul Sancya Associated Press

By the time Rick Santorum showed up in Michigan, he was already out in front.

Thursday's speech before the Detroit Economic Club amounted to the former Pennsylvania senator's political debut in the state, coming less than two weeks before Michigan votes in a Feb. 28 Republican primary.

Nonetheless, Santorum arrived in the state sitting at the top of the polls. It's a big break from the way things used to be.

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1:20pm

Fri February 17, 2012
World

Azerbaijan: Where East Meets West, Spy Meets Spy

Originally published on Fri February 17, 2012 11:58 pm

Thanks to its strategic location, the small Central Asian country of Azerbaijan has long been a hot spot for rival intelligence agents, from countries such as Russia, Turkey, Iran and Israel. Here, a view of Baku, the capital, in June 2011.
Johannes Eisele AFP/Getty Images

The small Central Asian country of Azerbaijan has found itself caught up in the rising international tensions over neighboring Iran and its nuclear program. Despite traditional ties with Iran, the former Soviet republic has increasingly aligned itself with the West, and with Israel.

An incident at a recent soccer match in the Iranian city of Tabriz is still a point of pride in Azerbaijan. In the middle of the match, hundreds of ethnic Azeris in the crowd broke out their national flags and began to chant that the city belongs to them.

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